Civil Disobedience Theory
Just laws protect human rights; an unjust law is one that itself violates rights. While it is better to prevent unjust laws from being made in the first place, there are many methods by which we can act to change them after they have been enacted. One of these is Civil Disobedience (CD), the deliberate and public violation of an unjust law as a means of protest.
CD has a long and noble history, especially in the United States. In our nation's schools, we read the works of its chief theoretician, Henry David Thoreau, and we honor with a national holiday its courageous practitioner, Martin Luther King.
Rules for Engaging in Civil Disobedience
While opposing British colonial rule, Gandhi set formal rules for the satyagrahi, or civil resister. Less formal but commonly accepted CD rules include:
Further Reading ...
-- and practice
One might consider civil disobedience to be not merely a right, but a duty. However, many people, perhaps including many FSP participants, believe that CD is a measure of late, if not last, resort. While it might be our duty to address injustice, even when not personally victimized, many of us would prefer the more traditional, less confrontational means that are available in our mature democracy. Then again, "justice delayed is justice denied," as Martin Luther King implied in the title of his book, "Why We Can't Wait." In any event, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so we should certainly not give up our efforts to prevent and repeal unjust laws while working within the system.
Fortunately, CD is way outside the FSP's mission, so we are spared the need to take a position on its appropriateness in various cases, examples of which you will find below.
Mike Fisher's Manicures
On May 9, 2005, Mike Fisher, an FSP participant, violated NH's licensing laws at the State Board of Barbering, Cosmetology, and Esthetics in Concord. Full Story.
Russell Kanning and National ID
Manchester Airport, Saturday June 11th, noon. Russell tried to board a plane to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall while carrying only a copy of the Declaration of Independence and no ID. Full story.
Kat Dillon and Property Tax
Home-schooling mother Kathryn Dillon withheld from her Keene, NH property tax payments that portion that would have gone to the public school system budget, instead donating it to charity. Full story.
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