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Dumb Laws 307

Guyle writes " is the most hilarious site I've ever been to. The people who run it went to an amazing amount of trouble to find strange laws from all fifty states in the US, as well as a few other countries. Ever wanted to know where and when you could legally beat your wife, or where you can be fined for not flushing the toilet? Find out for yourself! " This is definitely worth a read. Funny stuff.
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Dumb Laws

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  • Let the people decide where they want their culture to go. Government regulation in such an extreme sucks, and even smacks of censorship.

    Eh, I thought it was radio station programmers who decided what a station plays, and not the people.

    Anyway, if you say this is censorship, you should point out precisely which kind of content this prevents from being aired.


  • Indeed. I'd bet the majority of the "laws" here are simply made up, and many of the rest aren't very meaningful. For example, surely it's illegal in every state to simultaneously commit murder and read Slashdot, but that's not a very interesting fact.

    OTOH, they left out some very real, and very stupid, laws. They didn't even bother with federal laws, as far as I can tell. For example, all of the following are funny without any distortion:

    * Under 7 U.S.C. sec. 13-1, the Onion Futures Act, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined $5000 for trading futures on onions.

    * Under 50 U.S.C. sec. 407, anyone who has, in the past, contracted to conduct any study of under what circumstances the United States should surrender is ineligible for any federal job.

    * 50 U.S.C. sec. 843, still in force, punishes membership in the Communist party.

    * 10 U.S.C. sec. 772(j)(1) specifically makes it legal for members of the Boy Scouts of America to wear the Boy Scout uniform.

    * 28 U.S.C. sec. 1863 provides for a different method of selecting jurors in Massachusetts federal courts than in every other federal district.

    * 35 U.S.C. provides for--get this--patents! How dumb.

  • I still think the funniest law I've ever seen was when some state legislature set the value of pi to be three. Yes, they set a fundamental trancendental mathematical constant to another value. The stupidity boggles the mind.

    I think it was Virginia. Or maybe Indiana... I forgot. The full text of the bill is floating around on the net somewhere, I'm just too lazy to look for it now.
  • It will never happen, that would require intelligence. The intelligent people in this country get real jobs. :)

    At the end of our lifetimes, I'm sure we'll be able to get a good laugh at the current rules we have abnout encryption and computers (and you know they won't get updated when the time comes).

    "Sending unsolicited email is illegal? I suppose routers weren't intelligent enough back then to filter it automatically. HA, the primitive world my parents grew up in!"

    --Allright, this is getting offtopic but how will your grandchildren handle the following situation (or their grandchildren, if you already have grandchildren)

    "HMM, why won't it let me choose QWERTYUIOP as my password. It seems pretty random, and it's longer than 8 characters, so only a computer professional should be able to crack it. I wonder if this has anything to do with when they used to enter data by pushing buttons with letters on them"
  • Don't forget, some of these laws have been repealed a long time back. (There's a column in the paper that deals with such within-city items, and "Dumb Laws" sometimes appear occasionally. Usually they call up the local PD to verify it's truth - sometimes it's true, othertimes it's an urban legend, and usually, it's an outdated law that has long been struck off the books)

    There is the occasional dumb law that slips through, though. But it's usually so stupid and obscure no one is ever caught under it. Gotta find it.
  • Always knew there was a reason nobody around here can drive..

    Some unwritten laws that Memphians do obey:

    1. Never use your turn signal
    2. If you intend make a right turn, make sure you're in the left lane. If you happen to already be in the right lane, merge left first.
    3. Stop and look at accidents, but do not assist.
    4. If you took a wrong exit, back up - do not keep going until you reach a point where you can safely turn around.
    5. Elvis fans are worth 50 points.

  • by Jburkholder ( 28127 ) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @05:41PM (#1479803)
    I often thought that a lot of the really "off-the wall, is that really a widespread problem?" laws were probably enacted long ago to combat a specific individual.

    such as:

    Old Joe likes to walk past the front of St. Jude's Methodist Assembly in Peoria at precisely 11:45 each Sunday with an Ice Cream Cone shoved in his pocket for the benefit of the Mayor and his wife as they leave services to go to a late brunch with their friends. No one knows why, and this really irks Mrs. Mayor no end as she thinks that this is some kind of perverted kick for Old Joe who just strolls by there silently grinning with rocky road slowly melting away in his coveralls.

