Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Sticking Their Noses In

Posted by hyperpat on July 6, 2007

Why do people get so upset by the actions of others that don’t affect them? That man down the street has (gasp!) women coming to his door at all hours of the day! Sheila across the way is wearing a mini-skirt! Tommy in next block must be up to no good – he’s always taking flights to countries with unpronounceable names! Maybe he works for the (whisper) CIA?!

And it doesn’t stop at just the local level, as a quick perusal of nanny-ish state of our government can attest. The entire flap over same-sex marriage is a prime example – whatever others do in this regard, it doesn’t affect your marriage or your sense of what is right for you.

Laws should be the controlling rules for the interactions between people. You can’t rob or beat up others. You can’t pollute everything around you because that does affect the quality of life of others. You shouldn’t be able to cook the corporate books, because that does affect everyone who has invested in the company. These kinds of laws make sense. What doesn’t are those laws that attempt to regulate what are purely private actions. What you do in your bedroom is not the province of either law or busy-bodies. Who you live with, be it someone of different ethnicity,  color, or the same gender, is not the proper provenance of law.  If you wish to gamble away all your money, that’s your problem. The government should not be able to say that all gambling is illegal. If you wish to smoke marijuana, that should be your business (however, if, while under its influence, you go out and crash your car into someone else, that is the provenance of law).

There is a concept of the ‘public good’ that is often invoked when such laws are considered or passed. But this is a false attribution. The ‘public good’ applies to all people; only those things that actually (or at least potentially) affect all the people fall under its umbrella.  Private actions do not.

But I doubt if we’ll ever get rid of those who are so into ‘we’re just doing this for your own good’. Who think their morals are the only correct ones, and everyone needs to adhere to them. Or the religious fanatics who insist that everyone convert to their faith. Just how much of the world’s misery is caused by such attitudes? Far too much.

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