Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias Each year, this state sends some of its best men and women to Pierre to do the public good.

Our state's annual legislative session is a time when we are supposed to feel hopeful. We naturally expect that something good will have happened by the time the legislative session wraps up in March.

I'll never forget the more cynical view, however, that is held by a restaurant owner in a community where I once lived and worked. In the entrance to his building he hung a message at eye level for all to see.

It reads "No one's life, liberty and property are safe as long as the state Legislature is in session."

Since the state House and the state Senate are both made up of human beings, complete with all of their frailties, I contend that it is possible for our governing bodies to forge ahead and pass laws that are utterly stupid, despite our state constitution that provides all sorts of checks and balances, from committee meetings to majority votes to the governor's veto, to stop dumb laws from happening.

Dumb laws, in fact, do happen, according to a web site on the Internet at The site claims to have a huge collection of the most senseless laws throughout the United States.

It adds that many of the laws on its site have been verified, but many were copied from sources which did not include the law numbers.

The laws have been taken from newsgroups, others web sites, mayors, and common folk who log on to the site. It makes for some interesting reading.

South Dakota doesn't escape the dumb law list. According to the web site, the following statutes are the law of the land in our state:

* No horses are allowed into Fountain Inn unless they are wearing pants.

* It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.

* Movies that show police officers being struck, beaten, or treated in an offensive manner are forbidden.

* If there are more than five Native Americans on your property you may shoot them.

In Minnesota, the land of Jesse the Mind, one apparently can find these laws:

* A person may not cross state lines with a duck atop their head.

* It is illegal to sleep naked.

Nebraska is really tough on crime. According to the web site, that state's laws crack down on certain human behavior. For example:

* A parent can be arrested if his child cannot hold back a burp during a church service.

* It is illegal to go whale fishing.

* It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.

* It is illegal for a mother to give her daughter a perm without a state license.

(By the way, in Omaha, sneezing or burping is illegal during a church service. And, a man is not allowed to run around with a shaved chest. In Waterloo, barbers are forbidden from eating onions between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.)

We all know that North Dakota is a tough place to live. It's cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and, in recent years at least, prone to flooding.

Human existence isn't made any easier by state lawmakers there. In our neighbor to the north:

* Beer and pretzels can't be served at the same time in any bar or restaurant.

* It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on.

And watch yourself in Fargo. In that city:

* One may be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing, or even for wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place.

Should you wander into Iowa, remembers that:

* Kisses may last for as much as, but no more than, five minutes.

* One-armed piano players must perform for free.

In Fort Madison, IA:

* The fire department is required to practice fire fighting for 15 minutes before attending a fire.

And, in Ottumwa, IA, a city ordinance states:

* It is unlawful for any male person, within the corporate limits of the (city), to wink at any female person with whom he is unacquainted.

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