Stupid is as Stupid Does – New York version
…or so says Forrest Gump.
There is even a course for college credit entitled, STUPIDITY. Description: What better topic to rail against at college than stupidity? This course examines it at depth from literary, social, and philosophical perspectives. Offered at Occidental College, a nationally renowned liberal arts college integrating the cultural and intellectual resources of Los Angeles. Oh, that explains it. Even with a course like this, “You can’t fix stupid.”
Even worse, there are still blue laws on the books that show up which appear stupid today.
But first …why are they called Blue Laws? Many reference books say that the laws were called “blue” because they were first printed on blue paper. However, historians have said that the term is more likely to be derived from the use of the word “blue” to mean “rigidly moral” and date back to first prohibiting activities on Sundays under the reign of Roman Emperor, Constantine in the year 321.
New Yorkers are still saddled with dozens of anachronistic laws that today seem staggeringly stupid. It’s easy to pass laws regulating people’s behavior but is very difficult to repeal those laws. Among the city and state’s lamest laws:
- It is against the law to throw a ball at someone’s face. A person is guilty of “offensive exhibition” if they operate a public event where a person is “voluntarily submitting to indignities such as the throwing of balls …at one’s head or body.” The law’s origins appears to protect carnies from abusive bosses. Other sections outlaw “propelling” knives at a person, or making them ride a bike or dance “without respite for more than 8 hours.”
- It is illegal to sell cat or dog hair. A statute that’s part of the state’s anti-cruelty provisions makes it a crime to “import, sell, offer for sale … transport or otherwise market” dog or cat fur. But guess what you can traffic? Coyote, fox, lynx, or bobcat fur.
- Flirting can result in a $25 fine. Flutter your eye lashes with flirtatious intent and be prepared to cough up a 25 bucks. This is why this statute can only be from the north. This behavior has Southern DNA written all over it. This mannerism would have the jails below the Mason-Dixon line so overcrowded with flirtatious females because we’ve been trained at an early age to flirt.
- A license must be purchased before hanging clothes on a clothesline. If cops ever cracked down on this law, half of Brooklyn would be in jail. However, luckily many states are revoking this band because this once sight for sore eyes is now considered to be eco-friendly. Lucky you, Alabama.
- No taking selfies with tigers. Say what? Well, since 2014 this law has been on the books with a $500 fine to prevent maulings since there were two in the last ten years when the public was allowed to cozy up to big cats because of county fairs or when traveling circuses came to town.
- It’s against the law to run a puppet show in a window. I know you’d want to, but don’t even think about it. $25 fine and 30 days in jail.
- You may not walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in your pocket. Theoretically, sweet-toothed outlaws would pocket their vanilla cones to hide them from passing policemen. This idea is so uncomfortable I can’t mock it any more than what it already is.
And this is why I started this essay:
- It’s illegal for two or more mask-wearing people to congregate in public. This law has been in existence since 1845 “when tenant farmers, in response to a lowering of wheat prices, dressed up” as Native Americans and “covered their faces with masks in order to attack the police anonymously.”
I don’t think they are enforcing this penal code in New York.