To find people who blindly accept laws as being just and fair perplexing?(30 Posts)
Just that really. Laws make things legal yes. But the Jim Crow Laws were legal once, as was Apartheid, as was women being second class citizens.
So few people seem to question the morality of laws anymore. Why?
YABU for saying 'any more.' The majority of people have always accepted the majority of laws. Why do you think it was still legal to rape your wife for so long?
But why is it? It being legal to rape your wife for so long despite it being blatantly morally wrong is a good example Twinkly.
Maybe I should rephrase to - Why do so many people blindly accept laws with taking a moment to question the justness or morality of the law?
I've not noticed this particularly, but I agree it's frustrating when people just assume 'it's the law' explains why something is allowed even if it seems unfair.
I think I go " it's the law- I don't agree with it and if I feel strongly about it i'll campaign for the law to be changed, or vote for someone who'll change it, or be prepared to go to jail for breaking the law to make my point"
But there's not many laws I feel that strongly about.
I don't mean just UK laws,but laws generally speaking. We've all got an awareness of laws in other countries (to greater and less extents) and some do seem to garner international opinion.
So how do we decide what is moral or just? Who decides that?
On a mass scale? The government/ judiciary I suppose. Laws seem inherently linked to what many feel is moral. Because it's the law.
Except for the Human Rights Act which many (right wingers) rail against because it protects terrorists . That's a different thread though
I meant that as more of a philosophical question. What you find immoral or unjust may not be seen that way by someone else. Whose view should prevail? What makes your view right and another person's wrong?
I realise I took you a bit literally there
I obey the law as it is the law, I do not necessarily always agree that the law is right. If a group feels strongly about a particular law they (we) should/would protest it.
If we were to purely base our observance of the law on personal judgement then is that right? No. In the same way as Egypt is currently in turmoil, a (large) group decided a legally elected government wasnt for them. They failed to observe that law and that way anarchy lies.
I would argue saying "it's the law" is not the same as saying "that law is right and just".
I remember long discussions with my father about this when we were reading Plato together in my teens (he was coaching me for exams).
My stand then was (and still is) that:
a) a democracy can only function if people, generally speaking, agree to follow the laws made by democratically elected governments; therefore obeying the law is, generally speaking, a good thing.
b) however, we each of us also come equipped with a conscience and on very rare occasions it may be that our conscience tells us that following the law of the country (however democratic) would actually be morally wrong.
I took as an example the case where a law prescribed the discrimination against or even persecution of an ethnic minority- it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a democratic government might come up with such a law, with a support of the majority of the electorate- but it would still be wrong.
On such an occasion it would actually be my duty not to obey the law because my conscience trumps the law, it even trumps the democracy.
c) however, because of a) it would only be right for me to disobey the law when my conscience actively tells me this is my duty; not just when it is inconvenient for me or I don't happen to feel like it.
With respect, op, your statement is a gross generalisation, and simplifies the situation, by saying people blindly accept laws. I think people perhaps lack knowledge or are confused by the complexities of why and how laws exist. Most people just want to live honest lives and see laws as being there to protect them, I would agree with them, in the main.
Laws passed in this country are based on a number of factors. As we are in a democracy Public Opinion, culture and perceptions are used to inform law making decisions. It is a long drawn out process that can take 5, 10 years sometimes a generation to get through parliament. Law makers are constantly assessing Public Opinion - this is made even more challenging because people's beliefs evolve and shift like techtonic plates (what is right, what is wrong) and can be influenced by many factors such as their upbringing and the "globalised " nature of the world around them. By that I mean that people have more ready access than ever before to see what happens in other parts of the world (media, internet, modern technology) and this can influence their thinking. For example people have become increasingly aware that Sharia Law in its extreme is not a good thing and therefore do not want that in their country. Then in addition, you can overlay onto those factors the electoral system, changing governments, what each government can hope to achieve in their relatively short term of office.
