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Immigration Law in Arizona

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TheEgoist
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That sounds like any conservative Republican boilerplate.

The "Rule of Law" is not God. There is no moral obligation to obey an immoral law simply because it is "the law." Breaking an immoral law is not showing disregard for "the law" as a concept or as a category, but simply showing disregard for that specific law. A law which has no legitimacy may morally be freely broken and those who do so and thereby pursue values, and rationally further their lives, are heroic. Objectivists of all people ought to recognize this and hold them up as so, not act as xenophopic nationalists act.

I would differentiate between a woman burning her bra in front of the capital for political effect from what is occurring currently where people are violating the law for financial gain in determining heroism. Immigration law breakers are not generally making some principled stand for rights anymore than a prostitute is.

I agree that the rule of law is not "god," but thanks for the implication that what you say carries.

It is, however, critical to the execution of governments legitimate charge. Without it, you have anarchy. If you view our government as having become so heinous that anarchy is preferable, then by all means break every unjust law you can find. Personally, for me, walking across a line is way down on the list from protecting the 50% of my life they confiscate each year to pay for all your heroes medical care, amongst other things.

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To attempt to achieve the good by undermining proper function of the government as an enforcer of an established law (which means all laws of that land) when intellectual persuasion against immoral laws IS possible is to reject reason as means with which men should deal with one another.

Wow. That is just fantastic. To equate breaking an immoral law with rejecting reason as the means with which men should deal with one another defintely falls under the "war is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength" category.

The issue, as Binswanger notes, in disobeying unjust laws (laws which represent the initiation of physical force) is whether or not breaking that law involves the use of force. If it does not, then it not only is not immoral but an embrace of reason as a means of human interaction (granted the action is rational, like migrating to further your life, and not like smoking crack for example.)

If you do not think you should follow the law of the land why should they?

You are under no moral obligation to follow this law, and neither are they. Again, as already stated, breaking an immoral law is not showing disregard for "the law" as a concept or as a category, but simply showing disregard for that specific law. The only laws one is obliged to follow are objective laws (ie,. laws that prohibit the initiation of force or fraud.) NO OTHER LAW is moral, and NO OTHER LAW is one obliged to follow. It may be practical to follow certain unjust laws, but you are not under a duty to follow them.

Edited by 2046
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Where's the line drawn?

My rights are violated by a government that forces me to pay large portions of my hard earned income (in staggeringly higher amounts then many of my fellow citizens). They determine that I need to do an accounting for them each time the earth does a complete orbit around the sun.

When is law breaking the moral thing to do?

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There are three categories of actions you listed:

1. Immoral and rights violating action: selling drugs to children.

2. Immoral actions that do not violate anyone's rights: selling drugs to addicts and prostitution.

3. Moral actions which do not violate anyone's rights: keeping your income and trading with others to the benefit of both parties (be it a trade in which money is exchanged for food, or money is exchanged for a service performed)

Do you really disagree with that categorization, and on what basis?

I'm not fighting or destroying anyone, I'm just ignoring some of the things they want me to do. That has no bearing whatsoever on anyone's ability to protect rights.

I understand the differences in the categories as you have presented them. What I am attempting to demonstrate, perhaps poorly, is that breaking any law that one views as unjust, then opens up the Pandora's box of everyone obeying only those laws which they choose to respect, and that negates the validity and usefulness of those laws. It is an admission, perhaps justified(in my angrier moments I would agree) that reason is futile as response against the government with which you are dealing. Once that becomes true, all bets are off.

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If you were living in Ireland, would you be in support of this law allowing officials at the airport to record that a woman who is leaving is pregnant?

If you would support the NC case and the proposed Irish law, I understand your position to be consistently one of putting the rule of law into a very important position. If not, I'm curious why not.

Unfortunately, I would, to an extent, since I think that one of the best ways to be rid of ridiculous laws is to require the government to apply them. Going after the millions of laws-mostly manufactured by the executive bureaucracies is as effectual as playing a game of whack-a-mole whereas allowing them to attempt to do the impossible which they pretend they can do is more likely to encourage an alteration of the underlying essential problem, which is too restrictive and irrational criteria by which people are allowed to immigrate here.

