Research indicates Georgia has no ’stupid’ laws

Do we need more laws? We must; the Georgia Legislature keeps making more of them. Today marks the 152nd time that august body has convened to invent new taxes.

I will always remember the day the bill requiring all Georgia restaurants to serve sweet tea died a pitiful death. It was 2003 and I thought Rep. John Noel (D-Atlanta) looked like presidential material.

Sorry SweetWater, this is the State Drink of Georgia.

Sorry SweetWater, this is the State Drink of Georgia.

Some would say making it illegal to not serve sweet tea is stupid. But they were probably raised on “pop” or “soda” instead of “Coke,” which can be used for any soft drink.

Contrary to what you may have read on the Internet, Georgia hasn’t passed any stupid laws. One common rumor promulgated online is that it is against the law to keep your donkey in a bathtub.

That’s not true, say researchers at the Georgia Archives, who struggled mightily last January to find such a thing.

It is, however, according to my non-lawyerly reading of Georgia Code 16-12-100, potentially illegal to take a photo of a crying clown in handcuffs and e-mail it to a juvenile. And funeral directors shouldn’t use profane or obscene language near a corpse, they could lose their license. (Georgia Code 43-18-46)

My Crossover Day goal, as lawmakers toil, was to poke fun at the many goofy laws on the books. Unfortunately for comedy, and my career, many of the silliest laws alleged on the Internet aren’t true.

Despite a $173-a-day per diem, legislators are “a pretty sober group,” said a Georgia Archives worker.  “The laws are not really stupid.”

That quote pretty much killed this column, but I soldiered on.

The following are also NOT true, according to the Attorney General’s office, who responded to an email query last year.

** Members of the state assembly cannot be ticketed for speeding while the state assembly is in session. (They are however, exempt from arrest for a civil suit while in session.)

** Signs are required to be written in English. (Just road signs.)

** You have the right to commit simple battery if provoked by “fighting” words. (You can admit evidence that you were provoked, but it’s up to the judge to determine if that saves your bacon.)

** No one may carry an ice cream cone in their back pocket if it is Sunday. (Simply not true, says the Attorney General’s office. And I’ve looked too, the words ice and cream do not appear in the Georgia Code anywhere near the word Sunday or sundae.)

Among the first laws passed in Georgia history was a 1777 ban on gambling, according to the ace staff manning the Georgia Archives. As any HOPE scholar will tell you, nothing good can come from gambling.

Lawmaker Denmark Groover tried to stop time in 1964.

Lawmaker Denmark Groover tried to stop time in 1964.

Since the days of the American Revolution, things have gotten a little wackier, perhaps best illustrated by this picture, wherein lawmaker Denmark Groover, in 1964, tried to STOP TIME. (See photo)

Yes, we should be thankful for their efforts. Many have earned their $17,341.68 annual salary.

If not for former Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville), who led the 2010 effort to make it illegal to plant microchips in human brains, I might be a robot by now, which would probably please my supervisor, who deleted my “Georgians, there’s no need to get your ass out of the tub” lead.

Note: This article was originally published in 2011, but has been updated to make it appear like I’ve been productive.

28 comments Add your comment

legal eagle

March 15th, 2011
7:42 pm

Sometimes it’s stupid not to have a law. Progressive Insurance is now (voluntarily at the moment) putting electronic tracking devices in their policy holders’ vehicles to monitor their speed, braking, where they go etc. The GA Legislature can’t pass a law fast enough to stop that. Talk about invasion of privacy.

Andrew

March 16th, 2011
3:25 pm

@legal eagle – and? there shouldn’t be a law forbidding it just because you don’t like it. Go with another insurer if you dont want that. OR start your own insurance company. America is about freedom, and passing laws forbidding things like that is removing our freedoms one by one.

BoogerHead

March 18th, 2011
6:36 pm

weeeeellll, illegal – I’m for the insurance company tracking you because the laws are failing and people do not support police intervention for moron driving.

Go Progressive!!!!

Susan

March 23rd, 2011
12:42 pm

George,

Awesome article. I read it while eating my lunch and drinking sweet tea. Last line made me spit tea all over my keyboard. Very funny. Thanks!

gamom

January 9th, 2012
10:43 am

Here is a dumb law…corporal punishment in schools is still allowed. Look up 20-2 730 ;20-2-731

itpdude

January 9th, 2012
1:32 pm

One man’s stupid is another man’s progress, or patriotism, or concept of law-and-order.

Speaking of stupid laws...

