Choice of specific act
Civil disobedients have chosen a variety of different illegal acts. Bedau writes, "There is a whole class of acts, undertaken in the name of civil disobedience, which, even if they were widely practiced, would in themselves constitute hardly more than a nuisance (e.g. trespassing at a nuclear-missile installation)...Such acts are often just a harassment and, at least to the bystander, somewhat inane...The remoteness of the connection between the disobedient act and the objectionable law lays such acts open to the charge of ineffectiveness and absurdity." Bedau also notes, though, that the very harmlessness of such entirely symbolic illegal protests toward "public policy goals may serve a propaganda purpose. Some civil disobedients, such as the proprietors of illegal "medical cannabis dispensaries and Voice in the Wilderness, which brought medicine to Iraq without the permission of the U.S. Government, directly achieve a desired social goal (such as the provision of medication to the sick) while openly breaking the law. "Julia Butterfly Hill lived in "Luna, a 180-foot (55 m)-tall, 600-year-old "California Redwood tree for 738 days, successfully preventing it from being cut down.
In cases where the criminalized behavior is "pure speech, civil disobedience can consist simply of engaging in the forbidden speech. An example would be "WBAI's broadcasting the track ""Filthy Words" from a "George Carlin comedy album, which eventually led to the 1978 Supreme Court case of "FCC v. Pacifica Foundation. "Threatening government officials is another classic way of expressing defiance toward the government and unwillingness to stand for its policies. For example, Joseph Haas was arrested for allegedly sending an email to the "Lebanon, New Hampshire city councilors stating, "Wise up or die."
More generally, protesters of particular "victimless crimes often see fit to openly commit that crime. Laws against "public nudity, for instance, have been "protested by going naked in public, and laws against cannabis consumption have been protested by openly possessing it and using it at "cannabis rallies.
Some forms of civil disobedience, such as "illegal boycotts, "refusals to pay taxes, "draft dodging, "distributed denial-of-service attacks, and "sit-ins, make it more difficult for a system to function. In this way, they might be considered coercive. Brownlee notes that "although civil disobedients are constrained in their use of coercion by their conscientious aim to engage in moral dialogue, nevertheless they may find it necessary to employ limited coercion in order to get their issue onto the table." The "Plowshares organization temporarily closed "GCSB Waihopai by padlocking the gates and using sickles to deflate one of the large domes covering two satellite dishes.
"Electronic civil disobedience can include "web site defacements, "redirects, "denial-of-service attacks, "information theft and "data leaks, illegal web site "parodies, "virtual sit-ins, and "virtual sabotage. It is distinct from other kinds of "hacktivism in that the perpetrator openly reveals his identity. Virtual actions rarely succeed in completely shutting down their targets, but they often generate significant media attention.
"Dilemma actions are designed to create a "response dilemma" for public authorities "by forcing them to either concede some public space to protesters or make themselves look absurd or heavy-handed by acting against the protest."
Some disciplines of civil disobedience hold that the protestor must submit to arrest and cooperate with the authorities. Others advocate falling limp or "resisting arrest, especially when it will hinder the police from effectively responding to a mass protest.
Many of the same decisions and principles that apply in other criminal investigations and arrests arise also in civil disobedience cases. For example, the suspect may need to decide whether or not to grant a "consent search of his property, and whether or not to talk to police officers. It is generally agreed within the legal community, and is often believed within the activist community, that a suspect's talking to criminal investigators can serve no useful purpose, and may be harmful. However, some civil disobedients have nonetheless found it hard to resist responding to investigators' questions, sometimes due to a lack of understanding of the legal ramifications, or due to a fear of seeming rude. Also, some civil disobedients seek to use the arrest as an opportunity to make an impression on the officers. Thoreau wrote, "My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with--for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel--and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action."
Some civil disobedients feel it is incumbent upon them to accept punishment because of their belief in the validity of the "social contract, which is held to bind all to obey the laws that a government meeting certain standards of legitimacy has established, or else suffer the penalties set out in the law. Other civil disobedients who favor the existence of government still don't believe in the legitimacy of their particular government, or don't believe in the legitimacy of a particular law it has enacted. And still other civil disobedients, being anarchists, don't believe in the legitimacy of any government, and therefore see no need to accept punishment for a violation of criminal law that does not infringe the rights of others.
