Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

In a national referendum, the Swiss just voted to ban the construction of any new minarets in the country.

Minarets are the onion-shaped crowned spires of Islamic mosques, from which Muslims are called to prayer five times each day.

At, economist Tyler Cowen’s first thought on the Swiss vote was, “Sooner or later an open referendum process will get even a very smart, well-educated country into trouble.”

Cowen doesn’t elaborate on what he means by “open.” But he does raise an important distinction between freedom and democracy.

I’m a huge fan of voter initiative and referendum, but a bigger fan of freedom of religion. Freedom for the individual must come first — no dictator has a right to deny it.

Nor does a revolutionary tribunal.

Neither does the Congress or a state legislature or city council. Or even a solid majority of voters in a referendum.

But Cowen misses something, too. The problem in Switzerland isn’t really their initiative and referendum. Legislators make mistakes, too . . . as do, of course, authoritarian regimes. We generally have far less to fear from government under such voter control.

In fact, though I deplore this vote, the ability of Swiss citizens to directly check the power of their government has helped make it one of the best places in the world to live. That is, one of the freest.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Joe Adams says:

    “In fact, though I deplore this vote”

    Really? Spare me the self-righteousness. This is not about religious freedom, it’s about culture. Switzerland is not the U.S.; they, by choice, do not have the same values as we do.

    If muslems want religious freedom, they can find it in a muslem country. What sort of religious freedom do you think christians would find in return in a muslem country?

    So let me get this straight – muslems expect tolerance in a christian country when they themselves are not tolerant of other religions?

    I think you should have to give tolerance to get tolerance.

  2. Unreconstructed says:

    I haven’t read anything about restricting the religion, just the minarets. But if you don’t like sand, don’t go to florida. Isn’t that the basis of “freedom”? They can either have worship in an unminaretted tent, or go back to their home “church”.

  3. Charles Ehrenpreis says:

    As I understand it, the minaret is sometimes or even frequently separate from the mosque (which is the place of worship). The minaret is designed to be seen from anywhere in the neighborhood and to be able to have the muezzin’s voice carry throughout the neighborhood for the calls to prayer 5 times a day! The Swiss voted to outlaw the minarets not the mosques! I believer that this can be considered the prevention of an intrusion of the muslim religion on the rights of the other community members – not the prevention of muslim religious practice! Pehaps the Swiss position is only less politically correct than their government’s!?

  4. Howard Bernbaum says:

    I believe you and Tyler haven’t thought the issue through.

    Freedom of religion, like all freedoms, is something mankind has sought from his earliest beginnings. It seems, however, there has also been, from the earliest times, those who would take away the freedoms. The struggle continues.

    During the ascent of man, most peoples have arrived at an agreement, perhaps more to the point, an accomodation, called live and let live.

    The essence of freedom is to live one’s life as he chooses, while permitting his neighbor to do the same. Freedom of religion allows one to worship as he sees fit and lets his neighbor worship as he wants.

    The word God does not appear in our Constitution yet the document asserts the right of each individual to worship as he wants. Hence, we have freedom of religion in the United States.

    However, that is not the case with Sharia law. Many Muslims practice tolerance, but the fundamentalists do not. Wherever Muslims have achieved significant numbers in the Western world, there is an impact of Sharia law on the laws of the land. There is no tolerance for religious freedom under Sharia law.

    All one has to do is look at the impact of Muslims on civil liberties in France, England, and Holland, for instance, to see the unrest and discord. Train bombings, poison, and riots in the street are no longer uncommon and invariably led by Muslims. Terrorism is their practice to take over wherever they spread.

    With all that in mind, perhaps Tyler would care to rethink his opinion of the Swiss and their desire to preserve their own way of life. Immigrants are welcome and urged to become assimilated. If they cannot adapt to the ways of their adoptive land, then they need to go somewhere else where their ways are more in agreement.

    We, in the United States, should take a lesson from the Swiss. Our strength came from the melting pot, from e pluribus unim. Diversity is destroying our Constitutional way of life and the liberal viewpoint is a proven failure. If we continue on the road of politically correct, collectivism, and totally open borders, anything goes, this country will fail. We, the legal citizens have a vested interest in our country and the right to demand we stay true to our Constitutional origins. The Swiss have it right.

    We are well on our way to doom and need to turn it around, even if it means kicking some liberal’s butt.

  5. voxoreason says:

    Much ado about nothing.

    Europe will be Muslim within a decade or so because Europeans are not reproducing in sufficient numbers to remain majorities in their own countries. (Spain, for example, is toast. Wonder what their NEW name will be. El Naccion de Islamo?) Muslims reproduce in much larger numbers.

    If a country’s citizens reproduce at the low rate of 1.3 children per couple, this is irreversible: these people will never again be the dominant population in their own country. Europe averages out at around 1.5 or so. So give ’em a while, and they’ll have Muslim masters before very long. Honor murders, anyone?

    The only justification I can find for allowing illegal immigrants in America is that they might become American citizens at which point we might reproduce in sufficient numbers (2.8 children/couple) to remain majority Americans dominant in our own country, including nationalized Hispanics. (Could be worse. Consider Europe.)

    Then again, Hispanics are predicted to be the majority in America by 2050. While “Americans” are aborting their babies so that they can be teenagers into their 30s and even 40s or 50s with good plastic surgery (babies can interfere with your social life AND your business career), Hispanics ALSO reproduce in higher numbers.

    Of course, all this presumes that America isn’t destroyed along with our economy thanks to liberals who aren’t nearly as “intellectually and morally superior” as their hubris leads them to believe, voting a communist into the White House (a president who then filled the White House with like-minded pinkos)…with an agenda to destroy our economy.

    But darn it all, didn’t it feel good electing a “black” (well, halfway) president? And they call Sarah Palin stupid? (Yes, every single day at least one late night comic will hammer this woman on major network TV; MSNBC exists largely to fill in on weekends. It’s not like tons of people really watch these hateful, judgmental sub-humans. Chris Matthews? Here’s a banana and now into the volcano with you! Obermann will be right behind you!)

    The major network/print news co’s are complicit in the cover up of Climate-gate (it’s not like it’s a national security secret, which would be above the fold on the front page)… and co-conspirators in the fall of America. Yes, the failing NY TIMES and the like will get a bailout no matter how anti-American they are or how much Americans DON’T want to read liberal propaganda. Guess who will pay? Do you pay taxes? Look in the mirror and SEE who will pay!

    There is no other valid explanation.

    This would be an excellent time to reflect upon getting right with God. Or you can try to remain a teenager into your 30s or 40s or 50s… if you live that long.

  6. Pat says:

    Banning minarets isn’t impinging on the exercise of religion. It’s a building code. In a modern society, such as Switzerland, it isn’t necessary to have people yelling at all hours of the day just because it was done that way thirteen centuries ago. People today have clocks and watches. They know the time and they should know their prayer schedule. Muslims are free to worship. Mosques can still be built.

  7. James ,vze5966h says:



  8. Jackson1925 says:

    A comment was made that we have religious freedom in the US. We had religious frredom but do not have it now. When is the last time you heard church bells. They anoyed the neighbors. Store employees say Happy Holidays. I say Merry Christmas. Employees are not allowed to have a religious object on their desk (along with a US flag.) The ACLU was started by Baldwin in 1900 to eliminate religion, control business and change our government. Do some research

  9. Celina says:

    More posts of this qultaiy. Not the usual c***, please

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