Social Question

longgone's avatar

Do you follow rules?

Asked by longgone (7212 points ) May 8th, 2014

Do you obey the law, just because it’s the law? Do you follow outdated rules of society, just so you won’t get noticed?

Do you ever consciously break rules?

I’m sure this has been asked, but I couldn’t find it.

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74 Answers

filmfann's avatar

I try not to break the rules, though when I do, I try to understand why the rules are such, so that I know why these rules must be broken.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Used to, but not anymore, mostly.

Sometimes I find rules a pain in the neck. Following the set rules is just a nuisance., especially when I don’t understand them or they contradict my own rules.

I prefer following my own rules. Simpler, more understandable, more logical and… no punishment for breaking them :)

Coloma's avatar

I follow rules, to a degree, but also believe they are meant to be broken at times.
I don’t come to a complete stop at an intersection when there is, clearly, nobody around for miles. I have run a red light while driving a seriously injured pet to the emergency vet.
Stay off the grass doesn’t mean you let someone die of a heart attack when they keel over on the wrong side of the sidewalk. lol
Rules are always subject to revision and rejection depending on circumstance.

jca's avatar

Anybody who works for someone else (a corporation, a government, whatever) has to follow rules to a reasonable extent or they would probably not be employed for very long.

I also try, within reason, to follow rules of etiquette, like not using my cell phone at a table.

hominid's avatar

Yes. I follow the law.

If someone finds a situation where a law (we’re talking about an enforced law) is unjustified, the correct thing to do is to challenge that law rather than simply not following it. Organizing to collectively act against a law – including resistance in the form of braking such laws – is the way to bring about change. Simply sneaking around breaking laws because you don’t feel they apply to you is immoral – even if the law is unjustifiable.

If you feel it is ok for people to individually evaluate whether or not a law is justified before following it, then you are likely not in favor of law in general. My neighbor might feel it is ok to pour a few cans of toxic material in the woods behind his house, and justifies it by saying that it is his land, and it’s only a little bit. But he should follow the laws about dumping until which time he can get the laws overturned.

Leaving it up to people to follow the laws they agree with is equivalent to having no laws.

bolwerk's avatar

I try to be pro-social. All too often, it is necessary to violate the law to be pro-social because the pig state’s rules are so out of line with reality and people’s needs.

Jaxk's avatar

Generally, yes. I don’t have a problem breaking the rules or laws for things that affect no one other than myself. Things like seat belt laws or helmet laws. I’ve always found the law against suicide rather amusing, it only pertains if you’re not successful.

hominid's avatar

@Jaxk – How do seat belt laws and helmet laws not affect other people? If I get into an accident with you and you die because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, do you think that will not affect me in any way?

ucme's avatar

Yes, otherwise the line goes all wonky.

bolwerk's avatar

Seatbelt laws positively affect other people and keep insurance costs down. They are pro-social and not paternalistic. Though driving is arguably anti-social in most cases.

Helmet laws are anti-social, however, because they have a negative impact on society. They discourage cycling, and the benefits of more cycling for the individual and society outweigh the costs of not wearing a helmet. That’s not to say helmets are bad, but they be voluntary. Also, helmet laws have the effect of giving the police state more incentive to harass otherwise innocent citizens, providing ready excuses to focus enforcement on poorer people and minorities.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: If you don’t wear a helmet or seatbelt and you’re more gravely injured than you would have been otherwise, don’t other people pay for your way-higher medical costs via higher insurance rates? When an accident victim spends years receiving neurological and physical therapy, home care, etc., who is paying for that when your auto insurance coverage caps out? If you then go on Medicaid or SS disability, is not society paying?

ibstubro's avatar

I’ve started running red lights on a fairly regular basis, but only if it is an intersection with high visibility and there are no other vehicles visible. I read a response here that led me to believe that it’s common practice in Europe, and it only make sense to me. I feel like a dolt sitting there at a red light with not another sole in site.

I never got the whole ‘box’ thing and tend to do as I please when I’m the only person involved.

bolwerk's avatar

@ibstubro: on bike? Actually, it seems like a good idea to me, since a driver behind you miscalculating his stopping distance means the cyclist is likely to be killed or seriously injured. But the law is decades behind on this too.

GloPro's avatar

Laws are different than rules. I tend to follow laws. Rules… Well, half of the time I don’t know what they are to begin with, and then they change anyway.

rojo's avatar

To a reasonable degree. I always figured rules are not really for the benefit of those being ruled.

