April 28

Blog #63 – Are you willing to go to jail?

“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest.” – Martin Luther King, Jr, Autobiography

 * emphasis is mine.

Initially going back to the 5th Century, St. Augustine stated that “an unjust law is no law at all”  giving some theological weight / heft to earthly laws. Henry David Thoreau suggested that we obey our conscience when we decide to obey or disobey a law.  He went to jail during the Mexican War and wrote his famous essay on civil disobedience.  Gandhi used Thoreau as inspiration, and King used Gandhi as an inspiration.  Gandhi and King used religion to inspire and their followers.  Here’s a quote from Dr. King from a sermon in the early days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott:

… I want it to be known that we’re going to work with grim and bold determination to gain justice on the buses in this city. And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing.

If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong.
If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong.
If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong.
If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth.
If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning.
My friends, we are determined … to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

But we can’t necessarily have people going around disobeying laws that they don’t like.  There has to be some standards.  Right?  According to Dr. King, he stated that the difference is:

A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.

He further elaborates on this and states that: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

Assumption: Since we cannot argue and fight with every law that we think goes against “the harmony of moral law” or disobey laws at whim (for instance, I might think that one day, the speed limit downgrades my personality, therefore I am going to take a principled stand against it by not obeying it), we have to assume that most laws need to be obeyed.

But what are unjust laws today??

1. Abortion?  Or restrictions on abortion?

2. Wars or other military actions?

3. Immigration laws like the one in Arizona?

4. Gay rights? Or restrictions on gay rights?

5. Economic stuff like taxes?  Or lack thereof on companies, individuals, etc.?

6. Military draft (don’t worry, we don’t have one)?

7. Environmental damage?  Or lack of environmental laws?

8. Jobs or a lack of jobs?

9. Software and music / movie downloading -piracy?

10. Behavior / actions of an American company (sweatshops, illegally drilling, dumping, etc.)?

11. ????

Questions to answer:

a. Would you be willing to go to jail to protest unjust laws like the Civil Rights workers had done many times during the 1950s and 60s?  (Consider the ramifications of a felony or misdemeanor on your record, and its impact on your possible future career).

b. After consulting the list above, which laws would you be willing to fight against?  Why? (feel free to add to the list if you see any missing).

c. Do you agree with Dr. King’s reasoning w/ what makes a law just or unjust?  Why or why not?

Due Friday, May 2 by class.  300 words total. 

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Posted April 28, 2014 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

78 thoughts on “Blog #63 – Are you willing to go to jail?

  1. James Gruich

    a. When it comes down to it, considering enough people support a law for it to exist, unless I had enough people and publicity behind me, I wouldn’t think it would be smart to simply protest immoral laws. At that point I would think that it’s better to work inside the system and try to pursue organized politics to grow groups through political affirmation. If I had enough people backing with me on the onset of protest, I would certainly protest a law that I personally saw as blatantly immoral.
    b. I would be willing to fight against laws restricting abortion, as I personally consider abortion to completely be the choice of the pregnant woman in question. The biggest argument I have is that abortion restriction won’t allow abortion at all, and allowing it at least gives women a choice. I would never support a war, save for last-lane defense against an invasion, and I would want to protest military actions when I don’t personally think they’re morally right, but I would fear the repercussions too much, as protests against wars are particularly risky, as the country is typically in a state of panic, and is willing to shut these down with heavy force. Immigration laws such as the one in Arizona are inherently discriminatory, and I would be 100% willing to suffer the consequences, as laws like these have existed in places like South Africa, these “papers please” laws. I wouldn’t protest an increase in taxes if every citizen bears the same weight, and I wouldn’t be willing to go to jail to bring down Megacorperations, but I would certainly fight to the furthest extent preceding jail. I would participate in every available military draft protest, as that affects me and people my age, and what would I have to lose if I was going to be drafted? If a person were actually arrested for fighting for the environment, I would be willing to be that person if people truly weren’t aware of or didn’t support protection of the environment. I realized I’m a selfish person thinking about this one. I wouldn’t fight for jobs or a lack thereof unless it involved me in some way. I can’t say I’d fight piracy for reasons I can’t divulge in public. If an American company near me was committing a crime of morality, something as plain as lying about sweatshops or dumpings I would publicly oppose that company, boycott their goods or services, but not much more. Again, I don’t think I can fight Megacorp.
    c. I do agree with Dr. King that it’s a matter of morals that make a law unjust. The reasons for placements of laws is to maintain order and (in our case sometimes) fairness in society. They’ve always been based upon morality (excluding many economic laws, but they also have to do with fairness, an aspect of kindness in law). I believe this so wholeheartedly that I don’t necessarily believe that the Constitution is the be-all end-all to laws, and that the supreme court should consider morality over Constitutionality, unfortunately, morality is not as set in stone as the Constitution (but it has been re-interpreted throughout the years, so maybe morality CAN be more set in stone than the Constitution).

