Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ridiculous Laws

Ridiculous laws... we've all heard of them from time to time, those antiquated and crazy rules that are on the books that make you scratch your head and wonder what led to the apparent need to pass such a law in the first place. For example:

• Massachusetts - it's illegal to snore unless all
 bedroom windows are shut and securely locked

• Lee County, Alabama - it's illegal to sell peanuts after sundown on Wednesday

• Vermont - it's illegal to whistle underwater

I'll admit, while I don't know the story that led to passing the snoring law in Massachusetts, I can at least understand it; and locking the windows was probably a good idea to prevent an annoyed neighbor from becoming a murderer... though it won't protect a spouse! However, in Alabama, no peanuts after sundown on Wednesday, huh? And in Vermont. what could ever have led to the need to ban whistling underwater? Is that even physically possible? I'll have to try next time I go swimming, just not in Vermont.

While we may not know the 'why' behind strange laws passed long ago, have no fear, we are passing new and equally ridiculous laws across this land all the time that will likely have our descendants scratching their heads too. For example, New York City recently passed a ban making it illegal to sell sugar-sweetened drinks (e.g. soda) in a cup larger than 16 oz. Why? Because the city believes this will help control obesity since "simply educating consumers about how their diet impacts their obesity risks has not worked," according to New York City Health commissioner Thomas Farley. This isn't a restriction on choices he says, "this is an increase in choice options in healthier sizes." What? Now there's some serious spin for you.

And now San Francisco is getting in on the act, proposing a law banning public nudity which will make it illegal for anyone over the age of 5 to expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza... just to be clear on all the possibilities. If you are anything like me, you may at first be scratching your head, asking why a law like this is necessary. Well, it turns out that public nudity in the Castro district is becoming quite a nuisance. Andrea Aiello, the executive director of the Castro Community Benefit District, supports the ban stating, "three or four years ago, there were occasionally nude men on Castro or Market, and it was fine, but since then there has been a larger and larger gathering, and it's spreading... it has become a place for exhibitionism rather than nudism." I don't consider myself a prude, but at the same time I would rather not have to walk among naked people. Join a nudist colony or go to a nudist beach, there are areas set aside for those of you who feel the need to be free, or one with nature or whatever your motivation to go sans clothing.

The pity of all these laws, whether new or old, is that they have to be passed in the first place. If someone wants to whistle underwater, so be it. If you know you are a lumberjack when you sleep and the neighbors are close by, shut your window already (it could save your life!). If you want to let it all hang out, do so in your own backyard. I just wish we had the self control and common courtesy not to need so many laws to govern our behavior. Speaking of that, do we really think that reducing the size of a soda cup or banning happy meal toys is going to make a dent in the obesity crisis? I could go on and on about my thoughts on that topic.

Stay tuned, I just might... ; )

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