June 28, 2014 10:29:15 PM
Mississippi has a long history of independent thinking. Our individualism dates back 200 years or more. We resent being told how to run our lives -- especially by the Federal Government.
This is now the most obese state in the union; 35.4 percent of residents fit that category. We beat out West Virginia, which held that distinction in previous years (Huffington Post, March 4).
Even so, we are not going to be pushed around by smarty-pants trying to control our calorie intake. An article in Newswer (March 13, 2013) reports that, "Mississippi passed a bill to ban its towns and counties from regulating portion sizes, requiring posted calorie counts, or yanking toys from kids' meals."
This was in response to New York City's attempt to put a cap on the sizes of soft drinks, a proposal championed by former N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to the article, " ... this latest shot fired in the soda wars has some Mississippians grumbling about the freedom for small towns to set their own health policies. 'They're just using this to mask what the bill is really about, which is about taking away home rule,' complains one (unnamed) mayor."
However, my column today is not about the state of our obesity. (I am in no position to judge anyone else's desire for fried chicken or Jubilation Cheesecake.) I am showcasing a few weird laws. The sort that make you say, "Huh?"
Mississippi has some bizarre laws, ones that (we hope) are not strictly enforced. Did you know that in Temperance, Mississippi, you may not walk a dog unless it is dressed in diapers? Have you ever tried to diaper a dog? Surely, it's just as easy to carry a plastic bag to pick up after your pet. However, this might be the start of a line of designer doggie diapers -- made in Mississippi, of course.
In Oxford, it is illegal to drive around the town square more than 100 times in a single session. There must have been a good reason for putting this one on the books. Check out stupidlaws.com for more.
Still, Mississippi has it a lot easier that some other places in the world. China might be the craziest country to exercise individuality.
The Huffington Post reports, "In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." (June 25) Really? They can control that?
In China, it is also illegal to travel in time -- in television and movies, that is. The problem is that fictional stories create "a real disrespect for China's history. The decision was made by the country's State Administration for Radio, Film & Television stating that, 'The producers and writers are treating the serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore' ... because, they 'casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.'" (New York Times, April 13, 2011)
Oh, that problematic reincarnation thing again. Who would want to be reincarnated in China? I imagine most people would be quite happy to remain in the other world, wherever that may be.
Let this be a message for those brave enough to travel to foreign ports this summer. Stay in the current year and do not reincarnate, but remember to stock up on doggie diapers. We need them in some Mississippi cities. Maybe personal freedom really is dead.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.