There may be some terrible news to report out of Florida today, depending on how the state's residents have collectively decided to apply the basic science of biological classification to their lives. Last week, we noted some good news: The Florida legislature had finally passed a law that would outlaw bestiality and preserve the innocence of Florida's native fauna.
At the time, I posited that only shiny-pated grifter-Governor Rick Scott could possibly foul up the effort. But over at Southern Fried Science, blogger "Andrew" points out that the law's wording has basically outlawed sex entirely:
An act relating to sexual activities involving animals; creating s. 828.126, F.S.; providing definitions; prohibiting knowing sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal; prohibiting specified related activities; providing penalties; providing that the act does not apply to certain husbandry, conformation judging, and veterinary practices; providing an effective date.
Click here for a handy visual provided by Southern Fried Science that elucidates the fact that human beings are smack dab in the middle of the animal kingdom -- by which he means the "group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia" and not the horse that won the 2011 Kentucky Derby (being "smack dab in the middle" of a thoroughbred horse is a situation the law originally intended to prevent).
Andrew ends with a quip:
So if you’re living in Florida on October 1, 2011 and would like to have sexual intercourse with a consenting adult, please check with your veterinarian or local livestock breeder first to make sure you abide by "accepted animal husbandry practices, conformation judging practices, or accepted veterinary medical practices.”
(As it happens, I already check with my veterinarian and local livestock breeder prior to intercourse, but my therapist tells me that this is a "fetish" that he'd like me to consider discontinuing.)
The problem with this interpretation is that the statute itself explicitly distinguishes between "persons" and "animals," prohibiting sex acts between the two groups. A court facing a question of interpreting the statute would almost certainly read the statute's use of the term "animals" as "non-human animals," both to avoid absurdity and to conform with (1) the intent of the drafters; (2) the purpose of the statute; and (3) a commonly used (if scientifically inaccurate) understanding of the term 'animal" to exclude humans.
All well and good, but we remind you that this is the legislature that twice failed to pass a law banning bestiality, so one can't have complete faith that "absurdity" can be "avoided" in any event.
That said, to all the people in Florida who made love tonight with the added passion of knowing you might be breaking the law: you're welcome.
The Twittersphere has reacted in exactly the way you might expect:
[Slideshow by Mandy Jenkins.]
[Hat Tip: Taegan Goddard]
Florida Senate fails basic biology, accidentally outlaws sex. [Southern Fried Science]
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
Florida Bestiality Law Passes On Third Attempt, Awaits Governor's Signature