Some state laws too stupid to obey

By Ryn Gargulinski: Columnist

The other day I nearly got run down in the middle of the street. By a police car. While jaywalking a mere two yards or so from a perfectly good crosswalk.

As I cringed and hoped he wouldn’t notice me — as if one doesn’t notice a jaywalking female in combat boots with bright red hair — he merely glowered.

I needed to research if jaywalking were actually against the law in Oregon, but, instead of finding my answer, I found a bevy of other stupid laws across the nation.

Yes, New Mexico fell into the mix, especially with a law that says idiots can’t vote.

Although it does not say what determines an idiot — i.e., those who jaywalk in front of a police car — it does plainly spell it out. A section of the constitution adopted in 1911 says most residents can vote “except idiots, insane persons and persons convicted of a felonious or infamous crime unless restored to political rights.”

I could really rile some feathers by saying there should be a law stating idiots can’t run for office, either. But I’m much too kind to make such a statement.

Another, shall we say, idiotic New Mexico law infringes on the freedom of speech.

No, it doesn’t look to persecute those who say “y’all” or may have moved to the state with some weird Midwestern/New York accent, but it takes its editing pen to one of Shakespeare’s greats.

In an undated decree, a dumb laws Web site says state officials took the axe to 400 words of “sexually explicit material” from “Romeo and Juliet.”

I think they left the play with about two pages of text.

As with any of Shakespeare’s works, however, some of the nuances are so subtle that they don’t mean much to an audience that wasn’t kicking around in Victorian England. And as with the overly zealous politically correctness, just about anything can be read as sexually explicit.

“Wherefore art thou” could be translated “let’s go to bed.” “Romeo, oh, Romeo” may mean “let’s go to bed.” And the most infamous line about “deny thy name”? That’s right, “let’s go to bed.”

New Mexico cities, too, narrowed it down with their own stupid laws. Unshaven women can’t go out in public in Carrizozo; no one can spit on the steps of a Deming opera house and in Las Cruces one may not carry a lunchbox down main street. I would have to agree with the last one if they mean those metal lunchboxes that always rust, leak and make the food taste like it’s been in a footlocker.

Another Deming law states one can’t go hunting in a cemetery. I couldn’t find any dumb laws in Clovis or Tucumcari, but I did see it was illegal to eat peanut butter while driving in Portales. This could be a good thing, however, since I was once so eager to delve into that glorious jar of Sunland chunky that I swerved and nearly crashed head first — into a police car.