By Erik Deckers | For The Times-Post
You can tell a lot about a state by the laws they enact. Did they legalize marijuana? What’s the interstate speed limit? How many goats can you own within city limits?
Are the laws important, or are they needless and silly, designed to distract people from actual issues?
This week, I found a list of 50 bizarre laws from every state on the Fox News website.
(Don’t “at” me about the source; I needed a topic! I’ve gotten column ideas from Nigerian prince emails, so this is a short stretch.)
These laws are either still in effect or at least used to be in effect. And they’re rather silly, unusual and unnecessary.
For example, in Arkansas, you cannot beep your car horn after 9 p.m.
That’s fair. Etiquette rules say we shouldn’t call people after 9 p.m., so it makes sense that you shouldn’t disturb—
Oh, wait, at sandwich places. You can’t beep your horn at sandwich places.
More specifically, you can’t honk your horn at any place still serving cold drinks or sandwiches after 9 p.m. But does that mean I can’t blast my horn at an Arby’s past 8:59 p.m.? And can I beep at a Chinese restaurant that only serves hot coffee?
In Alabama, it’s a misdemeanor to dress as a member of the clergy unless you are one. So that means no dressing as a priest, rabbi or nun, or you could be fined $500 and put in jail for a year.
That also extends to dressing like youth pastors. Which means not carrying a Nerf gun and sporting an “I’m with Him” T-shirt.
In Kentucky, you’re not allowed to use any kind of reptile in a religious service, or you could be fined between $50 and $100. The law has been in effect since 1942, although I bet plenty of people still practice “Don’t asp, don’t tell.”
This is the same state that didn’t pass a law against child marriage until 2018. Even then, the Kentucky Senate passed the bill, 34-3, with another person not voting.
It took Kentucky 76 years to realize that a teenage wedding was creepier than snakes in church. And still, four people said, “Well, it ain’t all that bad.”
Meanwhile, in Meriden, Connecticut, it’s illegal to sell or offer silly string to a minor. I’m surprised there’s not a five-day waiting period and strict background check.
To be clear, this is the same state where the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred, but you’re worried about cans of silly string.
The California Fish and Game Code says you’re not allowed to eat any frogs that have died in frog-jumping competitions. According to the code, “it must be destroyed as soon as possible, and may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose.”
That means you’re also not allowed to dissect them, put on tiny puppet shows, or wave them around in church.
In Michigan, you’re not allowed to be drunk on trains, according to a law passed in 1913. You can be high as a kite in a tornado, but being train drunk is strictly verboten.
But you can in Minnesota. You can be drunk anywhere in that state.
That’s because, according to a Minnesota state law passed in 1985, no one “may be charged with or convicted of the offense of drunkenness or public drunkenness.”
So I’m thinking, get high on a Michigan Amtrak, mellow out in Wisconsin, and once you hit Minnesota, break out the Jägerbombs!
Speaking of church, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, you cannot disrupt a religious service by making noise, talking or whispering. More importantly, you’re not allowed to use profane language inside a place of worship or within 100 yards of it.
You also not allowed to use any profanity in Mississippi, or you’ll be fined up to $100. That must be one ginormous swear jar.
You can handle snakes in a Mississippi church, though. Also, boys aged 17 and girls aged 15 can get married with their parents’ permission. Just don’t swear about the snakes at the child wedding. Morality is important, after all.
But Indiana is boring when it comes to bizarre laws. Our big one, according to Fox News? You’re not allowed to catch a fish with your bare hands.
That’s it? I mean, you can’t dye a baby chick in Illinois, can’t dance wearing a sombrero in New Mexico, can’t fire guns at a wedding in Pennsylvania, can’t steal poultry in Rhode Island, and you absolutely cannot have chickens crossing the road in Georgia.
(I think there’s a joke somewhere in that last one, but for the life of me, I can’t come up with one.)
With all that, the best we can do is ban bare-handed fish catching? That’s lame, Indiana. Oh, sure, you can’t use explosives either — they were very specific about that — but that’s because you can’t get the worms to stick to the dynamite.
Come on, Indiana. We need to come up with an even sillier law that affects nobody and solves a problem that doesn’t really exist except in the tiny minds of a few people.
Ask Tennessee if they have any ideas.