Do we have an ochlocracy problem?

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, October 27, 2016

How can we have an ochlocracy problem when no one knows what the word means? It’s one of those words that comes from Greek and Latin that few understand. It means “mob rule.”

Today that involves a system of burning, destruction, and, murder attempting to intimidate government authorities to violate the rule of law.

Abraham Lincoln wrote about mob rule and lynching as “the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country — the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of courts, and the worst of savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice.”

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Our system of government is based on executive, legislative and judicial authority delegated by the people.

To be an American is to pledge “allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In our republican system of democracy, people have to be well informed about many issues. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Uninformed people are too easily misinformed, which leads to supporting erroneous causes.

Informed Americans know that making these words in the Pledge of Allegiance reflect the truth has been and continues to be a challenge.

For example, in the South lynching of black people was mob rule. The same was true in the West, when members of communities defied the rule of law, taking people out of jails before a trial and executing them.

Reasons that motivated mobs have varied. Sometimes criminals did something so dastardly that people were not willing to wait for a trial. Sometimes people of color or different ethnicities have been lynched because they attempted to exercise a legal right, such as registering to vote.

Today misinformed people riot and attempt to intimidate government officials for the wrong reasons. They have a legitimate issue with government but they focus on something that isn’t. No improvement is made regarding the real issue, but their actions destroy protestors’ credibility.

This is often the case today relating to violent crime, self-defense, and policing. There have been too many instances when an officer or a citizen has done something thought by a mob to be a crime, but a trial of the facts results in the person being found innocent of any crime.

Sometimes rioting, destruction and killing occur before a trial, sometimes afterwards, or both. And there have been threats made for killing the innocent person, not unlike the lynchings of the past. In all cases, what the officer or citizen did isn’t the real issue and nothing positive is accomplished.

To be effective Americans, we have to strive to educate ourselves regarding many issues. This is particularly true today, with policing and self-defense being hot topics.

If we do not do this, we will continue to be lead down a path of increasing ochlocracy.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at