According to MLK, how can we tell the difference between just and unjust laws? Understanding this question is the most important part of this module, and I will ask it again during our second exam.

  • According to MLK, we can tell the difference between just and unjust laws by seeing if they uplift or degrade the individual. A law that uplifts, is a law that is morally sound and does not impede on the rights of others. A law that degrades is a law that is morally corrupt and does impede on the rights of others.

In your view, is this an important distinction (between just and unjust laws), do you think it makes a difference in the way someone (as an individual, or our society as a whole) lives their lives? Can it affect our politics?

  •  In my view, this is a very important distinction between just and unjust laws. Just because something is an accepted law does not make it right, does not make it morally sound, and therefore should not be followed. I think that it does make a difference in the way a person lives their lives AND how a society as a whole functions. Following unjust laws makes for an unjust society. If a law unfairly targets one group, but not another, the group it targets will be forced to act different for fear of reprisal.  Not surprisingly, this can create animosity between individuals and groups in a society, which in turn can have an affect on our politics.

Based on our discussion of Question 1, give an example each, of an unjust and just law, in the US today. Explain what makes it unjust or just (using MLK’s definition of those two types of laws).

  • An example of an unjust law in the US today would be the criminalization of marijuana. Marijuana has not only shown to be safer to use than alcohol, but it has also shown to have therapeutic properties. It is morally wrong to imprison marijuana users for choosing to use a substance that is not harming them nor others around them, but could in fact be helping with anxiety, eating disorders, and pain.
  • And example of a just law in the US today would be The Civil Rights Law. This is a moral law that protects the right of all individuals to be treated equally. It does not impede on the rights of others, it only lifts individuals and society up.

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