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Opinion One man’s ‘crime’ another man’s choice

George HasaraI want to know why North Carolina State Statute 14-177 is not actively being enforced. After all, the law is the law. If local law enforcement can find the time to put the kabash on video poker and other mundane infractions, why not get down and dirty with "crimes against nature" as described in 14- 177. The term "crimes against nature" originated under the reign of England's Henry VIII. (And, we all know what a fine moral person he was.) Sexual practices and positions not recognized as "normal" by the state/church were punishable by death. However, we have progressed quite a bit since the 16th century, and it is only a class-one felony in our state.

Not to be overlooked is N.C.S.S. 14-184. "If any man and woman, not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor." While this statute doesn't have the penalty punch of 14-177, it should be easier to enforce, if only it was enforced. A 9-1-1 call could become a little awkward but police scanner use would no doubt increase in popularity. My guess is, with a little digging by the DA's office, a smattering of "crimes against nature" could be thrown into the mix for quick plea bargains for those charged with “living in sin.” The sexual offender list would explode exponentially. It might be easier simply to list people who HAVEN'T been convicted of a sexually related crime.

Am I being facetious about adhering to the letter, or in this case, the number of the law? To be sure, the above statutes are invoked sparingly and are only still on the books because most politicians don't have the “you know what” to update an outdated legal code. Let's just say that there are plenty of “laws” that should be ignored or disregarded not only by the general population but by law enforcement as well. Forget about activist judges, the front line in helping to shape society are activist police officers who have the fortitude to exercise discretion.

Discretion separates us from a Disney Animatron. Computers are designed to read a script and will continue to do so even if an endless loop develops. Whenever I hear that the "law is the law," it makes me cringe. I suppose it's the robot mentality of dealing with people that turns me off. It is written, so it shall be done. Unfortunately, zero tolerance or discretion equates zero judgment.

The N.C. State Statutes are anything but consistent, especially when it comes to consensual crimes such as gambling. Placing bets is fine as long as the state is doing the sponsoring or sanctioning. There was a time that it was a crime in our state to simply possess a lottery ticket, now we have the North Carolina Educational Lottery. Gambling, excuse me, gaming may not be a sacred cow but it is a cash cow for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, the Harrah's Tribe, state and local government, as well as other interests. The rest of us may not stand a chance running a game of chance, but certain groups always have the house advantage.

Nevertheless, if what is written here rankles you, make sure you speak to me in colorful language only in Swain or Pitt counties, otherwise, according to S.S. 14-197, you could be found guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor.


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