Jaxk's avatar

@hominid & @jca

If I’m killed as a result of not wearing seatbelts or helmet, I am better off than being maimed thanks to their protection. If my death makes you feel bad, don’t run into me.

josie's avatar

It’s usually more practical to follow laws than to ignore or deliberately break them. Breaking the law at best requires paying a fine and at worst means imprisonment. Neither sounds that good to me, so I usually try to play it smart when it comes to laws.

Rules are generally mandates for behavior in specific circumstances-for example, I have to wear a shirt with a collar if I want to play golf on my favorite course, or I can’t walk through the grocery store in bare feet.

If I don’t like the rule, I can usually avoid it by avoiding the circumstance.

I do that all the time.

Seek's avatar

I tend to follow the law (or rule) until I have a good reason not to. The “good reason” must be good enough to merit the risk to my safety, freedom, and pocketbook, and the wellbeing of my family.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Only if it makes sense and there are harsh penalties for not doing so. I guarantee that most of us here broke the law somehow today and probably don’t realize it.

rojo's avatar

I had a lawyer tell me one time that every person breaks some law each and every day.

GloPro's avatar

That lawyer was trying to sell you his services.

bolwerk's avatar

@Jaxk: but it’s not just about you. Everyone else pays the cost in the form of higher insurance premiums and paying for the cleanup.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I don’t really follow most laws, it seems that these laws were made knowing I already act accordingly.

I only break laws when it is an act of civil disobedience.

@bolwerk And yet sometimes what happened in Jaxk’s example is a warning to all those passing the accident to settle down and drive right; and therefore worth the cost.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: If you’re killed, you’d be lucky compared to being traumatically brain injured and needing a lifetime of care. Who would pay for that? Furthermore, if you’re killed and your family sues, who’s paying for that?

@Dan_Lyons: It’s not necessarily a matter of the other person driving correctly or not driving correctly. Someone could be driving correctly and there’s still a terrible accident involving terrible injuries or death.

bolwerk's avatar

@Dan_Lyons: do you think they go to Valhalla for their act of self-sacrifice too? If anything, I would think accidents are so commonplace that people are desensitized to them. People panic about random murder, but don’t give a sweet damn about routine traffic deaths.

All inept and selfish road behavior does is inflict costs onto other people.

Jaxk's avatar

@bolwerk & @jca

A couple of points. Head injuries are only about 22% of the motorcycle injuries. That means that 78% of injuries are not affected by helmets. If I have a debilitating head injury, most likely death is the result without a helmet. Death is cheaper than even a short hospital stay. Consequently I am saving you all money by not wearing a helmet and that is my only concern.

jca's avatar

http://www.fluther.com/24541/piggybacking-on-the-seatbelt-question-do-you-think-motorcycle-ridersdrivers-should/

@Jaxk: I see I asked this in 2008. Since it was so long ago, and since this question here (the rules question) does not address this specifically, I think I’ll ask it again as a brand new question.

bolwerk's avatar

@Jaxk: I already acknowledged helmets are different than seatbelts, though I don’t know how motorcycle statistics pan out. But 22% of motorcycle injuries being possibly at least mitigated by a helmet seems like a huge number to me. If those 22% of injuries were more severe because of the absence of a helmet, then it is not only your concern.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I really try to, but some rules are utter nonsense and drive me crazy.

jca's avatar

Interesting Fluther research and a blast from the Fluther past, 2009:

http://www.fluther.com/47209/is-the-law-for-wearing-seatbelts-unconstitutional/

Jaxk's avatar

@jca

I will visit your new question but before I leave this one I’ll make one more comment. People get hurt doing all sorts of activities, skydiving, mountain climbing, etc., just because you may get hurt doesn’t mean it should be illegal. Hell I even lit a match one time without closing the cover first.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Only thing is @Jaxk most people don’t mountain climb, most people will never go sky diving, but virtually every person in the country will be in a motor vehicle at some point in their lives.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: And to piggyback onto what @Dutchess_III wrote, not only do most people utilize some form of automobile transportation, but increasingly, commutes are longer than they have ever been, with more of the population living in suburbs. My mother said when she was in high school, her father’s coworker bought a house across the bridge (major bridge in our area) with a 50 mile commute to work. Everyone that the guy worked with thought it was a crazy commute. Now that commute is commonplace and there are even longer commutes than that.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

