Quote of the Day: Civil Disobedience

 

“Rules were made to be broken.”

“Don’t disagree. Indeed they are. Providing, however, that the one breaking the rules is willing to pay the price for it, and the price gets charged in full … Otherwise breaking rules becomes the province of brats instead of heroes. Fastest way I can think of to turn serious political affairs into a playpen. A civilized society needs a conscience, and conscience can’t be developed without martyrs — real ones — against which a nation can measure its crimes and sins.” — Eric Flint, Crown of Slaves

This would be the flip side of my previous quote post about enforcing the law. If one truly feels like a law is unethical, break it — but understand the price that will need to be paid. As for martyrs, well — would Letters from a Montgomery Home ever had the power as Letters from a Birmingham Jail?

Our protesters are so accustomed to the notion that their vandalous “protests” will go unpunished that when one is arrested, one can find shock and outrage that any price will be demanded at all.  Which is why, yes, “civil disobedience” is now the province of brats and our serious political affairs have devolved into a playpen.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Should one look to get locked away to try to perfectly correct the flawed law (or end up making it worse by drawing attention)?

    Each person has to calculate his own risks. Of course, there is always the possibility of shifting strategies if caught, in a case like that.

    • #31
  2. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Mike H (View Comment):
    The idea that police officers should be amoral cogs in the government machine doesn’t sit very well with me.

    As always, there’s a “Yes Minister” quote for this:

    I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of denationalising it and renationalising it. On capital punishment, I’d have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolishionist. I would’ve been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.

    @sabrdance can go into this more, but let me explain it in as what it means for me. As a member of the Missouri Bar Association, I have sworn to be an officer of the court. This means I am charged with doing my part to uphold the law.  If I were assigned by the court to defend a child rapist whom I knew was guilty, I don’t get to shirk my duty to defend him zealously. If you are part of the government machine, your job is to do what the people have told you to do. And if the people don’t like it, it’s their job to change their mind, not yours.

    After all, isn’t that what the whole “Deep State” leaking and low level rebellion is all about? They think their ethical duty is to undermine the will of the people and violate whatever laws they think are unethical to do it.

    • #32
  3. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Don’t you at least agree that if a police officer believed beyond a reasonable doubt that a law he was forced to enforce was unethical that maybe he shouldn’t be a police officer?

    Yes. Or maybe he should be in a different part of the force. I wouldn’t suggest an officer who thinks prostitution ought to be legal should be on the vice squad, or if he or she is, they can advocate for changing that prohibition in their off hours, but they should do their job during their shifts. Likewise, an officer who is against drug prohibition should not be on a drug task force if it will effect his performance. That doesn’t mean that either couldn’t happily work in the traffic or fraud divisions.

    Mike H (View Comment):
    If that were the case, maybe it would make sense for him to risk his job to do the right thing, perhaps only to the point that he actually doesn’t risk losing his job since he’s likely to be replaced by someone of less ethical standards.

    That would be unethical. They are being paid to enforce the laws. If they accept pay to enforce laws and don’t do it, it is a form of theft. You are advocating theft now?

    If they really can’t enforce the laws, they should go become a physics professor.

    Mike H (View Comment):
    The idea that police officers should be amoral cogs in the government machine doesn’t sit very well with me.

    My father always said while I was growing up, “If you don’t like the law, work to change it, but don’t ignore it.” We do have mechanisms to change bad laws or legally do not enforce them. Changecan come through legislation where a law is repealed or replaced. Prosecutorial discretion is a mechanism that can work to not enforce laws. Jury nullification is a more democratic method of nullifying laws. We do not need another mechanism by police nullification.

    Couldn’t there be police nullification by not being able to find anyone to enforce certain laws? On the other end of the spectrum, it would be equally unethical to not enforce just laws.

    • #33
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    After all, isn’t that what the whole “Deep State” leaking and low level rebellion is all about? They think their ethical duty is to undermine the will of the people and violate whatever laws they think are unethical to do it.

    Bingo.

