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Hogarth judge

February 2018

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Hogarth judge

Free legal advice

Indiana Code ss. 15-2.1-21-13(b) provides that:
A person who dyes, stains, or otherwise alters the natural coloring of a bird or rabbit commits a Class B misdemeanor.

What has always interested me about this provision is, first, its careful distinction between what is forbidden and what is permitted. It seems that in Indiana, you are allowed to paint the dog red, whitewash the cow, and tie-dye the cat, but you must not do any of these things to a rabbit or a bird.

The other remarkable thing about the statute is its success, unusual in the annals of legislation. Whatever social problem it was meant to address, this one worked. I know that the prisons of Indiana are full of hard, cruel people; and many there are morally damaged or mentally deranged and capable of shocking acts of violence. The reports of Indiana criminal courts are full of tales of rape and murder and robbery. Nevertheless, in the official records of the state of Indiana there is no record that anyone has ever been so bold as to flout this law. Whether it is because the hands of Hoosier criminals have been stayed by terror of the penalty enacted hereunder1, or whether there are just some lines that even the morally callous and criminally insane are simply not willing to cross, is a subject about which I am not currently prepared to speculate.



1Ind. Code. 35-50-3-3: A person who commits a Class B misdemeanor shall be imprisoned for a fixed term of not more than one hundred eighty (180) days; in addition, he may be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).

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