The Utah state legislature has wrapped things up for the year, which means I can go back to my regular routine of not remembering they exist.
The most important thing they did this time around was make Jell-O the Official State Snack of Utah. This was an actual thing that happened, and it happened because of strong-arm tactics used by the Jell-O Mafia, a group of big-haired women who converged on the Daily Herald offices several months ago and tossed a bunch of free Jell-O products our way. We did what any sane people would do, which was ignore the Jell-O Mafia and hose down the newsroom after they were gone. The legislature, however, is apparently more easily swayed than we are, because they immediately stopped passing laws against foreigners and made Jell-O the official state snack.
Before this, Utah had no state snack. Residents were permitted to choose their snacks pell-mell (or, at times, higgledy-piggledy) without uniformity or consensus. Thousands were killed. Now, all Utahns are required to eat Jell-O at least once per week, under penalty of deportation.
O how great the legislature, in its infinite wisdom, to designate an official state snack! O how long we have waited restlessly for guidance in this important matter! O how we rejoice in the hoof-based dessert, with or without shredded carrots! O what Mormons we are!
In addition to ratifying the Jell-O Sanctification Act, state officials made Jell-O spokesman and former celebrity Bill Cosby an honorary citizen of Utah. Cosby was humbled to be the state’s only black citizen, and promised to see about finding more. Then, mistaking Lt. Gov. Olene Walker for the fat substitute Olean, Cosby said, “Hey, hey, hey!,” devoured her whole, and lumbered off into the night.
But not all of the legislature’s actions were gelatin-related, nor did they result in the eating of prominent citizens. Here are a few other laws enacted this year.
– As suggested by the people who write letters to the editor, anyone not liking the way things are done here must move away.
– All Utahns must think about the 2002 Olympics in a positive manner at least once per day. Negative thoughts will be punished. All Utahns must bow before the Olympics and kiss the Olympics’ feet. Hail the almighty Olympics!
– Elected officials may drive while intoxicated provided they allow newspapers to photograph them in comical poses as they take the roadside drunk tests. No further punishment is required.
– Hate crimes are not to be prosecuted any differently from regular crimes. Love crimes, though — you know, where you shoot a guy in the face because you love him — are punishable by death.
– By order of the state senate, Gayle Ruzicka is to be considered insane and highly dangerous. She may still carry a gun, however.
– Turn signals are banned from use in the state of Utah. The four Utahns who were using them had better stop.
– Official Most Embarrassing Town Names in Utah: Tooele and Beaver.
Several of the "laws" named here refer to actual issues that were considered by the legislature this year. (They wanted to lift the ban on crazy people owning guns, for example, and they vetoed a hate-crimes bill.)
The Olympics crack was based on my own frustration over the fact that we (and all Utah newspapers) were running stories about the Olympics EVERY SINGLE DAY, even though those stories got the fewest hits on our Web site -- suggesting that maybe people weren't all that interested yet.