When Should Laws Be Broken

It also requires the offender to act seriously, to work in other ways to change the law, and to accept the punishment that may follow for breaking the law. The violation of unjust laws must serve the common good and must not only be the expression of unbridled individual freedom. Thus, when we look at the case of offering asylum to people seeking protection, we must first ask ourselves whether the law prohibiting this act is fair. If we consider the law to be unjust, we may ask ourselves under what circumstances it would be justified to violate it. A citizen caught in a conflict between local laws and what he believes is upheld because the comprehensive federal law can sometimes afford to wait until the courts have decided the issue for him. But often, he can`t afford to wait or has to take a stand to force a decision. This is the situation of many black citizens in Southern states who face conflict between local and federal laws. While violence is not part of the intent of those who practice civil disobedience, the risks of violence are present and are part of what must be considered when considering a civil disobedience program. Disobedience to bad laws can sometimes trigger democratic processes. What further strengthens the hope for democracy – the behaviour of Birmingham`s blacks, who broke local regulations when they staged their protest marches, or the behaviour of the police, who used dogs and fire hoses to assert their legal authority? I think we must obey just laws, although in times of emergency it may be acceptable not to obey unjust laws. However, the law must be fair. We can admire a man like Martin Luther King who is willing to defy authority in the name of principle, and we can think that he is absolutely right; Similarly, his right to break the law cannot be officially recognized. No society, whether free or tyrannical, can give its citizens the right to break their laws: to ask them to do so is to ask them to proclaim by law that their laws are not laws.

This is dangerous because morality has this absolute claim to direct its own actions. Ethics gives us rules that we must follow unconditionally, without ever questioning them: we must not steal, we must be honest, we must be loyal, etc. But unconditionally obeying state laws is rarely a good idea. Laws are made by a parliament, and it is not a body inspired by God or superior wisdom. The people who make our laws are fallible, they can make mistakes; Quite often they are greedy, perhaps corrupt, they may be bribed and pressured, or they serve certain interest groups. So that in the end, the laws made by such people are not necessarily worth obeying unconditionally. Even though everyone seems to be aware of the consequences of breaking the law, people break it in one way or another. To put this in perspective, from Gandhi`s contempt for British colonial laws to empire monopoly to Martin Luther`s civil rights movement, the rules have always been broken. Therefore, the puzzling question, which is as old as Socrates, remains: “When is it justified for a citizen to act as his own legislator and decide whether or not he will obey the given law?” Although this question may have different answers, I believe that we, as citizens, should be able to distinguish between right and wrong.

In other words, if laws are to be broken for the good cause, even with serious consequences, breaking the law may be justified. And if the law protects a society from crime and criminals, it must be respected. How do you know that the future will judge your actions today as correct? Roman martyrs and Nazi conscientious objectors passed the test of “history.” What about the people of the free West who publish anti-war pamphlets of the 2nd century. World War II or entering protected areas to support unilateral disarmament against the Soviet Union? Were they right? Do we cite them as icons in our civil disobedience campaigns? Is offshore detention bad? Is it just bad if “prisoners” (who can move freely in Nauru) receive bad services? Arguably, a nominally Christian Australia, by crude financial force, showed a faint love for the conscience of its Christian neighbours at 93% in Nauru and infiltrated them to become a prison, when the Christian ethic of the locals should have been recruited to become a caring host community for stateless and stressed people. in exchange for a certain income, as is the case with our host families. After betraying Nauruan Christians, let us redeem ourselves with better services and freedom of movement for “prisoners”, giving Nauruans the opportunity to regain the Christian dignity that was lost by forcing us to become guards of a penal colony. We know that there are those who seek asylum because of unjust persecution and others who do so not because of persecution but because of personal preference. The latter, as a rule, are not disadvantaged, homeless and hungry, their children suffer from communicable infectious diseases. They reside overseas at their own expense and invent to enter countries like Australia by paying to be transported to the country of their choice, not necessarily the nearest asylum readily available, without meeting the usual legal requirements to be admitted to a foreign country. Does equal justice apply to both groups? It could be argued that it is indeed unfair to deny the former and to regard the latter equally unfairly. Justice is a variable commodity and does not necessarily apply in all seemingly similar situations.

Perhaps the law should embody the same variability, which is not always easy, I suppose. It seems that the law must first be definitive and then varied according to the “primacy of conscience” in certain circumstances, as Robert Liddy`s intervention suggests. It is better to ignore many of the laws of a particular country than to follow them blindly, and so one must be critical and skeptical of the laws and always ask oneself whether certain laws are morally right or not. “An unjust law is itself a form of violence. The arrest for its violation is even more so. Now, the law of nonviolence says that violence must not be fought by counterviolence, but by nonviolence. I do this by breaking the law and peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment. In recent months, public events have repeatedly staged an old and annoying problem. A group of students resists the Foreign Ministry`s ban on entry to Cuba; a teachers` union threatens to strike, even though a state law prohibits strikes by public sector workers; Civil rights defenders use massive displays of disobedience to the law to advance their cause; The governor of a southern state deliberately obstructs the enforcement of federal laws and declares himself within the limits of his rights. But it`s hard to weigh the reasons when you`re dealing with unreasonable laws and governance.

False (left) and right relationship between laws and moral rules. This idea has obvious roots in the Christian tradition, which was itself originally a Jewish tradition, of seeing the laws of the state as an extension of the laws God had promulgated for His people. You can still find this in some Islamic countries and in Orthodox Judaism: the idea that God`s law and secular law are not two separate things, but that morality, religious commandments, and state laws are all one and the same, all from the same holy books that contain God`s Word.