From the time of the Athenian democracy there has been the debated question of whether protest and dissent, especially uncivil disobedience to the law was supportive or destructive of a people’s democracy. The debate continues unabated today.

In a recent collection of essays titled Protest and Dissent, Professor Susan Stokes offered an answer to the question Are Protests Good or Bad for Democracy? (Schwartzberg, 2020, p. 269). After considering both possibilities, she concludes, as had James Madison in Federalist 10, that protests “are a natural by-product of freedoms of expression and association which, if curtailed, would threaten democracy itself.”(Schwartzberg, 2020, pp. 281).

Building a society that is democratic and recognizes the need for frequent reform is challenging. In meeting those challenges difficult and profound moral choices often confront us.