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The Problem of Over-Legislating Everything

In any attempt to criminalize activity, you have a real problem with trying to define the behavior that is criminals, such as this texting while walking law in Fort Lee, New Jersey:

I’m dying to see how that law is worded. How is “walking” defined? Two consecutive steps? More than two? “X or more steps in X amount of time”? Does it have to be in a forward direction, or is this like ‘traveling’ in the NBA? Can you sidestep and text at the same time?

“Not guilty, your honor. My client was texting while Riverdancing, which is clearly not prohibited by the ordinance.”

And local yo-yos are usually a lot worse about definitions than the states and feds, which is why most states generally limit the legislative power of local governments to petty crimes. Maybe we need a crime for being stupid while occupying public office. Of course, then the anarchists would have their feast, wouldn’t they?

7 Responses to “The Problem of Over-Legislating Everything”

  1. Harry Schell says:

    Legislators beclown themselves when they play at Masters of the Universe. Even that someone would come up with this kind of law, much less pass it, is awful. It may be that the prevalence of small minds so exemplified here keeps smarter and saner people from seeking office.

  2. Andy B. says:

    It’s not just legislators, but the population that supports and elects those legislators.

    I was just engaged in a conversation in another venue, that illustrated that there are countless things which our brethren (of all ideologies) are absolutely convinced can be defined by “common sense,” because they “know it when they see it.” Meanwhile when challenged to write an objective definition, they can’t. What they are unwittingly saying is, they long to be dictators who will define what is acceptable on an arbitrary, case-by-case basis.

    • Alpheus says:

      “It’s not just legislators, but the population that supports and elects those legislators.”

      I have to second this motion. A while ago, my wife and I tried to circulate a petition that would place on a ballot an initiative that would loosen some of the zoning laws–some of which are making it difficult for families to rent out portions of their homes to others. One family we asked to sign, partially because they had run into such laws, essentially said “But the laws keep out undesirables!”

      Considering the undesirables that were and are living on that street (one of which claimed ownership of his residence–which, technically, was in dispute, for various reasons) the excuse seemed a bit weak to me; nonetheless, the mindset exists, that we can only have order in society if we have a bunch of silly laws that have never really been shown to produce order.

  3. Maria says:

    If I ever visit Fort Lee I’ll make sure to engage my Ministry of Silly Walks approved saunter and texting sideways shuffle.

  4. brian says:

    all office holders are guilty of stupidity. exhbit A : They ran for public office. case closed

  5. pink Floyd says:

    “Of course, then the anarchists would have their feast, wouldn’t they?”

    I wonder, though, if anarchy wouldn’t be less chaotic than the current “let’s make a law restricting anything we don’t like”
    attitude of our masters. At the very least, we would have some Liberty.

    Andy B. was right. The people who continuously re-elect these half-witted numb skulls are the real culprits.

  6. You just can’t regulate being stupid. What’s next, they will try banning reading a map while walking too?

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