Why don’t we all mind our own business?

What I don’t get is…

Ok there’s a lot of things I don’t get.

Why, when people say things we disagree with, do we feel we have to shut them up by force (social or legal) rather than just argue the toss?

For hundreds of years we burned people alive if they read the bible in English, or said the earth was round, or said the king was a syphilitic moron (for an interesting discussion of why burning people was good, see this article).

This was called heresy and we still have it.  Only now instead of being hauled up before the bishop for saying St Lazarus’ fingernails are fake, you’re hauled up before the media for saying you think women can’t do maths (WHICH I don’t agree with – some of us can work out what’s 17% off a Louis Vuitton bag in no time), like Lawrence Summers.

Here’s another.  How come we have laws telling people what they can’t do to THEMSELVES? Apparently, in some US states (and Tasmania), you’re not allowed to have sex in other than the missionary position.  And there are still millions of people who think you should be punished for sticking your dick into another man’s bottom.

But most of us think that’s dumb, right? Why should the state be able to tell you how to live, when you’re not hurting anyone?

Well then – why do we make laws forbidding people to take SOME drugs, like marijuana and heroin (but letting them take others, like alcohol)?  Why do we legislate seatbelts and motorbike helmets for adults?  Why do we forbid suicide?  Why do we pour money into trying to persuade people to get up off their butts, stop smoking, have safe sex, go the long way round McDonalds?  Why is it any of our business?

I, the taxpayer, am not your mum (I can say that with complete certainty since my kids don’t yet pay tax) or your wife.  If you want to blacken your lungs with tar, or snort your pay packet up your nose, it’s sad and a bit stupid but it’s your choice.  Not only that but it’ll save us all money in the long run because you’ll probably die before you retire – not that this is a consideration, but we’re always hearing that the government wants people to be healthier partly in order to save on hospital bills.

All I ask is that you don’t breathe on me, nick my tv or neglect your kids, who didn’t ask to be parented by you (Ms M and Mr F, quiet – I’m sure I’ve got the signed form somewhere).

What do you think? Should you be able to stop me shooting up? Should I be able to ban your favourite poison?  Why?


  1. Some laws are completely insane. Don’t forget about Matthew Hopkins (Witchfinder General), the Salem Witch Trials and other ways of persecuting Witches. I would have been burnt at the stake back then simply for knowing how to make and use natural remedies and giving a shit about the earth and everything that lives on it!

    It’s hard to know where to draw the line; a friend of mine died alone in a seedy basement flat, choking on his own vomit after a drugs overdose – but he didn’t want to be saved from his addiction (believe me, many of us tried to help) so there was nothing that anybody could do.

    1. That’s really awful, about your friend. I had a boyfriend who was a crack addict, and it was sad to see – he could have been very successful otherwise. I think he’s probably dead now. But I still don’t see it as my prerogative to ban him from it – only try to help, as you did. It’s also terrible to think of the number of people who’ve been killed in cruel ways for absurd reasons (like Salem) – I would’ve been burned too I’m sure! Can you believe though, there are still religious people (including Catholics) advocating for it!!! on the basis that it’s better to feel the fires of hell here than down below!


  2. The laws exist because we all sign up to certain ideas of how society should work. Suicide used to be about being damned for all time, but now mit is more a waste of resources, of parents teachers etc helping a person to grow to be an adult. The idea is that things can alwasys get better. Trouble is nobody ever tells you how….

    1. Do we all sign up though? I suppose, tacitly. If we don’t revolt I guess it means we signed. Suicide..I suppose the idea is, wait a bit and things’ll look more cheerful. As they often do, especially if you’re young and otherwise healthy. Death is irreversible, so I can understand putting a lot of effort into dissuading people from it if there’s reason to think life will improve. But I can’t see the sense in a law against it. What’s the penalty? Death?


    1. I don’t think they do! They’re old ones on the statute books, along with stuff about how you tie up your horse and how many pigs you can have in your cottage garden. But someone obviously thought, we don’t want people doing disgusting things in their bedrooms, let’s make a law against it, that’ll fix them! They have laws here that you have to carry a doggy poop bag when you walk your dog, in case..but I’ve never heard of anyone being arrested for not having one. There just aren’t enough police to focus on stuff like that. If there were – I guess they might be looking in your window and interviewing your kids, to check whether you’re having sex the right way round!


