One can tell which laws are serious and which are some other purpose masquerading as law by watching who practices the law, who obeys, who’s above it.
This point relates to the one I made Knatz.com's piece on Indoctrination. If all the patriarchs (and all the matriarchs), all the major land owners, all the captains of industry ... say grace before meals, then that culture takes grace seriously; if only women and little children say grace, then that culture no longer takes grace seriously. If all the alpha males wouldn’t miss an election, even from their death bed, then elections are how important decisions are made in that culture; but if women can vote, and ex-slaves can vote ... if poor people can vote ... then elections are a facade, a charade, a sham: elections are NOT how the important decisions are made.
But I was talking about law. Same applies. The sign says 55 MPH, ZHOOM! there goes a cop at 75. That law is a sham, not a real law at all.
For the longest time whoever jumped up, whether the maiden or the brave or the medicine woman or the chief ... they came back down. Stone age man had a concept of gravity, whatever term they used. For the longest time everyone obeyed that law. But then some astronauts exceeded earth’s escape velocity. For them to come back "down," something has to bring them back down. Nothing now will ever bring the Explorer back down. But has a law been violated? No, only stone age misperceptions of the law. If you follow Newton, Einstein ... you understand the law very differently. Neither astronauts nor Explorer nor this present millionaire space visitor has violated it.
If I launch a leg over the boat’s gunnel, place my foot on the water, place my other next to it, let go the boat, down into the water I go. But how sophisticated is our understanding the "laws" applicable to this familiar phenomenon? Again, gravity applies, but also invariances with experience with liquids ... But the story tells us that Jesus walked out onto the Sea of Galilea. Could the story be true? If so, was Jesus breaking any laws?
Or do we have the laws wrong in the first, second, and third place?
Note: when I say alpha males, do not be mislead; I am not talking about gender, neither are the zoologists: all of the "alpha males" in hyena society are female. The traditional name for the concept is misleading, but I didn’t invent it. Many a woman has become an alpha male (which does not prove that women are equal in the culture.
Speaking of speed limits, I was at Ivan Illich’s CIDOC, Cuernavaca Mexico when he was touting his idea of a universal speed limit. (Illich is the libertarian’s libertarian, but I can see why bk suspects him (and me) of being insufficiently anti-coercion (short of anarchist): Illich talked about law without always eschewing authority.) I sat in on a class in which Illich, the original deschooler, was explaining that we’d all be better off, as a convivial society, if no one ever went faster than fifteen miles an hour. (Illich did not mean that there should be a cop on the ski mountain to arrest my downhill velocity; he was talking about machines, about traffic.) CIDOC had first been full of radical Catholics studying American intrusions into South and Central America; at the time of which I speak, 1972ish, CIDOC was filled with American university tourists, getting academic credit for slumming below the border. One gal instantly objected, "What about ambulances?" As I say, I was just sitting in, I didn’t feel I had a right to speak among the tuition payers: but I thought, "You moron, if we all took it easy, powered down, preferred lo-tech, simple machines, few would need an ambulance. In the park I live in it feels like the majority have a pin in their joints or need a prosthetic hip because of traffic (ahem) accidents.