SHERIFF'S CORNER: Strange laws of the U.S., Part II

I remember a time when it was a misdemeanor to drop an "F-bomb" in the presence of women and children. For some of us, it would be hard to conversate. The law actually read "Indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child."

The obscure law about cursing drew national attention in August 1998 when a Detroit-area man was charged with the crime while on a canoeing trip in Arenac County. The man better known as the “cussing canoeist,” shouted “f-bombs” upwards of more than 75 times within earshot of a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl after falling out of a canoe.

The man was found guilty after a district judge refused to dismiss the case. In 2002 the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, calling the more than 100-year-old law too vague.

Keeping this in mind, It's time for more weird laws across the nation. In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I cover strange laws of the U.S., Part II.

(Disclaimer: These may only pertain to a specific city within that particular state.)

KENTUCKY: It is Illegal to use snakes in a religious service.

KRS 437.060 states: "Any person who displays, handles or uses any kind of reptile in connection with any religious service or gathering shall be fined not less than fifty dollars ($50) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100)."

LOUISIANA: Bear wrestling is prohibited.

LA Rev Stat § 14:102.10 states:

A. Any person who intentionally commits any of the following shall be guilty of bear wrestling:

(1) Promotes, engages in, or is employed by anyone who conducts a bear wrestling match.

(2) Receives money for the admission of another person to a place kept for bear wrestling matches.

(3) Sells, purchases, possesses, or trains a bear for a bear wrestling match.

B. For the purposes of this Section, a "bear wrestling match" means a match or contest between one or more persons and a bear for the purpose of fighting or engaging in a physical altercation.

C. Whoever commits the crime of bear wrestling shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both."

MAINE: You cannot dance in a place that serves liquor unless you have a permit.

MRSA §1054, sub-§1 states: "The following activities are prohibited on the premises of an establishment licensed to sell liquor to be consumed on the premises unless the licensee has been issued a permit.

A. Music, except music provided by means of a radio or other mechanical device or as provided in paragraph B;

B. Dancing, except dancing by a person when in conjunction with the singing of a song, the lyrics of which are displayed on a screen or some other mechanism of visual display, commonly known as "karaoke"; or

C. Entertainment"

MARYLAND: You are not allowed to buy, wear or sell military and/or organized militia uniforms.

MD Code, PS, § 13-902 states:

"(a) This section does not apply to a member of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard...

(b) A person may not:

(1) hide, sell, dispose of, offer for sale, purchase, retain after a demand by a commissioned officer of the organized militia, or pledge any arms, uniforms, equipment, or other military property issued under this title; or

(2) wear any of the following articles or objects prescribed by law for the use of the organized militia:

(i) a uniform;

(ii) a device, strap, knot, or insignia of any design or character that is used as a designation of grade, rank, or office; or

(iii) an article or object similar to an article or object described in item (i) or (ii) of this item."

MASSACHUSETTES: You must sing the national anthem correctly.

Chapter 264, Sec. 9 states:

"Whoever plays, sings or renders the ''Star Spangled Banner'' in any public place, theatre, motion picture hall, restaurant or café, or at any public entertainment, other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies, or whoever plays, sings or renders the ''Star Spangled Banner,'' or any part thereof, as dance music, as an exit march or as a part of a medley of any kind, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars."

MINNESOTA: It is not a crime to be drunk in public.

340A.902 states:

"No person may be charged with or convicted of the offense of drunkenness or public drunkenness. Nothing herein prevents the prosecution and conviction of an intoxicated person for offenses other than drunkenness or public drunkenness nor does this section relieve a person from civil liability for an injury to persons or property caused by the person while intoxicated."

MISSISSIPPI: You cannot have more than one illegitimate child.

MS Code § 97-29-11 states:

"(1) If any person, who shall have previously become the natural parent of an illegitimate child within or without this state by coition within or without this state, shall again become the natural parent of an illegitimate child born within this state, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days or by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($ 250.00), or both.

A subsequent conviction hereunder shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than three (3) months nor more than six (6) months or by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00), or both. Provided, however, that for the purpose of this section, multiple births shall be construed to be the birth of one (1) child.

(2) The circuit court of the county in which said illegitimate child is born shall have jurisdiction of any action brought under this section. No male person shall be convicted solely on the uncorroborated testimony of the female person giving birth to the child."

MISSOURI: Women are prohibited from wearing corsets.

From the City of Merryville: "The city prohibits women from wearing corsets because 'The privilege of admiring the curvaceous, unencumbered body of a young woman should not be denied to the normal, red-blooded American male.'" Kinda creepy!

MONTANA: Bombs, grenades, rockets, and other large caliber weapons are banned from Billings city council meetings.

Sec. 18-204 states:

"...(1) Council proceedings means all regularly scheduled meetings of the Billings City Council, all specially-called meetings of the city council and all agenda meetings of the city council wherever such meetings may be held.

(2) Destructive device means:

a. An explosive or incendiary material or any other similar chemical substance including, but not limited to, that which is commonly known as tracer or incendiary ammunition, except trace ammunition manufactured for use in shotguns;

b. A bomb, grenade, explosive missile or similar device or a launching device therefore;

c. A weapon of a caliber greater than .60 caliber which fires fixed ammunition or any ammunition therefore, other than a shotgun or shotgun ammunition;

d. A rocket, rocket-propelled projectile or similar device of a diameter greater than .60 inch or a launching device therefore and a rocket, rocket-propelled projectile or a similar device containing an explosive or incendiary material or any other similar chemical substance other than the propellant for the device, except devices designed primarily for emergency or distress signaling purposes;

e. A breakable container which contains a flammable liquid with a flashpoint of one hundred fifty (150) degrees Fahrenheit or less and which has a wick or similar device capable of being ignited, other than a device which is commercially manufactured primarily for the purpose of illumination..."

NEBRASKA: You cannot get married if you have a venereal disease.

42-102 states:

"At the time of the marriage the male must be of the age of seventeen years or upward, and the female of the age of seventeen years or upward. No person who is afflicted with a venereal disease shall marry in this state."

NEVADA: It is illegal to sit or lie in doorways.

Sec. 8.12.012 (Reno, NV) states:

"(a) No person shall sit or lie down in any entrance to any building if that entrance is posted with a sign prohibiting such conduct. For purposes of this section, "entrance" means the entire area between the outer edge of an entrance to a building and the exterior door, and includes the entryway, doorway or vestibule.

(b)The prohibition contained in this section shall not apply to any person sitting or lying down in any entrance to a building due to a medical emergency.

(c)Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor."

So, if you are having a heart attack ... you are ok.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to rmartin@co.lake.mi.us.