Eh, I’m not a big rule follower and I frankly don’t really care for the law aside from the fact that getting caught breaking it results in unpleasant consequences. So I do my best to be aware of my surroundings when breaking/bending rules and what not. Not that I go out of my way to do anything atrocious, but I do enjoy some things.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

If I agree with them, yes. If I don’t, I might follow them begrudgingly, just to not get into trouble, but I will gripe and moan and tell everyone who will listen that I don’t think the rule is fair, necessary, or constitutional (whatever). Rules to protect people from themselves are the first ones that I campaign against. Seat belts, helmets, etc. Heck, you can jump out of a plane without a parachute for all I care. Daylight Savings Time is a pet peeve – unnecessary and very inconvenient. Rules should only be used to protect the innocent. Rules designed to sell a certain product by making it mandatory, to inflict somebody’s will on others, to dominate and control – those rules have to go.

Jaxk's avatar

@Dutchess_III

Ok that may be true but it doesn’t explain the helmet law. Also the death rate from traffic accidents has been falling since 1921. that means deaths have been declining for all sorts of reasons and the major reason is the safety built into the cars. Now that we have airbags seat belts are much less necessary but we cling to the outdated laws so that we can arrest people.

GloPro's avatar

@Jaxk As someone who sees and studies first hand the types of injuries inflicted on those not wearing seatbelts I don’t mind the seatbelt laws at all. Some laws are there to protect those that refuse to protect themselves. A parent not wearing a belt should not be able to decide to leave a child unbelted, as well. The trauma inflicted on someone after they witness another go through a windshield and end up 50 feet from the car, mangled, does not go away because the person not wearing a belt dies. The resources called out to an accident in which passengers were ejected is doubled or tripled. It isn’t all about the person belted in. The scope is much, much bigger.
There are a ton of financial benefits to manufacturers, insurance companies, DOT, state and local government, etc., as well, but the bureaucratics of seatbelt laws are just the bullshit side effects greedy people create.

Getting behind the wheel entails cooperating with driving laws to keep as many safe as we can. Each car is potentially a lethal weapon, and with privilege comes responsibility. It isn’t that hard or uncomfortable to click in. To not do so just because you detest being ‘controlled’ is childish, in my opinion.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Laws that protect those that refuse to protect themselves should be illegal.

GloPro's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Not if they are also putting others at risk.

Jaxk's avatar

I understand that none of this will change there is simply too much money in it for the states to let it go. Tens of thousands of tickets and millions of dollars in fines. A very profitable law.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: I don’t know how people go without wearing a seat belt, because I don’t know about your car, but in my car, if you don’t put your belt on, you’re going to hear an annoying beep about every thirty seconds.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t see the advantage of not wearing a seatbelt. There is none for the driver, and none for society. Both can only lose because of that decision.

ibstubro's avatar

Oh, since we’re both down here, @bolwerk, no I’ve started passing through red lights in my car if there’s no one else visible. I don’t like saying I’m running a red light, because I’m not. I come to the intersection, stop, and if there’s no one visible I continue on, regardless of the color of the light. The arbitrariness offends me.

bolwerk's avatar

@ibstubro: aren’t you worried about pigs catching you?

GloPro's avatar

@ibstubro Regardless of what you like to say, if the light is red, and you proceed through it, you have run a red light. The stop is immaterial unless you are making a legal right-handed turn on red.
I do this, too, on my motorcycle. It doesn’t weigh enough to trigger a light change, so I stop, look, and go. I am we’ll aware that I am running a red light.

hominid's avatar

@ibstubro – If you are justifying this because you don’t see any reason why you can’t go, then why is this not just a stop sign? And if there are times of day that do require the services of a stop light, why is it one of those old-fashioned lights that is time-based, rather than triggered by a sensor?

If we all just go with our own senses and decide that it’s ok to blow through red lights if we don’t see any danger, then these are effectively stop signs. You should probably be arguing in favor of the elimination of the stop light (or at least at the locations where you treat them as stop signs).

jca's avatar

My two main reasons for not doing what @ibstubro does with lights are these:

1. I don’t want a ticket, even if I don’t see a cop around.
2. I don’t want to be the cause of an accident or involved in an accident.

ibstubro's avatar

The majority of stop lights are superfluous 70% of their life, only having value during high traffic (school day, work day and special events) periods. The most annoying are set on simple timers that rotate mindlessly. Personally, I live between two rural towns (under 70,000 each) and I would advocate turning all the lights not on an interstate to blinking red after 7:00 p.m. unless there was a proven need or special event. It seem that, locally, once a red light is installed, it can never be removed.

