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#1 02-08-2014 23:14:23

Contributor Sailing Away
From: canadia
Registered: 01-06-2014
Posts: 56
Rocks: 50,000

Is it ever just to disobey a law?

I recently wrote a shitty paper on obedience to the law in democratic society.

The topic was: is it ever morally right/just to disobey a law?

My paper:

Show Spoiler

Since the dawn of humankind, law has been a irreplaceable tool in instilling justice and order in society.  As humankind evolved away from the simple Neolithic societies of the 3rd century BCE into the complex social constructs of the Roman World, so too did our law develop to serve a more and more important purpose: to provide harmony in populous communities.  However humans soon discovered that as our world grew, so too must our law and our understanding of it. But what happens when millions of people do not individually agree on the laws that are universally applied to them all? Does man have a right to disobey and ignore laws that he deems wrong? To truly ever live in a fully functional society, I say that no, this right does not exist.
    Democracy is built upon a large and multipart system of checks and balances that are designed to insure equality and justice under its rule. To challenge or change laws in modern day Canada, one does not have to smash windows or break down doors. The court system, the legislature and the executive branch of the government all work tirelessly to uphold Canadian values and morals, and to adapt to the swiftly and ever-changing political climate. One may take issue with this system—how can we signal the government that we want change? The loss or damage of human life is a terrible shame and should be avoided at all costs. Political violence serves no purpose other than to aggravate and incite more violence (for a modern day example, see the G20 riots) and is thus unjust. If we truly want to change laws that we disagree with, we are obligated to actively petition the government—peacefully—through a variety of forms: phone calls, emails, tweets, letters, legal protests, oppositional political movement and so on and so forth.
    I can think of only one instance where laws can be broken: when they themselves break other, superseding laws. For example, let us say that Canada legalises child labour. If the Canadian legislature  were the be-all and end-all of political and social justice and law in Canada, it would be right to obey this law. However the legislature is subject to checks and balances that make sure that travesties such as this never happen. The Canadian Constitution and the United Nations both supersede and contradict this law, thus rendering it null and void. This is how the law should be changed—it should not be subject to individualized lawbreaking but rather a series of checks and balances that preserve the meaning of justice. If a country does not have these necessary checks and balances, it is not a true democracy at all.



#2 02-08-2014 23:42:50

SND Banned Shitposter Sailing Away
Registered: 02-04-2014
Posts: 12
Rocks: 51,366

Re: Is it ever just to disobey a law?

it really depends on your moral compass

it is extremely uncommon (if not impossible) for two individuals to have the exact same opinion on the idea of justice, moral good, or a subjective "correct".

think of Nazi Germany.
society in Germany believed that the Jews were really the cause for a lot of their problems and as such, they pushed for the purging of said race. that was their "morally right", while others pushed to protect the Jews, which in turn, was their "morally right".

to answer your question: yes and no.


#3 02-09-2014 00:04:52

Super Veteran Rock Street Wizard Donator Reporter Sempai Club Special Shitposter Prime Number Sailing Away
Registered: 10-21-2013
Posts: 870
Rocks: 13,896,964

Re: Is it ever just to disobey a law?

laws aren't always morally right. If they aren't, then it's morally right to disobey them.

But that was your entire paper?



#4 02-09-2014 01:08:01

Super Veteran Rock Street Wizard Donator Reporter Sempai Club Prime Number Sailing Away
Registered: 08-25-2013
Posts: 993
Rocks: 10,191,465

Re: Is it ever just to disobey a law?

Who is a person to judge if anything is "morally" right?

Aliases include: Archiplex/Persona/RainRain/Busaiko
Skype: rainingrainers


#5 02-09-2014 01:58:38

VIP Rock Gatherer Loyal Sempai Club Special Sailing Away
From: Yuno where I am
Registered: 10-01-2013
Posts: 1,027
Rocks: 360,853

Re: Is it ever just to disobey a law?

Laws are a bunch of mandates on pieces of paper, backed up with threat of force. They're not holy scriptures, nor are they laws of nature.

This being said, if followed they help keep an orderly and peaceful society.

A law is never, ever going to keep everybody from doing something. It can be a very effective deterrent though if force backs it though. This is where the concept of "enforcement is one-half law" comes from. People aren't going to follow a law if no cop will get after you for breaking it.

But when it comes down to it, a person's gonna do what a person's gonna do. You can try to convince them not to do it, and it does work very often. But there is no banning. There is no forbidding, there's only the will to do something and the will to stop someone from doing that thing.

God I'd make a good politician, I meandered around the question without answering it.
Without getting into the semantics of "just" (a concept I don't really believe in anyways), I'd say that yes, sometime's it's OK to break the law. Personally I follow the spirit of the law, not the letter. Usually my interpretation of the spirit of the law lines up with the judicial interpretation of the spirit of the law, but when it doesn't that's when I'm likely to break a law.

Last edited by tekwerk (04-06-2014 03:40:52)



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