Ted (merovingian) wrote,

Rules and Policies: A Peanut Story

I think I mentioned before that I'm in Hawaii right now, taking care of some important family business.

Yes, it's lovely here.

I'm on this one island. A little bitty island. The laws here are the same as the rest of Hawaii, but the policies are different.

You know that weird blue law that says it's illegal to have peanuts in your ears in Hawaii? Well, they enforce that one here on this little island.

There's a substantial and well-funded police department that investigates any leads of peanut-ear-putting. At the borders, they search you for peanuts and if you have any, they note it and test a few sample peanuts for earwax. When you leave, there's a polygraph test where they ask you if you put any peanuts in your ears. It's an optional test, but they don't exactly tell you that and if you refuse the test they give you a lot of guff.

There's a hotline you can call if you see someone put peanuts in their ears. If your testimony leads to conviction, you get a reward and your picture goes on the kudos page in the local paper.

Fortunately, the sentence is just a few thousand dollars fine and a week in jail. Few people bother to fight it, since the DA presses every case and judges are rarely sympathetic to the accused. Everyone gets a big bonus and extra vacation when a peanut-ear crime is prosecuted.

On the other hand, other laws don't really have much of a formal policy for enforcement. They usually just give warnings if they see a non-peanut-ear crime happening. If a non-peanut-ear crime occurs, the police don't intercede unless someone comes in to the police station and complains. People who complain are expected to submit to a lengthy and intrusive medical examination before they fill out all the paperwork.

If you prefer, you can call in to report a case. For non-ear-peanut cases, you don't get a dispatcher, just a voice mail. They'll call you back within a week and ask you to come into the station.

The paperwork then goes in a stack. If you really, really follow up, the police chief will pull a police officer off the peanut-ear beat and half-heartedly assigns them the paperwork. The results of such cases aren't monitored by anyone else, don't affect the officer's salary, and are not mentioned during performance reviews. The DA rarely bothers to pursue such cases, since they are expensive and usually earn an unpleasant conversation with the mayor.

Mind you, the laws are the same: murder's still illegal, and speeding, and theft, and drugs, and so on.

But rules aren't very important. What matters is policy.

Also, my hotel has free pineapple slushies! They're delicious.
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