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Air Traffic Control for Witches

We’ve all seen lists of some of the strange and outdated laws that exist around the world, but this one may top them all. In Swaziland, there’s apparently a law that regulates how high a witch may ride into the sky on her broom. And the magic number is about 450 feet.

In Swaziland, witches are forbidden to fly their broomsticks higher than 150 meters, and if they do, they are subject to arrest and a fine of R500 000 ($55,000 USD).

Though it seems like a joke, witchcraft in the African country is taken seriously.

Civil Aviation Authority marketing and corporate affairs director Sabelo Dlamini forbid witches from flying high in the skies…

An effort to reduce the spread of HIV by circumcising men in the country failed mainly because citizens believe witches might use the skin for dark purposes.

“Criminals are known to seek ‘strengthening’ potions made with human body parts. Killings associated with ‘ritual murder’ routinely correspond with national elections. Victims, usually children or older people, are found with body parts missing.”

Well it does make sense. If they were to drop a house on someone from higher than 150 meters, it could do some real damage.

Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    I suggest the following laws:
    No vampire may drink more than 10% by volume of the victim’s blood.
    Trolls may not stay under a bridge for more than three days without the permission of the bridge owner.
    Werewolves may not be compelled to join any particular flock. The flock leader has no right to force the flock members to pay tithe to him.
    Ghouls may only eat animal carcasses while inside the town limits.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    “a law that regulates how high a witch may ride into the sky on her broom” unless the witch needs to fly high to escape a balrog, in which case you have force majeure.

  3. says

    Of COURSE circumcising men failed to stop AIDS. The true use of that procedure is prevent zombification.

    Also, it only seems fair that dragons be limited to flying 150 meters high as well.

  4. outraged says

    While it’s easy to laugh at the ignorant savages, just take a look at all the ghost hunter and paranormal shows we have here in the US. A significant portion of the US takes this junk seriously and if you listen to right wing religious radio, you’ll find a large number of shows talking about demons and witchcraft here. If you gave these wingnuts just a bit more room, we’d have the same laws on the books here.

    We are all just a wingnut away from the crazy.

  5. shadowwalkyr says

    Is that above sea level or above grade? I need to know if I need an altimeter or a laser rangefinder.

    Or maybe I’ll just stop riding broomsticks entirely. Flying carpets are much more comfortable, after all.

  6. matty1 says

    @6 Don’t worry it’s only Swaziland all other nations stick to the far more sensible standard of merely requiring witches not to interfere with other air traffic.

  7. iangould says

    Except what he was saying was “Only licensed aircraft can fly over 150 metres in controlled airspace. Everything else – ultralights, RC planes – heck even witches – has to stay below that level.’

    But let’s all laugh at the silly backward African.

  8. says

    If they’re below 450 feet, why aren’t they constantly getting snagged in trees and power lines and antennas?

    “This is the captain speaking… We need to perform an emergency landing; our portside engine just ingested a witch…”

  9. says

    outraged:

    Ed does cover a lot of that stuff in the US – indeed, that’s usually the primary focus (not so much the silly stuff, like demons & witchcraft, but the dangerous stuff – although there is overlap, like when wingnuts accuse homosexuals of being possessed by demons).

  10. Synfandel says

    An effort to reduce the spread of HIV by circumcising men…

    Hunh? How was that supposed to work? Is the theory that men are carrying HIV around under their foreskins and if we just remove the foreskins they’ll be virus-free? Unnecessary surgery sounds like a way to promote the spread of infectious disease, not to reduce it.

  11. Larry says

    WitchesBrew 145-niner, you’re cleared to ascend to 450 feet on you’re current vector. Be aware you have traffic off to your left at 400 feet and a few power lines to watch for over the next few miles. Have a good day.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    TCC, Tabby
    Laurell K. Hamilton’s “Anita Blake, vampire hunter” series features a lot of werewolf/shapechanger politics, as does the series by Charlaine Harris. Apparently, shapechangers are rarely solitary creatures.

    BTW Sweden used to take this stuff seriously, deadly seriously.
    In my county we had the biggest witch trial in Scandinavian history, resulting in more executions than in Salem.
    And extant fundie politicians in Dumbfuckistan (aka the Bible Belt) believe in things that are as crazy.

    Must I remind you that one of Ronald Reagan’s government members sold out a lot of federal land because he considered nature conservaition unimportant in light of the imminent end of the world and return of Jesus.
    I am not making this stuff up.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    … witches are forbidden to fly their broomsticks higher than 150 meters…

    What’s that in cubits?

    From linked article:

    Witch doctors in the country pay an annual tax of $1.15, but last year, members of Swazi parliament argued that it should be raised to help the country’s debt.

    Swazi witch doctors need to form a Tea Party, stat!

  14. erichoug says

    I’ve said it before and I’ll apparently have to say it again, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH AFRICA? Just the other day, NPR has a segment on people Africans attacking, killing and in some cases, eating Albinos and here we have this.

