Some of you are probably already asking if the title of this article is some kind of a joke, or a trick question. It isn’t, I honestly want to know if you think that there might be times when breaking the law is justified. However, before you give me your answer I’d like for you to put aside your emotions, your loyalty to whatever political party you belong to, and just THINK about the facts I am about to present to you. Can you do that for me, just this once?
To be able to answer the question I pose to you properly, you must first understand what a law is, who has the authority to enact laws, and under what authority do THEY act, and for what purpose are laws enacted? You cannot answer the question without first giving these subjects proper consideration as well.
Without going in to too much detail, laws are merely rules or regulations established by some authority which are applicable to the people. In the United States laws are enacted by government and are enforced by a myriad of agencies whose job it is to ensure the law is upheld. However, the government which we currently live under did not always exist.
In 1791 Thomas Paine wrote a book entitled The Rights of Man, in which he states a simple truth, “All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must either be delegated or assumed. There are no other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation.”
In this country all power wielded by our government is delegated to them by the people. In a letter written in 1865 James Madison stated, “… that the Government holds its powers by a charter granted to it by the people…”
This fact is incontrovertible, and affirmed by the writings of many of our nation’s founders. George Washington declared, “The power under the constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes…” Even our nation’s Declaration of Independence states, “…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Our government has the authority to enact, and enforce laws, ONLY because we the people gave that authority to them, as Paine stated, that authority has been delegated to them.
Therefore, if we the people granted this elected body of people the authority to enact laws, what were their reasons and for what purpose were the laws they enact intended to serve?
Going back to the Declaration of Independence, I will add five simple words to the quote already provided, “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
In a speech given at the Virginia Convention, James Madison clearly stated, “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.”
The simple fact is that the primary purpose our founders had for creating our government was for the protection and preservation of our rights. You may not agree with that, but the facts prove that the primary job of our government is to protect our rights; everything else was secondary.
You have heard me time and time again discuss how our government is infringing, or restricting our rights, yet I have not gone into a great deal of detail into the origin of those rights. John Adams said it simple enough when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments: rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the universe.”
Returning for a moment to Thomas Paine’s book The Rights of Man, we read, “Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights.”
To put everything I have just said into a nutshell, the purpose of our government, and every law they pass, IS TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT OUR RIGHTS. Like I said, you may not agree with that, but that is your emotions speaking for you, not your brain evaluating the facts as I have presented them to you up to this point.
Now, if that body of elected representatives passes a law which infringes upon a right, even in even the slightest degree, are you under any obligation to obey it? In writing the Kentucky Resolutions Thomas Jefferson stated, “…and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force…”
John Locke was an English philosopher whose writings heavily influenced Thomas Jefferson. In his Second Treatise on Civil Government, Locke writes, “Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.”
Locke furthermore states, “Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.”
These are all principles that may sound radical, even frightening to some, yet if you read closely, they are all ideas which can be found within the text of the Declaration of Independence, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Therefore, with all the facts I have presented so far, if government, be it federal, state, or local, passes a law which infringes upon ANY of your unalienable rights, ARE YOU OBLIGED TO OBEY IT? I do not deny that in freely exercising your rights you may find yourself in trouble with those whose job it is to enforce the law, but the fundamental question is, would you be justified in breaking a law because it violates your rights?
Remember, Jefferson once said, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
If then, the purpose of our government is to preserve our rights, and by their actions they do the opposite, infringe upon those rights, what does that make our government? As the Constitution, and all duly ratified amendments are the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, and the government violates that law by limiting your ability to freely exercise your rights, does that not make THEM the criminals?
There are numerous agencies dedicated to upholding, enforcing the laws passed by our government, but can you name one agency whose sole purpose is to investigate and prosecute violations of the law by our lawmakers themselves?
And what of those whose job it is to uphold or enforce questionable laws enacted by government? If they are sworn to uphold the Constitution, and they enforce laws which violate the rights of the people, does that make them criminals as well?
The simple truth is that those men who founded this nation, whom we all revere, were all lawbreakers. By the very act of drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence they were committing treason against their government. By today’s standards, those men who dressed as Indians and dumped all that tea into Boston Harbor would today be considered vandals or quite possibly domestic terrorists. This great nation was founded by men who believed that their obligation to stand up for their rights superseded ANY law passed by men.
Patrick Henry once said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government…” But when the people no longer understand the Constitution, the purpose for which their government was created, and more importantly, their unalienable rights, our government has no problem with enacting laws which go against the purpose for which it was established.
Therefore, will all the information I have provided, do you think that breaking the law could ever be considered as justified? If by now you still think that obedience to the law is your civic duty, then go back to your TV and enjoy your servitude. For the definition of a free man is one who has the ability to freely exercise their rights, and the definition of slavery is one whose rights have been taken from them and serves another.
And before I conclude, don’t go giving me that nonsense about how these laws are all passed for our own good. Ben Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And Daniel Webster stated, “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.”
You can believe all you want in the power of voting for conscientious and just representatives, but it is all an illusion designed to keep you thinking you are free, when in fact you are a slave. I just hope that you have a high tolerance for pain, because when reality slaps you in the face it is going to hurt like hell.
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