"The majority, oppressing an individual,
is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength,
and by acting on the law of the strongest
breaks up the foundations of society."
by:
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source:
Letter to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816
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Reader comments about this quote:
We hold this truth to be self evident. A major problem with majority rule, instead of rule by law, such crimes as compelled compliance, license, victimless activities called crimes, larceny of choice with impunity, economic raping of society is acceptable if accomplished with funny money are all seen as acceptable violations of the being, just because.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Didn't he aslo say - God forbid this country should go 20 years without a revolution?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Right on Mike and J Carlton. This quote pretty well describes a democracy.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    What does he mean by oppressing? In New Mexico the MAJORITY, the government makes INDIVIDUALS shower before swimming in a public access pool. Does this fit the definition of oppression? Some feel oppressed all of the time when they are asked to follow any common rule of social behaviour, such a feeling is some form of social pathology. I give it a one for being to shallow and obtuse..
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, by way of illustration but, not by way of limitation, majority oppression or law of the strongest, is defined by, it means, and is found in compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity, pillaging through enticed use of funny money and otherwise collectivist applications detracting form the individual sovereign. All such, breaks up the foundations of each and every free society
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I feel a little oppressed every time they take my money so that others can sit on their asses...and do nothing. When they take my money to start an illegal occupation of a foreign country designed to make certain politicians rich. When voting becomes useless because there is zero representation of the people anymore. When the "state" starts running high way road blocks to ask you if you are a citizen. The list just goes on and on...It's a great quote.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Good compelling comments...
     -- M.Brown, Florida     
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    What do you say Mike when 51 individual sovereigns out of 100 get together and say that there will be no spitting on the sidewalk contrary to the opinion of the other 49 sovereigns. Are the 49 then oppressed? Should no rule thus be made and all continue to do as they please? Can no group, city, state etcetera have any consensus contol of their society and environment? If in your view they should not then is not all hunmanity subject to the will of the individual and ultimately the strongest, meanest, and cruelest and first to draw individual sovereign, while the gentle, courteous, agreeable sovereigns in the 51 group have to hunker down in their miserable humilty and slip and slide along on the spittle.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, spoken like a true collectivist, accepting no depth of law's understanding, speaking in half truths and extreme off topic - miss information diversions with a real fear of personal responsibility. Start with your rights end at my nose. If spitting on the ground creates a health hazard (for example) then the 51 have an absolute right to legislate such with the 49 not being oppressed. If spitting on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere (where there are only 100 people in the entire huge county) causes no heath risk then legislating no spitting on the dirt road is oppressive to all 100 individuals.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Voila! and hurrah! finally Mike has accepted the logic of a 51% solution. There is a glimmer even if just a slight glimmer of hope, a crack in the irrational armour that he surronds himself with. I feel so great and successful today. It has been years in accomplishing this, I have lost track of how much time has been involved.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    The matter, of course, is one of jurisdiction. Who has the jurisdiction over the property in question? Everything starts with the natural born rights of the People. Without government, who has the right to spit? The individual. Who may tell him where he may spit? It depends -- if the spitter is on his own property, there is no jurisdiction of anyone else over it. If he spits on a public road, what rights to person and property are being violated? If no rights or property are being damaged, then there is no 'crime.' By-laws and statutes are rules, not 'laws' per se -- the jurisdiction of these rules varies. Now Waffler may believe that any one in authority can tell anyone else what to do if enough people share the same opinion. But that doesn't make it just. Those in power are never satisfied with simple management, they wish to dictate, they wish to rally support for their own personal ideas and use their seat to issue dictates to suit. And the sheeple generally allow it because they do not know or care. If Waffler thinks that he has made any progress in turning Mike to his side, he is as deluded here as he apparently is in life.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The real crime is not requiring a shower before a swim in a public swimming pool; the real crime occurred when the majority stole money from the minority to build a public swimming pool. What great benefit to society as a whole is a public swimming pool? Can society not live without it? The problem with a pure democracy is that the "needs" never end. I'll always need something as long as I have your money to pay for it.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    I'm sorry Waffler on this I must disagree - the true understanding of this quote comes in its intent and not the precise structure of the sentence. How can you rely on the majority to affirm ones rights when they are the minority? If those in corporate America (who own the media) can convince 51% to vote against what is reasonable and ethical and put into law a crime against humanity it is wrong - of course not all decisions made by the majority are wrong - all TJ was saying is that there are rights which the majority have no jurisdiction over.
