[EM] proxies and confidentiality

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Mar 2 13:48:49 PST 2006

At 11:27 PM 3/1/2006, RLSuter at aol.com wrote:

I define democracy generally as a characteristic of organizations, 
which deals with the problem of "Is the U.S. a democracy?" Or, for 
that matter, "Was Athens a democracy?" It is simpler to answer the 
last question....

Athens was a democracy for those who were recognized as citizens and 
who were able to participate in decision-making. It was not a 
democracy for the others. That is, there was an oligarchy which 
generally functioned, within itself, as a democracy.

Democratic organizations can be oppressors of others.

Democracy is also not an absolute characteristic, it seems that it is 
generally a relative one. That is one organization may be more 
democratic than another, and yet we might describe both of them as 
democracies, or both of them as not democracies.

Compared to what?

It is clear to me that any organization where all the members consent 
to the organizational process is a democracy with respect to those 
members. But it might be a dictatorship with respect to those who do 
not consent (and who, by this definition, are not members).

The U.S. deprives felons of the right to vote. Quite clearly, it is 
not a democracy with respect to them. And this restriction, if 
continued past the time of imprisonment or other legal incapacity, 
has definite political effects. Indeed, many dictatorships simply 
define anyone who opposes the government as a criminal.

The rule that felons don't have voting rights seems quite arbitrary 
and dangerous. What is the fear? That felons will vote to make theft 
or murder illegal? For this to happen, would they not have to be able 
to sway the majority? And I've worked closely with felons, as a 
prison chaplain. They would not vote to make theft or murder legal, 
not as a group. Each of them might make this or that exception, and 
many or even most of them recognize that what they did was wrong.

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