Law: A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority.
Laws are meant to keep people in line, things in order, and the world a safe place. They also help prevent those of us that lack common sense from humiliating ourselves.
Take this as a warning if you're a man living in Alabama that plans on playing Jesus in a reenactment of His resurrection at your church's Easter service. A law in that state makes it illegal to wear a fake moustache that could cause laughter in church. But, if you live in Nogales, Arizona, and you intend on holding up your loincloth with suspenders, better think of another strategy because it's a crime to wear suspenders in that town. Now, let's say the reenactment is getting a little tedious, the church air-conditioning has gone on the fritz, and that pew is looking mighty comfortable. If your eyelids are getting heavy and you live in North Dakota, I suggest you drink some Red Bull or take your shoes off immediately because it's illegal to lie down and fall asleep with shoes on.
Now, you women who are victims of fashion should heed laws meant to keep your fashion foibles from going on your permanent record. If you're a teacher that has decided to go for a sleek retro bobbed hairdo, the state of Arkansas has an archaic law that makes it illegal to give you a raise. I'm sure this is to prevent women from looking as though they're wearing a football helmet. Everyone should already know this but the state of good taste and common sense, California, pioneered a law making it illegal for a woman to drive in a house coat. Legislators should have included "and/or curlers in hair" with that law. And, in Michigan, to avoid getting mud on your skirt during a downpour, if you lift that skirt more than six inches you're just asking for an arrest.
Laws are also created to save animals from dealing with embarrassing situations. Take for instance a law in Texas that makes it illegal to graffiti someone else's cow. Imagine having to explain that one to the critical herd. It's also illegal to milk another person's cow in Texas. Sounds like bestiality mixed with adultery, doesn't it? Thank goodness someone is looking out for giraffes in Atlanta, Georgia. There, it's against the law to tie one to a telephone pole or street lamp. And, finally, one state seems to really be above the others when it comes to protecting its animals. Florida has a law that makes it illegal to have sex with a porcupine, to put livestock on a school bus, and the kind people of Miami do not allow the imitation of animals.
Love is not exempt from the law. In fact, romantic relationship laws are the most practical laws of all! You poor deprived girls in Connecticut, you don't get to partake in the burning love letters ritual. Written expression of love is against the law if your parents forbid the relationship. It could be worse, if you live in Logan County, Colorado, you cannot be kissed by a man while you're asleep. Forget about dancing close to your sweetheart in Utah, where there must be daylight (yes, daylight!) visible between the two desiring bodies. A town in Washington practically forbids women from leading, they can only make backward steps while dancing.
What is a law without its punishment? Death, the harshest punishment of all, could result from crimes that don't involve murder of any degree. In Alabama, you might think it would be fun to see what would happen if you poured salt on railroad tracks, but it's illegal, and it's punishable by death. If you have a hankering to go steal cattle in Texas, you could still find yourself with a noose around your neck if caught. And, let's not forget the federal crimes that merit the death penalty, espionage, treason, and trafficking of large quantities of drugs. Just say no.
Some lawmakers have invented creative ways to punish criminals. A judge in Florida forces DUI offenders to put bumper stickers on their cars that read, "How's my driving? The judge wants to know," with a toll-free phone number for motorists to call. Another judge in New Mexico found an innovative way to tackle anger management. He sentences offenders to Tai Chi class. I'd choose that over picking up trash on the highway. And, returning to love and the law, my favorite punishment comes from Little Rock, Arkansas. If you are caught flirting with someone of the opposite sex on the street, you could get 30 days in jail. Now that's tough love from the law.
-Special reporting by Carolyn D. Thurmond.
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