What do you do, when democracy fails you?
What do you do, when minority means you? – The Proclaimers
Last week I re-tweeted a story from The New Civil Rights Movement which detailed the results of a vote at the UN General Assembly removing the term “sexual orientation” from a resolution designed to protect people from arbitrary executions. You can read the entire article here; The New Civil Rights Movement
On one hand, the resolution which is designed to condemn arbitrary, summary and extra judicial executions, has reaffirmed the idea that it’s wrong to kill people for their ethnic origins or religious beliefs while at the same time, by its omission, has quietly made it harder to condemn countries which persecute people simply for being gay. The committee which wrote the resolution was overwhelmingly stacked with countries in east Africa, the Middle East and Caribbean, all regions with poor Human Rights records when it comes to gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and trans-gender individuals. (LGBT)
While I am not an LGBT advocate, this resolution still raises some concern for me on a more general, human rights front. When I originally tweeted the story I immediately got into an argument with a follower over its legitimacy. I was told that it was all a lie made up by the LGBT community in an attempt to hi-jack a resolution that was never meant to include them in the first place. While I don’t want to rehash that argument here, the fact is that the draft resolution did include “sexual orientation”, but the phrase was removed at the last minute over concerns that many of the previously mentioned countries would vote it down. The argument then moved into a more general discussion over special interest groups and how they take control or damage the impact of some broader organizations.
Some selfishly motivated militant groups notwithstanding; I believe that for the most part special interest groups are an integral part of democracy. Democracy, by its very definition functions as a tool of the majority. But that means that minority groups have a hard time getting their concerns heard. So what do you do, when minority means you? You form a special interest group that’s what…
When done right special interest groups shine a light on minority concerns, giving the majority a chance to look at them honestly, understand them and maybe cast votes that appear contrary to their self-interest but rather in the interest of the minority for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. In reality a rising tide floats all boats so as we become more inclusive, more open with each other, more honest and less oppressive, everybody wins. Game theorists call this a Non-Zero Sum outcome and it’s the ultimate goal of all human societies.
During my twitter debate I told my adversary that as a member of the majority, I need special interest groups to keep me honest. Otherwise it would be too easy for the majority to oppress minorities without ever hearing what they have to say. The debate ended when she tweeted that special interest groups are all about themselves and I responded; “there is a vast difference between me (or us) too and me first, or just me, I side with the us too camp.”
By looking at the world as “us” we enter into the ultimate Non-Zero equation and move society forward.