    Mayor calls the Sheriff who can't come up with anything to arrest Joe for, he's not a vagrant, he's not loitering, he's not making any obscene gestures or doing anything else illegal, he's just walking along on the public sidewalk with Ice Cream in his drawers.

    So the Mayor gets the city council to pass an ordinance that you can't walk on the sidewalk on Sunday with ice cream in your pocket. The Sheriff runs Joe in the next time he does this and the Judge fines him $20 or holds him in the tank overnight to make his point. Joe sees that the joke is over and either backs off or starts chaining wheelbarrows to his front yard tree with a for-sale sign on it.

    If you look at the laws in Illinois, you will see one in Park Ridge that you have to park a truck in an enclosed garage. Actually, the oridinance in Mt. Prospect is that a commercial vehicle cannot be parked in a resident's driveway, it has to be in a garage. This ordinance was not the result of hundreds of complaints by enraged citizens that their neighbor who drove a repair truck was parking their truck in the drive next door, this was the result of one village board member's personal fued with his neighbor who happened to work for Sears and drove his service van home every night and parked it in his driveway behind his other two cars blocking the sidewalk.

    The oridinance was never enforced. It was put on the books by this wacko trustee who managed to force it trough so he could call the cops on his neighbor when he wanted to.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My boss is British, and he tells me that they drive by in a special van, tuned to detect the IF leakage from the TV's superheterodyne, by all the houses of people who didn't buy a TV license. They confiscate unlicensed TV sets and levy a fine.
    So it's illegal to own a receiver for radio waves which are going into your house. Look at it this way - imagine that somebody puts up a tower with a light on it, and you aren't allowed to look at the light unless you pay a fee. It's the same thing, physically! TV waves are LIGHT!
    Well, the fucking USA has such a law too, believe it or not! You can't buy a radio receiver which gets certain bands - for example, cell phone transmissions. An old TV (without a Phase-Locked Loop tuner) can pick these up without any trouble at all. At least they don't confiscate all the old TV's. But it's illegal to build a radio receiver. That's sick.
    ------------------------------------------------ --
    Man has the right to build as he will, to mold as he will, to shape as he will. Man has the right to love as he will, to speak as he will, to travel freely across the face of the Earth.

    Man has the right to kill all those who would thwart these rights.

    Aleister Crowley.
  • Isn't monday after midday Sunday? Doesn't that make it illegal to wear hot pink pants any time, except (maybe) Sunday morning?
  • That law seems ahead of its time to me.

    You would expect the law to only require the woman to be over 50, old men can still make babies, so what does it matter how old the guy is?

    But then the law would be sexist. It's politically correct now.

    BTW, is it still legal for men (at least the Mormons) to have multiple wives in Utah?
  • Enough on evolution! The Kansas constitution will be changed and the BOE will be taken away from the nuts.

    Is it so stupid to have a law against leaving your car running in Salina like they said on the web site? Our local Salina paper today had a report that well over half the stolen cars had the keys left in them. A cab was stolen when the driver left the cab running while picking up a lunch to be delivered for a customer. You know you are in a small town when a stolen cab makes the paper ;-)

  • The juvenile people that put together this site probably thought that "molest butterflies" had some sore of sexual connotation. Failing to note that "molest" means "to bother or annoy". Stuff like this causes me to doubt the voracity of the entire site. Laws are funny enough without paraphrasing!
  • Several of those laws read like something happened and because of that specific event, lawmakers got together and made a law that may have seemed sensible at the time but is just befuddling decades after the fact when no one remembers the original event.

    Perhaps someone could start up a site and research some of those stranger laws and get the stories behind them...

  • Well you're supposed to be at Church on Sundays, so if you have icecream in your back pocket, you'll make a mess on the church benches. Or maybe you're already not supposed to eat ice cream on Sunday, it being Sunday and all, but some wiseguy said "I'm not eating it, I'm just holding it in my pocket [until you turn your back, then I'll have some]."
  • It seems that anglo-american people (that includes most anglo-canadians) don't understand why we, French Canadians, are trying to protect our language and our culture. Does French in America sound dumb to the point of making fun of it?

