Legislating the absurd

One need only look at the bizarre laws still on Connecticut’s books to question the sanity of elected officials. For instance, a pickle cannot officially be recognized as a pickle unless it can bounce. We aren’t legally allowed to dispose of our used razor blades (the state would appreciate it if those of you who’ve been doing so would turn yourselves in). It’s illegal to display colored Christmas lights in Guilford. In Hartford it’s against the law for a man to kiss his wife on Sunday, and no citizen can attempt to educate a dog. Those in New Britain might be interested to know their fire trucks aren’t allowed to go over 25 miles per hour when responding to a fire.

The unexpected consequences of legislation can be even more amusing. Last week Danielle Lei and her mother started selling Girl Scout cookies outside a San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary. In the “Least Surprising News Ever,” they sold out of their 117 boxes in only 45 minutes before going back the next day. Here I was thinking that business-savvy scouts had their parents hit up co-workers to boost sales, but this is brilliant. This girl managed to make a (thin) mint outside a pot store — where, ironically, they actually sell a brand of weed called “Girl Scout Cookies.”

This must have really upset Arizonans already unhappy with recent allegations of a tenuous relationship between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. Despite the official announcements from the Girls Scouts (“No, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood”), the denizens of the Grand Canyon State keep seeing ghosts. This isn’t surprising, considering the Arizona legislature is currently trying to revive the ghosts of its pre-Civil Rights Era. It passed a controversial bill last week that allows business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, “as long as (business owners) assert their religious beliefs.” After all, nothing screams “I love freedom of religion!” more than denying services based on a person’s beliefs.

Clearly, some of these Girl Scouts are in need of a spanking — and if they happen to be in Kansas, we’re in luck! A bill introduced last week would let school officials hit children hard enough to leave redness or bruising. Rep. Gail Finney (D-Wichita) introduced the bill to further define corporal punishment because, she says, “some children are very defiant and they’re not minding their parents. They’re not minding school personnel.”

Although intended to provide more leeway for parents, Kansas is one of 20 states that still allows corporal punishment in school. The proposed law would allow for both the restraint of the child and “up to 10 forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child.” The bill allows that this might result in “redness or bruising … on the tender skin of a child.” However, the bill “would continue to ban hitting a child with fists, in the head or body or with a belt or switch.” (Presumably, you also couldn’t push children in front of moving trains either, but I haven’t read the whole thing yet.) Most outrageous of all, the bill would let parents give school personnel permission to even spank students over 18 if they’re still enrolled in school.

Let that sink in for a moment. When your first responsibility upon seeing a principal giving a spanking to an 18-year-old in a Girl Scout uniform bent over his knee is determining whether more than 10 forceful applications are being applied, you might be time to reconsider your elected representation.

After reviewing this week’s absurd attempts at legislation, mandating that pickles must bounce isn’t as ridiculous as I once thought.

You can read more at RobertFWalsh.net and contact him at rob@RobertFWalsh.net or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.