  2. Griffin Herdegen

    Honestly, though I do feel that some decisions are worth fighting for, I would not be willing to go for jail for anything except for something maybe religious. For example, if all people were told that worshipping God was illegal, then I would refuse to abide and I would have to go to jail for that. But, as mentioned in the question, I would not go to jail for abortion, or war, or gay rights, or something like that. It takes up such a big percentage of your life and tarnishes your record forever and makes it difficult to get any job and succeed in your future. The only reason I would go to jail for religion is that for all of the other things, I’ll let God have his plan go as it goes and let what shall be legal be legal, but being forced to stop praising God and going out into the field and trying to save others then the only thing that I could possibly do is go to jail. I might organize in a nonviolent protest, like a sit-in in a restaurant or something, or something to denounce a draft or a war or something like that, but I would never want to go to jail for such a long time because it basically ruins everything you’ve ever lived for and everything you could become. I don’t necessarily agree with Dr. King’s idea of a just law, because people have many different sets of morals and it’s sometimes hard to differentiate between which morals are in the right. Maybe someone’s morals disagree with someone else’s, whose right is it to say whose morals are correct? I could not be able to judge which laws are just and which ones should be protested because laws are laws, regardless of their morality.

  3. Emma G

    I definitely would be willing to go to jail for protesting against unjust laws but I don’t think I ever would because I wouldn’t use violence, not even as a last resort. To protest something that I care about, I would try every method of peaceful protesting and I would remain within the realm of my first amendment rights. My future would not have that big of an impact on my decision to protest against something I feel strongly about. I would be protesting FOR my future, to better the community or the world FOR my future.
    I would absolutely be willing to protest against laws restricting abortion, laws restriction gay rights, lack of environmental laws, and lack of laws restricting behavior/actions of an American company (sweatshops, illegally drilling, dumping, etc.). The laws made in America are read about or taught or learned about in other countries. The laws we make directly reflect the character of our country. Fighting for gay rights is very similar to fighting for civil rights. People shouldn’t be shunned for whom they love. Lack of environmental laws is also one of the more important ones because it doesn’t just have an impact on our country, lack of environmental laws will have an impact on the entire world, maybe not in the short term but definitely in the long term. Abortion laws are extremely controversial but I think it shouldn’t be a national issue. It should be left up to the woman and her family, it’s her choice, not the choice of an entire nation. Lastly, the lack of laws restricting behavior/actions of an American company is one of the unjust government actions (or lack or action) that has a more direct correlation with the country’s character: how America treats its workers, how America treats its soil, how America treats its water etc.
    I agree with what Dr. King is saying about how unjust laws are laws that are out of harmony with the moral law. If breaking a law causes a person to break their morals then they should probably know something is wrong with what they are doing. The part about the “law of god” is what I don’t agree with. There is a good number of people in the united states that don’t believe in god and even believing in god doesn’t give a person give morals. Morals are creating for a person by the person. You don’t need to believe in god to have morals.

  4. Kara Kennedy

    I would have definitely supported a cause in the 1950s and 1960s, but I don’t think I would be strong enough to go to jail because of the ramifications involved. I don’t know if this answer would change if I wasn’t this age. The rules of staying in school, following the law, and not getting into trouble are so deeply ingrained at an early age that it makes some hesitant to even think about a question like this.
    Two things off that list that I would most fight for are abortion rights and gay rights. I think everyone should have the right to live their life the way they choose. On abortion -women should have a choice to do what they want with their own bodies. It’s not really someone else’s place to make a woman’s decision for them or judge them on it. On gay rights – I see no difference between a man and woman, man and man, or woman and woman. We’re all human and it’s not like they’re hurting anyone. Most people against same sex relationships or marriages would be unaffected whatsoever if they were legal across the nation. America was supposed to be founded on the basis of freedom and rights. We are making progress over the decades towards actually practicing what we preach with minority civil rights, women’s rights, and the acceptance of same sex couples. In both cases, if it doesn’t affect you personally in a negative way, why should it bother you? If you don’t agree with it, don’t do it.
    I agree with Dr. Kings statement about what makes laws just and unjust. Laws should be made to keep order or protect certain civilian rights, not to degrade human personality, to use his phrasing. Ethics and morals should come before a law when the two are opposing views.

  5. Kelsey DeCarteret

    I would not be willing to go to jail to protest unjust laws like the Civil Rights workers had done many times during the 1950s and 60s. I have nothing against what they are doing, but personally I would not be willing to basically give up my whole future to fight for a cause that may not even help my generation. I hate getting in trouble and I would not be able to handle sitting in jail with a bunch of “real” criminals and killers. That would be so scary. I am the type of person who would just go with the flow and not argue with the system that is in place.
    I don’t know that I would be willing to fight against many laws unless they posed a threat to me personally. The government was set up and is run by politicians that know what they are doing and it is part of their job to make laws that benefit the most amount of people. I’m still young so right now, there isn’t any law that is directly affecting me so it’s kind of hard to say what I would stand up for. If something happened in the future that affected my career or opportunities then I might speak up. For example when women get paid less just because they are women.
    I agree with King’s reasoning that a just law is a man-made law that parallels with morality and unjust laws are out of harmony with the moral laws. A law is just and moral when it does not degrade human personality. Many laws in America’s history were unjust because they restricting the basic rights of African Americans and many other racial groups. I think that if a law is made and it offends or upsets a large amount of people than is it probably unjust. People will fight for what they believe in and their rights. Is an unjust law is passes, chances are someone will jump on the opportunity to protest.

  6. Adam M

    Would I be willing to go to jail? I would probably answer no to this question. I would consider only going to jail if the laws could and would completely change the way our government functions and did thing like take away our amendment rights and even our unalienable rights. I would only protest this because if we as a nation reach a point like the one explained above, there would be nothing left of value in our nation. If in some point in American history in which normal everyday people have to protest for something that we as American people know is wrong then our government has failed.
    After consulting the list above would be willing to fight against some of these laws with my vote not my actions. Starting from the top I believe that abortion should be legal. I do not understand why old white men can dictate what somebody chooses to do with their own body. I don’t understand how people can protest for jobs, it doesn’t make any sense. I sit in the middle in the argument of illegal downloading. On one hand people should be allowed to download what they want but in the other hand they should still pay to support the studios or the developers. This isn’t a law but it is something that I disagree with and I hope can and will be changed even though it is human instinct. As normal people we get offended over everything now a days and blow it into epic proportions.

