Is it indefensible for a lawmaker to support unlawful behaviour? [With Poll]

johnboy 20 March 2012 26

Liberal Leader Zed Seselja is flogging his dead horse about Shane Rattenbury’s past links to Greenpeace.

Weirdly Zed feels it’s important for the Green MLA to say things Zed wants him to say. But his argument gets weirder still:

Two Greenpeace members have pleaded guilty to property damage of CSIRO experimental crops reportedly worth $300,000. ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said today it is now up to Shane Rattenbury to finally condemn illegal, destructive behaviour.

“Now that the Greenpeace members who broke into the CSIRO facility and ruined these crops have pleaded guilty, it is up to Shane Rattenbury to condemn it, as he has refused to do to date,” Mr Seselja said.

“Just last week, he refused to immediately and unequivocally condemn the apparent destruction of property at a Canberra egg farm.

“It’s indefensible for any lawmaker to support unlawful behaviour, let alone the Speaker of the Assembly.

“I call on Shane Rattenbury to today publicly state his position on the CSIRO case,” Mr Seselja concluded.

Let’s look at that again:

It’s indefensible for any lawmaker to support unlawful behaviour

It seems to me that history is replete with great law makers who supported unlawful behaviour, because they believed the law was wrong, and were vindicated by history.

Springing to mind are the parliamentarians who said no to Charles I and gave birth to what we think of as Westminster Democracy, slavery abolitionists both in the UK and the USA, Germans who opposed genocide, and South Africans who stood up against apartheid.

I’m also pretty sure the great US legislator Lyndon Johnson would fall afoul of Zed’s dictum with his work towards civil rights.

I’m not convinced Shane Rattenbury’s conscience falls into this category. But if all lawmakers will be forced to subvert their consciences to the laws as they stand we’ll be, in my opinion, in a pretty dark place.

"It’s indefensible for any lawmaker to support unlawful behaviour"

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Aside from the poll I invite readers to nominate individuals from history, greater than Zed Seselja, who supported unlawful behaviour?


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26 Responses to Is it indefensible for a lawmaker to support unlawful behaviour? [With Poll]
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tommy tommy 7:59 pm 22 Mar 12

“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so” – Thomas Jefferson (probably liked an egg for breakfast)

poetix poetix 5:56 pm 22 Mar 12

“You don’t know the power of the beige side.”

johnboy johnboy 5:34 pm 22 Mar 12

And how could we possibly have forgotten Senator Leia Organa

So is Zed a Vader, a Palpatine, or a Moff Tarkin?

VicePope VicePope 10:22 am 22 Mar 12

We have legislatures – yes, even silly little ones like the ACT Legislative Assembly – to make laws, and to oversight delegated legislation made under their power. A legislature makes, or considers making, a new law where (a) there is no existing statutory framework and one is considered to be necessary or (b) there is a political/executive opinion that an existing statute needs to be changed or updated or repealed. Inevitably, the second of these means that sometimes, some members of the legislature advocate against an existing legal norm. In some cases, this means they are asserting that an action that is unlawful under an existing framework should, in some circumstances, become lawful. In some cases, it might be vice versa, It’s part of their job.
The more difficult issues are to determine whether the unlawful action (for which a lawful status is sought) is one that would occur whether or not it was lawful, whether disobedience to an existing law is an available (moral, proportionate, considered) form of protest against that law and whether and to what extent the interests of parties other than the state may be affected by the unlawful action.

Deref Deref 8:03 am 22 Mar 12

Where’s the “moronic” option?

bigfeet bigfeet 7:00 am 22 Mar 12

IrishPete said :

Dunno – were any South African MPs quietly supportive of, or failed to condemn, Nelson Mandela? From memory he was imprisoned for property damage – no-one was hurt or died as a direct result of his actions. IP

Well he didn’t specifically plant any bombs, in the same way that Abu Bakar Basyir or Sheik Khalid Mohammed didn’t plant any bombs.

But he certainly approved plans for bombings in the same way they did. For example, the Church Street bombing in Pretoria. In his book “Long Walk to Freedom” he quite clearly says that he approved and signed off on that attack.

Also, after his release, and after deKlerk announced the free and fair elections, the bombings and attacks went on. Mandela, when asked, refused to order a stop to them even though they had basically won at that stage.

IrishPete IrishPete 9:39 pm 21 Mar 12

Mysteryman said :

“Charles I and gave birth to what we think of as Westminster Democracy, slavery abolitionists both in the UK and the USA, Germans who opposed genocide, and South Africans who stood up against apartheid”

Were those in your examples supporting unlawful behaviour, or were they campaigning for a change to lawful (at the time) behaviour?

To the issue at hand – I don’t think Zed should be wasting his time with this crap. He’d profit (and we might too) from spending more of his time coming up with sensible and practical policies. Instead he’s name-calling and dobbing, and generally wasting time (which he may or may not be recording properly).

Dunno – were any South African MPs quietly supportive of, or failed to condemn, Nelson Mandela? From memory he was imprisoned for property damage – no-one was hurt or died as a direct result of his actions.

IP

IrishPete IrishPete 9:37 pm 21 Mar 12

Duffbowl said :

Not Australian examples, but from within the Westminster system. More than one elected MP, as well as members of city, town and rural councils, supported the Irish Republican Army during the Independence War.

