Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Civil Disobedience

If your government is doing something wrong, then there is nothing wrong with engaging in public civil disobedience in protest, as long as the civil disobedience is nonviolent, does not betray a trust, and the individual accepts the consequences that goes with the violation (if you're going to violate a law, you need to be willing to take the punishment - if you're boycotting a company you need to be willing to do without any product by that company, including products and services already purchased). Note that when a person's actions endanger the lives of others they cannot be considered nonviolent. Violent protest on the other hand is immoral, because it endangers the lives of others.
There is are a few exceptions to the rule:
  1. When one's nonviolent civil disobedience will be met with official intentionally lethal force - we're not talking about a couple of policemen beating a man to death, or a man with a heart condition getting killed by a taser, but an official policy of utilizing lethal force against protest - violent protest is completely moral in that circumstance.
  2. When nonviolent civil disobedience will not achieve the stated goal, and there is no chance of changing official policy through peaceful means it may be necessary and moral to engage in violent revolution. This is highly situational and depends entirely upon what is being done, and the possibility of peaceful change, rather than the system of governance.
  3. When nonviolent civil disobedience will be met with excessive penalties (but not violence), one must make a decision - will they continue to fight the good fight in the land of their birth, accepting the previously noted excessive penalties, or will they leave for greener pastures?                                      
Here in the US, we have many problems, but peaceful change is still possible - for better and for worse. Until peaceful change becomes impossible it is the responsibility of all US Citizens to do what they can to prevent government misconduct. When that entails breaking a law, the penalty must be accepted or the rule of law is undermined.
If you want to protest speed limits by having a convoy speed past a police station, it does no good to lead them on a high speed chase to avoid having to pay the inevitable ticket(s), but instead have the entire convoy pull over and pay their individual tickets.

Eric Snowden doesn't qualify for sympathy. He didn't accept the consequences of his actions, and in addition to leaking information about the NSA spying upon US Citizens, he also leaked information about the NSA spying upon foreign governments. No matter what happens, he is legally liable for all of the leaked information, including information which will be used by foreign governments to give them an advantage over the US.