    I do not agree with Dr. Kings reasoning. I don’t not agree with his reasoning because everybody has different morale standards. Some people think that drinking or pre martial sex are sins. While to others that is a way of life. I think that because everybody has different morale standards laws have to be enforced and enforced the same for everyone not matter what they think is morally acceptable.

  7. Natalie Cooper

    Honestly, I don’t think that I would ever be willing to go to jail for protesting for something I believe in. While there are some things that I have my opinions about and I wouldn’t mind protesting for them, like pro-choice regarding abortion and legalizing gay marriage, I don’t think I would ever really be willing to get to the point where I’m so passionate about something that I would go to jail for it. Going to jail would really effect my future but not only that but I feel like if you protest for something and then get sent to jail for it, it kind of makes your whole protest seem pointless like yeah you’re in jail because you really support something but, so what? I just don’t really understand how going to jail seems to prove something or make the whole protest worthwhile because there’s not much you can do from jail. And also, I’m pretty sure that there are ways to protest for something but not reaching the point of having to be sent to jail for it. After consulting the list above, the main two laws I’d be willing to fight against are gay rights and pro-choice laws regarding abortion. I feel that the decision to legalize gay marriage really shouldn’t even be something that people have to pass laws about because America is a place for freedom and people should be able to marry whoever they want whether it’s a man or woman. And if two people of the same gender got married, they really aren’t effecting anyone else’s lives except their own so why should other people care and disapprove? The second cause I’d be willing to fight for is pro-choice regarding abortion. I do not believe in pro-abortion but I think that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her body and there shouldn’t be a law that doesn’t allow her to do so. While I really feel strongly about those two topics, I still don’t feel that I would be willing to protest them to the point where I go to jail because once again I just don’t understand how going to jail would even get my point across and my thoughts heard. I agree with Dr. King’s reasoning with what makes a law just or unjust when he said, “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” I agree because America is a place of freedom and everyone was created equally and so they should be treated equally. If a law degrades human personality, in any way, it is taking away from the equality and freedom that everyone should be given so therefore it is unjust.

  8. Zach Trunsky

    I do believe that fighting against an unjust law is a good thing to do, but I personally would not be willing to go to jail for such a thing. I honestly wouldn’t even go to any protests or do much to combat the law, because I am not a confrontational type of person. If I wouldn’t be willing to fight against laws today, I definitely wouldn’t have done it during the 1950’s – 60’s, as the responses to these protests during that time period were often brutal. I also don’t think that I would be willing to go to jail because I just don’t think I could never gain enough passion for such a thing, and I also don’t think that going to jail would really solve much. I think it would be just as effective to write a petition from the comfort of your own home. Also an arrest goes on your record, and I hope to get a good job, so a misdemeanor or felony could affect my chances of getting a good job.

    In regards to the laws that I would be willing to fight or support with more enthusiasm is abortion, environmental issues, gay rights and one that I want to add that I feel actually is just but many people don’t believe in is the death penalty. The laws that I would be willing to fight more than others are the right to have an abortion and laws restricting gay marriage. I won’t fully explain my reasoning because it would take to long, but I personally do not believe that abortion is a moral thing, unless you would die if you gave birth. I view abortion as ending the life of a human being who could have had a full life ahead of him/her. I also would be willing to fight laws restricting gay marriage because I am pro choice, and everyone should have the freedom to choose who they want to love. I would be wiling also to fight laws, which could affect the environment, such as oil drilling and deforestation. Our environment is becoming worse and worse, and we must preserve the environment that is left in our world. This doesn’t really tie into fighting a law, but one law that I would be willing to support is the death penalty. I’m not trying to sound like someone who likes death, but I personally believe that there are some messed up, crazy, and terrible murderers and rapists who don’t deserve to live, and that is why I support and would be willing to push for that law.

    I would say that I do agree with Dr. King’s definition of just and unjust laws. He says that an unjust law basically is a law, which goes against the morals of man. I would agree with this because we all have morals, and laws that go against our morals are laws that we generally perceive as unjust. For example, most people believe in freedom of speech, so that would make laws like the sedition acts unjust, which they were.

