Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Right To Vote

Posted in response to a question on Quora:
Why do many people believe that it's in the spirit of democracy to allow rapists, sexists, murderers and racists to vote?
I don't feel competent to answer this question as posed because I have never discussed the topic with anyone and have no basis for guessing what others' reason(s) might be.  I will, however, express my own view, albeit inadequately considered.  To do so, I must separate the four classes mentioned into two groups of two classes each and comment on them separately:

  1. Rapists and murderers:  If they are incarcerated, they should not be allowed to vote because they have not yet paid their debt to society.  If they are no longer incarcerated, they are presumed to have paid their debt and have been reinstated in society.  As such, there is no basis for withholding their right to vote.
  2. Sexists and Racists:  These designations may be more subjective than objective.  If they are to be denied the right to vote, we must have a means of deciding which of them should be excluded.  To the best of my knowledge, we do not have an objective test which will accomplish that delineation.

It may be worth mentioning that society embraces all manner of radical thought.  What is considered radical in one era may be mainstream in another.  A democratic political system must accommodate radical as well as mainstream views.  It must let advocates of diverse interests proclaim their ideas and encourage discussion of their concepts.  Some may be accepted, in whole or in part, as they are shown to be in the interest of the community.


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