East Tennessee History: Laws you can’t live without

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
It has been an unusual year with death, social isolation and shortages on toilet paper of all things. A wise man once said, “A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.” I agree with him, and I think it is time to laugh at ourselves through history.
Not long ago I came across a list of strange laws in Tennessee that had been enacted at some point in history and were still on the books. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Law 1: “You can’t shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile.”
Now I don’t know about you, but this law has really helped all of us whale hunters.
Law 2: “Hollow logs may not be sold.”
I guess you can give them away or trade them for some Tennessee beachfront property, but you can’t sell them.
Law 3: “More than eight women may not live in the same house because that would constitute a brothel.”
Keep them at seven and you’re good.
Law 4: “It is illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish.”
I can see why this one was enacted. First would come the lasso, then the spurs and saddle. Where would it all end?
Law 5: “The definition of ‘dumb animal’ includes every living creature.”
If we are putting humans in this category, I know some that make a cow look like a brain surgeon.
Law 6: “It is illegal to dare a child to purchase a beer.”
I can hear the conversation now. “O, come on Billy. I triple dog dare you.”
“Well, if you’re triple dog daring me. Here goes nothing!”
Law 7: “Skunks may not be carried into the state.”
It’s OK to carry wolverines, bigfoot, hyenas or a flat billed platypus, but it is not OK to bring one cute little skunk. Come on now! This is nothing except skunk discrimination.
Law 8: “One may not throw bottles at a tree.”
I admit I broke that law in my youth, but the tree dared me and one of us had to learn a lesson.
Law 9: “It is illegal for a woman to call a man for a date.”
When a woman asks a man to a dance in some areas, they are referred to as Sadie Hawkins Dances. Around here we just call it Farmer’s Only.
Law 10: “You may not have more than five inoperable vehicles on a piece of property.”
What is that old joke? If you mow your yard and find three cars, you might be a redneck. The same applies here.
Law 11: “Bar owners may not let patrons make loud, unusual noises.”
The part of this law that jumps out at me is the “unusual” part. So, I am OK as long as I don’t make a noise that sounds like a wildebeest or my Uncle Roy eating Thanksgiving dinner?
Law 12: “When you pull up to a stop sign, you must fire a gun out the window to warn horse carriages that you are coming.”
I obey this law to the letter except I start firing a few blocks from my house to let my neighbors know I am home. This seems to keep peace in my neighborhood.
And finally, Law 13: “It is illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket.”
If you are walking with an ice cream cone in your pocket, the least of your worries is a law!
There we have some of the most interesting laws ever enacted in the great state of Tennessee. No doubt each of them were enacted to regulate a certain problem in society at the time and they all meant well.
As for me, I think I will go whale hunting from my truck, and I dare the police to try to stop me.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox