If the law lacks morality, and principles that ensure justice, and fairness is it even a law at all? . Yes it may be in a book of laws, signed by congress, and enforced by superiors, but the question still remains is a law actually a law if it doesn’t ensure the best interest of all people ? . Is a unjust law one that doesn’t bind lawmakers to obey ?.
In a world without law peace and justice would be hard to maintain. The law is created to help protect the people’s rights and keep them safe. Throughout time laws have been changed either creating new laws or restructuring old laws or just removing old laws. There is a thin line between right and wrong and that is why people have been struggling throughout the ages to come up with the perfect set of laws to follow. With this uncertainty set in place the question of whether if it is ever justified to break the law comes up.
Therefore, he believed that if a law was unjust that it would not be a law therefore you can disobey it but must be ready to accept anything that follow. For example, if the law stated that everyone had to wear pink on Wednesday or they were sentenced to thirty days in jail. However, you decided that the law was unjust to all the other colors and to people who did not have pink and decided to break the law then you would need to accept that you are going to spend thirty days in jail as punishment. Therefore I believe that King would agree with Socrates that there are unjust laws however he would complete disagree the reaction to these laws. Furthermore, Socrates believed that unjust laws occurred but one had to follow them.
King makes it clear that there are specific circumstances that advocate towards civil disobedience. Keeping this in mind, it is essential that citizens are given the opportunity to be involved in legal matters, such as laws and defying the law in an effort to improve the state. However, in the event that civil disobedience is necessary King emphasizes that citizens must comprehend the difference between just and unjust laws, as well as partake in disobedience through civil means. On the other hand, Socrates believes no laws that are worth breaking. His reasonings support his overall idea that an unjust law or act, does not defend retaliating through unjustly means.
According to James Farmer Jr’s closing comments about unjust laws, it is necessary for citizens to protest against unfair laws because laws are intended to be for protection, instead of making people live in fear and laws should be for everyone. An example of why James Farmer Jr thinks laws are meant to protect people is, “My teammates and I saw a man strung up by his neck and set on fire… but the law did nothing.” This quote explains that laws in Texas do not protect people, but are making people afraid because the law does nothing to stop people from getting hurt by others. Another example on why it is necessary to protest against unfair laws is, “Were his children waiting up for him? … Negroes are denied housing, turned away from schools, hospitals.” The quote states that laws are meant to be not only for whites , but everyone should be included. Everyone is human and should be treated equally with laws because everyone wants the best for their family which includes going to the best schools and hospitals.
I take issue with him rooting his arguments on what is just and unjust. Socrates states that breaking the law would be unjust, and implies that this is always the case, but I do not think that is necessarily true, just his opinion. Laws are created by people, and people are not always perfect, even the most democratic governments can be imperfect. So even though something is the law, it could be unfair or unjust at the same time. The “social contract” argument falters here; just because one benefitted from a governing body when it was doing its job doesn’t mean they have to abide by it when it makes a bad move.
King answers this question by stating that there are two kinds of laws: just and unjust. The former is mainly characterized by one quality: morality. See, for a law to be just, it cannot be forced upon a specific demographic of the population by another; every demographic must have the opportunity for equal representation in the proposition of said law. Otherwise, there will always be a feeling of being acted-upon for the oppressed rather than collectively acting as a
Antigone Essay When unjust laws exist, it is up to us for to decide if we are satisfied to be under such obedience or if we should either go beyond the bounds of moral principle if we find it to be a justifiable reason. Many, such as Henry David Thoreau, express that we should rather put our priorities in front and break an unjust law for it is the fault of an inequitable government who should provide for reform. If the law is unjust to such an extent, then we should go beyond and disobey that law. The boundaries of law should not be followed if it comes to the point if we wonder if we are treated as humans or subjects.We are loyal to the government, but if the government is not loyal to us, then we should take it as an leeway to break the law. We break the law, knowing that there will be consequences afterwards and that we should willingly accept the discipline, following civil disobedience.
Many citizens break the law created by the government for a reason you would never expect. One should break the law if one is the agent of injustice. One should follow their morality. Although others might say that one should always obey the law and not risk breaking it, because it could lead to corruption and rebellion. Henry David Thoreau’s claim makes sense that one should break the law if one is the agent of injustice as demonstrated in Antigone, Civil Disobedience, and Hero or Traitor.
If a law is unjust, we need to understand that it is okay to break it. For example, King describes to us some situations where past laws were unjust, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal’” (4). Throughout history, these laws have been broken and overcome. People will act against something they believe is wrong; it is a consequence of a marginalized group in a democratic society. In “Prologue of an Invisible Man”, Ellison was tired of being marginalized and unseen because of his differences.