[Editor's note: The following post appears in Touchstone magazine and is available in its entirety on the website.]
Most of us, I suspect, are not great students of “the small print.”
We employ lawyers and accountants because we recognize that carefully
constructed small print may contain disclaimers, definitions, and
information that effectively drive a coach and horses through our
assumptions about the general argument and make utterly null and void
the common understanding that we thought we had. Allow me to introduce
you to a piece of very small print.
Not many will have whiled
away the long winter evenings by reading “The demographic
characteristics of the linguistic and religious groups in Switzerland”
by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office,
Neuchatel. It appears in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, a book titled The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States,
edited by Werner Haug and others, published by the Council of Europe
Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, Strasbourg, January 2000.
All this information is readily obtainable because
Switzerland always asks a person’s religion, language, and nationality
on its decennial census. Now for the really interesting bit.
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