Alabama’s ushers on alert for churchgoing lawbreakers

Categorized as 10/05/09 Goshen News column

You hear lots of griping these days about the inequities of our legal system. For sure, there is misuse and abuse in far too many cases with the victim being the one that ends up on the short end of the stick.

“The wheels of justice grind slowly,” someone once said. To that, I say a hearty, “Amen.” If it were up to me, justice would be served fairly and – key word – quickly. Which means that in some cases it would be the lawmakers that would be eligible for a bit of corrective action in my court of law. There’s nothing like a good, sound spanking followed by several years of hard labor to help recalcitrant barristers see the light.

Suffice it to say, I’m not part of the elite circles where the laws are made and enforced. I’m just Mrs. Average American, part of the working class that has to live by the rules that others make.

And speaking of laws, a recent search was quite eye opening. You wouldn’t believe the kinds of edicts that are still on the books in various parts of the country. Some of them were clearly written back in the 1800s, and others – well, there’s really nothing clear about them.

In Alabama, for instance, bear wrestling matches are prohibited. They can’t find singlets that fit? Bears don’t wrestle fair? It’s unclear to me.

Also in Alabama, it is illegal to impersonate a member of the clergy. You can certainly see why, can’t you? Let’s say a faker is marrying and burying members of the congregation. Can you imagine the uproar if it were discovered that, while certain members were still buried, others only thought they’d gotten married? That poor fellow had better hoof it right on out of town lest he get a fine shellacking with the offering plates, that’s for sure.

Proving that Alabama does have some very forward-thinking lawmakers, two different laws state that it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church, and it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.

Boy, those Alabama ushers have to be an alert bunch. Not only must they periodically inspect their clergyman’s license for authenticity, but they’ve got to make sure that every mustache that files past is legit. There’s only one way to find that out, and it requires a stiff upper lip from both parties.

Hey. At least Alabamans can drive to church in safety, protected from blindfolded drivers. That’s something, at least.

Did you know that in Louisiana, biting someone with your natural teeth is “simple assault,” while biting someone with your false teeth is considered to be “aggravated assault?” Seems to me this is splitting hairs. Maybe they think that leaving your falsies embedded in someone’s arm is worse somehow. Don’t you wonder about this?

So what happens if you’re assaulted by someone with no teeth? “But officer, he tried to gum me to death. I was so afraid.” What then? Five to ten for an attempted gumming? This is getting complicated.

Pushing further north now, Alaska’s got some doozies. For example, while it is legal to shoot bears, waking a sleeping one in order to take a photograph is prohibited. You can only assume this was attempted at some point with disastrous results. After all, there’s only one kind of teeth a bear is going to use if you wake him up from a nap to say cheese.

Furthermore, in that fair state, it is considered an offense to push a live moose out of a moving airplane. This raises questions on so many levels. However, I guess if I were a moose, I’d be rather offended if this happened to me. Conversely, if I were down below and the pushed moose landed on me, my offspring, or my homestead, I’d find that offensive as well. So, good law, Alaska.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other laws out there that actually do make sense. In West Virginia, a person can be fined one dollar for each act of public swearing while in California, women may not drive in their housecoats. Personally, I’m hoping that includes curlers as well.

In New York, a man can’t go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that don’t match, and in Massachusetts it is illegal to give beer to hospital patients.

Really, now. We can’t have the invalids from infectious disease skipping down three floors to whoop it up, exchanging phone numbers with the heart patients, can we? No, siree. And we don’t want the geriatric ward busting out in revelry with spontaneous wheelchair races up and down the halls, either. That’s why laws are important.

Boy, we sure learned a lot today. Now we know that it’s bad to shove a moose, that you should let sleeping bears lie, and that you must be a careful biter.

Oh, yes. If you visit my church and crack me up with your mustache, you’d better be sure it’s a real one. The ushers will be checking, you know.

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