Tuesday 8 February 2011

Outlawing bodily functions

Credit where credit is due. Time Newsfeed recently published an article entitled "Governments Around the World Outlaw Basic Bodily Functions" which described how some authorities have been attempting to curb our behaviour in public. Of course, this got me thinking and investigating as the piece made mention of my home province of Ontario but more of that later.

According to Afrik News, the country of Malawi (landlocked country in southeast Africa; per capita income = $925) is looking to introduce a sets of laws destined to mould responsible and disciplined citizens. So far, so good. Such ideas as disorderly conduct in public, being drunk, carrying offensive weapons or fighting would be covered by the bill. However, one item on the agenda has raised a few eyebrows: the act of passing intestinal gas is to be criminalized. While critics have called the inclusion of such an item in the bill to be a joke of democracy; supporters have apparently said sometimes breaking wind in public or during meetings is a disturbance of the peace. -- I better make sure I don't order the chili at lunch before my afternoon meeting. - In perusing the article detailing the story, I see no mention of what the penalty would be if the person in question was armed with a match.

Tampa Bay, FL
According to the online paper Metromix in Tampa Bay, Florida, you are not allowed to fart in a public place after 6pm on Thursdays. On Sunday, you can't eat cottage cheese after 6pm. You also can't fish while driving across a bridge, imitate an animal or sing in public while attired in a swim suit. Go figure.

Ontario, Canada
Not to be outdone, Ontario had its own run-in with the unusual. Canada enacted a "Distracted Driving" law prohibiting the use of mobile devices while driving a vehicle. Ontario's transportation minister, Jim Bradley put forward the idea during a news conference of adding nose picking to the list of dangerous activities. He was quoted as saying,

"Sure talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous but there are many other activities occurring during driving that are just as dangerous, if not more so. For example, the other day I was almost side-swiped by a man [driving] that was completely distracted while picking his nose, and I don’t mean just a nose scratch - he was in up to his knuckle."

"There has been testing done that has shown that picking your nose while driving is even more dangerous than using a [mobile] cell phone because of the high occurrences of physical injury while conducting this type of [nose-picking] behavior.  I would like to see all types of distractions lead to a hefty fine, my advice for this particular [nose-picking] offense would be an $850 fine."

There's been testing? Really? Is there a commercial on TV showing a crash test dummy with his fake finger shoved into his fake nose as the car ploughs into a cement wall?

Seriously, while the bill outlawing using a cell phone while driving is in place in Canada, I don't believe anything has been done to amend the bill as per Mr. Bradley's suggestion about driving while "up to the knuckle".

Drugs are out. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of State, Singapore has a mandatory death penalty for many narcotic offenses. They go on to point out that what we may consider to be minor offenses at home are taken quite seriously there. No jaywalking, littering or spitting. - Yep, keep those horks to yourself - These acts are considered vandalism and Singapore has a mandatory sentence of caning.

In 1994, an American Michael Fay got into a lot of hot water when he was arrested for vandalizing cars. He eventually was given four strokes of the cane across his bare buttocks however the entire incident raised quite a hue and cry around the world as everybody leapt on a soapbox to espouse their opinion of the crime and the punishment. If anything, the result of this entire incident underlines that all of us are subject to the laws of the land and even if we think the laws may be strange, we best not try to plead our case based on where we are from. When in Rome, get caned like the Romans do.

Yahoo tells us that if your baby burps during a church service, you could be arrested. If that seems weird, it is also illegal to fish for whales in the state. I also see that another law requires bar owners to brew a kettle of soup at the same time they serve beer. I guess I would have expected to get a cup of coffee at the end of my pub night but who knows, maybe I'll be a little peckish before hitting the road.

Final Word
Some of this seems at first glance just a tad ridiculous. Although, I'm going to be keeping my gobs to myself in Singapore and I'll leave the embarrassment to my family of the front page photo when the police pry my body out of the wreckage with a finger still buried up to the knuckle in my nose. At the end of the day, keeping our faux pas private is something we should all practise out of being polite in public. Of course, if you're 22 and it's pub night, I'd say grossing everybody out is the order of the day but please, if you do get out a match, leave your pants on. Hair will catch fire.


Oye! Times - Jan 3/2011
Morinville, Alberta: No elephants allowed!

Malawi bill seeks to punish public farting and fortune tellers
by Kabelo Marupi  - January 26, 2011 /

Facebook: Nose-Picking Law in Canada

PressReleasePoint - Nov 16/2009
Crazy Canadian Law to Make Picking Your Nose While Driving Illegal

Wacktrap - Jan 5/2010
Nose Picking Driving Beats Wireless Device Law


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1 comment:

Ducky said...

This is hilarious - I love little tidbits like this detailing strange laws.

I first found your post on Zimbio and I noticed there that the alignment of the bumper sticker picture was slightly different, to where it looked like the bumper sticker was a commentary by Ontario's transportation minister. I nearly busted a gut at that.

Thank you for sharing the funny and the absurd in your blog post, you made me smile.