By Ron VandenBoom
Much to my dismay, I recently learned that it is illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on in the state of North Dakota.
It was a revelation that bothered me greatly. I have relatives living very near the North Dakota border and I fear for their safety. Who knows what dastardly deeds some shod and slumbering criminal might be contemplating.
While Im sure this law must, at one time, have been based in logic, it is impossible today to grasp what that logic might have been. Obviously someone in the North Dakota State Legislature had to propose it, argue the logic behind it, and convince a majority of other members to vote in favor of it.
What this story is really telling us is that tucked inside the coat pocket of every true blue politician is a list. A list of mostly needless laws they hope to inflict on the people they represent. It also tells us too many laws remain on the books that have long ago out-lived their usefulness. Some, no doubt, were originally designed to protect people from themselves.
This I suspect was the case with the North Dakota law that forbid beer and pretzels from being served at the same time in bars or restaurants. Pretzels are salty and salt makes people thirsty. Thirsty people drink more beer. So, make it illegal to serve beer and pretzels together and you reduce the amount of beer patrons consume. Thus we have a more sober population, right?
Well, while protecting the population from the evils of alcohol in North Dakota, Idaho legislators were busy telling their citizenry there was no such thing as too much of a good thing. A state law in that state makes it illegal for a man to give his sweetheart a box of candy weighing less than fifty pounds.
Protecting Idahos wildlife was also shown to be a priority by the Idaho Legislature when it passed a law stating the state would no longer allow citizens to fish from the back of a camel. Residents in Boise also were forbidden to fish from a giraffes back.
I wonder how much of a problem this could have been in Idaho. The last time I checked, Idaho was not a haven for giraffes or camels. Lucky for me I only hunt grizzly bear from the back of my camel.
If, however, my camel and I happen to be hunting in Idahos Pocatello area, I always make sure some of my concealed weapons are exhibited to public view so I wont violate the 1912 law forbidding concealed weapons unless some of them are exposed to public scrutiny.
Had enough laughs at the expense of Idaho and North Dakota? Well, lets take a look in our own backyard.
Sticking with the subject of fishing, Montana law forbids married women from fishing alone on Sundays and for unmarried women from fishing alone at any time and it doesnt matter whether theyre sitting astride a camel or not.
Its hard to say why this law was passed, but I bet theres a sexist mentality behind it somewhere. Perhaps it is the same sexist mentality that made it a felony in Montana for a wife to open her husbands mail.
Livestock, too, have received protection from our state legislators, but perhaps not in the way you might think. Did you know that it is illegal in Montana to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone.
Im not sure what our Legislature might have been thinking with this one. Is it possible they thought the sheep might drive off with the truck or were they just afraid the poor critter might get lonely?
In Whitehall theres a law that makes it illegal to operate a vehicle with ice picks attached to the wheels and in Helena it is illegal to throw any item across a street.
I admit that all of these examples have come to me via the Internet and how valid they might be is certainly questionable, but the point they make is valid be it yesterday, today, or tomorrow. There are too many laws, too much regulation, and too many politicians who think they can right the worlds wrongs by passing a law.