Should We Be Able To Pick Which Laws We Don’t Wish To Follow?
“Well you can’t just pick and choose which laws to follow and which ones you don’t want to follow.”
It was an objection supposed to me in reference to the article that I wrote last week detailing the course of events that landed me in the slammer with two misdemeanor marijuana charges. After reflecting on the statement, that was indeed held and voiced by more than one individual, it seems obvious to me that citizens who sympathize with such sentiments most probably have not taken the time to consider the implications of what it is they are actually saying.
American history is replete with examples of revolutionaries who took to resistance, both passive and non-passive, in an effort to refute injustice and usher in change to inequality and absurd legislation.
To simplify that one step further, our nation has been formed by people who decided to pick and choose which laws they wanted to follow and those of which they did not.
The most obvious example of Americans picking which laws that they did not care to observe can be found in the earliest annals of our history as a free nation- repealing unfair taxation demanded by the British Crown, the American Revolution converted riotous street mobs into people justly defending their freedoms. While branded as criminals for denouncing British imposition, the Americans were not in the wrong for resisting the English policies, rather, Britain was to blame because it had attempted to strip Americans of their natural rights as human beings.
They rest, as they say, is history, right?
While the American Revolution is perhaps the most powerful example of history-changing resistance, it by no means stands as a lone example of rebellion against unjust law.
Prior to 1962 sodomy was a felony crime in every single US state and was predominantly used to target homosexuals who were branded as sexual deviants and criminal perverts for the “lewd transgression” of loving a person of the same sex. Pretty absurd right? In this day and age, at the height of the equal love movement which has seen many anti-homosexual laws abolished, it’s hard to imagine an America where loving another man could potentially have resulted in castration or execution. (In the late 1700’s homosexuality was punishable by death in some states.)
Countless homosexual men and women have fallen victim to these ludicrous laws after the passive resistance found in loving someone of the same gender.
Should they be criticized for breaking the law under the inferred supposition, “you can’t just pick which laws you want to follow and those that you don’t?”
Have consenting adults, branded homosexual criminals, simply received what they deserved because they knowingly went against the grain?
By-and-large, anti-homosexual laws have been repealed in most states, but in some, the law still stands to enforce hefty penalties for those who would choose to break the law with acts of legislatively-dubbed sexual perversion. (But hey- the law is the law, right? Don’t break it and you won’t have to boo-hoo about it later.)
How about interracial marriage laws?
While it’s widely known that in the deep south den of the KKK, any relationship between blacks and whites, (especially those of a sexual nature,) was deemed a criminal offense punishable by lengthy prison sentences and hard labor in some of America’s toughest penitentiaries, less known is the fact that the race-mixing prohibition was by no means a Klan-limited affair.
Hell, the Commonwealth of Virginia issued this warning to anyone who might have been considering fraternizing with someone born a darker shade of melanin: “For prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious [children] which hereafter may increase in this dominion, as well as by negroes, mulattos, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women, as by their unlawful accompanying with one another…Be it enacted … that … whatsoever English or other white man or woman being free, shall intermarry with a negro, mulatto or Indian man or woman bond or free shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion forever …”
Yup, you read that right. Banishment all for the “abomination” of loving a soul wrapped in different skin. Oh, and by the way- exile in 17th century Virginia effectively functioned as a death sentence. Offenders were cast to the untamed wild like rabid dogs to fend for themselves.
Justice served huh? They should have known better, after all- the law is the law.
While men and women of any race, creed or color are free to marry as they please in this day and age, it would be foolish to assume that because a little time has passed and we have modern efficiencies like Google and Uber that we have come so far as a nation as to abolish unjust laws.
Here are some more examples of unjust laws, that, if you are reading this may strike more of a resonant note:
Oklahoma: Lawmakers in the Sooner State provide sentencing guidelines that can see hash manufacturers serving the rest of their lives behind bars.
Oklahoma’s anti-reefer regime being of no secret to state-native Patricia Marilyn Spottedcrow, a mother of four who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for her role in the sale of less than 40 dollars-worth of herb to an undercover informant.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Justice is in session!
Or how about Texas?
The Lone-Star State, long known for its no-nonsense approach to criminal activity boasts the absurd distinction that over half of all the state’s arrests are simple marijuana possession charges that carry 6-month jail sentences and up to 2,000 dollar fines.
Let’s not forget the plaid-clad, lumberjacking lawmakers in Montana who deem it justice to mete out life sentences for the sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana with or without compensation.
Injustice committed is justice served- or so they want you believe.
The list could of states rooted deep in sativa based prejudice could go on and on, but at the heart of the matter is this: if you confer to the council of state congression and uphold their views based principally upon the basis that “such is the law, if you choose to break it, then deal with it,” well then you my friend, are a part of the problem.
But hey, maybe I should just leave you this, my all-time favorite quote: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
Gotta run for now,