The fact is that these young people’s ambush on an organ of government is a classic example of civil disobedience, in the glorious tradition of the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and John Rawls, the author of A Theory of Justice.
If you look carefully at the press release they prepared before embarking upon this protest, you will see that these young people were fully aware of what they were doing, that it was not just about negative criticism, but also about positive recommendations, and they had prepared the legal fines they knew their actions would incur.
The Executive Yuan should come forward and identify exactly on what level these young people were demonstrating irrational behavior: Was it on the individual, or the public level?
This apathetic administration has to realize, at least in the wake of the recent mass white T-shirt vigil for army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), that non-violent protest — whatever the scale, whether it be demonstrations or civil disobedience, non-cooperation or peaceful intervention — does have its logic, and does depend on whether the government is willing to set right what it is doing wrong.
The day this government eventually looks back fondly on the “irrational behavior” of these youngsters, the Taiwanese Spring will already have arrived.
Peter Huang is a convener of Covenants’ Watch.
Translated by Paul Cooper