Blog Post Two
by marissaditoro on October 29, 2015 - 2:00pm
In order for law to be recognized and accepted in a society, it must have authority which must be upheld and enforced. The law itself is a form of authority over individuals in a society that exerts a constant power and influence over social interactions of individuals. However, the authority of the law must be recognized and respected in order to have any weight and validity. In addition, the law, its punishments, and rewards must be consistent and fair for the community to respect what it stands for. The law is enforced and upheld by police officers, members of the judiciary, and those who create the law, who are all regarded as authority figures who represent the physical human embodiment of the law. They are representative of the authority of the law: the strength of the law in a society can be seen in the strength of individuals that enforce it. Humans do not obey the law just because of an amount of respect for those that enforce the law because there are other major factors at play.
Humans obey the law for a variety of reasons, sometimes for only a singular reason, other times for a multitude of reasons at the same time. Humans typically follow the law not because of conscious obedience to the law, but because of the way they would follow the majority of laws anyways by living in accordance with social norms. The law simply puts these norms into writing and provides a way of enforcement for the values and beliefs of society. However, the good will and nature of people is not the only reason for obedience to the law. Other reasons for obedience to the law include: fear of punishment and repercussions, personal values are upheld by the law, and the promise of safety and security when obeying the law.
People are only bound to obey the law if it reflects common values and beliefs held by society. Obligation to follow all of the laws all of the time would only exist in a perfect, just society. Without some disagreement or deviance, there would be no social growth or development of the law. The law should adjust to reflect the changing nature of society throughout the years, political views, or major issues. If the law is corrupt or is misrepresentative of individuals in society, people have a right to make their views known. However, this is not to say their disagreement should necessarily be voiced in a violent fashion. There are individual circumstances in which it becomes acceptable for the law to be disregarded depending on the situation or setting. For example, if the law conflicts with religious beliefs, one may feel as if they may disobey the law without any moral consequence, although there may be legal consequences. Religious law may say that one is supposed to keep one’s head and face covered, but official licensing photo regulations may require one’s full face to be shown. This conflicts with religious beliefs, in which the individual may feel it to be justified to disobey the law. A contrasting example of religious freedom and the law is in the case of Kim Davis, a county clerk who refused to grant gay marriage licenses due to her religious beliefs. She was jailed for her stand to defend her beliefs, and believes she had the right to disobey the law on the grounds of religious freedom. She has both support and opposition from the community at the same time. This social deviance of an individual may or may not be accepted by the rest of society.
Often, even if some disagree with the law and fight it, the pressure of society will force the individual to conform to the law and the norms of society. If society does agree that a law should not be obeyed, individuals may work together to elect an official they know will change the law, boycott the law and refuse to obey it, or make a show of civil disobedience and openly protest the law. The lack of a law may also be protested as well as an actual law that is in place. For example, a movement called March for Life occurs each year in Ottawa to work towards an anti- abortion law. This also is focusing on laws reflecting the values and beliefs of society; current laws do not ban abortion and so a portion of society is working for social and legal change.