    There's already a law in California that makes English the only official language, do you find it funny? Californian people now experience the fear of getting surrounded by Spanish speakers, they're scared to death, they're not laughing at all. In Poland, they recently had to pass a law to stop the proliferation of English-only signs for tourists because the cities were no longer using Polish.

    Languages are more than commidities or exotic products, they're the soul of people. Language laws have nothing to do with absurd laws that forbid oral sex or unmarried women to fish alone. Anglo-supremacism is a real danger, and we are trying hard not to become like Cajuns.

    Mr. Coward, you use of the word "fascist" is profoundly abusive, it's a shame. You obviously know nothing about Quebec. And if your first language is English, you should go back to (a real) school and learn the spelling and the meaning of words.

  • In Seattle, Washington, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon longer than six feet in length.

    I wonder if this was made a law before - or after - the guy who decided to march back and forth downtown with a longsword a couple years back got TV coverage.

    The point though... You've got to be pretty damn tall to conceal a weapon six feet long.

  • In Flower Mound, the cutting of a tree on your property is illegal without a permit.

    Why is this a dumb law? If everyone in Flower Mound cut their trees down it would become a less hospitable place to live. The city council should have some say regarding the look of the town. While a short-sighted home owner might want to cut down a fifty year old tree, in the long run it could hurt the surrounding land values.
  • Did you notice the links to their other pages. One of them was Dumb Criminals []. Under the "Convenience" section, there is one story about the Red Hat Bandit []. I wonder what some people who are worried about all the money/power Red Hat has achieved lately would say about this... :-)
  • Nothing wrong with wanting to preserve cultural identity (and it's not as if all the songs had to be Canadian content, just one in five) but it is true that some of the Canadian language laws seem to go a bit overboard. One such law made it possible for a French-Canadian to sue a pet shop owner because the parrot he bought didn't speak French. Speaking of weird laws, here's a weird law that was on the books in Orem, Utah until just a few years back. The city passed a law prohibiting having custody of a primate. (We assume they meant monkeys, but were just having too much fun with more scientific sounding words.) This however meant that technically it was illegal to have custody of any human as well. Good thing they didn't try enforcing it.
  • I've lived in Montreal for all 23 years of my life, and I've never heard anyone from Montreal refered to as "un montrealais". Granted, I've been living in anglo-land my entire life, but still. Quebecois, sure. Montrealais? Sorry, I'm a Montrealer...

    Well, I talked to my roommate, and sorry, the word for Montrealer in French is Montréalais/e...

    Granted, he lived in franco-land until 2 months ago, but still.


  • Oh come on! It is still a crappy decision. In Science class, one should learn the information that coincides with the prevailing view of the scientific community. By not testing students on this information, teachers are not required to teach it. Why waste time on something that isn't going to be tested on the standardized tests? As long as the scientific community strongly supports evaluation, it should definitely be in the curriculum.
    People with strong views on religion should not dictate the science curriculum. It is obvious that they were unable to get creationism into the curriculum (because there is extremely little scientific basis for it), so they removed evolution from the curriculum. This is clearly doing a disservice to the students in Kansas.
  • Read about Onan. Tell me what that says, at least with regards to spilling your seed outside of the vagina. Seems pretty clear to me what it's saying. Not that I agree with it. Reminds me of the old Monty Python song, "Every Sperm is Sacred" or something. :) Seriously though, most of these acts aren't explicitly referred to (masturbation isn't what Onan does, he practices Coitus Interruptus, which I don't think is particularly immoral, but is definitely a Bad Idea). Maybe God was just letting us know that Onan was practicing a bad form of birth control? Come to think of it, if we take the Bible literally, it clearly says that Onan was condemned and punished by God for refusing to fsck his deceased brother's wife. That's pretty nasty, and nobody nowadays would buy into that. So why the hell do they selectively use the other shit from the story? Heh. Hypocritical literalists. Anyway, I say beat off to your heart's cotent, and never refuse a good BJ.
  • Okay, completely offtopic, but what the hell!

    Being British, all I can say is that Ireland did suffer under British oppression for a very long time. Being annexed and then starved is not something that any one would want. I wasn't taught that at school at all, and only learnt of it once I was at University with a knowledgable Irish girl.

