The good rules must be obeyed

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webmaster | 09/26/12
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The overwhelming negative criticism of the substitute referees in Monday’s Seattle-Green Bay football game, during which Seattle won after a highly controversial call, shows that as a people we like our rules.

It is common to hear that someone, perhaps a fashion designer, “broke all the rules” coming up with a new dress for the fall season. We are told by car companies that they “broke all the rules” to roll out a better-mileage car.

But those “rule breakers” really weren’t breaking any rules at all. All they did was try something new, and it happened to work.

Breaking all the rules doesn’t go over well, as the huff-and-puff criticism over the referees’ call plainly shows. That’s because we are taught rules from the start, and once we learn to follow the rules, it’s a hard habit to break.

For instance, we are told in The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that Death Row inmates, of all people, do not favor Proposition 34, which would end the death penalty in California. What? Why not?

The answer is that they like the rules the way they are — at least one of the rules. That rule gives the 725 condemned prisoners the right to free attorneys to appeal their sentences and prove them innocent. That seems goofy, but it also is human nature.

Under Prop. 34, inmates still would have the right to appeal their sentences, but they would not have the unlimited use of free attorneys that they have now. They like the old rule better, even though the risk of execution would be eliminated under the new one. And who wouldn’t like a free attorney?

I remember Mom and Dad teaching rules to my sister and me. “Don’t beat up on your sister,” Dad would say to me sternly. “Don’t take your brother’s things from his room,” Mom would tell my sister.

To this day, I don’t beat up on my sister, and she keeps her hands off my things. Of course, the fact we live 800 miles away from each other has a part in that. But those were the rules, and pretty good ones, if you think about it. I wouldn’t want to change them, even if the citizens of California did vote for it.

 

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