Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
This writer is a major proponent of reducing the number of laws enacted at both the federal and state level. I have railed in print on many occasions that legislators think their job is to enact silly laws versus truly helping their constituents. Rather than spending time thinking of new laws to enact, I think are lawmakers really ought to take a look at the laws on the books, and get rid of them.
According to Harvey Silvergate, author of “Three Felonies a Day”, laws are being enacted so quickly that the average citizen commits three felonies per day.
“Since no individual can keep track of what is illegal, every citizen is in danger of being singled out for prosecution,” he said. Silvergate estimates there are 4000 federal criminal statutes with countless more state and local regulations we as citizens must obey.
Silvergate continued, “An excess of laws is very bad for society. It saps the vitality of a state or nation for citizens to have to spend so much time figuring out if they may or may not take a certain action.”
Here’s just a few that are on the books in Michigan:
-Section 532 of an early 1930’s law, makes it unlawful for “any man who shall seduce and debauch any unmarried woman.” In other words, having sex with an unmarried woman could get you up to five years and a $2,500 fine.
-Another 1930’s Michigan law, specifically Act 328, prevents the “Star Spangled Banner” from being played, sung or otherwise rendered…except as an entire and separate composition or number and without embellishments…nor be played as a part or selection of a medley of any kind… nor be played for dancing or as an exit march.
-Many of us realize that monetary bets are illegal. Thus, when we place a bet on an NCAA Tournament -baskeball pool, we are breaking the law. The same if you are playing poker for money at home. Our state statutes are written as such, that these small, innocent bets could still get you hefty fines.
These crazy laws are only the tip of the iceberg. Did you know if your dog is unlicensed in Michigan, the sheriff is required to kill it? Did you know that committing adultery is actually a felony? Mocking a person who refuses to duel is also considered a felony; so is exhibiting a deformed person, such as those in carnival shows. I’m not making this stuff up- these laws are real and can be enforced.
I bet you didn’t realize that using profanity was against the law, and that a man in 1998 was actually convicted of the 101 year old statute. Many of us remember the “cussing canoeist” who dominated the news for a couple of days. He let go a barrage of swear words as he was falling out of his canoe on the Rifle River.
Apparently a woman, with her two children, was in earshot of Timothy Boomer’s barrage of expletives. She didn’t like it and hired an attorney to sue Boomer. She won, citing the century old law.
Eventually his conviction was tossed out by the Michigan Court of Appeals, but gosh, it makes you think twice next time you wanna say s_ _ _.