Breaking The Law And Civil Disobedience?


Well-Known Member
Jul 3, 2006
Do you think it is justifiable for people to break the law during protests or other methods to further their viewpoints/causes?

If yes, to what extent should it go to (up to felony, everything except murder, etc...)?

If no, why do you feel that it is not justifiable to break the law under this circumstance?
This is one hell of a paradox if I ever saw one (and you know it!) The protest would be directed against the government and the laws, and taking it further could constitute conspiracy against government (treason)...

Insofar as this is a political thread, and a topical one at that, I'm tempted to go back to constitutionality, like everybody else seems to, because that's the only fairly constant referent I can see off the top of my head. Most objections these days are against threats to "freedoms as writ in the constitution" so breaching that in any meaningful sense would probably be hypocritical.
Quakers are a good example of a group that is able to practice civil disobedience but do so in a manner that does not endanger the welfare of other people.

It should be noted that civil disobedience does not automatically mean breaking the law. Civil disobedience can mean gathering in a duly organized protest rally or march that is operating by virtue of a permit issued by the local government.

I remember a few years back seeing images protesting the war in Iraq, where people were yelling obscenities and shaking their fists at law officers who had been called in to remove protesters who were blocking a public roadway. that same day, I saw images of a war protest organized by the AFSC that involved singing, handing out literature, speeches, and other tools that are the earmarks of peaceful protest. The sad thing is that the AFSC was better organized and had more facts on hand to share, but it was the lip-splitting bunch that got the lion's share of the media attention.
I've always heard that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so it's no surprise that the people making the most noise will get the most attention. That doesn't mean the other side doesn't have valid points, they just aren't heard because they're not loud enough.
In some countries, civil disobedience is protected by the Constitution, and the citizens can protest against the government that they don't feel is the legitimate government for the land. In the States, I guess it all depends on what kind of laws are being broken to protest. But it is something that people that protest know as a risk. Many have been detained for protesting. I don't think it goes on their records though, because they are free to go after a couple of hours.
I feel that every one has the right to protest and if they break the law I generally don't have a problem with it. It is when it starts to become violent that I have a problem.