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Lets Ask Bill W.

Question & Answer # 29 | Q&A index

What purpose does the right of appeal serve?

Answer
There came to this country some hundred years ago a French Baron whose family and himself had been wracked by the French revolution, De Toqueville, and he was a worshipful admirer of democracy. And in those days democracy seemed to be mostly expressed in people's minds by votes of simple majorities. And he was a worshipful admirer of the spirit of democracy as expressed by the power of a majority to govern. But, said de Toqueville, a majority can be ignorant, it can be brutal, it can be tyrannous - and we have seen it. Therefore, unless you most carefully protect a minority, large or small, make sure that minority opinions are voiced, make sure that minorities have unusual rights, your democracy is never going to work and its spirit will die. This was de Toqueville's prediction and, considering today's times, is it strange that he is not widely read now?

So that is why in this Conference we try to get a unanimous consent while we can; this is why we say the Conference can mandate the Board of Trustees on a two - thirds vote. But we have said more here. We have said that any Delegate, any Trustee, any staff member, any service director - any board, committee or whatever - that wherever there is a minority, it shall always be the right of this minority to file a minority report so that their views are held up clearly. And if in the opinion of any such minority, even a minority of one, if the majority is about to hastily or angrily do something which could be to the detriment of Alcoholics Anonymous, the serious detriment, it is not only their right to file a minority appeal, it is their duty.

So, like de Toqueville, neither you nor I want either the tyranny or the majority, nor the tyranny of the small minority. And steps have been taken here to balance up these relations. (GSC, 1960)

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