Choice of plea
An important decision for civil disobedients is whether or not to "plead guilty. There is much debate on this point, as some believe that it is a civil disobedient's duty to submit to the punishment prescribed by law, while others believe that defending oneself in court will increase the possibility of changing the unjust law. It has also been argued that either choice is compatible with the spirit of civil disobedience. "ACT-UP's Civil Disobedience Training handbook states that a civil disobedient who pleads guilty is essentially stating, "Yes, I committed the act of which you accuse me. I don't deny it; in fact, I am proud of it. I feel I did the right thing by violating this particular law; I am guilty as charged," but that pleading not guilty sends a message of, "Guilt implies wrong-doing. I feel I have done no wrong. I may have violated some specific laws, but I am guilty of doing no wrong. I therefore plead not guilty." A plea of "no contest is sometimes regarded as a compromise between the two. One defendant accused of illegally protesting "nuclear power, when asked to enter his plea, stated, "I plead for the beauty that surrounds us"; this is known as a "creative plea," and will usually be interpreted as a plea of not guilty.
When the Committee for Non-Violent Action sponsored a protest in August 1957, at the Camp Mercury nuclear test site near Las Vegas, Nevada, 13 of the protesters attempted to enter the test site knowing that they faced arrest. At a pre-arranged announced time, one at a time they stepped across the "line" and were immediately arrested. They were put on a bus and taken to the Nye County seat of Tonopah, Nevada, and arraigned for trial before the local Justice of the Peace, that afternoon. A well known civil rights attorney, Francis Heisler, had volunteered to defend the arrested persons, advising them to plead ""nolo contendere", as an alternative to pleading either guilty or not-guilty. The arrested persons were found "guilty," nevertheless, and given suspended sentences, conditional on their not reentering the test site grounds.["citation needed]
Howard Zinn writes, "There may be many times when protesters choose to go to jail, as a way of continuing their protest, as a way of reminding their countrymen of injustice. But that is different than the notion that they must go to jail as part of a rule connected with civil disobedience. The key point is that the spirit of protest should be maintained all the way, whether it is done by remaining in jail, or by evading it. To accept jail penitently as an accession to 'the rules' is to switch suddenly to a spirit of subservience, to demean the seriousness of the protest...In particular, the "neo-conservative insistence on a guilty plea should be eliminated."
Sometimes the prosecution proposes a "plea bargain to civil disobedients, as in the case of the "Camden 28, in which the defendants were offered an opportunity to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count and receive no jail time. In some "mass arrest situations, the activists decide to use "solidarity tactics to secure the same plea bargain for everyone. But some activists have opted to enter a "blind plea, pleading guilty without any plea agreement in place. Mohandas Gandhi pleaded guilty and told the court, "I am here to . . . submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen."
Choice of allocution
Some civil disobedience defendants choose to make a defiant speech, or a speech explaining their actions, in "allocution. In U.S. v. Burgos-Andujar, a defendant who was involved in a movement to stop military exercises by trespassing on U.S. Navy property argued to the court in allocution that "the ones who are violating the greater law are the members of the Navy". As a result, the judge increased her sentence from 40 to 60 days. This action was upheld because, according to the "U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, her statement suggested a lack of remorse, an attempt to avoid responsibility for her actions, and even a likelihood of repeating her illegal actions. Some of the other allocution speeches given by the protesters complained about mistreatment from government officials.
"Tim DeChristopher gave an allocution statement to the court describing the U.S. as "a place where the rule of law was created through acts of civil disobedience" and arguing, "Since those bedrock acts of civil disobedience by our founding fathers, the rule of law in this country has continued to grow closer to our shared higher moral code through the civil disobedience that drew attention to legalized injustice."
Legal implications of civil disobedience
"Steven Barkan writes that if defendants plead not guilty, "they must decide whether their primary goal will be to win an acquittal and avoid imprisonment or a fine, or to use the proceedings as a forum to inform the jury and the public of the political circumstances surrounding the case and their reasons for breaking the law via civil disobedience." A "technical defense may enhance the chances for acquittal but make for more boring proceedings and reduced press coverage. During the "Vietnam War era, the "Chicago Eight used a "political defense, while "Benjamin Spock used a technical defense. In countries such as the United States whose laws guarantee the right to a "jury trial but do not excuse lawbreaking for political purposes, some civil disobedients seek "jury nullification. Over the years, this has been made more difficult by court decisions such as "Sparf v. United States, which held that the judge need not inform jurors of their nullification prerogative, and "United States v. Dougherty, which held that the judge need not allow defendants to openly seek jury nullification.
Governments have generally not recognized the legitimacy of civil disobedience or viewed political objectives as an excuse for breaking the law. Specifically, the law usually distinguishes between "criminal motive and "criminal intent; the offender's motives or purposes may be admirable and praiseworthy, but his intent may still be criminal. Hence the saying that "if there is any possible justification of civil disobedience it must come from outside the legal system."