Governments try to gauge public opinion as best they can, but they cant just go ahead and pass laws, there are several additional hoops they have to jump through. For example The House of Lords - made up of Seniors with a wealth of experience behind them - use that knowledge to (by and large) predict whether a law is correctly focussed and likely to be enforceable. We know that this is an incredibly difficult thing to get right every time!
My point is that most people are as far removed from law making as you can possibly get, it doesnt mean they blindly accept, they are law abiding citizens! They have a vote as a democratic member of the political 'system'and trust that the government they elect, will manage the country wisely and well.
It isnt a perfect system, but its all we have and hey, when considering the alternatives, its probably the best we're gonna get!
"So few people seem to question the morality of laws anymore."
Laws are slow-moving beasts, like supertankers on the sea. They take years to formulate, pass and ratify (or whatever it is that makes them the laws of the land). Morality, on the other hand, is a moving target, nimble and ever-changing. What was moral (or considered by many to be moral) in one generation is immoral by the next, and vice versa.
I think the morality of laws has always, and always will be questioned. The lumbering law is always playing catch-up with morality.
Law is constantly changing and evolving in the same way as society is. Most of the time the law is a reflection of the morals and standards of a particular society at a given moment in time. Although the ponderous nature of law making frequently results in a time delay between the two.
Occassionally the morals of society follows the lead of the law, eg drunk driving law, but most of the time it's the other way round.
Interesting responses. Absolutely agree that deciding to just not obey laws you don't like would have terrible consequences.
There doesn't seem to be much in the way of campaigning to change laws currently.
I've always found law interesting,I studied it so am aware of how it comes into being,that it's not a 5 minute turnaround for laws (though Blairs government gave it a good go). I suppose given the current climate people simply might not have the time or inclination to campaign. Whereas they might have before.
How do you know what people question? You don't.
take drugs (not a command). Time and time again, experts, you know people who actually know the science, deal with the people, deal with the social consequences etc say 'make drugs legal' and time and time again the government says NO!
Governments seem to ignore a lot of expert advice.
daisy the problem with public opinion is all the media propaganda, misinformation from the government etc. see benefit 'scroungers' as an example.
There doesn't seem to be much in the way of campaigning to change laws currently.
Really? In the past couple of months I have personally signed up to the MN campaign against Bounty reps on wards. I've been on the stump campaigning on the Scottish independence vote (I'm not saying which side...). I have signed up to a number of online petitions. I have started talking seriously to DS7 about girls attending school on the back of Malala's amazing UN speech. I have been silenced in a pub by some disgustingly misogynist behaviour, and taken the opportunity to have a really serious talk to the friend who was with me about feminism and - I think - really awakened some thinking in her. And I am in the middle of wrestling DS ht to the ground about his additional needs.
That's one, not very politically active woman, in the space of a few months. Yes, absolutey I work from a framework of being within the law, and I don't believe I'd break the law to achieve my aims, but I object to being told no-one is trying to change the law. I admit I'm an armchair activist, but activism has never been easier.
What is happening in Egypt now is a good example of people not just blindly accepting laws made by elected governments.
I envy you cory. My Dad looked at the tits in The Sun and is barely literate. He didn't have a clue which O or A levels I took or what my degree was in.
Now he keeps haranguing me to get onto That Facebook to Get Things Done about the tories. Christ knows why because he has always voted for them and has done very nicely thank you.
I have tried to expain about new laws about protests but he thinks that if young people like me in my forties post on FB and take to the streets it'll be sorted, whatever he thinks "it" is
heh! Tell him he shouldn't have voted tory in the 80s!
Laws on protest and terrorist laws being abused by the authorities are a good point. They don't abide by the laws.
'Laws passed in this country are based on a number of factors. As we are in a democracy Public Opinion, culture and perceptions are used to inform law making decisions. It is a long drawn out process that can take 5, 10 years sometimes a generation to get through parliament. Law makers are constantly assessing Public Opinion'
The OP is not a twelve-year-old.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.