     -- rbesrq     
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    Waffler, after your last comment, I have to restate, spoken like a true collectivist, accepting no depth of law's understanding, speaking in half truths and extreme off topic - miss information diversions with a real fear of personal responsibility. Archer, Ken and Robert said well. If, as stated by the founders, there is natural law ("we hold these truths to be self evident"; a cause and effect exist, history repeats itself when similar events are replicated, there are certain scientific standards of consistency, etc.) and rights are inalienable (as a jurisdictional premise for all code, statute etc. to be understood), then a democracy cannot exist in the same space (a democracy being able to dictate that which are laws and rights). As I have said in many different ways in the past, people (individually or in concert) cannot make laws or rights, as such existed before man's sojourn on this orb and will exist after, BUT man must discover what those laws and rights are and then pass by-laws, codes, ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes, etc. that best describe the subject law for the benefit, good, and protection of the individual. If the method of choice is to select the best way to define the law is through a majority consensus, then so be it (that is not a democracy or rule by oppressive majority, or law of the strongest). No law was created, only implemented. The majority cannot create or make laws or rights. When the majority can (or in the name of the majority) compel compliance, license, create victimless crimes, commit larceny with impunity, or print funny money, despotism, tyranny, and slavery define the crime that is democracy / oppressive majority rule / law of the strongest.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Money is seldom stolen for a public swimming pool, Generally it is a not for profit entity, financed and run by bond issues and paid for by an entrance fee. Further "public pool" does not mean "government pool" it is any pool at which the general public are invited to partake of or is open to the public for business such as a hotel or club pool. What country did you say you are from Ken? Public swimming holes have existed from the dawn of time, wake up man, and enter the millenium! What did Mike say above, does anyone lknow? I am surprised that he did not counter by asking that if the majority said one must spit on the sidewalk daily would we have to do it. While most of you all hate the idea of majority rule the only reason I defend it is because it is most commonly correct and wise that is the reason it is the majority. Now does it make mistakes, does it change, absolutely. Does it differ from culture to culture, absolutely. Does it bend and sway with the times and new evidence certainly. Has it shown iteself over time to be the best way, of course. The reason that it is the best way is because it is based on the golden rule, giving each individual the right to have his view and position heard equally with all others in the matter of public matters. While the vote may be divided 51 to 49 using the 51 percent solution allows the most individuals to be happy. A rule of the minority all of the time would obviously be worse. Why does the world throughout the globe in all of our know so called civilized cultures use this rule. You all might just prefer being Talibanized. Like you they all know the answers to any matter of public policy, behaviour, etcetera. It does not matter what the majority thinks or wishes.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    An essential element to conforming every individual to one central plan. Make the majority share in the blood, and conform the minority to this plan through means of terror.
     -- Jordan Hoiberg     
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     -- Mary, MI      
    Aristocracy finds its longevity through a one-nation conservative paternalistic mindset. The resulting "welfare state" through "legalized plunder" without consent condones slavery of the individual, an act of tyranny by despots. The love of power (money), station, by aristocrats of base character are the source of corruption through purloining. The line between socialism and the welfare state become blurred in the eyes of commonsense at liberty.  
     -- Ronw13, Oregon     
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     -- jim k, Austin      
    Individual rights give protection to the ultimate minority, the individual.  No tyranny of the majority. 
     -- Tony, Silver Spring, Md.     
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