Friday, March 17, 2006

History Friday: Lawbreakers

I've heard of laws that have outlived their time, but these are some really old ones that are under consideration for being taken off the books:
The Irish are breathing a sigh of relief as finally, after hundreds of years, they can adulterate coffee with sheep dung without fear of prosecution.

But burning witches at the stake will definitely be out and it will be illegal to conduct tiger fights in public.

One law dating from 1735 that might find plenty of support in modern day Ireland is the Tippling Act.

That forbade publicans from pursuing a customer for money owed for any drink given on credit.

The Irish Republic will abolish thousands of laws dating back to the Norman invasion and earlier.

Only 200 of the thousands of outdated laws written between 1100 and 1800 will be left on the statute books.

According to The Times newspaper, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has announced a two-month period of public consultation before the laws are consigned to the history books.

"There is a large volume of legislation that pre-dates the foundation of the Irish state, much of which is now redundant," he said.

Some of the more bizarre laws set for the chop include the 1181 Act banning Jewish people from owning armour, a 1366 Act forbidding English people from marrying Irish people and the 1285 Police Act, which set up a corps of watchmen to arrest suspicious strangers.

Prof Tom Garvin from University College, Dublin, said there was a touch of shrugging off the last vestiges of colonial rule involved in the changes.

"The English tried too make the Irish conform to their way of life," he said.
Now if only we could get rid of some of our antiquated (but still dangerous) laws that are still on the books that serve no useful purpose. Laws such as that anti-democratic anachronism known as the Electoral College, for example.

Mortarboard Tip:
See this week's edition of The Carnival of Education here and our latest posts over there.