John Kass

It's clear that Americans are irritated by some of our annoying, stupid, idiotic laws.

Like the law in Galesburg, Ill., that makes it illegal to burn bird feathers within city limits. And one in Fort Thomas, Ky., that prohibits house pets from "molesting" passing cars. There are laws for this and laws for that, but the problem is that what's annoying to you might not be annoying to your neighbor.

That's why I was so thrilled to hear about the so-called Annoying Law of Grand Rapids, Mich.

If there's one thing this country needs, it's a law against people who are annoying. And jail time, to give the annoying people something to think about as they cool their heels in a cell.

Sadly, the town of Grand Rapids has decided to get rid of its Annoying Law.

The culprit is one Catherine Mish, the city attorney, who has been on a crusade since last summer to clean the city code of what she considers to be antiquated, unworkable and annoying laws. She combed through the more than 5,000-page city code and found them.

Like the one that makes it illegal for anyone other than a police officer to "molest" a bird's nest (again with the molesting). They also threw out the one that sent habitually late library book borrowers to the pokey. OK, let's throw that one out and be merciful.

But they're annoying the heck out of me by getting rid of the Annoying Law. Enacted 38 years ago, it included a jail sentence of up to 90 days.

"I don't believe the court would ever have allowed us to try and enforce this," Mish said in a telephone interview. "If there's an ordinance that you know isn't enforceable, we should just take it off the books."

The reason the law was unworkable is that the town fathers of Grand Rapids forgot to specify just what constitutes annoying behavior.

On Tuesday, city officials struck the Annoying Law from the books. They're also preparing to erase the ban on molesting birds' nests.

"Bad things can happen when you leave antiquated things on the books because they can be used against people," Mish said. "We hate to leave any tool for selective enforcement in the code. If we can weed them out, we certainly try to be proactive about this sort of thing."

Well, I certainly hope you're happy, Catherine Mish. You and your whole dern posse of proactive lawgivers up in Michigan should take a bow.

But when America is overwhelmed by wave after wave of annoying behavior and some sociologist asks me why, I'll just say, "It's Grand Rapids' fault. Blame Catherine Mish."


Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm of our readers it has become necessary to transfer our commenting system to a more scalable system in order handle the content.