"Lunches with Wolves" (the fake Ben Franklin quote on Democracy)

"Lunches with Wolves" was how Wednesday's New York Post editorial described Governor Spitzer's lunch with Sheldon Silver and Joe Bruno. The editorial begins: "Democracy has been defined as two wolves and a sheep discussing plans for lunch."

A second line is often added: "Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

And finally the phrase is usually--incorrectly--attributed to Ben Franklin.

The word "lunch" wasn't popular until about the 1820s and would not have been said by Franklin. Wikipedia discusses that the quote is bogus and doesn't appear until 1994!

A colleague today found it in the Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1992:

"Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote. Those rights are spelled out in the Bill of Rights and in our California Constitution. Voters and politicians alike would do well to take a look at the rights we each hold, which must never be chipped away by the whim of the majority."

James Bovard is sometimes credited for the phrase, and he did use it in the Washington Times, August 29, 1992:

"The USDA's concept of democracy reminds one of the old joke: Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Why should the government give some farmers the power to vote to destroy other farmers' property rights?"

Perhaps two wolves and a lamb beats "three men in a room," but I dunno.

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