A Review of Good People Break Bad Laws. By Topher Field.

Locke Press, 2023.

Important truths about freedom and the price we must pay for it:

During the Great Covid Wars of earlier this decade, especially here in Victoria, there were numerous resistors who took a stand against the draconian lockdowns, the panic porn, and the cancelling of our basic civil rights and freedoms. And they paid a heavy price for doing this. One thinks of people like Monica Smit and pastor Paul Furlong among others who stood their ground.

Another one was Topher Field. Here he recounts his story and reminds us of why the fight for freedom is an ongoing battle and one we must all take part in. He had already directed a documentary about the lockdown madness under Premier Dan Andrews entitled Battleground Melbourne. It was an ominous and shocking look at what had happened in 2020 and 2021.

Just as that doco made for depressing viewing – having to relive those terrible memories of what we had to endure – reading this book also has similar effects. In it he discusses what he went through and what so many Victorians had to put up with. He also recounts the stories of other champs, including Monica. The protests he was involved in, his run-ins with the police, his assessment of Dan Andrews and what he did are all covered in detail.

Early on he makes it clear that he is no anarchist:

[If we] just start disobeying all laws we don’t ‘like’, then we’re in for a world of hurt and we’re likely to hurt others too. That is not what I’m advocating here, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Note that I have not and will never say ‘good people break all laws’ or ‘good people just do whatever they want’ or ‘good people break the laws they don’t like’. I lived the first 38 years of my life as a model law abiding citizen. My relationship with police before April 25th 2020 couldn’t have been better. Prior to then, I’d never been arrested…

He continues:

The purpose of civil disobedience, of ‘Good People Breaking Bad Laws’, is to limit the power of government by limiting our obedience to it. Specifically, to limit our obedience to only the areas where the government is legitimate, and to disobey when and where the government exceeds its legitimate authority. In fact, if you look at history, the only thing that has ever actually limited the power of government, is the limits of the people’s obedience.

He reminds us that we do not need the UN and various governments and political leaders to GIVE us basic human rights and freedoms. They are already ours and we need to affirm them, defend them, and fight for them. He writes:

All we needed was to agree on the most basic starting point, the right to not be murdered, and then to answer the question ‘why’. Everything else naturally followed. These are the basic human rights that John Locke expressed as “The rights to life, liberty, and property.” Yes fine, I just quoted a dead white guy. Sorry. We do not need permission for these rights. They are ours for as long as we exist as a living human being. Our rights may be broken, infringed and trampled upon by other people and indeed by governments but that does not mean we do not have them, it means they are being violated. Our rights remain our human rights and are ours against the whole world.

He also reminds us of the lesson of history, and how those in power usually claim to be acting with the best of intentions, and for our own good – even the really terrible tyrants of history. Says Topher:

They are the moral busybodies that C. S. Lewis warned us of, unable to conceive of a world where someone who opposes them might have good and just and moral reasons for doing so. That mentality has been true of every historical figure that’s committed atrocities, and all those willing accomplices who followed orders. Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist Party leader who implemented the ‘Great Leap Forward’, was absolutely convinced that he was the good guy as he murdered 30,000,000+ of his own people through starvation, overwork, disease, and execution.


And here’s the key: all those government operatives who enforced his rules? They were just as sure they were the good guys, even as they dug ditches to bury the bodies of the men, women, and children they had murdered. I’ll say it again: no one becomes a tyrant by themselves. They depend on others to be their hands and their feet.

And the fight for freedom has been a long and bloody one. It will be so tomorrow as well. The gains we have made have to continuously be championed and protected:

Thanks to over 1,000 years of courageous struggle, civil disobedience, civil wars, un-civil wars, and enormous quantities of spilled blood mingled with ink, we have arrived where we are today. Now, around most of the world, we see a multitude of different expressions of an incredibly powerful idea: the idea that the power of a government comes from its people, not to rule over them but to serve them with their consent. Along with this idea came the idea that the government itself is subject to the law. ‘The rule of law’ contrasts sharply with the ‘divine right of kings’ or its modern analogue of legal positivism, and is supposed to ensure that the lawmakers themselves must abide by the laws they make.

