Today I want to talk about a specific problem that might not be applicable to all people, although I do think that you’ll meet this kind of person in your life at some point: the Rules Lawyer. Rules Lawyering is basically when someone uses their knowledge and/or ability to argue to find loopholes in rules to get what they want or just to have a bit of fun. If they are not able to do this, they often stick to the “letter of the law” and do the bare minimum necessary according to rules. This can result in cases of malicious obedience, when you follow orders even though you know they are wrong. However, they often ignore the “spirit of the law”, that is, the intention that was behind the law in the first place, usually for some sort of personal gain.
Another variation on this situation is when someone doesn’t accept the spirit or values embodied by the law and simply sticks to the letter of the law (or unspoken social rule or what have you). I’ve had trouble coming up with a good example, but but let’s take the hypothetical example that something counts as assault if the attack leaves a mark for two days. Thus, someone may leave a mark for a day and argue it is not assault, however they are ignoring the value and spirit behind the law, which is not to harm other people.
I’m sure you could probably come up with better examples of this. It is often frustrating to deal with people like this, when it really matters and you’ve been hurt. Frankly, I consider it to be a deficiency of character if this is done on a constant basis without regard to the feelings of other people.