I never heard of this before and I've lived in Massachusetts for 12 years now, but it appears we have a law passed in 1675 that bans American Indians from entering the city of Boston--and one group might choose to go elsewhere unless it is repealed. According to an article in the Boston Globe, the law reads:
We find that still there still remains ground of Fear, that unless more effectual Care care be taken, we may be exposed to mischief by some of that Barbarous Crew, or any Strangers not of our Nation, by their coming into, or residing in the Town of Boston. . . . Secondly, That there be a Guard appointed at the end of the said Town towards Roxbury, to hinder the coming in of any Indian, until Application be first made to the Governor, or Council if fitting, and to be . . . remanded back with the same Guard, not to be suffered to lodge in Town, unless in Prison.
Naturally, this isn't sitting so well with Unity, a coalition of four groups representing Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans working in the news media. The city is in the final rounds to win Unity's 8,000- to 10,000-attendee convention in 2008, but only if it gets this old law off the books. Trust me, they're working on it--it may already be a done deal.
Dan Lewerenz, president of the Native American Journalists Association and a Unity board member, said in the Globe:
''We're considering what it means for us to endorse a city that officially and effectively bans Native Americans," said Lewerenz, a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. ''We know it's not going to be enforced, but in theory, the police could arrest us when we arrive at the airport."
According to Meta-Roj blog, the New York Times said this law came up last fall around Thanksgiving, for obvious symbolic reasons. But, he says, "now that there's some real
money on the line, maybe things will progress a bit faster." (He also poses an interesting correlation between this 330-year-old law and the Real ID Act of 2005.)
But this is just one of the many weird Massachusetts legal holdovers from the old days. There's also an old law that makes goatees illegal unless you first pay a special licensing fee to wear one in public; another that says it's illegal to go to bed without first having a full bath; and yet another that makes it illegal to have a gorilla in the back seat of your car, according to this site.
Of course, Massachusetts is not alone in having stupid laws--far from it. I remember posting a while ago about British students coming to the U.S. to break as many dumb laws as they can in numerous states over their vacation here this summer. Some of the more bizarre ones I ran across: Did you know that you're breaking a city ordinance if you fish while sitting on a giraffe's neck when in Chicago? So much for that exciting incentive idea ;> And be sure to let your Florida meeting attendees know that they could be busted for passing gas in a public place after 6 p.m. on Thursdays. The idiocy goes on and on...go to dumblaws.com to see all the ways you're probably breaking the law daily in your home town, state, or meeting locale.