When government is not strictly limited, individual liberty can erode extremely fast, even under democracy.
The French Senate has just passed a bill banning the Islamic veil. The vote passed almost unanimously 246 to 1, and almost 82% of the French people support the bill… This is not the decree of a king or dictator but the undeniable “will of the people.” The full implications of Rousseau’s philosophy of the General Will in practice.
Absolute democracy which allows for the majority to vote away the rights of a minority can never be just. As Thomas Jefferson said (though somewhat hypocritically given his history as a slave owner…), “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thoreau, in his essay Civil Disobedience, also realized the injustice of unlimited majority rule, “A government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.”
The French facial veil ban is absolutely ridiculous, more ridiculous though is that people are allowed to vote away the rights of others in the first place. This is a clear reminder, especially to those who would tend to romanticize unbridled democracy: Dictators are not the only tyrants.