  9. (The one and only) Brenden French

    Although some would surely call it faithless, I haven’t actually found much that I would willingly go to jail for. It may sound weak, but I’d first like to refine the question. There are different ways that one could be sentenced to jail, and the key aspect, in my opinion, is if I were to be the only one going. So to rephrase the first sentence, I would be willing to go to jail if others would take a stand first, but I’d be fairly particular in what I would go to jail for alone. That’s not the only factor though, as how could you be certain that you would be sentenced to jail and not something worse? Or even killed on the spot for protesting? I suppose all of this doesn’t correlate directly with the question itself, but I thought it necessary to provide some food for thought. Now, the picture I’m playing through my head is that of a corrupt government exercising cruel authority over people, and after reading about all of the various riots and protests in the 50s-60s eras, they REALLY could get out of hand! If I were somehow able to protest peacefully and from the comfort of my own home in the form of a powerful letter, I would certainly fight for some of the privileges these people sought. As for most protests I see nowadays, it’s generally a lot of people making a lot of noise over some meager thing. I am confident in saying that nothing makes my blood boil more than the Westboro Baptist Church. If you haven’t seen them. Look it up. If I gained enough support, I would gladly go up and protest any one of their anti-gay demonstrations, as they went as far as picketing a gay teen’s funeral after he had committed suicide. Some people cross the line with protesting and I’m afraid that if I participated in one, that it could get too far out of hand. I must say, if there was anything else I would fight FOR and go to jail FOR (with the company of others), I would say it would be abortion, crazy pollution (I’m talkin BP every day kind of crazy), or just general cruelty. I know that there are ethical concerns over abortion, but I personally feel that there’s a lot more to gain from stem cell research, and that if a woman doesn’t want to have a baby, within reasoning, I think it’s not the end of the world to perform an abortion. As for pollution, if people could just not screw up the Earth so badly it’d be nice. I just don’t think that there’ll be enough support behind the environmental movements until they’re made into laws. Until then, I’ll just chill and conserve the Earth to the best of my own ability. Now on cruelty, I feel like if I were in a different time, I would’ve gladly resorted to more violent forms of retort, such as if I was caught in the Nazi occupation of France, for several reasons. To begin, getting caught would be trickier if the correct precautions were taken, as there wasn’t tracking quite like that of today. Next, these guys were FREAKIN INSANE! These evil people deserved to die after what they had supported. I’m not saying I would go out there and kill a bunch of ‘em, but I would surely stand up in any way I could. When it comes to Doctor King’s question, I believe and support every word of it, but only in the context it was stated for. There are far too many ways that the statement could be warped, all due to varying perspectives. Like you said, there’d be far too many exceptions involving how a speed limit could “downgrade your personality”, but I feel that the statement could, in time, be tinkered to a relative perfection.
    Bringing a little bit of Honors American Lit. into APUSH, I’ve decided to end the blog with a nice little quote that summarizes how I would likely go about the whole protest situation.

    ”The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one”

    Good night.

    …And good luck.

  10. (The one and only) Brenden French

    ^That’s a Catcher in the Rye quote by the way.

    J.D. Salinger.

    cool dude.

  11. Alex V

    A. I’d like to picture myself protesting for a valiant cause, but I actually don’t know how far I would be willing to go had I lived then. I certainly wouldn’t have the backbone to stand alone, but maybe with a larger group, like the SCLC, I could find the confidence in me to protest. The deprivation of rights and obscene immorality that went on then is most certainly a cause worth standing up for. In terms of risking a felony, my career could be seriously harmed, but I imagine I could find work somewhere. But, to risk losing my rights and settling for a low-wage job for life certainly would impact me. Yet if enthusiastic enough, and if in a large group, I probably would have protested.

    B. I would certainly fight against restrictions on gay rights and lack of environmental legislation. Firstly, I do not believe in discrimination based on whom one loves or decides to marry. Those decisions are decisions a person has the right to decide for themselves. I find it immoral to tell people how to love or whom to love, and if someone of the opposite sex does not appeal to them, that is perfectly fine. Second is the environment. In recent years, despite development in renewable energy, America is still hugely dependent on a diminishing supply of oil. Not only does the burning of petroleum adversely affect the state of our planet, but since it will soon run dry, the economy could hit rock bottom. If moves aren’t made towards renewable energy soon, we may run out of time.

    C. Of course I agree with Dr. King’s statement. If a law causes harm, that defeats it’s purpose. A law should provide a beneficial purpose to the people, and if there was no benefit, it is perfectly understandable that some form of resistance would ensue. If any immoral, unjust law could be passed without protest, this would not be a democracy.

  12. Kris Thomas

    A. Yes, I would be willing to go to jail to protest unjust laws just like the civil workers did in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I applaud every last person that protested for the civil rights movement because of their courage. At a time when being black meant you were basically lesser then another race, people had the courage and moral value to stand up against an unjust law that was completely against the main ideas that our country was made of and that discriminated against another race. Imagine if you had been without the right to go where you want to eat, where you can sit on the bus, where you can go to school, what parks you can go to, and the list goes on and on. I would also be willing to go to jail because if I am non-violently protesting for something I believe in and the police try to arrest me let them go for it. I would be exposing the corruption not only in the judicial system itself but in the very people sworn to protect it which was a major problem people faced in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
    B. I would be willing to fight against higher taxes on the middle and lower class, and also higher taxes on small businesses. I believe these are the things that sets the American economy away from other nations because we have a middle class area instead of just a large gap between the rich and the poor. Also I would be willing to fight against a law that is not listed here. The age of alcohol consumption and the usage of certain drugs. I believe the age of consumption should be moved because in studies shown in countries with a lower consumption age there is usually less abuse of alcohol among the citizens of that country. Also there are certain drugs that were legal some time ago, and are starting to become legal now, that I believe should be legalized. There would be a large amount of money the government could make from taxing this product and there is also a genuine need among the people for it. There are a lot of people who believe, and I am one, that it carries many medicinal uses.
    C. I agree with what doctor king has stated as the model for what is an unjust or just law. I also believe with what he said about the reasoning behind breaking a law, only when such a thing is morally correct to do so. Unluckily, not all people share the same idea on what a “moral” thing is, so not everybody see’s eye to eye when it comes to judging if a law is just or not.

