Huh? Dutchess County Politician Once Tried to Criminalize Flirting
Many may complain that the state of New York has too many laws. But if you go back far enough in time, some of these so-called laws just get plain bizarre. Apparently, jumping off a building in the state of New York is a crime that is punishable by death (wouldn't you be dead already?).
Did you know that slippers cannot be worn after 10 PM? It's also illegal for men in the Town of Carmel to go outside while wearing pants and a jacket that don't match. Who's going to actually try to enforce these?
Local Assemblyman Tries to Ban Flirting
But there was once a time when one Dutchess County politician tried to pass a bill that would have really ruined a lot of peoples' days.
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Smithsonian Magazine details the time in 1902, when state assemblyman Francis G. Landon tried to pass a law that would ban drinking too much and trying to get woman to look their way, or pretty much any sort of public display of affection. If passed, offenders could be arrested and fined up to $500 dollars (which would be well up into the thousands in today's world).
Any person who is intoxicated in a public place, or who shall by any offensive or disorderly act or language, annoy or interfere with any person or persons in any place or with the passengers of any public stage, railroad car or ferryboat, or who shall disturb or offend the occupants of such conveyance by any disorderly act or language or display, although such conduct may not amount to an assault or battery, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Landon lived in Staatsburg at the time. By 1900, he was elected to the New York State Assembly as a Republican, representing the Dutchess County 2nd District. He served in the Assembly from 1901 to 1903. In 1907, Landon was elected chairman of the Dutchess County Republican Committee.
The Anti-Flirt Club
According to sources, there was actually enough momentum in the early 20th Century to introduce such a law, and the bill was even still on the books as late as 2017. By the 1920s, the Anti-Flirt Club was a real thing, and served at the time as a means to protect women and girls who received unwelcome attention.
There were several chapters of the club across the country, with the Manhattan chapter being lead by several men who attempted to enforce their agenda in the city's theatrical districts.
The first, and only, Anti-flirt Week would even take pace on March 4, 1923, according to The Atlantic.