5 Horrifying Things That Should Have Been Illegal Way Sooner
Whatever happened to the good old days, when men were men and nobody needed warning labels to tell them not to drink their shampoo? You know, before everybody got so sensitive and lawsuit-happy?
Well, we're reasonably sure that what happened is that people realized the good old days were fucking horrible. Just look at how long it took the government to come around on some truly awful shit that should have been stopped decades earlier ...
It Was Legal For Men To Rape Their Wives In Some States Until 1993
This hopefully goes without saying, but rape is a felony, and like with any other felony, being married to the victim doesn't excuse you from jail. At least, that's what you and any other reasonable human being would assume. But the idea that sexually assaulting your spouse should be considered a crime is only a few decades old in America, because our 20th-century legal system was still struggling with the concept that human beings aren't property (this has admittedly been difficult for the United States to grasp).
Let's not forget the Civil War fought over who owns Spider-Man.
And we're not talking about an ugly technicality buried in the bylaws of, say, Mississippi -- as recently as 1983, it was still legal for a man to rape his wife in 33 of the 50 states. And this persisted until 1993, when North Carolina became the last state to get rid of laws which explicitly stated that rape wasn't rape as long as you were married to the victim.
Even now, the old laws still haven't been completely purged. In Ohio, as well as some other states, marital rape still isn't considered rape unless there's violence involved. So you can totally knock your wife out with a roofie; just not a baseball bat. And feel free to pile on all the emotional abuse and pressure you need to bully her into having sex with you, because that's all part of a healthy, legally sanctioned marriage, according to the state of Ohio.
Congratulations, Browns! You're officially not the shittiest thing about your state.
And before foreigners get too smug, the UK was only two years ahead of the US, criminalizing rape within marriage in 1991. You may recognize that as the year Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey came out. So yeah, criminalized marital rape in the United Kingdom is exactly as old as Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.
Airport Security Didn't Exist Until The 1970s
Although commercial flight began in 1920, it would be decades before anyone would come up airline security. Before that time, people apparently assumed that crime ceased to exist once you were five miles above the Earth, or that commercial aircraft were under the jurisdiction of Zeus, King of Olympus.
Literally nothing was there to prevent sky murder, sky bestiality, etc.
Finally, after four US flights were hijacked in as many months(!), President John F. Kennedy instituted the air marshal program, which put officers on certain flights and required that all planes begin locking their cockpit doors, because for some reason this wasn't something they already did ("But what if a passenger has a question?"). But this wasn't quite enough -- by 1972, another 72 hijackings had occurred. That is not a misprint. Seventy-two. Air travelers in the early '70s essentially had an almost equal chance of reaching their destination as having their flight featured in a TV movie.
So in 1974, metal detectors were introduced into airports to catch anyone trying to sneak weapons onto a flight, since the honor system clearly wasn't working. Even then, airlines still had a blind spot when it came to staff. In 1987, an ex-employee of US Airways named David Burke managed to board a plane with a gun, even though he'd been fired from the company months earlier, because he still had his company pass and nobody thought it was necessary to check the bags of an airline employee. That plane crashed, and although the investigation was inconclusive, the sound of gunfire on the black box and a suicide note written by Burke on the outside of an air sickness bag led many to believe that he might have had something to do with it.
They did have enough evidence to posthumously charge him
with multiple counts of impersonating Lamont from Sanford And Son.
After that, US Airways instituted a groundbreaking new procedure requiring ex-employees to, you know, surrender their staff IDs after getting fired. Even then, it wasn't until after September 11th, 2001 that flight crews began to be regularly screened before boarding their aircraft. And everyone remembers how borderline fascist airport security has become since then, right? Surely nobody can sneak a pistol or a hand grenade on board a transcontinental flight nowadays.
Yeah, about that. It's been found that airport employees are still not subject to the level of scrutiny demanded of passengers. In fact, only two major airports require staff to go through metal detectors. Look, we're still figuring this whole "airport security" thing out. After all, flying has only been around for maybe a century, and we had to make sure we could turn it into a commercial industry before we figured out how to make it safe and everything.
The Secret Service Didn't Start Guarding The President Until After Three Presidents Were Assassinated
Over the history of the position, four presidents of the United States have been assassinated. That's fewer than 10 percent, which isn't terrible, but ideally we'd like to keep that number from getting any bigger. Which is why it's so ridiculous that we didn't start giving the president bodyguards until after the third assassination -- that of William McKinley in 1901. Before McKinley's death, most commanders in chief didn't think there were any credible threats to their lives (even though two presidents had already been assassinated before him). Heck, McKinley himself knew someone was planning to kill him over a week before it happened, but he shrugged it off, believing he was too popular for anyone to pull it off.