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Then perhaps you may elect to be less condescending by posting actual objections instead of strawman arguments and anti-conceptual diversions. You try to derail the point by arguing 'Well, then if X is X, then what about X?' Very much like that man a young objectivist was talking to who eventually agreed it was not moral or principled to regulate the steel Industry, but when then immediately asked "Well, what about the coal industry then?"

What other reaction do you expect when you come up with something that, quite honestly, you technically should be able to straighten out for yourself. The fact that you used the examples as an attempt to refute someone's point instead of asking for clarification shows that you were listing those examples in a very condescending attempt to undermine someone else's points- not by digging at the principle, but by trying to stay on the level of concretes.

I'm not nearly as anti conceptual as you seem to assume. It isn't a straw man argument but a requirement for conceptual consistency which I haven't seen applied. If you believe that the US is that far gone then your appeals to law breaking make sense and, what's more, should be expanded to all irrational laws. That was the purpose of my list; (which I did not intend to be condescending) to show that there is a great deal wrong with our current system and to argue the case that an appeal to anarchy in regard to immigration is, necessarily an appeal to anarchy with regard to the law generally. If you realize that an see the US as beyond repair, then I have no argument with you, outside of disagreeing that it is beyond repair.

Thanks for your civility.

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In most cases, civil disobedience in a mostly rights respecting country like America (it still IS) would be immoral - for the reasons aequalsa eloquently presented. Consequences of one person doing it may not seem very severe but the consequences of advocating it and attempting to do so on a large scale is not trivial.

Let me intersect this with Miss Rand's own comments which I quoted here.

Presumably then, in your view, when American citizens "ran an underground railroad to help human beings escape from slavery, or began drinking on principle in the face of Prohibition" the US was NOT a "mostly rights respecting country" and Miss Rand's approval – of those two illegal actions on the part of those who broke the law – was moral on her part.

Else, the country was, in those two periods, a "mostly rights respecting country" and Miss Rand's approval of such illegal behavior was immoral on her part, undermining the rule of law.

Or?

What are the exceptions (to "in most cases") implied when you say, "In most cases, civil disobedience in a mostly rights respecting country like America (it still IS) would be immoral"?

Where do you then draw the line and say that even though the country is a mostly rights respecting country, civil disobedience would be moral?

Edit: Oh yes, and how do you determine if a country is a "mostly rights respecting country"?

Edited by Trebor
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Wow. That is just fantastic. To equate breaking an immoral law with rejecting reason as the means with which men should deal with one another defintely falls under the "war is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength" category.

It does not.

I am taking into consideration a bigger scope of things.

Reason should be promoted as the ONLY proper standard influencing societal change. Please pause and ponder the importance of this statement.

Socialists in your country don't like your Constitution (or parts of it) but they are legally bound by it and can't just openly boldly disobey it (although we know they are trying their best). At least they still have to pay lip service to it. They would have to persuade, using the rules of logic and facts, all kinds of legal scholars and the courts about the illegitimacy of the Constitution before they could change or eliminate it. That process is secret and ought to be preserved.

What you allow yourself you allow that to others. Again, civil disobedience seems affordable because others are not engaging in it.

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The only reason why breaking immoral laws seems "affordable" is because most people around you are not engaging in breaking laws they deem as bad.

Tangent/ this made me realize that this situation is very much like not getting immunized. It can seem very safe to not get immunized in a place where everyone else is, because there is no one to catch the disease from. However, if you advocate not getting immunized, in 15 years 30% of the population suddenly has polio or whatever. In this sense the one, single reason why breaking the law is effective and profitable for some is that most everyone else obeys the law. To make this point clear, it's a rights violation for people to trample across your property and one way for an owner of land on the border to protect the property that the government won't is to sit on his porch with a shot gun and shoot everyone who tries. He get's validated by this same disregard.

edit-thanks, btw. ;)

Edited by aequalsa
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Just to be clear, do you mean that you would actively break the North Carolina law if given the chance, or only that you would vocally speak out against it?
I would be paying the tax, in compliance with the law. I may not bother to speak against it or even post to a forum of folks would would receive such a rant in sympathy. However, I would not reach these choices via a "rule of law" argument. Firstly, in our current context, I believe one cannot simply stop all taxes without doing anything else. So, I would not argue for the morality of tax-evasion for anyone and everyone. If I do decide that the law is immoral in my case, the subsequent step is likely to be a simple cost-benefit analysis. Paying the tax would almost certainly come out on top.

