Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Power of One

We hear a lot today how the "power of the individual" has been eroded in American society--about how "big corporations and special interests" run everything.  But the friends of a drunk driving victim in Sun Prairie are finding out that one person can still wield a great deal of power.  More 29-hundred people have now signed an on-line petition demanding that the DOT allow a memorial to the woman (who was run over while jogging) to remain near the spot where she was killed.  The Department has ordered its removal because one person complained--and their policy is to remove such memorials from the public right of way if just one person complains.  (The irony here is that the policy was adopted to avoid lawsuits from atheists over having those white crosses on public property.  But in this case, the complainer was likely a friend of the drunk driver--who just happened to be a Lutheran Bishop.)

But that being in Dane County, I wonder how many of those signing the petition to save the memorial and who are upset that one person can be responsible for its removal supported the State's policy under Governor Jim Doyle giving the Department of Public Instruction the power to order school districts to drop high school mascots like Indians, Braves, Warriors, Chiefs and Black Hawks if just one person filed a complaint.  And it didn't even have to be one person who actually lives in the school district.  It could have been a person who doesn't even live in Wisconsin--but is making a career out of forcing schools to drop their mascots.

One person--with public policy on their side--can dictate many things to the majority in today's society.  Think of the one child with peanut, or gluten, or fruit allergies that causes schools to adopt "no birthday treats" policies--for fear of "embarrassing" someone who may not be able to eat the treat.  Or the hundreds of thousands of dollars that school districts must spend--by law--to accomodate special needs students whose parents want them "mainstreamed" and not grouped with other students of similar disability at a central location in the district.

Our currency features the Latin phrase "E pluribus unum"--meaning "From many, one".  Perhaps we should consider changing it to fit our modern "nobody can be offended or excluded at any cost" society to "Positus in multis" or "One controls the many".

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