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Tyranny by the Majority

November 01, 2003

Jonathan Turley hits the mark when he warns of the tyranny of majoritarian rule (Commentary, Oct. 27). California's initiative/recall/referendum system provides a ghastly example of democracy in its "pure" form run amok. We enact one initiative that prescribes life imprisonment for shoplifters at a monumental cost. But another initiative forbids the raising of property taxes to help pay for it. Since people insist upon a medieval penal system but refuse to support it, the state descends into a quagmire of debt.

So how do those in the majority react to this untenable situation? Why, they recall the governor, of course, and replace him with a movie action hero. The star surmounts every obstacle he faces in his flicks. Maybe he'll defeat the deficit by shooting it.

Welcome to the madness of the 21st century. If only we had a fraction of the wisdom that the framers had in the 18th.

Jeffrey H. Friedman

Santa Ana

*

Turley did not attack Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but he convinced me that the governor's decision was wrong. I hate to see Terri Schiavo die, but the basis of Turley's argument is 100% on target.

Although Turley seems to target the Christian right, he brings to mind an elitist, anti-capitalist minority of people who exploit ignorance to promote class hatred of any minority class (e.g., smokers, the rich) they find offensive. Owners of SUVs and Hummers are now in their sights. God help any minority class that is on their list, because these activists know how to arouse a tyrannical majority against anybody unlucky enough to be a member of a "politically incorrect" minority.

I read Turley often. It took me a long time to decide that he leans to the left, like almost all academicians. His factual style, however, is a refreshing change from many of The Times' contributors.

Richard Keck

Monrovia

*

Turley needs to learn his history. A judicial tyranny overturned the legislative majority's Missouri Compromise and set the stage for the Civil War. The judiciary then decided that the newly freed blacks could be segregated. The same judiciary then allowed compulsory sterilization for "undesirables." An insular and unaccountable judiciary is far more dangerous than legislators who must explain themselves to the majority of common citizens whom Turley seems to fear.

Aaron Smith

Carlsbad

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