Tyranny – A Seemingly Lost Concept on the Majority

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson

I’ve written and re-written this post four times already this morning. With each edit came the revelation that it had morphed into another version of a rant against those who are under the notion that we are a Christian nation because of majority rule. Well, I’ve written about that many times and with each word that appears before me on my word processor, it becomes inevitable that I find myself writing about it yet again. Regardless of how many times I hit the “back space” 0r “delete” key, my mind stubbornly returns to the concept of tyranny.

Through the cobwebs and scattered papers that litter the floor of my mind and amongst the remnant memories of thousands of books that I have read which sit on the dusty shelves of my recollective, there emerges the single, unadulterated and clear thought of why the religious right continues to hawk their snake oil salve that consists of the single mandate that we should all acquiesce to their dictates and doctrines.

Under A Mythological Thumb…

The word “tyranny” has been around for a while. It literally means a “cruel or unjust use of power,” and its etymology comes from the old French term, “tyrannie,” and can also be traced to the Latin “tyranny,” and as well from the Greek “tyrannia.” Basically, it addresses the rule of a tyrant, which itself means “absolute ruler,” which is an apt definition for the point of view of many religious people as to the authority their God has over the entire species, regardless of the individual beliefs or unbelief of any given person.

Sure, the fundamentalists are quick to bring up “free will,” but that concept is little more than a legal technicality that is used to thwart their twisted concept of reality where it concerns the penalty for a variety of acts and actions, up to and including the complete disregard for the belief that there exists a God in the first place. The fact remains that if someone puts a gun to your head and asks you a “yes or no” question, with the penalty for “no” being the strike of the weapons hammer upon the firing pin, then there really isn’t much of a choice. Either agree or die, and those are the choices that God gives, according to doctrine. You can either believe, accept and live forever in blissful eternity; or disbelieve, deny and live forever in torment and despair.

This is the divine thumb that the fundamentalist live under, and it is their fear of their God that not only keeps them in line, but also serves as the motivation for their insistence that they keep others in line as well. Soldiers for Christ, God’s majority army of the indoctrinated that are preaching a sermon of servitude that demand the obedience of the minority. This is the way of the bully. This is the base doctrine of tyranny.

To The Republic…

The United States of America is not a Democracy. We are a Democratic Republic, and this concept is personified with great accuracy in a statue that we are all familiar with. Lady Justice, with scales in one hand and sword in the other, and a blindfold covering her eyes. The blindfold represents objectivity, because justice should be meted out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness. Our Constitution was drafted with this concept in mind, and added the condition that the rights of the one should never be usurped by the will of the majority. This precept has resulted in the abolition of slavery during a time where the majority did not agree. This precept had resulted in the allowance of women to vote and own land. This precept has resulted in a plethora of anti-discrimination laws.

When this precept is abrogated, tyranny results, and it was the tyranny that resulted from Theocratic rule in pre-colonial Britain that forged the birth of our nation. Religion clouds the judgment of the believer and distorts the already unbalanced concept of Democracy – “majority rule” – by reinforcing it with a divine rebar. When the majority believe that God is the sole source of everything that which a society should be governed, the logical conclusion is a Dictatorship by Divine rule, and said Dictatorship will naturally be administered by a human representative of God.

Our species has been down this road a thousand times already, and there are extant governments that are proof positive of this reality. What is most unsettling is the ease at which a nation can be transformed into a Theocracy, and how the majority can be effortlessly convinced to not only march in lockstep toward their own destruction, but do it willingly, with great determination and be completely blinded into thinking they are doing the right thing by becoming agents of propaganda. In short, they are…

Paging Dr. Stockholm…

I often equate fundamental religious belief with Stockholm Syndrome, which is defined as the phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors to the point of defending them, and the hostages often mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. The only difference is that the fundamentalist is guilty of voluntary captivity, which is indicative of their touting themselves as having “freedom in Christ.”

This becomes obvious when we consider the fundamentalists belief that God controls absolutely everything, but only give him credit for intervention when the situation and conditions lean toward, or are in their favor; but do not assign responsibility for when the situation and conditions lean to, or are detrimental to their well-being or the well-being of others, in general. This is cognitive dissonance at its base, and is the core dogma that results in the delusion of religious belief surrounding the grace of God for the good, and the responsibility of the believer and/or the mystery of God’s intentions, methods or will for the bad.

Unscientific Fiction…

The whole of the reality that the fundamentalists have in consideration of their belief that their religious doctrines should be forged as the rule of law, that their God has the final authority over the lives of the entirety of the populace and their determination to do whatever they can to effect these precepts upon our species is fodder for a really terrific movie or book. In fact, it is the basis of the novel I am in the process of writing.

