SATURDAY’S CHILD – Lawful behaviour
IT IS HELD that the law does not concern itself with trifles (de minimis non curat lex) and that one should not trifle with the law, but when you look at some laws they seem more than a trifle strange.
In Memphis, Tennessee, if the croaking of a frog keeps you awake at night you can have the frog arrested. However, in Hayden, Arizona, it’s illegal to disturb a bullfrog.
In Wisconsin, the “Dairy State”, you cannot serve apple pie without a cheese topping. Most diners are cheesed off about it but even though they have the will to do something about it, they don’t have the whey.
In 2007, Britain’s Daily Telegraph compiled a list of most ridiculous laws (or possibly urban myths). They found that in Britain, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even, if she so requests, in a policeman’s helmet. In England, it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament and it is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.
In Birmingham, England, it is illegal for a man and a woman to have sex on church steps after sundown. And a law was passed in 1837 that entitled a woman to bite off a man’s nose if he kissed her against her will.
The Telegraph also included some even more bizarre laws from other countries. The United States tops the list. In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on Sundays can be jailed and it is also illegal to have sex with a porcupine. The penalty for doing both at the same time is unknown but it is a prickly issue.
In Alexandria, Minnesota, it is still illegal for a man who has garlic, onions or sardines on his breath to have sex with his wife. Fortunately for Caribbean men, we in the region believe a law like this will take the spice out of marriage.
In Texas, criminals are still required to give their victims at least 24 hours oral or written notice giving details of the crime they are about to commit. I understand that they thought of this in Trinidad but found that most of the criminals (and police) were functionally illiterate.
In Singapore it is illegal to chew gum and oral sex is banned unless it is used only during foreplay.
Donald Duck comics were once banned in Finland because he never wore pants. In Afghanistan the Taliban militia banned women from wearing white socks just in case men found them attractive, and in Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman’s genitals but is forbidden from looking directly at them during the examination; he may only see their reflection in a mirror.
I thought of researching weird and wacky laws earlier this week when I saw in the Barbados NATION that racehorse owner Sir David Seale and Canadian millionaire Eugene Melnyk, along with local trainer Stephen Bynoe, objected to Kittitian horses being allowed to race in the Gold Cup on the grounds that St Kitts “is not a recognized racing jurisdiction”.
By that time, the horses from St Kitts, a Caribbean country, had already been part of the draw for positions in the Gold Cup and the owner, the person responsible for the new, multi-million dollar racetrack in St Kitts, had spent a lot of money in getting his horses ready and present in Barbados for the race. I lived in Barbados when the Gold Cup event started and saw it then, as I see it now, as a Caribbean event. It is a sad day, I thought, for Caribbean unity, when horses from a Caribbean country might be barred from a regional event.
It is as dumb as the law in Iowa where horses are not allowed to eat fire hydrants or a British law forbidding any Englishman from selling a horse to a Scotsman.
The next thing you know, somebody might even make it illegal in Barbados, as they did in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, in 1917, to tie a male horse next to a female horse (especially if one of the horses is Kittitian). Fortunately and sensibly, the Barbados race stewards showed more horse sense, leaving the Kittitian horses with the last laugh – a good horse laugh, which would be even heartier if they win. Then it would be a horse of a completely different complexion.
Tony Deyal was last seen saying that in Indonesia the penalty for masturbation is death and in London, England, wife beating is legal just as long as it is not after 9 p.m. and it doesn’t disturb the neighbours. This might explain why so many Caribbean men go to London and not Indonesia.