Lesson #253: A Kentucky Duel

A quick note before today’s lesson: Sometimes, my lessons pay off. There was a question on Jeopardy! yesterday to which the answer was Spartacus. I knew the answer because he was the subject of a lesson back in April.

My cousin in a major Canadian city* sent me a link today to a book she thought I’d enjoy. I need to get my hands on it. It’s a book of recent legal oddities written by a lawyer. My favourite of the examples deals with duels in Kentucky.

First of all, awesomely, under the Constitution of the state of Kentucky, all lawyers must swear an oath that they will not, nor have they ever, engaged in any duel with a deadly weapon, nor acted as a second.** It also bars anyone who has participated in a duel from holding “a state office of honor or profit.”

Now, that part is actually fairly reasonable given when it was adopted (presumably sometime around the end of the 18th century), but in 1998 an amendment was added to make it law for first responders and members of disaster and emergency response organizations to swear the same oath.  The best part of this, though, is that Kentucky (like probably most other states) has mutual aid pacts with other states and a 2004 report for Congress notes that during an emergency, state officials can “waive procedures and formalities otherwise required by law.”

What does this mean? I’ll let the author take it away…

“Thus, during times of disaster, a rogue Kentucky official can repeal the anti-dueling law for Kentucky employees and thereby create a loophole that allows Kentucky workers to duel with disaster aid workers from neighboring states that themselves don’t renounce dueling, all this at a delicate time when teamwork, not the settling of old scores, is vital to citizen health and welfare.”***

*I actually have four cousins living in major Canadian cities, five if you count Winnipeg, which is up for debate.

**A second, in that context, was actually a question on Jeopardy! recently that I only knew the answer to because I’ve seen the duel episode of Firefly about a dozen times. And they say television rots the brain!

***All information and quoted text can be read here. And presumably in the book, which can be purchased here.

As an aside: I do not know this author, nor do I have any vested interest, financial or otherwise, in whether you purchase a copy of his book. It’s just something I found interesting.

Advertisements