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Column: Some laws only good for a laugh

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In this day and age it seems like there's a law that's been written about everything -- some deserved, some not.

And you've also probably heard people say "there oughta be a law against that."

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Well Virginia, there probably already is a law against whatever it is you are talking about because there are certainly plenty of laws across this country that remain on the books, but really seem strange in this day and age.

So my advice is before you take that vacation trip to wherever yet this summer consult the law books of the places you plan on visiting or traveling through to make sure you don't violate some very important laws (sarcasm dripping) that you might not be aware of.

For example, if you plan on traveling to Alabama sometime soon remember: Bear wrestling matches are prohibited. So leave your mother-in-law home, just kidding. It's also illegal in Alabama to impersonate a person of the clergy and don't plan on maiming yourself there because there it's also illegal to maim one's self to escape duty.

Other laws you better be aware of in Alabama include: It's considered an offense to open an umbrella on a street for fear of spooking horses. It's illegal to sell peanuts in Lee County after sundown on Wednesday and also remember that in Alabama dominoes may not be played on Sunday.

If those laws don't cover everything in that state, here's some more for you to remember when you travel in the home of the Crimson Tide.

It is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church and putting salt on a railroad track may be punishable by death.

If a police officer stops you in Alabama for going the wrong way on a one way street, just make sure you have a lantern because it is legal there to go the wrong way on a one way street if you have a lantern attached to the front of your car.

And this one I'll make sure to remember in the state of Alabama, you can not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time. So avoid that temptation.

After learning of those laws I decided to take a look at what laws are on the books closer to home.

I found that in Minnesota it is illegal to stand around any building without a good reason to be there. Remember this one when you travel out of state in Minnesota, it is illegal to cross the state line with a duck atop your head and it's also illegal to enter Wisconsin with a chicken on your head.

This one I will watch closely for personal reasons: It is illegal in Minnesota to sleep naked. Speaking of clothing or no clothing, in Minnesota all men driving motorcycles must wear shirts.

Some cities have strange laws still in force. Take for example Hibbing where "It shall be the duty of any policeman or any other officer to enforce the provisions of this section, and if any cat is found running at large, or which is found in any street, alley or public place, it shall be the duty of any policeman or other officer of the city to kill such cat."

In Minneapolis red cars may not drive down Lake Street. In Minnetonka driving a truck with dirty tires is considered a public nuisance and placing tacks on a sidewalk is also considered a public nuisance.

In St. Cloud one would have to wonder how Burger King can survive because there it is illegal to eat hamburgers on Sundays.

My home state, Wisconsin, is also not immune to ridiculous or outdated laws. For example it's the law there that "When two trains meet at the intersection of said tracks, neither shall proceed until the other has." With a law like that it's a wonder anything is shipped by rail in the Badger State.

And gosh knows, in Wisconsin watch to make sure you don't violate the state law that makes it illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese. It's also illegal to kiss on a train and cut a woman's hair. Also make sure that after you light your burning torch you don't wave it because in Wisconsin it is illegal to wave a burning torch. It's a class-A misdemeanor to do so.

Last, but not least, if you travel west to Fargo remember one can be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing or even wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place. Thank heavens I'm not a good dancer.

Joe VanDeLaarschot is the editor of the East Otter Tail Focus. He can be reached by calling 218-346-5900, ext. 228 or by email at editor@eotfocus.com.

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