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COLUMN: World is full of ridiculous laws

Common Sense, Richard Winters

Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 13:01

    Did you know a recently passed anti-crime law in Texas requires the criminal to give at least 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, before the offense is committed? How about that in Detroit, it is illegal to let your pig run free through the streets unless it has a ring in its nose? Are you aware that in our very own home of Utah, it is illegal to detonate any nuclear weapon or cause a catastrophe? Also in Utah, birds always have the right of way on the highway, it is unlawful to own a pet apple and my personal favorite: It is illegal to hunt whales.

    Does any of this sound odd? Have you ever wanted to go whaling in the Great Salt Lake, or perhaps detonate a nuclear weapon in your neighbor’s backyard after a Super Bowl bet gone bad? There are a lot of dumb laws in this country, many of them quite hilarious. I recommend if you need to kill a little time in a dull class to look up these laws at

    My name is Richard Winters. I have been graced with the privilege to rant about all of the things that defy common sense and boggle my mind. I intend to make it interesting, and for now, by way of introduction, let me simply say this: I am a senior double majoring in law and constitutional studies and communication studies. I may graduate this semester, or next. Who knows anymore? It changes too frequently to keep track.

    At any rate, you should know a little bit about my views. This is in fact a bi-weekly opinion column so naturally, you’re going to get opinions. Hopefully you’ll agree with much of what I say. If not, hopefully you won’t disagree with all of it. If you do, then hopefully you’ll look past my inadequacies to recognize I’m just a regular guy trying to make his way in the world. Whatever you end up thinking, know this: Everything I believe and will write about in the coming semester will be based on logic, reasoning, high standards, real intrinsic evidence, historical analysis and most important of all, common sense.

    Thomas Paine published the pamphlet “Common Sense” in 1776. It was this pamphlet that sparked the grassroots of dissent already arising in 18th-century America and paved the way for the Revolutionary War. This war led to America as it used to be known. America, of course, has changed dramatically.

    It does not matter what political leanings you hold or what religion you are. Everything you have from computers to cars, from the Internet to airplanes, the very technological advances that allowed for the newspaper you are reading and the university you attend came in direct consequence of men like Thomas Paine standing up to tyranny and fighting for the freedom we all at least claim to hold so dear.

    Thomas Paine said in his pamphlet, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” In other words, just because some people preach something “isn’t wrong” doesn’t make that something “right.” Further, if we silence ourselves against error or deceit, if we allow the nagging voice of degradation to be heard with no response for long enough, then time will prove to be our enemy and convert many people to the wrong side of the issues. The nagging voice never seems to go away, so we need a voice of common sense. That is what I am going to provide in the coming semester.

    We find ourselves in a world full of dumb laws. I’ve listed a few of the more light-hearted ones above, but there are many which are much more dire. We live in a world where black is quickly becoming white and white is becoming black. The line between what is right and what is acceptable to the masses is quickly becoming blurred and blended almost to an unrecognizable point.

    In our very own Utah Statesman in previous columns, we have read how we should all view pornography, have promiscuous sex before we get married, try out being homosexual, swear a lot and leave our standards in the dirt in order to seek immorality. I pretty much disagree with everything we have been reading from opinion columns in the past, and I fully intend to be the voice of reason that cries out from these pages. Someone should say something. We should all say something. So sit back, relax and get ready for a strong dose of common sense.

–Richard Winters is a senior majoring in Law and Constitution Studies and Communication Studies. Send comments to

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