January 9th, 2012
1:38 pm

Brandi

January 9th, 2012
1:39 pm

“Get your ass out of the tub!” LOL. I just love that. I’m sure there’s been more than a few times that very thought has crossed the mind of “somebody” at my house.
As Jeff Foxworthy would say you might be a redneck if you have to have a law telling you not to keep your donkey in the bathtub.

Nothing stupid about...

January 9th, 2012
1:49 pm

No, GA doesn’t have any stupid laws. Oh wait, not everybody can buy beer on Sunday right? Ok, I take back my original comment.

Diane

January 9th, 2012
1:49 pm

I think Progressive’s tracking is an invasion of privacy. Actually it’s one more way or them to APPEAR to help you by calling it the Safe Driver Discount. It’s really another way for them to stick it to you for NOT driving safely AND determining what they deem as safe and to penalize you in your insurance rate if you don’t meet their made up standard.
What if another drive cuts you off and you have to slam on the brakes…you’ll be labeled a reckless driver. Forbid it happens and results in an accidentm, you’ll be judged as the guilty one.

Dana

January 9th, 2012
1:52 pm

Here’s one that should be a law. It should be against the law for officers to camp out in your subdivision just to make their ticket quota, but they swear they don’t have one so I guess it wouldn’t matter. We all know that towards the end of the month, esp. the last weekend, they are out in force to write up everything. If they can’t force people to slow down in subdivisions near stop signs, then why not install speed bumps at all of them?!?!? People will have to slow down or stop. I guess they would rather write the ticket to collect the money.

BFS

January 9th, 2012
1:59 pm

If corporal punishment is still legal, can we start using it again?

Leaping Lizard

January 9th, 2012
2:05 pm

What’s more stupid than Georgia laws? Her drivers! Watchout on I-285!!!

marcia

January 9th, 2012
2:08 pm

It is not the insurance comp. business where I drive as long as I’m safe and legal in my driving habits. Period.

Glad to hear that they fired that GA highway patrol officer killed that woman. He had several other unsafe traffic reprimands on his record. I sure as hell hope the family sues the hell out of GA for her death. This over zealous idiot with a badge should have been gone long ago. He should loose his license for 99 years at least.

Bryan G.

January 9th, 2012
2:13 pm

How about the fact that much of Georgia still can’t buy beer on Sunday? And even where you can, you can’t before 12:30. Now that’s a dumb law that has at least gotten a little less dumb.

Cheryl

January 9th, 2012
2:26 pm

No stupid laws in Georgia, huh? Well, consider the source(s) who you’re asking that question to, because to the average backwards-thinking, country-tailed Georgian….sure, they’ll argue there are no “stupid laws in this state.” However, travel anywhere up North or out West and propose some of the things that are being done in Georgia and see what they tell you. Chances are, they’ll laugh you right out of the room!

If Georgia has no stupid laws, then how is it that the jails, prisons and courts are “overflowing” with volumes of men and women who are being “questionably convicted and sentenced” to a wide range of punishment from excessive fines-to-the death penalty? Fulton County is notorious for injustice. There is NO CITY/STATE in the continental United States where an accused person must wait anywhere from 8 months to as long as 2-years to finally go to court to fight a case against himself/herself. THAT “is” undoubtedly illegal according to the Constitution of the United States. Yet, in good ‘ol Fulton County Courts (Magistrate & Superior), this is happening daily and no one is challenging its Constitutionality. No person should have to wait 8 month to 2-years to clear their name. Maybe the AJC should hire some REAL Investigative Journalists and encourage them to find out what the U.S. Dept of Justice, the Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Supreme Court thinks about such acts.

And, while they’re at it, have them find out how human beings are being basically railroaded into being found guilty in Fulton County Courts because it is the one county court system that adamantly refuses to “dismiss” cases that have little or no evidence…yet the Solicitor’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office will only “reduce” charges in most cases that are questionable. Thereby, a strategy used to STILLL manage to get a conviction out of somebody…which in turn equates to generating money for Fulton County by way of fines imposed, probation or jail time to be served.

So, when/if you think Georgia has no stupid laws…jump on a plane and travel up North or to the West Coast, or make some phone callls to professionals who work in Law in those regions. Ask them what they think about such things and see if you don’t end the conversation with an entirely different impression of a state whose court system is serving lemons disguised as peaches.

Orange Fingers and Something Else

January 9th, 2012
2:33 pm

We’re not the only ones with these laws – 5 of the largest shopping malls in the New York metropolitan area are not able to open on Sundays because of Bergen Country, New Jersey’s Blue Laws. You can’t buy your Neiman Marcus furs, IKEA bookshelves, or Prada shoes on Sundays.

