Friday, March 11, 2005

Curious State Laws - The Final Word

It’s my last day here in Key West (I’m heading to Texas this afternoon) and I’m departing just as numerous college students are arriving in town for Spring Break, or as its more commonly known, SPRING BREAK BABY, YEAH, WOO HOO, LOOK AT ME, I’M A DICK!!!

Time then, I think, to slip into my Speedos and wander downtown among the throng spreading my gift of song as I go. In Florida you see, it’s illegal to sing in public whilst wearing a swimsuit, a fact I discovered back in January when I read an article quoting extracts from The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information.

By the way, did you know that turtles can breathe through their arses, kilts originated in France, 92 nuclear bombs are lost at sea and aside from humans, pigs are the only animals that can get sunburn? Add those to your “Gregory’s Girl” classics about the speed of sneezing and the men:women ratio in Caracas and you’re set for life at dinner parties.

Anyway, the Florida thing started my fascination with curious State laws and I began to conduct some further investigation. One theme immediately became clear; who would want to live in a State beginning with the letter ‘M’?

A Scot may have problems settling in Maryland where thistles are forbidden from growing in one’s yard and they, like Missouri, also decree that it is illegal to have oral sex.

King of the killjoys is Mississippi where unnatural intercourse, if both parties voluntarily participate, results in a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Fines and prison terms can also be dished out for adultery or fornication; having sex with someone that is not your spouse or living together while not married.

It doesn’t stop there. If one is a parent to two illegitimate children in Mississippi, that person can go to jail for at least a month. If they have another illegitimate child, they will spend another three months in jail. Men though have a particularly rough ride. Not only is it illegal for a male to be sexually aroused in public but a man is strictly forbidden from seducing a woman by lying and claiming he will marry her.

It’s not difficult to understand why many Native Americans live on Reservations when you come across some of the antiquated laws still on the statute books. In Maine for instance, shotguns are required to be taken to church in the event of a Native American attack. And in Montana, seven or more Indians are considered a raiding or war party and it is legal to shoot them.

Montana’s very big (actually, Montana IS very big) on its outdoorsy image and its love of nature, even if that’s to the detriment of its human citizens. For example, one may not pretend to abuse an animal in the presence of a minor and Lord help you if you have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone. It’s also illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays and illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all.

The animal theme continues in (relatively) nearby Minnesota where persons may not cross State lines with a duck atop their heads or enter Wisconsin with a chicken on their head. All bathtubs in Minnesota must have feet and it’s illegal to sleep naked there but my favourite is the ordinance that states that it’s against the law to stand around any building without a good reason to be there.

In Michigan, it is illegal to kill a dog using a decompression chamber but it IS legal for a robber to file a law suit, if he or she gets hurt in your house. Most alarmingly (and Bob, I hope you’re sitting up and taking notice here) no man may seduce and corrupt an unmarried girl, or else he risks five years in prison.

Finally, to end on a personal note, I’ve enjoyed a very pleasant visit to Boston in the past but the following five laws would prohibit me from ever living a comfortable (or free) life in Massachusetts.

(i) Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.
(ii) It is illegal to go to bed without first having a full bath.
(iii) Goatees are illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.
(iv) A woman cannot be on top in sexual activities.

and most disturbing of all…

(v) at a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches.

All in all, I’m glad I chose Florida as home for a while. Their ordinance stating that men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown didn’t give me sleepless nights nor the regulation that forbids having sexual relations with a porcupine, although I think the Spring Break dudes could have problems with that one.

So, time for the Speedos, some singing and one last beer at the local beach bar. I can see it now. A bikini-clad Spring-breaker sits on the adjacent stool. I suck in my stomach, lean over casually, raise an inquisitive eyebrow and say, “Did you know that aside from humans, the pig family…”


At 13/3/05 1:32 am, Blogger ropedncr said...

are we going to have to just miss your wonderful writing or will you be continuing from the home country (i hope)?

At 13/3/05 3:14 pm, Blogger Neil said...

I'm sure there are plenty of ridiculous things to read and comment about back home so yes, I'll keep writing.

At 26/11/06 12:48 pm, Anonymous martine said...

Hi Neil. I teach English in a professional high school in Paris, and at the moment I'm doing a text on "curious laws" with my students...and here I am on your blog! I loved reading it...Do you mind if I use part of your text with my class? Thanks. Best wishes

At 26/11/06 7:13 pm, Blogger Neil said...

I don't mind at all. I'm of the firm belief that the children are our future, so teach them well... etc.

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