Weird Laws: Driving Dogs, Bomb Threats from Prison Inmate, & Banning Extreme, Violent Pornography

The stone just keeps on rollin’! Sometimes that is all I can think to say when it comes to weird laws and the people that make them possible. It would seem that the people out there, be they politicians, lawyers, criminals or otherwise, would learn that weird laws are out there looking for them, just waiting to catch them when they least expect it. But they never learn. It’s almost like there’s a contest to see who can come out on the top of the mountain of weird laws. Maybe there should be an award for weird laws. It could be like the Darwin Awards, just for the weirdest of the weird laws.

If this was to come about, perhaps the first nominee from the world of weird laws and the people that make them possible would be from China. The law in question would have to be that drivers of cars have to have a valid license. So you may ask if the term “weird laws” could be used to describe this regulation. The answer is a solid no. However, it is the application of this law that solidifies it for inclusion in our round up of weird laws. A woman in China decided her dog wanted to drive. Apparently the pooch just loves to sit in the woman’s lap when they are out for their drives. The woman thought this meant the dog wanted to actually drive so she decided to give the pup the wheel while she worked the pedals. The result? Being the dog apparently missed driver’s ed at obedience class, the canine Jeff Gordon ran into a neighbor’s car. However, at least the police didn’t follow suit and work for their own entry into the arena of weird laws – they didn’t give the dog a ticket, they charged the woman. And people say police can’t get to the bottom of a problem! However, as odd as this may sound, it’s not the first time a pooch wanted to get behind the wheel. Back in 2004 an Arkansas man parked his truck, which he left running, and went into the local auto parts store. Imagine his surprise when he looked out the window and saw the dog behind the wheel of his now moving truck – crash – right into the store’s window. The dog, after his master got out of the truck, had stepped behind the wheel and put the truck in gear. Silly me! I didn’t realize that canine drivers were such a problem.

Perhaps a second nominee for the weirdest among the weird laws comes from the actions of a man in New Jersey. The man hatched a plan that he apparently thought was genius. He would make bomb threats, but offer to hold off on the bombings if he was paid accordingly. Ah yes, the old threat and ransom – ever the lucrative gig. However, from this point his plan fell apart, terribly so. First, he made his demands, to the FBI, Secret Service and two banks, in writing via letter to which he signed his name. Mistake number one. He went on to further complicate things when he asked that the funds be deposited in his account, his account at New Jersey’s Somerset County Jail where he happened to be an inmate. Mistake number two. He did however work to make the deposit easier for those involved by including his inmate number. That’s right – Mistake number three. Of course it could be argued that he wasn’t being greedy as he only asked $20,000 not to set off his bombs. If you ask me, this is quite a bargain. I only wish we could find out the crime for which he was serving time. I have a feeling that there’s another possible entry into the weird laws award behind that one. I also wonder how long it took the authorities to track him down?…..

Now, for a look at how things are going in out judiciary. Perhaps one of the areas that spawns many of our weird laws is the first amendment of the US Constitution. While there is nothing weird about the first amendment, in application, when you leave it to the lawyers to interpret it, then you are squarely in the arena of weird laws. A student at a Juneau, Alaska high school ran afoul of school administration and was expelled over his action at an Olympic Torch Relay rally in 2002. At the rally, the student displayed a banner that read, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” Even though the banner was displayed off-campus, the student was suspended for violating the school’s restriction of promoting illegal substances at a school event. Well, after the suspension, the lawsuits were filed. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the student in the case; however, the school has appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court. It wasn’t enough for the student to get high on life. I’m also wondering if the local churches have come on board in support of the student. It appears the Court’s have.

And for our legislative update we look to bonny old England. Feeling that they don’t have enough weird laws, the English Parliament will be considering a measure to ban what some Members of Parliament have labeled “Extreme, Violent Pornography.” While the lesser, non-violent, non-extreme pornography will be perfectly acceptable, the hardcore stuff will potentially earn you three years in prison. Now this will likely cause an uproar among the free speech crowd and it probably should. After all, where do you draw the line? But on the other hand, why should this even be a problem. Obviously there is a market out there for this type of porn, but if people would avoid the extreme and violent pornography, then those purveyors would either close shop or focus their efforts on improving acceptable pornography. However, the main question this raises is who decides what is extreme and what isn’t? Sure, some will be obvious, but someone has to make a call in the close cases. I can only imagine what that person’s business card will say and think of all the applications for the job.

So that is it for another week. Be careful out there. You don’t want to find yourself victim to one of our many weird laws, but if you do, let me know about it!

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