    But, in the last twenty years, I would say that Northern Ireland has suffered the most followed by Mainland Britain. It's not Ireland's fault, but Britain's itself for moving so many Protestants to the province in the first place. It was a religious/freedom war, but that finished a long time ago. The modern paramilitaries are very different from Michael Collins. Now it is 'something else'. Alledgedly the beatings are still going on from both sides. I worked in Eire for a few months last year and was warned not to make an appearance in the province simply because I was English. I took the advice. I hope that peace will happen there.

    Back ontopic though, I think that New York's laws have to be the best. The first couple are excellent..
  • Hey, that's a great idea.

    If a law had to be renewed every 25 years or so, stupid old laws like the ones about firing a gun when coming into town to warn people about motor cars would be dropped.

    So much easier than tracking these down and repealing them.
  • Laws against leaving cars running aren't so stupid. I know some places are passing laws against leaving trucks idling for longer than so many minutes when making deliveries and are banning drive throughs. All of this is to reduce pollution.

    Leaving an unattended vehicle running is dangerous and should also probably be illegal.

    Bolie IV
  • Some of these laws aren't dumb like they think, they are just old and were never looked at again. Others truly are dumb, but if you tend to think about why that law would be eneacted like I do then it gets annoying.
  • a law against pouring hot grits down your pants :)
    In a few years, people will look at it and wonder where the heck *that* came from.
  • ... I would dearly love to know the stroy behind:
    'Donkeys are not allowed to sleep in bathtubs'.

    The mind boggles...
  • And there are a bunch of other 'Dumb Laws' that are perfectly reasonable when you understand the context.

    I remember a law about not being able to water your lawn with an automated device during the summer. That's just to make sure people don't set the timer to overwater because the reseviors were low. Many arid climates have similar laws.

    Some laws are either dumb, or so antiquated as to be laughable, but some make sense if seen in context.
  • I had a book of stuff like this, called "The Trenton Pickle Ordinance".

    A lot of it is either really old, or just have stupid mistakes in wording. Like the one where the two trains stop at a crossroads, "and neither shall go until the other has passed". Deadlock! :)
    pb Reply or e-mail rather than vaguely moderate [].
  • Some Australian laws clarified: (IANAL)

    >> A life sentance is 25 years
    After 25 years in goal (thats how Australians spell 'jail') you are eligible for parole. There's no such thing as a ruling for 'life without parole'. IMHO this is better than the American system.

    >> It is illegal to read someones tarrot, or give them a pyschic reading as these are forms of witchcraft.
    Open up an Australian tabloid and turn to the last few pages: "Call 1902XXXXXX to recieve your psychic reading. Trust us, we're right. Only $5/minute"

    >> The legal age for straight sex is 16, unless the person is is in the care/custody of the older person, in which case it is 18
    The legal age for straight sex is 16, I don't know about homosexual sex, though. There are laws against incest in Australia

    >> Under Australian Communications Authority (ACA) regulations, your modem can't pick up on the first ring. If it does the ACA permit for your modem is invalid and there's a $12000 fine.
    This is true.

    And my favorite law in all of this is the Japanese law:
    >> There is no age of consent.
    So where's the problem? :-)

  • Here's a law that truly applies to Memphis drivers...

    Illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians.

    Always knew there was a reason nobody around here can drive..

  • "It is illegal to wear hot pink pants after midday Sunday." -- now there's some good legislation!
  • Oral sex and sexual positions other than the missionary position are technically illegal in CT. Also the sale of alcohol is not only banned after 8:00 PM but is banned on Sunday. Go figure.
  • Again, in the City of Denton, dancing on the square in Sunday is prohibited

    Then why do they have mini-festivals at the square with a POLKA BAND playing and half the town polkaing (is that a word) on the courthouse lawn?

  • show me ONE PLACE where the Bible refers to the missionary position

    Off the top of my head, I'd guess that there COULD be no mention of the "missionary position" since missionaries came about to spread the religion which the Bible defined. In other words, there were no missionaries to have sex in the missionary position when the Bible was assembled and published (in those days, copied by hand).

  • by Wah ( 30840 )
    Interrogations Illicit Redundant Comments.

