Sunday March 19 2017
In the political section of my library I have a book written by Jim Cairns, published in 1972, titled The quiet Revolution. On one of its pages Cairns (I couldn’t find it) makes the same statement that ACTU leader Sally McManus, made on Wednesday’s 7.30 when she said that she believed in the rule of law and then qualified it by saying:
“Where the law’s fair, where the law’s right, but when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”
The Conservatives were up early the next day preparing their nefarious, but thoughtless words of megalomania that only people with delusions of power could write.
The Prime Minister said he doubted that he could work with new ACTU boss Sally McManus after her comments that union members should break “unjust laws”. Peter Dutton a former copper called her a ”lunatic”. Even Bill Shorten got in on the act with a stinging rebuke. The shallowest thinking people in our society, the shock jocks were intoxicated with thoughts of unionists breaking the law. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, dubbed her comments ”anarcho-Marxist claptrap”.
“I always used to say to my kids. Think beyond the answer. There’ sure to be another one lurking there somewhere.”
On the surface it would seem right that people can’t go around breaking the law. But having said that we do live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us and the shame of it is that we have normalised them and simply adjusted accordingly.
Anyway I thought to myself what sort of world would we live in if Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Liu Xiaobo, Susan Brownell Anthony and many others didn’t just protest bad laws, and then break them.
Would you say you’re justified in breaking the law whenever you morally disagree with it? Law and order is one of the greatest achievements of humankind but every law was written by a fallible mortal. Even those in a democratic societies with the best will in the world always get it right. Not all laws are made in good faith, even with the best interest of the people they are supposed to protect.
What about Whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg, Mark Felt, ”Deep Throat” , Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and hundreds of others who have all broken the law to disclose wrong doing? Politicians themselves break the law by creating ones that hide the truth.
The law and the ethics of it have been debated since the times of the great philosophers. Its not a black and white topic with simple solutions for laws that are made by fallible people.
Australia broke international law when together with the USA it unilaterally invaded Iraq. Is it justifiable to break a law if a person’s life is at risk?
Some say that rules/laws are put in place for those who aren’t capable of being good citizens without there being some sort of consequence. Even that I find to be thoughtless gibberish. Its so much deeper than that.
Jane Caro writing for Fairfax said:
“Even in a democracy, laws tend to be made by the powerful and the privileged. It is therefore inevitable that those with less power and privilege, including women, may have to break some of those laws to find justice.”
When Turnbull, a lawyer and Dutton a policeman, and Pyne, also a lawyer don’t have any comprehension of the vagaries of the law and are seemingly, by their statements, are against the actions of Mandela and company I well understand why the country is in the political mess it’s in.
It was civil disobedience that ended slavery.
“In terms of social activism. The word wait should never mean never.”
Anyway, no doubt there are many opinions on this subject so I will leave you with two thoughts.
When the founding fathers of America broke the tyrannous laws placed upon the colonies by Britain, the United States of America was formed.
The Eureka rebellion was more than just a few miners breaking the law and protesting against an unjust tax. Some argue that it was the time Australian democracy was born.
On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:
When I wrote my piece titled ‘Only in America. Looking at Trump from Down Under’ I must confess that secretly in the labyrinth of my being I thought the American people were to intelligent to succumb to Donald Trump’s populist outbursts.
Stupidly I, like many others, assumed that over time his utterings of nefarious intent would be seen for what they were. The ravings of a pathological ratbag intent on obtaining power by any means. In my piece I covered the man’s personality disorders, his inappropriateness to even be considered as the Republican nominee and then I tied together current Australian conservatism with that of the American right.
As the Republican debates got underway it became apparent that Trump was not just a flash in the pan contender. People actually loved him for his bigotry, for his racism, for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, for his uncouth mouth, for his incitement of violence at his rallies. The more he did so the more they cheered him. The more hatred he spat out the more his supporters encouraged him. Even reciting an oath of allegiance on his command.
They loved him for his prejudice, his lies, his sexism. His racist tweets, and his offer to pay the legal fees of those who commit violence. His supporters worshiped when he advocated the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families.
They almost wet themselves when he gleefully told stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. And they fell over themselves with excitement when he compared refugees to “snakes”, and claimed that “Islam hates us”.
They applauded him when he tweeted racist images and racist lies. When it took him 48 hours to disavow white supremacy there was not a murmur.
Cheers and raucous joy arose at his rallies at his every hate filled denouncement of minorities and everything he sees as un-American. As if America has some sort of ownership on all morality and righteousness.
Having observed this man, his vile behaviour and listened to his rhetoric, the anger he elicits, and the reaction of the American people to it I have to admit I was wrong. Rather than Americans seeing him, as I thought they would, for the fool he is, they are embracing him as their champion.
If I was wrong about Trump I also regrettably have to concede I was wrong about the American people or more particularly Republican Americans. Wanting a person like Trump as President speaks as much about their mindlessness as it does about his inappropriateness.
At some stage I reconciled that he might win the Republican nomination but could never win the Presidency. Am I also wrong about that?
Commentators are saying that if he gets the nomination we will see a more reasoned Trump. A more lucid personality.
The logic of this suggestion escapes me. I know who he is, what he stands for, and it frightens me. It should petrify the world.
My thought for the day.
“Time doesn’t diminish the crime.”
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