Bad Laws, Part 1

The Bloody Code, transportation to Australia, prohibition of nonbelievers to office, sexist laws, laws against homosexuality and blasphemy laws. Part 1 of 2.

Music: “Kissing is a Crime” by the Carter Family



8 Responses

  1. If you do an episode on Prohibition, make sure to read Last Call or watch the PBS series based on it. Both are a bit dense but very good.

    I’ve been looking forward to your bad laws episode for ages so I was very happy to see it this morning.

  2. Great episode guys! Really enjoying this one. Did you know that Ghengis Khan gave the death penalty for stealing an extra bow string from the armoury! Not sure it was codified in any official legislation though.

    Also, I can’t remember my school history too well, but I think England colonised Australia purely as a penal colony to begin with, ie they didn’t expect to ship anything back to England with the ships (I’m sure that’s not entirely correct, but I learned it 30 odd years ago). And it wasn’t a light decision to commit a crime to go to Australia – the journey was terribly treacherous, so you were just as likely to die on the way as at the destination. The penal colonies were so bad they didn’t bother with any fencing either – if you ran away, where were you going to go?

    Can’t wait for next week.

  3. Ghenghis Khan created an empire that was said to be the most peaceful in history. It was said a woman can walk from one end to the other holding a bag of gold without being accosted, because punishments for committing crimes was so certain, swift and severe that nobody committed crimes.

    1. Bumping off forty million people gets you a reputation. 😉

      Didn’t you guys also say that a bag of gold sat in the main square untouched while Vlad the Impaler was ruling because of his punishments? Fear does have a certain degree of effectiveness.

  4. Big love for you guys. Thanks for another great show! There is a TERRIFIC episode about old laws still on the books in the television show Parks and Recreation. The episode is called “Article Two” and the description of the plot is thus:

    “It’s “Ted Party Day” in Pawnee, when the town commemorates the great Tea Dump of 1817. Interestingly enough, when the Pawnee Charter was originally written, they misspelled Tea as “Ted,” and ever since, the town has dumped a random guy named Ted into Ramset Lake to celebrate the occasion. This year, however, the Teds in town have had enough. They want all the old laws stricken from the record so the ridiculous injustices can end. But Garth Blunden, a historical apologist, hates the idea and decides to filibuster the hearing to overturn the old laws.”

  5. Just an note about Texas and other states that require a “religious test” for office. The US Supreme Court ruled that all those laws are unconstitutional. While they are still technically “on the books” those laws are not enforceable. A similar situation is not present with marriage equality. Many states, including Texas prohibit it but the supreme court has ruled its legal.

    1. Indeed. This recent episode of The Atheist Experience ( has a brief 6 minute discussion of this topic, for those who want to hear a few more details. It starts about 2.5 minutes in.