  13. Nick Hornburg

    A. To be frankly honest, even if this paints me as impassionate, useless or cowardly, there is almost nothing I would willing to go to jail for. To me, going to jail is kind of a pointless attempt at pushing for your cause, once you go to jail, you just sit there in your little cell, probably being violated, not doing anything for your cause except take up space. If your not behind bars, there is so much more you can do when not confined, such as: Blasting the opposition via the media, simply talking to people or do what George Carlin did: make televised specials of yourself ranting about how stupid everything is and what needs to change, which will certainly turn some heads. Also, in this pansy ass society we live in now (excuse my language) where people get scared of things as simple as someone buying a Black Sabbath album instead of a Beyonce album (according to most people I come across, Black Sabbath is bad music…morons), going to jail will just make the vast majority fear and hate your side more, since all they see is you and many of your people getting arrested, which would drive them away without a second thought and make them embrace what you have an issue with even more…morons.
    B. I would be willing to side with fights against abortion restriction because I believe in Women’s rights and I WANT MY POPULATION CONTROL AND I WANT IT NOW!!!! I’d be willing to side against restrictions on gay rights because restrictions on gay rights seems rather hypocritical don’t you think? I’d be willing to side against the draft because it’s basically a death lottery. I’d side against lack of taxes on companies and individuals because in my opinion, even those who are corrupt should have to pay taxes, but that might just be me. I’d side against illegal behaviors of U.S. companies because the laws apply to big business owners too, no matter how stupid or thuggish they are. Lastly, I’d gladly side against gun control because guns don’t kill people and why control something that doesn’t cause direct harm? And if people are fighting to control guns because they’re dangerous, shouldn’t they also be pushing to control knives too…morons.
    C. I agree with Dr. King’s reasoning about what makes a law just because laws should be firm but not restricting, meaning the best case scenario is that people don’t notice the laws and the laws don’t jack up the average low IQ U.S. citizen’s routine too terribly. Exhibit 1: The laws that prohibit murder, perfectly reasonable, exists in the realm of common sense, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be very prevalent in 21st century America (I’m talking about common sense) but, I digress, the prohibition of murder is a very simple and reasonable statute and isn’t restricting, Ted Bundy might disagree with that but he’s dead so who cares. Exhibit 2: The laws that prohibit gay marriage, not just. They restrict the rights of some people but not others and the gay community definitely notices that they exist.

  14. Kory Gilbert

    During this time period, I would most likely not be willing to go to jail because of a certain law. I say this because I do not think it is worth having a felony record for protesting at this age when I still need to think about my future, as well as going to school. Depending on the circumstances, I might be willing to go to jail for an unjust law when I am older if it is something I truly think is important. I may have also been willing to go to jail during the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s given the time period, and that racism was a serious national problem. After consulting the list, I would be willing to protest a military draft, and laws revolving around our environment, whether they be unjust or lacking. I believe that going into the military should be your decision, and is not something that should be decided by government. I would also be willing to protest for our environment, because it is where we live, and it is important that we sustain a healthy environment. I would maybe also protest against genetically modified organisms, which usually refers to how farmers will genetically modify their crops by changing their DNA. I would because I do not think it is right to change the DNA of something that should be organic. We also do not know if there are any negative health effects as a result of this. I do agree with Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement about just and unjust laws. A law that is immoral should not be considered a just law, and is something that should be protested if needed. Laws should be put in place to protect the citizens, and less to degrade the personalities of the individuals.

  15. Quinn Costello

    A) If I cared so strongly about something and it had an impact on my life, I would take a stand in it. I cannot say I would go to jail for a cause that was very important. I say this because I have never been put in this position, so I cannot say if I would go to jail or not. I would like to say I would go, but having no prior experience I cannot say. I would although work very strongly for the cause. I would join the protests for civil rights in the 50s and 60s. If I were fighting for a cause like this I would probably go to jail.
    B) Looking at the list above some laws I would be willing to fight are restrictions on gay rights, abortion, and tax cuts on the one percent. I would fight for gay rights because if to people love each other then they should be able to get married and not be restricted due to gender. I believe everyone deserves a chance at life and who knows maybe they will solve one of the World’s major problems. In the US we have an income tax that is based on the amount of money one makes. People of the one percent have a higher rate than others. They should not be given smaller tax rates on anything because they have the ability to pay for the higher rates and the government can use the money to improve the current state of the country.
    C) I agree with Dr. King’s reasoning on what makes a lay unjust. The just laws do good for society the unjust laws do the opposite. Cause pain, destruction, and ruin. When it is morally right and there is no other way of fixing the problem a law should be broken. Though you should be careful not to break the good laws.

  16. Paige W.

    I think that I would be willing to go to jail to protest unjust laws like the Civil Rights workers had done many times during the 1950s and 60s if I, or someone close to me was affected by these laws or if I felt the cause was just enough I would protest, with the knowledge of the ramifications that would proceed my actions. I would be willing to fight against abortion, immigration, gay rights, taxes, lack of jobs, PIRACY, and possibly militaristic issues if I had more knowledge of the topic but I don’t so I don’t really think I can support something I do not understand. As a feminist I really support the fight for abortion because I feel that no one should have control over your body especially a bunch of men who have no idea what it’s like and will never know what it’s like to be in a situation where abortion is even an option so what gives them the right to take that option away from someone else. Many of the people deported today were born in america from parents that had migrated there so when they deport them “back” to where they came from these people have no knowledge of where they “come from” and sometimes don’t even speak the native language. Gay rights is something I support because I feel that these are just basic human rights that people are being denied for no good reason other than the fact that they go against the discriminatory agenda of a few. I don’t believe in equal taxation just for the simple fact that it’s not fair to tax someone who makes less $15,000 a year and someone who makes over $100,000 a year the same amount, there comes to a point where we’re not being fair but generalizing the population. There really is a lack of jobs and people that don’t have jobs are being called lazy and are trying to live off of hard working tax payers dollars, it’s not fair and the fact that old people come out of retirement because they’re “bored” and need to “preoccupy” themselves while the youth is starving and homeless. Piracy is the absolute dumbest federal offense I could ever think of. There are people stealing and killing but the government is trying to crack down on people illegally downloading music and movies, things of which aren’t hurting anyone, it honestly pisses me off so much when I hear about people getting 10 year sentences for downloading music while there are people killing other people and getting off on technicalities. I do agree with Dr. Kings reasoning of what makes a law unjust or just. I believe this because I agree, if a law in anyway infringes another persons rights be they civil rights or human rights then the law is unjust. Laws are put into place to ensure the security and prosperity of a people and when this is compromised then the law is unjust.

