Lesson Five: Freedom To, Freedom From

Students will be introduced to ideas about how society constructs freedom through laws.

FL1(b) - Debate whether the primary function of law is to create order or provide freedoms for members of its society.

FL1(d) - Explain why the rule of law is a fundamental principle in democratic societies and relate it to examples in Canadian society.

1. Ask students what the word “freedom” means to them. Is absolute freedom possible? What constraints do we have on our freedoms?

2. As a class, read “Freedom To, Freedom From: The Grafton”.

• According to Captain Musgrave’s log book, the men were to leave the seals in peace and only kill what they needed. Scaring them off would lead to starvation. How would this restriction of their “freedom to” contribute to their “freedom from”?
• How is the constitution agreed to by the men different from the oaths of loyalty used in the Batavia shipwreck?
• Consider how the men’s freedom was restricted by banning cards. What similar limits to our freedom do we create as a society today? What "freedoms from" do these restrictions create?
• The constitution created broad powers for the “chief of the family” to remedy conflicts and wrongs. No attempt was made to outline the appropriate response and punishment for every possible wrong. Similarly, Canada’s police, prosecutors, and judges have some discretion when dealing with wrongs. For example, in some circumstances police may choose to not issue a ticket or charge a person with a crime. Prosecutors may choose not to pursue charges. And if a person is found guilty of a crime, judges have a range of sentences from which to choose. What purpose does such discretion serve?

3. Have students consider Discuss questions, either individually or in small groups.

4. Lead summary discussion of the leadership structure of the Grafton castaways. Topics could include:
• Who had ultimate power on the island? The “chief of the family” or the castaways as a whole?
• Is a mild form of hierarchy—with checks in place—necessary for a society to function?

5. For considerations about the scope and limits of freedom in Canada today, check out Lesson Five: Freedom and Law in Democracy and the Rule of Law.

6. To consider the difficulties in determining what a law actually means, check out the activity No Vehicles in the Park.

7. For more insight into the discretion that police have when dealing with youth crime, check out Lesson 1.4: Extrajudicial Measures and Lesson 1.5: Extrajudicial Sanctions in Teaching Youth Justice.

8. For more insight into the ideas of limits to freedom, check out Absolute Freedom and Universal Health Care in Camus’ The Plague: The Learning Resource.

9. For more insight into the ideas surrounding public sanitation laws, check out The Great Stink of London in The PLEA: The Bathroom Barrister.

10. First Mate Raynal’s account of the shipwreck, Wrecked on a Reef, is on Internet Archive.

11. Captain Musgrave’s logbook of the wreck, Castaway on the Auckland Isles, is on Internet Archive.

Freedom To, Freedom From: The Grafton


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