2009-01-29 / Sam Bari

Lawmakers at work

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

It has been a while since I have addressed the subject of strange legislation. Now that our nation's lawmakers are just chomping at the bit to pass new and wonderful laws, I believe it is time to tell them to clean out the closet of old chestnuts that have long served their purpose, and revise a few that just refuse to go away.

A good start would be with the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson coined the "all men were created equal" phrase in the hallowed doctrine as a rebuttal to the accepted political theory of the day, "The Divine Right of Kings." That part is rarely mentioned.

"The Divine Right of Kings" was a political and religious doctrine of royal absolutism. It asserted that a monarch was subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God. The king was thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including the church.

Just change it to: "All people were created equal and nobody is above the law, be they kings, dictators, presidents, senators, congressmen, or other high offi cials." I believe that would get the job done.

Using the Thomas Jefferson quote as a political platform saying that all men are created equal, including slaves, was actually quite opposite its original intent. "The Divine right of Kings" did not dispute the equality of commoners; it was designed to uphold the privileged status of royalty. Consequently, Jefferson was equating royalty to the common man, not the other way around.

Next, let's take a look at a couple of hastily written ordinances that could have used closer scrutiny before getting the official stamp of approval.

A local California law says: "No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash." Hmmm . . . Now do we really need masters on leashes? I don't think so.

Another interesting bit of California legislation says: "It is illegal to set a mousetrap without a hunting license" . . . Really? Now why does a mousetrap require a hunting license? What are those people smoking out there?

Now this next one is so unbelievable that our crack research team, the Googlamaniacs, had to check it out. I promise you, I did not make this up. This law is on the books in Belvedere, California: "A person must own at least two cows before he is permitted to wear cowboy boots in public."

If impersonation of cowboys were a state law, Hollywood would have been out of business decades ago.

The following law is just so practical, it should be adopted by the feds. The astute legislators from Delaware must be saluted for this exercise in pragmatism. It is a shining example of taxpayer dollars well spent: " It is a violation of the law for any pilot or passenger to carry an ice cream cone in their pocket while either flying or waiting to board a plane."

I gotta wonder. What were the circumstances that inspired that piece of legislative brilliance?

This next law made perfect sense because of the reasoning behind it. However, without prior knowledge, you must admit it is funny. It is a local law in Florida: "An elephant tied to a parking meter must pay a regular parking fee."

I believe the law is on the books in Sarasota or one of the cities where circuses are known to spend the winter. Elephants are put to work in the off-season and can often be seen in town with their trainers. The mammoth beasts pull wagons, load bails of hay onto truck beds, or perform other elephant-friendly tasks.

Occasionally one will be found in town tied to a parking meter while the trainer is running errands or standing in a saloon having a brew. This law applies to that situation.

Another Florida law that needs to be removed from the active list of ordinances is this: " Men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown."

This law was written by the uptight lawmakers who opposed the Fantasy Fest parade that is an annual event in Key West. Every drag queen in the country dons his most festive finery to participate in this colorful event.

Gays and straights alike line the streets for hours to witness this coming out of the beautiful people. Needless to say, the ordinance is not enforced. So just strike it from the books already.

Those Florida legislators are just a bunch of killjoys.

I don't know if the following law is still on the books, but it certainly is not enforced. It comes from the state of Illinois, and if our new president is aware of it, he should say something to the lawmakers from his home state. "It is against the law to speak English in Illinois."Can you believe that?

And from the All-American city of Urbana, Ill.: "No monster may enter the corporate limits."

You gotta admit, those Illinois lawmakers have imagination. They are already legislating against the space guys.

These are just few of a long list of laws that should be cleaned up and carted out before another piece of legislation is written. They are shining examples of why we live in a system we can't understand.

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