Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My friend, Ted.

I like this -- you should watch it:

For those of you who didn't watch it, stop reading this post and watch it.

I've been thinking a little about gun control lately (largely because of Miri's post; it wasn't actually the point of her post, but I managed to completely derail it by my comment -- sorry, Miri). I don't think I actually care so much about gun control as I do about the legislation about gun control. I don't own any guns currently. I might later. Shotgun shooting is really, really fun. But if I never own a gun, I'll be okay. However, some people really want guns, and I'm fine with them owning and using them responsibly (<--- deliberately vague term).

These are guns painted like toys:

Hello, Kitty. May I borrow your knife?

Though I don't particularly care about guns, I do care about excessive regulation and legislation. Like Mr. Howard says, "Life is too complex for a software program. All these choices involve value judgments, and social norms, not objective facts." Laws that attempt to cover every eventuality never will... but in the process of trying, they will restrict freedom rather than secure it. Says Mr. Howard: “we've been trained to squint into this legal microscope, hoping that we can judge any dispute against the standard of a perfect society, where everyone will agree what's fair, and where accidents will be extinct, risk will be no more. Of course this is Utopia, it's a formula for paralysis, not freedom.”

I listened to this speech while I was driving to St. George over the weekend. As I was driving, I started to think about the laws for driving. Cars pass me. I pass cars. Cars speed past my car within a several feet -- but it doesn't worry me. And what prevents me from worrying? Paint. Yellow paint and white paint. Yes, sometimes cars cross the paint when they shouldn't. Accidents happen. (I'll use “accident” and “crash” interchangeably, though they aren't the same -- most things people call accidents are avoidable crashes; but that's a tangent) We could try to prevent all accidents by putting cars on rails and making them all go the same speed. That would be insanely expensive and impractical... and idiotic. And, even if cars lived on rails, we would still have malfunctions, and bad weather and accidents.

How beautiful is paint! It's flexible and cheap and works well. In the cases where a human needs to use their judgment and break outside of the boundaries to avoid an accident, he can.

Let people have agency. Let some use it poorly. Let most use it wisely.

And lest you think I'm advocating anarchy or getting rid of all law, I'm not. I am advocating simple paint solutions. Draw some general lines and let people fill in the spaces. It is not a government's job to eliminate all pain or possibilities for pain.

This one about octopus and dragonflies was interesting. So was this one about simplifying legal jargon; and it's short. I'm hoping that I don't get in a car accident tomorrow... or accidentally get shot.


Barbaloot said...

Seeing as I have a concealed permit in my wallet, I guess you could figure out how I feel:)But I promise I'll never own a gun with Hello, Kitty on it. That's creepy.

I like your gun/traffic lines analogy. There should be more logical people like you.

Miri said...

How do you feel about airport security? If there's an example of laws trying to cover every eventuality, that's it--and, just like you said, they will never be able to. Our security rules keep getting more and more stringent, but they'll never be enough. (All it takes is one to get through, right? And no matter how tight rules get, one person will always find a way around them.) What do you think about it?

Matt said...

I always thought you were packing heat, Barb.

Airport security is an excellent example of reactive and illogical over-legislation. Bruce Schneier, from whose blog I got the Kitty-painted gun, describes what we see at airports as "security theater." The public reacts to some terrible thing, so the government puts up some theater to assuage the public mind -- defending against what he calls "movie plot threats."

I would happily trust Bruce with our nation's airport security. Here are some of his articles: the Christmas bomber, getting past the rules, all of his airport-security related essays.

Matt said...

And hot dogs are high-risk.