  • The Scottish ones are a bit misleading I think. It's legal to trespass in Scotland, cos there's no trespass law. The reason for this is that much of Scotland is made up of large estates, and particularly in the Highlands, many folk live in crofts on those estates. They don't own the land they live on, but pay rent (though it's fairly minimal, and they have special rights to stop the estate owner throwing them off the land). If there was a trespass law, it would mean that there would be very few places you'd be allowed to wander about in the Highlands...there are plenty of other laws to stop people destroying the place...

    The "guilty until proven innocent" one refers (I think) to poaching. If you're caught with a salmon, for example, on someone's estate, it's up to you to prove you came by it legally, rather than the other way about....what's more, if you're found guilty, anything you used in the process of poaching the salmon (including that shiny new Range Rover you have parked just down the road) can be confiscated. This is indeed a crappy law.

    As for the others, AFAIK if a Scottish law falls into disuse, then it's no longer considered valid legally....maybe some expert can expand on that one...I believe that this is not the case in England.



  • You mean slashdot has strange hidden content, no...
  • Banning sale of alcohol on Sunday's is common. Maybe a little more uncommon (don't know; I've never checked) is that sale of cars is illegal in my home state of MN--at least by dealerships.

  • The ban on the sale of Alcohol was enacted in the 70s in response to a series of late night robberies and murders. It is not a blue law. Since then the liquor store owners have opposed changing the law.
  • Sorry, What does IIRC stand for?
  • Oral Sex is illegal? This calls for civil disobedance

    Funny that you capitalized oral sex. Freudian slip?

    Actually, I think what the lawmakers had in mind with this one (thinking in hetersexual terms here) was to make the act more exciting for the women by making it illegal--a little reverse psychology.

  • > Not all the laws mentioned are stupid:

    and, as you said, not all the laws are true. (The archery one is false []).

    It is illegal to leave baggage unattended.

    Airports like Heathrow have constant reminders that unattended baggage may be removed and destroyed, but I've never seen a suggestion it was a criminal offense to leave it. (Under some circumstances I guess it could be wasting police time or behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace).

    The Prevention of Terrorism (Additional Powers) Act 1996 [] and Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 don't seem to mention it, though the latter is only a summary. There is a section about searches of unaccompanied goods.

  • genuinely dumb laws there are out there (stuff along the lines of "it is illegal for bees to fly within the city limits on Sunday after 2 pm."

    Yeah, you might call it dumb, but have you ever been stung by a bee in a city, on Sunday? It really sucks buddy.
  • I have heard that in the United States something similar was done. Margarine was almost brown in most places. That has evidently changed, though, as now margerine is almost indistinguishable from butter.

    Bolie IV
  • That $1055 was well spent. I can only speak for MA and VA (states I've lived in), but if you get 5 tickets in a year, you lose your license. Then, it can cost several thousand dollars more to get it back. I would assume (damn, I know I shouldn't do that) that most states handle this in a similar fashion. Add on top, the surcharges you would face from your insurance company.

    Of course, your best bet is to avoid getting a ticket in the first place 8^)

  • Even modern disk brakes can overheat and fail. This is mostly a problem in the mountains which is why many mountain roads warn you to shift into low gear while going downhill. Drum brakes had more of a problem, it's true, but coasting downhill could quickly get you going fast enough that you couldn't safely get back into gear and sudden hard braking could cause you to lose control.

    Bolie IV
  • The majority of donkies are too big to fit in a bathtub. If you're a donkey, sleeping in a bathtub is one of the worst things you can do, it gets your back out of shape, your legs tighten up, and it's overall just uncomfortable, making that early-morning hay hauling a real pain in the ass.
  • It's not a bad law. The air waves are a public resource, as such use of them should serve the public.

    If the radio stations played only the top40 songs from the USA, they would be hurting Canadian artists.

    And it's not a question of "If it's crap, it doesn't deserve airplay." Canada is a small country and thus people in Canada don't have the huge local market that USA artists do so it's hard to reach the critical mass needed to get onto channels like MTV. It's only a Canadian content law, forcing stations to play some Canadian content, that keeps them from simply doing the easy thing and playing only USA artists.

    The law isn't such that 1/5th of your CDs must be from Canadian artists, and 1/5th of your books must be from Canadian authors. Because those things you buy inependently.

    Users of public resources, TV and radio stations, are forced to follow these laws because it benefits the Canadian economy by helping local artists and studios.

