DEMOCRACY, DISSENT, AND DISORDER: The Issues and the Law by

DEMOCRACY, DISSENT, AND DISORDER: The Issues and the Law

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a solemn inquiry by the Dean of the Boston College School of Law into the legal-moral dilemmas implicit in the ""law and order"" crisis. Drinan demonstrates a sympathetic understanding for all those dismayed by the apparent decline and fall of desirable ideals and standards, but faults them for placing too much faith in the power of civil law in a democracy to remedy or even just suppress social problems. In light of the law's ""backwardness in the face of indefensible injustices,"" Drinan gives a hesitating go-ahead to those employing supralegal techniques as a last resort in the search for equality and justice (especially black militants), justifying this on the basis of a traditional American tolerance for a certain amount of civil disobedience in a good cause and the reinforcement of this ethic of the ultimate inviolability of the individual conscience by the judgments at Nuremberg. After viewing some other less visible areas in which legal institutions lag behind the moral consensus of society (treatment of prisoners, punishment of alcoholics and narcotics addicts, care of the mentally retarded, regulation of nursing homes) and touching upon public schools, the mass media, and the ""breakdown"" of family structure as moral influences. Drinan argues that only a new public morality and commitment to human dignity (the real cement that holds a democratic society together) can remedy these social ills and discontents. Then, with a quick phone booth switch from Lawyer Drinan to Father Drinan, he intones that only grass-roots religion can generate the necessary profound willingness to sacrifice benefits and incomes. Earnest and edifying.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1969
Publisher: Seabury