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One of the disadvantages of our social system, which is the child of our political, is the tyranny of public opinion, forbidding the utterance of wholesome but unpalatable truth. In a republic we are so accustomed to the rule of majorities that it seldom occurs to us to examine their title to dominion; and as the ideas of might and right are, by our innate sense of justice, linked together, we come to consider public opinion infallible and almost sacred.

Now, majorities rule, not because they are right, but because they are able to rule. In event of collision they would conquer, so it is expedient for minorities to submit beforehand to save trouble.

In fact, majorities, embracing, as they do the most ignorant, seldom think rightly; public opinion, being the opinion of mediocrity, is commonly a mistake and a mischief. But it is to nobody’s interest – it is against the interest of most – to dispute with it. Public writer and public speaker alike find their account in confirming “the plain people” in their brainless errors and brutish prejudices – in glutting their omnivorous vanity and inflaming their implacable racial and national hatreds.


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