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Common Sense

Entry 653, on 2007-12-06 at 18:42:14 (Rating 2, Comments)

I often receive emails and printed material which claim that modern society has sunk to new lows and that common sense has been forgotten. They quote "facts" such as: teachers require permission to give a pupil paracetamol, the ten commandments are being ignored, churches have become businesses, criminals get better treatment than their victims, and you can't defend yourself from a burglar.

Many people look at these and nod and say "yes things have got bad when those things happen". But think about if for a minute. Are those claims actually true? I don't think they are. They are invalid for three reasons: some just aren't true, some are true but there are good reasons for them, and some have always been true so they can't be used to show the problems of modern society.

For example, I can't remember ever being given any form of medication when I was at school so maybe this problem didn't apply in the past. And it seems reasonable to check for allergies and reactions first, so what is the problem there?

The ten commandments are largely irrelevant to a modern society and they were never really part of our rules and laws anyway. I challenge the people who happily nod and say we need them to actually tell me what they are. When they find out they probably won't be quite such enthusiastic supporters.

So churches have become businesses. Is this supposed to be a recent phenomenon? The Catholic church has always been a business to a significant degree, just look at the amount of wealth and power it has accumulated over the years. This can hardly be claimed to be an issue which affects only modern society.

There might be a case to say that criminals get better treatment than they deserve but to make a general statement that they are better off than victims is untrue. There might be a few cases where the criminal gets an unusually light sentence and the victim is particularly badly affected. In many cases the victim will be affected for the rest of their life but that's not a new issue.

Despite the common belief, you can defend yourself from a burglar. The law says you must use an appropriate level of force though. This is totally reasonable as far as I am concerned, except that the definition of what is an appropriate level of force can be subjective. And as far as I know there aren't exactly a huge number of cases where people are burgled because they failed to act because of this law.

So the whole thing is slightly amusing but really it has no validity. The people who read through this stuff and agree that something has gone terribly wrong probably aren't analysing the facts too deeply. I agree that we need more common sense and less inflexible rules but let's look at the facts and not some amusing fantasy.

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