Monday, May 19, 2008

Thy Brother's Keeper

Americans tend to think of the here and now when it comes to what should and should not be legalized. Ask the average person, and many will agree that 'crimes' such as smoking pot, prostitution, gambling, and even polygamy are not activities that warrant the intervention of the government. The laws outlawing these practices are legitimate targets for review and reversal, but if we really want to reform the justice system, we'd better get a team together that will review some of the stupidest laws on the books that you can be imprisoned for even today.

Taking into account that a full 1 in 100 Americans are in prison right at this moment, and that that figure doesn't include people who are languishing in county and local jails, the following 'crimes' should be stricken from the list of things you can be arrested for.

1. New Mexico law states that no woman may appear in public being unshaven.

2. You can be arrested in Indiana for bathing during the winter.

3. It is illegal to mispronounce the name of the state of Arkansas.

4. In the land of George Bush, the great state of Texas, a chicken may have sex with you, but if you reciprocate, it's off to the big house.

5. Candy makers in the state of Washington may be sent to prison for manufacturing and distributing lollipops.

6. Hunting camels in Arizona is strictly prohibited. Take note Mr. McCain.

7. Drunken driving laws in Kentucky are themselves illegal due to the fact that according to another state law, one is not considered to be drunk until one can no longer hold onto the ground. Until then, one is considered sober.

8. California, known for it's great production of produce, forbids the peeling of an orange in any motel room.

9. Women may not get their hair cut in Michigan without their husband's permission, because according to state law, a woman's hair is owned by her husband, period.

10. In Wisconsin, a man may have his wife arrested if he can show she has committed adultery. This law was actually used by a man just 10 years ago. He caught his wife having an affair, went to the sheriff, and had her arrested. Prosecutors had no choice but to press forward with the case.

11. Alabama drivers must remove their blindfolds before operating a motor vehicle.

12. Illinois will and has arrested animals suspected of criminal activity.

13. Kisses are sweet, but in Iowa, they had better not last more than 5 minutes, or the kiss will turn bittersweet as the police haul you away.

14. Pennies are valuable in Hawaii. Hence a state law that makes it a crime to place them in your ears.

15. Cleaning is more than a chore for women in Pennsylvania. Sweeping dirt under a rug can lead to jail time. It's ok if a man does it though, if he's pressed for time.

These few examples, laughable as they are, illustrate just how far our sense of being our brother's and sister's keepers extends. The American sense of justice for activities that should not even be crimes would be as laughable as these idiotic laws still on the books, were it not for the fact that our government's war on another noun, mainly drugs, has caused the incarceration of so many of our own people, that it's calculated that over the course of a lifetime, you have a one in six chance of going to jail.

Outlawing polygamy is a case of the imposition of one religion over another and strictly Unconstitutional.

Newspapers printing the names of those who visit prostitutes are once again shoving the puritanical religious beliefs of one segment of society over another.

What it all boils down to is that at any time, and for reasons you may not even be aware of, in the United States of America, the world's largest Prison Nation, you stand a better chance of being arrested and jailed than you do anywhere else on the planet. We are our brother's keepers to the extreme when it comes to monitoring their behavior. But the problem is the differences in application of the laws between the rich and the poor. White collar crimes get a slap on the wrist, while a poor man selling pot gets 20 years. The only way to reverse this trend is to legalize many of the activities that will be engaged in, law or no law. Maybe then we can start to open our prisons and set our people free.

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