One theory is that, while disobedience may be helpful, any great amount of it would undermine the law by encouraging general disobedience which is neither conscientious nor of social benefit. Therefore, conscientious lawbreakers must be punished. Michael Bayles argues that if a person violates a law in order to create a "test case as to the "constitutionality of a law, and then wins his case, then that act did not constitute civil disobedience. It has also been argued that breaking the law for self-gratification, as in the case of a "homosexual or "cannabis user who does not direct his act at securing the repeal of amendment of the law, is not civil disobedience. Likewise, a protestor who attempts to escape punishment by committing the crime covertly and avoiding attribution, or by denying having committed the crime, or by fleeing the jurisdiction, is generally viewed as not being a civil disobedient.
Courts have distinguished between two types of civil disobedience: "Indirect civil disobedience involves violating a law which is not, itself, the object of protest, whereas direct civil disobedience involves protesting the existence of a particular law by breaking that law." During the "Vietnam War, courts typically refused to excuse the perpetrators of illegal protests from punishment on the basis of their challenging the "legality of the Vietnam War; the courts ruled it was a "political question. The "necessity defense has sometimes been used as a "shadow defense by civil disobedients to deny guilt without denouncing their politically motivated acts, and to present their political beliefs in the courtroom. However, court cases such as "U.S. v. Schoon have greatly curtailed the availability of the "political necessity defense. Likewise, when Carter Wentworth was charged for his role in the "Clamshell Alliance's 1977 illegal occupation of the "Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, the judge instructed the jury to disregard his "competing harms defense, and he was found guilty. "Fully Informed Jury Association activists have sometimes handed out educational leaflets inside courthouses despite admonitions not to; according to FIJA, many of them have escaped prosecution because "prosecutors have reasoned (correctly) that if they arrest fully informed jury leafleters, the leaflets will have to be given to the leafleter's own jury as evidence."
Along with giving the offender his ""just deserts", achieving "crime control via "incapacitation and "deterrence is a major goal of "criminal punishment. Brownlee argues, "Bringing in deterrence at the level of justification detracts from the law’s engagement in a moral dialogue with the offender as a rational person because it focuses attention on the threat of punishment and not the moral reasons to follow this law." "Leonard Hubert Hoffmann writes, "In deciding whether or not to impose punishment, the most important consideration would be whether it would do more harm than good. This means that the objector has no right not to be punished. It is a matter for the state (including the judges) to decide on "utilitarian grounds whether to do so or not."
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- "Civil resistance
- "Civil disorder
- "Conscientious objection
- "Direct action
- "Diversity of tactics
- "Draft resistance
- "Examples of civil disobedience
- "Hunt sabotage
- "Malicious compliance
- "Nonviolent resistance
- "Sousveillance, passive campaign against "surveillance
- "Tax resistance
- "Tree sitting
- "User revolt
- "Abalone Alliance and "Clamshell Alliance, anti-nuclear power groups
- "Committee of 100 (United Kingdom)
- "Defiance Campaign, anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa.
- "Gay Liberation Front
- "Gay Activists' Alliance
- "Righteous Among the Nations
- "Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, French bread town
- "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, American civil rights organization
- "Students for a Democratic Society (20th century)
- "Students for a Democratic Society (21st century)
- "Women's Social and Political Union, suffragette organization
- "The White Rose
- "Trident Ploughshares, anti-nuclear weapons group
- "Mohandas Gandhi
- "Daniel Berrigan Jesuit priest and nonviolent activist
- "Étienne de La Boétie French writer and philosopher
- "Shiphrah and "Puah, a pair of women from the Bible
- "Philip Berrigan former Josephite priest and nonviolent activist
- "James Bevel, strategist of the "Birmingham campaign and other projects of the "Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
- "Dorothy Day co-founder of Catholic Worker Movement
- "Stokely Carmichael, field organizer (1961-1968) and Chair (1966-1967) for the "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
- "James Forman, Executive secretary (1961-1967) of SNCC
- "Václav Havel
- "Anna Hazare, 2011 Civil Disobedience in India for "Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's ombudsman Bill)
- "Dr Martin Luther King, Jr
- "Dalai Lama
- "Emmeline Pankhurst, women's suffrage leader
- "Rosa Parks, a lead American figure of the "Montgomery bus boycott in 1955
- "Gloria Richardson, "SNCC leader
- "Henry David Thoreau
- "Lech Wałęsa
- "Nimr al-Nimr
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"" Media related to Civil disobedience at Wikimedia Commons