TOPEKA, KS— Mayor Bill Bunten not only missed a tree while throwing a snowball at it, he also violated a city ordinance, according to USA Today.
The law came to light when Bunten received a letter from Kristen Aberle, a high school senior from Thawville, IL, wrote to Mayor Bill Bunten questioning why Topeka would have a city ordinance against throwing snowballs. "I thought somebody was pulling my leg," the mayor said. "But I checked, and she's actually right."
Bunten said Thursday that the ordinance was pointed out as a "Dumb Law" in Aberle's high school government class.
According to the Topeka Capital Journal, In a letter to Aberle dated Dec. 27, Bunten wrote:
"After I write to you, I am going to the police station and report myself and throw myself on the mercy of the court. After that, I'm going to have an ordinance drawn up to repeal this Dumb Law lest our already-crowded prisons are filled up with children who, while making a snowman, got carried away and had a snowball fight."
Fines for violating the law can be up to $499 and jailed for 179 days, which also prohibits stones and "other missiles."
Upon this coming to light, press reports says that Bunten has asked the city's attorney to draw up an ordinance to delete the snowball part of the current law.
While I agree this law sounds dumb, I also see why it was probably written. After reviewing the language of the law, it can easily be construed any snowball is illegal. However, I believe the intent was malicious snowballs thrown at individuals not interested in a snowball fight or thrown at property to cause property damage. I do not believe the intent was to include a friendly snowball fight. Having said that, I am not sure how to word the law to exclude non-malicious and yet define malicious adequately.