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Monday, June 19, 2006

The Law...and why to say bullocks some times

Well, been a *long* time since I posted something new here. I suspected as much when I started this blog: I'm just not the person to put every week (let alone every day) an insightful and "deep" post on the blog. Maybe I should go in the direction others have gone: more frequent, but a bit more shallow (will be difficult for me too, I think). I just like going deeper into matters... but anyhow, I'll try it for a while. On slashdot I made a nice post in response to someone making a bold claim:

"We might not like the law, but we still have to obey it."

This remembers me about the book 'Bush: president of good and evil', in which the moral and ethical sense of Bush is analysed, and found it is stuck at the level of a 13-year old. (which, in fact, is not as uncommon as one would believe, for many adults are). The sociological and psychological roots of this behaviour would lead me too far, but I'll simplify by saying that there are several levels of 'ethical priciples' which are quite universal (thus, apparant through all times and cultures).

The ethic behaviour of a teenager between 10-15 years is often very stringent; the law is the law, and rules are rules. He does not yet possess the ability to understand thatrules for the sake of rules are useless, and that exeptions can and should be made on personal evaluation of the rules, not merely because society has put them there. To the surprise of the reseachers, many adults continue to live in that mindset, and never evolve to a more nuanced ethical view in which to look at the world. Your argument above hints at the same kind of mentality.

Thus, let me be clear: no, it's not because something is a law, that we should obey it. And while 'not liking it' is on itself not sufficent case to break a law, it DOES give a first indication and a ground to look closer at that law, and see if it is in harmony with itself (are there internal contradictions?), with other laws (which supercedes which?) and your own basic values (is it acceptable within my own ethical value-system?).

If you do not do that, and merely accept you have to follow a law, because the law is there, then one would sooner or later be confronted with unethical behaviour (even from oneself), even though one is following the law. If a law is passed that would put all niggers apart from white people, would you agree to it? If you're argument is that the law is the law, and you should obey it, then the answer would be yes. If you take the principles I just mentionned, then the answer could well be; no - EVEN if the law says something else. And mind you, a democracy is not immune to such unjust laws; it's just a matter of 'the dictatorship of the majority'.

In my own country, for instance - a most democratic one, more so then the rather doubtful two-party system - there has been talk lately about creating a law which not only criminalyzes immigrants, but also ALL people who help them (for instance, by taking them in their homes, giving them food, etc.). Without wanting to invoke the nazi's, that's rather a disturbing trend. If people offer that help freely, out of empathy, are they being wrong? According to the law (if it gets passed), they are, but I say: bullocks to that law. One should not follow unjust laws, whether they are created by due democratic processes or not.

One could even say that laws, which are generally just, still have to be measured by a persons own value. At least, that's what I do. For instance, I can agree, that stealing is, in general, a 'wrong' thing. When some rich western bloke would steal a television, I would agree with the law: punish him. And yet, if a kid stole food because he was starving, I would not think the same, and would not cooperate with 'the law'. Certainly, these cases are not always easy to spot and to know what is the best thing to do, but it does not absolve you from doing it, and making that personal evaluation.

Following laws just because they have been made is the ultimate stupidity.


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