Captain Scapula

January 9th, 2012
2:42 pm

Lawyers specialize in specific areas of the law but average people are expected to be able to not break any laws… How is that possible? I mean, I know the big ones but, come on, we have volumes!

sogooden

January 9th, 2012
2:49 pm

Yes, Georgia has some stupid laws. We also need to add a law that will add on 5 extra years for stupid crimes. Like hate crimes have.

Absolutely

January 9th, 2012
3:02 pm

CHERYL, YOU ARE VERY ARTICULATE AND ON POINT!!!

Danny

January 9th, 2012
3:26 pm

Yes, Georgia represents the 1950 backwoods conservative Christians that never left the boondocks and have no clue that the world progresses and advances, perfect example is that the state is broke and continues to do things to hurt itself and majority of its citizens and in addition it has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. So you do the math. People in GA are not very bright. The only reason why there is change is due to people coming here from other cities and bring some knowledge otherwise it would really be 1940 . 15 years ago, it was claimed Atlanta to be the next “New york” or hub but that idea has long gone because GA continues to kill any business aspect to come here as they don’t understand what makes New York, New York or any other major city.

Only those rich conservatives that have a stronghold on the state endorse this stupidity because they could careless if the rest of GA goes up in flames as long as their interest is protected. The End!

Danny

January 9th, 2012
3:28 pm

As far as Progressive – Freedom is that they have the right to implement it and we have the right to not to participate. The problem becomes when it becomes law that ALL insurance companies are required to do so other than that if Progressive loses customers because of it then let that be their problem you have plenty more to choose from and if many people feel the same and leave, watch how fast these devices disappear.

sheepdawg

January 9th, 2012
4:07 pm

In Georgia, the blood alcoho content for driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol on public roads is .08. For hunting with a high power rifle, its. .10.
Seems pretty damn stupid to me. And there are others that make no sense whatsoever……..

sheepdawg

January 9th, 2012
4:08 pm

Whoever did this research should be fired

MrLiberty

January 9th, 2012
4:46 pm

Every state law that serves to prohibit vice or impose morality on others is a stupid law. Drug prohibition, laws against prostitution, laws against gambling and every other law that violates the freedom of sovereign individuals to engage in consensual acts so long as nobody is getting harmed, no property is being damaged, and nobody’s rights are being violated is immoral and a violation of the natural rights that government was supposedly put in place to PROTECT.

The horrible consequences of the failed war on drugs can be seen throughout our society, starting with our overfilled prisons and ruined lives of non-violent drug offenders to police and judicial corruption. While one can certainly debate the ill effects of certain drugs on the individual, there is no argument that any remedy should be medical and not criminal.

As for prostitution, which do you have a problem with – commerce or sex? Why a problem with the combination. The only reason this is illegal is the bible thumpers and the fact that GA can’t figure out a good way to legalize and tax – otherwise it would be legal. Same with gambling.

The prison, court, police, rehab, parole, etc. industries love these laws. Nobody is getting hurt and they make a FORTUNE. And that is the biggest reason they are all illegal – MONEY. The government makes tons of money off illegal activities – either by engaging in them themselves or by justifying their existence in enforcing these stupid laws.

mark

January 9th, 2012
5:12 pm

Weed is illegal!! Now georgia has to change the laws that sentenced the people who were caught with a plant in their pocket in order to save the budget. Tax it, regulate it!! I forgot, 70 years ago our congress had a great idea to make a plant illegal. Now that was stupid!!

SEGa

January 9th, 2012
5:57 pm

Why not let people decide for themselves if Progressive’s “trackers” are an invasion of privacy? If someone thinks so, then they can use another provider! I believe it is an invasion of privacy and will not purchase their policies. But geez, I don’t need the General Assembly to make that decision for me!

Dan

January 9th, 2012
7:49 pm

When one insurance company offers an optional tracking system to “lower costs” for their customers, that isn’t a problem. When many insurance companies follow up with their own optional programs, that’s not a problem either. With time, most insurers will default to tracking as their standard offering but you can get “untracked” coverage — for an additional fee. And eventually, one company will decide it’s not optional anymore. And then other companies will follow suit, until it’s just a standard requirement for gaining auto insurance.

And then some company realizes, “Hey, if we can do this for automobiles, we could do this with home insurance!” And so the tracking of what we do in our homes begins.

Watch what you allow to happen!