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The beauty of democracy

| Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I find it unconscionable that The Observer would print the piece “Respect Life Beyond This Week,” by Louis Bertolotti. I find it to be both indefensibly provocative and poorly reasoned. The author advocates that we “alter or abolish” our form of government (a democracy, last time I checked) because we have a law with which he doesn’t agree. This seems inflammatory to say the least. Wouldn’t it make more sense to fight for change to the law rather than incite the reader to modify or do away with our very form of government? This is the beauty of democracy: one can fight for change to laws within the rule of law.

Second, the author suggests the Supreme Court lacked the authority to make the Roe v. Wade decision because its members were not elected. This betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of how our government works. I’m no political scientist but if I remember correctly, one of the main ideas behind the creation of an independent judiciary is that the judges should be (somewhat) insulated from public opinion and not concerned with the constant need to be re-elected. In any event, if our elected officials (members of the House and Senate) collectively decided to abolish abortion, they could do that. The fact that they have not done so is an indication of the variety of public opinion on this issue.

Last, the author suggests, indirectly, that supporters of abortion should be aborted. He does this by slyly quoting Lincoln on slavery — but the implication is clear. The author is, or at least seems to be, advocating violence against those who hold an opinion different from the one he holds. The author is of course entitled to hold any opinion he wants. However, The Observer has shown an egregious lack of judgment in publishing this piece. We should all — regardless of individual positions on the issue of abortion — demand that The Observer apologize to the University community for taking the debate on abortion to the lowest and most irresponsible level of discourse.


Ben A. Heller

associate professor, Romance Languages and Literatures

Oct. 9


The Observer issued an Editors’ Note, which can be found here, in response to this letter to the editor.

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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