  17. Angelica E.

    In my opinion, yes I would be willing to go to jail to protest for unjust laws like Civil Rights workers had done in the 1950s and 1960s, I possibly would have protested for civil rights back then as well because back then, there wasn’t a purpose of living if you couldn’t have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I would do it today as well, especially since the world isn’t as strict and conservative as people were back then. America is more open minded, than back then I believe. I would be willing to fight for Civil Rights-Everyone deserves equal opportunity in the world no matter religion, race, rank in society, Gender equality- Everyone deserves equal pay no matter gender especially in the work place or sexual preference, and Gay rights- Everyone deserves to be with their sexual preference and love who they love. I would fight for these three things because I feel these are some of the top five topics discussed in America, with the exception of abortion as well. I do agree with Dr. King because your morals show the respect you have upon yourself and others. If you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything. If I am a hardcore believer in such things, then why not risk having a felony on your record, etc. I however would not be willing to get arrested, I would not get arrested though because I would only attend peaceful protests. Anything associated with violence, however I would not attend. I would send my greatest regards though. I am not a power house, I mean I barely speak in AP US history class when we have to debate a subject let alone stand in front of a few hundred and openly express my feelings and go to jail.

  18. Ian Rice

    At this point in my life I do not think I would be willing to go to jail in the protest of laws I believed to be unjust not because I don’t believe they are wrong but I do not feel strongly enough about anything in my life to do anything but peacefully protest against it, not prison. From the list I would be willing to fight against restrictions on gay rights because I personally believe that everyone has their own right to be with whom they want and the government has no right to restrict who can marry who. I’m also willing to fight against being persecuted for downloading illegally (music downloads). I’m not against paying for a song but when it’s grossly overpriced at $1.29, and that there are people thrown in jail for downloading music (not even a physical object) I find very annoying and would be willing to fight against the persecution of online piracy. I also believe that we should lighten our policy with and searches for illegal immigration. We shouldn’t be so harsh with our search and treatment of illegal immigrants as second class citizens and we should recognize that most of them are coming to America for a better life, even though they didn’t come here legally, and they are not all drug runners. Maybe if we made it easier to become a US citizen we would have all of these people coming into our country legally instead of resorting to illegal immigration, and I would fight for this believe. I strongly agree with Dr. Kings reasoning of what makes a law just or unjust because I don’t want to follow a law which degrades our morals as human being and according to Dr. Kind would be unjust. I also agree with him saying that “any law that uplifts human personality is just”, because some laws are for the good of the people and deserve to say but others that degrade human personality should go.

  19. Lizzy C.

    Depending on what I was fighting for, I would most likely fight for a cause that were to affect me to the extent that unjust laws affected the Civil Rights workers. The Civil Rights workers were required to live with minimal rights and respect, giving them a legitimate reason to protest. Although that minimally explained all the trials and troubles that pro-Civil Rights workers were forced to be put through, my point is that they were extremely affected personally to a tremendous extent. At this time, as a dependent teenager, I would not be willing to fight for many, if not all, of the debatable laws listed. Being aware of but not extremely knowledgeable about many of our current “unjust laws”, such as jobs/lack of jobs, I am left at a place where I cannot fight. If I were to possibly risk my physical safety and future in jail, I must feel extremely strongly for the cause. If a case were to simply need my support, however, I would not need to have as much of a “totally on-board” attitude, as I would not be risking a less-free and less independent future to the same extent as I would if I were to protest. For example, I may support a side of the job/lack of job protesters once I am a bit more knowledgeable, but currently as an unaware and unknowledgeable high schooler, I do not find myself fit for protesting any side of such a case.
    I agree with Dr. King’s “moral” reasoning. Unfortunately, similarly to how common sense is not always so common, morals are not always agreed upon by all of society, either. Thus, this reasoning technically cannot be used very well in arguments or protests, as the world is filled with individuals with diverse morals and ideologies.

  20. David Sherwood

    Honestly it’s hard to say, because at this very moment I don’t really feel like going to jail and there’s nothing that I’m particularly hot about. And after reading some of these other responses it seems as few of my peers would go to jail for a cause. But, I don’t know. I’d like to think I would go to jail for something I believed in. It seems like if the self sacrifice of going to jail would really be essential and the most effective thing for the cause, I think I’d do it. For the same reason, it’s hard to say which of those I would go to jail for. I’d think any of them, but it all depends on the circumstances. I’m not in the place to do that right now, so I couldn’t know. Some that stuck out were taxes, military draft, environmental, immigration, abortion, gay marriage. One I might add is the legalization of marijuana. Obviously, again, I would’t go to jail for it today. But I could see myself fighting for that. I think what MLK said is a pretty accurate way to describe it. It’s really more of a feeling than anything else. It’s hard to put it down in writing. Sometimes you just know that something is bigger than you. It’s not just what you want for your own personal gain, it’s something more than that. That’s what makes me think if I ever got to that point on any of these issues I would accept incarceration readily. Because sometimes you just know it has to happen.