What scares me as an author is that each paragraph I write seems to be a precognition, and I don’t even recognize precognitive ability to be viable. I write something and then in short order I read where some fundamentalist politician or legislator has pushed it out in the form of a bill, and I await the result of whether or not it is passed into law with breath baited with a genuine fear for the future of our nation. My fears are furthered when I read the comments made by my fellow citizens, some of which chill me to the bone.

Tyranny, Reloaded…

It is not my desire to destroy another person’s faith in their deity or deities. I am not unaware of the comfort that many derive from their faith. Who am I to take that away from another individual? Most of the Christians I know on a personal level make genuine attempts to be good people, and have enough to worry about getting through life relatively unscathed and, like myself, have no desire to push their personal ideologies on others, even in the voting booth.

Contrary to what the conservatives would have us believe, not all Christians think alike and there are a significant number of them who support the separation of church and state, the teaching of real science in our classrooms, and even though they may have a personal objection to abortion, they support the right of the individual woman to make that choice, herself. These Christians are very aware of the tyrannical ramifications of a Theocracy, mainly because they understand that there are those who hold the same disdain for “false Christians” as they do for unbelievers.

Belief or unbelief is a personal choice and one that can only be made by the individual. Whether or not someone chooses to question their beliefs, or to investigate the claims made by their religious leaders with regard to the natural world, including the sciences, is up to them. Most people can get along just fine being completely ignorant to the realities of climate change or to the facts that make up evolutionary theory. Many do not, though, and it is these individuals that make up some very large and well-funded organizations that have the singular goal of pushing the United States back a few hundred years and a few thousand miles east.

The former should be left to live and let live. The latter need the attention, determination and intestinal fortitude of an organized effort to move us forward in the direction of complete neutrality in government with respect to religious doctrine and dogma, and to the legal eradication of discrimination and the equality of rights for every human being.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, religion has no place in the governance of a free Republic and we would do well to get off our collective asses and get organized.

  23 comments for “Tyranny – A Seemingly Lost Concept on the Majority

  1. Sqrat
    April 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Our Constitution was drafted with this concept in mind, and added the condition that the rights of the one should never be usurped by the will of the majority. This precept has resulted in the abolition of slavery during a time where the majority did not agree.

    Al: Slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment, which was duly enacted by a super-majority of two-thirds of both houses of Congress and ratified by a super-majority of three-fourths of the state legislatures, so arguing that it was abolished at a time when the majority did not agree is a bit of a stretch.

    As a matter of historical trivia that might be of some interest, the state that pushed the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment over the top of the three-fourths requirement, on Dec. 6, 1865, was your own.

    • April 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Sqrat,

      I was referring to the general concensus of the populace, which at the time of the ratification of the 13th amendment favored slavery – particularly here in the south.

      The fact that the legislators of the time ruled in favor of abolition of slavery clarifies the point I was making with today’s post.

      Those who decided that making it illegal to own another human being is a fantastic testimony to the will of the majority not usurping the rights of the minority.

      The fact that Georgia was instrumental in this speaks even louder, as the town of Stone Mountain – just outside of Atlanta – is home to the birth of one of the incarnations of the KKK.

      Interestingly enough, even though members are elected to Congress to represent the will of their constituency, when that will abrogates basic human rights, they are bound by oath to rule accordingly.

      Thank you for your comments. 🙂

      • Sqrat
        April 4, 2012 at 7:13 pm

        I was referring to the general concensus of the populace, which at the time of the ratification of the 13th amendment favored slavery – particularly here in the south.

        Al: I think that the evidence strongly suports the opposite conclusion: in 1865, an overwhelming majority of Americans favored the abolition of slavery. After all, the overwhelming majority of Americans lived in what had been, in 1861, the “free states” that had already abolished slavery. What they had been unwilling to do, in 1861, was to abolish slavery in those states where it was still legal. By 1865, opinions had been radicalized because of the undeniable facts of treason and rebellion, waged in defense of slavery.

        Even in much of the South, the desire to abolish slavery was strong in 1865. The census of 1860 showed that 43.7% of the people who lived in Georgia were slaves. How many of them of voting age did NOT favor the abolition of slavery in 1865? Very few, I would think. That means that even if only a small minority of Georgia whites — 15%, say — favored the abolition of slavery in 1865, that 15% added to a near unanimity among blacks would probably have equaled a comfortable majority in favor of abolition.

        The 1860 census showed that an absolute majority of the population in both South Carolina and Mississippi were slaves, so I think we can reasonably assume that in 1865 an absolute majority of the population in those states favored the abolition of slavery, regardless of what any of the whites there thought.

