OK, I've counted them up and America now officially has enough laws on the books. What got me thinking about laws was the stupid lawmaker in Virginia who would make it a crime for children to wear their pants low enough that you could see the band of their underwear sticking over the pants. First, let me ask what kind of childhood this yahoo had?
Long hair, mohawks, staches, sideburns, pork chops, rings, tattoos, zoot suits, flapper outfits, teens swooning at Frank Sinatra in the '40s and the Beetles in the '60s. It's all part of growing up.
Did this lawmaker not visit a country grandma and grandpa in the summer and go skinny dipping down in the creek? No, I didn't think I would live long enough in the South to walk in a department store where a burly, tough trucker is picking out an earring, but it doesn't bother me especially.
What does bother me is some lawmaker who goes out and convinces people to vote for him or her because of pressing issues of the day that need addressing and then gets to the regal and impressive state Capitol and introduces the "no visible panty line" bill.
The other year we had the one in Georgia that would penalize restaurant owners if they didn't offer sweet tea along with unsweetened.
Across America lawmakers are acting like kids by introducing these silly proposals that unfortunately dressed up like something serious must be treated the same way. Someone has to write the bill and then someone has to deal with it in committee.
So here is my proposal. Since America now officially has enough laws, every time someone passes a new law an old one has to be taken off the books.
"So, Virginia lawmaker, we have good news. Your colleagues have now made it illegal to show the band of your underwear above your pants. So here is a list of laws. Which one do you propose eliminating? You know proponents contend that murder statute has been pretty good at holding down the crime rate in Virginia. So we hope you don't take that one off the books. There is that bank robbery statute that only gets used about once a month, but if it's your bank that law might be worth keeping on the books."
If you have ever covered the legislature, and I have covered several, then you know that at some stage in the session people start getting giddy and introducing these silly bills. For them, it is a way of letting off steam, I guess, or being cute and wry.
Back to the proposed Virginia law: I just don't see why these little things in life bother people so much. I do find it silly that "gangstas" have to turn their baseball hats just to the proper off-center angle to be cool, some major conformity among nonconformity.
A friend of mine once said you can tell you are getting old if you ask a kid if he ever wears his baseball hat backward and he says: "You mean with the bill out front?"
The older I get the more stuff I realize I don't know. I wish I had studied more sociology, among other things. But not knowing much, I still suspect there are trends and characteristics of humans you can watch develop like some golfers can look at a green and read it, every blade of grass helping make the putt go a certain way.
So this lawmaker in Virginia should know that there are patterns to the way we do things. Someone starts a fashion trend and suddenly you have to follow to be cool. Then it fades. Parents or teachers hate the trend and try to stop it before it dies a natural death. Remember kids sent home because they were wearing Bevis and Butthead T-shirts?
My late father told me that as a kid in the '30s about 20 of his friends would rush the movie theater and run into the dark and fan out among all the paying customers so the surprised ushers and ticket takers couldn't figure out who paid and who didn't. Now if you did that you would be charged and put in the pokey. Dennis the Menace used to run naked through the sprinkler of long-suffering Mr. Wilson, his neighbor. Now you would be in counseling and pre-trial intervention.
My point is, can't we all just take a deep breath and relax. Can't kids be kids?
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Extension 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .