Table 18: King’s Discussion of Just Law and Unjust Law in Table Form

Below is a table that falls under the comment “Analysis.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and “Case Studies” categories or by typing “Squaring the Author’s Text Within Your Analysis” into the search box. King’s work falls under U.S. copyright law and is displayed here for educational purposes.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Table 18:  King’s Discussion of Just Law and Unjust Law in Table Form

 Just Law  Unjust Law
“A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.” “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
“To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas:  An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”
“Any law that uplifts human personality is just.” “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”
“All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.”
“It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.”
“Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things.”
“Hence segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.”
“Paul Tillich” has said that sin is separation.Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?”
“ . . . and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.” “Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; . . .”

Group Activity

As you can see there are gaps within King’s discussion. On the one hand, King provides a simple view of “just laws.” On the other hand, his view of “just laws” does not equally parallel his discussion of “unjust laws.”

As a group, develop an analysis:

1) First, construct a sentence that best reflects the ideas of each row. For example, in the second row, King offers “St. Thomas Aquinas” as an example. For your box under “just law,” offer an example.

2) Second, propose a structure for your analysis. Group sentences that are similar in meaning together. Determine if there is a common denominator between each row and use it as a guide for structuring your paragraphs. King’s discussion on “segregation” appears to be the common denominator.

3) Third, create and develop an analysis. Add a topic sentence. Insert quotes from the text as supporting evidence for your analysis. Only use the sentences of Table 18 as supporting evidence. Follow up quotes with both an explanation and evaluation. Develop a transition statement as the last sentence. You may use one of the Analysis Methods as a guide.

Click here for “Table 19: King’s Discussion of Just Law and Unjust Law in Table Form (continued).”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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