    Seriously, you can blame a lot of it on colonialism and the racism of much of the rest of the world. But, at some point that only goes so far.

  15. says

    While it’s easy to laugh at the ignorant savages, just take a look at all the ghost hunter and paranormal shows we have here in the US. A significant portion of the US takes this junk seriously and if you listen to right wing religious radio, you’ll find a large number of shows talking about demons and witchcraft here. If you gave these wingnuts just a bit more room, we’d have the same laws on the books here.

    Yes, and we laugh at them too.

    It’s a better alternative than crying.

  16. savagemutt says

    From what I gather from the linked articles, there’s simply a law that any heavier-than-air craft have to fly under 150 meters (presumably unless they have some sort of license) and that the government official just jokingly used witches as an example of something that would be regulated.

  17. CaitieCat says

    @8: all other nations stick to the far more sensible standard of merely requiring witches not to interfere with other air traffic.

    Only when flying under VFR. IFR still requires contacting Central.

  18. says

    birgerjohansson

    Must I remind you that one of Ronald Reagan’s government members sold out a lot of federal land because he considered nature conservaition unimportant in light of the imminent end of the world and return of Jesus.
    I am not making this stuff up.

    Um, you might be, kinda, if you are talking about James Watt. He said many outlandish things, but there is no actual record that he said anything like “when the last tree falls Jesus will return.” It was first reported by Grist magazine which later apologized after it could not verify the quote. But by that time people like Bill Moyers accepted it as gospel.

    Or were you thinking of someone else? Link?

  19. oranje says

    I do like that the minister was joking; it shows a good sense of humour. Now if he would have taken it a bit further and pointed out it only applies to witches who weigh the same as a duck, he’d have gold.

  20. frog says

    birgerjohansson : I think you’ve been caught in a simple linguistic confusion. “Flock” is a group of birds or sheep. Wolves (and werewolves) are collectively known as a “pack.” I think that’s what people were confused by, not the basic idea that werewolves might group together.

    Composer99: that was the first thing I thought, though wouldn’t they have to consider whether any muggles were within view?

  21. Abdul Alhazred says

    Reagan fired James Watt.

    There were already a lot of calls to fire him, but what pushed it over the line was when he dissed The Beach Boys. Really. :)

  22. says

    but what pushed it over the line was when he dissed The Beach Boys.

    Ha! That was the one good thing he did. Ba ba ba ba barabara ann. Ba ba ba ba barabara ann. Really? How much falsetto must we endure?

  23. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Of course, condoms are much more effective in this regard.

    Which is elided 99.9% of the time.

  24. savagemutt says

    Ha! That was the one good thing he did. Ba ba ba ba barabara ann. Ba ba ba ba barabara ann. Really? How much falsetto must we endure?

    What, you don’t even like God Only Knows? :D

  25. leftwingfox says

    Heddle: No, but James Watt did say:

    “My responsibility is to follow the Scriptures which call upon us to occupy the land until Jesus returns.”

    The Washington Post, May 24, 1981

    Pet peeve: when people debunk a false paraphrase to obscure an actual quote.

  26. says

    leftwingfox #32,

    So what is your point? That has nothing to do with #16’s

    Must I remind you that one of Ronald Reagan’s government members sold out a lot of federal land because he considered nature conservaition unimportant in light of the imminent end of the world and return of Jesus.
    I am not making this stuff up.

    And in fact in the way Watt used the quote he was, at least in his own manner, arguing about preserving land because he didn’t know how many generations until Jesus returned. It had nothing whatsoever to do with selling federal land because he thought conservation was unimportant due to the imminent Rapture.

    Pet peeve: when people present an unrelated actual quote and pretend it is a reasonable substitute for a fake quote.

  27. says

    If you can’t fly with the big girls, stay off the broom stick.

    As for the circumcision and AIDS thing, there have been 40 studies and the results do not agree. It started with an observation in 1989 that uncircumcised men were 8 times more likely to have HIV. the World Health organization did studies. No conclusive evidence. The most recent studies from 2008 say there is no evidence of a lower HIV transmission rate.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    An effort to reduce the spread of HIV by circumcising men in the country failed mainly because citizens believe witches might use the skin for dark purposes.

    Like establishing a DNA database to aid in solving rape and other crimes.

  29. leftwingfox says

    Fine. I apologize.

    James Watt was a fanatical god-botherer, and has one of the worst records of environmental conservation in the position of secretary of the interior, but the link between the former and the latter is not in evidence.

  30. coragyps says

    Now it’s conceivable that my memory is fogged by time, or was fogged from its inception by recreational chemicals. It’s even very remotely possible that some hippie told me falsehoods. But, back in The Day, there was a big demonstration against the Vietnam War at the Pentagon. The Fugs were there. Alan Ginsburg was there. People with “tape recorders”, they called them, were there to provide a record of what happened. As part of the preparation for the event, the organizers asked for permission to levitate the Pentagon 300 feet into the air (in the approach space to National Airport), make it turn orange, and make it vibrate, thereby expelling the demons that resided therein.

