In a previous post I deplored the suggestion that a bank, via PayPal, was seeking to censor e-books. I am pleased to be able to report that that threat appears tohave been averted thanks to the campaign that was mounted by concerned organisations and individuals who would have been directly affected by the proposal.
This is an example of a successful campaign by a minority to prevent a change in custom and practice with the potential to affect us all. There are other recent examples that are less welcome. The most recent concerns the use of mice in medical research. Having several years ago harassed breeders in the UK to the point where they gave up, animal rights activists, it is now reported, have succeeded in preventing the importation of the animals into Britain.
This is a disturbing development not just because of the potential impact on the research but because it demonstrates that a small minority working quietly and virtually unnoticed have the power to prevent not one but several large organisations from carrying on a legitimate business. That is very worrying indeed if you believe in democracy. The people concerned claim that they have mounted their campaign out of concern for the animals. On the other side of the argument are the people whose lives might be saved or whose suffering might be relieved by the drugs that need to be tested on the animals.
I am tempted to ask: do these people ever swat a fly? Do they take steps to prevent the birds that enter their garden from eating slugs, snails and worms? Where do they draw the line between creatures that are to be protected and those that can be left to fend for themselves in face of predators? The mice they are protecting would not exist were they not bred for the intended purpose. Their cousins in the wild lead a far more hazardous life. The purported concern that has led this handful of individuals to take the law into their own hands in defiance of the majority population is totally misguided. It is time for the rest of us to stand up to these ignorant fools and insist that the airlines and ferry companies ignore them and their threats.
There is a second recent example of a minority group seeking to interfere with the democratic process. Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have become quite vociferous in their condemnation of government proposals to introduce a form of marriage for gay people. When I see these men in frocks pontificating from the pulpit I am apt to start shouting at the TV screen, telling them to mind their own business!
I have no problem with the Church making rules for its members. But it has no right to seek to impose those rules on the rest of us.