    If you don't like it, buy MTV dance mix CDs and play them in your car.
  • I'm Sorry for the rash post. How about adding citations in the future? That would REALLY add value to your site. I was telling someone about a law, and she told me I was full of shit. I couldn't contradict her because it was simply your site's word against hers. A citation would clear everything up.
  • Read about Onan. Tell me what that says, at least with regards to spilling your seed outside of the vagina. Seems pretty clear to me what it's saying.

    The modern interpretation of the story of Onan is that after his brother's death, Onan had obligations to his brother's widow to help her have children. Those children would help her live a modestly comfortable life in that time and those children would inherit his brother's estate. But Onan wanted it for himself and refused to impregnate the woman.

    The story is not about masturbation. It is about failing to live up to the obligations that society puts upon you.
  • I always wondered where they got the venture capital.. :}
  • No, it's enough that if we do slip on someone's unshovelled sidewalk, we can get medical treatment without needing to sue them.

    People who live in glass countries...
  • In a bombing-prone country, if you leave your luggage unattended you create noise for the bomb squad, which needless to say would rather get busy on the signal.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @03:56PM (#1479898) Homepage
    There is a difference between a dumb law and one hopelessly outdated..

    Maybe there is a good reason for keeping a donkey from sleeping in a bathtub and it's just that we don't own donkeys now (the average person) and so don't understand it.

    A little history, just a line or two, would put this in context and make it a lot more interesting.

    Then there are the good, or just not-bad laws that don't really need to be listed. If there's a practical reason for a law and it doesn't severely infringe on civil rights, it probably isn't interesting enough to bother listing.

    The 'dumb laws' are the current ones that are still being enforced but for the wrong reasons. This list contains ones like the six or more women living in one house law.

    Having laws sorted in these categories, dumb, outdated, and rational (removed from the site) would IMHO improve it a bit.

    You might be able to solicit help from the Alt.folklore.urban people in tracking down some of the more oddball laws (see the AFU article on 'rule of thumb' mentioned earlier.)

    Actually, having a section on laws that don't really exist but that most people think exist would be good too... Such as "A common misconception is that you were allowed to beat your wife with a stick not to exceed..." and some citations regarding this.

    A site with that is one that I would browse for fun and refer people to, both for humor and to correct their misconceptions.

    BTW, Moderators, mark Andy's post up, it's probably the most ontopic one on this thread.
  • > All men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday. (Repealed) In
    > Massachusetts (where I live)
    > Interesting, but what is the point of all men bringnig rifles
    > to church?


    Many states in the US back in the wild days recognized that the
    Government simply did not have the resources to protect citizens
    from criminals and indians ( who they were always starting wars
    with ).

    So what they did was not just allow people to go around armed but
    require each man to be armed and take personal responsibility
    for his family. "Over my dead body" was to be taken literally
    in cases of raping the daughter for instance.

    There is a strong temptation to not bring weapons to the house of
    God. Many feel it is almost blasphemy to do so. Everybody
    knows this and would rob the bank while all the men were in church
    and unarmed.

    You get around that kind of problem by giving the solution the
    force of law.
  • If Quebec is 80% French speaking, then the stores which didn't cater to that population would quickly go out of business.

    If they didn't, it shows that the language issue isn't as important as the politicians would have you believe.

    This whole distinct society thing is crap. Grow up and quit whining. If everyone around you speaks English, then speak it yourself or at least don't cry when people don't want to speak to you.
  • Actually, that would be pretty uninforceable.

    Exactly. You understood my point!

  • It's an interesting site, but I think it would be a lot more interesting if they referenced at least some of the laws to the ordinance number or section of state law, etc. What's to stop me from submitting a fake law that says "It is illegal for anyone in Madison WI to not be drunk on a football game day." Of course, you're stupid not to be, but that's a different story.
  • I actually had a book of dumb laws when I was a kid. Probably still got it around here somewhere. It's very strange how addicting stuff like that is. I remember every time I would re-find the book I would just intend to read one or two dumb laws then end up reading the whole book.
    Like most people I would like to know how the laws started but more importantly I would like to know how you would get caught. Like some people have said that oral sex was illegal at one time, but in order to get caught the cop would have to break into your house, then your bedroom. At which point I would assume the mood would be killed and there would be nothing to catch you doing.
    And how on earth are the cops going to know that a donkey is in your bathtub? :)

  • Haven't you played Doom? You never know when the spawn of hell is going to try to break up a church session. hehe.