    The permit to do so was granted, but with a height limit of only six feet.

    The demons were not expelled, and here we are still today………fucking aircraft safety rules!

  31. birgerjohansson says

    Thank you, James Watt was the name I was looking for. But he is far from alone. Consider the current christian dominionists who are not only uninterested in conservation, but downright hostile.

    Yes, In Swedish “flock” is the standard word for all, er, flocks. We have no pride of lions. Often, we have no pride at all.

    Africans have a sense of humor? But in that case, the Kenyan Usurper(TM) might also have a… oops.

  32. birgerjohansson says

    To clear up this whole witch thing we should simply ask Nanny Ogg. I dare not approach Ms. Weatherwax.

  33. lofgren says

    iangould:

    But let’s all laugh at the silly backward African.

    Yeah, it’s fair to laugh with Dlamini. He was making a joke, after all. But a lot of the reporting definitely falls on the side of “Look at the ignorant savage! He still believes in witches! Isn’t it adorable!”

    This reminds me a lot of the recent “It’s legal to hunt bigfoot in Texas!” story that made the rounds, where basically an official said “Sure, you can hunt Bigfoot on private land, just like any other animal. Good luck with that.” But of course it was reported to portray Texans as bloodthirsty, superstitious rednecks.

  34. kermit. says

    erichoug I’ve said it before and I’ll apparently have to say it again, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH AFRICA?
    .
    Nothing that isn’t wrong with my multi-generation, white US family. (Half of ‘em, anyway.) They believe the Earth is a few thousand years old, Noah’s flood was real, all the languages are derived from the Tower of Babel, demonic possession is fairly common, having your house smashed by a tornado but surviving is “a blessing from Jesus”, black Americans should be slaves(1) because they deserve it, being children of Ham(2), and if God wanted animals to live inside he wouldn’t have given them fur(3). And these folks are typical of tens of millions of Americans. They live in a world only made comprehensible – for sufficiently low values of “comprehend” – by explaining it as a great morality play, rife with demons, black-and-white categories of behavior, a powerful wizard king who is cruel and unpredictable, simple tribal identities, and tricksy scientists.

    Also, does anyone know if witches/sorcerers in Swaziland myth flew on broomsticks? I wonder if they got that from missionaries.
    .
    (1) Except for the young ones, who think the Southern Baptist never thought that.
    (2) Who disrespectfully told his brothers that their dad, Noah, was drunk and naked in his tent.
    (3) My mom’s response to be when I was quite young and asked if I could bring the dog inside.

    kermit

  35. Michael Heath says

    James Watt became powerful when I was coming of age. He was my introduction into the nihilistic tendencies of conservative Christians and their avoidance or denial of the implications of their beliefs. In Mr. Watts’ case it was promoting and succeeding in leasing a massive amount of coal to private company’s at prices well below market; as if the future didn’t matter not a whit.

    This was an age when Billy Graham produced a popular movie that Jesus was comin’ to get you any day now and Hal Lindsay was a widely read author. Sarah Palin is best understood by first becoming cognizant of the propaganda that was being fed to the sheeple back then. At least her id has a memory.

    While Mr. Watt was fired, now he serves as a standard-bearer for the GOP, both his Chistianism and the psychological profile of today’s leaders and committed party members (RWA). So one could argue that while he failed in Reagan’s administration, he is a grandfather to what the GOP has become. And that’s a religious-political movement with the thinking attributes of religious fundamentalists (even for those politically conservative Christians who are congregants at mainline churches).

  36. puredragon13 says

    @ d.c. wilson 35. Yes but only if we’ve mistakenly eaten at Taco Bell recently!

  37. says

    Michael Heath:

    An accurate assessment of Watt, imo.

    It appears that the statement attributed to him by Mr. Moyers, et al was never made before Congress. It is not clear that it was never made before anyone (I know, we can’t prove a negative).

    That he was a disastrous choice for IntSec is beyond doubt–unless one is a corporatist.

  38. leni says

    Yes, In Swedish “flock” is the standard word for all, er, flocks. We have no pride of lions.

    I feel so sad for you. Ridiculous collective nouns are one of the few fun things about English! Well, for native speakers. I imagine they are just a pain in the ass for non-native speakers ;)

  39. dingojack says

    Not all birds of a feather flock together –
    Geese form a gaggle (or in the air, a skein), larks form an exaltation, but crows form a murder….
    (Sorry collective nouns are a passion of mine).
    :) Dingo

  40. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @outraged #5

    While it’s easy to laugh at the ignorant savages, just take a look at all the ghost hunter and paranormal shows we have here in the US.

    We’re not laughing at the ignorant savages, we’re laughing at the ignorant.

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