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Are Old Laws Funny or Dangerous?

Massachusetts has some old, sometimes funny morality laws about cursing and other no-nos. But sometimes those laws play havoc with modern-day living. Is it time to clear the books?

Massachusetts is famous for its out-of-date laws. The Boston Globe cites a few, like a cursing ban at sporting events. But there are other laws, passed over 100 years ago, which could complicate present-day political and legal dilemmas.

But these old laws sometimes have a major effect on modern day issues. Representative Byron Rushing, D-South End, reminded the Globe that Governor Mitt Romney used a 1913 law about residency rules to prevent out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts. That old law was scrubbed from the books in 2008, five years after it was cited by Romney.

The 19th-century anti-abortion laws are a particularly thorny issue, according to the Globe. They may be relics of a time past, but that didn't stop the Essex County District Attorney's office from charging a woman using an 1845 statute in a 2007 case.

What do you think? Does the state need to clear out all these antiquated laws from the books, or is this a low priority for the legislature this year? Do the laws add quirk and humor to the commonwealth, or are they an embarrassing reminder of a less tolerant time? Tell us in the comments below.

MPreston January 06, 2013 at 12:48 AM
I'd rather see the abolishment of all PACs and lobby groups that corrupt the legislative process resulting in a profusion of useless laws that tend to confine and restrict citizens rights instead of protect them. Perhaps then elected representatives would be more likely to work for the betterment of the people instead of their pockets.
Terrence T. Sweeney January 06, 2013 at 09:35 PM
It would make sense to establish a committee to review all the laws that are now unconstitutional or counterproductive and file a single bill to repeal all of them in one act.
Timothy Crawford January 06, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Please no more committees, let a couple of the hundreds that have already been elected to do these things for us common tax=paying folk! A "committee" always turns into another full-time government job that is useless once it has completed its original task!
Diana Robinson January 07, 2013 at 04:33 PM
They definitely need to be reviewed and the ones no longer in line with modern life need to be removed. I'm sure everyone has seen the outcome of the rape trial in CA, where the accused was found not guilty of committing rape because of a law that stated that rape through fraud is only a crime if the perpetrator pretends to be the woman's husband. Dangerous and untolerable! http://abcnews.go.com/US/calif-court-finds-single-woman-protected-rape-law/story?id=18132972
Diana Robinson January 07, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Intolerable, rather.

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