Jewish World Review April 7, 2006/ 9 Nissan, 5766

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

Rules? I don't got to obey no rules! |

Back in the Dark Ages when I grew up, we were taught the importance of obeying the rules. Rules were something all of us had to live by, we were told by parents, teachers and others. If we didn't follow the rules, they said, society would break down and there would be chaos. Of course there were always a few jerks that purposely disobeyed the rules, but the majority of my peers did their best to respect community standards of civility and law. Like I said, that was way back in the Dark Ages. Welcome to today — the age of no rules.

From pedestrians crossing a busy intersection on a "don't walk" sign, to drivers not using their vehicle's turn signal when turning, people in every walk of life are not obeying the rules anymore. "Waiting your turn" is just not done. It's the "me first, and to hell with everybody else" mentality. The egocentric imbecile who doesn't choose to wait in line behind those who were there before him and cuts in ahead because he feels he can get away with it is just one obvious example that most of us have encountered at one time or another.

The kids who walked out of their schools and into the streets and freeways to screw up traffic all in support (supposedly) of illegal immigration were not stopped by the police. Why not? Isn't it against the law when you purposely endanger the lives of people by causing drivers to jam on their brakes or swerve to avoid hitting someone in the street? Why weren't those stupid teens picked up and taken away when they crossed freeways in front of oncoming cars traveling in excess of 70 miles per hour? And since when is it okay to walk out of public school whenever you want? Remember truancy? What's even worse than people ignoring the rules is the fact that the authorities are allowing them to do so without consequences. Millions of people cross the boarder into the United States illegally without getting punished. If there are no consequences for breaking the law, why not break it? Today it's okay to walk out onto a freeway and hold up traffic. Tomorrow it might be okay to break another law. Where does it stop?

The answer to illegal immigration is really a no-brainer. Just enforce the law. Period. Enforce our current laws. That means tightening the borders, but it also means stiff penalties for employers of illegals. If it suddenly becomes too expensive for the employers to hire illegals because of fines and possibly business closures, guess what? They will stop hiring them. And if the illegals can't find work, guess what? They'll go home. Simple. It's like feeding the hoboes and winos. If you feed them for free and allow them to live in the park, they will come in droves. Stop feeding them and they will stop coming. Why is this so hard for so many to get?


But the problem is we are not enforcing the laws anymore. That's why drivers have stopped using their turn signals — no fear of getting a ticket. Kids have no fear of cutting school. There are no truant officers to bring them back and too many parents just don't care. Vagrancy used to be against the law. Panhandling used to be against the law. Public intoxication used to be against the law. It's true that if you're drunk and driving a car they will still arrest you, but if you're drunk and sleeping in a doorway, they won't.

Rules of law are not the only rules being ignored today either. Rules of decency and good manners are long gone too. Giving up one's seat to an older person or (if you are a man) to a lady is unheard of by the younger generation. "Hey, I got here first!" is the likely attitude now. Popular idioms in language reflect the breakdown in civility. Once the proper response for "thank you" was "you're welcome." Now the common response is "no problem." A subtle difference, perhaps, but a move definitely away from the traditional, politeness of "your welcome."

No more rules. The "do your own thing" attitude of the late sixties has finally come home to roost. Everybody is consumed with doing their own thing now — even if it encroaches on other's rights. Want to turn the music up? Hey, go ahead. Talk loud during a movie or theater? Sure. Use computers and cell phones on airplanes, even when asked not to because it might interfere with the pilot's ability to communicate with the control tower? Of course. The only "rule" seems to be, "if you can get away with it, do it."

As sad as it is that the rules of civility are gone, it's worse when the rules of law go unenforced. When a country stops enforcing its laws, the message is "anything goes." The official term for this is "anarchy." And if that happens, then we really will be back in the Dark Ages.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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