Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making up rules out of thin air

You can't just make up any rules you want. At least that's what people have told me. But they never seem to apply that same principle to The State or other supposedly "voluntary collectives".

I'm sure you have heard the news that Arizona's governor signed a "law" protecting the Gadsden flag from homeowner association rules. (On a slight tangent, I wonder if the "law" would apply to Time's Up flags as well.)

I think homeowner associations are awful. I can't imagine why anyone would consent to live under one, and yet I can see many ways someone might not have a choice. But, yes, they have a right to make rules forbidding the flags, I suppose, but those rules are still wrong. And the governor has no real authority to make another rule that violates the right of the association to make a wrong rule. Two wrongs don't make a right, even when the second one tries to correct a wrong. No new "laws" are needed; just get rid of the bad "law" that allows the wrong thing to happen in the first place.

Sometimes you are wrong to do what you have a right to do. For example, you would have the right to shoot a trespassing child but it would be wrong to do so.

You might have the right to ban visitors from carrying concealed guns but it's wrong to do so in all but the most unlikely and extreme theoretical cases. Maybe if you had a powerful magnet in your home that would attract the gun and cause it to rip through the flesh of the visitor and bounce toward the magnet, shredding everything in its path, you could make a claim that you really "need" to prohibit guns on your property, but any ferrous metal would be just as dangerous as a gun in that case.

And you might have a right to ban people from flying a particular flag at their home, but trying to actually do that with a rule is the wrong thing to do. And passing another "law", thereby adding to the law pollution we already suffer from, is not the right way to fix anything.

So, you can't just go around making up any rule you want- well, you can, but you might be wrong to do so.