Saturday, March 20, 2010
by Dr. Tibor Machan
The point deserves to be made over and over: majorities have no just authority to trump individual rights! That old dependable standby of the lynch mob is a perfect illustration of this. Just because the whole town wants to hang the suspect, it doesn’t follow that it would be right to do so. The sheriff will defend the process due the accused because justice demands it. Why? Because no one may be punished or indeed imposed upon without it first having been demonstrated that the punishment or imposition is justified, deserved, or warranted.
Of course, this line of thinking takes it as a fact that individuals and their basic rights matter most than the popular will. Yet that should not be very difficult to grasp. So another old saying has it wrong – 50 millions frenchmen can indeed be wrong! Millions of Nazis and communists and people around the globe with all kinds of superstitions can be and are wrong.
However, if one is wrong within one’s own sphere of authority, on one’s own property for example, or in one’s own religious or philosophical convictions, that’s no one else’s business to fix except perhaps one’s best friend or a family member who cares and would nudge one in the right direction. But being wrong is an individual right! The U.S. Constitution attests to this with its First Amendment which certainly protects everyone who may be wrong about religion or other matters of belief.