Some New Laws of Distraction
By DAVE KIFFER
December 08, 2014
Speaking of which, I heard someone in the Pioneer Café actually use the phrase “in a coon’s age” a few days ago.
I mean, really, when was the last time you saw a raccoon in Our Fair Salmon City or its environs? I think the answer is never, as in way, way longer than a “coon’s age.”
I could understand “in a muskrat’s age” or “in a beaver’s age.” But maybe those danged varmints don’t live long danged enough. I read once that a raccoon lives about 8 years. Now that doesn’t seem very long. At least not in the sense a long, long while that “a coon’s age” is usually meant to convey.
But I digress.
Anyhow, there were all these local laws that apparently dated from the days when prehistoric dinosaur-sized raccoons roamed the marshlands of Revillagigedo Island.
It was clearly a not so kinder, gentler time. It was a time when Ketchikan really was a more “frontier” kinda place.
For example, there was a law on the books from the heyday of Creek Street that required the city to inspect prostitutes to make sure, well, just to make sure they were safe to provide their service.
There were also laws against uttering obscenities in public and laws against loitering. Gambling was also proscribed.
And how did these laws work in the old days?
Well, not particularly well if you agree that Ketchikan in the 1920s-30s-40s-50s was the “The Wickedest Town in Alaska.” And that was in the words of our own Territorial officials.
Still, everyone needs to be proud of something and I chose to be proud of the fact that our little Ketchikan was the “wickedest” town in one of the wickedest territories. It’s a legacy.
Oops, another digression. Sorry ‘bout that, Chief!
Of course, Ketchikan today is a modern community.
We don’t have such social warts as gambling or prostitution.
We don’t cotton much to people expressing themselves publically in an obscene manner.
And there is absolutely no loitering taking place within the traditional city limits (not sure about those annexed areas like Shoreline. I think there is a lot of loitering going on in Shoreline).
Unfortunately, you just have to read the newspapers, listen to the radio or turn on the rube tube to see that other parts of the world are not nearly as law abiding.
And, gosh fudge it, you just get a sense – from all that media – that those problems are right on our doorstep, like a cresting wave of undocumented immigrant ebola germs.
What to do?
Well, I’m pretty sure we need some more laws. Especially to tackle those problems that haven’t even occurred to us yet.
Which leads me to pro-activity! It's important to be pro-active. Everybody says so.
No, no, I do not mean that using a different "pro-active" brand of toothpaste will make us safer from creeping Obamacare. After all, having genetically brighter, whiter teeth has not inured the Scandinavians from the horror that is medical care for all.
What I mean is that we need to put some new pro-active laws on the books to fill the vacuum caused by the removal of those earlier once relevant, now obsolete laws. Nature abhors a lawless vacuum.
Naturally, the only thing to do is go on line and become an Internut about what laws there are in other similar locales. Then figure out how to make those laws applicable to our unique situation.
If you google silly laws, you don’t find out whether the laws are real or not. If you want to take all the fun of this exercise you can google snopes.com. Like so many bloggerspherians, I absolutely, positively refuse to allow the facts to get in the way of a good story. Caveat Lector!
(End of public service Disclaimer Alert)
First of all, if we look north, we find several reports that it is illegal in Fairbanks to give alcohol to moose. This makes sense on one level because moose reportedly only live 15-20 years and the only thing worse than an inebriated moose would be an inebriated teenaged moose.
Still, since there is a law against it, it must mean that someone was once caught contributing to the delinquency of a moose. That lends new meaning to an MCA situation, for sure.
Interestingly enough, there is also reportedly a law in Fairbanks which makes it illegal for moose to mate within city limits. I can’t even begin to understand the logic behind this one, unless there is a “state” concern that a combination of alcohol and under-aged moose would lead to a significant number of unplanned moose pregnancies. That is certainly a possibility.
Anyway, we could suddenly decide it is illegal for salmon to mate within the boundaries of Ketchikan. Of course, we couldn’t enforce it, but hey it would certainly allow us to play up our “law breaking” nature to the visitors. “Come to Ketchikan Creek, watch the law get broken thousands of times a day!!!”
Speaking of fish, it is reportedly illegal in Ohio to feed alcohol to a fish. Now, one can understand the sheer chaos if a school of several hundred thousand pink salmon swam through a vat of Pink Flamingo on its way to its natal stream. But on the other hand, imagine the boost in canned salmon sales if you started having to list a proof rating on each can!
Could be big!
Still, we may have to consider this law as well. Once again, two or three million aquatic law breakers in Ketchikan Creek can’t be wrong for our community image!
Another odd law comes from Chicago, where it is allegedly illegal to fish while riding on a giraffe.
Okay, that one is just plain weird.
Anyone who has every fished from a boat that is a little high off the water understands that it would danged near impossible to get a big king that far out of the water without losing it off the hook. Imaging having to make contact with a nine foot gaff hook!
Still, banning the use of giraffes as fishing platforms raises the possibility that is okay to use other big game animals as platforms.
Marketing opportunities abound.
“Come to the ONLY lodge in Alaska where you can fish for salmon from the backs of elephants!”
In Minnesota, it is reportedly illegal to place a duck on your head and then cross the state line. I’m guessing this is against the law because the residents of Wisconsin are well known for their tendency to carry ducks in those giant cheese slices they call Favre-dora. Of maybe it’s just that Minnesotans prefer to shout “heads up” rather than “duck.”
At any rate, we could certainly figure out some sort of unenforceable hat ban (no see through plastic rain bags on your head) to allow the visitors to feel like they can take part in our “lawless frontier” lifestyle, your “pay a fine at the gangplank” reward.
Finally, there is a law in Michigan than fines beavers $10,000 for creating unauthorized beaver dams. Hard to understate the hilarity that would ensue when Bob the Beaver heads down to the state office building to fill out the “authorized dam” permit.
I suspect, this law would more likely apply to any property owner that allows a beaver to build a dam on his or her property, but once again it is not like most beavers are much concerned about asking permission in advance.
Like some developers, they would probably prefer to just pay a small fine after the fact. Come to think of it, there should be a law against that.
Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Kiffer ©2014
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