The Idle No More protests across the country yesterday were the opening salvo in what is shaping up to be an angry spring. Rest assured that there will be calls to re-establish law and order. But -- before you join the crowd of righteous law-abiding citizens -- ask yourself, "Are there times when the law is an ass?"
In 1960, a student at one of North Carolina's all black universities, led a sit-in at the lunch counter of a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina. The lunch counter was for white customers only. The student's name was Jesse Jackson. Jackson clearly broke the law. But today Barack Obama and his family reside in the White House. The ten years between 1965 and 1975 were tumultuous. They saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. But without them, Barack Obama might be just another ghetto kid.
Zack Paikin, writing about the defiance of Bill 115 by Ontario teachers writes:
We strive for a society in which law represents the codification of a common morality. However, we must admit that “legitimate” and “legal” still don’t mean the same thing. Moreover, the law in theory is quite different from the law applied.
It's an important point. And it needs to be remembered as Canada's native peoples voice their frustration with the Harper government. Remember. There was no one at the table to speak for their interests during the debate over the government's latest Omnibus Budget Bill. The Harperites simply declared that there was going to be no debate. Paikin writes:
Laws are important, but so are values. It isn’t just the law that protects the individual from the wrath of the state. Values passed down from generation to generation place limits on what people feel permitted to do — and on what their governments can do to them.
Stephen Harper likes to claim that Conservative values are Canadian values. According to the last election results, only 39% of Canadians agree with him. If you include those who didn't vote, that number drops to 25%.
Perhaps Conservative law is an ass. What does that say about the prime minister?