Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Truth That's Taboo Today

"We hear that a positive step has been reversed, and St. Johnsbury, Vermont, has surrendered to the woo-woo faction; they’ve lifted a ban on fortunetelling. The fortune tellers, clairvoyants, tarot card readers and ghost-talkers in this corner of northern New England are once again free to swindle the citizens. A law was imposed against this flummery back in 1966, banning practitioners from telling fortunes or attempting:

…to reveal future events in the life of another or by means of occult or psychic powers, faculties or forces, clairvoyance, psychometry, spirit-mediumship, prophecy, astrology, palmistry, necromancy, cards, talismans, charms, potions, magnetism or magnetized articles or substances, oriental mysteries or magic of any kind or nature; to undertake or pretend to find or restore lost or stolen money or property, gold or silver or other ore or metal or natural product; or to undertake or pretend to unite, or reunite or to find lovers, husbands, wives, lost relatives or friends.

Other communities, too, had similar laws. In Philadelphia, city inspectors shut down more than a dozen psychics, astrologers and tarot-card readers after discovering a very old state law, one that still bans fortunetelling for profit. Louisiana's Livingston Parish made soothsaying, fortunetelling, palm reading and crystal-ball gazing illegal. Similar laws held in Nebraska, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and Oklahoma. As long ago as 1998, such a ban in Lincoln, Nebraska, was struck down by a federal appeals court as being unconstitutional.

The problem was that St. Johnsbury had never enforced its ban. Why, we can only wonder… "


-- James Randi, seriously wrecking my reading, over at the JREF.