Task 1 - Module 1

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At the end of this module you will be able to:

• Distinguish the difference between laws and rules
• Give examples of both laws and rules

You and the Law

THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY! So why can't we do anything we want to? Here's why: we live in a world with other people. And those other people have the same right to freedom we have. But freedom is something we don't all know how to use. Some of us abuse it. And too many of us resent having it regulated.

We need to know why we have laws and why we should obey them. We need to understand why we have people among us to guide us and even insist that we enjoy our freedom within the framework of certain rules and regulations called laws.

At the outset, we'll all admit that the law and the people who serve it can be convenient to have around at times. If our home is broken into, if we have an accident, or if a child is lost, it is certainly nice to be able to ring someone who is trained to handle the situation. But there are people who would take advantage of its absence if the police force suddenly ceased protecting us. History proves it.

Take, for example, the police strike in the American city of Boston in 1919. For two nights hooligans roamed the streets. They broke into stores to steal unprotected merchandise and broke windows. Armed, store-owners and loyal employees sat behind wooden barricades inside the shops ready to defend the property.

On "Black Tuesday," October 7, 1969, the citizens of Montreal, Canada, were left unprotected when their police force went out on strike leaving the city open to rioting and looting. Two people were killed - one of them a policeman; 48 were wounded. Seven banks were held up, and there were 17 other armed robberies. A million dollars' worth of goods was stolen from undefended merchants, and a thousand plate glass windows were smashed. The burglary rate quadrupled that day! The less violent simply enjoyed disobeying traffic lights. "Never here!" you might say. Oh, no? On November 2, 1923, the Melbourne police went out on strike! They were angry because of low wages and a new inspection system they said was the same as spying on them. The rioting and looting that followed were so fierce that hastily-organised civilian police could not manage the mobs. The more cautious store-owners had boarded up their plate glass windows, but any glass that hadn't already been broken was smashed. The Herald of November 3, 1923, reported:

The shrieking mob of larrikins which had been patrolling the streets ceaselessly during the afternoon, or congregating in threatening groups about the stray constables on duty, was suddenly quickened into action. Armed with bottles, bricks and a heterogeneous collection of other weapons and missiles, they attacked shop windows, and, after smashing the huge plate-glass sheets, stripped the stores of their contents. The few citizens who opposed their will were brutally dealt with, and the majority were removed to hospital unconscious or cruelly injured.

Finally, veterans of World War I volunteered their services and, six hundred strong under their wartime generals, moved out in two gigantic waves wielding batons and pick handles. They pressed into use every available motor vehicle and by dawn on November 3 had crushed the rioting mobs. But before the streets were finally cleared, greed had had a field day. The mobs had stolen $120,000 worth of goods from stores and had done $160,000 worth of damage to shops and businesses. Two men were dead, and 400 people were in hospital. Another 112 were in jail. So it appears that, left to their own devices, a lot of people don't really want to be honest, non-violent, and considerate of other people. They think it's fun to break the law, to destroy property, to behave as wildly as they can. They call it "freedom." But are they really free?

When you come to think of it, if they are free to run wild, so is everyone else. And what if everyone did do whatever he wanted? What if no one ever restrained anyone else from doing anything?
If you had a new transistor, and one of your classmates wanted it, well, then, he could just take it! Of course, you could take it back from him since presumably you wanted it. You might ask him why he didn't buy his own instead of taking yours, and he might say that he couldn't be bothered, or that he didn't have the money, or that he had spent his money on new records and wanted your radio too.

Would you really just sit back and say, "Oh, well, he's just exercising his freedom. I really shouldn't get in his way; I don't want to annoy him." Do you really think you would - or that you could be that generous?Let's suppose we all could and would behave that generously with each other. To begin with, we'd be running a regular relay race with our belongings.
We also might develop a greater under-standing of each other's needs and desires - but we'd probably need that to start with.

Or we just might go to war. For, unless we really had each other's interests at heart, we would soon learn to hate each other - individually and collectively. Person by person; nation by nation; race by race. Resentment, jealousy, fear, and greed would get the better of us.

Let's be completely honest with ourselves: it's hard work to be kind and sacrificing. Being that way once in a while gives us a good feeling, but to be that way all the time - especially with other people constantly making demands on our possessions and our time and our privacy - would really go against the grain. Wouldn't it?

Now suppose that once you had cheerfully given your transistor to your classmate, you wanted to borrow it back for a while, and he said, "No!" And when you insisted that he be as generous as you had been, he had lost his temper and punched you on the nose. After all, in a lawless world he would have that right, wouldn't he? Would you be welcome to punch him back?
"Your right to swing your fist," said an overseas judge, "ends at the point where the other person's nose begins."
But his right ends where your nose begins, too.

Australia is a land of freedom - freedom to do what we want and to go where we please, but only if we do not trespass on the rights of others. And so we must learn to live in this world with other people.

And that's what law is all about.
We're going to try to show you how to enjoy freedom under the law, to enjoy being young, active and full of high spirits - but to know when to stop, how to put on the controls, how to keep from making such a shambles of your record that your whole future might be endangered.

Assignment A:

Posters and Online Discussion Activity 1 - Laws and Rules

For this assignment you will be creating some posters and completing a discussion activity, i.e. activity 1.

Resources: Australia Law Online, Legal Dictionaries and Australasian Legal Information Institute

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