I thoroughly agree with you. There seems to be a peculiar attitude present in sailing that Fun = not bothering about the rules. The collary of this is that the rules are only really there for the serious racer.
The rules have been framed so that collisions and damage to boats should not be a regular part of our sport. Racing in sailing boats is a non-contact sport. What is fun about bumping into boats, and spending large sums of money repairing them?
The rules also provide a framework that ensures fair racing (for instance that everyone should sail the same course!), that all competitors are treated equally and that there is a simple proceure for settling disputes (those grumpy old men on the protest committee).
The rules are the same at all levels of our sport. As soon as a race is organised then the rules apply. If the rules do not apply then the sailing has no more status than a fotballer’s kickabout in the park.
Strangely, I have often found that the greatest unpleasantness concerning the rules/collisions/protests etc occurs at events that – because they are “fun” – have not bothered to set the event up properly. The best way to have fun at any event – get a decent set of SIs written, have a competent Race Committee that applies the rules, make sure that there is a qualified judge present throughout the event, and, gently but firmly, do things properly!