Sign the petition asking the Bishop of Sacramento to allow me to speak here.
“Oh, yes–you can shout me down, I know! But you cannot answer me. The majority has might on its side–unfortunately; but right it has not.”
“There is so much falsehood both at home and at school. At home one must not speak, and at school we have to stand and tell lies to the children.”
“Dr. Stockmann. I have already told you that what I want to speak about is the great discovery I have made lately–the discovery that all the sources of our moral life are poisoned and that the whole fabric of our civic community is founded on the pestiferous soil of falsehood.”
“The idol of Authority must be shattered in this town.”
Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People tells the story of Dr. Thomas Stockmann, who lives in a small town in Norway that is visited by people from far and wide because of its baths, which are said to have healing properties. Because of the baths, which Stockmann has championed, the town is growing and prospering. But then Stockmann discovers, to his surprise, that the baths are, in fact, not only not medicinal, but contaminated, and are making those who bathe in them ill.
Ever the good citizen, Stockmann sends a report on this to the town’s mayor, recommending that the baths be closed temporarily and costly repairs undertaken to render the waters truly medicinal and not deadly. He expects that the townspeople will be grateful to him for pointing out this looming disaster and helping them avert it. But to his shock, the town leaders are dismissive, even contemptuous, of his findings. They refuse to say anything publicly about what he has discovered, for fear of causing panic and demoralization among the townspeople and ruining the reputation of the baths, which could bankrupt the town.
They warn Stockmann to keep quiet and go along as well, but he refuses, calling a town meeting on his own. There, he is shocked again as the townspeople show themselves no more receptive to his discoveries and recommendations than the authorities were. They see that the baths are making the town rich, and that Stockmann’s findings will hurt the town’s reputation and cost a great deal of money to implement — and they don’t care that the benefits of implementing the repairs he recommends will outweigh the liabilities in the long run. They make fun of him and denounce him, calling him an enemy of the people. And with Stockmann thoroughly discredited, they continue happily on their pathway to their own destruction, and the destruction of untold numbers of other people.