        Interestingly enough, even though members are elected to Congress to represent the will of their constituency, when that will abrogates basic human rights, they are bound by oath to rule accordingly.

        The text of the congressional oath of office is as follows:

        “I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

        Members of Congress are bound by oath to uphold the Constitution, not to uphold basic human rights. Indeed, in any case where the Constitution might be opposed to human rights, the oath would oblige the member of Congress to support the Constitution over human rights.

        • April 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm

          I believe you’ve completely missed my point. Honestly, I don’t have the time to address this agian. Thanks, though.

  2. Hal
    April 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    This is why I joined and donate money to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

    • I amafreeman
      April 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Right on; maybe I can scrape up a few buckskins to send – IF it isn’t used for salaries for too-lazy-to-get-a-real-job blowhards. Have become leery of many/all “causes” of late.

  3. April 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Great post Al. I agree that we need to “get off our collective asses” and do something. That is why I started my blog a few months back and have become more active in my local atheist group.

    I think you are very correct in quoting Jefferson at the start of your post. In essence, that is exactly what is happening in our country. The Right, in alliance with the Evangelical Christian groups with money and power, is slowly twisting the First Amendment–and many other parts of the Constitution as well. The problem that I see is that many of our fellow citizens are not aware that this is happening. It not because they are stupid, it is because as you stated they are just trying to get through the day, work, family, etc people are tired and politics often takes a back seat. While I do not believe that many of our fellow citizens are stupid, I do think that many are not educated on the finer points of our Constitution, our Nation’s history, the consequences of many of the currently proposed laws, what our Founders intended etc. I feel that it is partly my responsibility to spread the word on those things to help educate people both about our country and about the dangers of religion.

    Once again—good post.

  4. Norman Lycan
    April 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Mr. Steffani,

    Well, back at the rallying point. I feel safe here. Even the atheists that hate me feel at one here. Never was such a fraud ever perpetrated on humanity than goatherder religion. What often blows my mind is that religious scholars search archaelogical finds for older and older documents thinking they are approaching some pure “god” influence. The insanity of such a pursuit boggles my mind. All they approach is Neanderthal total ignorance and the total absense of science. I suspect that serves their purpose.

    Religion exists because humans are the only species that consciously realizes their death is inevitable. Survival instincts makes that scare the hell out of them. So, our intellect and fear spawned religion, while we didn’t even know how to build a fire, now it elects presidents, silly humans.

    NL

    • I amafreeman
      April 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Excellent analysis, sir!

  5. April 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Another great post, Al. Oh I so agree with you about holding your breath as horrible bills are debated – and the comments! Some days, I must consciously avoid them because they can bring on despair. 🙁

    You are so right. People need to stand up, come out and organize to save this country from tyranny – religious or otherwise.

    reasonbeing, I just visited your blog and read your excellent post on historical oppression by religions. I also took the survey!

  6. G.Shelley
    April 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Interesting post, although the US is a democracy, unless you are using some obscure definition of the word, rather than either common usage or the dictionary. Democracy does not mean “majority rules”

    • April 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

      M. Shelley,

      If I were writing a political science article about the formation of our government and the intricacies of detailed definitives, I would have expounded more on the differences of the various forms of Democracy. Since the point of the article was reflective of religious tyranny and the infusion of church and state, I did not make such distinctions. However, if you wish to split hairs, then that’s fine by me. The United States is a Democratic Republic, or, if you will a Representative Democracy. I could go back and edit my article to say, “The United States is not a Direct Democracy,” but I don’t feel compelled to do so. If I had to explain every single detail of the articles I write to satisfy the compulsions of all of my readers, I’d be writing a new book every few days.

      -Al

      • I amafreeman
        April 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

        The Constitution “GUARANTEES a Republican form of government”. (emp added)via democratically elected representatives. Although at the time not ALL free men were allowed to vote – and NO women. So not very democratic….

        Additionally, ENOUGH representatives – UNELECTED, at that – favored some form of anti-slavery or “reform” that Jefferson and Madison traded keeping slavery in the 13 States for the 8th(if memory serves) Clause of the Northwest Ordinance forbidding slavery. Ironically, slavery was “over-looked” in the new territory and the ensuing States.

        Both the NO and the COTUS were written simultaneously with the NO being passed first. For this reason the Northwest Ordinance is sometimes referred to as “The Mother of the Constitution”.

        Moreover, the phrase is “bated breath” as in abated meaning to hold back, or something of that nature.

  7. I amafreeman
    April 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    It would appear that the argument is essentially, “My god is better than your god”. Could also be “My way of life and my values (because they are `MY god-based’)are better than yours”.

