Green Day – Minority

This 2000 song has a play on words for the American Pledge of Allegiance and slams the “Moral Majority,” which at the time was a conservative political organization. Band member Billie Joe Armstrong has said the jig-like tune is about being an individual. It’s thus supposed to be a take the road less traveled, don’t follow the crowd and be your own person message. This makes the song not much different than a Dove or Nike commercial promoting self-esteem and individualism. But truly being in the minority can also be very isolating. Many a teen television drama highlights the geeks and freaks and their struggles in a cheerleader and jock world. Green Day fancy themselves nonconformist punkers but are nonetheless singing about conventional themes intended to appeal to those afflicted with tired teen angst. Which seems a marketable, calculating rebellion.

Yet political theory considers the “tyranny of the majority,” when the decisions of the masses can even oppress those few holdouts who nonetheless in a democracy must live with public opinion. This can be detrimental not just to independent thinkers but to those of different races and cultures. The concept is about more than being stuffed in a gym locker.

The most well known references to the concept come from second US president John Adams, French thinker Alexis de Toqueville and political philosopher John Stuart Mill.

Fortunately, there are commonly checks on the majority having its absolute way. These checks include (hopefully) a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights and an independent judiciary to enforce such protections.

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