Editorials

Sometimes you wish you didn’t know jack about our laws

The Columbus Dispatch

If you are reading this, you have survived the weekend’s NoSnowpocalypse.

Whether you survive the blizzard of proposed laws that fell on Jackson last week remains to be seen.

My initial reaction to more than 500 bills being filed in the first three days of the 2017 session of the Mississippi Legislature was, “Can there be that much wrong with Mississippi?”

But being open-minded, I started scrolling through the list and reading a few. It’s funny what catches your eye when you are breezing through what by and large is general buffoonery.

Take the word “Jack,” which always catches my eye because it’s part of my given name.

“Stallions or jacks; repeals provisions regarding public view of,” reads an entry on the Report of All Measures on the Legislature’s website. I know, it’s like a foreign language.

The entire bill is mercifully short.

“Section 97-29-57, Mississippi Code of 1972, which prohibits keeping a stallion or jack in a public place, is repealed” is the salient portion of the nine-line bill.

It has been suggested in the past that I don’t know jack. It’s a view I disagree with generally but in this case it was true.

So I put “jack” into Google. Wikipedia allows there are many “jacks” in this world: Jack, Alabama; five “Jack” films, including one starring Robin Williams (three stars); two “Jack” novels; three “Jack” albums (four if you include “J.A.C.K.”); and 59th on the list is jack, a male donkey.

So the state doesn’t allow people to keep a male horse or male donkey “in a public place.” How Mississippi of us.

I had to know more. So I looked up Section 97-29-57. Apparently, such a public display is one of the “crimes against public morals and decency.”

The law reads, “A person shall not keep a stallion or jack nearer than one hundred yards to a church, or in public view in an inclosure (sic) bordering on a public highway, or nearer thereto, than one hundred yards; nor shall any person stand such animals in open view of any public place, or negligently keep such animal or suffer it to run at large. Any such offender, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars, and shall be liable for all damages done by such animals so kept or running at large.”

Part of me wants to know the backstory on this bill. The better part of me wants to shower and move on.

Lt. Gov Tate Reeves argues if Mississippi has made it 200 years without a law, perhaps it will make it 200 more without it. The fellow who wrote the jack law should have had such good advice.

Mississippi needs to fix its infrastructure, tax code, public schools and health-care systems. Too bad lawmakers have to spend some of their time giving the Mississippi Code a shower.

It should give lawmakers pause before filing a bill. I said should, not will.

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton

  Comments