Trial, Error, and the Rule of Law

Parthenon

Ah, democracy. Americans like to extol its virtues, but often forget the dangers. It turns out that the major problem with rule by the people is, well, rule by the people. It was a problem the Founding Fathers were well aware of and the primary reason why they rarely used the term, unless it was in a negative sense. And while our Founders were fascinated with Roman history to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of republican government (meaning government run by representatives), they took a similar interest in Greek history to learn about the foibles of democracy.

Greek history is full of tales of democracy gone bad. My favorite story involves Socrates, but it’s probably not the one you know. Continue reading

On the Rightness of Exercising your Rights

bill-of-rights-hero-lg

This weekend a Florida jury decided that George Zimmerman did not murder Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman exercised his right to defend himself with lethal force. My knowledge of this case is far from perfect, but the evidence seems to cast shadows of doubt every which way. The jury found that Zimmerman operated within the rights which Florida state-law granted him.

This case has once again caused me to ponder the relationship between “rights” and “rightness.” I believe that having the right to do something does not entail that the exercising of that right is always morally right. We equivocate easily. Shouldn’t a right always be right? I don’t think so.

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