RE JOHN BAER'S recent column

"Is Democracy in Danger & are We Governable"


I would have to say that, no, our democracy is not in danger as long as the Constitution remains "the supreme law of the land." It serves as a check on government powers.

However, the civil liberties afforded us by our democracy are in grave danger.

Justice Douglas issued a dissenting opinion in 1966 that is just as true and relevant today as it was back then.

He said:

"Where would we really find the principal danger to civil liberty in a republic? Not in the governors as governors, not in the governed as governed, but in the governed unequipped to function as governors.

"The chief enemies of republican freedoms are mental sloth, conformity, bigotry, superstition, credulity, monopoly in the market of ideas, and utter, benighted ignorance.

"Relying as it does on the consent of the governed, representative government cannot succeed unless the community receives enough information to grasp public issues and make sensible decisions.

"As lights which may have been enough for the past, do not meet the needs of the present, so present lights will not suffice for the more extensive and complex problems of the future.

"Heretofore public enlightenment may have been only a manifest desideratum, today it constitutes an imperative necessity. The First Amendment, says Justice Black, 'reflects the faith that a good society is not static but advancing, and that the fullest possible interchange of ideas and beliefs is essential to the attainment of this goal.' "

If we are truly striving to be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," every voice must be heard, the government, the citizen, the unfortunate and the unpopular, in our quest to attain this goal.

So speak out - or we all lose our civil liberties.

Dante Overby

Huntingdon (Pa.) State Prison