The Ought To Be A Law

23 Jan

It never fails.  It’s happened in every business law class that I’ve taught.  It always occurs at the beginning of the term.  It’s the first topic of discussion:

  • What is law?
  • What are the four types of law?

All is well until statutes are mentioned.  Then the question is posed: “Why are there such stupid laws?”


Then, for a brief moment, the class spins off talking about

  • cornflakes[1],
  • saggy pants[2],
  • bikini clad women require an armed escort[3],
  • lollipops[4],
  • red shoes[5],
  • fishing for whales on Sunday[6],
  • patent leather shoes[7],
  • getting fish intoxicated[8],
  • no civil arrests on Sundays[9],
  • slot machines in outhouses[10],
  • absent pet tiger[11].

Frankly, it’s a good question.

Frequently, these movements succeed on the city or county level, but there are many instances wherein individuals made a difference and have changed the law on the state or national level.

  • Look at Carrie Nation and the Temperance Movement (PBS, n.d.).
  • Look at Candace Lightner and the campaign against drunk and drugged driving (MADD, 2015).
  • Look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Burns, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt and the women’s suffrage movement ( Staff, n.d.).


Too often “there ought to be law” becomes the mantra for people who see something they don’t like and believe their personal perspective ought to be THE universal standard.   After all, eating peanuts in church could be disruptive to other worshipers (Buzzfeed, Inc., 2017).  It could be hazardous to other pedestrians to eat your ice cream while standing on the sidewalk or your donut or doughnut while walking backwards (Buzzfeed, Inc., 2017).  Can’t you imagine the complaints from these activities?  Sadly, frequently these people want these laws to apply to others but not them such as a friend’s spouse, who employed this mantra regularly and was found wandering the beach at Naval Station Norfolk beyond the sign declaring the beach “off limits” by order of the Commander, Naval Station Norfolk.

With sufficient influence, even pecuniary interests can be furthered.

  • Was the manufacturer of the polycarbonate sheets[12] behind the Ohio law “prevent[ing] banks from using plywood[13] on properties vacant and abandoned properties in foreclosure” (The Columbus Dispatch, 2017, para. 1)?
  • Were the owners and operators of rock climbing walls behind Ohio SB235 shielding them from civil liability for injury even if the equipment failed (Siegel, 2016)?

Perhaps there ought to be law ….

Just think about it!

References (2016). Girls Patent Leather Shoes. Retrieved from AliExpress:

Allard, S. (2013, June 18). 12 Dumbest Laws Still on the Books in Ohio. Retrieved from Scene:

Buzzfeed, Inc. (2017). 10 Weird Food Laws (That Should Be Resisted). Retrieved from Community on BuzzFeed:

Cakespy. (n.d.). Cranberry Sauce Jelly Donut Recipe. Retrieved from Serious Eats: (2017). Lollipops and Suckers. Retrieved from Candy Warehouse: Staff. (n.d.). The Fight for Women’s Suffrage. Retrieved from History:

Kellogg’s. (2016). Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Retrieved from Kellogg’s: (n.d.). Off Limits. Retrieved from

Krause, S. (2005). Stupid Law. Retrieved from S. Krause:

MADD. (2015). FAQs. Retrieved from MADD – No More Victims:

Ocala Post. (2014, July 17). Pull’em up, pay up, or go to jail: No more saggy pants, it’s the law. Retrieved from Ocala Post:

PBS. (n.d.). Carrie Nation. Retrieved from American Experience:

Seuling, B. (1975). You Can’t Eat Peanuts in Church and Other Little-Known Laws. New York: Doubleday.

Shockley, J. (2015, July 1). These 15 Crazy Laws in Kentucky Will Leave You Scratching Your Head in Wonder. Retrieved from OnlyInYourState:

Siegel, J. of the Columbus Dispatch. (2016, December 27). Ohio’s new laws: Are you affected? Retrieved from

The Columbus Dispatch. (2017, January 6). Ohio law now prevents banks from using plywood on vacant, abandoned properties. Retrieved from The Columbus Dispatch:

The Dumb Network, LLC. (2016). Dumb Laws in Ohio. Retrieved from Big Government. Small Brains. Dumb Laws:

World Casino Index. (2016). Las Vagas Scams. Retrieved from World Casino Index:

[1] Columbus, Ohio (Allard, 2013).

[2] Collinsville, Illinois (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[3] Commonwealth of Kentucky (Shockley, 2015)

[4] State of Washington (Krause, 2005)

[5] Sadly, I’ve been unable to find a reference for this one.  The story that I heard involved a means of identifying ladies of the evening; however, it may have only applied to Sunday apparel when red shoes were considered to ostentatious for church.

[6] State of Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[7] Cleveland, Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[8] State of Ohio (Allard, 2013).

[9] State of Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[10] Bexley, Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[11] Canton, Ohio (The Dumb Network, LLC, 2016).

[12] $115 for a 4-by-8 foot sheet (The Columbus Dispatch, 2017).

[13] $17 to $20 for a 4-by-8 foot sheet (The Columbus Dispatch, 2017).


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