The other day, I bathed in the solar flare fury of a Clover affronted.
Luckily, I had my radiation suit on.
I was coming home from downtown, via a gravel road that dumps you out onto a paved one. Neither is much-travelled. Most of the time, you’ll be the only car on this particular road.
At the stop sign where the gravel road ends and the paved road begins, I did not entirely stop – but instead merely slowed – and then rolled on. Because – other than there being a sign – there seemed to me to be no reason to stop.
I like to have reasons for things. Reasons other than – it’s the law!
A look to the left and then to the right as I approached the T established that no cross traffic was imminent. Plenty of sight distance in both directions. No possibility of two objects attempting to occupy the same space at the same time.
And so, I rolled.
This triggered the solar flare from the Clover who was standing in his yard nearby. He waved his arms at me in angry exasperation at my failure to genuflect before his totem. I could not hear what he was yelling at me over the V8 symphony of the Mercedes AMG GLE 63 (review here) I happened to be driving – no doubt compounding the Clover’s fury – but I am guessing it had to do with my being a “scofflaw.”
Well, yeah. I pride myself on this.
I scoff at laws. Why not? Shouldn’t everyone?
Isn’t that the obligation of a thinking human being? As opposed to an animal conditioned – through fear of punishment – to mindlessly obey?
And if you can’t come up with a better reason to obey than well, it’s the law . . .maybe you ought to do some more questioning.
Some laws stand pat on their obvious – their self-evident – moral validity. And oddly enough, these laws don’t even need to be codified. Much less justified on the basis of their being codified. Everyone – except the psychopathic among us – understands that it’s wrong to kill and also to steal. Most of us would refrain from doing these things even if there were no codified laws forbidding them.
Including “scofflaws” such as myself.
That is an interesting point, when you stop to think about it for a minute.
Or rather, it is a point of difference. A really important one.
What made the body heaps and ovens of Nazi Germany not only possible but inevitable? It wasn’t merely race hatred. No. It was The Law – and a population conditioned to animal-like devotion to The Law. To what is written – and which by dint of being written is sacred, must be obeyed.
He was given lawful orders to organize first the rounding up and ghetto-izing of Europe’s Jews, then their systematic physical destruction.
And he followed those orders.
What he did was not personal – even though it is likely he enjoyed the work. The relevant point is that it was legal. Eichmann and all the rest of them were technocratic-bureaucratic automata who lacked the capacity to scoff at any law.
Something like the Holocaust is not possible in a society that is healthy enough to scoff at laws. That still has enough people in it willing to say hey, wait a minute… that seems pretty ridiculous.
One in which it is considered laudable to disregard stupid laws.
Which brings me back to the Clover I encountered. He would have made a very Good German. It did not matter to him that my slowing-rather-than-stopping harmed no one and (even more importantly) couldn’t have harmed anyone – not unless other cars had acquired Klingon cloaking technology and in that event, a full stop wouldn’t have prevented my pulling out into the path of one.
What drove the Clover’s conniption fit wasn’t a moral outrage. It was the jangling of his doggy-like devotion to The Law, which must always be obeyed. If it had been in his power to have had me arrested, I am certain he would have done so. I am grateful that the Mercedes was swift and my foot heavy; I gave him no opportunity to get a clear sail fawn shot of its license plate and by the time he was on the 911 line to narc me out, it was already to late to “get” me.
But the experience – and others like it – makes me uneasy.
They say – some of them do – that it can’t happen here. But they’re wrong.
Hell, in more than a few ways, it already is happening. And worse is yet to come, you betcha. Unless Americans recover their former capacity to scoff at the law.
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