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Civil Disobedience

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines civil disobedience as the refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes. Situations exist where civil disobedience and breaking the law is necessary and morally imperative.

Thoreau says that if injustice "is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say break the law." He is personally giving permission for an individual to ignore anything he or she finds morally unacceptable. AT times there is a need for civil disobedience. Through law there are flaws and Thoreau explains that a law might state one thing, but does that mean its right? Thoreau states "the only obligation that I have a right to assume is to do at any time I think right." His context shows that if you feel that a law is unjust, it is your obligation, your right, to act against it.

Unjust laws exist everywhere, and you have a right and an obligation to do what you think is right and moral. Civil disobedience is a necessary act that helps you act out against unjust laws. Are we morally obliged to obey even unjust laws? Think about what this means. This means that laws, regardless of how unfair, unjust, or immoral they may be, must be followed with no better reason that they are the law.

King also says, "One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." It is not only moral, but a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws. King's quote, as I stated earlier, is, "An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey, but does not make binding on itself." To be a just law, it has to be universal in its application. And if injustice is brought upon one group and not on another group than that is unjust. Laws have to cover a population, not a secular



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