I find it appalling that the Saipan Tribune would choose to publish on Monday’s editorial page a grossly deceptive and mendacious opinion piece by John Yoo—the architect, apologist, and facilitator of the Bush administration’s torture policy—portraying Obergefell v. Hodges as an attack on democracy. Mr. Yoo, I am sure, would consider Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves as an attack on democracy rooted in the sanctity of property; the War Between the States as an attack on democracy expressed in the choice of secession; Loving v. Virginia, striking down laws criminalizing interracial marriages as an attack on democracy; Griswold v. Connecticut, protecting the right of couples to use contraception if they choose, and other cases protecting the privacy of individual choices in the bedroom and elsewhere, all as attacks on democracy.
Tyranny is the arbitrary and capricious enforcement of the will of the ruler on the people by any means. Tyrants have always had their “philosophers,” like the sophists of ancient Greece. The function of sophistry is to make falsehood masquerade as truth. The Founders, in framing the American Constitution, did not set out to protect democracy, they set out to safeguard liberty while building a strong nation. Their greatest fear was the triumph of tyranny.
As Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” And if angels were to govern, we would not need constitutions and Supreme Courts. So the Founders set out to create a republic, but not just any republic, a democratic republic, because the roots of legitimacy for governance have to be found in the individual. Not in the democratic mass, the “tyranny of the majority,” but in the fundamental worth of each and every individual.
The Supreme Court, notwithstanding Mr. Yoo’s distaste for the messy diversity of life, has once again risen to the task of fulfilling its highest purpose: the protection of the dignity and value of each and every individual, without which there can be no true democracy and no true justice. Autonomous individuals are the building blocks of democracy. Without them, there is no democracy, just a collective, run by a tyrant.
John Yoo is a philosopher for tyranny, a sophist whose only use for democracy is to invoke its name in furtherance of oppression, to brandish its mantle as an excuse to trample on the rights, freedom and dignity of some, to hold himself up by ruthlessly and senselessly pushing others down.
There really is nothing worse than brilliant use of the written and spoken word to evil ends, and Mr. Yoo is a master of that. The Tribune should not allow its pages to be defiled with such trash.
Stephen C. Woodruff