  • Yeah, I had a book like this too. I recognized a few of the laws for my state, it's illegal to sleep naked or have oral sex. I did a few searches on amazon like "silly laws" and came up with a few hits. I'd guess the web authors probably used books already written for most of their material...I sure wouldn't want to wade through millions of pages of laws when the research has already been done.
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @11:06AM (#1479946)
    If you like, you'll love: []
  • $1055? Isn't that a lot of money to spend to be able to not pay speeding tickets? (Yes, yes, I know about the "points" possibilities, but you have to consider the principle of it all.)
  • by sreeram ( 67706 ) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @11:08AM (#1479951)
    Your everyday /usr/games/fortune has a lot of this crap as well. Quite a number of them are untrue and totally made up. IIRC, there was a guy who purposely made up some of these "laws" and circulated them around long enough to get some into the default fortune list. It is on record somewhere on the net. Go find it. The same applies to this website as well. Many of the so-called "laws" are just bad interpretations of legal speak. Come on, when was the last time you saw a law that said in simple words, "Lollipops are banned"? I know it is meant to be funny and all that, but give me a break. It doesn't take wit to interpret laws in a twisted way, take them out of context and translate into something weird. Go ahead and laugh. But don't spread the word and fool a lot of the naive out there as well. Or add a pinch of salt to go.

  • Not all the laws mentioned are stupid:

    It is illegal to leave baggage unattended.

    Rememeber that England [] has suffered from a prolonged civil war (known as "our little problem with Northern Ireland") with frequent bomb attacks on civilians. These bombs were often left in luggage on stations, airports, department stores and other corwded places.

    This law therefore makes perfect sense. I rememeber when I first came to England, I was wodering why there were no luggage boxes on the stations. Such youthful innocence...

    God (and the IRA et. al.) willing, this particular war should now be over. Now the poor English can concentrate on the ALF, the anti-capitalism terrorists, and whatever today's new violent fringe group is.

    I would have liked the web site to have contained references to the law texts. That would have made it much more trustworthy. How many of the laws mentioned, I woder, are nothing more than urban legends?

  • I used to Live in Missouri. A law on the books until the 70's was that it was legal to shoot a Mormon on site. In Buckner, MO, last I checked about 10 years ago, there was a law on the town's books that it was legal shoot a [black person] after dark in a public place.

    And in Kansas, last I checked, you can still have the option of being hanged for capitol offenses.
  • by Nexeslad ( 106464 ) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @11:24AM (#1479976)
    Oral Sex is illegal? This calls for civil disobedance!!!
  • From my state (Oregon):
    It is against the law for animals to have sex in the city limits.

    It is illegal to whistle underwater

    It is illegal to whisper "dirty" things in your lover's ear during sex.

    Ice cream may not be eaten on Sundays.

    Hm. I do not see It is illegal to defy the laws of Newtonian physics in here. Someone better get off their donut-fattened legislative ass and rectify that!

    While such things are humorous and almost never enforced, you cannot help but feel a little queasy that such stupidity is not only legislated, but law. Orwell's future has been around through much of our past. If you truly think you're a free person in this country, just try using a kernal of corn as bait to fish or taking a bath without a full-length bathing suit on.

    To hell with worrying about your rights to burn the American flag or to encrypt your email. In a lot of places, you don't even have the legal right to walk down the sidewalk and knock a snake's head off with a cane.

  • Caught Red Hatted

    A robber robbed over 67 7-11 type stores, each time wearing a red hat. He was called the 'Red Hat Bandit'. And, when he was finally caught, police were able to convict him of those 67+ robberies (which were caught on tape) because of the same red hat he wore.
    -- ----------------------------------------------
    Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!

  • by Stormbringer ( 3643 ) on Saturday December 04, 1999 @11:33AM (#1479989)
    It goes WAYYYY back to the first colony days, when church attendance on Sunday was mandatory, but you had to get there and home again alive too.

    A township would be granted based on its families' building a "meeting-house" in a central place. The town I grew up in, Bedford, was carved from surrounding towns' territories because those towns were so large that travel from outlying farms to the church in the town center every Sunday was a hardship.

