Activism groups are forever making the news for their ‘stunt tactics’ raising awareness of whatever cause they are fighting for. Having grown up in the UK i think the group that stands out most in my memory is Fathers For Justice, an activism group who were at one point considered a terrorist group due to their campaigning for equal parental rights to children. One of their most outrageous pursuits was when they decided to climb Buckingham Palace.
The question this raises is:
Can campaigners break the law in order to pursue their objectives?
The issue with this is that there are many different activist groups who break the law on many different scales in order to achieve their objectives. It is impossible to make a blanket decision saying “it is unethical to break the law in order to pursue objectives” because a group trying to save their local community center by staging a flash mob, in my opinion, is ethically sound because they’re not hurting anyone HOWEVER in the eyes of the law it could be considered illegal under various ‘disturbing the peace’ laws. However organizations like the English Defence League who repeatedly have ‘protest marches’ which end in violence and arrests, in my opinion this is completely unethical because people are being hurt as a result of this activism.
I believe their will never be an answer to this question: whether or not an activist group can break the law in order to pursue their objectives, will always depend on an individuals beliefs and ethical values. Do you agree with the cause behind the campaign? Are you views aligned with the activism group? how serious was the law that was broken? All these questions will have to be considered on a case by case basis when looking at law breaking in activism campaigns.
I’m aware that there are absolutists in this world who will say the law is the law and can not be broken. Justice will prevail. But i put it to those people, would Nelson Mandela ever of become president if a few laws weren’t broken?