Would it be far-fetched to suggest that the United States is a progressive nation? I think not. After all, it was our American forefathers who ratified the Constitution, created the Bill of Rights and developed a government of checks and balances. Who came up with the Industrial Revolution, the Civil Rights movement and fast food? Oh, right — that was us! Americans were the first to fly planes and the first to land on the moon. We even invented electricity, the artificial heart and the polio vaccine. We had Elvis Presley, for crying out loud!
I think I’ve proved my point that, aside from a few minor missteps (see slavery, the Trail of Tears, Vietnam, Fox News, etc.), the United States is a very forward-thinking country. With all of our accomplishments, we appear be ahead of the game in the political, scientific, sociological and technological arenas.
Unfortunately, it turns out that we Americans may not be as advanced as I have originally suggested. In fact, despite my belief that America is a stellar place, I have recently unearthed some very strange U.S. laws. As there is not enough room to go through these laws on a state by state basis, I have separated them according to topics which I found most pertinent to college students: animals, hair, sex and miscellaneous crimes (of course).
Did you know that in some parts of the United States, the government has assumed the right to preside over animals in addition to their human citizens? No, I am not talking about the standard “curb your dog” rules, or any other pet law for that matter. Instead, I am referring to laws which are directed at the animals themselves.
For example, in California, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school or place of worship. What I am uncertain about is how the State Legislature plans to enforce these laws. None of the Californians that I know speak squirrel (however, I never really inquired about this, so I may be wrong).
In all fairness, though, California law also protects its animals. For instance, in California, “molesting” butterflies results in a $500 fine, while setting a mousetrap without a hunting license is also illegal. I’d say these statutes are completely fair — you’d have to be one sick individual to molest a butterfly.
Maybe you’re guessing that laws governing hair would address such issues as the sale of hair or the negative effects of hair products on the environment. Oh, if it were only this simple. No, no — hair laws actually deal with much more complex matters.
In Massachusetts, for example, an old ordinance declares goatees to be illegal. In fact, unless you first pay a special licensing fee for the privilege of wearing a goatee in public, you are not allowed to don one. While I myself am not a huge fan of the goatee, I think this law is discriminatory. While rich men can sport goatees because they can afford the fee, poor fellas are limited to beards, ’staches, combos or clean-shaven faces. It’s truly elitist.
Another “hair-raising” law can be found in the great state of Michigan. Their state law stipulates that a woman’s hair legally belongs to her husband. While male-pattern balding is an unfortunate occurrence, I really do not see how owning someone else’s hair will compensate for the lack of one’s own. However, it would be interesting to calculate the blonde to brunette ratio in Michigan if this law was actually practiced.
While “doing the nasty” is usually considered to be a personal affair (unless it involves money and/or a president), some states take it upon themselves to make sure all is well in the world of sexual intercourse.
For instance, oral sex is illegal in 18 states. Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and Washington D.C. consider people who give or receive oral sex to be criminals. In Georgia, those convicted of oral sex can be charged with no less than one year and no more than 20 years imprisonment. Yikes.
Oral stimulation is not the only form of sex that is highly regulated, however. The State of Virginia dictates that it is illegal to have sex with the lights on. In Florida, Massachussetts, Montana and Virginia, it is illegal to have sex in any position other than missionary. In Oklahoma, pre-marital sex is against the law. Nevada considers sex without the use of a condom to be illegal. In Texas, the use or ownership of more than six dildos may qualify you for a felony. In Georgia, sex toys are banned altogether.
The very essence of committing a crime is, of course, that you are breaking the law. However, just because you are breaking one law does not mean that you are exempt from following other related regulations.
For example, in Iowa, it is a violation of the law to sell illegal drugs or narcotics without having first obtained the appropriate Iowa drug tax stamp. (I think this is rather fair. I mean, if you’re going to sell Meth in Iowa, you should at least give back to your home state.) In Oregon, it is illegal to buy or sell marijuana, but it is legal to smoke it on your own property.
In Arizona, any misdemeanor committed while wearing a red mask is considered a felony. (A black mask, however, is fine.) In Arkansas, a man can legally beat his wife — but no more than once a month (that’s just being greedy). And, to top it off, in New Jersey it is illegal to wear a bullet-proof vest while committing a murder (umm … I think they’re missing the big picture here).
Final thought: I would just like to note that some of these laws may not be observed in reality. However, the fact that they exist, even in theory, is enough to quell my boredom.
Naomi Goldin is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Kit and Kaboodle appears alternate Wednesdays.