The law serves to protect the rights and freedoms of the people on which it is imposed and to ensure that these people are governed democratically. It can thus, be argued that the spirit of the law is the provision of fairness, equality, and good governance. In some isolated cases, bodies with legislative powers and powers to come up with by-laws abuse the responsibility bestowed upon them and faulty laws. It makes it hard for morally upright people to follow these laws.
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In some other cases, laws that were made for the good of the masses may be morally broken, although doing so could make the breaker of the law face the authorities. This paper seeks to identify and justify situations in which it is morally right to break a law.
An example of the aforementioned laws, which are, in some cases, oppressive is a law in Boston. It is alleged that bathing in Boston is illegal unless you have been directed by a physician to have a bath. I would gladly break that law if on any day I do a lot of work and return home with substantial sweat. Breaking such a law is arguably morally right because if I do not take a bath in such a circumstance, I will experience discomforts and possibly be a nuisance to others.
Another example is the fact that in New York, one can be fined for flirting (Brownlee, 2009). I can break this law in circumstances in which I strongly believe that flirting with a certain lady in the streets will help me accomplish a main personal goal. For instance, in case I need the helping hand of a lady in something that I cannot speak about openly, I would start by flirting with the stranger before asking for the favor.
It is morally right because the alternative of being straightforward can be embarrassing to both parties in such circumstances. It is, especially if the lady is not interested and thus, she cannot help me. Another example, is the requirement by the Nazis during the time of Hitler to turn in Jews. Some people broke the law by hiding Jews. It can be considered an example of why an oppressive law should be morally broken.
In almost every state or country, California included, it is unlawful to break into another person’s building. I live in California, and I can confess that I will gladly break into a pharmacy to get drugs to save the life of a person dying on the streets if I am sure the drugs will save the person’s life (Faden, 2000). After doing this, I will be convinced about having done the morally desirable thing even though I will face charges for the same.
In a good system, though, I may not face charges because most systems press charges and prosecute cases for which the general public morally approves. It is to say that the legal system may take the public as its judges and thus act according to the public’s interests.
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In summary, laws should be made to safeguard the public. It implies that any law that is oppressive to the masses can be morally broken. On the other hand, a person can, in certain circumstances, morally break other laws that are not oppressive to the public. However, charges will be pressed against such a person regardless of whether he did a morally right thing or not.
Brownlee. K. (2009). Civil Disobedience. Web.
Faden, D. (2000). Is it ever right to disobey the law? Web.