The democratic right not to build minarets What's that thing Voltaire said about democracy? Oh yes, he said he may not agree with what you have to say but he'll darn well defend to the death your right to say it. The Swiss must think this Voltaire fellow was nuts. Maybe the Frenchman had too much wine when he made his silly pronouncement. The Swiss version of democracy is the exact opposite. They don't believe in all this nonsense about defending to the death the democratic rights of others. Instead, they believe they have the democratic right to deny others their democratic rights. That's why a majority of Swiss democratically voted in a referendum to rob Muslims in the country of their democratic right to build minarets on top of their mosques. Now that the Swiss have fearlessly redefined the meaning of democracy, they need their own profound quote to upstage Voltaire's. Public Eye suggests this: we do not agree with you Muslims building minarets, that's why we'll defend to the death our right to deny you your right to build them. Alternatively, the Swiss might want to consider something simpler but no less profound: democracy sucks. Sarkozy a champion of 'democracy' Just like Voltaire - his countryman from the past - the French leader Nicolas Sarkozy loves to defend the democratic rights of others, although Public Eye can't quite picture him doing it to the death. Sarkozy makes a great show of lecturing the Chinese about Tibetan rights. Wonder if he'll likewise lecture his Swiss neighbours about Muslim rights? Probably not, given that he's trying hard to ban Muslim women in France from wearing the burqa. Looney Tunes world of the Social Democrats Hong Kong too has its own fearless defenders of democracy. Most notable are the three Looney Tunes-like characters from the League of Social Democrats - 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, 'Mad Dog' Wong Yuk-man and 'Big Guy' Albert Chan Wai-yip. The three defend democracy not by defending your right to speak but defending, likely to the death, their right to throw things at you when you say things they disagree with. Some suspect the acronym of their party name - LSD - may explain why Long Hair, Mad Dog and Big Guy often appear to be living in a world where rocking-horse people eat marshmallow pies, where Plasticine porters wear looking-glass ties, and where the dictionary lists democracy as throwing bananas at people you don't like. The people have spoken - now listen There is no truth to the rumour that Long Hair, Mad Dog and the Big Guy want to rename their party the Three Stooges to more accurately reflect their thinking on how they should behave in the Legislative Council. Some suspect they fear abandoning their LSD acronym would yank them out of their illusory world. The three are now fantasising about a 'referendum' on democracy. They want to resign their Legco seats to force a fresh election which, if they win, will allow them to claim the people want early democracy. But why waste HK$150 million of the public's money on a new election? The people have more or less spoken. Poll after opinion poll recently has put the LSD at the bottom of the list. Stay away from the pointy things Liberal Party leader Miriam Lau Kin-yee seems somewhat muddled about the meaning of democracy. She can't seem to tell the difference between people who are elected into office and those who are put there by the government. Well, Ms Lau, here's a little clue: there's a big difference. She's been moaning lately about how unfair it is to exclude appointed district councillors from voting and running for proposed new seats to represent the District Council in Legco. Unfair? The appointed district councillors whose democratic rights Lau defends were undemocratically hand-picked and put in office by the government. How fair is that? Why should they deserve the same voting rights as their democratically elected colleagues? Maybe Lau needs to hole up in a Swiss chalet and read Voltaire. But stay away from those minarets. The Swiss don't like them.