13 September 2015

The Law is an Ass

Florida postcard
“The law is a ass” runs the famous quotation by the beadle Bumble (I’ll probably never get another opportunity to write that phrase) in Dickens’ Oliver Twist, chapter 51 (or this squib in context). The sentiment is about the only agreement we find in the comeuppance of the unpleasant Mr. Bumble. Time has repeatedly proven the maxim.

Last year, we mentioned Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi attempted to stop a lesbian couple’s divorce. Not good for family values, see. Barbie Doll Bondi is the same AG who schedules her executions around cocktails.

Asinine is from the Latin for 'ass' and to be sure, Florida is loaded with asinine laws. You may remember we re-elected as governor the perpetrator of the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in history. It’s sadly ironic in so many ways that this governor has been a most ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, turning down billions in federal aid to 800,000 of the state’s needy. But you don’t have to oppose ObamaCare to appreciate the irony that Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet (including Pam Bondi) pay only $8.34 a month for individual heath coverage. Our multi-millionaire governor shells out only $30 a month to cover his family of five. The poor need not apply.

As you already know, Florida originated the asinine Shoot First / Stand Your Ground law which supplanted the far more sensible Castle Defense. Now we have a ‘Gun Gag’ law, also called Docs versus Glocks, which forbids physicians from enquiring about guns in the home, even if, say a child, is obviously wounded by a gunshot.

It’s like the story about a poacher who sought medical treatment after a hunting accident. The man said, “Doc, I got run through by a tree branch.” The doctor looked closely at the wound and said, “Really? What calibre?”

In 2001, the governor and legislature proudly enacted the Scarlet Letter law (Florida Statute §63.088, voted for and passed by two present presidential candidates). Intentionally intended to humiliate, the statute required single women who wanted to put a child up for adoption to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper, not just once, but weekly for a month, paid for by the women themselves. The law compelled them to provide details about their sexual encounters including names of sex partners, physical descriptions (height, weight, hair and eye color), dates and locations. The law provided no exceptions for minors or victims of rape. Sensible liberals and conservatives came together to oppose the law and in 2003, the act was declared unconstitutional and repealed.

The Florida legislature decided it would be a genius idea to label sexual offenders as such on their driver's license so that they couldn't, say, visit Walt Disney World. Except the slot allocated on the Florida drivers licenses shares the same field as organ donor and glasses requirements. What could go wrong?

Florida was hardly done meddling in sex. This year we outdid ourselves with an act barring transsexuals from using public restrooms if their birth gender doesn’t match the picture on the door. Violation of this law, even in emergencies, can result in a year of incarceration although, in a twist of irony, the law doesn’t seem to specify men’s or women’s prison.

But wait, there’s more! Any non-transsexual who somehow discovers the chromosomes of the person in the stall next to them aren’t the same as their own may sue that person for emotional damages and attorneys fees. But stop! Florida law isn’t done. Said non-trans person may also sue the proprietor as well for damages and attorneys fees.

North Carolina postcard
But we’re not finished as we turn our attention to North Carolina.

An arrest in the Tar Heel State prompted today’s article. A minor charged as an adult is facing up to ten years in prison and registration as a sexual predator for having nude pictures of a minor on his cell phone.

Pictures of… himself.

Wait. Try to grasp that. Police are charging a boy as an adult for having naked photos of himself… because he’s a minor.

It’s like corrupting the morals… of himself. (His girlfriend was fined $200 for the same thing and does not have to register as an offender.)

Even though authorities have made his name and face public, the premise of this article is the law is an ass and it’s not up to me to disseminate his personal information. But even beadle Bumble could not have imagined such a plight.


  1. A good compilation of ghastly laws. Who was it said that no people are as bad as their laws?

  2. Janice, not so long ago, an unnecessary Florida law unintentionally banned sex and another crazy law banned computers and cell phones. It's not the heat but the humidity.

  3. Okay, Leigh - once again you have left me speechless and laughing! Good thing I put down my coffee before reading this.

  4. Oh, Melodie, you have no idea. Several years ago, one of the beach communities attempted to ban thongs and itsy-bitsy string bikinis. Attempting to be precise, the ordinance read like a mathematics textbook, with percentages of hemispheres and degrees, geometrical curves and angles. Police would have had to carry protractors and dividers, but I suppose they could have first arrested on suspicion and measured later.

  5. Leigh, you mentioned humidity, do you think perhaps it causes brain rot in some people? It’s probably a worthy subject for some useless study, but who would fund it? I think I’d almost be afraid to walk out the door in your state for fear I was breaking some sort of ludicrous law. (And yes, I know the state I live in has plenty of idiocy that goes on.) The title of your piece certainly fits.

  6. Vicki, Florida heat and humidity causes a sort of brain rot. Actually, we do have a deadly brain-eating amoeba that attacks swimmers in inland waters when the temperature is high and the lake levels are low. Maybe that's the reason!

  7. There is (or at least there used to be, I haven't checked lately) a Maryland law that forbids women from breastfeeding another woman's child without permission. You have got to wonder what the heck happened to have prompted someone to decide to write that rule down.

  8. Without permission? How peculiar, Barb. Wet-nursing was a side income for some women in decades past, but I'm hard-pressed to imagine what precipitated such a law. Thanks, Barb!

  9. And yet, I'll bet the general Florida public keeps voting in the same law-making idiots. Which says very little for the voting public. Do you know what percent of eligible voters do vote in these Florida elections? Those who don't practice their freedoms can soon lose them and wonder how it happened.

  10. RT, that's so very, very true. I found it hard to believe the Florida electorate voted Rick Scott in twice, let alone once. One of my friends said Scott made the rounds of churches begging forgiveness for his fraud, but he didn't seem inclined to return his ill-gotten gains. I can't fathom the minds of Floridians.

  11. Couldn't make this up if you tried. ‘Unbelievable, stupid, unjust, farcical, idiotic’ are just some of the words that spring to mind.

    Incorporate the Scarlet Letter law in a story and readers would think you were having them on.

    My horror is struck, my dumb is founded and my flabber officially gasted.

  12. Thanks, ABA. If Florida was a state of mind, it would be mad, mad, mad, mad.

  13. Leigh! This may be my favourite article from you! I had no idea Florida had its own version of Rob Ford. Why, electorate? Why?

  14. The eternal question, Melissa. Rob Ford underwent alcohol and drug treatment, but here in Florida, you can't fix sober but stupid.

  15. Sober but stupid indeed. The amazing laws never stop - but I've never heard of being arrested for corrupting your own morals. If that's the law, then that should be the double charge for EVERY politician, pundit, priest, etc., who's charged with any sex crime.


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