The Law of Proximity

Law #189.    Proximity

effect: verve


In crimes, the right to self-defense is valid only in the proximity of space and time. Going home to fetch a gun and return to the crime scene to exercise self-defense is no self-defense. In torts, the wrongful act and the injury lay close. Proximity to the finish line releases energy to reach it. It is unheard of for a runner quitting inches before the finish line. Writing a long novel is possible only by writing chapters; writing long chapters comes through writing paragraphs. The eyes use the law of proximity to make sense of words in a sentence. Breaking up a distance into segments and then going from section to section triggers the proximity mindset, making it easier to complete the task. Proximity invades privacy and promotes mutual aggression. Borders and fences erect artificial barriers to closeness. Persons in proximity exchange pathogens but also reinforce common immunity against diseases. Intergenerational co-residence forms affinity bonds and allows the elders and children to live in safe spaces. Music concerts draw energy from crowds in packed venues. Herd mentality affirms shared behavior, much like dogmatic compliance. When a crowd panics, people trample each other to break away from proximity and reach the exit.

This is part of a work-in-progress called 501 Laws. CounterPunch will publish one or two “laws” a month. 

L. Ali Khan is the founder of Legal Scholar Academy and an Emeritus Professor of Law at the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. He welcomes comments at