    Both “fightin’ words – and, therefore, one could argue outlawed by the First Amendment.

  8. rapiddominance
    April 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Al deserves just as much credit for the proper application of this quote as Thomas Jefferson does for its origin.

    “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson

    Here is a thought that comes to mind: To be silent is to be complicit.

    The thing is, guilt comes into play eventually and when this is not addressed a cascade of psychological damage can occur. You see, the person willing to remain silent and unmoved during an aggressive or oppressive action is also more likely not to address the ensuing guilt with clarity or self honesty.

    Guilt, itself, is painful. But sometimes, doing the right thing to avoid or remedy guilt can frighten us with the burden it will bring.

    When a man or woman remains silent in the midst of oppression, its not just the rest of the world that crumbles. To use fanciful, unscientific language: The heart grows dark.

    It might not seem necessary to act during these days that merely whisper of tyranny. If, however, we allow such a world to form around us–where women and men are afraid to speak their minds–we might all become acquainted with the mindfucking nightmare of a helpless child in the thralls of an abusive parent.

    • I amafreeman
      April 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Well spoken! Silence is indeed complicity.

  9. Norman Lycan
    April 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Mr. Steffani,

    Excellent article, I didn’t just scan it I read every f’ing word.

    Something to think about, you said: The only difference is that the fundamentalist is guilty of voluntary captivity,

    Well, for many that is true. Belief of convenience. And I do not know your history but let me share an anecdote from mine. I was born into a family where my father became a Jehovah’s Witness because he really, really, really wanted to fuck my mom. I don’t blame him, I’ve seen photos of her when she was sixteen, when he married her, and trust me, she was WHITE HOT DROPDEAD GORGEOUS!!!!! But, to get his dick past her panties, he agreed to convert. He’s long dead now, cancer, but, he really did try to fulfill his promise, he tried to make it work with her. And while he was a very intelligent man, his commitment to her meant brainwashing the children with the religion, too. While it was arrogant and intellectually lazy, he subjected his children to religion, and I and my siblings are the victims. What you might not understand, is the emotional rollercoaster that us victims ride to establish our freedom. I lost my grandparents, my parents, my wife, my children, and my entire circle of friends in order to make that final break. They were all property of the church, held as security to keep me in my place.

    So, you might better understand that the lesson that I learned is that I will never, under any circumstance believe anything that cannot be conclusively proven by science. It is my perfect shield. Now, I hear my fellow freethinkers accusing me of magical thinking because I will not buy into their “leap of faith”. Well, fuck you, get over it.

    NL

    • I amafreeman
      April 5, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Norman Lycan, I totally understand – been THROUGH it! Wife was mentally disturbed AND lazy beyond believe. Kids are quite intelligent, but yet believe utter nonsense – and will kill (I am serious) defending it; speaks to the power of JW brainwashing.

      All said and done, I would rather be free. So few understand this, or want to.

      I am so happy that you attained your freedom, an unsurpassable feeling, and truly worth any price.

  10. Norman Lycan
    April 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Mr Steffani said:

    “I’ve said it before and I will say it again, religion has no place in the governance of a free Republic and we would do well to get off our collective asses and get organized.I’ve said it before and I will say it again, religion has no place in the governance of a free Republic and we would do well to get off our collective asses and get organized.”

    Wow, that’s a daunting task. You write a post about religious zealots have freedom of speech, which I agree, but, now, you want to align this general side of a philosophy into a united movement. I could be wrong, just one perception, but, it seems like atheists feel they have cornered the market on freethought, even the idiots. First thought, stop calling yourself an atheist. Call yourself a freethinker. Step up, and put your own voice in the forum to stop the hate speech against those who don’t call themselves atheist. Then, perhaps it will become a war room with an intelligent plan to change the face of the planet. And good luck.

    NL

  11. StevoR
    April 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I could be wrong but wasn’t ‘tyrant’ – like ‘dictator’ – once at least a semi-respectable supreme Office-holder title in ancient Greece (Hellenic city-states) &/or pre-Republic Rome?

    These titles only later gained oppobrium right? Or am I mistaken?

  12. StevoR
    April 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Ah, Wikipedia notes here :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrant

    A tyrant (Greek τύραννος, tyrannos) was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments. .. (snip) .. In common usage, the word “tyrant” carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of an oligarchy over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls. The Greek term carried no pejorative connotation during the Archaic and early Classical periods but was clearly a bad word to Plato, and on account of the decisive influence of political philosophy its negative connotations only increased down into the Hellenistic period, becoming synonymous with “Authenteo” – another term which carried authoritarian connotations around the turn of the first century A.D.

    (Emphasis added.)

    So, umm, kinda?

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