This week we saw the emergence of a major diplomatic conflict between Turkey and the Netherlands. In short, the Dutch government used legal means to ban two Turkish ministers from Dutch territory, preventing them to hold speeches in support of the Erdogan campaign. This campaign is about a referendum that would change the Turkish Constitution, putting –bluntly said- more power in the hands of the Turkish President.
In the media, we see an explosion of articles that are about the ‘lawfulness’ of the Dutch actions and Turkish ministers. However, what I miss in the ‘mainstream’ debate is a very important underling question: ‘can you use democratic means to realize undemocratic results?’ Or, from the opposite perspective: ‘can you use undemocratic means to protect democracy?’
‘The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun’ is a famous quote of the President of the National Rifle Association (Wayne LaPierre) that embodies the debate on owning weapons in the U.S. Supporters claim that the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right, which even extends to students who should be able to wear a gun while going to college. Opponents claim that this right is the cause for so many school shootings, and want to restrict the free circulation of weapons.
In this blog I do not wish to repeat that discussion or comment on it. Instead, I would like to reflect on the underlying dispute, which is actually about the fundamental meaning of the word ‘freedom’. The ‘right to bear arms’-discussion says it all: should someone have the right to protect her/himself against evil, or should someone have the right to live in a society in which this is not necessary?