And now for the lighter side of the news. The Georgia State Legislature did something very unusual during its last session: It passed a bill that is undoubtedly good for the well being of every citizen and didn’t cost taxpayers a single penny to enact. I know that boggles the mind, but it’s true. As of July 1, 2018, the Peach State joined a few other safety-conscious government entities and made it illegal to hold one’s phone while driving.

Hands-free technology is the rule of the day. Which means it’s still okay to talk on your phone or even send and receive texts. But it all has to be done without pressing any numbers or letters with your fingers. An earpiece works, as well as a smart watch. And you can still use a GPS system. If you’re legally parked, dexterous digits are fine and dandy. But when rolling along, put the phone down and leave it down.

I believe it’s safe to say most people would agree that keeping distractions to a minimum while driving is a good thing for the populace as a whole. Oh, the law specifically states that you can’t be watching a movie on your phone either. Really? Was it necessary to put that in writing? Apparently there are enough Darwin Award nominees to have to do so.

The enactment of a good law made me wonder if perhaps there aren’t a few, shall we say, unusual statutes on the books in Georgia as well. Sure enough, at least as of a couple of years ago, according to my exhaustive research, there are several that seem a bit odd.

For example, apparently somewhere in the state it’s illegal to carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket on Sunday. Every other day is acceptable, but don’t be ruining your church clothes. In other areas, you cannot place a dead bird on your neighbor’s yard. You can’t tease an idiot. No cussing over the telephone. You can’t poison a rat without a permit. All whistling must cease after 11:00 P.M. on Mondays. You can’t tie your giraffe to a street lamp. And you can’t wear a hat in a movie theater. (That’s one I think we can all applaud. Alas, there was no mention of people with big heads and/or big hair being required to sit in the back row.)

Despite those and other examples, Georgia isn’t alone in looking out for the welfare of its citizens. From what I read, it seems that in Alabama, you can go to jail for impersonating a member of the clergy. You can’t eat any frogs that happen to die during frog-jumping contests in California. And don’t be caught throwing or even moving boulders in Colorado. Big trouble will ensue forthwith.

Fair warning: You are prohibited from falling asleep in a cheese shop in Illinois. In Iowa, butter is butter. Fake butter must be labeled accordingly, and trying to pass off the faux stuff as real will not be tolerated. If you’re bitten by a dog on some Florida property displaying a “Bad Dog” sign, tough luck, farmer. Don’t even think about suing.

No picnics in cemeteries in New Hampshire. Forget about taking a selfie with a tiger (or a lion for that matter) in New York. Despite all your pleadings, you cannot make glue out of dead skunks in Oklahoma. (I wouldn’t have thought there was much of a market for that, but you never know.)

Don’t let the kids run wild at an arcade in South Carolina. They can’t play pinball until they’re 18. In Pennsylvania, watch what you’re doing while casting for bass or trout. Use a hook only. It’s against the law to catch a fish in your mouth. And you can’t shoot them in Indiana, even if they’re in a barrel. Not closing a fence behind you in Wyoming will cost you mucho dinero. Keep the Silly String in the can in Connecticut. They frown on such nonsense there.

Now, not all those laws may apply statewide. Some of them are local ordinances. But according to the Internet (and when has it ever been wrong?), those rules and regulations are on the books.

What’s perhaps most interesting about those decrees is that someone somewhere thought they were important enough to propose them in the first place. Georgia’s new distracted driving law is really just common sense. I’m not quite sure about the others. Wouldn’t it be nice if common sense were the guiding principle in everything legislatures do?


©MMXVIII. William J. Lewis, III  Atlanta Freelance Writer