Home > What's up with that, Dude? > What’s up with the crazy South Carolina laws, Dude?

What’s up with the crazy South Carolina laws, Dude?

January 6, 2010

I have a fascination with state oddities. Every state has those little eccentricities that make them unique. Some add charm, and some make you scratch your head, leaving you wondering, “What on earth were they thinking?” Away from odd numbered speed limits, kicking machines, and confusing road signs, it seems each state has certain laws that are outdated, impossible to not break, or simply absurd. As you’ll see below, South Carolina has many such perplexing laws. Here’s a few of the stranger ones. Yes Virginia, these are city and state laws that were, or still are, actually on the books.

SECTION 16-15-50. Seduction under promise of marriage: A male over the age of sixteen years who by means of deception and promise of marriage seduces an unmarried woman in this State is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined at the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than one year.

I think we can agree that falsifying the promise of marriage for the sole purpose of a little action is an underhanded thing to do, however there’s hypocrisy everywhere. There’s no punishment for seducing a married female with the promise of nuptials. There’s no punishment for being a married male seducing another married female using that same tactic. Funnily enough, there’s no punishment for being a female, single or married, promising marriage to a male in return for some fun. Apparently South Carolina didn’t think that was necessary, assuming that the male would probably head far away from the bedroom should such an offer be made.

SECTION 58-17-3400. Any railroad company shall be liable for damages for any horse frightened as a result of the violation of the provisions of this section by any of its employees.

This is an extension of the “Removal of hand or lever cars from track and leaving it near crossing shall be unlawful” law. Unless there’s a state employee monitoring a horse’s heart rate, or Mister Ed calls the police saying that the midnight train to Georgia scared the glue out of him, I’m not exactly sure how South Carolina planned to uphold that law. It’s also as if rails are laid down in ares where no other animals exist, that train tracks only attract horses.  How did the employees of any railroad company handle it? I’m sure, “be quiet, you’re going to scare the horse” isn’t something you plan to have pop up in your work conversations. Scare the workers, no. Scare the horses, pay the fine!  It goes part and parcel with folks thinking more highly of animals than people, probably with good reason.

SECTION 20-7-8915. Playing pinball machines: It is unlawful for a minor under the age of eighteen to play a pinball machine.

Let’s get this straight. If you’re 17 you can’t watch an x-rated movie, you can’t gamble, and you can’t play a pinball machine. Someone deemed the actions of hitting a flipper to launch a marble towards bumpers an adult activity. Trying to wrap my head around this one, I have yet to think of one psychologically damaging thing about pinball machines. Has a pinball machine ever been blamed for a murder or a suicide? I don’t believe Stern or Williams was ever the target of a lawsuit due to someone else’s deviant behavior. Yet, at some point, the state of South Carolina made it a illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to play a pinball machine. Just imagine playing pinball and having an officer ask for ID. No, it doesn’t make any sense to me either.

SECTION 13-13. Restrictions on operation and use of residential apartment complex swimming pools.

On the surface, this doesn’t sound so bad at all. My train of thought goes more along the lines of letting a complex decide, but if they’re going to enact a safety law, why not with a pool? When you read the law, a pattern emerges by the time you read subsection (b):  It shall not be unlawful for any swimming pool at a residential apartment complex or building to be open or used between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. if a certified lifeguard is present at the swimming pool during the period in which the pool is open between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., for the purposes of supervising the users of the swimming pool and of maintaining order at the pool. It’s then that you realize a lifeguard isn’t legally obligated to be at his observation post until 11. Call me crazy, but I was always of the belief that you could potentially drown at any time, even before 11. If you’re taking a dip in the pool and run into a problem at 10:30 pm, you’re on your own.

SECTION. 4-27. Confinement of bitches in heat and stray dogs.

I’m not making this up, that’s exactly how it’s written on the books in Clemson, South Carolina. I suppose the wording could have been a bit better (or our own vernacular changes, for that matter). The juvenile in me does find this pretty funny, and it gets better with subsection (b):  It shall be the duty of any police officer to impound any such bitch not confined as required herein. Done laughing? Through the snickers and giggles I can understand where this law is coming from. How many of us read that law and immediately think of pets? Like they say, simple minds amused simply.

Wow, what’s up with the crazy laws, dude?
Have a question for an SC attorney?


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