Stupid Laws

I originally posted this on Florida Today’s forum, in response to the “kids-in-car” bill that the Florida House of Representative were considering. I kinda liked it, so I wanted it to live forever here, too:

Laws are made to “protect” us. Well, what this really means is that laws are made to control people and tell them what they can and can’t do. “You can do this, but not this, this, or this. And if you do that, then you will get fined for it. And if you do this, then you’ll go to jail.”

Some fundamental laws are necessary to maintain a functioning society. Things like murder, rape, and thievery, for example, should all be valid laws. The problem we have here is that there are too many rules custom-tailored to fit specific instances of human stupidity. This defeats the entire purpose of a “free” country. Almost every freedom we have has been taken away because some idiot decided that he wanted to do something stupid. When stupid people break the law, the system is so soft on them that they’re right back out there doing the same stupid things again, causing more frustration, wasting more resources, and harming more people. Rather than solve the problem at the source, we choose to create little “laws” that will “prevent” these things from happening in the future. In reality, what happens here, is the crime rate actually goes up.

Why? Because I can’t seem to find a copy of a “law book” that my government mailed to me, informing me of all the great new “laws” they created to protect me. And without my handy lil’ law book, I’m not sure how many of the day-to-day things that I’ve been doing for the last 10 years are now considered “illegal”. Of course, this information is all publicly available, but how many people spend their weekends researching new laws at the courthouse? Case in point.

Our government is controlling the populace by fear. “Don’t do that or you’ll go to jail” and “you’ll be fined for that”. We’re so consumed by countless laws and regulations that we’re bound to break one or more of them sooner or later…probably unknowingly. How many people have ever heard of these ridiculous “laws”:

  • In Florida, Women may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer, as can the salon owner.
  • In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.
  • It is illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket in Kentucky.
  • In Los Angeles, customers in meat markets are prohibited from poking a turkey to see how tender it is.
  • Violators can be fined, arrested or jailed for making ugly faces at a dog in Oklahoma.
  • In California, community leaders passed an ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to try and stop a child from playfully jumping over puddles of water.
  • In Chicago, it is against the law to eat in an establishment that is on fire.
  • In Florida, a special law prohibits unmarried women from parachuting on Sunday or she shall risk arrest, fine, and/or jailing.
  • In Florida, any form of sexual contact other than missionary position is a misdemeanor. (This one is still an active law at the time of this writing)

Granted, a lot of these laws have been repealed and are no longer valid, but it raises the question “How did these ‘laws’ ever get approved?”

I think I can explain. Take the making-faces-at-dogs law in Oklahoma. Some idiot probably decided that it would be a fun experience to taunt his neighbor’s rottweiler by making faces at it. The dog got pissed off, bit the hell out of him, and voila! It’s in the newspapers. It’s on TV. Animal control comes out and puts the dog down. Pretty soon we have animal rights activists out there protesting. Next thing you know, some idiot congressman writes up a new law preventing this from ever happening again. Problem solved, right? Well, let’s pretend that everyone in Oklahoma did get a fresh copy of the lil’ law book we talked about. We no longer have people making faces at dogs anywhere in the entire state of Oklahoma. A week later, some moron comes by and decides to yank on another dog’s tail. He gets malled. Dammit! Our new law didn’t cover that situation.

But rather then educate people — and I don’t mean college, but perhaps something more along the lines of common sense — our government chooses to write more and more laws in an effort to prevent future occurrences of the same situations from happening. Think about how senseless this is. How many times can you patch a tire before it finally bursts? The solution here is to teach people to not drive over broken glass.

Maybe one day we’ll have a leader in government that can come to terms with how ridiculous this whole process is and put forth an effort to change it for the better. Until then, should we consider creating a new law to ban stupid laws?