This was incorrect.
Even then, it still took a while for anyone to figure out exactly how to go about protecting the president. It wasn't until 1913 that the Secret Service were officially given the task. Since then, there's only been one successful assassination, although there have been plenty of attempts, and more than one person has attempted to kill a sitting president by flying a stolen plane into the White House.
See: Shitty airport security from earlier.
But how about former presidents? There was no official protection for retired ex-presidents until as recently as 1963. Before then, it was simply assumed that people stopped caring about ex-presidents the moment they were out of office. Harry Truman, for instance, lived in a house with little security in place, and it wouldn't be unusual to bump into him on the street as he went to buy a newspaper. In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, it became part of the duties of the Secret Service to guard former presidents as well as the current one. After all, someone might still be lurking out there, harboring a 40-year grudge against Jimmy Carter over Billy Beer.
Related: 55 WTF Facts About US Presidents
Native American Families Could Have Their Children Taken Away By The Government Until The 1970s
For a depressingly long period of U.S. history, the native people of North America were regarded as being too savage to understand how to properly raise their own children. (Even though they had done so perfectly well for quite some time before the first Europeans showed up to tell them they were doing everything wrong.) Consequently, Native American children were more or less regarded as property of the state. The government could swoop into any Native American household at any time and whisk the children away to a "safer" environment ("safer" is a term here meaning "white").
"Yell out 'manifest destiny' when you find one you like."
But that must have been, like, 150 years ago or something, right? Surely we were done with all that unbelievably racist and undeniably criminal child abduction by the time, say, FDR was in office. Nope! The Indian Child Welfare Act, which prevented children from being taken away from their parents to be assimilated into white society, was only passed in 1978. A year after freaking Star Wars.
So yeah, before that it was common for Native American kids to be removed from their families and raised in boarding schools in order to be taught how to be white. The schools provided invaluable education, such as preventing the children from speaking their native language and giving them more "traditional" (read: Anglican) names.
"Your name is Toby."
And when we say "education," we pretty much mean "beating the Indian out of them." Kids were subject to harsh physical discipline if they were caught speaking their native tongue or exhibiting their culture in any way. As late as the 1960s, native kids were being beaten until they bled, and for entertainment, they were shown old frontier movies about heroic, virtuous cowboys getting violently scalped by savage natives, because they needed to be taught the evils of their ancestors .
Even when the Indian Child Welfare Act was finally passed, they still managed to screw it up. The Act took things too far in the other direction, and wound up returning kids to their parents even if they had been removed from their parents' custody for a legitimate reason. As a result, a bunch more kids wound up dying in abusive and/or negligent households, all because America still couldn't quite understand that race shouldn't be the most important factor in deciding what is best for children.
The Mentally Ill And Disabled Were Involuntarily Sterilized Until 1972
Eugenics -- breeding certain people out of the gene pool, lest they pollute society with their horrid diversity -- was a popular and well-received idea in the early part of the 20th century. Its proponents claimed that the practice could create a world in which genetic disease would be a thing of the past. In 1907, the state of Indiana took a bold step toward that promising future and began a policy of forcibly sterilizing the mentally ill, in the hope that they wouldn't make a bunch of mentally ill babies. Legislatures are frequently blinded by their own monstrosity.
"It's basically like mandatory vaccination!" -- an actual Supreme Court analogy
By 1938, 33 states had sterilization laws that covered not only "traditional" mental illness, but also the blind and deaf, people who were crippled, people with some kind of obscure fetish, and alcoholics. Orphans and the homeless were also added to this slate of sterilization, because someone with the power to draft laws for the United States of America decided that losing your parents and/or your home was a genetic disorder.
By the time the last involuntary sterilization laws were off the books in 1972 (Virginia was the final holdout), it's estimated that over 63,000 people had been forcibly sterilized by the government for the crime of possessing "undesirable" traits.
Politicians with shears would chase people, yelling, "Snip snip!"
And it wasn't until 1973 that programs designed to help the disabled get into school and find work were established, which means that rights for the disabled are younger than M*A*S*H. In 1985, the United States passed the Mental Illness Bill of Rights Act, which finally answered the centuries-old question of whether people with mental illness are indeed people and not subhuman blights to be quarantined and eradicated. Soon afterward, a hearing was held in Virginia to grant financial settlements to the victims of forced sterilization policies. That was a long time coming, but at least all of those people who were sterilized by the government for committing no crime other than existing finally received some kind of justice ... oh wait, they were awarded absolutely nothing. Never mind.
For more in the ridiculous world of safety laws, check out 5 Safety Measures That Caused Rampant Death And Destruction and 5 Popular Safety Measures That Don't Make You Any Safer.
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