I would probably take it to court, @bolwerk, if ticketed. I would probably lose, but I would probably end up getting several lights disabled before I was through.

I think there’s a gap in terminology, @GloPro. To me, “running a red light” is blowing through a light without stopping – _very dangerous. Disregarding a red light is an extended version of ‘right on red’. There are no other vehicles visible at a high visibility stop light.

I don’t know why they aren’t just stop signs, or disabled after hours, @hominid. I know of several that are specific-business based, and although those businesses have regular hours, the lights function 24/7. The road I live on is one of the busiest in the county and there is a light on it that was designed to regulate traffic from huge manufacturing concern…that went out of business a decade or more ago.

Oddly, I started my practice of treating red lights like stop signs because of either Fluther or Askville. A European member was chastising Americans for being such stupid cows that they sat at red lights when there was no one else present. It struck home, and I’m slowly getting used to just going on about my way.

hominid's avatar

@ibstubro: “I know of several that are specific-business based, and although those businesses have regular hours, the lights function 24/7.”

Strange. That kind of thing around here will get people fired. Town meetings are filled with arguments about the justifications of installing traffic lights vs. stop signs. The last town I lived in had installed a traffic light, and was immediately forced to convert it to flashing lights (yellow one way, red the other) so it would function as before, due to loud public opposition.

ibstubro's avatar

Not so here, @hominid. In one town there are at least 6 lights on the 9 block stretch of Broadway alone, and after 6 o’clock traffic probably isn’t more than 2–3 cars a minute. In rural areas traffic lights do more to impede traffic than to regulate it, in my experience, but for specific week-day peaks. And once installed, they are nearly impossible to get removed. I have heard that there is a per-light government subsidy, and although I don’t know the truth of that, it rings true.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

As others have said, there is no advantage of not wearing a seatbelt. No one in their right mind would not put one on. My argument is that we don’t need a “law” to enforce it. If some dumb idiot wants to put his life at risk, oh well.

That would be like having a law against not breathing. Yes, you can die if you don’t breathe. Do you really need a law to tell you that?

ibstubro's avatar

We have to have a law, @Skaggfacemutt, because some of those dumb idiots have dependents and there has to be a way to force them to belt the kids in.

jca's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt: You can’t stop breathing on your own. Ever try to hold your breath? One or two minutes tops and you don’t have much choice.

Jaxk's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt

Actually it is against the law to stop breathing. Suicide is against the law. Apparently we do need a law to tell us that.

Stinley's avatar

I don’t think Europeans go through red lights. I don’t. It’s very against the law in the UK.

Back to the OQ. I follow laws. I follow rules if they make sense and are for the greater good. I follow the rules until I work out if they are indeed benefitting the majority of people, even if they don’t benefit me. I have a very strong sense of social obligation.

Seek's avatar

I think if the government is so concerned about the wellbeing of bicycle riders, they should install bicycle lanes instead of writing helmet laws. Mandatory helmets when cyclists are trying to stay alive on a winding, narrow street with no shoulder (or a shoulder full of broken beer bottles that would destroy their tires) and no sidewalk is putting a dollar-store band-aid on a gaping wound.

ibstubro's avatar

I was reminded today, several times, that I do not follow social norms. People know where they stand with me. If you annoy me to distraction, I’ll let you know. If I think your intentions are good, I’ll ignore most anything. If I think you’re a butthole, you better travel cause I’m gonna call you out.

I’m all about ‘niceties’. Nasties be forked.

Oddly? The buttholes that I’ve called out at our auction? Still come! They don’t even avoid me. R*E*S*P*E*C*T me, maybe, but I doubt it.

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro Baaa
@GloPro Moo
HONK!

We have a whole barnyard full of mule breakers. lol

longgone's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Interesting. I’m pretty sure I always follow my own rules. Might be a good new question.

@ibstubro This European doesn’t see many red lights being run. On the contrary. Which country/countries where you thinking about?

@hominid I break the same law just about every day, because my dog is off leash wherever I feel safe to let her run. I think the law, as it is, certainly is unjustified. It makes no sense for this particular dog to be leashed her entire life. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time training her to stay with me and come when called. She basically walks along behind me, free to sniff where she chooses. I have yet to hear a sensible argument as to why this dog should stay leashed.