  21. David Sherwood

    Oh, also, I think it becomes hard to differentiate between a truly just and unjust cause. Even inside of a singular cause there are blurred lines between motives. Some people aren’t doing it for an entirely pure or just reason. And I think this is a dangerous part of this whole civil disobedience business. Not everyone who protests an unfair thing is a saint. Which makes the opposing cause flawed in many ways as well.

  22. Annie Moore

    I find this blog interesting because those close to me can vouch for me when I say that jail has always been my biggest fear. When I was younger, and even today I could never watch shows or movies based on jail or prison. I don’t know where the fear came from and it’s probably irrational because there is a surefire way to stay away from jail; follow the law. It seems simple, easy even but in the 50’s and 60’s the protesters followed the law. Constitutionally, they should have had the freedoms of speech and assembly, which would’ve made their protests well within their rights but that, in and of itself was the reason for the protests to begin with, they didn’t. They protested peacefully and exercised the rights that they were fighting to get. I would like to think of myself as noble and upstanding. I would like to think that I’m brave and that I would go to jail under the right circumstances, for something or someone that I believed in, but honestly, I’m not so sure. My top five college choices are Howard University, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, and the University of Michigan. These are all very prestigious schools that are hard enough to get into without me having a felony or misdemeanor under my belt. Also, I want to become an OB/GYN and work for Doctors without Borders for the first few years of my career to do both missionary work and pay off student loans. If I was charged with a felony or misdemeanor I might not be able to leave the country after I got out of jail because I might be on probation. So the possibility of going to jail and being charged with a felony or misdemeanor would have a great effect on my life in more ways than one. I would be willing to fight against the right to abort a child. I feel strongly about the fact that women should not be able to have abortions. I think that in today’s society, there are so many other options that it should never come down to terminating a pregnancy. Often times, when debating these topics, people try to analyze and scrutinize the logistics of the age of the child, and of exactly how far along the mother is. I, on the other hand, believe that no matter how early in the pregnancy it is, it is still immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional to terminate a pregnancy. Now, I’ve felt this way because it’s what my parents believed and it’s how they raised me and so party of it is just moral unrest, another part is my home environment, and third and most importantly it’s my religious orientation. I truly believe that this is a cause I would be willing to go to jail for. I agree completely with Martin Luther King’s definition of an unjust law. It just strengthens the argument as to why abortion is unjust. It goes against the law of God and is immoral. There is no harmony there.

  23. Nathan

    A. I hate to say this because it sounds like I’m an awful person, but at this point, I don’t believe I’d go to jail for anything. I’m a sixteen year old kid. I don’t have anything that I’ve grown to be so passionate about that I would go to jail about it. Not that I don’t have views on anything, I do. I offer various opinions on the issues that are prevalent in our society today. But I will not support them by going to jail. I will argue for or against certain views until I’m blue in the face, but I have too much to lose and nothing to gain by getting put in jail. I feel awful saying this, but it’s true. Any criminal charge on my record will for sure come back to bite me. I’d hate to be burdened the rest of my life by a mistake I made in my sophomore year that I wasn’t even that passionate about.

    B. Would I go to jail for anything? No. But would I fight for or against laws I have beef with? Yes. I’m passionate about laws about abortion, homosexual marriage, and others. I’m pro-life, and believe there are other solutions to the problem of an unexpected pregnancy, but I don’t think I would go to jail in order to support my view.

    C. I do agree with Dr. King’s reasoning with just and unjust laws, but some points I think are kind of shady. The part about laws uplifting human personality I can sympathize with, I think that’s reasonable and true. We establish laws for the good of our people. But the whole “law of God” part isn’t too great with me. Although I believe this country has a certain foundation of Christianity to it, there is freedom of religion. You can be an atheist and still be a respectable person. We also tried to create separation of church and state when this country was created, and that goes against that. However, when King explained his reasoning for a law being unjust, I agreed. There’s no point in following a law if it’s forcing you to go against what is morally right.


  24. Ashley M.

    If you are very passionate about a cause like civil rights than you should protest for change. I would have protested for change because in my eyes we are all God’s children no matter what race or sex we are. He would see us all in the same light because we all are his creation and he did not create the earth for just one race to be superior over the other. Consider the charges I would get because of the protesting I think whoever is offering the job; they would understand that I was only changing the way of life for future generations to come. After looking over the list I think I would protest for gay rights, jobs or lack of jobs, and Behavior / actions of an American company (sweatshops, illegally drilling, dumping, etc.). Gay rights are a modern fight of civil rights because they are fight for the same liberties as heterosexual couples have today. This fight should not be happening because just like in Dr. Martin Luther King’s The I Have A Dream speech he says “America should live up to its creed that all men are created equal”. Which is true and just because they are different does not mean we should discriminate against them. The other thing I would protest is jobs or lack of jobs. The Lack of jobs is changing the minimum wage because the standard cost of living is going up. And we should source jobs back into the states. And then sweatshops because no one should had bad working conditions for less than minimum wage. And people should not have to put their lives in danger. No, I don’t agree with Dr. King because you have to follow no matter what and you can protest for change but if that does not work then you just have to live that way. If I said I don’t like taxes and I will not pay, and don’t I will go to jail and be in debt.

