Both greymaiden and tricstmr bring up the excellent point that where Americanus Mediocritus becomes a problem is when they start imposing their fears or morals on the rest of us, to the detriment of freedom. This is an important enough point I think it deserves it’s own post.
It is my belief that the vast majority of people, while they may show profound disaproval of certain acts or ways of life, will not go out of their way to restrict or harm those who practice those activities without leadership. They haven’t the time or energy, and apathy is a powerful force. Normally, it takes someone extroadinary to get them to act, or else someone acting in their name with their tacit, apathetic aproval. It is the elites who goad them into action, convincing them, frightening them, or fooling them into believing it in their best interests that some law be passed, some minority be oppressed. And here we confront the failure of democracy. I submit to you that it is not the masses which need to be changed – after all, people trying to move the masses is what gets us into these messes – but the system which enables them to have such power over us when manipulated by sufficiently skillful and driven elites. Let their tyranny be restricted to their own homes, and let those who strive to wield them as a weapon find that canon spiked.
To call upon Thoreau again, this time in a positive light:
Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.