Legality v. Ethics or a Lyle Lovett song [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Legality v. Ethics or a Lyle Lovett song

12-22-2004, 12:34 PM
After pondering this for the last couple of days, I think it is finally clear in my mind. Regardless of whatever far-fetched rationalizations one wants to come up with, the bottom line is breaking the law is breaking the law. No amount of whining about how the establishment is out to get you changes that fact. And if you are intentionally breaking the law, does that make you any different than the tarheel pulling wild fish out during May?

Or to quote Senior Lovett, "it is such a shame because you've been so good up to now".

Dble Haul
12-22-2004, 12:49 PM
Breaking the law is breaking the law, however noble the end result may be.

I agree with Mr. Lovett's sentiments.

12-22-2004, 01:23 PM
I agree. Flaunting the Law just because you don't agree with it is just as bad as breaking any "good" law. I don't like the fact that the road is 25 MPH that leads to my road for my house but I know that I can't just do 40 down it without suffering the consequence either the law writing me a ticket or my neighbors complaining because I drive to fast and endanger their children.


Brian Simonseth
12-22-2004, 08:37 PM

Thatís my way of thinking!

Breaking the law is breaking the law no-too-ways about it!

What gets me is that some people back these guys to no end, in my book there just as bad as the guy breaking the law in the first place (Hey guys, do you know who Iím talking about?).

12-23-2004, 08:20 AM
After much conplaining my relatives went out and broke the law. They called it the Boston Tea Party. But they were ready to pay big time. I don't think who ever you guys are talking about has thought out what will happen to him and his family and his reputation if he gets caught. Sounds like this guy you are talking about cares more about a little extra money over integrity. Whoever this guy is I hope he does not have a negative influence over younger people.

Well I got to go, Viva la Cancoon!

12-23-2004, 08:53 AM
Canned coon! Never had it before. Bet it taste like chicken. You can get some fresh coon from the tarheels.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Enjoy your coon OC. Make sure you use some sun block.


12-23-2004, 09:10 AM
Don't you Tar Heels up your way saute your cancoon in sun tan lotion?

You guys live in Paradise if your still eating cancoon.

12-24-2004, 12:51 AM
catch and release wild cowboy boots :razz:

...and how about a grammar lesson?

Green Butt
12-24-2004, 11:56 AM
Coon is not bad really, depends on what they have been eating. Also depends on how you fix it--baked isn't bad.

If one is truly following their conscience they will be prepared to deal with the legal ramifications of breaking the law.

Todd Ripley
12-26-2004, 02:41 PM
Interesting thread, even without the benefit of what set of facts gave rise to it. What's the context?

Either way, there's a lot more gray area than some would have you believe in areas like this, not just ethically or morally, but also within the legal system.

Some situations beg for violations of the law, as the only vehicle for changing an unworkable, unfair, or plain wrong law is to be accused of breaking it and get your day in court to freely admit the violation, but then argue that creation or enforcement of the law was the original bad idea to begin with.

Laws regarding public safety are often written in very black and white terms, while their actual enforcement has a bit of common sense employed.

For example, you come up to a corner, intending to turn right, but there's a "no right turn on red" sign. The light is red.

This is pretty're waiting for the light to turn green, whether there is cross traffic or not.

What if an ambulance coming up behind you with its lights on needs to get by? Do you sit at the corner, pointing at the sign, and wait for the light to turn green? Probably not, you just drive around the corner to let 'em by.

Not only is this not illegal, it might actually be illegal to NOT do you are also required to give way to emergency vehicles. When two black and white laws are in direct conflict, common sense says that safely moving out of the way of the ambulance (in violation of the traffic sign) is more acceptable than waiting for the light (in violation of emergency right of way statutes).

No matter whether this is actually written into the law or not, it arises from a value judgment about the validity of, reason for, and enformcement, the law, and value judgments are what laws are all about.

Referring to Sinktip's words above, is intentionally driving five miles over the speed limit on the way to the river just as illegal as yarding out a native by the tail and bonking it?

Surely, both are in direct contradiction to the law, but value judgments argue that one is much less a problem than the other...and those value judgments can be articulated in many different ways.

With no hope for enforcement (secret road to a secret spot on the river), one makes value judgments about how to behave according to the laws...and driving 30mph on Forest Service lands (speed limit 25mph) is not likely to cause one to lose much sleep late that night. However, if upon arriving at the secret spot, keeping one fish too many, or one with one too many fins, is very likely to result in emotional distress to any of us here.

Emotional distress is an indicator of value judgments...

If there is an old woman with chickens along the road, continuing along at 30 mph might not fit into your behavior anymore, and driving 25mph might not, either. This is out of respect for her emotional wellness (and the physical wellness of her chickens!)

The respect for the emotional distress of others, and its concommitant emotional results in yourself, are indicators of value judgments...

If you come around the corner and instead of old ladies and chickens, you see a forest ranger in his truck, and you slow down. Did 30 mph all of a sudden cause you emotional distress, or did the thought of getting trouble cause you the distress? Do you speed back up as soon as he is out of sight?

Fear of artificial consequences (a ticket for doing something that really hurt no one or nothing at all) is an indicator of value judgment.

If you whiz by the ranger at 35 mph, and he does nothing, what does that do to your distress level? Does it validate your initial feeling that it's no big deal? Do you feel like you got away with something? Do you go back and apologize? Does "getting away with it" lower your distress level? What if you knew you'd "get away with it" before you did it, i.e., intentionally bad behavior with no concurrent fear of being caught?

