You’re A Criminal

October 6, 2008 at 5:03 pm 1 comment

I know you are. 

You’ve broken the law.  And it’s quite possible that when you did, you had no idea whatsoever that you had done it.

For instance, in many states it is illegal to wear political buttons or other campaign paraphernalia within a 100 feet of voting places. In California it is illegal to wear the insignia or apparel of a secret society, fraternal organization, etc. without the authorization of the group (i.e. it’s illegal to impersonate a Shriner).   It’s also illegal in most states to make false claims regarding academic degrees or titles you hold.  Federal laws prohibit killing or damaging rare plants or insects (don’t mow hay or run that brush hog!). There are also a plethora of laws we tend to ignore.  Like those prohibiting oral sex, eating or drinking (even water) while driving, speed limits, parking ordinances, leash laws, noise ordinances – and the ever popular tax laws.  In many places you can be cited – or even arrested if you don’t mow your lawn or shovel your walks in a timely manner.  Don’t curse in public.  Or own a short-coated, muscular dog with a broad head.  Because if you do – you may be a criminal. 

In today’s legal environment – we’re all criminals.  We live in a world where the flexible, common sense rules of culture and etiquette are being replaced at a frightening rate by always rigid, sometimes obscure and often counter-intuitive rules of law.  In our efforts to become a tolerant and inclusive society – we somehow lost track of the importance of the cultures that each of us inherited from our family and our community.  We’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water (oh crap – that’s illegal too!)

Today we live under such a wide-ranging and complex set of laws and regulations that not one of us can possibly be in compliance with them all.  And as a result, we are all now vulnerable to the potential tyranny of selective enforcement. The unavoidable minor discomforts and disagreements of day to day life with other people that we would once have shaken off as the annoying (but unavoidable) idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of our neighbors have now become cause for law suits and prosecution.  We no longer complain about or ostracize a rude neighbor whose dog barks all night and raids our trash – we call the police to arrest him and impound his dog.

And it hurts us all.  Every one of us.

That creepy neighbor, who in the past may have been considered a “low-life” or an “odd ball” was also still at that time accepted (though maybe just at the fringes) in our culture – is now locked up and ostracized as a felon.  And not only does he end up with a pointless conviction on his record – we end up alienating a person who had some thing to offer us.  Probably not friendship.  Or financial support.  But quite possibly a jump start on a cold morning or a rude call to our home to let us know that our dog escaped the yard (instead of that call to animal control).  Being annoying – or even obnoxious – shouldn’t be cause to take a person out of the web of our community.  It may be a cue that we shouldn’t trust that person too much.  That we don’t want to give them keys to our house (or even the time of day).  What we need to realize is that for every person who annoys us – there is another who is annoyed by us.  Yup.  Someone else thinks you’re a creep.  Think about that.

We’ve replaced community with compulsion and tolerance with legislation.

And it’s made every one of us smaller and more vulnerable.  Because not only is your obnoxious, low-life neighbor likely to be sued or arrested for some thing illegal thing he’s done during his life — so are you.

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Entry filed under: bsl, cynicism, dogs. Tags: , .

While We Were Out The Swarm

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jennie  |  April 11, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I recently read an article about a 7 month old Great Dane puppy that was attacked by a German Shepard at a dog park. The Dane’s owner said that the attack was “completely unprovoked”, and that all her puppy had done was lean his head over the German Shepard’s head and stand there staring down at the other dog, when the Shepard “growled and then attacked for no reason”.

    While the pup and his owner might not have realized that he was being aggressive, I’m sure the adult male German Shepard did.

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