Sunday, 30 August 2009

When Is It Right To Break The Law?

I watched a debate show this morning called "The Big Questions" on BBC1, you can pick it up on BBC iPlayer.

Part of the debate this morning was whether or not it was right to break the law in order to further a cause.

Before I give you my answer to this and before you really have time to think about the rights and wrongs of this, I would like to tell you about a few people that over the years broke the law in order that things would be better for the rest of us.

Oliver Cromwell and the round heads fought a bloody civil war in order to bring democracy to The British Isles. He was also the founder of the New Model Army, which so many countries base there military upon.

Lydia Ernestine Becker - founder of the Suffrage movement, who argued that single women and widows should have the vote, as they were unprotected by men, ie husbands and fathers, which was the norm at the time.

Emily Wilding Davison - who threw herself under King George V's horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on 4th July 1913, for her beliefs in women's rights.

The Pankhurst Ladies - Emmerline, Adele, Sylvia and Christabel, all leaders of the Suffrage Movement For The Rights of Women.

All of the women named above broke the law, but went on to win the right for ALL women in this country to have the vote.

Henry VIII - broke away from Rome (an illegal act at the time) in order to form the Church of England. Just so that he could divorce Catherine of Aragon & marry Anne Boleyn - who then gave birth to a daughter, who went on to become Queen Elizabeth I, one of this counties greatest monarchs.

Martin Luther King jr - the youngest person ever to be given the Nobel Peace Prize, for his non violent stand for civil rights.

Baynard Rustin - main organizer of the 1963 "March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom"- he counseled MLK jr on the techniques of "non violent resistance". He went on to fight for gay and lesbian rights, which have effected millions of people around the world and not just American gays and lesbians

Gandhi - I really don't need to explain this one, but he did through his non violent protests led Indian to independence from Britain. Also he met MLK jr and inspired him to the use the same methods with the help of Rustin.

Rosa Parks - who on December 1st 1955 was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, but before Ms Parks there were others who did the same Irene Morgan, Sarah Louise Keys, Claudette Colvin and the athlete Jackie Robinson, all of whom made the stand of not giving up their bus seats to white people, but it was Rosa Parks case that to spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela - leader of the African National Congress and prisoner for 27yrs and the first black leader of South Africa.

Aung San Suu Kyi Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1991 and the leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma (Mynmar) and for over 14yrs has been under house arrest.

Muhammad Ali - who refused the draft for Vietnam and went to prison.

All of these people either broke the law and were arrested or broke the law and were imprisoned and yet each and every one of them changed lives and for the better or are still fighting for the rights of peoples without a voice.

Do I think it's right for people to break the law in order to give hundreds, thousands, millions of people rights in order for them to have better lives!

Simply put Yes, I do.

I am no better that any other person on this planet to day. I have rights, that I don't even realise I have at times, they are just there. For me to take advantage of and to take for granted.
But I only have them, because of the people who fought for me to have them, who at times broke the law and paid for it with time served in some cases.
I do however not uphold violence and history has or should have by now taught us that all violence gets is more violence.

I'm not for hurting people, I don't like to or wouldn't like to get hurt, but I would brake the law to further a cause, if I felt it was the right thing to do. I was in fact one of the women at Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp in the 1980's and we did break the law, just by being there. I have a criminal record of 26 arrests, while there to prove it. In the end I did stop going there as I did not fancy prision and the judge said he would lock me up if he ever saw me again, I was by then expecting my Ashley, so felt that I had something bigger to get on with.

While it is off course wrong to brake the laws of any country, there are times when the bigger picture needs to be looked at.
However; never at the cost of another person being hurt, injuryed or killed.


  1. I do agree to most of your points. Anyone who has had to watch a loved one go through a painful death, would help assist another love one to their end if the need arises. Or to go the extent to get illegal substances to help ease the pain. I do agree that no one needs to get hurt, injuired or killed. The problem I have is with those who go to the extent that they will do anything to further their cause without any regards to those that it hurts.

  2. Laws often need to be broken. Laws are enacted by fallible human beings and thus aren't unquestionably right.

    I admire the time you took to voice your thoughts and to list these brave men and women who made personal acrifices for the greater good.

    Bravo and thanks to you, Lia.

  3. Oops. I failed to mention I'm proud of you for participating in the Peace Camp and enduring the arrests. You've got guts.

  4. That's very thought-provoking.

    And coincidentally I was thinking about posting on Greenham just this morning. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow.

  5. Gosh it's good to hear your voice.
    People have voices and not everyone uses them, yaknow?

    I don't know what Greenham is--but I'm about to find out.

    And yes, laws don't mean 'right'--they're just laws.

  6. Yes, thought-provoking to say the least. Wow. I completely agree with you Lia, as you could probably guess. I'm with Mel, it's so very good to hear your voice. You're so inspiring to me my dear Lia - on many different levels. Thank you for posting this.

  7. mamma - your right, I never thought about how far would I go for a loved one if they were in pain.
    I'd certainly sit in jail for them if that's what it took in the end.

    Shaddy - you rebel you.

    Liz - don't hesitate to put up a post about Greenham Common, it would be interesting to see it.

    Mel - I think you have a rebel in you as well as Shaddy.

    Sarah - I am devoted to you as much as you are to me.

    In fact Ladies you all make my day and give me inspiration in so many different ways, I love you all xx


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