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home : opinion : columns February 5, 2016

1/6/2013 6:01:00 AM
Editorial Column: These ideas couldn't become law - right?

Alan Choate
News Editor

As of Jan. 1, it is illegal to run a yellow light in China.

Somewhere in the maze of Chinese government, someone thought that requiring drivers to slam on their brakes when a traffic light turns yellow would somehow reduce traffic accidents. Never mind that yellow is supposed to be a warning that a stoplight is coming - no, now a yellow light is a red light, which is the kind of doublespeak that makes people want to throw regulations into a bonfire.

That's not even the most head-slapping rule I've heard about recently. In Iceland - and Germany and Denmark as well, apparently - you're only allowed to use names from a government-approved list when naming your children.

Iceland has a Personal Names Register with 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that, according to the Associated Press, "fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules" and "protect children from embarrassment."

First of all, as long as they're regulating names, why aren't there equal numbers of acceptable male and female names?

And second of all - seriously?

This is real?

Now, in a way, I understand the appeal. I once met a guy whose name was pronounced "Aaron" but was spelled "Aryan." Oh, if only there was some way to keep parents from naming their children after misappropriated Sanskrit terms ... and there's the slippery slope.

But I find myself inspired. Instead of the American Legislative Exchange Council, think of me as Alan's Facetious Legislative Exchange Committee, or AFLEC. (I hope I can use that acronym without being sued by a talking duck.)

In the spirit of our foreign compadres, here are some more government interventions that are really bad ideas.

• Avoiding Crappy Entertainment (ACE) Act: Would funnel all profits from stuff like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" or "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" into museums, symphony orchestras and school arts programs. Michael Bay, Len Wiseman and the "Twilight" movies alone could remedy our arts and music education deficit for decades to come.

• Choice and Humor in Movies (CHuM) Act: The "so bad it's good" school of entertainment has its fans, of course (including me; "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" had me laughing out loud), as well as deep pockets for lobbying. So this act, repealing the ACE Act, would be passed, and all prior recipients of ACE funding would be forced to work as extras or catering assistants. (This could also be called the CHIN Act, but only if Bruce Campbell promotes it. Or Jay Leno.)

• Firearm Use Learning and Leveling (FULL) Act: Would require all applicants for gun licenses to carry a filled water pistol for 24 hours without spilling a drop. It doesn't do anything to promote responsible gun ownership, but just think of all the wacky spills!

• Delivering Unto the Intoxicated (DUI) Act: Enlists law enforcement, EMTs and other first responders - when they're not on call - to help keep drunk drivers off the road. The first responders would answer a hotline and deliver alcohol to those who are still partying but are too drunk to drive somewhere to buy booze. A service fee added to the tab would make up for some of the revenue lost to reduced DUI fines - and, for the first time ever, people would be happy to see the police pull up to their party.

Congress is back in session, and state legislatures will start meeting soon.

It may seem ridiculous that any of these ideas could make it into a bill, but there have been stranger proposals - requiring families of a deceased person to use a funeral home, for example, or legislatively declaring that single parenthood is a contributing factor to child abuse.

When stuff like that comes up, it's time to turn the traffic light red and say, "Stop."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Article comment by: Jack Shepherd

I am more interested in what is going on in the USA. Why the Miner keeps giving space to the national writers instead of the locals is beyond me.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: travis langford

Sounds like Iceland and China are being run by the redumblcian party. My mistake, They couldn't win an election there either.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: BOBO CLOWN

Anything some idiot in the field of making laws can become a law under the right conditions..MURPHYS LAW..

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: Gun Owners Have No Sense of Humor

Alan, I suspect the vast, vast majority of comments will be regarding your FULL Act.
They'll accuse you of trying to "water" down their gun rights.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

In principle, parents should be able to name the kid whatever. But some of the 'whatevers' that blacks choose probably are not a career enhancement - i.e.any name beginning, centered by, or ending in "eesha". And then you had the New Jersey couple who named their little boy Adolf Hitler (the family name was Campbell). I'm still generally against government intrusions here, but there can be exceptions, and there can be head-shaking at parents who obviously haven't seriously considered their child's career aspirations.

Posted: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Lehto

I would recommend Shelby Foote's trilogy of the civil war as reading for anyone. A recurring comment given by members of the Confederacy was "leave us alone". Of course, some will argue that this was simply to hang on to slavery. Slavery was a pretty expensive proposition, and would have justifiably died on the vine in a short period of time, with less ramifications to the black population (see antebellum free men in new orleans). Another recurring theme in this wonderful work was when asked by Union troops why a Confederate was fighting, the answer was" because you are here".

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