Let's assume I would personally never break any existing law! So, let me roll back time for an example of one that I might have broken. If I lived in the 1930s under prohibition, I can see myself buying a bottle of alcohol now and then -- say for a party at my home. My starting point of justification would be that the law is clearly immoral. However, from that point my thinking would be far more on the following lines: buyers are rarely caught, when caught they usually only pay a small fine, first-time offenders usually don't even get that, even if I'm caught up in a freak raid and it is published in the town's newspapers, my boss won't fire me, but might pull my leg about being in the wrong place at the wrong time... etc. The overall morality of the action is not under consideration. The only analysis left is a cost-benefit of getting caught.

Not once would I think something along the lines of: "I should follow prohibition, because if I don't more thieves might take that as justification to rob more homes." (That latter would be part of a rule-of-law argument.) I think that argument is faulty. It is not how things work. To group all laws under a single concept "law" is fine and useful; however, to think that law-evasion percolates evenly across all such laws does not reflect what I have seen in my experience, even in a country where huge compartments of law are routinely broken.

The way I see it, any breaking of laws is a denying of Law as such, since the whole idea of law is a unified code under which all must submit -- you can't choose some laws and leave others, because in principle that isn't law, but anarchy.

Given that, there may be unjust laws which you would be morally correct to break, if you can, without getting caught. But you would not be moral to then demand that the law "forgive" you if caught. You would then need to accept the consequences of breaking that law.

As aequalsa pointed out, only after you have given up on the current unified code, the "system in residence," should you consider it moral to break any and all laws. Even then, this should be done only with the goal of instituting a new system, better than the first and morally sound, as soon as possible.

Could you elaborate on the part I put in bold, in the context of the rest of what you say? I don't follow how it would be "morally correct to break" some laws given the rest of your argument. Are you referring to laws that are immoral and that one ought to break except that one ought not to break it when one considers the rule-of-law argument?
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"I should follow prohibition, because if I don't more thieves might take that as justification to rob more homes."

It is not how things work.

I disagree.

You have seen this principle in practice ... little by little for years but especially recently. The actions of Republicans against the free market during their 8 years, especially toward the end of their term (with the bailouts) emboldened Democrats.

The consequences are proportional to scope. One person privately breaking the law in their basement would not have the same influence as a large group doing so openly and further excusing others doing so or advocating others to follow.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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To attempt to achieve the good by undermining proper function of the government as an enforcer of an established law (which means all laws of that land) when intellectual persuasion against immoral laws IS possible is to reject reason as means with which men should deal with one another.

Simply having the freedom to speak one's mind and to speak out against bad laws does not mean that one has a practical, intellectual alternative to breaking a bad law. Let's say that, in this mostly free America, there is a price control on some medication, keeping the price very low. I am a wealthy businessman, and my child is dying of a disease which can be cured by this medication. I am willing to pay something like ten times the price for the medication, but naturally there's a waiting list, because of the shortage caused by the price control. The manufacturer would certainly be willing to do overtime or whatever it needs to crank out an extra dosage for that price, but we're not allowed to make that transaction. Without it, my son dies. Is my freedom to speak out or write an op-ed about the subject really a viable alternate course of action? Considering the fact that laws are basically unaffected by one person's vote, and supported through special interest groups and "contributions" that they make to legislators, and considering the fact that my son will probably die before a repeal bill even got through committee... I think an under-the-table deal is certainly a moral option.

The point I'm trying to make with this example is that simply living in a country which allows the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest bad laws doesn't mean all that much in terms of actually improving one's efficacy to control one's life. Bad laws are entrenched by rich special interests, and it's a far cry to call the lawmaking process a rational discussion. Sometimes the only practical way to pursue rational values is to break bad laws.

