(E) Lawyers in America

LAWYERS IN AMERICA:
ARE WE GOING DOWNHILL IN A NOSEDIVE?

That’s better than saying ‘to hell in a hand-basket,’ isn’t it?

Things have come a long ways downhill in America today. And it’s not all the fault of lawyers. Ziggy, our cartoon friend, went to see his shrink. He said he was fearful the government was out to get him, and that he was being followed. He said he might have a full blown phobia.

The shrink put him at ease saying:

“Ziggy, you’re cured!
The American Psychological Association has just declared
that fear of the government is no long irrational.”

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IS IT TOO LATE FOR AMERICA TO
“GET BACK TO THE BASICS”?

I wrote a book in 1988 called, America: Back to the Basics. It looked at how to get back to the basics of things: how America was formed to be in the beginning. It was the election year of George Busch Sr. and Michael Dukakis. I got on a lot of T.V. and radio talk shows with my motto:

“Campaigning for America,
Not for Political Office”

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The book didn’t sell as well as I hoped it would. Although I got a lot of press, and was on a lot of talk shows, I only sold about half the copies I thought I might. Afterwards, I had an advertising consultant look at what I’d done and give me his opinion. He was a client of mine, and didn’t charge me (again, lawyers like the word ‘free’).

He said, “You’re whole premise is based on John F. Kennedy’s words: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ Those words died with him, and you’re trying to resurrect them. You’ve got to tell people how to get ahead in life, and make money if you’re going to sell any books today.”

I see this as a sad state of reality.

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THE COUNTRY USED TO BE
RUN 
A LOT BETTER

When colonists came to this country, Native Indians ran it.
— There were no taxes, and no national debt.
— There was no air pollution. Today there is so much water pollution that soon ‘walking on water’ won’t be any challenge at all. But that’s a different subject.

When the Colonists came to this country,
— you could trust your national leaders,
— and women did most of the work.

And the government said it could improve a system like this?

BUT AMERICA DOES LOVE LAWYERS

But I still thank the good Lord for the way America is today. America loves lawyers. We have 10 times the lawyers in America as anywhere else in the world.

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There are so many of us, and the profession does nothing but grow and grow. In fact, today there are so many law school graduates that a large percentage of them can’t even find jobs. A lot of them spend their days standing in employment lines — if they’re not working at McDonalds or Taco Bell. I’m glad I’m not looking for work today.

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HUMOR IN THE LAW

There is really a lot of humor in the law, but you have to search it out. It’s not always something that sticks out like a sore thumb.

It was about 1990 when I began researching humor in the law. I was confronted by a rather humorous law librarian. She said, “Humor and the law, huh? Now there is an interesting paradox. It’s a contradiction in terms!”

Then she referred me to two sections in their library:
(1) hypothetical inconsistencies
(2) legal curiosities.
From these titles, I knew that I was in deep water. I knew I was in trouble.

Another librarian said to me, “Sir, the law is no laughing matter.” But just as I had discovered that God doesn’t usually visit seminaries, I was now learning that law libraries weren’t the place to find humor about our justice system, judges and the law.

LAWS CAN BE FUNNY

There are really a lot of very funny laws if you take time to research them.

In Kentucky there is a law that reads: “No female shall appear in a bathing suit in public within this state unless she is escorted by at least two officers, or unless she is armed with a club.” Wouldn’t you like to know more about what prompted this?

I also found an amendment to this law that was even more humorous than the law itself: “The provisions of this statute shall not apply to females weighing less than 90 pounds, nor exceeding 200 pounds, nor shall it apply to animals.”  Wouldn’t you love to talk to the people who drafted this law, to see what was in their minds at the time?

And if you’re in Florida, there is a law still on the books requiring a bather to not be totally naked while taking a bath.

This reminds me of my dad, Tom. He looked a lot like Willie Nelson, and was often mistaken for Willie, which he considered funny. Before he died he was having trouble with his memory. He said he got in the shower one day and forgot which pocket he put the soap in.

In Minnesota, a housewife could get into big trouble for hanging men’s and women’s underwear on the same clothesline at the same time. I used to live in Minnesota when I was a little kid.

We lived in Hibbing, Minnesota, just a few houses down from singer /songwriter Bob Dylan (which wasn’t his name at the time).

I was too young to remember this, but my mom never let me forget it. She talked about Bob and I playing together. She also talked about the time she hid the ham for his mom when the Rabbi came over to visit.

Was there a law against Jews eating ham? Or if it was just their religion?

But I do remember seeing clothes hanging on the clothesline.

Underwear on Clothesline

In California, you are not allowed to go to sleep in an outhouse. How in the world could anyone fall asleep in an outhouse?

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In West Virginia, an old law that says a woman cannot awaken her husband if he is sleeping, — except in the case of an emergency, even if he is snoring and keeping her awake.

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In Alabama, if you wear a mustache. . .  there is a law that says you can’t wear it to church — if it makes people laugh.

In Indiana, a mustache is totally illegal on anyone ‘who habitually kisses human beings.’ But the law didn’t define ‘habitually,’ so there is some latitude there.

There are laws in some states that say a dog cannot come within 50 feet of a fire hydrant. I wonder if they put signs on the hydrants so dogs could read them.

In New Jersey there is a rather awkward law that reads, “No dog shall be in public without its master on a leash.” Perhaps those who drafted this law were Amish.
They are the folks who say things like, “Throw the cow over the fence some hay.”

Dentists in Rhode Island used to have a law that said if they pulled the wrong tooth in a patient’s mouth, then they must have a corresponding tooth in their head pulled by the village blacksmith.

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And in Oregon, you’ll be happy to know you are relieved from serving on a jury if you are dead. I wonder if you are entitled to receive advance notice that you don’t have to serve if you are dead.

In Michigan, it’s against the law, punishable by fine, if you spit upwind. That’s graphic, isn’t it?

And in a small town in Nebraska, sneezing in public is prohibited. Plus if you’re a barber, it’s unlawful to eat onions during working hours.

I recall the story of the man who went to his doctor and said, “I don’t brush my teeth, I eat garlic and onions, and I don’t have bad breath. Why not?” The doctor told him he needed an operation — on his nose.

If you enjoy kissing and you live in a certain city in Maryland, there is a law that says no kiss can last longer than 3 seconds.

In Riverside, California there was a law saying both parties must stop and wipe their lips with rosewater before they kiss. This applied to both the ‘kissor’ and the ‘kissee,’ as we would say in law.

In Texas there used to be a law that women could not wear their jeans too tight or they would be breaking the law — not to mention the seams out of their jeans.

There is also a law that you can’t step on someone else’s toes, unless you can prove it was ‘an unavoidable accident.’

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I think there should be a law in business saying you can’t step on other people in your frantic climb to the top to make the most money.

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