Frederic BastiatFrederic Bastiat, (1801-1850) [Claude Frederic Bastiat] French economist, statesman, and author. He did most of his writing during the years just before -- and immediately following -- the French Revolution of February 1848

Frederic Bastiat Quote

“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”

Frederic BastiatFrederic Bastiat
~ Frederic Bastiat

"The Law" by Frederic Bastiat (1848)

Ratings and Comments

Joe, Rochester, MI

The immoral will find a law to suit their purpose. Those with moral sense understand the justice system continues to become more corrupt with each new law.

John, Williamsburg, PA

The truth of this quote is very evident in that many have lost their respect for the law.

J Carlton, Calgary

The "justice" system has been entirely replaced with a "legal" system. I've chosen to remain moral.

Me Again
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    Me Again    5/8/08

    I chose to lose my respect for the "law" in this case.

    jim k, austin,tx

    "No man's life, liberty or property is safe, when the legislature is in session." This is the scary part, we have a bunch of lawyers in that nest of thieves known as the US Congress making more laws every day.

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    Morality and law are like two sides of a balance sheet. Neither one is absolute or unchanging. It once was moral to throw criminals and christians (the same thing) and gladiators (sportsmen) to their death at hands of each other or of animals. I feel certain that it was not against the law, the law supported the Roman morality. Bottom line the two sides of the balance sheet must agree and be brought into balance when an imbalance occurs. Of course the moral dimension should be the more controlling influence, however, it must be agreed upon morality, some people have different morals but the law applies to all.equally without regard to peoples different moral codes; there is the dilemma. Live with it.

    Mike, Norwalk

    In the context it was given, absolutely. There are laws and related morals that express freedom and liberty and, there are laws and morality that define the survival of the fittest. If an individual's morality includes love, truth, charity, integrity, honor, faith in the nobility of man, freedom, and liberty, those codes, rules and statutes (referred to as law in the quote) that promote compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity, suspension of habeas corpus, suspension of religious expressions, and tyranny (by way of extremely terse example - The Patriot Act), create a loss of respect for the law.

    E Archer, NYC

    The only way to challenge the unconstitutionality of a 'law' is to ignore it. America was founded upon such a principle when our forefathers said "NO" to their king and dared to declare themselves free. Such courage is needed today.

    ken, pa
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      ken, pa    5/10/08

      This is why the cops better get themselves in check and start policing those cops that dont. Sooner or later, the people will find it necessary to protect themselves, by any means necessary.

      warren, olathe

      Again you are proving the point of the quote Waffler!

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        Anonymous    5/17/09

        If your government passes and enforces a truly unjust law, it is your duty to oppose it simply by (politely) refusing to comply, and to be willing to accept the consequences that come your way.

        Daniel Morin

        The Law is the perfect tool for tyrants to justify oppression. We are brainwashed by public education to "obey the law" but we are never given the opportunity to ask ourselves "who wrote those laws?". What if a law is evil? Should we obey it? The people writing the laws are among the most corrupt and immoral people on earth - they are called politicians.

        Vedapushpa, Bangalore - India

        Given the fact that 'morals' or morality is indeed the basis for laws - virtually law is only a legal formalization of the 'particular contexts of morality'- So then - how is it that in modernday assessments of morals and law 'equation' morality has come to be considered as 'somewhat lower than law' in terms of rigorous definition and worse still that morals -having wrongly gotten equated with custom is even considered as being 'outside the legal framework' ? Is it not true that - When 'Justie prevails' - It is in fact 'Morals' that is prevailed and not the 'law'.as such?

        Mike, Norwalk

        Greek natural law differs from Hebrew history - natural law. Greek natural law states that all law is based on morals. The problem with that is everyone has different morals. It is a hard fact that morals can not be justifiably legislated. Natural law, as was the founding jurisdiction of the de jure States united was based on absolutes (gravity, science, math, fiscal law, etc.). At such natural law, man used tools (such as codes, ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes) to harmonize most accurately with the law that already existed (man can not make or create law, only define it) The more accurate the definition, the greater the liberty, prosperity, etc. Laws as define murder are administered through man's historical, logical, etc. perceptions (1st degree, 2nd degree, man slaughter, etc.). Bringing to just fruition the law defining murder is a display of morality.

