Old Laws: Funny or Dangerous?

Massachusetts has some old, sometimes funny morality laws about cursing and other no-nos. But sometimes those laws play havoc with modern-day living. Is it time to clear the books?

Massachusetts is famous for its out-of-date laws. The Boston Globe cites a few, like a cursing ban at sporting events. But there are other laws, passed more than 100 years ago, which could complicate present-day political and legal dilemmas.

These old laws sometimes have a major effect on modern day issues. Representative Byron Rushing, D-South End, reminded the Globe that Governor Mitt Romney used a 1913 law about residency rules to prevent out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts. That old law was scrubbed from the books in 2008, five years after it was cited by Romney.

The 19th-century anti-abortion laws are a particularly thorny issue, according to the Globe. They may be relics of a time past, but that didn't stop the Essex County District Attorney's office from charging a Lawrence woman using an 1845 statute in a 2007 case.

What do you think?

Does the state need to clear out all these antiquated laws from the books, or is this a low priority for the legislature this year?

Do the laws add quirk and humor to the commonwealth, or are they an embarrassing reminder of a less tolerant time?

Tell us in the comments below.


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