Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Voices from the Past: The Missouri Catfish Debate (1929)

Here's one of the snippets from the past that tell you how little things have changed. In 1929 a debate over the use of the latin names of fish broke out on the floor of the Missouri State Legislature...well, you just have to read the article yourself. Politicians--perhaps the only unchanging force on earth!

Just think of Catching An "Ictalurus Anguilla" on a Trot Line

The angling members of the Missouri legislature objected today to having their favorite fish called by fancy latin names in the statutes.

The dispute arose over a bill to amend fishing laws in respect to the number of fish one may have in his possession. The bill lists among others the following game fish, "Ictalurus Punctatus, Ictalurus Furcatus, Ictalurus Anguilla," which in ordinary language means the various species of channel catfish.

"I move we send this bill back to committee and have all this balderdash taken out," said Representative Dubois, from Texas county.

"I don't see why we should remove these names," said Representative Moss, of Montgomery County. "If we leave them in the bill it will give us a chance to leadn something by looking them up in the dictionary."

Representative Ramsey sprang to the floor and said, "I think it would be a good idea to let them in the bill. If we caught more than the lawful quota and met a game warden we could say, 'we merely have 10 ictalarus in our bag." The game warden wouldn't know what we had and we could get away with more fish."

The bill was finally engrossed with a number of fishermen dissenting. Several members said they wanted to ask what the names meant, but would have been unable to pronounce them. An explanation in the fisherman's language is continued in the bill following each series of latin words.

-- Dr. Todd

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