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No 'right to be wrong'

By Chaplain Mikel Monnett
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
September 20, 1999

To the editor,

I have to admit that after reading Dan Cassino's Friday column, I was appalled. To learn at the end that it was written by someone purporting to be a political science major was a shock.

Dan, in case you haven't studied Constitutional history yet, our Constitution is not only designed so that the people make their own decisions, it is also designed to protect the rights of the minority from the will of the majority. From the very start, our Founding Fathers knew that too often the will of the majority in a situation could be wrong-incredibly wrong in some instances. They designed a bi-cameral legislature so that the least populous states would have an equal representation in at least one house and gave us the Bill of Rights so that the individual would have some relief from the near monolithic powers of those representing "the people."

Does it always work out that way? No, as any person of non-Caucasian heritage will be glad to point out. But all the times that it hasn't worked that I can think of-the Indian wars, slavery and segregation, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII-all came about because at the time a majority of "the people" supported those decisions. Granted, we can now look back on those things and say, "Well, the people were wrong," but at what cost, Dan, at what cost? Are lynchings, genocide, and ethnic cleansing justified simply because "we must allow them to find the error on their own?" That's the same logic used by those who support the death penalty even though it means killing a number of innocent people. It's all well and good, unless you happen to be one of those innocent people.

No, Dan, people do not Constitutionally have "a right to be wrong". The people of Belridge do not have a right to form a "right-wing fundamentalist town with a right-wing fundamentalist curriculum" any more than the people of an Alabama town have a right to erect a sign that says "Nigger, don't let the sun set on your ass in our town", especially not with public funds or state tax dollars. If the comparison seems harsh, consider this: if that school received operating funds from the local community and the state-whether they paid for the textbooks in question or not-then what you're advocating is state-supported religious indoctrination and bigotry. And is that really what you're arguing for?

Chaplain Mikel Monnett

UMC Pastoral Care

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