Oh dear, there seem to be some misconceptions in here… (unless you are genuinely referring to the war of about 1919 to 1921).

IP

Thoroughly Smashed Thoroughly Smashed 9:05 am 21 Mar 12

Gungahlin Al said :

Jethro said :

Most weren’t political leaders.

You don’t have to be elected to be a political leader…

Campbell Newman!

AsparagusSyndrome AsparagusSyndrome 12:19 am 21 Mar 12

I didn’t quite catch the bit where Shane supported the Pace egg farm vandals. Did I miss something, somewhere?

Hmmm… By Zed’s powerful and incisive (and quite proper and not ill-founded at all) argument, every lawmaker should be on the record, to condemn publicly every crime committed anywhere in their jurisdiction at all times during their period in office. (And that goes double if you have “past links” with the very class of people committing the crime – because we all know that guilt by association, however contrived the association may be, does not go away by itself. Time cannot reverse this crime.)

For example, Zed was once a teenager himself, or has had past links to them, I’m given to believe, even if he has been an adult all his adult life. It might have been a few years ago now, but it’s all pretty shady if you ask me, these past links. And I hear tell that on Saturday, almost a dozen teenagers were rounded up by police for public drunkedness at Skyfire. Where was Zed, when it came time to condemn these teenagers publicly, immediately and unequivocally??? Absolutely silent. By his own logic, through his manifest silence, he appears to be wholeheartedly supporting public teenage drunkedness! So many crimes. So many past links. So many missing condemnations.

If I didn’t know better, I’d be thinking that the whole Ron McLeod audit thingy has gotten Zed all twitchy and restless. Perhaps Shane will be able to put his (and our) mind at ease by the end of this month with an update on how that’s all proceeding, that is, if he can find time between all those necessary immediate and unequivocal public condemnations he’s expected to be issuing.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 10:22 pm 20 Mar 12

Jethro said :

Most weren’t political leaders.

You don’t have to be elected to be a political leader…

Frustrated Frustrated 8:20 pm 20 Mar 12

SnapperJack said :

How about Dr Jim Cairns and Gough Whitlam supporting the anti-Vietnam War protesters?

As they should have, you idiot.

We all feel for the vietname vets and young men killed over there, but the war was not acceptable.

Iraq war was illegal, perhaps Jack Boot Johnny should be tried for war crimes?

Hypocrite!

Diggety Diggety 7:59 pm 20 Mar 12

I think Seselja, Rattenbury and johnboy are all wrong on this one.

* Seselja because he presumes and ignores too much.
* Rattenbury for indirectly supporting illegal activity.
* Johnboy for the historic analogies he uses.

Remember, we are talking about GM food and spatial allocations for chickens here.

Jethro Jethro 7:20 pm 20 Mar 12

zippyzippy said :

Anyway, some proper examples: Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi. Daniel Ellsberg. Wobblies. Um… George Clooney?

Most weren’t political leaders. Nonetheless, I agree with the idea that civil disobedience is sometimes necessary.

Also, Nelson Mandela was a terrorist (people seem to forget this because he was fighting on the right side). Is terrorism justified when you are fighting evil?

zippyzippy zippyzippy 5:40 pm 20 Mar 12

Anyway, some proper examples: Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi. Daniel Ellsberg. Wobblies. Um… George Clooney?

zippyzippy zippyzippy 5:37 pm 20 Mar 12

Yes, yes! And remember that great historical figure, ACT Liberal Steve Pratt MLA, saying if “push comes to shove, I will chain myself to a bulldozer to stop this going ahead”.

Wait… what? I thought that ACT Liberals weren’t allowed to say that!

trevar trevar 5:31 pm 20 Mar 12

Zed, Zed, Zed, Zed, Zed, if you can’t find a way to defend something, you’re not trying hard enough. Have another go, you big quitter!

Of course, if you don’t think it’s something you want to defend, as the rest of your release seems to be saying, then it’s irrelevant to you whether it’s defensible or not, so why bother saying it’s indefensible at all?

Our politicians low literacy is indefensible! No, wait…

Duffbowl Duffbowl 5:02 pm 20 Mar 12

Not Australian examples, but from within the Westminster system. More than one elected MP, as well as members of city, town and rural councils, supported the Irish Republican Army during the Independence War.

Mysteryman Mysteryman 4:15 pm 20 Mar 12

“Charles I and gave birth to what we think of as Westminster Democracy, slavery abolitionists both in the UK and the USA, Germans who opposed genocide, and South Africans who stood up against apartheid”

Were those in your examples supporting unlawful behaviour, or were they campaigning for a change to lawful (at the time) behaviour?

To the issue at hand – I don’t think Zed should be wasting his time with this crap. He’d profit (and we might too) from spending more of his time coming up with sensible and practical policies. Instead he’s name-calling and dobbing, and generally wasting time (which he may or may not be recording properly).

R. Slicker R. Slicker 3:58 pm 20 Mar 12

How about NSW premier Neville Wran who publicly supported men breaking the anti-gay laws in NSW while the Catholic Right of the Labor party was refusing to allow him to repeal the laws during the first part of his premiership 1976-86.

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