When it comes to making community decisions – elections, political candidates, etc – most of us were brought up with the dictum “majority rules.”
Nowadays, it seems that no longer applies every time. We’re seeing “tail-wag-the-dog” ruling in some cases. A minority – often small in number – trying to dictate to the majority. And, often successfully.
Case in point: The Meridian Library District in Idaho.
Meridian is a community of some 126-thousand souls. It resides next to Boise – population 240-thousand more or less. In daily life, there’s little to tell them apart since the two sit cheek-by-jowl to each other and, in nearly all ways – business, socially, economically – it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other leaves off.
At the moment, the Meridian Library District – a creature supported in many ways by both Meridian and Boise – is under attack. A few folks – and we’re talking a distinct few here in relation to total population – are at the heart of the problem – waging “war” on the District.
Seems the Meridian Library District is a purveyor of “indecent” books – especially for young folks. And the small group of strident voices is trying to get the Library District – supported by thousands in the majority – dissolved. Not recalled. Dissolved!
There are two problems at play here. The first: what is your definition of “indecent?” The second: where is it written a small group of folks can dictate to a total population of some 350-thousand? So far, the whole brouhaha is still in the talking stages.
Somebody, somehow, somewhere in Idaho came up with what is referred to as the “official definition” for obscene material. To wit: “anything the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, when considered as a whole, appeals to excessive sexual interest.” I guess you’re on your own to come up with those “contemporary community standards” and “excessive.”
Library District Board Chair, Megan Larsen, says nothing in the Meridian District libraries fits that “official” description. Nothing! Period! And library staff has taken the half-dozen book titles presented by the group and shown how each is not “indecent” under that standard and where each fits into appropriate school curriculum.
But, the screeching minority isn’t buying the response. So, the whole mishmash is in the lap of the Board. Decision expected shortly.
This is just one example in our world today that shows the extent of some minority group trying to exercise itself at the expense of a majority. Not thousands of Meridian District patrons demanding change. Just this handful. And, they’re wrong.
Also, Boise. The Idaho capitol city has enjoyed long and consistent growth. It’s well-underpinned by a sound economy, a stable though growing population and room to add citizenry as needed.
But it wasn’t always so. For more than 25-years, in the ’60’s and ’70’s, a loud, vocal minority of a few hundred folk, put up roadblocks on the “highway” of the vast majority. Downtown urban renewal was the subject at hand. Even after the documents were signed, agreements all around by elected boards and commissions and construction started. Still they hollared.
Now, in our little Oregon ‘burb, a similar thing. A few folks are up in arms over a permit to demolish three very old buildings and replace the resultant hole-in-the-ground with a new five-story hotel.
Owners of the three hundred-year-old buildings have proven, conclusively, the structures can’t be economically remodeled or rehabilitated. A wise architect once told me anything built by man has a certain “life expectancy” just as our own bodies do. Electrical. Plumbing. Structurally. Heart. Veins. Arteries. Sooner or later, it all wears out.
Though vocally discordant, it’s not likely the minority will win this one, either. But, it’s resulting in a lot of unnecessary expense and wasted time for the local hotel people who’ve already jumped through many city hoops and gone to much extra effort. And expense.
We see this minority disruption in many ways. A few folks try to turn the tide of the majority by belligerence and, in some cases, by erecting legal hurdles.
My thinking: once the majority has proven its case – once the minority has been given a proper hearing – once the questions (new hotel, an absence of obscene books) have been answered by professionals – once the an election has been decided – game over. Everybody go home.
But, in too many instances, its not working out that way. Though small and destined to fail, these little groups of dissidents keep up the noise and disruption. Even after decisions have been made.
“Majority rule?” Well, not always.