I don’t think all dogs should run free…that would be a mess. Neither do I think all my dogs should run free. I do think dogs with the appropriate training and temperament should be excluded from this particular rule.

Now, of course I could get to work crafting a more nuanced law. I don’t think my position is a very popular one, though, and I understand excluding some dogs from the leash-law could cause lots of trouble. I don’t know many owners who would be able to deal with the extra responsibility, and there are lots of dogs who simply can’t be trusted off leash. If the law said all dogs had to be kept in the cellar for life, I’m sure I’d be fighting. I would probably even fight the leash-law, if it were enforced properly. I’ve had this dog for nearly ten years, and I’ve had to pay a $30 fine once, despite living in the city and letting her off-leash every single day. I consider this fact our governments –slightly cowardly—way of allowing for individual dog owners taking responsibility. As soon as a dog is involved in a serious fight with another dog, or hurts a human, “they” are very interested. The enormous number of dogs simply running around the park doesn’t exactly concern them. Might this be a case of non-enforcement justifying a law’s existence? Sounds paradoxical.

@Everyone Thanks for posting, I loved reading all the responses!

hominid's avatar

@longgone – I understand feeling that you are different and should not come under the law. And not to sound like a jerk, but I don’t care what you (as in most people, not you personally) feel about why the law shouldn’t apply to you. Nearly everyone can come up with some justification for why they shouldn’t have to follow a law. If everyone followed their “gut” or just looked at their sweet dog and decided to not follow the leash laws, this would not be a society I would want any part of.

Note: I am particularly sensitive to dogs and leashes. I nearly killed someone and ended up stuck in prison due to an incident with an unleashed dog, a park that required leashes, and my 2-year-old daughter. I wish I were exaggerating. But I came very close to putting an end to a life, and my daughter would have been fatherless (with me in prison for a very long time). The person I almost had to kill told me that his dog had never acted like that before – and I believe him. But his choice to break the leash law and allow the opportunity for his dog to attack my daughter almost ended his life – and mine.

longgone's avatar

@hominid Of course everyone could come up with justifications like this. I do think there are countless scenarios in which breaking a law could be justified, though. Not nearly everyone has the time, energy and knowledge to try and change every law they don’t agree with. I realize you’re simply saying it isn’t moral to do so. You may even agree it could be understandable – and excusable. Not my specific example, of course, just my point.

Side note concerning your example: When people tell me their dog hasn’t acted “like this” before, I get suspicious. I don’t believe a single one of the horrific incidents involving children and dogs happened out of the blue. I work in a dog obedience school, and the number of owners that are ignorant about their pet’s character and training level is astonishing. We choose to live with animals who have razor-sharp teeth in their mouths, then proceed to repeat the mantra “a wagging tail means the dog is happy”, as if repeating it would make it come true. If I made the laws, owning a dog would require everyone in the family to educate themselves beforehand. Getting a dog would be a process, much like getting a driver’s license and for the same reason: Not knowing what you’re doing is f***ing dangerous. I’m sorry you and, of course, your daughter, had to experience something as traumatic as that.

GloPro's avatar

Dogs would be doomed if that were the case. Then again, there are plenty of morons with drivers licenses.

longgone's avatar

^ Morons would be doomed. I’m all for that!

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t know, @longgone. I just remember a European castigating Americans for waiting alone at a red light. Maybe they were just funning me? In any case, I took it to heart and started leaving red lights before the cycle said I should, provided there is not another car in sight.

Coloma's avatar

Oh man, you should ride in a taxi in asia…holy shit…and all the drivers are ramped up on betelnut. haha

longgone's avatar

@ibstubro Huh. I agree with @Coloma, Asia is where you need to go for crazy streets. When we lived in Korea, my dad was utterly shocked at everyone else’s driving. I don’t think people routinely ran red lights even there, though.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Back to whether you should be forced to wear a seatbelt – why is it that if all other justifications fail, someone always plays the “oh, but the children” card. This card seems to work, because even the adults that do not have children, still have to abide by laws designed to protect the children that they don’t have. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Just as an FYI:

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” – Ronald Reagan.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

OK, OK, I do break one rule, if I get to a stoplight and there are no cars present I run it, with a bike not a car…..

ibstubro's avatar

NYC was enough for me and crazy taxi drivers, @Coloma & @longgone!

“Ummm. I’ll walk!” It can’t be that far.

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