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>In a state of law, it’s not the domain of the government, but rather the prosecutors and the courts, to weigh individual rights,

IMHO that's all that needs to be said. This is exactly how it should be. This is a problem for which laws were written and this is something the judges should eventually have the power to decide upon.

If we don't like their decision, it's up to us to change the laws.




I disagree: in a free state composed of free citizens, it is every citizen's duty to refuse to do something which he believes wrong: a law can only be enforced because the police arrested someone, the gaolers incarcerated him, the jury convicted him, the judge sentenced him, the warden took responsibility for him (and the executioner killed him, in the case of capital crimes). Every one of these has the opportunity and the duty to refuse to enforce an unjust law: the police officer can turn a blind eye; the gaolers can refuse to accept the prisoner; the jury can refuse to convict; the judge can refuse to sentence; the warden can release; the executioner can refuse to work.


You are basically arguing for vigilante justice. There's a myriad of reasons why this is a bad thing for society. For example, white supremacy groups not being arrested or charged with crimes because all the cops and DAs and judges are also white supremacists. If it's truly within their world-view that a lynching is not wrong, then according to your theory it's their responsibility to not arrest or charge for it. This viewpoint is directly opposed to the rule of law.


zeveb is arguing for nonviolent civil disobedience, which is a very far cry from vigilante justice. Some of our greatest civil rights heroes are advocates for civil disobedience, including Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Mohandas Gandhi, and Emmeline Pankhurst.


Yes, vigilante justice is probably a step too far, but only because it's definition requires a lack of rule of law to start with. zeveb is basically arguing that the morality of the individual citizens at each step of the chain overrides the rule of law. The basic premise is the same between them: A vigilante applies their own morality extra-judiciously, without regard for the rule of law. It's the positive counterpart (applying law) of the negative (nullifying law) that zeveb is arguing for.

Civil disobedience is also not correct. Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey laws, not the refusal to uphold them. People participating in civil disobedience do it with the understanding that they can (and should) be prosecuted for such. They do so to act as martyrs.


I have to apologize for the extreme and apocryphal example, but I honestly can't think of a better one right now: there are quite a few people that have been convicted as war criminals for "applying law" as they were ordered to do.

The law can be very wrong sometimes, and it's the responsibility of an ethical human being to disobey such laws, whether by non-application or nullification, until such time as those laws are corrected.


I actually think that's a great example; no need for apologies. (And, after all, I did set the example with my original comment and white supremacists.)

My response would be that, in such cases, there exist two sets of conflicting laws. The national law, which was not being broken, and the supra-national law regarding human rights and war crimes, which was. So that is actually an example of rule of law being upheld, just not national law.

The bottom line is, you need to be really, really careful when you start arguing for "ethics" and "morality" as a basis for execution of law. For instance, to make a concrete example: It could be argued that based on the ethics and morality of the Nazis, that the mass murders committed under the Holocaust were in fact them morally disobeying those supra-national human rights laws. Who are you to say that the Nazi morality is wrong? You can't point to the agreed-upon supra-national human rights laws, because you are in fact arguing that law should be violated based on morality!

In fact, one of the ways to view law is as an encoding of the morality of the society it covers. Sometimes laws, being fixed entities, and society, being ever changing, drift apart over time. Same as software drifts from the requirements of business if not kept up to date. It usually takes an example like this German one to point out the absurdity, and if the law really is no longer part of the society's morality, becomes fairly easy for lawmakers to fix. (As a reminder, this law being invoked is very old -- from when Germany was a monarchy and insulting dictator kings was morally a very serious crime!)


You might have missed it because it's used here toward unsavory aims, but the situation jdmichal is describing is also non-violent civil disobedience.


Individual ethics trumps democratically created legislation in your system.

This is a problem.

You're promoting anarchy which isn't a workable system AFAICT - the gaoler believes it's wrong not to accept a bribe because that will mean his child goes hungry, so he should release the criminal despite the democratically elected officials having openly created a law that has not been opposed by the people (eg in massed protest)?


I appreciate the sentiment here; however, you must consider that there are many roles in government where you must weigh your duty to the law against your duty to your personal convictions. I imagine as a judge there are decisions you uphold that would directly contradict your beliefs.

The alternative is a rejection of conservatism in the worst way: the state can change too quickly for society to have a proper discourse on whether we made a mistake or not. "Revolution" is a relatively positive word these days and it's easy to forget that actual lives are often lost when mob mentality takes precedent over rule of law.


This specific law requires approval of the federal government before the prosecution can go forward. It was written into that law with exactly that intent.


We'll have to see how honest they are when it becomes their interest to intervene in the business of prosecutors and the courts. It goes both ways so it remains to be seen.

That said, my take is that if the law is unjust, I prefer the law to be overturned rather than not prosecute on the law or rely on disobedience.

In this case prosecuting may create enough bad will that people will find it unpalatable and work to have it overturned to the dismay of foreign "dignitaries".


On the face of it the law seems incompatible with the ECHR wrt rights to expression and freedom of conscience, so an appeal might well have the prosecution overturned even if the law stands and the actions are considered to contravene it. Without seeing the video though it's not clear if it's just plain libellous or not.


Than it shouldn't have gotten to her desk at all. But it got - so it is outside of the law system anyway. It is her decision.




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