    • #34
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Couldn’t there be police nullification by not being able to find anyone to enforce certain laws?

    The thing is that if the law is that odious, it would probably never have passed in the first place. Is it possible? Sure. And it’s possible the sun could go nova next week, but a physicist should know just how unlikely that is. I have been around the law my entire life. I have studied human nature all my life. I would figure the sun’s going nova next week is a higher probability than that there will ever be a law that nobody will enforce. People enforced the Nazi laws, after all.

    Mike H (View Comment):
    On the other end of the spectrum, it would be equally unethical to not enforce just laws.

    Right, which is why the Obama Administration has a lot to answer for in preventing the enforcement of immigration laws. Oh, is that not what you meant by a just law?

    • #35
  6. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):
    The idea that police officers should be amoral cogs in the government machine doesn’t sit very well with me.

    As always, there’s a “Yes Minister” quote for this:

    I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of denationalising it and renationalising it. On capital punishment, I’d have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolishionist. I would’ve been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.

    @sabrdance can go into this more, but let me explain it in as what it means for me. As a member of the Missouri Bar Association, I have sworn to be an officer of the court. This means I am charged with doing my part to uphold the law. If I were assigned by the court to defend a child rapist whom I knew was guilty, I don’t get to shirk my duty to defend him zealously. If you are part of the government machine, your job is to do what the people have told you to do. And if the people don’t like it, it’s their job to change their mind, not yours.

    Maybe the oath that Bar Associations make you take is unethical.

    After all, isn’t that what the whole “Deep State” leaking and low level rebellion is all about? They think their ethical duty is to undermine the will of the people and violate whatever laws they think are unethical to do it.

    Maybe it is. I mean, I know the “good guys” are nominally in charge right now, but I have to admit, it’s nice to see people questioning the legitimacy of presidential power, even if they probably won’t take home the complete right message that the presidency and the government is too powerful to begin with.

    • #36
  7. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Couldn’t there be police nullification by not being able to find anyone to enforce certain laws?

    The thing is that if the law is that odious, it would probably never have passed in the first place. Is it possible? Sure. And it’s possible the sun could go nova next week, but a physicist should know just how unlikely that is. I have been around the law my entire life. I have studied human nature all my life. I would figure the sun’s going nova next week is a higher probability than that there will ever be a law that nobody will enforce. People enforced the Nazi laws, after all.

    Aren’t there plenty of laws that aren’t enforced and even forgotten about right now?

    Mike H (View Comment):
    On the other end of the spectrum, it would be equally unethical to not enforce just laws.

    Right, which is why the Obama Administration has a lot to answer for in preventing the enforcement of immigration laws. Oh, is that not what you meant by a just law?

    Badum Ching!

    • #37
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Aren’t there plenty of laws that aren’t enforced and even forgotten about right now?

    With the number of laws and regulations on the books? Of course. And every once in awhile, someone resurrects one. We had an incident some years back where some kids were ticketed for their language. The law was still on the books and still perfectly legal to cite them with. An uproar ensued and the law was repealed. That sort of thing happens, and if mores have changed, it incites action to repeal the law.

    • #38
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    But the fact that there are too many laws on the books and too many regulations to be enforceable is not a law enforcement officer’s initiative to change. It is for legislatures to change, and they can.

    • #39
  10. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    But the fact that there are too many laws on the books and too many regulations to be enforceable is not a law enforcement officer’s initiative to change. It is for legislatures to change, and they can.

    Do or do not, there is no try.

    • #40
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    But the fact that there are too many laws on the books and too many regulations to be enforceable is not a law enforcement officer’s initiative to change. It is for legislatures to change, and they can.

    Do or do not, there is no try.

    Thank you, Yoda. But the point is that it is neither legal nor ethical for LEOs to take things in their own hands. We have a phrase for that, “Playing judge, jury, and executioner.”

    • #41
  12. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    But the fact that there are too many laws on the books and too many regulations to be enforceable is not a law enforcement officer’s initiative to change. It is for legislatures to change, and they can.

    Do or do not, there is no try.

