The primary premise of “The Great Debates” movie is that no law can justify violating fundamental human rights and freedoms. This depiction of the real-life school debate criticizes the current state regimes that proclaim the commitment to good governance principles but preserve discrimination and oppression practices. The team of debaters raises the real manifestations of the so-called democracy, where the majorities play a minor role in decision-making, many populations remain underserved and marginalized, and the political elites continue enjoying the benefits and power granted by their status. Debating students claim that the ruling regimes protect the centuries-long tyranny rather than promote and facilitate equality and equity.
The quote from St. Augustine urges a change needed and appeals the public to action. The argument stresses the moral obligation of everybody to participate in the fight for equality and genuine democracy to avoid a feeling of shame when encountering injustice towards someone. Today, people are predominantly speculators rather than activists; they prefer passing by acts of prejudice, discrimination, or crime to protect their safety and wellbeing. The claims that there is the rule of law to regulate such issues allow spectators to hinder their ignorance or fear of involvement. The idea promulgated in the movies has not lost its relevance today, with the continued discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. Access to education, housing, and healthcare remains limited to many marginalized groups, which means that injustice and bias are deeply embedded in the rule of law that cannot be regarded as law. Unless everybody assumes the responsibility for mitigating privileges given to some groups at the expense of others, democracy would lack respect for and recognition of diversity.
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Washington, Denzel, director. The Great Debates. Harpo Productions, 2007.