OPINION – One of the most telling signs that our society has entered a general state of decline is when unjust public policies place us in a position where we may be forced to lie.
Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve encountered commentaries that convincingly demonstrate that a person who is serious about asserting his or her natural rights may have a moral duty to deceive those who would deprive them.
The two subjects that sparked intense discussion were jury nullification and how to answer a medical professional who inquires about personal firearms ownership.
Jury nullification is one of the few remaining peaceful remedies we still possess to reign in government that refuses to respect its proper limits. It’s one of the four boxes which can be used to check the government and to defend liberty.
The first is the soapbox, whereby we exercise our right to free speech to change the government or its policies. Public outcry is often inefficient and requires many people working together.
The ballot box is another check on government, but it only works when the public is informed, engaged and united in large enough numbers.
The cartridge box is the last resort by which an armed citizenry can resist and, if necessary, overthrow a destructive or tyrannical government. Those who get a bad case of the vapors at the mere mention of this possibility should remember this is exactly what we’re celebrating every July Fourth.
Another highly effective, though misunderstood, remedy for official mischief is found within the jury box. This is where representatives of the people can prevent the abuse of corrupt laws passed by corrupt legislators, enforced by corrupt executives and tried by corrupt judges.
This is not the same as saying that all laws are corrupted. But a person would have to be willfully obtuse to assert there are no corrupt laws, lawmakers, prosecutors and judges.
How do we protect people who are at risk of injustice? We must be willing to serve on their jury.
This is not as easy as it sounds since the system does its best to weed out any juror who understands the true legal and moral authority a jury possesses to judge both the facts and the law itself in a criminal case.
In fact, the judge and lawyers will actively try to identify and remove from the jury pool anyone who understands this essential natural right. Some judges even require jurors to take an oath that they will follow the judge’s instructions and only judge the facts of the case and the law as it is written.
This is a violation of the natural rights of each juror.
In order to exercise our rights as a juror, we must be seated on the jury. In order to be seated, we may have to be prepared to lie in order to defend our natural rights against those who would deny them.
Remember, a conviction or acquittal requires a unanimous verdict from the jurors. But a single informed juror who refuses to rubber-stamp the state’s wishes can hang the jury and force the court to either retry the case or dismiss the charges.
Jury nullification doesn’t overturn bad laws, but it can result in fewer prosecutions under them.
For every O.J. Simpson outcome critics may cite, there are many more cases where genuine injustice has been thwarted by fully informed jurors.
Another increasingly likely situation where lying may be the best path can be found in the growing tendency of doctors and other medical professionals surveying their patients regarding personal firearms ownership.
The strict confidentiality that once existed between a physician and patient is being steadily eroded as government insinuates itself more deeply into our healthcare system. With lawmakers and bureaucrats seeking more creative ways to exert control over the population, our privacy is a bulwark against their mischief.
An honest answer to a doctor’s inquiry about gun ownership may yet become a form of legal leverage as firearms are treated as a “public health issue” that opens the door to greater regulation.
Would a firearms owner be justified in being less than perfectly honest with those seeking information they have no right to know? Especially if they’re doing so with the aim of undermining the right to keep and bear arms?
For those of us who still believe there are moral absolutes that aren’t subject to the social fads, this is a sobering consideration.
Is it really moral to cooperate with those who seek to deprive us or others of our natural rights?
It’s a question each of us should be asking.
Situational ethics can be a slippery slope that leads people away from a solid foundation of principles and deeper into the shifting sands of pragmatism.
Sometimes, we’re forced into such choices because there are higher laws at stake.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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