Dare to do things worthy of imprisonment if you mean to be of consequence.
Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one.
Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.
No radical change on the plane of history is possible without crime.
When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders.
~Veterans Fast for Life
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849
You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.
Human history begins with man's act of disobedience which is at the very same time the beginning of his freedom and development of his reason.
~Erich Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion
Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
Integrity has no need of rules.
If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.
~Louis D. Brandeis
Laws are only words written on paper, words that change on society's whim and are interpreted differently daily by politicians, lawyers, judges, and policemen. Anyone who believes that all laws should always be obeyed would have made a fine slave catcher. Anyone who believes that all laws are applied equally, despite race, religion, or economic status, is a fool.
~John J. Miller, And Hope to Die
Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.
~George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists
Every actual state is corrupt. Good men must not obey laws too well.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal."
~Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Why We Can't Wait, 1963
We cannot, by total reliance on law, escape the duty to judge right and wrong.... There are good laws and there are occasionally bad laws, and it conforms to the highest traditions of a free society to offer resistance to bad laws, and to disobey them.
It is necessary to distinguish between the virtue and the vice of obedience.
~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays, 1911
I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not so desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
~Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.
It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.
~Edmund Burke, Second Speech on Conciliation, 1775
I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
~Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime.
~Martin Luther King, Jr., March 22, 1956
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
~Bishop Desmond Tutu
It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders.
~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience