Civil Liberty | Teen Ink

Civil Liberty

December 3, 2018
By atscott03, Danville, California
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atscott03, Danville, California
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Author's note:

I am a Sophmore at San Ramon Valley High School. This writing piece was assigned in my world history class and had to include key details from the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. I enjoyed writing this because I got to be creative with my ideas and writing style. 

Fearing to see her child vulnerable in front of a cold audience, she is nervously waiting to hear her child testify. The unknown outcome of this trial frightens his mother and leaves her mute. As she walks into the cold courtroom, her face turns pale.

A large, echoing room with lengthy wood tables in front where the judge and the jury sit. Bright lights shine above, which warms the room like a hot summer day. People sit in the seats looking down at their phones waiting patiently for the case to begin. The silence is indescribable, whispers only. As the jury looks around with large curious eyes, the case is almost ready to start and everyone sits up in their seats attentively. The red and slightly sweaty face of the defendant gives off an impression of guilt, while the young plaintiff sits confidently. The issue at hand regards an event in that took place in the past. The young chad, who brought this case into this court of law, states that he was forced to work in unfair conditions and had to endure a horrible working environment; however, the defendant, who is a businessman with high stature, says that the boy is lying and that these actions never occurred. The trial is close to starting and the courtroom is hushed. The trial begins with the presentation of each case. The prosecutor first states his case. His name is John Locke. He begins his case.

“On January 21st, 1790, this young boy began to work for Mr. Steven’s business. This took place in a small factory filled with machines and material for making textiles. The first few months that the boy worked were easy. No heavy work, many breaks, some pay; however, this all stopped soon after. Mr. Steven started to make the boy stay overnight, and soon this resulted in staying at the factory weeks after weeks. He would threaten the boy with abuse. If the boy did not obey his orders, he would be hit and forced to work with no breaks. Further, the work that the boy did was hard labor of transporting the cotton and then having to clean it, so when the boy did not get breaks it was detrimental to the point of fainting. Now, we as people are guaranteed the right to liberty. “We must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit”. By forcing this young boy to work without choice, he is taking away his rights. Mr. Steven should serve his time for the crimes he has committed and takes away this young boy’s given right of liberty.”

As John Locke finishes his speech the judge and jury are trying to take in this new information. Once a few minutes go by, the young boy stands up and walks to the stand to give his personal testimony.

“Going to work for Mr. Stevens, all I wanted was some money to help my parents stay afloat in this rough time. One of my friends easily got a job there a couple of months before me, so it was not that hard to get hired. I thought Mr. Steven understood that, but I guess he had his own intentions. This all started when he began to ask me to stay overnight to work. I said yes the first couple times imagining I would get paid for it, but I was wrong. This only led to him not letting me leave, and forcing me to work all the time. It was too much to handle. I was constantly tired and I was never allowed to rest. The workload would increase every day, even after he stopped paying me. I was working for free, and it was not my choice. It felt as if I was in jail. When I would try to escape or slack off even a little, he would take me away from the other workers and punish me by hitting and punching. That was his leverage over me. He is such a strong man that I never considered trying to escape until I saw my one opportunity. Thankfully he had to leave the factory to go watch a shipment come in, or else I would have never escaped his abuse.”

Once the boy finished telling his story the jury began to whisper to each other. In his testimony, the boy described how child labor was enforced in his work environment. This was a common thing during the Industrial Revolution, but typically people did not take it to court. Now, the trial must continue and the people now will listen to the defendant and his attorney. The defense attorney (DA) stood up and was ready to start. His name is Thomas Hobbes.

“Today we are here to discuss the false accusation of child labor. Mr. Steven had no part in this and these claims are false. Although this boy did indeed work for his textile company, he was not treated poorly hit. This was simply made up in the boy’s head. People these days are born inherently evil, so believing that he is lying should be unquestionable. All people were born evil and liars and that is just who we are. Mr. Steven is a loving father of two with a wife and steady family life. He has nothing on his record and has no motive for these acts. Without evidence, there is no strong case against him and the only possible explanation is a false accusation.”

John Locke and Thomas Hobbes have opposing views on this issue. John Locke focused his speech on the aspect of freedom. He is a strong advocate for this topic and represents it very well throughout his speech. He describes how Mr. Steven broke the law by taking away the rights of another person. Thomas Hobbes does a good job of representing his viewpoint as well. He believes that all people are born inherently evil so by saying that the story is all lies, it would make sense if people are truly evil. Since there is no evidence, besides a compelling story, his argument could seem accurate. This case has become close and will not depend on the jury’s decision.

The jury has been discussing for a while and is coming out now. After this time, they have reached a verdict and are ready to announce it.

“Hobbes failed to address Locke’s statement of no pay, so we are left to assume that the boy was forced to work with no pay. So, we believe, in the case boy vs Stevens, that Mr. Steven is guilty. In this case, Mr. Steven took the freedom of the boy away by inflicting child labor, and by this, he broke a law of taking away the rights of another person.”

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