Value judgments all.

A lot of this smacks of situational ethics, which I generally don't believe in, so I'll have to throw in this last bit of the topic:

Rather than rely on your own brand of value judgments to control your behaviors, the "state" has also brought society's value judgments into play.

Speeding on the way to the river, and bonking a wild fish caught on bait and barbs in a selective fisheries water, are both "crimes", and you are equally guilty of both.

Speeding results in a ticket, maybe $100, perhaps a slight increase in insurance premiums if you make a habit of it.

Bonking that fish may result in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fines, perhaps jail time if the fish was listed on the could also result in the loss of your job, or at least your credibility, if you work in fisheries management at any level.

Why the different results for being "just as guilty" of two different crimes? Because society makes value, and pragmatic, judgments, too.

I guess the point of this rambling post is to not take the "just as guilty" idea too far, as the results of such an idea would soon become ridiculous...or to at least allow the idea of value judgments, penalties based on those judgments (either self-imposed or imposed by society), and the thought processes that go into the intentional breaking of laws, be allowed a little playing time in the gray areas between "guilty" and "not guilty"...

Still curious about the "real" story here, though...

Fish on...


12-26-2004, 07:44 PM
Todd my freind,

Let us just say we are talking about the new law here in Washington State that says you can't pick up any wild new born babies by the ears anymore for pictures.

I know many don't like the law but we must realize that without it there will be kids with big ears that look like sparky.

We have a problem with one of the child care professionals in the area who thinks he 's above the law and brings the public into the day care center for a price and lets the public hold the wild kids up by the ears while he takes pictures.


12-26-2004, 08:07 PM
You know, I've stayed out of the fracas and even have went as far as to defend the guy in a previous thread, but enough is enough.

Fish Conservation: Why am I am not surprised? Word I hear, is Sparkly 2 is going to propose that All fish that are not to be retained, should be released without removing from the water. Yeah, the Yakima River & and Quality Waters trout guys will have to be thrilled about that one. You can't argue the logic: If the rule is good for one salmonid, I guess it's good for another.

I think someone needs to get their facts straight.


Todd Ripley
12-26-2004, 10:46 PM your roundabout way, O.C., combined with my previous knowledge of the situation, I am now fully informed of the who, what, where, when, and why of the conversation.

In this case, I'm agreeing with Sinktip...

I don't think that it is a bad law, but I don't think it's really worth the paper it's written on, either. Way too much behavior that is very bad for fish is not even addressed by the regulation (e.g., no problem with standing on the fish's head in one inch of water to remove the hook, or holding it by the gills to get the hook out), and way too much perfectly good behavior is outlawed (like a quick pose for a pic).

Either way, it's the hand we've been dealt for now, and as all good steelheaders and steelhead advocates should do, the regulation should be followed...there may be times when it is dangerous, for the fish or the fisherman, to follow the law to the letter, so maybe strict adherence isn't the goal...but holding a fish out of the water for a pic to remind yourself that you caught one, to prove to someone else that you did, to show off your fishing prowess, or to advertise your services...those aren't good reasons to skirt it.

Fish on...


12-27-2004, 09:50 AM
I'm sure that around the state there are those who refuse to follow the rule because they think it is wrong. But what disturbs me is we have a guide that publicly disobeys the law. How many of his beginer classes has looked with great excitement at his most recent pictures and said to themselves, I want a picture like that some day. Here we have a person who has the privledge of making money off our resourses and he abuses it. Does he not expect to be brought to the publics attention? For years he has claimed that the local elite are picking on him and sometimes I felt they were, myself included. But now I know that was not the case because this man has proved over time that he goes by a different beat. I always thought that if this man had just tuned down his actions and guided in a quiet manner he would have had his fame and the respect of the fly fishing communitty. I beleive he has the potential to be a good guide and it would be enjoyable to fish with him on a one on one trip if he was not so loud at making a mockery out of fly fishing for steelhead wherever he goes.

The Sparkey law is working. How many times have we watched drift boats releasing wild fish without taking them out of the water or throwing them into the bottom of the drift boat or jet sled? If those fishermen have enough respect for wild fish then the rest of us should also. Maybe it's because I have way too many stupid pics of wild steelhead already but since the law came into being I have enjoyed more than ever the wild fish I have caught and released without ever touching the fish. The picture burned in the personal soul is a worth a thousand pictures lost in photo scrap books and lost computer recycle bins!

I know this guide will say we are all snobs and are jealous of his sucess as he has done for years. I'm just hoping that someday he will wake up and realize we are not picking on him but have legitimate concern on how he does his job on our public waters. There are so many guides that we have the very most respect for on our sound and coast rivers and I wish this one who should know he is one of us would give up the BS and join the others in their quiet love for what they do for a living and utmost respect for the rivers and the few wild fish they hold.

Just my two cents.

Brian Simonseth
12-27-2004, 10:46 AM


12-27-2004, 01:37 PM
i am not sure that the water slappin' sea donkey will ever come around.

12-27-2004, 04:27 PM
Lets keep is civil around here.

12-27-2004, 06:47 PM
understood. sorry

12-28-2004, 10:22 AM
geez.... holding up wild fish is the least of the problems.

far worse is guiding illegally without the proper permits or charter licenses.

until wdfw actually enforces the laws and stops with the "it's really hard to prove illegal guiding" nothing will happen with the rampant illegal guide behavior in this state (and it goes beyond the guide not mentioned in this thread).

chris bellows