A major theme of the volume is the place of civil disobedience and the justification for it. But this also needs to be carefully argued for. He writes:

Protest is a legitimate political tool in a democratic society. In fact, it’s a human right. But there is a right way to protest, and a wrong way, and sometimes it’s a difficult line to walk. In order for a protest to be effective, it must be noticed! But if, in the pursuit of being noticed, you upset the very people you need to win over to your cause then… you’re not helping yourself! An example would once again be ‘extinction rebellion’ type protesters who glue themselves to the road in the middle of major intersections, or block traffic and the like. Sure, you’ll be noticed… and every person who notices you is going to hate you even more than they already did.


Civil disobedience, and the protests that follow, must always be conducted with the true goal in mind: to win more support for the cause. When I speak of civil disobedience, when I speak of breaking bad laws, I’m speaking of obeying the law where your conscience allows it, disobeying the law only as far as your conscience requires it, and disobeying in a manner which sets an example and has at least a chance of pricking the consciences of those you need to win over to your cause. Civil disobedience done right will make the oppressors look all the more oppressive. Done wrong, it will legitimise the oppression and lead to increased support for the oppressor. Civil disobedience is a powerful tool, but it is a tool that must be handled with care.

And again:

Be wary of people who say that any action is justified in pursuit of your ‘noble cause’. Do not deliberately disrupt other people’s lives or destroy other people’s property. Reject outright any notions of resorting to violence ‘to make a point’. These actions are not civilised, are not ‘civil disobedience’, and on a practical level, they almost always backfire and lead to a loss of support for your cause. This is because such actions are rightly not considered acceptable in a civilised society!


So, what is civil disobedience? Civil disobedience is simply saying “I can’t do that” or “I must do this”. It’s refusing to participate in actions that violate your conscience and insisting on carrying out actions that your conscience requires, but only as far as your conscience requires.

He quotes Martin Luther King Jr. on this: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

And he also discusses the churches and their role in all this:

I expect betrayal from politicians, I expect fearfulness from the public, but I expect much better from those who accept the role of Pastor in the body of Christ. I expect the Fear of God rather than man, I expect them to speak up for the oppressed even when, perhaps especially when, the government is the oppressor. “Crooked leaders cannot be your friends, they use the law to cause suffering.” (Psalm 94:20 New Century Version) And when the Church responds with fear, the suffering of the oppressed is made far worse.

He closes his book with these words: “The battle for freedom was raging long before we were born, and will continue long after we’re dead. This is not a war that is ever ‘won’. It goes ever on and on. All we can do is play our part when it’s our turn. If you’re reading this book then it’s your turn right now.”

Good advice – and much-needed advice given the world we now live in.

(If you go here and use the code ‘Bill’ you will get a further discount: www.goodpeoplebreakbadlaws.com/ )

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6 Replies to “A Review of Good People Break Bad Laws. By Topher Field.”

  1. “I expect betrayal from politicians, I expect fearfulness from the public, but I expect much better from those who accept the role of Pastor in the body of Christ. I expect the Fear of God rather than man, I expect them to speak up for the oppressed even when, perhaps especially when, the government is the oppressor. “Crooked leaders cannot be your friends, they use the law to cause suffering.” (Psalm 94:20 New Century Version) And when the Church responds with fear, the suffering of the oppressed is made far worse.”
    SPOT ON.
    I am utterly disgusted with 99% of alleged leaders in the Church.

  2. I appreciate your book review Bill. And the book itself should make a helpful contribution to the society we live in.

    Human Freedom is a precious matter.
    And people need a wise head to contend for freedom, without just causing a mess in the process.

    The easy capitulation to the will of Dan Andrews as chief dictator, was a weird thing to watch. The pushback was like one big insipid, floppy unexercised muscle, trying to stop a steam train.

  3. I think many church leaders (and Christians) fell back on Romans 13 as God expecting blanket obedience to the government. I am admittedly no theologian, however the passage always seemed to me that obedience is predicated on the government ruling in line with God’s law and morality. Otherwise, we would have to support abortion, homosexuality and every other immoral and illegal thing (according to God’s word) as governments have made them legal in the human sense.

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