Edited by Dante
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Reason should be promoted as the ONLY proper standard influencing societal change. Please pause and ponder the importance of this statement.

But breaking a bad law isn't always, or even most of the time, about social change. It's about trying to go about your own life, in the way that you rightly should be able to, without government interference, as much as possible.

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I understand the differences in the categories as you have presented them. What I am attempting to demonstrate, perhaps poorly, is that breaking any law that one views as unjust, then opens up the Pandora's box of everyone obeying only those laws which they choose to respect, and that negates the validity and usefulness of those laws. It is an admission, perhaps justified(in my angrier moments I would agree) that reason is futile as response against the government with which you are dealing. Once that becomes true, all bets are off.

There is a clear distinction between laws aimed at protecting rights and other laws. I am not writing my own laws, nor am I challenging the government, I am simply not going to live by laws that I know are not related in any way to the protection of rights, and in fact hinder my life.

There is no reason whatsoever to shun immigrants, because politicians in this country want me to do that. The argument that by choosing which laws to obey, along moral grounds, I am contributing to the destruction of the legal system does not hold water. Contributing how, I'm not hurting anyone, nor am I interfering with the authorities in any way. I'm just dealing with immigrants, and smoking pot (and this is a big one, but when I used to smoke I would do it in places where it was banned) without their knowledge.

And if I do somehow inconvenience some cop or bureaucrat with my shenanigans, tough. I don't exist for the good of my country. Whenever our interests conflict, screw the country.

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You have seen it ... little by little for years but especially recently. The actions of Republicans against the free market during their 8 years, especially toward the end of their term (with the bailouts) emboldened Democrats.

The consequences are proportional to scope. One person privately breaking the law in their basement would not have the same influence as a large group doing so openly and further excusing others doing so or advocating others to follow.

I agree with your observation, but I do not completely agree with the induction you appear to draw from it.

Nevertheless, let's suppose I do accept the principle. What is the implication for action? Does that mean that if I were an Irish father in the example I gave above, I should refuse to help or allow my minor daughter to go across to the U.K. for an abortion, even though there is no enforcement of the law prohibiting such travel?

Edited by softwareNerd
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Presumably then, in your view, when American citizens "ran an underground railroad to help human beings escape from slavery,...

There was civil war then precisely because slavery was considered so egregious an infraction that it could not be tolerated, which led to the breakdown of civil society. Reason dialogue between the North and the South proved incapable of arriving at a solution and the undergound railroad(which technically was trespassing and theft) can properly be thought of as being a contributive part of the path to war. In that case, I would say that the institution of slavery itself paired with the impossibility of compromise or retraction by the south meant that a major political restructuring was inevitable. I am not entirely convinced that this is the case today or that immigration restrictions are in anywhere near the same category as slavery.

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Can an individual in a "mostly rights respecting country" be in a position where his rights are mostly not respected, justifying that he would be moral to engage in civil disobedience?

A number of individuals?

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There was civil war then precisely because slavery was considered so egregious an infraction that it could not be tolerated, which led to the breakdown of civil society. Reason dialogue between the North and the South proved incapable of arriving at a solution and the undergound railroad(which technically was trespassing and theft) can properly be thought of as being a contributive part of the path to war. In that case, I would say that the institution of slavery itself paired with the impossibility of compromise or retraction by the south meant that a major political restructuring was inevitable. I am not entirely convinced that this is the case today or that immigration restrictions are in anywhere near the same category as slavery.

I would strongly dispute the claim that slavery was the major motivating factor in sparking the Civil War. The abolition of slavery has been the primary establishment justification after the fact, but in reality economic disputes played a much larger role than slavery in the outbreak of war. The Emancipation Proclamation was not issued until over a year and a half after the war started, and it only applied to the slaves in the South; i.e., to those states over which the North had no effective control. The role of such things as protectionism and industry restrictions, meanwhile, though scarcely mentioned in high school history classrooms, precluded the war and pitted the economic well-being of the North against that of the South.

Just wanted to mention this, don't want to derail the thread.

