Scanning the news this week, I ran across an article in The Daily Kos which talked about the signs that “debtors’ prisons” seem to be making a comeback. This piece, piggy-backed from an article in The Wall Street Journal, examines evidence that since the financial crisis began and took shape, corporations have begun to clog the courts with debt-related arrest warrants, using public resources to arrest and in some cases, jail people who owe them money. As I read the article, I began to have flashbacks from my 5th grade class-trip to Williamsburg, Virginia many moons ago.
I’ve retained specific memories from that trip. I recall the interminable drive as a ten-year-old, when even a fifteen-minute car ride was the equivalent of water-boarding. Additionally, it was the 70’s with no cell phones, IPOD’S, laptops, personal DVD players or any other forms of technology to pass the time more easily. Trust me, singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” close to 400 times was not the panacea for boredom it was cracked up to be. I clearly remember the worst case of chapped lips I can ever recall suffering from, where I literally had a huge red stain around my blistered lips which looked like I chugged a gallon of cherry Kool-Aid through a wood-chipper. Lastly, I remember the tour through colonial Williamsburg and specifically the stocks (yes, I have that picture with my arms and head encased through the wooden cutouts and my tongue sticking out like any good little elementary school kid worth their salt), and finally the distinct memory of the “debtors’ prison”. I vividly recall the tour guide explaining to us that during that time period, people who could not pay their debts were often thrown in jail. He then asked my class, “Do you think there could be a potential problem with that?”, to which I clearly remember thinking, ahh–yeah, how the heck can you pay anybody back when you are sitting in jail, unable to work? I mean, weren’t they smarter than a 5th grader back then?
But here’s the rub, the conundrum of debtors’ prison aside (since outlawed), I have had this overwhelming feeling that since the last election cycle, conservatives have set out to reverse almost every important advance made in the last 40 years to better the country for all, in my humble opinion. Just looking at the assaults on the environment (trying to defund the EPA and end regulations on polluters) and social programs including Planned Parenthood which promote women’s health, unions, the middle-class and poor, the outrageous push to “redefine rape” and the attempt to actually stop college students from voting, and even the bid to quash Big Bird, for heaven’s sake, by the newly elected GOP and Tea Party types has caused me to ponder what other ways we could go “back to the future”. I began to think about a world where the lunatic-fringe has totally imposed their backwards-looking agenda onto all of us. I was reminded of a site I encountered while perusing the internet a while back that listed all of these crazy laws still officially on-the-books in many states. I shuddered when I realized that this new right-wing agenda could conceivably one day include some sort of attempt to actually enforce them, since a lot of the legislation I’ve seen the right introduce recently is about as dubious and regressive as some of these antiquated laws. Here are a few which I wouldn’t put past some lawmakers to try to compel the states to execute in their quest to go back to the future.
- In Ohio and Nebraska, it is unlawful for a woman to appear in public while unshaven. This includes legs and face… I could be seeing some hard time here.
- In Alabama, it is illegal for you to drive a car while blindfolded…How about with one hand tied behind your back? *
- You cannot play with marbles, dominoes, or a yo-yo on Sunday in a few States… I lost my marbles a while ago so I’m not really worried about this one.
- In Florida, a special law prohibits unmarried women from parachuting on Sunday or she shall risk arrest, fine, and/or jailing…One of the perks of being a married woman, I suppose. On a related note, my husband is presently packing my chute and has procured plane tickets to the Sunshine State post-haste.
- Also in Florida,women may not drive in a house coat…I think they should consider repealing this law when you consider what the house coat may be covering. A house coat might just be doing everyone a favor. As a matter of fact, I KNOW wearing a house coat is doing everyone a favor.
- An anti-crime law in Texas requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed…You know, we have so few surprises in life anymore…
- Also in Texas, it is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing…Texans can count past three?**
- There you have it. I hope I haven’t given anybody any grand ideas in the Grand Old Party about actually enforcing these laws.
- *I in no way condone driving with a blind-fold on. This might be a good law to actually enforce.
- **I am, of course, making a lame attempt to be humorous at the expense of Texans. I am truly only kidding about them. If this law was on the books in Kansas, I’d be forced to mock them. I am quite sure they can count past three…although I can’t actually vouch for anything past 9.
- Will Republicans Privatize Debtors’ Prisons, Too? (crooksandliars.com)