There oughta be a law
How many times have you used the expression, “There oughta be a law against that?” Well, here in Colorado, there probably is.When I moved to Colorado a year ago, I noticed a few peculiarities. One was that car dealerships are closed on Sunday. Naive me, I figured that this was due to benevolent employers allowing their employees weekend downtime to hit the mountains. Nope. Turns out there’s a blue law which states that, in Colorado, a car dealership may not sell or trade a car on a Sunday. This same law, in case you’re wondering, is also in effect in Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota.Since I’m from the Bible-belt South, I know all about blue laws. But I was surprised to find them way out here in the West. By the way, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the term “blue law” was first used in reference to a 1781 publication by the Reverend Samuel Peters, “General History of Connecticut.” The work, which listed the Sabbath regulations in New Haven, was printed on blue papers, hence “blue laws.”A little more erudition for you: The Reverend Peters, who apparently had a lot of time on his hands, made a list of 45 of these laws. Among them: “Judges shall determine controversies without a jury,” “Married persons must live together or be imprisoned,” “A wife shall be good evidence against her husband” and “The selectmen, on finding children ignorant, may take them away from their parents and put into better hands, at the expense of their parents.”While fortunately none of those particular laws are on the books in Colorado, there are plenty of others to take their place. A browse across the internet will bring up a fair sprinkling of goofiness among our state statutes.
For instance, one famous law in Denver states: “The dog catcher must notify DOGS of possible impounding by posting, for three consecutive days, a notice on a tree in the city park and along a public road running through the park.” The fact that Denver dogs can read is just another one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets, and another reason why I’m so happy to be living here. Arvada, on the other hand, has a zero tolerance law for bad pet ownership: “If a stray pet is not claimed within 24 hours, the owner will be destroyed.” You go, Arvada!Other silly laws which are supposedly still in effect:n Denver: “It is unlawful to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next door neighbor.” “Acrobats may not perform any acrobatics on the sidewalk which might frighten the horses.”n Pueblo: “It is illegal to let a dandelion grow within the city limits.”n Fairplay: “No one – man, woman or child – can be seen flying while barefoot.”
n Durango: “It is illegal to go out in public dressed in clothing unbecoming to one’s sex.” “It is illegal to swim in a pool or river during the daytime.”n Toltec: “It is unlawful to catch a fish with your bare hands.”n Sterling: “It is unlawful for a pet cat to run loose at night without a tail light.”And my favorite dog law, in Colorado Springs, states: “Any dog may be allowed to bite one person.”In Logan County, the law says: “It is illegal for a man to kiss a woman while she is asleep.” Yes, Coloradans – in Logan County – Big Brother is watching you!Another Colorado state law claims that it is illegal to throw shoes at a wedding. Wouldn’t you love to know all about the incident that started that one?
To be fair, every other state has its share of dumb laws as well. Being from Georgia, I enjoyed knowing that in Atlanta it’s against the law to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp. Giraffes, as you may know, are indigenous to Georgia, and particularly thrive near Stone Mountain, right outside of Atlanta.It’s also illegal to say “Oh, Boy!” in Jonesboro. That may account for the reason why I haven’t heard anyone use that expression since I was a child in the ’60s.My favorite Georgia law states: “It is a misdemeanor for any citizen to attend church worship on Sunday unless he is equipped with a rifle – and it is loaded.” Meanwhile, in Chicago, it’s illegal to take a French poodle to the opera. That’s OK, because most of the poodles I’ve known were more into jazz anyway.In Sarasota, Fla., it’s illegal to sing in a public place while attired in a swimsuit. Once again, therein lies a story which I would love to know.And I’m sorry, Colorado, but Sarasota is the home of my all-time favorite law:”Men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown.”They just don’t have any fashion sense down in Sarasota, do they?
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