This week at The Odd Dominion, we’re going to take a rest from lampooning the Commonwealth’s elected representatives. For a change of pace, we thought we’d take a gander at an even-more-tempting target: Virginia’s incomparable history of enacting boneheaded laws.
Our interest in this subject was inspired by a sad story we recently heard involving a young man, a pair of amorous cats, and a truly Kafka-esque trip through small-town Virginia’s labyrinthine legal system. We’ll spare you the gruesome details, but the basic toms-gone-wild tale goes something like this: Soft-hearted feline enthusiast adopts cute pair of lady kitties; said kitties soon reveal themselves to be carrying an unexpected cargo of even smaller kitties; surprised fellow suddenly finds himself the not-so-proud owner of a dozen mewing kittens, with furry little mouths firmly attached to moms’ milk-filled bellies.
What’s a blindsided pet papa to do? Well, in this case, our intrepid protagonist decided to wait for the kittens to wean, and then attempt to place them in loving homes (or at least a no-kill shelter). Unfortunately, his landlord had a slightly different idea. And so it came to pass that, while he was at work, the local authorities raided his home, grabbed the furballs, trashed the place and left behind a warrant for his arrest.
The charge? Why, felony cat hoarding, of course.
Now, before legions of animal lovers start to flood the Odd e-mail inbox with horror stories of puppy farms and crazy cat ladies, we should make it perfectly clear that in no way do we encourage the cruel (and indescribably stinky) practice of cat hoarding. But a felony? You have got to be kidding.
And yet, when we heard about this nightmarish bit of legal lunacy, we really weren’t very surprised. After all, Virginia cities are notorious for passing ridiculous laws banning such dangerous behavior as driving barefoot, tickling women and washing your mule on the sidewalk. And it’s not much better on the state level: The resources that were wasted debating and enacting the first provision of state law 29.1-521, which makes it illegal to hunt animals on a Sunday (except for raccoons, which may be hunted until 2am), should, in our humble opinion, be refunded to state taxpayers in the form of free bacon.
Now sure, all of these arcane provisions provide lots of yuks on the Internet (www.dumblaws.com informs us, among other things, that it’s illegal to own a pet skunk in Prince William County, spit on a seagull in Norfolk, kick your wife out of bed in Lebanon, and—for motorists of the female persuasion—drive a car up Waynesboro’s Main Street unless your husband is walking in front of the car waving a red flag), but the practical results can, as our felony cat-hoarding friend found out, be devastating.
And nowhere is this more apparent than in the (supposedly private) confines of the average Virginian’s bedroom. Now, our fine Commonwealth might have been founded by Protestants, but Virginia’s history of intrusive sex laws is puritanical to its core. As amazing as it seems, consensual sex between unmarried adults was illegal in Virginia up until January 2005 (when our state supreme court finally overturned the no-ring-no-nookie law), and both oral and anal sex remain Class 6 felonies, even though the federal Supremes ruled such anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional way back in 2003.
Of course, I’m sure that some out there would argue that, to the contrary, Virginia’s uptight and intrusive laws don’t go far enough. After all, if lawmakers would just extend these no-sex statutes to cover the animal kingdom, cat-hoarding cases would instantly become a thing of the past.
O.K., I shouldn’t even joke about that—given Virginia’s demented history, some overzealous legislator will take me seriously, and the next thing you know our legal system will be up to its eyeballs in felony cat-fornication cases.