  3. It’s a measure of society about the number of laws which are malum prohibitum and which are malum in se and which are considered important.

    Plus, I believe it goes hand in hand with social supportive governments – there’s almost always a trade when there are welfare or social support programs and systems in place: people want to require some sort of payment to receive that government-established support.

    Want “free money” from the government to help support your 4 children since your baby daddies are all in jail? Don’t fail your drug test or lose your funding.

    1. I agree. I think the thing is, people who want to help you also want to control you, often, because the best way to help you is to take you over.


  4. I agree with Barb that originally laws were made for all sorts of weird and complex Puritanical social control. Laws of course are still thought up and enacted for all sorts of weird and needless social control but we have never gotten rid of the old and stupid ones either. They just keep building up, layer upon layer, adding to the stupidity.
    Maybe chaos and anarchy are the solution for a bit, then we can start the process anew with more stupid social control.

    I say go for it Rose, smoke-drink-eat-and do whatever you like. I shall not tell you how to live 🙂

    1. No, our laws are a complete mess of old and new! The older your country is, the more stupid ancient laws it has, too (that’s why Oz probably has a bit less than the US or the UK). I actually live a completely vice-free life! But I don’t see why I should stop other people from having theirs.


  5. As long as people are willing to pay for the consequences of their decisions, I am totally with you. The problem is that most people are not. The smoker who develops emphysema or lung cancer is going to run up huge medical bills. Guess who pays for it if he or she doesn’t have insurance to cover the costs? If everybody was capable of paying for the costs of their own stupidity, I would have no problem with what you propose. Problem is that the vast majority of people aren’t capable of paying for their stupidity.

    1. That’s true, kingmidget…but we’re all stupid in various ways (what we eat, the sports we play, the way we drive, the sex we have) and we all end up paying for each other’s stupidities, no questions asked. Most of the health dollars spent on people is spent, interestingly, in the last few years of life, as they struggle against the diseases that will kill them. If we die at 50 or 32 (as one of my ex-husband’s friends did, of alcohol induced liver collapse), that’s a lot of money saved on the old age pension, too. I don’t think the ‘saving state resources’ argument really flies, when you think about it.


      1. I’m not sure I’m referring to “saving state resources.” The best and most current example is the health care debate in the United States. I’ve had health insurance my entire life. Which means I’ve been paying for the health care for those people who (1) can’t afford their own insurance and go to the emergency room for health care; or (2) think they’re healthy enough and don’t need insurance, but still magically happen to access the health care system. Obamacare changes that and requires everybody to pay for their own health care, through employer sponsored plans or individual plans. I’ll take that over my insurance premiums covering the cost of other people’s health care any day.

  6. OK, I’ll bite. Part one is that we are social animals – we cannot stand by and just watch some other person get hurt. In fact, it’s hard to stop people from plunging to the rescue even when the case is hopeless and all they will do is add to the body count. Just the way we are built.

    Part two is that not all drugs or stupidities are the same. And what they do is in large part influenced by social context (see part one). So you can reliably count on the young to do stupid things, but we try to limit availability and opportunity enough that most make it to adulthood alive. Some drugs change the brain enough that the person is not capable either of bearing the consequences or of participating in society. How much of those do we want? (a study of the surviving children of the the crack epidemic in the states showed a high proportion were teetotal: they had seen what drugs did to their parents). Crystal meth, for instance, turns a fair number of users into paranoid psychotics, who are very hard to live with (or near, or in the same suburb as, or..). Basically, the line between “me” and “us” is imaginary, so you can’t make a neat divide.

