School of Law

Peeing on Pétain: Prof. Heinze on civil disobedience vs desecration

13 June 2019

Professor Eric Heinze published an article for Free Speech Debate where he examines the boundary between civil disobedience and desecration after a 32-year old Francis admitted to urinating on the grave of Philippe Pétain.

He writes: “Civil disobedience is slight legal wrong committed in the name of weighty moral right. Francis has committed a minor legal wrong to proclaim a momentous moral right by damning one of history’s heinous moral wrongs. However, if Francis can claim moral rightness in peeing on Pétain, can others lay equal moral claims to desecrating the tombstones of their own nemeses? What if some male Incel were to tarnish the grave of Emmeline Pankhurst? Yet that slippery slope threatens all civil disobedience, even the noblest forms: if we accept peaceful marches favouring open borders or abortion rights, then we must accept demonstrations against those views.”

Read the full piece here.