The Daily

Jail Cell Letters

An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. borrowing from St. Thomas Aquinas in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, April 6, 1963

Full text here

Also protesting unjust governance from a jail cell, Henry David Thoreau in 1848 argued that individuals should not permit the government to override their conscience. Acquiesence, or quiet compliance, was tantamount to making oneself an agent of that injustice. See, Civil Disobedience.

Americans are right to be angry about the failure of their leaders, particularly politicians. Our government is closed. Our institutions are under attack and groaning under the assault. Even our language has been savaged, clouding the state of affairs and making it impossible to find common ground.

The question was asked of a group of coal miners by Mother Jones: “You paid professional murderers with that money you were robbed of, and then you never said a word. You stood there like a lot of cowards, robbed by the mine owners. And you let them do it, and then you go about shaking your rotten head – not a thing inside. You call yourselves Americans. Let me tell you, America need not feel proud of you.” From my blog post, “Great High Mountain” which can be found here.

No one person has the answer to this problem. Our institutions are being held together – barely – by the force of the genius that created them and well meaning men and women of principle that fight for justice every day in our courts. It is wrong to trash our system of justice as just another failing branch of our government. It is not bought and paid for. It does not operate out of fear or favor. The diligent officers, prosecutors and judges that operate in that justice system do not make laws – they enforce them. They have earned our respect. Without them and our support of them, the American experiment will disappear in a cloud of dust.

Support them and their fight for justice wherever and however you can.