Arrested for What?! The Weirdest Laws Still in Existence
Laws are what separate us humans from our past savagery. We are just monkeys, after all. And, without laws, society would probably just be a never-ending cycle of banana stealing, poop throwing, and much worse stuff.
Human civilization requires structure. That structure comes by the way of rules. Furthermore, there must be consequences to not following the letter of the law. It’s important to note though, that just because a rule trickled its way through all those pesky checks and balances, doesn’t mean that it has to make sense.
The law is full of wacky, obsolete, and downright dumb laws that have yet to be erased from the public record. And I mean really, really dumb.
Today, we look at some of the most head-scratch-inducing rules that, for whatever reason, are still in existence today. Thankfully, there’s no law against writing about them.
Mobile, Alabama takes the term “fun police” to a whole new level. The popular port town has a bunch of silly laws on the books, but their take on silly string is certainly at the top of the list.
According to the letter of the law, it is unlawful for any person “to have in possession, keep, store, use, manufacture, sell, offer for sale, give away or handle any confetti or other substance or matters thereto.”
Just a warning, you may want to be careful not to accidentally dump your paper shredder’s catch-bin. You can never be too safe.
No More Gum
Bad breath? If you’re in Singapore than I suggest that you opt for a mint.
Back in 1992, the late Singapore lawmaker Lee Kuan Yew instituted an outright ban on all forms of chewing gum. The law was put in place in an attempt to eliminate litter and promote the cleanliness of the town.
Even though the law is a bit medieval, it seems to have worked wonders. To this day, Singapore is widely regarded as one of the cleanest places in the world.
No Small Potatoes
Everybody knows that crossing the border with a sack full of illegal goods will earn you some time in the clink. However, what you may not know is that, if that sack is filled with potatoes from Poland and you’re crossing the border into England, you could be in trouble.
According to the Polish Potatoes Order 2004, “no person shall, in the course of business, import into England potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish Potatoes.” The law was put in place to prevent ring rot contamination from spreading to the UK.
Florida is no stranger to silly laws. You can’t “park” your elephant on the street, for instance. You can’t have sexual relations with a porcupine either. But, of all of the dubious, seemingly un-enforceable laws still on the Florida law books, this one certainly takes the cake.
In Florida, it is considered illegal to fart in a public place after 6 p.m. You better get it out by 5:59 p.m. or you’re in for some serious, serious trouble.
The joke may seem old hat now, but in Quitman, Georgia, chickens crossing the roads is most certainly, no joke.
According to Quitman’s Code of Ordinances, it is “unlawful for any person owning or controlling chickens, ducks, geese or any other domestic fowl to allow the same to run at large upon the streets or alleys.”
So, why did the chicken cross the road? It didn’t, because it wasn’t allowed.
No Coming Back
It’s one thing to come up with ludicrous rules and force people to obey them while they’re alive, but policing people after they die? That’s another level of weird. But then again, the Chinese government doesn’t exactly have a history of doing things by the book.
Back in 2007, a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs in China announced that they have banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without explicit approval from the government. What a world.
Thailand draws millions of party-hopping tourists per year. And, it’s easy to see why. The country has a reputation for an abundance of wildlife, a unique culture, tons of delicious food, and plenty of cheap booze. Well, sort of.
In Thailand, if you want to buy alcohol, you can only do it at very specific times. The country limits the purchase of alcohol to between the hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight.
Don’t worry, you probably won’t miss those breakfast mimosas too much.
Cold, Dead Hands
Phnom Penh, the capital and most populated city in Cambodia, has a zero-tolerance policy on guns. Not the ones that go bang-bang. The ones that go squirt-squirt.
It’s true! One day, the city’s governor banned the sale and import of all water guns in the market areas. By banning those pesky water guns, the governor aimed to, “prevent accidents that cause people to die.” Crisis averted.
Art Imitates Life
The state of Wyoming takes art very, very seriously. In fact, they love art so much that they’ve made it a legal requirement in your home.
According to the letter of the law, if you construct a building valued at over $100,000, you are legally required to devote a minimum of one percent of the total construction costs to artwork. In short, a $100,000 home must house have at least $1000 worth of artwork. Talk about snobby.
Finally, a government willing to take the necessary steps to rid the world of Winnie the Pooh.
A group of local councilors in Poland ruled in favor of a ban that would see Winnie the Pooh merchandise banned from local playgrounds. The bear is a hermaphrodite! The bear doesn’t wear pants! The bear projects a perverse image of sexuality! Will someone please think of the children?!
It blows my mind that people honestly believe that Winnie the Pooh, of all cartoons, is a danger to children. But, here we are.
Cruel and Unusual
The municipal government of Rome is fighting the good fight against animal cruelty. I certainly commend them for their no-nonsense policy, but I’ll also admit that it seems a bit harsh.
In 2005, an ordinance was drafted to ensure the safety of animals, including those lovable little goldfish.
Mixed in with 59 other statutes, this law protects goldfish against being given away as prizes and, if you’re going to own one, you must provide it with a full-sized aquarium. Goldfish are moving on up!
Hands Where I Can See Them
The highest court in Italy ruled in 2008 that men are prohibited from touching their genitals in public! The ruling was a direct response to a 42-year-old male accused of touching his genitals through his clothing. Which is great!
The thing is, culturally, some Italian men believe that grabbing their crotch helps protect them from bad luck. I know, I know.
At the end of the day, the law is the law. And, in Italy, the law says to keep your hands above your belt at all times.
Get Down from There!
The city of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada isn’t exactly a household name. Perhaps it would be if they allowed their citizens to have a little bit of fun every once in a while.
According to Oshawa By-law 78-2008, “no person shall interfere with a tree or part of a tree located on municipal property, including but not limited to attaching, affixing or placing upon in any manner any object or thing to a tree or part of a tree, and climbing the tree.”
No climbing trees! Somewhere, in a parallel universe, eight-year-old me just woke up in a cold sweat.
Silence is a Virtue
Hoping to profess your undying love for the bride or groom at a wedding? Fine. Just make sure you’re not in Australia.