21

We often get "why isn't X a case" questions, especially for USA.

The problem with most[1] such questions is that they are really two questions in one:

  • "Why isn't there a law for X"?

    Which has one, and only one, generic boring answer of "because there is not enough political support to make X a law by following usual process of establishing a law"

  • And the second, implied "Why isn't there enough political support to make X a law"

    Which is very hard to answer objectively, as you're asking about motivations of a large number of people - which are often unknowable; and definitely usually widely diverse.

I'm not really sure what my thoughts on this are other than such questions seem worth thinking about - should we prohibit them? force them to only ask the first question (and then VTC as duplicate pointing to a canonical answer of how US political system works)?


[1] some rare ones can also be answered with "because a law for X is unconstitutional - which makes them, if not offtopic explicitly, but a better fit for law.SE

  • 6
    Maybe they should be reframed into a "What are the main arguments presented against X?" question. That is an objective question with a relatively contained and non-opinionated answer. Supporters and detractors can (hopefully!) both agree on what arguments the detractors are using to oppose X, and can probably cite sources. Note that this type of answer shouldn't opine as to whether they are good reasons or not. – Bobson Nov 6 '17 at 18:04
  • If the question is silly, downvoting's a valid option. – Andrew Grimm Nov 8 '17 at 9:12
  • "Note that this type of answer shouldn't opine as to whether they are good reasons or not..." as it invites irrelevant discussion (like that link's point #3? I live in one of those states and I can tell you, they're dead wrong) :\ - I'd advise you guys to consult with the Skeptics.SE mods for their procedures on answer quality. Any answer that offers an opinion gets deleted forthwith. Just the facts, Ma'am... – Mazura Nov 11 '17 at 0:02
  • Law.SE, sure but, Why don't people do X, like the link above (that's now spiraling into a discussion about gun control), originally belonged on Psychology.SE ... if anywhere. – Mazura Nov 11 '17 at 0:13
6

Often these "why" questions are an attempt to promote a particular cause. The questioner who asks "Why isn't there a law against guns?" is often really saying "I think that there should be a law against guns, and here is why...".

When this is clearly the case the question can be closed with the appropriate "off topic" reason. An example of this is when a questioner say "I have read the arguments for and against X, so why isn't there a law for X". As they are clearly aware of the arguments, they are only looking for a place to debate. Such questions tend to attract answers that repeat the arguments in the debate rather than answer the question, and they should be closed.

If the question does seem to be a genuine question, then they should be edited to "What are the main arguments in favour of X", provided that this would not be too broad, and satisfy other quality requirements.

If the question is poor quality then downvote as usual.

  • Since this is a better version of my comment, I approve of this answer. :) – Bobson Nov 13 '17 at 17:17
  • Yes, I "borrowed" that phrasing direct from your comment. Thanks. – James K Nov 13 '17 at 18:33
1

Unless the asker indicates they think the US is bound by Chinese precedent or something, pointing out that it isn't a law because we haven't made it one is somewhere between silly and insulting.

I think answering the implied question could be valuable.

Perhaps linking to an advocacy group and saying "these people haven't been very effective" or some group with a competing interest being more effective would be helpful without venturing too deeply into speculation.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .