Those of you whose parents forced you to make a weekly pilgrimage to the town library, testify.
If you’re like me, you would give your next-born child to go back in time right now and find the shelf that holds all those Shakespearean classics, or “The Communist Manifesto,” or some random volume that would prepare you to study nuclear physics.
Something, anything, to avoid a career that compels you to work nights and weekends, barely keeps the creditors satiated and subjects you to almost-daily public ridicule. Am I right?
Alas, I was into light reading, then and now. So when I was shamed away from the rack housing the sports periodicals, the natural next step was a certain 80-page, double-spaced, illustrated non-fiction work entitled “The World’s Stupidest Laws,” or some such thing.
Let me tell you, kids: Hours of entertainment. Because your parents, teachers and friends need to know that it’s illegal to play a violin while trudging along the sidewalk in Augusta. Or that a woman in Michigan is committing a crime if she doesn’t have her husband’s permission to get a haircut. Or that dog obedience training of any kind is strictly forbidden in Hartford, Connecticut.
Simply knowing it yourself might win you a bet someday.
They’re all honest-to-goodness laws still on the books in those jurisdictions, as legally binding as the speed limit and the tax code. All outdated, all ridiculous.
So silly, thank goodness, that no time, energy or taxpayer dollars are wasted enforcing them.
Which brings us to the red-tape parade thrown in honor of Joe Gamache Sr. — cancer survivor, wiz with drywall, gentleman and boxing enthusiast.
All Gamache wanted to do is promote a fight card at Lewiston’s Multi-Purpose Center. Heck, he’d done it for years, sculpting son Joey into a world champion and furthering his home city’s proud fistic tradition by training those who followed the younger Gamache’s lead.
Seemed like an innocent idea. Probably not a plan destined to make him rich in an era dominated by mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, but one hatched out of a genuine love for the sport.
Judging from the resulting furor, you might wrongly assume that Gamache circulated a petition to legalize marijuana or prostitution.
Those might have been easier fights to win, come to think of it.
Gamache has been cautioned, urged — OK, basically threatened — to abandon all hope of staging this brazen boxing exhibition, lest he run afoul of a law that has been on the books since the Ulysses S. Grant administration.
It’s an edict that made prizefighting in Maine a Class E criminal offense.
Yes, that’s right: Gamache and any fighters setting foot in the locker room June 19 could have spent that night in the hoosegow and faced additional penalties, including but not limited to being locked into a stockade and spat upon in town square.
Only kidding. I think. As of this writing, however, 19th century justice prevails. Gamache has tentatively shelved the fights, redirecting his energies from hanging posters and chasing sponsors into a media campaign exposing the absurdity of it all.
Absurd, because Muhammad Ali and Marvin Hagler once fought in this state, as did thousands of other pugilists from world champions to weekend warriors. The law didn’t abolish boxing in Maine, really, as long as it was contested under the auspices of the Maine Athletic (formerly Maine Boxing) Commission.
With budgets strangled and boxing on a respirator, however, that board was dissolved three years ago. Therefore, anyone caught in the act of something so illegal and immoral as promoting a boxing card, be it professional or amateur, shall be cast into outer darkness. This means you, Mr. Gamache.
In a related story, there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza.
Well, fix it, dear Henry!
Reinstate the boxing commission, for the love of Gussie Nazarov.
How hard is that? We have a committee, coalition or think tank dedicated to the preservation of every endangered species this side of the banana slug. Somebody must be willing to stand up for boxing.
Rewriting this insanely outmoded law needs to be a priority in the next legislative session.
In the meantime, if you’re a fan of boxing or simply of rational thought, call or write your representative and implore him or her to leave Joe Gamache and his fighters alone. Inform that person that if he or she is actively involved in the colossally wasteful act of hassling or prosecuting fight promoters in a state and world where so many needful things are screwed up, there will be consequences at the polls.
Think of it as landing an uppercut for common sense.
Oh, and while you’re at it, urge them to help lift the ban on gambling at Biddeford Municipal Airport and waive the mandatory statewide fine for leaving up Christmas decorations after Jan. 14.
Because stupid laws are stupid laws and infringements upon your life, whether they affect the sporting world, or distract you from your studies, or put your name in the police blotter, or not.
Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected]