Civil Disobedience

Due to strong interest in this topic, "Civil Disobedience" will be repeated on Sunday April 6th (follow this link to RSVP). Since the repeated version is not yet full, please RSVP to it if your schedule permits. Please only RSVP to one of the Civil Disobedience events so that others may join.

The term ‘civil disobedience’ was coined by Henry David Thoreau in his 1848 essay to describe his refusal to pay the state poll tax implemented by the American government to prosecute a war in Mexico and to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law.

What makes a breach of law an act of civil disobedience? When is civil disobedience morally justified? How should the law respond to people who engage in civil disobedience?

Civil disobedience is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies. On this account, people who engage in civil disobedience are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions, as this shows their fidelity to the rule of law.

Why must civil disobedience be non-violent? Why must it be public, in the sense of forewarning authorities of the intended action, since publicity gives authorities an opportunity to interfere with the action? Why must people who engage in civil disobedience be willing to accept punishment?

We'll address these issues in our discussion on civil disobedience.

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  • Jennifer A.

    Why are the RSVPs closed? There is only one member signed up to attend...

    March 2, 2014

    • CJ F.

      Eric, unfortunately, meetup does not provide a facility to be notified when RSVPs open.

      I recommend using a calendar service that allows you to schedule a reminder. My operating system provides and at(1) command, check with gurus for your operating system for alternatives that will work for you.

      1 · March 10, 2014

    • Patty

      Thanks, CJ!

      March 23, 2014

  • Will B.

    Received notice too late for train into town. I am signed up for repeat session. Thanks anyway.

    March 23, 2014

  • Barbara K.

    I cannot make it this morning had to change to the April meeting. Thanks.

    March 23, 2014

  • Sam

    This is a wonderful topic. Here's a link to an annotated version of the Thoreau essay along with some background information and commentary:

    March 21, 2014

  • Katie

    We will be hosting a second meetup on this topic on Sat April 6th. If you would rather attend this date please change your RSVP here and RSVP for that one. Here is the link:

    Additionally, as there is already a long waitlist I ask that those who cannot attend this Sundays discussion update your RSVP as soon as possible to allow other members the chance to participate.

    March 19, 2014

    • Katie

      I apologize I meant Sunday April 6th

      March 19, 2014

  • Susan Anne R.

    Does everyone always show up? I'd be really interested in attending.

    March 13, 2014

    • CJ F.

      Susan, you need to RSVP to get onto the waiting list. Go to­ and RSVP.

      That said, this meetup is already full. Although we usually have a few people who cancel allowing some of the wait list people to attend, the wait list is so long that that is a long shot (of course, randomness being what it is, anything is possible: so you might as well try).

      To attend our meetups, we recommend checking the site at least once per week so there is a chance to RSVP before an event fills up.

      In cases like this where the event fills even before the automatic announcements go out, we try to repeat the event. We are working behind the scenes to try to repeat this event. However, we may not be able to do so (we need to coordinate schedules and other events too: it's complicated). If the event is repeated, it will be announced as a comment here. If you see that announcement, act quickly to RSVP as it is likely that the repeat will also fill.

      March 13, 2014

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