Breaking the rules

Posted 04.21.09

We've been hearing a lot lately about rules, and some surprising reasons why they should be waived for certain groups.

OC Transpo's union, for example, thinks that federal labor standards limiting hours of work shouldn't apply to them. One wonders why a union, which is supposed to protect its workers from exhaustion from abusively long hours, would be fighting the very rules designed to help them.

How about Bernie Madoff and members of his family, who stole from their investors, breaking not only all the rules set down by the law, but also the code of conduct that should prohibit lying to people you claimed were your friends?

Breaking the rules seems to start at an early age. Sadly, our schools reinforce this, by allowing students who plagiarize to face no penalties. Instead, they receive extra time to turn in work without any loss of marks.

School boards who insist on advancing students to the next grade even if they fail, and universities that compile textbooks from illegally photocopied copyright works, perpetuate the pattern.

Some rules of nature have also been distorted to the extreme. This year marks the fiftieth "birthday" of Barbie, who has been hailed by some as a role model for young girls.

How much of a role model is a doll whose proportions give her a head and upper torso less than a third of her total body size, with measurements equivalent to 39-23-33? She would stand seven feet, two inches tall. No wonder women who grew up with Barbie have been driven to extreme diets, excessive exercise, and cosmetic surgery.

Everywhere you turn, someone else is breaking the rules, whether it's related to such serious areas as food inspections or the purchase of tickets to performance and sporting events. The revelation that Ticketmaster, which handles purchases for the NAC and other major venues, was scamming the public by directing buyers to a resale site where tickets were inflated by huge proportions, has all of us shaking our heads.

When did our society start to turn a blind eye to wrong-doing? It used to be that bad behavior was not only condemned but also punished.

Even in the most intimate relationships, the basic rules no longer seem to apply. Adultery used to be grounds for divorce, but no-fault divorce means a husband or wife can break the rules and, if they're willing to lie in a court that seldom prosecutes perjury, end up with a much bigger share of the family assets than they deserve.

The wronged spouse is not only betrayed, but also cheated. It reminds me of a line by George Bernard Shaw, where Anna (in Man amp; Superman) finds herself in hell, and says: If I'd known, I should have been so much wickeder!

I know how she feels. As one who was married for thirty years to a man who cheated in many respects, and as a writer whose copyright has been violated, I sympathize with the innocent victims of the OC Transpo strike and the unknowing investors who entrusted their life savings or their charities to Bernie Madoff.

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings, co-authored with her celebrity cat, Simon Teakettle. Their popular website is www.SimonTeakettle.com

Bobbi Graham's website has free pages and many resources for writers, publishers, and cat-lovers. Go to www.SimonTeakettle.com, and make sure you read Terzo's blog.

Copyright © 2009 Barbara Florio Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.09