Letter from Birmingham Jail; Rhetorical Analysis
Or rather, the lack of obedience. However, by laws he did not exactly mean state or city laws having to do with material objects or taxes, in fact, he was speaking about laws that degraded the human being. He was speaking of moral laws. “You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws.” (Par. 15) This opening sentence leads to King’s explanation about morals and types of laws: just and unjust. “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust.”(Par. 15) In this paragraph specifically, King is the ‘preacher’ and he is preaching about his ideas [morals] on what he considers a just and unjust law. He gives us a look into his ethics and rationalizations using reason to give examples when a law can or can not be broken. He leads into a quote by St. Augustine “An unjust law is no law at all” (Par. 15) His strict moral and church based outlook shows how moral this man really was. In turn it helps establish ethos that much more evidently because statements like these make King seem full of integrity. Another great paragraph that ethos can be distinctly found in is paragraph 20.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly,