Editorial: Thong bans, and other disappointing, odd local laws

Published 6:42 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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If I were traveling to Singapore, I would be in luck. Thanks to old teeth pretty much held together by fillings, I wouldn’t even think about breaking a law there, where it is illegal to chew gum. The law was enacted because the government apparently spent some $150,000 yearly cleaning spit out gum from the mass transit system.

Yuck. I see the reason for that law.

But there’s more.

In North Carolina, it is – or at least was – illegal to conduct or host an organized meeting while wearing a mask or hood, or any other costume. The reason for that law was sound – we all know who wears masks and hoods – but I guess emergency declarations such as COVID pre-empt older laws.

Happy hours are illegal in North Carolina. If a restaurant or bar wants to offer a special for an alcoholic beverage, it has to be all day – not for those few slower hours before the dinner crunch. They can, however, offer appetizer specials for certain hours. I guess our state leaders just don’t want us to be happy. Fat, yes; happy, no.

To take that drinking and driving threat a bit further, did you know that you can get a DWI while riding a horse in North Carolina? Having lived in downtown Benson during several Mule Days celebrations, I’ll have to say I’ve never seen this one enforced. They put up a hitching post at the ABC Store, for goodness sake.

Not to get stuck on drinking laws (There are quite a few about sex, as well, but I’m not going there.), there are several that relate to drinking – or not allowing drinking – while playing bingo. Tell grandma that one and see what happens.

Speaking of grandma, be careful if she’s passed on and is resting in a graveyard. In North Carolina, it is illegal to camp in as cemetery. It’s also illegal to hunt, picnic, play, romp, lie in full length or sit on the ground in a cemetery. There goes my vacation: we were planning on a fried rabbit with biscuits and gravy picnic at grandma’s grave somewhere in the wilderness of Mumford, Alabama.

Word is, it’s against the law to ride a horse into the Davie County Courthouse. Why would that even be a law? It happened.

Here’s another weird North Carolina law: it’s illegal to practice as a professional psychic or fortune teller, but it’s OK of you’re an amateur providing those same services. That’s exactly what I want, some amateur telling me that I’m going to hit the lottery and die a rich man. News like that needs to come from a professional.

There’s also a law that says no gambling whatsoever in any place that sells alcohol. I guess the lottery put many of those old laws to the wayside.

As a music fan with no musical ability, this one may be my favorite: it is illegal to sing off key in the Tar Heel State. That’s what our Supreme Court decided in 1873, when a Lumberton man was arrested for disturbing the peace while singing at a local Methodist church. I’m not sure if the judge asked him to sing before making the decision, but it must have been bad, really bad. And loud.

Mobile, Alabama is home of the original Mardis Gras, right? That big party with all sorts of foolishness. Think again. It’s also illegal in Mobile to use Silly String or confetti cannons. That law, thank goodness, doesn’t mention the throwing of beads. Hopefully, at least that is still OK.

Some of the local laws are just plain silly, such as the one in Kure Beach that says thong bathing suits are not allowed. Now that’s going too far.

– Mike Barnhardt