Jefferson’s global test

A decent respect to the opinions of mankind.

The Bushites are trying to make a big deal out of John Kerry’s “global test.” The “test,” as Kerry proposed it, is whether we can explain some action we take in terms that our citizens, and the rest of the world can understand:

… your countrymen, your people, understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

The original phrase, I think, was “a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind.”

But then Thomas Jefferson was sort of … well, French … wasn’t he?

Kerry might well say:

The President isn’t criticizing me. He’s criticizing the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They proposed the first global test. They called it “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” The test is not whether other people like what we’re doing. It’s whether we’re doing it for reasons we’re prepared to explain to the world.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “Jefferson’s global test”

  1. A Decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind

    Instead of a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, or our founders, or our history, we get bluster, bullying, and nonsensical arguments that can't pass the laugh test. Jefferson thought it important to lay out a set of moral and ethical justifi…

  2. An indecent disrespect

    After his collapse in last Thursday's debate, President Bush has been trying to regain some traction by misrepresenting what his opponent, Sen. Kerry, said. Here is the statement in question: Sen. Kerry: "The president always has the right and always

  3. We Can't Get Enough Of The Global Test!

    In his debate, John Kerry baffled us all when he explained his thinking about pre-emptive war – the US had the right to act alone, as long as it was able to pass the "global test". Now the blogosphere is

  4. Global test: "legitimate in the eyes of other peop

    It is nice of Kerry to clarify for us that his "global test" for legitimacy means legitimacy in the eyes of others: i.e. permission…

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