    1. I agree about the motivation to stop people from harming themselves – one doesn’t like to see a stupid person do their stuff. And yet, if fewer of those stupid teenagers made it to adulthood, maybe there would be fewer stupid adults. I can quite see why the people who love them might try to stop their loved ones becoming crack addicts, but I don’t see any reason to have an organised, and pointless, war on idiots. As for users of crystal meth, I don’t think most people decide not to take it because it’s illegal, or have any serious difficulty in getting it if they want to. If it became legal, drug abuse would probably go down – I believe it has in the Netherlands.


  7. Couldn’t agree with you more. The nanny State is strangling the US inch by inch and the government exists only to further it. This is what Mitt Romney meant when he said “the 47%”. Everyone got so offended by that, so butthurt, but the fact of the matter is the whether the number is right or not, there are a significant number of people who are quite happy to abrogate responsibility for all the decisions in their lives to a government in exchange for their physical and intellectual freedoms. You want to drop out of school, smoke crack and bang out three welfare babies by the time you;re 19? Fine, that’s your choice but don’t expect me to pay for your mess and expect, fully, for me to demand the full wrath of the law if you infringe on my rights to be protected by a society of laws.

    1. There are some who want to, and some just hand their responsibility over to government because government insists. For instance, where I live, there’s a problem with transport for the elderly who can’t catch public buses. In India, you just hail a tuk tuk, problem solved. Here, no one is allowed to provide transport for a fee unless you pay the government around $400,000 for a licence. Nanny-ised citizens make for easy government in some ways, maybe.


  8. I’m very against morality laws, like those about what you can do in the bedroom.
    Some like smoking and drugs, I’m on the fence about. When a smoker’s lungs give out, taxpayers pay for it.
    When a parent ODs, the kid becomes the State’s responsibility.

    So where does the line get drawn for that?

    1. Yep some of these are very difficult questions if we’re going to call ourselves a society. I think one of the main factors is we often to integrate people in societies and that’s what a “society” should be–people coming together in agreement. In large-scale society like we have now, communities are scattered and lacking. Think U.S. suburbia. .

      But I do think if a parent is going to OD, they will do it anyway, whether it’s legal or not. It’s the sad truth. Support systems would help… meh.

      1. I’ve never heard anyone at all say ‘I’d like to take drugs..but it’s illegal so I won’t.’. My theory is, anyone who wants to, does, and the ones who don’t, wouldn’t anyway. And yeah, more support for doped up parents, I guess that’s all you could do. Currently there are plenty – only they’re doped up on legal drugs as well as illegal.


    2. I don’t know. Nothing is simple. When a fat person becomes incapacitated, the state pays for that too (at least, they do here), but we don’t have laws against burgers. Or alcohol, which is the number one cause of drug related violence in countries like Oz. Apparently – that is according to my son – smokers often die before they reach retirement age, thus saving the state a lot of dough in pensions and so on.


  9. Beautiful Rose, why should there be laws that tell me I can’t work legally in this county even though I’ve lived here twenty-two years (I was brought here in 1990 when I was 5). And yet someone who married a U.S. and has only lived here six months is already able to work and on their way to citizenship.

    Moral laws… don’t even get me started on that.

    1. Absolutely. I think it’s not compassionate (although the reason why there are laws, I suppose, is to stop people bringing their kids in and bypassing immigration until such time as they become citizens by default). But it makes no sense to me. Hasn’t Obama passed some sort of law ‘dream something?’ that fixes that? Maybe (well definitely) I haven’t been listening to the news enough!


  10. Some would love for every thought and movement to be legally restricted, and then others would like no laws at all… it’s complicated and yet, if we believe in live and let live, it’s not. 🙂

  11. Were you being for real about laws saying you can’t have sex in positions not missionary? If you think that law is stupid follow twitter account @StupidLaws and you won’t believe some of the stuff you read. I won’t get into specifics but I’m not a big fan of rules and laws. Stuff telling me how to think, how to act, morals I should have, etc. And if I do misbehave I will be ostracised from society. Ha! I’m not a big people person so I can care less about that but I LOVE my freedom. That one word keeps me in check with myself.

    1. Yeah I’ve heard of some amazingly dumb laws. Some left over from hundreds of years ago. I’m not a big fan of rules either. I don’t think there should be more than 100, and if they put another one on, they should have to take one off.


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