Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Response to the Federal Supremacy Conundrum: Civil Disobedience

I-502 conflicts with federal law.  Pot is still illegal.   So should we have waited for the feds?  Done nothing til they did, like good little boys and girls?  Or should we continue to lead by civil disobedience?

Civil disobedience, for those who don’t know, is a “public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government” (Rawls).  

The most likely upshot will be a bunch of media attention, a little backlash, then a laissez-faire federal attitude.  After all, D.C. is a long way away and very busy.

Governments rarely change from within.  They are conservative by design, even when led by nominally liberal administrations.  And so they should be, I think- we can’t be constantly changing our laws all the time without good reason.  But on the other hand -and this is vital- governments exist to serve the people.  

Like the states repealed alcohol prohibition one by one in defiance of a heavy handed federal mandate which clearly wasn't working at all, so too have we residents of Reverend King Country done what we wanted to on this one.  Since it is our demonstrated collective will that we should be free to ingest a non-dangerous substance (or not- you don’t have to be pro-pot to be anti-prohibition) our elected representatives (i.e., city council members) must act as we want.

"It is your moral obligation to disobey an unjust law."

-Dr. Martin Luther King

"Disobedience that is wholly civil should never provoke retaliation."

-Mahatma Ghandi

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