I thought that title would get your attention! This is one of those nights when I feel like writing something, yet my brain is too tired to do anything too long or serious. So, I hope you are in the mood for something a little lighter than usual. Grab yourself a pop-tart and start chewing.


As you know, Republican State Representative Sally Kern made national press last month when she introduced legislation to prevent Oklahoma schools from punishing children who chew their breakfast pastries into the shape of a gun. Representative Kern’s measure, dubbed the “Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act,” was in response to school districts having discipline policies that are too strict or inflexible. She cited a recent Maryland case where a boy was suspended from school for making one of aforementioned Pop-tart guns.

Under Kern’s bill, students couldn’t be punished for possessing small toy weapons or using writing utensils, fingers or their hands to simulate a weapon. Students also couldn’t be punished for drawing pictures of weapons or wearing clothes that “support or advance Second Amendment rights or organizations.”

While I don’t think we need more laws to legislate common sense, I suppose I agree with Representative Kern’s premise that zero tolerance laws can often create dilemmas for school administrators. I would like to think that most of us would not suspend a kid for something this silly, but there may be a rare context when we might. For that reason, I think it is best we leave these decisions to the local administrators and school boards who are closest to the situation.

Representative Kern’s legislation is not the first, and will certainly not be the last questionable piece of legislation proposed and implemented in our great state.

A quick search of the internet reveals a long list of antiquated, illogical, and downright silly laws passed by previous Oklahoma Legislatures.

However, silliness is often in the eye of the beholder. What one person considers silly may be very important to another group of people.

For example, Oklahoma statutes prohibit horse tripping. At first blush, an average citizen’s response might be, “You’re kidding!” I don’t know why anyone would trip horses. Maybe this was something Oklahomans used to do for fun. Nonetheless, this law is probably the result of an effort by the humane society to protect horses from a very dangerous “sport.”

Bear wrestling is also illegal. It was becoming popular at some point in time in some states to defang, declaw and drug bears; then wrestle them as entertainment. My father-in-law told me he wrestled a bear during the Texas State Fair in the 1950’s. Since he is still sharing the story, I assume he won. Bear wrestling seems more ridiculous than a law against bear wrestling, so a 1996 law thankfully ended the practice.

You may not be aware that it is also illegal for the owner of a bar to allow anyone inside to pretend to have sex with a buffalo. This seems like a good law to me. Buffalos are big smelly creatures that have no place in a dining establishment.  However, I am curious why the legislators limited this law just to buffaloes—does this mean deer and bison are acceptable?

Remember back in 2007 when Representative Joe Dorman pushed through a bill to make the watermelon, a FRUIT, the official state vegetable. Apparently this was necessary because we had already made the strawberry the state fruit and because he wanted to draw attention to the watermelon festival in Rush Springs that year.

On the topic of “food laws,” did you know that the state’s “official meal” is chicken-fried-steak, barbecued pork, sausage, biscuits and gravy, fried okra, fried squash and pecan pie? Apparently, we also want the state’s official cause of death to be the heart attack!

Ladies, were you aware that it is illegal to do your own hair without being licensed from the state? So, back away from that curling iron and call your stylist. Our state cosmetology lobby is very powerful.

As with most things you read on the internet, some information is either out-of-date or unreliable. For example, www.dumblaws.com reports that whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

However, I could find no reference to the law anywhere in statute.  Even if it were illegal, I would support a full repeal of this law. After watching the movie Sharknado last summer, I believe it is important for public safety that our state be ready to respond when the inevitable Whalenado touches down in our state. I wonder if Bass Pro Shop sells harpoons.


Unfortunately, to clean up Oklahoma’s laws would take a lot of effort. In many cases, it would take more effort than anyone wants to make. Removing a law from the books can be difficult because of its symbolic value. It is illegal to swear in front of a lady in Oklahoma, but which legislator wants to be in favor of swearing? Adultery is punishable with five years in prison, but who wants to take responsibility for changing it?

This is precisely why we end up with some of the ridiculous education laws and mandates we have in Oklahoma. Even if there is no research or longitudinal data to support particular pieces of legislature, no one ever gets rid of anything. We just keep piling one new law on top of another. Many are just as silly in my mind as the ones I discussed above.

Do you know that Oklahoma schools are required to assess 100% of our students in grades 3-8 in Visual Arts and Music despite the fact that most of our students are not enrolled in those classes? This was implemented a dozen years ago to replace the former OCCT test for these subjects. I am very supportive of arts and music in our schools, but do we really need to test all students in these subjects and send results to the state department? This wastes thousands of hours of time statewide each year. Why not just repeal the law?

Legislators and Governors want to appear “strong on education.” As a result, we pass laws to promote the perception of higher standards and increased accountability. And, because no one wants to appear “weak” on education accountability, bad laws are tough to get rid of. The 2006 Achieving Classroom Excellence (ACE) created the high-stakes End of Instruction (EOI) tests for high school students. Is there any data that this law has significantly improved our student’s readiness for college? The Oklahoma class of 2013 has an average ACT score of 20.8, exactly the same as it was in 2005 and in 2000.

Instead of trying something different, we pile on even more tests, A-F grading schemes, value-added models for teacher evaluation, third grade retention and other reforms imported from other states. It doesn’t matter that there is limited research to support these reforms. The legislators want to be perceived as “doing something” about education; even if the reforms they pass actually hinder truly innovative change in schools—change which is driven by the people at the local level who understand the unique characteristics and needs of their communities.

We have too many silly laws in Oklahoma. With hundreds of new bills currently in committee, this list will surely grow between now and the end of the legislative session.

I have an idea. Why not dedicate an entire legislative session to eliminating many of the ridiculous laws on the books without adding any new ones? I could get behind that kind of legislative action!

Are you done with your pop-tart yet? Examine it carefully. If it looks like a gun or any other weapon, keep eating. I would hate to see you get arrested on my account.

And the next time a buffalo winks at you in a bar, get out of there quick. You do NOT want that on your record!