Ludicrous Leporidae Laws Lead to Legal Legerdemain


When the Feds announced the sequester plan, I was quite afraid that essential federal employees would be furloughed like mere private sector employees.

Fortunately, my fears proved unfounded. Oh, sure, D.C. announced that a few thousand air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers were forced to stay home, but really essential services are safe. I present to you: the Federal Bunny Inspectors. Better known as the US Department of Agriculture.

You thought the USDA's main function was to pay farmers not to grow anything and to advertise food stamp enrollment in Mexico, didn't you? Because you’re a narrow-minded libertarian. If so, hah! Prepare to stand corrected, little miscreants.

Enter Marty Hahne, an illusionist based in Ozark, Montana. Now, Montana is a place where small businesses aren't doing too badly, considering that unemployment in the state is 5.5%, way below the national 7.6%. So obviously, this place needs more regulation.

What is Montana's most common disaster? Every resident can attest that it is the meth-addled, toothless junkie driving a three-ton truck.

That is probably why the USDA sent Hahne an 8-page message, starting with the delicious salutation "Dear Members of Our Regulated Community." You can't make this stuff up. It brings back the nostalgia of the famous "Hello happy taxpayers" line that Droopy the dog uttered in Tex Avery's cartoons.

But this is not a joke. The letter demands that Hahne write a disaster plan for the rabbit he uses in his show. We learn that the rabbit falls under a regulation dreamed up by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under the pretense of implementing the Animal Welfare Act. Said regulation was promulgated last year, but somehow, sadly, Hahne missed it. As a result of his oversight, he has until July 29 to write his plan. He and his wife must then get training to implement the written plan and submit the plan to the USDA inspectors.The goal is to make sure that the rabbit is safe in case of a disaster.

But what is Montana's most common disaster? Every resident can attest that it is the meth-addled, toothless junkie driving a three-ton truck. I suggest, therefore, that Hahne write a document explaining that if he and his rabbit are run over by an addict, his wife could slide the rabbit under the USDA's office door for inspection. Training would be provided by regularly rehearsing the procedure, using roadkill.

However, if Hahne wants to save himself this trouble, there is an obvious solution, reportedly confirmed by a USDA inspector: conclude his show with a demonstration of a boa eating the (humanely killed) rabbit. The USDA would then consider the rabbit as a feed animal and drop its ridiculous requirements.

Other magicians have already decided to (gasp!) use stuffed animals to avoid the whole nuisance.

Let's hope that these workarounds don't gain ground. I'd hate to see our most industrious civil servants deprived of disappearing rabbits. They would then be forced to invent even more intrusive, counterproductive, obnoxious regulations in order to justify their own existence and expand their bureaucratic empires.

Share This



I really think you've missed the whole point of "magic." Simply declare that the rabbit doesn't exist. Make it disappear, send the video -- with the actual top hat -- to the USDA and tell them, "The rabbit's in the hat," and that they can confirm that there is, in fact, no rabbit whatsoever!

Alternatively, the illusionist should keep a bunch or rabbits around his place, maintaining that each was pulled out of the hat, birthed if you will, and hasn't been used in any act since its initial appearance. They are his "pets" and he wouldn't deem to suffer them the trauma of staying up late for his show.

Fred Mora

No offence meant to meth junkies. Some of my best friends do meth. From time to time, they come over. I casually mention that the kids have spilled something on the floor, and before I know it, the whole floor has been vacuumed and washed.


Really? Send them over to my house when you're done.

Jon Harrison

One of the unheralded achievements of the Reagan administration was the reduction in the size of the Federal Register by, if I remember correctly, 30%. Of course, since then the FR has done nothing but grow. It is absolutely maddening to see common sense disregarded in the name of bureaucratic imperatives, as outlined above.

Fred Mora

That is actually very good to know, Jon. If one president did it, another one can do it again. There is hope.

Of course, Reaganesque candidates aren't exactly plentiful right now. Still, that's some hope.

© Copyright 2020 Liberty Foundation. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed in Liberty are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Liberty Foundation.

All letters to the editor are assumed to be for publication unless otherwise indicated.