Do you enjoy dancing to the Star Spangled banner? How about traipsing through huckleberry marshes that may not belong to you? Or mocking the nincompoops who decline to accept your challenge of a duel?
Don’t go to Michigan.
At least, not yet. The state’s legislature has only just passed a bill repealing bans on all three admittedly odd hobbies, along with nearly seven dozen other antiquated laws. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) still has to sign the legislation before Michiganders can swear in front of women and kids without fear of a $750 penalty.
And Snyder spokesperson Dave Murray told the Detroit Free Press the governor plans to “give this legislation a thorough review once it arrives on his desk before determining whether he should sign it into law.”
The package repeals dozens of laws that have outlived their purpose — if they ever had one — as well as several more serious statutes that warrant alteration (like a law that required prisoners who have been issued a fine to be held in a state correctional facility if they could not pay it).
Among the goofier ones, or at least the ones that sound goofy now:
- A 1931 law that made trespass on another person’s property for the purpose of taking cranberries or huckleberries and blackberries a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. For some reason, stealing cranberries was a separate offenses from stealing the other two fruits. The same law also banned trespass for the purpose of taking fruit, vegetables, grain, grass, hay and medicinal plants, among other agricultural products.
- A chapter of the penal code that forbids any rendition of the Star Spangled Banner “except as an entire composition and number without embellishments or melodies.” Had Woodstock been held in Michigan, Jimi Hendrix would have faced a $500 and up to 90 days in jail. The same chapter also bans dancing or marching to the national anthem.
- A ban on “indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child.”
- Several sections of the penal code pertaining to dueling, including one that prohibits “the use of reproachful language in print for not accepting or fighting a duel.” A violation could cost you $750.
- A ban on endurance events lasting longer than 12 hours, like walk-a-thons.
- Michigan Penal Code, Chapter VI, Sections 34-37, which prohibits advertisements related to sexual diseases, particularly anything that includes the phrases “lost manhood” or “lost vitality and vigor” or language to a similar effect. A violation is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. (Though anyone who has sat through one-too-many Viagra commercials during a sports broadcast may mourn the repeal of this one.)
“From time to time, legislation is offered to repeal laws identified as unnecessary or obsolete,” reads the “arguments for” section in the legislative analysis of the bill. “Without such ‘trimming,’ the law books become unwieldy with laws that overlap or no longer reflect current life.”
There were no “arguments against.”