        Mike, Pleasant Hill

        People should read the entire source for this quote, it was taken from (The Law) where he talks about legal plunder it is an excellent read.
        When our nation was first founded juries could deliberate and consider the FACTS as well as the LAW and if the jury felt that the law was unjust they could vote to acquit, this is called jury nullification today by judges/lawyers who have departed from Blackstone adopting a new form of Darwinian law.
        Today when judges give juries instructions they are told they can consider only the facts and that the judge will give them the law, ignorance has neutered the power of the jury but if a jury member is informed they are usually weeded out during the jury selection process, God for bid we have informed people in the jury room.

        "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
        -- French economist, statesman and author Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)

        E Archer, NYC

        Mike/Norwalk, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi is older than its Hebrew offshoot, the 10 Commandments, also written on stone tablets. ;-) These early systems of law were hardly representative of 'natural law' codified into statute. So we have natural law, political law, religious law, and all the local customs we observe. How far do we go to enforce obedience? Does natural law need human enforcement?

        The centerpiece of republican government is the right to follow one's conscience and face the consequences -- that's it. Whether we are wise enough to act with respect to the rights of others is another story, but there is no avoiding responsibility for one's actions.

        Church and State have been vying for man's conscience since the beginning in order to get people to willingly obey their dictates.

        Are our actions moral? Are we in harmony with natural law? What is right? How does one decide? Conscience.

        The jury may vote its conscience -- that is a fact, but hardly pointed out. We vote with our conscience. We contribute and collaborate according to our conscience. We support and oppose from a conscientious point of view.

        The courage to conscientiously take a stand is the very heart of Liberty.

        Ronw13, Yachats Or

        635 Old Testament Hebrew laws. Not the hearers of the law, but the doers of the law were justified. Lawyers then as they do now bend the law through private interpretation of the laws. Just as in dietary and moral laws, creating separation of peoples, God had in mind a fix, the old covenant, done away, the New covenant by OATH, purging the conscience from dead works. I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. In this manner shall all know me, from the lest to the greatest. A World under Grace. Happy is he who condemneth not himself in that thing he alloweth. This statement made concerning dietary law, or if you will, dancing, smoking, drinking and playing cards. Hard shell religions would tell one otherwise. But we know at Liberty is just that. Therefore moderation is exercised under grace, of which our founding fathers embraced. Natural laws concerning reprobate mindsets, God does deal with. But by way of the individual. Never from the cackling of the back row. There is no respect of an unjust law. The choice is easy for a responsible Independent at Liberty.

        Ronw13, Yachats Or

        Hast thou faith, have it to thyself ! As a Responsible, moderate Individual ! Liberty under Grace. The word Grace means ( unmerited favor ). As also special Grace and mercy given to a God called teacher. As with Timothy and Titus's case of calling. Hidden in the shadings of the English word.

        Mike, Norwalk

        Archer, actually the first Hebrew writings found that would address law was near the origination of Egypt (I think more and earlier will be found but, at present, that is the time table). It is becoming more and more documented that the Israelites enslaved in Egypt had their own legal system predating Babylon's coming to be. Even the earliest Vedic Sanskrit has shown writings referencing an earlier Hebrew law influence (the Egyptian and Vedic Sanskrit both pre-date Hammurabi) From my studies, Hammurabi's Code drew more from Indian and other cultures than the Israelites but, the influence was there non-the-less. Studying the original laws that were said to have come from God to what scholars would now call the law of Moses, differs at least as much as each individual had "the right to follow one's conscience and face the consequences" as can be compared to the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land or any other Socialist totalitarian nation on earth. A big difference between Hammurabi's Code and God given Hebrew natural law was the Hammurabi's Code (law) was based on morality. Hebrew natural law was the foundation of morality.

        Joe, Beaverton

        I think this work the law, very quick to read up to this quote, will show what life liberty and property are, and introduce unlawful but legal plunder to the views of rights.


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