    Thank you, Yoda. But the point is that it is neither legal nor ethical for LEOs to take things in their own hands. We have a phrase for that, “Playing judge, jury, and executioner.”

    It was just a joke to cap things off as I was going to bed.

    • #42
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):
    It was just a joke to cap things off as I was going to bed.

    Good night, Johnboy.

    • #43
  14. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Amy Schley: “civil disobedience” is now the province of brats and our serious political affairs have devolved into a playpen.

    Great post and comment section Amy.   When will it end?  I fear only when some serious economic or natural disaster disintegrates that playpen and hard reality returns seriousness of thought and action.

    • #44
  15. bridget Inactive
    bridget
    @bridget

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Couldn’t there be police nullification by not being able to find anyone to enforce certain laws? On the other end of the spectrum, it would be equally unethical to not enforce just laws.

    Aside from the issue that we don’t want police officers determining on an ad hoc basis that which is just or unjust (as it undermines the rule of law), such a system could yield very nefarious or discriminatory results. Police officers investigate when a white woman says she was raped by a black man, but don’t investigate or do much when the victim is black. Police officer thinks domestic violence laws are unnecessary, so he takes his sweet time responding to DV calls or fails to file reports from them.

    A lot of us do not want to vest such veto power over our objective and (reasonably) just laws into unaccountable parties whose decision-making isn’t any better or more pure than anyone else’s.

    • #45
  16. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    bridget (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Couldn’t there be police nullification by not being able to find anyone to enforce certain laws? On the other end of the spectrum, it would be equally unethical to not enforce just laws.

    Aside from the issue that we don’t want police officers determining on an ad hoc basis that which is just or unjust (as it undermines the rule of law), such a system could yield very nefarious or discriminatory results. Police officers investigate when a white woman says she was raped by a black man, but don’t investigate or do much when the victim is black. Police officer thinks domestic violence laws are unnecessary, so he takes his sweet time responding to DV calls or fails to file reports from them.

    A lot of us do not want to vest such veto power over our objective and (reasonably) just laws into unaccountable parties whose decision-making isn’t any better or more pure than anyone else’s.

    Well, the ones who are wrong obviously shouldn’t do it, right? I know this sounds strange because so many people are wrong, but that shouldn’t be a reason for the good ones not to do the right thing. Obviously, despite you not wanting to vest veto power in police they are doing bad things right now anyway, so why should the good ones refrain from doing the right thing?

    • #46
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Obviously, despite you not wanting to vest veto power in police they are doing bad things right now anyway,

    Not very often and not very many. Most are professionals these days, at least in the US. Now, Venezuelan police may be another matter. I don’t know. But most US police are not “doing bad things right now…”

    • #47
  18. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):
    Obviously, despite you not wanting to vest veto power in police they are doing bad things right now anyway,

    Not very often and not very many. Most are professionals these days, at least in the US. Now, Venezuelan police may be another matter. I don’t know. But most US police are not “doing bad things right now…”

    I might agree. I’m not familiar with the statistics.  I was just talking about the ones doing obviously bad things like not investigating rapes or domestic violence.

    • #48
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike H (View Comment):
    I was just talking about the ones doing obviously bad things like not investigating rapes or domestic violence.

    That was an illustration of why we don’t want police nullification. Since we do want them to investigate and respond to these things, whether they believe these acts should be criminal or not, we require them to do so. I also doubt there are very many LEOs who meet the illustration.

    You keep trying to make some point, unfortunately, the rest of us are on planet Earth, not whatever hypothetical planet you are on.

    • #49
  20. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mike H (View Comment):
    I was just talking about the ones doing obviously bad things like not investigating rapes or domestic violence.

    That was an illustration of why we don’t want police nullification. Since we do want them to investigate and respond to these things, whether they believe these acts should be criminal or not, we require them to do so. I also doubt there are very many LEOs who meet the illustration.

    You keep trying to make some point, unfortunately, the rest of us are on planet Earth, not whatever hypothetical planet you are on.

    boom! *mic drop*

    • #50
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