Edited by Dante
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It doesn't matter to me whether the country is "mostly rights respecting" or not, it has no right to initiate force. And if in breaking that unjust law, the outlaw does not himself initiate violence, then he is justified in his action and the State is wrong to punish him.

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Aside: This reminds me of a story about Henry David Thoreau.

'“Civil Disobedience” is an analysis of the individual’s relationship to the state that focuses on why men obey governmental law even when they believe it to be unjust. But “Civil Disobedience” is not an essay of abstract theory. It is Thoreau’s extremely personal response to being imprisoned for breaking the law. Because he detested slavery and because tax revenues contributed to the support of it, Thoreau decided to become a tax rebel. There were no income taxes and Thoreau did not own enough land to worry about property taxes; but there was the hated poll tax — a capital tax levied equally on all adults within a community.

Thoreau declined to pay the tax and so, in July 1846, he was arrested and jailed. He was supposed to remain in jail until a fine was paid which he also declined to pay. Without his knowledge or consent, however, relatives settled the “debt” and a disgruntled Thoreau was released after only one night.'

'According to some accounts, Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”' [My bold.]

Henry David Thoreau and “Civil Disobedience,” Part 1 by Wendy McElroy, Posted July 25, 2005

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To bring us a bit more ontopic, after reading the threadnaught this has become, I'm seeing a distinct pattern forming, with those such as Maximus and QuoVadis referencing a problem they perceive with things as they are now, and a great many quoting portions of the relevant principles at them (however, though the principles are relevant, they don't quite provide guidance through this particular problem). So first and foremost, I propose we try and define what/if there is a central problem here, specifically, in the concrete example of Arizona. I think by concentrating here, our application/determination of principles will be far more.....efficacious.

Moving along, I'd say I can identify a handful of distinct problems. First and foremost, there is the problem of procedures/standards for immigration being violated. Clearly free men should be allowed to deal with free men, nor are we mere wards of the state (a position that leads to something ala East Germany). However, this doesn't preclude some method for documenting/accepting/inprocessing folks from existing, and I do believe there is some text in the Lexicon to support this. Pages back, I was under the understanding that at least some of us had concurred that in some situations it is well within objectivst principles for a country to designate checkpoints/fortify its border, for the purpose of protecting the property rights of the citizenry.

Secondly, there is the problem of the pervasive crime in Arizona atm (the crime that prompted the creation of this particular law in fact). At the moment, between kidnappings and cross border crime (coupled with corruption amongst mexican authorities, a situation that could lead someone to classify them as an "uncooperative" neighbor, as far as our sovereignty is concerned), this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Though I personally believe I see some "they took our jobs" styled rhetoric in Maximus' posts, this is still an issue to be explored, and the central issue I see QuoVadis getting at. The question propose is simply: "Where do our principles guide us as far as resolving this issue is concerned?"

Lastly....well, I forgot while writing the rest of this. For now however, I think this is sufficient to return us to a more productive form of debate. Cheers.

Edit: Just a quick note to Maximus. I think a reason your position is catching the most flak is because of the rationale you have. There are a great multitude of reasons to avoid falling into "they took our jobs" type mentality, which appears to be what you are communicating to us, which in turn is causing some to decry you as a pragmatist (though my analysis may be incorrect. Do correct me if so).

Edited by Markoso
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I would strongly dispute the claim that slavery was the major motivating factor in sparking the Civil War. The abolition of slavery has been the primary establishment justification after the fact, but in reality economic disputes played a much larger role than slavery in the outbreak of war. The Emancipation Proclamation was not issued until over a year and a half after the war started, and it only applied to the slaves in the South; i.e., to those states over which the North had no effective control. The role of such things as protectionism and industry restrictions, meanwhile, though scarcely mentioned in high school history classrooms, precluded the war and pitted the economic well-being of the North against that of the South.

Just wanted to mention this, don't want to derail the thread.

I don't entirely disagree, but hold that attributing a single cause to something like the civil war has a great deal of inherent difficulties since reason happens individually and millions were involved. Some undoubtedly fought for states rights and and unfair tariffs on southern goods and likewise some probably fought against slavery as such. I'm not enough of a historical scholar to be real certain wither way, I have found.

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