Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 79
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for March 8, 2001

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

I was looking through pending bills the other day and it seems that the Missouri legislature is working hard to eliminate stupidity in the state. There seems to be an assumption among some legislators that passing a law will make people stop doing stupid things. For instance, riding in a car without wearing a seatbelt is downright stupid. There’s a law against it, but the fine is only $10. HB708, along with requiring small children to sit in a booster seat so the seat belts will fit them, increases the fine to $100. Of course, when it comes to a personal injury lawsuit, the bill doesn’t change the current presumption that failure to wear the belt didn’t contribute to injuries.

HB670 wants to ban use of hand-held telephones while driving. It’s OK to be distracted while talking on a CB radio, changing tapes, drinking a soda, looking for a dropped cigarette or shushing the kids fighting in the back seat. Now, it’s stupid to let yourself be distracted while driving, but why single out phones? Can’t anyone who gets distracted and causes a wreck be charged with Careless & Imprudent Driving now?

Consistency in regulation of stupidity is not a hallmark of our legislature. A number of years back they passed a law limiting liability of horse stables for riding injuries if certain signs were posted reminding riders that horses are inherently risky critters. This year, there’s a similar bill to limit liability for canoe & float trip operators, since playing in the water can be risky, too. On the other hand, HB845 would require licenses and bonds for anyone who holds two hay rides a year, something that would eliminate hay rides. HB66 would require licenses and rules for tanning bed operators, including signs that warn users they can get sunburns from the beds – duh. What’s next, skin cancer warnings at swimming pools and boat docks?

The problem with anti-stupidity laws is that they’re often ‘feel good’ laws that fool people into thinking a problem has been addressed when it really hasn’t. Recognizing that legislators need to introduce & pass bills so they can say “look what I did” come reelection time, here’s a suggestion for the ultimate ‘feel good’ law - the Anti-Stupidity Act of 2001. If a policeperson (or anyone else for that matter) sees somebody doing something stupid, he/she could arrest the offender on the spot. Think of the implications last football season! Can you imagine 80,000 Chiefs fans swarming the field to arrest Elvis Grbac for throwing short of the end zone on 4th and goal?

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