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Breaking the Law-When is it OK?

Submitted by on October 11, 2007 – 8:41 pm EST

An animal “rights” supporter has just left this comment on this post;

Just been reading about how the suffragete movement resorted to some very serious and highly impressive acts of civil disobedience and arson in their campaign for equal treatment of women. The civil rights movement also heavily relied on civil disobedience to get their message across.

You imply that social change can be brought about without relying on civil disobedience, history shows that civil disobedience has been one of the most powerful tools in bringing about social change.

You also seem to have a really weird belief that the legal system somehow stands above everything else. Taking this belief to its logical conclusion would you strictly adhere to the NAZI laws? Would you break the law if you thought it would save lives? And if so why not animals?

There is no scientific evidence for the speciestic outlook you seem to adhere to, instead such positions rely on outdated religous beliefs or bigoted notions of superiority and progress.

I look forward to a detailed answer to these points.

Firstly, it is true that civil disobedience has brought about social change-but not always for the better.

You cite the suffragette movement and imply that criminal behaviour, including arson was a legitimate tool in achieving equal rights for women.

New Zealand women achieved the right to vote in 1893, without recourse to violence. I would argue that some of the extreme tactics used by US and British suffragettes, retarded rather than advanced their cause.

That said, it is clearly OK to break the law when life or liberty of human beings is threatened and WHEN THERE IS NO OTHER PRACTICAL RECOURSE.

If the NZ government started jailing opponents or executing dissidents, I think armed resistance would become morally valid, though I doubt it would be practical in this country.

Certainly we are miles away from that point and see little likelihood of such circumstances occurring in the forseeable future.

Therefore, all resistance to the admittedly increasingly repressive Labour government should remain peaceful.

Unless the government was unjustly jailing or killing people, I would unhesitatingly “dob in” any people, including those on my side of the political divide, I discovered planning violent acts against the state.”

The legal system, massively flawed though it is, is our strongest protection against arbitrary government power. If you treat that system with contempt, you have no moral high ground to stand on if it starts treating you and your rights in the same way.

Your point implying that animals have equal rights to humans is bizarre.

Animals have limited conciousness and no sense of morality.

Animals deserve respect and should not be subject to unnecessary cruelty, but they are in no sense equal to humans.

If your house was on fire, who would you save first, your dog or your daughter, your son or your snail, your wife or your woodlouse?

If you’re not sure, I would suggest that you are not fully human.

In the most EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES it is OK to violate the law to preserve human life or liberty.

Similarly, I would trespass to give comfort to a horse with a broken leg. I would, IF I HAD NO OTHER OPTION, assault someone to stop them beating a dog.

I would not sneak into a closed building by night, to steal chickens, because I did not agree with the farmer’s practices.

Breaking the law is not to be taken lightly.

Preserving human life and liberty may justify it on some RARE OCCASIONS.

Preserving animal life may also justify it on some extremely rare occasions.

Committing burglary to “liberate” chickens, is simply irresponsible criminality.

If William Wilberforce could end the British slave trade legally, then smart people like the animal rights movement can free chickens legally.

That is if they weren’t merely criminals looking to justify their criminality, by pretended “pure” motives.


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