I believe there is one question that every mother asks every child at some point in their life. While the phrasing can differ slightly, the question is: if everyone else was jumping from a bridge, would you? Every child learns from this interaction that to give any answer other than “no” is to disappoint. The mother wants to know that her child won’t go along with the crowd just for the sake of so doing, that the child will demonstrate that they can think for themselves, that they will make a moral stand to do what is right, and so on. As simple a question as it seems to be, it is so important because at such an early age we learn not to go along with the crowd and come to realize that “because everyone else is doing it” is neither an acceptable reason nor excuse.
So at what age does it become OK to walk away from that most elementary of lessons?
There are a number of bills before the Indiana Legislature that make me question this. I have talked before about the proposed changes to the laws governing gambling in the state, but two other bills to ponder and query about what mom would think also leap out:
- Senate Bill 0013: Why is the justification for wanting to legalize Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana acceptable solely on the grounds that all the other states allow it? Is there a worry that when an Indiana resident can’t buy a case of Schlitz on Sunday, they will make a road trip to Illinois? What kind of warning signal is there in the fact that those who are in the package store business are the very ones who don’t want to be open on Sunday? I am not sure that “because everyone else is doing it” is a reason to dismiss both the economic and religious reasons behind the law’s creation and find it strange that we need a law to force someone to be open and doing business.
- Senate Bill 0580: How can a reduction in the restrictions on marijuana be considered reasonable just because other states are passing similar measures? This bill reduces many crimes to a misdemeanor and requires a court to suspend sentences if there are not previous convictions. Further, per the wording of the proposal, “operating a vehicle with an inactive metabolite of marijuana, hashish, or hash oil in one’s body does not violate the impaired driving laws.” While I am glad that we don’t need a separate proposal to address hashish, I’m not sure I agree with any of this one.
These are but two Senate bills that stand out among hundreds that have been proposed — many of which depend on the everyone-else-is-doing-it argument and call into question what once passed as morals. As politically incorrect as it may sound, when I see the title of Bill 0509 is human trafficking, the first question I now find myself having to ask is: are they are for it or against it? My mother taught me better than that.
Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on technology and an Anderson resident.