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The Role Of Government And Personal Freedoms

989 words - 4 pages

When the leaders of the American Revolution began their journey of independence, they revolted against the increasingly totalitarian monarchy of King George III. Representatives from across the colonies met numerous times to discuss the intrusive and burdensome policies implemented by the British Government, and to unify their efforts to have the government address their grievances. After numerous overtures were spurned by the British Government, the colonial leadership embarked on a path of overt defiance against a government which they believed no longer held the right to govern. In this struggle the founders of the United States answered the important generational question, “Should we consent to be governed?” Their answer concerning which roles and methods of government that allow the preconditions for societal consent for government are held within the United States Constitution. However, since its adoption, each new generation has addressed this question with differing answers that have expanded civil liberties to formerly persecuted minority groups. By expanding the civil liberties and equal rights of all individuals, the citizens and immigrants of the United States should consent to being governed, but only in so far as the government fairly apply laws to all people within its jurisdiction, continues to advocate primarily for the rights of the individual, and only infringes upon those individual freedom to protect the rights of others.
The ideological intent of government is an important aspect concerning whether or not groups of people living under the control of a sovereign state should consent to be governed. Since governments and social organizations are inherently imperfect, any precondition stating that all laws must be applied fairly and equally before the people should consent to be governed would result in a perpetual suspension of government. While a small of amount of incidental injustice is tolerable in any form of government, it is important that government should contain an ideological focus on maintaining the maximum number of negative rights among individuals within the state fairly and equally. Whenever the state systemically undermines the rights of a large segment of the population, people have the right to protest against any laws or institutional structures which perpetuates injustice.
Although protesting and disobedience to laws are morally justifiable, the scope in which people are allowed to rebel against government must be proportional to the injustice committed. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail provides a useful framework to explain under what condition a law is “unjust” and should be disobeyed. In his letter, King Jr. argues that an unjust law is, "any law that degrades human personality . . . is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself . . . [or] a law [that] is just on its face and unjust in its application"...

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