Xref: taco misc.legal:29147 talk.politics.misc:80944 Subject: Blue laws (was: Re: Televisi

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Xref: taco misc.legal:29147 talk.politics.misc:80944 Path: ncsuvm!taco!lll-winken!elroy.jpl.nasa.gov!sdd.hp.com!mips!bridge2!molehill.ESD.3Com.COM!michaelm From: michaelm@ESD.3Com.COM (Michael McNeil) Newsgroups: misc.legal,talk.politics.misc,alt.censorship Subject: Blue laws (was: Re: Televising executions) Message-ID: Date: 13 Jun 91 17:41:25 GMT References: <1991Jun8.135214.15393@athena.mit.edu> <1991Jun11.141515.1176@hubcap.clemson.edu> <6773@optilink.UUCP> Sender: news@bridge2.ESD.3Com.COM Followup-To: misc.legal Distribution: na Lines: 139 Nntp-Posting-Host: molehill.esd.3com.com cramer@optilink.UUCP (Clayton Cramer) writes: >In article <1991Jun11.141515.1176@hubcap.clemson.edu>, >grimlok@hubcap.clemson.edu (Mike Percy) writes: > >>[...] Course it was Monday, and I was already pissed at certain >>religious groups and the way they get laws passed when said laws >>only basis is religious. All these laws seem to me to be out-of-line >>with a government which is not supposed to be sponsoring any religion >>over any other religions or non-religions. >What do you mean "supposed to"? The historical evidence for your >claim is weak to non-existent. There is plenty of evidence that >only a very few of the Framers would have taken the position you >hold, and many of the Framers would have emphatically disagreed >with your assertion that the government "is not supposed to be >sponsoring any religion over... non-religions." [...] > >The Constitution has a provision prohibiting religious tests as >a condition of holding federal office. This provision met with >substantial opposition, the Massachusetts ratifying convention >being an especially upset bunch. It appears to me that the major >arguments for it were based on the hypocrisy that would result from >officeholders having to lie about their beliefs or lack thereof. >>To expand on this (but unfortunately moving away from censoship for a >>moment), here's a few things which really peeve me. I happen to live >>in South Carolina, a state populated by a large portion of Southern >>Baptists. This group and others like it continue to force their >>beliefs on the rest of by managing to get legislation passed (or more >>often by simply keeping archaic laws alive). I wanted to fix some >>things in my house Sunday, but hardware stores are closed by law. >>Buying hardware would mean I wanted to work, and since Sunday is the >>Lord's Day (at least to most Christians) and a supposed day-of-rest, >>I must not be allowed to do this, even though I don't hold Sunday to >>be sabbath. Ditto for sales of alcohol on Sunday. I'm against blue laws too -- however, what we have to deal with *now* "ain't nothin', baby." Take a look at what the blue laws were like in some states during the first half century of the United States' existence. Quoting from Alexis de Tocqueville's famous work *Democracy in America*, first published around *18*38, here's how Tocqueville describes the then-current state of these laws, which, as he says, is "well worth the reader's closest attention": Although the strict puritanism that presided at the birth of the English colonies in America is already much relaxed, one does still find extraordinary traces of it in habits and in laws. In 1792, that very year in which the antichristian French republic began its ephemeral existence, the Massachusetts legislature promulgated the following law to enforce Sunday observance. I quote the preamble and the main clauses of it, which are well worth the reader's closest attention. "Whereas the observation of Sunday is in the public interest; inasmuch as it produces a useful suspension in labor, leads man to reflect upon the duties of life and the errors to which humanity is subject, permits the private and public worship of God the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, and dedication to the acts of charity which are the ornament and comfort of Christian societies; "Whereas irreligious or light-minded persons, forgetting the duties which Sunday imposes and the advantages society derives from it, profane its sanctity by following their own pleasures or labors; inasmuch as this manner of acting is contrary to their own interests as Christians; that furthermore it is of such a nature as to upset those who do not follow their example, and being a real prejudice to the whole society by introducing there the taste for dissipation and dissolute habits; "The Senate and the House of Representatives ordain that: "1. No one will be permitted on Sunday to keep open his shop or workshop. No one on that day will occupy himself with any work or business whatsoever, attend any concert, dance, or entertainment, or indulge in any form of hunting, sport, or game, under penalty of fine. The fine will be not less than ten shillings and will not exceed twenty shillings for each infraction. "2. No traveler, conductor, or driver, except in case of necessity, will travel on Sunday, under penalty of the same fine. "3. Tavern keepers, retailers, innkeepers, will prevent any resident of their township from coming to their establishment on Sunday to spend time there for pleasure or business. In case of infraction, the innkeeper and his guest will pay the fine. Furthermore, the innkeeper can lose his license. "4. Anyone who, being in good health and without sufficient reason, fails for three months to attend public worship, will be condemned to a fine of ten shillings. "5. Anyone who, within a church, behaves improperly will pay a fine of from five to forty shillings. "6. The tithingmen of the townships [{Fn.} These are annually elected officers whose duties resemble those of both the *garde champetre* and the *officier de police judiciaire* in France {AdT}] are responsible for the execution of the present law. They have the right to visit all rooms of hotels or public places on Sunday. The innkeeper who refuses them entrance to his establishment will be condemned to a fine of forty shillings for this act alone. "The tithingmen will stop travelers and inquire the reason why they are obliged to travel on Sunday. Whoever refuses to answer will be condemned to a fine which can be five pounds sterling. "If the reason given by the traveler does not appear sufficient to the tithingman, he will prosecute the said traveler before the justice of the peace of the district." (Law of March 8, 1792, *General Laws of Massachusetts*, Vol. I, p. 410.) [{Note by JPM} Tocqueville condensed the legal text; cf. *op. cit.*, p. 407 ff.] On March 11, 1797, a new law increased the rate of the fines, half of which was to go to the offender's prosecutor. (Same collection, Vol. I, p. 525.) On February 16, 1816, a new law confirmed these same measures. (Same collection, Vol. II, p. 405.) These are similar clauses in the laws of the state of New York, revised in 1827 and 1828. (See *Revised Statutes*, Part I, chapter XX, p. 675.) It is forbidden therein to hunt, fish, gamble, or frequent places where drink is sold on Sunday. No one may travel except in case of necessity. Alexis de Tocqueville, *Democracy in America*, 13th Edition, 1850, Edited by J. P. Mayer, Translated by George Lawrence, Anchor Books, Doubleday and Co., Inc., New York, 1975, p. 712-713. -- Michael McNeil Mail: Michael_McNeil@3Mail.3Com.COM 3Com Corporation News: michaelm@molehill.ESD.3Com.COM Santa Clara, California Work telephone: (408) 492-1790 x 5-208

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