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Byron Shire
March 7, 2021

Slavery wasn’t abolished by waiting

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John Scrivener, Mullumbimby

Magistrate Michael Dakin told Ms Grant that it was ‘not up to her’ to decide what action should be taken over the issue, but the responsibility of a ‘popularly elected government’, rather than for her to take the matter into her own hands.

Dakin is entitled to his opinions, but in my opinion the bench is not the place to air them. He should confine his comments to the matter in hand. It is not his job to proscribe legitimate democratic processes.

Civil disobedience and nonviolent protest have a long and colourful history in democratic society. Many civil liberties and basic human rights have become the norm only because sincere individuals committed themselves to peacefully resisting violent and arbitrary authority.

Important social progress has never been the result of people quietly waiting and hoping that ‘popularly elected government’ will just naturally do the right thing.

Slavery wasn’t abolished by waiting for ‘popularly elected government’ to grow a conscience; women didn’t get the vote by quietly waiting for ‘popularly elected government’ to make the change; no war was ended by simply petitioning a ‘popularly elected government’.

In the democratic tradition, progress has only ever occurred thanks to courageous and creative peaceful protest.


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