>When Minority Means You


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.


  1. >It's hard to believe sometimes that sexual orientation is still an issue in so many minds.Personally, I think we need a massive public education campaign on our continent emphasizing the right to be naked and unashamed, that nudity is not pornography and necessary in art, that breastfeeding is right and good, and start desexualizing youth and beauty.The sexualization of all things we can't see and understand, and all this cover-up is harming our society so that we forget the beauty of bodies and can bring talk about sexual attractiveness and healthy relationships into the open.Learning to hate bodies and to hide our sexuality starts early – home, school, and media. Those with power and influence need to step up. They need to speak for those who have no voice.

  2. >In general and in principle I fully endorse your view. I also think it needs a little more precision. Your argument will probably gain weight when you focus on minority or special interest groups in so far as making space for their issue is a matter of justice. My guess is that you are concerned with groups who suffer injustice at the hand of majorities. I doubt that your aim is to protect, fund, and promote a group seeking to preserve the dandelion on urban lawns.

  3. >I didn't really intend this to be a debate about sexuality but since you went there;Modesty is a good thing. There are good reasons to cover up and reserve sexuality for private, intimate relationships. Public nudity, while not in and of itself necessarily shameful is still going a bit too far.

  4. >Dear Mr Anonymous. I don't usually post anonymous comments. I find it rude and cowardly. If you have something constructive to add to the conversation the least you can do is tell us who you are. Otherwise, stay silent.

  5. >Epiphyllum – refer back to my post on Wisdom. It's all about decernment isn't it? I'm not saying minority groups should always get their way. What I am saying is that they deserve to be heard. By giving them a fair hearing the majority has to honestly look at their concerns, even if in the end they are still dismissed. That goes as much for the LGBT community as it does for the Dandelion Defence League.

  6. >Dear Lauren, it is such an American "way of life" thing to say the measure of a democracy is the extent to which it takes care of its minorities. I am 3rd generation, born a minority and spent all my life as a minority in Malaysia and as a special interest group (we are called "pendatang" or "migrants") it is a daily struggle getting past the official prejudices set in place here, and the daily slights that is intentionally cultivated here by officialdom. There is much danger when the majority adopts an ethos of feeling beseiged by minorities… and I think all minorities in the world (whatever their legitimacy to claim their status as "special interest group") are in constant danger of extreme violence of various degrees; and that is because the concerns of cultural plurality and demands for its preservation does not really sit well with the more homogenistic concerns of national interests. To confront this truth is probably is the first step in the right direction towards a true democracy. This is a brave topic, and it can put you within the radar range of our law & order authorities in my country. Thanks for the scratch.

  7. >I really rather agree with you. while I may personally disagree with someone's choice off sexual orientation. It is definitely important that everyone get their chance to be heard, and included, in this great society we have. I don't think that has to mean that we accept all or even most of the suggestions by a special interest group, but that we simply take their concerns into honest consideration, with Empathy.

  8. >Kalai -I do feel I've barely scratched the surface here. One thing I feel is certain; 13,000 years of human history points us on more – not less – cultural pluralty while at the same time pointing us to more economic singularity. It's a paradox we all have to learn to live with. PS I'm Canadian….

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