Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Novel ideas in law: don't believe the click-bait! Or: Proposed change to MI Animal law includes ban on oral sex, or does it?

Maybe you've seen this article on your social media. It's claim is that Michigan, through it's senate, will ban some types of sex, and penalize it up to 15 years.  (article from Freethought). It even is posted with an alluring bedroom photo.

If you were thinking to yourself "That can't be true, it seems so outdated," then you're probably right. The article is written mostly to get you to click on it (hence the term click-bait, the sad substitute for journalism that's ad-driven instead of fact driven.) 

The article isn't accurate. Michigan's senate was attempting to amend the laws currently on the books to make it illegal for someone who's already been convicted of animal abuse to be able to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue.

Here's the original  law, which is at MCL 750.49 et seq. It was originally written in 1931, and has been amended time after time, as it contains all of Michigan's criminal laws and penalties. 

Here's the proposed changes to the act (full text). If you start reading from the top, you will see that the bill focuses on animal abuse.

However, the thing is the click-bait article only SAMPLES from the full text of the bills, and ignores the fact that the Senate was trying to amend law regarding animal abuse. This makes the click-bait quite misleading.

And the news ran an article on the proposed changes to the law, which didn't mention the "sex" portion of the bill at all. (Here's the article on Mlive). 

But there is some accuracy to it - since the law it's sampling from seems to say "these types of sex are illegal."  So it also leads one to ask the question: why not clean up the original language of the bill while the Senate was busy writing new parts of the law?

Your guess is as good as mine as to why they didn't do a little "housecleaning" on the bill. My thinking is that maybe the Senate didn't know it needed to.

But the rule that "don't believe everything you read" should be followed here.

PS: The Michigan Legislative website is a great resource for what's currently in the law in Michigan, and what's being proposed as changes to the law. I use it almost daily! Hints from your local law nerd.

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