TYRANT “a cruel and oppressive ruler” and “a person exercising power or control in a cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary way. Synonyms: dictator, despot, autocrat, absolute ruler, authoritarian, oppressor.
This is clear enough, although I tend to distinguish somewhat between “dictator” and “tyrant.” Let us explore more.
James Madison said it thusly:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
Again, tyrant is a word that fits perfectly people like:
- Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio of New York, with their threats to permanently close churches and synogogues, who send troops to surround a town that has “too many” COVID-19 cases, etc.;
- Governor Whitmer of Michigan or Governor Witt of Minnesota who ban fishing and hunting, outlaw buying seeds for gardens and so much more,
- Governor Polise of Colorado for ordering CDPHE and Tri-County Health Department to “suspend” the food license of a cafe in Castle Rock?
- Governor Cooper of North Carolina for police under his command arresting protesters,
- Governor Luhan Gresham of New Mexico for sending National Guard troops to enforce social distancing and store lockdowns in Gallup and orders State Police to do the same in Grants when the town and the mayor rebel against her demands.
- Governor Inslee of Washington, who wrote:
Therefore, those individuals that refuse to cooperate with contact tracers and/or refuse testing, those individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes to purchase basic necessities such as groceries and/or prescriptions. Those persons will need to make arrangements through friends, family, or a state provided “family support personnel.”
And even at a tribal and local level –
- What is the OST Council but a nest of tyrants when they put up CHECKPOINTS on the borders and claim that the OST people want those checkpoints PERMANENTLY? Ditto for the CRST Council in northern South Dakota?
- What is the County Commission of Gunnison County Colorado when they order all “non-residents” (that is, people who are not registered to vote there) to leave the county immediately – even if they own second homes or businesses in the county?
- What is not tyrannical about a mayor in Mississippi having his cops going around and issuing $500 tickets to people for parking in their cars to worship – and violating the distancing rules themselves?
- What can we say about a County executive (Pennsylvania, I think) having his cops threatening people with jail time for hiking by themselves (just a couple) when they come out of the forest?
- How evil is a Mayor in California publicly threatening people who are protesting with locking them up in crowded jails so that they can get the virus, and more?
- What can be said for a County Commission (Mendocino County, California) that makes it illegal for singing in a church building – even if you only have FIVE people present because that is all the tyrants (in Sacramento) allowed?
- What do we do with a County Commission (Valley County, Montana) that allows its health department head – their appointed subordinate – to publish a flyer stating that if visitors to the County are not wearing a pink wristband (t o prove they have completed a 14-day quarantine or otherwise prove they do not have the virus) that stores must report them to the Sheriff?
- What better describes a Texas judge who sentences a woman to jail without a trial because she violated an executive order – NOT a law – and reopened her beauty salon so that she, her children, her employees and THEIR children could eat rather than starve?
(FYI, Greshem in NM protested at being called a Nazi like Hitler because she was “elected.” Guess she didn’t learn in history classes: Hitler was elected, too.)
The reasons on which Montesquieu grounds his maxim are a further demonstration of his meaning. “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body,” says he, “there can be no liberty, because apprehensions may arise lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” Again: “Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor.” Some of these reasons are more fully explained in other passages; but briefly stated as they are here, they sufficiently establish the meaning which we have put on this celebrated maxim of this celebrated author.John Madison, Federalist #47
I think threats of violence also are reasons to use this term, as are less than lethal or physical assault: For instance, pushing one of your employees up against the wall in your office and putting your hand under her skirt. I am sure that there are other words that fit well, like those synonyms.
We have known since the time of King Saul and Tarquin the Proud (the last king of Rome) that there is virtually only one solution to tyrants, emblazoned on the Flag of the Old Dominion (Virginia).