Compassion, not law, brings civility
This letter is a response to the letter “Without the law, we are not civilized,” published Aug. 4 by the TimesDaily.
The letter writer’s point that “without the law, we are not civilized” is a willful negligence of our own very recent past. “The law” comes from man; indeed from “civilization.” It is only as effective, moral and just as we are.
Here are some examples:
• The Alabama Slave Code of 1833 stated that “No slave shall go from the tenement of his master or other person with whom he lives, without a pass,” punishable by up to 20 “stripes,” with a lash.
The same code forbid slaves to own horses or mules; forbid freedmen to “settle within the limits of this state;” and forbid anyone to attempt to teach slaves or freedmen how to read or write.
Today we consider these laws uncivilized.
• The Supreme Court upheld legal segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, and the 1901 Alabama Constitution disenfranchised African Americans; mandated separate schools for black and white children; and prohibited interracial marriage.
Today, we consider these laws uncivilized.
Importantly, there were people who lived during this time that thought these laws were barbaric and uncivilized. Their words were drowned out and overruled by people who insisted “without the law, we are not civilized.”
Law doesn’t make us civilized. Compassion does.