Our Opinion: Avoid duplication in addressing bad behavior

News Tribune editorial

Do we need a state law to prohibit disrupting a worship service?

A proposal by Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, strikes us as either duplicative or unnecessary.

Sanctions to outlaw specific human behaviors are established by parents, organizations, societies and lawmakers.

Mayer’s legislative proposal is not off the mark in addressing “attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere” or the use of “force, threat or physical obstruction.”

We believe, however, those activities already are covered in criminal statutes, including prohibitions against creating a disturbance and trespassing.

Mayer’s proposed law also extends to behaviors and includes — but is not limited to — “use of profanity,” “rude or indecent behavior” and “making some unreasonable noises.”

How do these offending behaviors in a house of worship differ from using profanity in a restaurant, rude or indecent behavior in a department store or making unreasonable noises during a theater production?

Being rude or boisterous is boorish behavior, but are they crimes, punishable by incarceration in jail or prison?

We don’t advocate or condone bad behavior, but we acknowledge a difference between misbehavior and crime.

Parents, congregations and society are responsible for sanctioning and correcting bad behavior.

Law enforcement and the criminal justice system already are burdened with preventing crimes and enforcing laws dealing with theft and damage to property, as well as injury to people.

We encourage legislators to prioritize and concentrate on budgeting, economic development and essential government services — pressing issues of interest to Missourians.

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