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May 21 2009

Why I Care About Rules

Laden, the hilarious thing is that you think anyone other than you and Zvan gives a flying fuck about your “rules” gibberish. And it appears that it is your approach to “rules” has been soundly smacked in the face by the nature of objective fucking reality, no? You do know what it means when you look around you, and you perceive everyone as an idiot and an asshole and a participant in a conspiracy, right?

Comrade PhysioProf

Leaving aside the factual errors and the ad hominem and the appeal to the bandwagon (I think that’s everything), I’d like to thank CPP for this comment. It reminds me that there’s something I left out of my original post on this topic–the why.

Why do I care about rules? That one’s easy. I spent the first too many years of my life in a house with far too many rules.

We’re talking rules like “Kids don’t say, ‘No,’” and we’re talking about applying those rules to two-year-olds. If you haven’t spent much time around small children, you may not know this, but “No” is more than just a word. It’s a stage of development in toddlers. But that apparently doesn’t matter much when it’s against the rules.

When I say too many rules, well, my mother used to tell an illustrative story. She’d say that if someone told me to jump, I’d freeze. It didn’t matter that not jumping was defiance and against the rules, because no matter how I jumped–how high, how far, which direction–it was going to be wrong. I’d still be breaking the rules. So I did nothing.

So, yes, I’m fairly sensitive to arbitrary rules and to rules that ignore the needs and capacities of human beings and to rules that hinder development and to systems of rules that make it impossible for someone to both act and be in compliance. Not to mention to rules with disproportionate consequences for breakage. They’ve been there all my life, and it’s taken a hell of a lot of work to see them clearly enough to set them aside.

Even if Greg and I were the only people who cared about abusive rules and abuse of rules (and one of the things I love about him is that he got this without me ever having to explain it), I’d still be talking about this. CPP can call it an obsession or gibberish or whatever other words make him happy. It doesn’t matter. He can’t shut me up by telling me we don’t talk about these things. He doesn’t make my rules.

I do.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Mike Haubrich, FCD

    CPP is blind to the sort of control that he is asserting in the fora in which he participates. He uses demonizing and marginalizing to enforce those rules.And the sad thing is that they are his rules, and he is the self-identified enforcer. I am never sure what his aims are, but even though I often agree with what his points are, his refusal to engage with people who don’t agree with his “rules” put people either on the defensive or in an antagonist stance.Or they can just refuse to “jump.”

  2. 2
    DuWayne Brayton

    I suppose this is a bad time to mention that I am writing a followup post in which I revise my earlier response and also revise CPP’s rules…If it helps, I am going to distill it down to one rule…It’s not Jump…Nor is it “Dance fatass, dance…”

  3. 3
    Greg Laden

    What is really funny about the quoted statement by PhysioProf is that is it virtually illiterate. One gets the sense of what he means, but the words are garbled. His emotions step on his ability to communicate.When you look at the OP that started this all, you get the same thing. Crazy guy on street corner ranting bullshit. So, I propose a writing contest. Go back to CPP’s original rant, the one that had the enumerated rules, and rewrite it. Be convincing. You can be polite, obnoxious, whatever you want. Just do it well. Make it something good and worth reading.You must reify in your text at least 12 of the rules in your writing … in other words, you get to pass on the three (or fewer) that you just disagree with and don’t want to write about, or that are just too hard to write about, or that would make your text too long. But this is a writing context, not a philosophical debate, so it really does not matter if you agree with any of them at all. Just do a good job with the writing.Anyone who does a better job than Physioprof did gets the DUH prize. The other, top prizes will be announced later. If ever.You should post your writing on your blog or as a google doc-blog thingie or some other public URL linked location.If Stephanie approves of this she can collect the links here. Details details.

  4. 4
    William Carlton

    Here is a TED talk from Jonathan Haidt that touches on the impulse toward rule-making and more open-minded approaches. In nineteen short minutes, it does a great job of putting some of this into perspective:http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.htmlPeace!

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    No worries, DuWayne. There’s a reason there are so many qualifiers in this post. This seemed like a good time to point out, to CPP and others, that this isn’t about him. In fact, it’s not really about the rule-makers at all. They can generally take care of themselves.William, thank you. I’m looking forward to checking that out (which I can’t do from where I am).

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Greg: as though I don’t already have a backlog of posts to slog through. Okay, fine. I’m game. William: That TED Talk just helped me decide to take a crack at Greg’s challenge. I am, after all, open to experience.

  7. 7
    Philip H.

    Stephanie,if it helps, CPP is very wrong about whether anyone cares about rules or not . . . Granted, my inspirational moment following your post is probably not what you (or CPP) were originally thinking, but I’m with you on this one.

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    Here ya go, ladies and germs. And yes, I’m aware that was a gender-oriented link text.If I missed anything in proofreading, I’m still at work, and don’t have terribly much time to devote to it presently. Just wanted to get it out of the way before moving on to posts containing original thought when I actually have more time to devote to blogging on this neverending thread of meta.

  9. 9
    D. C.

    Stephanie, you appear to have learned earlier than most that the only way to win in a rigged game is to not play.

  10. 10
    Stephanie Zvan

    D.C., yes, but it does give me a certain appreciation for allowing kids to learn at their own rate rather than someone else’s.

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