Breaking the rules is a matter of perception

When I see a stop sign, I take it under advisement.  My New York friend, Sharon calls me a rule-breaker and insists that she never even drives over the speed limit.

When pressed, she will admit that she drives 7 miles per hour over the speed limit because, “it’s allowable”.  Apparently, it’s all a matter of perception.

When it comes to rules, two things are at play.  One is the way you need to perceive yourself.  If you have determined that you are a law-abiding citizen, you are apt to perceive everything that you do as lawful.

As Richard Nixon famously opined, “when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.”

The second thing at play is your perception of the rules.  Obviously, we’re not talking here about the major transgressions, like murder, rape or kidnapping.  More like the little challenges of morality we all face every day.

Typically, our perception of the rules is fluid as we change it to comply with our perception of ourselves.

In those predictable situations when someone asks me if I feel that the rules don’t apply to me, my considered response is always, “No, I do not feel that the rules apply to me.”  Or, “Yes, I do think I’m above the law,” depending upon how the question was phrased.

The unadulterated truth is that I think most rules and minor laws are written for the stupid people.  Those who need guidance in every hour of their day, those who can’t make reasonable choices for themselves.

As a reality check, I find myself regularly chastised and lectured about my lack of respect for the glue that holds together society.  The rules.

I believe in the rule of law, but, like many of you, I may have a touch of anarchy at the heart of me.  Just a touch.

Back to Sharon,  Miss “I-Follow-the-Rules.”

When Sharon drives 62 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, she is driving at what options traders would call Beta.  It’s the notional amount over and above the speed limit which will most likely not result in a speeding ticket.  It’s still speeding, but not so much that you would worry about getting stopped.

Anything over 62 MPH might be considered Alpha, that’s where the real rush comes to play.  But Sharon won’t venture into Alpha, she’ll only break the law up to a point.  That would be the point which allows her to maintain her perception of herself as law-abiding.

Many of our laws are arbitrary, some downright hypocritical.

After your shopping spree at Nordstrom in downtown Denver, just walk 1/2 block west to University, then turn right and go down a couple of blocks.  There,  you will be able to purchase an ounce of high grade marijuana and toss it into your Nordstrom shopping bag.

Just make sure you lose the hootch before driving into neighboring Nebraska.

You can order up a hooker with your room service at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but don’t get caught doing it at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

A guy can marry his boyfriend in Illinois, but not in Scott Walker’s home state of Wisconsin.

Martha Stewart went to jail for selling a stock whose price she was told would be going down.  If she worked for Goldman Sachs, they would’ve sent her a stripper and a bag of blow.  If she were a senator, a congressman or even one of their staffers, it would have been just another day at the office.

Insider trading is not illegal for those aforementioned, privileged individuals.

To say the least, we have a conflicted set of rules, laws and standards.  What’s good for the goose is rarely good for the gander.

Our moral compasses may be on the fritz.  A clear sense of right and wrong may be out of reach.  Perhaps, if we can keep the Bible thumpers from enforcing their own form of sharia, we might be able to reach a common sense equilibrium in the law and order community.

Miss “I-Follow-the-Rules,” by the way, likes to roll through stop signs.  Apparently in New York, rolling stops are “allowable.”

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