What is “Justice”? What constitutes ‘Just’ laws?
In lecture we discussed how Dr. King’s perspective of “just” laws were not necessarily born from morality or God’s will, but instead stemmed from whether or not all the people in the society were bound to follow the same rules and suffer the same punishments for breaking those rules. Looking at this idea at a glance, it seems to hold true for what “Justice” is or should be – rules and punishments that are equally applicable to everyone in the society, with no exceptions. However, what about laws that benefit the whole of society, but have some exceptions for who is bound to follow them – as is the case with speeding tickets for foreign diplomats. Or what about laws that everyone has to follow but are a detriment to society or cause members of the society to act in heinous ways. For example, the one child law in China.
What would Dr. King think of the fact that Foreign Diplomats are not bound by many of the laws of the United States when they are here living or on business? (For example, foreign diplomats cannot receive speeding tickets when they are caught speeding.) Are they not also a part of society, and yet they are exempt from many repercussions of the law. And because they are exempt from following some laws does that then nullify that these laws are just. Because I think it is hard to say that the law for breaking the speed limit is unjust, even though foreign diplomats are not bound to follow them.
And what about the One Child law in China? Although this law would fall under the “just” category of laws under Dr. King’s definition, I have a hard time viewing this as a just law. Personally, I do not believe that a law can be just, even if everyone is bound to the law and its punishments, if it leads people to do injustices. For example, there were many instances in China of people having more than one child and leaving the ‘unwanted’ child somewhere to die. In many cases, because males are seen by many in China to have a higher status than females, the ‘unwanted’ child was a baby girl. How can a law that leads to so much death and injustice be considered just?
Although I do agree that Dr. King’s definition for justice and just laws is good, I believe he is missing some key points to the definition of justice and just laws.