The Rules About the Rules

There are the rules.

And then there are the rules about the rules.

The rules tell us what’s in bounds and what’s out; or whether the line is fair or foul.

The rules about the rules allow the whole system to work. They’re more powerful — and frequently less noticed — than the rules by which we play.

One of the best rules about the rules is, “You can’t say you can’t play.”

Everyone’s free to discuss and to disagree. Opinions and ideas can be expressed.

But no one is free to say that someone else — or her ideas — don’t have standing simply on the basis of who that person is.

She’s entitled to be wrong, and she doesn’t have permission to compel you to see things her way.

But you don’t have permission to rule her out of the game.

Them’s the rules.