law vs justice revised 2.15

law vs justice revised 2.15 - Grosjean 1 Matthew Grosjean...

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Grosjean 1 Matthew Grosjean 12/07 The debates on whether the populace’s greatest obligation is to uphold the legal system of this country or to obtain justice by any means necessary still rage and the juries are still out with the verdict. Surely every American is currently in the pursuit of peace, stability and strength in order to live a life of freedom and prosperity, but at what cost? Is justice served achieved through hard work and by playing by the rules of the system and do these civilly disobedient citizens hinder the pursuit of order in our country with their temper tantrum tactics and self-righteous judgments of what is right and what it wrong? Or, is the absolute obedience to all laws a violation of justice and, sooner or later, the bringer of enormous disorder? As phrased by Howard Zinn, “where is our greater obligation: to law or to justice?” (Zinn 109). Proponents of civil disobedience argue that the most significant contributions to justice were made by people who were considered rebels by their contemporaries: Jesus, Moses, the Founding Fathers, Ghandi, Henry David Thoreau, and Socrates to name a few. These men were “traitors all, until success crowned their efforts and they became great patriots! [These men] represent those individual consciences of the world which as opposed to the mass mind, best represent the universal conscience of mankind” (Coffin 1). These proponents see the primary function of civil disobedience as provoking change. If civil disobedience was not used, social change would either never happen or would happen at a rate so slow that by the time the change was made for the society, society would have changed again. This is because when people have a personal interest vested in the system of law and order, civil disobedience becomes a necessity especially
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Grosjean 2 when these people in control of the system are also those with vested interests which they usually are. The rich and powerful have many legal forms of hard coercion such as economic prosperity, access to the government and access to the media which easily leads to propaganda. It then is easy to see why the legal system protects the vested interests of the powerful rather than the poor. But many times the opinion of the weak is the majority opinion and those in places of power and in charge of the system of law and order merely try to sustain their current way of life and in these instances civil disobedience is intended to create social and cultural change. Even though, the law is worthy of respect, if it is unjust in human consciousnesses, to obey some laws without rational reasoning is equally unjust. William Sloane Coffin outlines two kinds of civil disobedience: 1. The testing of the legality of the law in which the constitutionality of the municipal and state laws themselves are tested. One example of this is Martin Luther King Jr. bringing his case to the Supreme court through civil disobedience that he was not civilly disobedient, but the laws themselves were. 2.
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This essay was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course ENG 241 taught by Professor Rakhlin during the Fall '07 term at Eastern CT.

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law vs justice revised 2.15 - Grosjean 1 Matthew Grosjean...

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