Whose justice?

Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner seems like a funny guy – especially for a justice minister, at least in a country that is fortunate enough to have a constitution.

Donner believes that if, some time in the future, two-thirds of Dutch citizens believe that Sharia, Islamic law, should be introduced in the Netherlands, then it must be allowed. That, says the minister, is the ultimate consequence of democracy…The minister’s remarks have caused uproar in parliament. His own Christian Democrat [sic] party is astonished…The largest Dutch party, the opposition Labour Party, also thinks the justice minister is on the wrong track. Labour point out that, in their view, Sharia is in conflict with the Dutch constitution on a number of points. For example, it could never be officially possible to discriminate against women or homosexuals.

Well, there you are. It’s rather basic. Democracy in the form of simple majoritarianism always carries the risk that a majority will decide (vote, want, choose) to persecute a minority or even (in the case of women) a majority, and that’s why farsighted people decided constitutions were a good idea. People aren’t nice, in fact people are crap, so pure majoritarian unhedged democracy is a terrible, terrible idea.

(And by the way, why is Radio Netherlands talking about the Christian Democrat party? Surely they haven’t picked up that rude habit of US Republicans of refusing to say ‘Democratic’ party or candidate because it sounds too complimentary…but why else would they be doing it? That’s not standard usage. I’ve noticed the World Service doing it lately, too, to my deep fury, but I’m astonished to see it’s made its way to the Continent. Christian Democratic party. Cut it out.)

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