The OBLIGATION and the RIGHT to protest

The OBLIGATION and the RIGHT to protest

In a democracy, protest is not just a RIGHT, it is also an OBLIGATION.

Protest is the last resort for citizens to alert their fellow citizens that the government's incompetence or other abuse of power is leading to gross injustice. Protest is a last resort after other, more conventional methods have been tried without success.

In a democracy, it is an OBLIGATION of citizens who discover an abuse of power to alert their fellow citizens. It is the equivalent to setting off a fire alarm. If citizens witness injustice, and do not take action, they are complicit in that injustice.

In a democracy, it is an OBLIGATION of the government and an OBLIGATION of the fellow citizens to examine the grievances that are the subject of a protest, assess whether the protest is justified, and act accordingly.

The option of protest is a fundamental part of a democracy, and so cannot be unlawful in a democracy. If a government in a democracy tries to ban effective protest, it merely makes itself illegitimate, no longer a democratic government.

Relevant quotations

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to look on and do nothing"
(After John Stuart Mill, 1867)

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
(after John Philpot Curran, 1790 [1])



First published: 18 Mar 2021
Last updated: 19 Mar 2021