That's Illegal? Part Two - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

That's Illegal? Part Two

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

In the tradition of “if it ain't broke, don't fit it,” law books with old time legalese often sit around collecting dust. That is, until someone like Hattiesburg Attorney Shawn Lowrey takes the time to read it and find an unusual law.

One weird law that he found is a Mississippi code that can be found in Crimes Against Public Morals and Decency under 97-29-43 Polygamy; teaching of.

“In Mississippi, teaching people about being married to multiple people is a crime,” said Lowrey. “Which now that I think about it, telling people there is a statute on it that talks about polygamy may make it a crime for me to even discuss it.”

This law was written into the books under the Mississippi codes in 1892, and is still in effect today. It states that a person who teaches others about polygamy could be fined no less than $25 and up to $500. They could also be imprisoned in the county jail for up to six months.

For Lowrey, the law goes beyond comprehension; it makes him question our American values.

“The idea that teaching people about something, even if it's a bad idea doesn't particularly mesh very well with justice and also with American values,” said Lowrey. “I always thought that we will a society that thinks that it's better to have good ideas or even have bad ideas to work themselves out, not to make it a crime to even tell people about it.”

The question is, why is it still on the books?

“The reason is that the legislature has better things to do and they don't feel like taking them off,” said Lowrey. “Then nobody is getting prosecuted for it anymore, so the statute just sits there forever.”

Copyright 2014 WDAM. All rights reserved.


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