  25. Leo D

    As of now I don’t feel passionately enough to go to jail for any of the controversial laws that are out there today, but if our government were to pass a law completely unethical, or one I completely disagree with then I would risk jail time for standing for what’s right. I wouldn’t go throwing away my clean slate for just little things I disagree with but if something were to get passed that effected me, and the others around me in a completely unethical way then I could see myself getting put behind bars for my non violent protests. I admittedly disagree with some things out there such as gay rights or war I’m not mad enough, at least at this point in my life, where I would make a decision that would harm my future. If I were to spend some jail time now it would be very hard getting into the college of my choice, or finding a successful career. If I was living in the past with the common sense that I have now I would definitely be willing to be thrown in jail for things like civil rights or women’s rights. Not only because the way these subjects were treated were completely unethical but also because being thrown in jail wasn’t as big of a deal meaning that a tarnish on your record wasn’t as easily seen or treated the same. I agree with what Dr. King is saying about how unjust laws are laws that are out of harmony with the moral law. If breaking a law causes a person to break their morals then they should probably know something is wrong with what they are doing. I would not follow a law that caused me to feel uncomfortable morally. Ethics and morals should always come before law and if that rule of thumb was compromised I would do something to change that.

  26. Seth Allen 5th Hour

    The 1960’s was a shifting time period. This is when the world started to change into a better place for all races. The unfortunate part is that before it gets better it gets worse. Mass riots, boycotts, shooting were of the normal day in this time. I think that if I was alive during the 60’s I would be willing to protest for the civil rights. People deserve to be equal. It shouldn’t matter your race or where you come from to decide how people treat. On top of that their should definitely not be laws that prohibit people to gain this civil equality. I would be willingly to fight for gay rights, military drafts and environmental changes. I don’t know if I would be willingly to go to jail for anything besides the gays rights. If their was an unjust war that called for a gigantic military draft I would be willingly to fight against it. I will never support an unjust cause that for some reason my country finds necessary. I don’t understand why people are against gay rights. It doesn’t make sense to me to not allow people to be happy just because of their sexuality. It’s unjust and oppressive to not allow people who are gay to be happy. If environmental changes got so bad to the point of mass death then I would for sure protest for it. I agree with what Dr. King says. He Is completely correct with describing a law as a just one. There is no point in a law that oppress people with an unreasonable cause. Although everybody does not like taxes they are necessary. So by doctor king’s standards taxes are a good law. I believe that Dr. King would be for gay rights. He goes onto to say how a law that uplifts people is a just law. I believe this is everything gay rights stands for.

  27. Ethan A.

    a. If I were to go to jail, it would have to be for something awesome. My going to jail would have to bring national attention to the issue. Since there are legal ramifications for going to jail for protest, my going to jail would either have to deal with me religiously, or it would have to work and bring about a change. Otherwise, it is a life wasted. My future productivity will have been ruined without bringing any benefit to anyone. However, I don’t think I would simply bend to the will of an unjust law when protesting won’t bring about a success. I would simply work behind the scenes, and wait for an opportunity to arise.
    b. As far as the above laws, to be honest, there aren’t many I’d be willing to protest against. Few directly affect me, and I feel that they aren’t huge problems. Protesters aren’t bringing about much national change, and there isn’t really that much to do to fight against it. As I stated in a), if I disagreed heavily, I would probably find a way to bypass it. However, I don’t disagree to talking to others about how I feel about issues like taxes and abortion. If that counts as fighting against it, so be it. I also think the government is (should be) a system to fight against such laws, brought about by voting. Protesting seems to be popular way to fight against laws nowadays, but voting should always be the more effective, proper way to get what you want.
    c. Due to my religious beliefs, I find no fault in Dr. King’s message. I do believe that God is a just god, and that laws that are made in accordance to his moral commands are laws that do not have problems. However, Dr. King didn’t make it only God’s law, for a reason. The moral law can be whatever you think good morals and values are. People will obviously get different views of what is moral and immoral, but that is a part of human choice.

  28. Jasmine Jordan

    Honestly, if it came down to it I wouldn’t be able to go to jail to protest unjust laws like the Civil Rights workers. I don’t think I would be a strong enough person to go to jail for a “crime” I didn’t commit myself. I would love to think I would be willing to go to jail for a bigger cause but when I comes down to it, I probably couldn’t go through with it. Thinking about the family I possible have and my future, I would not want to put them through that.
    Just naming one law that I would be willing to fight against (“fight” to an extent going back to me saying I wish I would be able to but I’m not) would probably be the gay rights law. It is just one law that I’m the most passionate about. Even though it doesn’t affect me personally, it affects my peers and the people around them and soon that expands to affecting everyone. I’m all about the hashtag,“loveislove” movement. But also to be more recent and tying into the civil rights movement, I would fight about the Donald Sterling case. That is just digressing from all the progress we did make from the civil rights.
    Yes, I agree with Dr. Kings reasoning that makes a law just or unjust. Especially when he says,” … an unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. “ I like how he connects a law being just or unjust. He is basically saying that a law is just when it does well for the WHOLE population; not just one race or gender. He also goes in to analyze that laws are a “man made code”. Nothing was here in the beginning. All the laws that are in effect now, were in effect, and will be in effect are all come up with by us (us being our local politicians).

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