“Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign”
– Five Man Electrical Band
“A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules.”
– William Blake
“Be prepared, be sharp, be careful, and use the King’s English well. And you can forget all the [other rules] unless you remember one more: Get paid.”
– Robert N. C. Nix
“You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.”
– Abbie Hoffman
I have often thought of this. In general people are either rule followers or rule breakers. Oh of course there are the gray areas, but I am speaking in general. I know for my part, I tend to be a rule follower, but with a subtle streak of rebellion. When I was in the Navy, I would keep my hair as long as I could, just because I thought the rule was silly. I also tend to be the troublesome employee who always questions the rules. But I also usually follow them. Even now, on Sundays when I come into work I drive in the exit lane. (for reasons I won’t go into) And I actually have that twinge of guilt, and hope that no one saw me!
So are rules, or laws a good thing? Well, I think obviously so. Rule of Law is a notion that was pondered in ancient Greece, and though the Roman emperors were not subject to the law often they voluntarily submitted to it. Rule of Law is that the law applies to all equally. Good in theory, but in practice? Hmmm. Well back to Rule of law, this from Wikipedia:
In 1776, the notion that no one is above the law was popular during the founding of the United States, for example Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet Common Sense that “in America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.” In 1780, John Adams enshrined this principle in the Massachusetts Constitution by seeking to establish “a government of laws and not of men.”
Yes it’s obvious that if we have a set of laws, or a standard by which we are all held accountable, how can this be a bad thing? Well, it’s not a bad thing. I like that we have a set of laws, written by representatives who are duly elected by the populace. This is, in my opinion, much better than all of the alternatives. Sharia law, the laws of Moses, laws of whim and warlords are all of a nature that I feel is abhorrent to a modern society or culture. Too much wiggle room for my taste. So yeah our system of laws and rules in this country are, again in my opinion, the best possible natural option.
So where is the problem? Well, it’s often in the application of the laws. It’s so true that the ruling class in any given era or locale has the privilege of applying the law or not. How many times have you seen a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) speeding past you, only to later see him or her sitting by the roadside radar gun in hand. Now that’s a benign misapplication, and certainly one that you can’t use as a defense of a speeding ticket. Me: “Your honor, I was only going with the traffic flow. I wasn’t going faster than anyone else!” Judge: “Son, when you go fishin’ you can’t catch ’em all!”. No, for years the law was used as a club to keep certain people down. Race, religion, sex, all these were categories that have been used and abused by the law at one time or another. Bad rulers… no doughnut for you.
But I’m really digressing now, let’s get back to following or breaking rules. You know, there are certain rules that are just plain good. Like rules against murder, now that’s a good rule. But we can break that rule, wars, police chases, home invasions, all valid reasons to negate that rule. Hmmm. Well, still a good rule. But it’s the little rules that are often times mind numbingly stupid. And these are the rules we sometimes MUST break. Because then it calls attention to the dumb rule, and maybe we can get it stricken from the books. Like for instance: indecency rules. Why is it that women can’t go topless, but men can? Not fair. Break that rule!!!! I say we have a little civil disobedience ladies! And to go along with the “save the Ta-Ta’s” month it would be even more appropriate for a nationwide rule breaking event! Hey I’m behind you 100%! But seriously folks, rules/laws are good, they give us a basis for our society, but remember it’s “we the people” that are the deciding factor! Let’s let our representatives know we are aware and attentive.
As you were.