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washingtonpost OP t1_jbtiyuv wrote

From reporter Peter Hermann:

When D.C. embarked on a years-long process to overhaul its criminal code, one of the things city council members set out to do was remove from the books antiquated laws that are no longer relevant to modern society. But with Congress moving to nix the overhaul — concerned over other provisions, like the lessening of statutory maximum penalties for carjacking — some of the outmoded measures technically remain in effect.

Many of the laws are no longer applicable, and they are definitely not being enforced. Some were already stricken decades ago — like a ban on flying kites, which was scrapped in 1970. Others, with roots dating back to England in the 1700s, have been rendered moot by court rulings. Still others have been revised through subsequent legislation, but the original language was never removed from the official record.

Curse in public

In 1892, Congress criminalized cursing in public in the District, lumping it in with the crime of vagrancy. It made it unlawful “for any person or persons to curse, or make use of any profane language or any indecent or obscene words.”

Courts in subsequent years have taken a far different approach to free speech. The fine 131 years ago: $20. The same law also equates making an obscene gesture with the crime of indecent exposure, both punishable with fines up to $250.

Ride ‘any animal of the horse kind’ too fast

When cars weren’t so prevalent, it was illegal to ride “any animal of the horse kind” in D.C. at “a rate of speed exceeding eight miles per hour.” It was also illegal to turn a corner with a horse going more than 4 mph.

Whether the law remains technically in force, though, is somewhat unclear. Notes from the commission that reviewed D.C.'s code as part of the overhaul say it may have been repealed, but because the group couldn’t confirm that, the overhaul would formally remove it.

Read about more of these laws here, and skip the paywall with email registration:


BigE429 t1_jbtsfkl wrote

I, for one, am sick and tired of people riding their horses around town like they're in the damn Kentucky Derby


EPethy t1_jbxgfdx wrote

Well it's DC so they'll get horsejacked eventually