4 Real Laws Passed To Ban Imaginary Things

It may not be a problem. It may not even be real. But it's still illegal.
Publish date:
September 7, 2013
The Good Men Project, it's the law people

We like to imagine that our legislative bodies pass laws in response to genuine issues facing society. We may not always agree with the solutions they propose, but at least they’re trying to solve problems.

Except, of course, when they’re trying to solve completely made-up problems that don’t exist in reality. Then they’re, at best, wasting everyone’s time, and at worst doing genuine lifelong harm to people for, quite literally, no reason at all. Not even overreacting to minor problems, but doing stuff like declaring imaginary monsters to be protected species. And that’s linked here because it didn’t even make the list.

1. The Undetectable Firearms Act

Since 1988, it’s illegal to make a gun that doesn’t contain any metal, and thus can’t be detected by metal detectors. Mind you, it isn’t possible to make such a gun, and never has been, but now it’s as illegal as anti-gravity motors and time machines. Sure, there’s a current panic over 3D printed plastic guns that could circumvent this law, except… if you look at the actual specs of the gun in question, it doesn’t hold up. It uses a nail for a firing pin and can only fire once; you know what that makes it identical to? A zip gun, the nail-and-rubber-band-powered improvised guns that were a big moral panic in the 1950s, along with switchblades, juvenile delinquents, comic books, and the Negro Problem. Plastic guns are as realistic a threat as "Tales From The Crypt."

2. Banning Sharia Law

Dozens of states have considered laws on this stupid issue, but only a handful, including North Carolina, have actually passed them into law. These laws state that Islamic religious law cannot override United States law, which would mean something if the First Amendment didn’t already guarantee that. I suppose this makes sense if you believe that separation of church and state is a crazy made-up liberal lie, rather than one of the founding principles of our nation. In that case, you just have to choose which repressive theocracy you’re going to live under, and you gotta root root root for the home team. Meanwhile, in the real world, implementation of sharia law in states without these protections is holding steady at zero.

3. Executive Order 9066

This was the law that allowed for the internment of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. It was to prevent sabotage of West Coast military and industrial facilities by people whose loyalty was in question because they had a great-great gramma from Yokohama. (No, that’s not an exaggeration. 1/16 Japanese ancestry was the standard.) This was justified by unbased rumors of secret Japanese bomber signals and things like the wholly imaginary Battle of Los Angeles. The internment was justified by fears of sabotage that weren’t backed up by a single fact. No worries, though; as Gen. John DeWitt said, “The very fact that no sabotage has taken place is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.”

Of course, despite the actual German sabotage campaigns during the war, German Americans were never interned, nor was that seriously proposed by anyone. Racism is not logical.

4. Voter ID Laws

Until very recently, it was illegal for certain states to change their voting laws without federal approval, because those states have a history of arranging their laws to suppress the votes of racial minorities. Then the Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act on the grounds that these states no longer had a problem and wouldn’t still try to suppress minority votes. Within two hours, voter-suppression laws were going into effect. So much for that theory.

The way these laws are justified today, other than “we only want the right people to vote,” is with fears about voter fraud. Supposedly there’s a very serious problem with people voting who don’t have the right to, illegally swinging elections away from the rightful candidates. Here’s the problem: Voter fraud is made up. It is not a thing that happens in real-world America. A few individual cases turn up now and then, mostly simple mistakes, but the idea that it’s a problem in need of a solution? Completely unsupportable by facts.

Which is why you won’t hear any facts cited in defense of these laws. You’ll hear smug jokes about check-cashing, and imaginary anecdotes that never really happened, but you won’t hear facts because there aren’t any.

Photo—Wikimedia Commons

Reprinted with permission from The Good Men Project. Want more?

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