Md. law would make it illegal to trash the hash

February 17, 1997

I hate liver.

I mean I really, really hate liver.

It makes me sick. So do turkey necks. And well-done hamburger will kill you because of all the carcinogens that build up with overcooking.

Couscous is pretty disgusting, too. Come to think of it, I'm not too keen on bok choy. Cottage cheese? Ack. If you eat that you need your head as well as your stomach examined.

And why do they bother putting expiration dates on sour cream? Like, isn't it already spoiled?

Sorry. I just have to get all this stuff on the record now, because by next year it could get me arrested.


As of this writing, the Maryland Senate is in the process of passing the Disparagement of Perishable Food Products Act, which could make you liable for saying unhappy things about groceries. I hope you know me well enough by now to realize that I am not kidding.

Here's the official bill synopsis:

(It creates) a cause of action by a producer or association representing producers of perishable agricultural food products against a person who disparages such products by disseminating information to the public that a perishable agricultural food product is not safe for human consumption if such information is not based on scientific data and if the person knew or should have known that the information was false.

In other words, don't trash the hash.

If it's fresh hash, anyway. If it's canned, you can libel it all you want without fear that you might be swept up by the long Armour of the law.

This basically came about because some time ago a population of people that for years and years had been eating apples without getting sick, suddenly stopped eating apples because a TV show said they would get sick.

People, who usually can be credited with willingly doing everything that television tells them to do, started eating apples again, either because they noticed they weren't getting any less sick when they stopped, or because they realized the TV forgot to say "Simon says."

The apple industry stupidly blamed the TV show, when it would have been much more to the point to blame the people.

So the Maryland Senate would be much better off if it would agree that people who believe everything they see on TV should be put to death.

But cheer up, because even if we can't taunt the produce, we may still happily taunt dogs and horses. This is because of the recent failure of an actual bill filed by Sen. Don Munson that would have made it illegal to taunt a police dog or strike a police horse.

So Mongo in the movie "Blazing Saddles" would have been in big trouble when he hit that guy's horse in the jaw, knocking it out.

I can see the reason for the taunting law, since a police dog could get serious feelings of confusion about his identity if someone kept calling him "Pig."

And this law would have been a godsend in New Hampshire, a state where ordinance-writers obviously don't have enough to do. It is there that a black Lab recently won a reprieve after spending time on doggie death row for killing a rooster.

The dog - which was subject to the state's "three barks and you're out" legislation because of past offenses - was spared by the city, provided the animal leave town. (Whether by sunset or not the article I saw didn't say).

Ah, but if only Prince would have killed his rooster in Maryland, where lawmakers still respect the peace and dignity of a dog.

Unfortunately, of course, once the rooster was dead it exited the category of livestock and entered the category of "perishable agricultural food product" and poor Prince would have been in hot water with the government all over again.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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