The Commonplace Fun Facts Legal Department tells us that laws are supposed to be reasonable. Apparently, this concept doesn’t apply to legal advice, however. That one sentence generated a bill for $362.11.
If, by “reasonable,” that means that laws should encourage desired behavior, that’s one thing. If it refers to the severity of punishment for breaking the law, that can be a whole different breed of cat.
Consider, for example, this provision from the statutes of the state of Pennsylvania:
A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he deals in humanity, by trading, bartering, buying, selling, or dealing in infant children.
Just so we’re clear, Commonplace Fun Facts is solidly in favor of criminalizing the sale of infants. We’re not particularly keen on selling people of any age, for that matter. Come to think of it, though, we have briefly entertained the idea of giving away a teenager or two, but we’d never consider doing so in exchange for money. (Besides, who would pay good money for a surly teenager?)
But we digress…
We also applaud the legislators of Pennsylvania for taking the enlightened position that it is improper to sell infants under any circumstances. This elevates Pennsylvania’s laws over those of its neighbor, Georgia, which saw fit only to prohibit the sale of children under the age of 12 to a circus.
Strangely, like their Georgian neighbors, the lawmakers of Pennsylvania concluded that the punishment for selling infants should only be a misdemeanor. Felonies are evidently reserved for things that are truly reprehensible, such as paying only $2 for a soda that costs $2.43.
A word or two of advice from our Legal Department (thus proving that the value of a “word” from a lawyer is another $166.04):
- The statute prohibits “dealing in humanity,” not “dealing with humanity.” Sadly, we all have to do the latter.
- For all of you Pennsylvania parents who might be on your last nerve because of that precocious tot who terrorizes your home, be warned that the law also prohibits you from trading away your kid. We know that you’re always a bit envious of the family at the end of the street whose child never gets gum stuck in her hair or tries to flush a plastic fork down the toilet. No matter how tempting the prospect may be, you can’t offer to trade your child for theirs.
If you begin to think you have the worst-behaved child on the planet, our advice is to take a trip to your neighborhood Wal-Mart. After an hour or so, you’ll return home, forever grateful that you didn’t get stuck with that hellion who was terrorizing the cereal aisle.
That last bit of advice is free.
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