(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, February 28, 2005

Some things you read about silly laws are entirely true, and the great thing is that you can verify them yourself online. For instance, I am now informed that Mississippi has a statute that makes it a crime to keep a "stallion or jack[ass]" within 100 yards of a church, or in public view in an enclosure bordering on a public highway. Mares and jennies, no such prohibition. By the way, this is not a supposed matter of public safety (fear of distracted drivers causing wrecks, or whatever mishaps might befall distracted churchgoers); it is in the part of the code devoted to "crimes against public morals and decency." If you have trouble figuring out why such a law would only apply to the males of the species, let me know and I will email you privately.

posted by sam 12:10 PM 7 comments


People in Mississippi are easily aroused, is the message. Perhaps more telling than its authors intended.

By Blogger Chris, at 8:46 PM  

Ah, more proof you grew up in the more genteel sections. If'n you'd grown up on the farm, you'd know that "keeping" a stallion or jack pretty much means keeping them for stud (otherwise you'd be gelding them), and that the mares and jennies come to the stud, not the other way around. Sooooo-- if'n you're keeping a stallion or jack near the old churchyard, there's going to be quite a bit of action to be seen. If you know what I mean.

By Blogger nolo, at 8:52 PM  

Oh, for clarification-- if the stallion or jack's been gelded, he's no longer a stallion or jack. He's a gelding, and then he obviously doesn't fall within the terms of the statute.

By Blogger nolo, at 8:55 PM  

Wow. I absolutely defer to your expertise. This sort of exchange of information is what the information superhiway is all about.

By Blogger sam, at 8:55 PM  

Heh. I knew all that 4-H time would eventually pay off.

By Blogger nolo, at 9:03 PM  

so even if I'm keeping a stallion or jack for stud purposes, I can't let him forage in the pasture that borders the highway, but must keep him out of sight behind the barn, so to speak? oh the shame...

any word re the keeping of bulls?

By Blogger Andy, at 10:12 AM  

Ok, I can't believe I'm posting an addendum on this, but for some reason the question occupied my mind while I was driving to the grocery. So here goes. There are two critical points that actually make this a not-silly statute, at least at the time it originally was promulgated. First, the statute was promulgated at a time when the primary (and later, certainly still common) means of transportation were horse-driven. The second thing is tha nothing can be quite so obnoxious or disruptive as a stallion or jack who's caught wind of a girl. Take my word for this, really. But just imagine transporting the id of a teenage boy, in all its glory, into an animal weighing 800 to 1100 pounds. It can get ugly.

Hope this kind of scary picture helps.

By Blogger nolo, at 7:52 PM  

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