    Things may have started out peaceably in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but after a while, the original occupants of the area got sufficiently annoyed at the flood of newcomers, and the treatment they got from them, to start pushing back, hard. Plus, not that far away, the French/Indian Wars got underway, with some tribes allying with the French and making forays into English-speaking settlement territories (and vice versa), so travelers in the colony were vulnerable to bullet or arrow. A muzzle-loaded rifle was a burden to carry in addition to food for the all-day church session and travel from and back to one's own farm, but a necessary one.
  • Yeah, I meant population, not area. But until Moose start buying CDs we won't have much clout in the music industry.

    I've seen a lot of maps from the USA where the countries (Mexico and Canada) to either end just aren't there, there's a big hole between Alaska and Washington... Or worse, Alaska is moved down into the water off the Washington shore.

    With visual aids like that in schools, it's not hard to understand the problems people can have.
  • There are some on here that don't really seem that stupid. for instance:

    To go to college you must be intelligent.

    Striking someone with a fist is considered a felony

    Cigarettes are illegal at all public places

    The legal age for straight sex is 16, unless the person is is in the care/custody of the older person, in which case it is 18.

    It is semi-legal to smoke pot.

    Prostitution is legal but the prostitutes must pay taxes like any other business.

    If you have been maintaining an illegal radio station for five or more years, the station becomes legal.

    My favorite dumb law, though is this one from Sigapore:
    Oral sex is illegal unless it is used as a form of foreplay.

    So basicaly, if you give some one oral sex, you're legaly required to have sex with them then? Could you get a woman thrown into jail for not doing it??

    I also like this one from Chico CA:
    Detonating a nuclear device within the city limits results in a $500 fine.

  • I found a couple listed there.
    Encrypting data files, owning, distributing etc. of encryption programs and creating such programs for any electronic medias is now against the law in Denmark due to fear for terrorists, left and right wing extremist, fundamentalists and distributors of illegal pornography.

    Uxbridge, Ontario. In Canada:
    Residents are not allowed to have an Internet connection faster than 56k.

    These guys didn't list stupid US national laws though. Oh well
  • In Kansas City, MO, it is legal to break the speed limit once per year. There are so many laws related to speeding, they might as well make it legal again or clean up the whole mess of laws on the books.

    With the help of a lawyer and a total of $1055, I got out of 5 speeding tickets in one year due to things like wording of the ticket, the wording of the law did not state the difference between year and a calendar year, and a few not technicaly defined in city limits.

    Now that I look back on these laws, I grew out of my bad habits and have had no traffic violations in several years. I realize that the legal system can really be unfair to many or just a game for a few when it is enforced.
  • That law is actually a leftover from England around 300 years ago, and is where the expression "Rule of thumb" came from.

  • I heard that in Kansas its illegal to teach evolution in school...

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • Hm. I do not see It is illegal to defy the laws of Newtonian physics in here. Someone better get off their donut-fattened legislative ass and rectify that!

    Actualy, that would be pretty uninforceable.

    Newtonian physics is only an aproximation, and broken 100% of the time (Though, for the most part you don't notice unless you're moving at a significant persentace of the speed of light, or if you're looking at geometry smalle enough for quantem effects to be aperant)
  • I would have liked the web site to have contained references to the law texts. That would have made it much more trustworthy. How many of the laws mentioned, I wonder, are nothing more than urban legends?

    Most of them are probably true. They're basically old laws that aren't relavent today. Most of them probably did have some good reason some years ago, you pointed out one that still is relavent. A lot of them were also a way to oppress certain groups, like no anal sex, to opress gays, or to push a certain "moral" agenda at any rate.
  • There are actually a whole lot of them in there that make sense like this one. What is so stupid about a law than bans making unsafe cribs?
    I think maybe they just needed some filler or something, but if you read the site there are plenty of "Hey what's wrong with that one" type laws, maybe they should rename the site to or something or either take out the legitimate ones, it makes is sound like they are for infant death.

  • Actualy, those laws limit the speed of actualy 56k modems to 53kbits/sec. This wouldn't stop someone from using wireless ethernet from there office, or getting a t1 line or somthing.
  • We've got a few here in Denton County that the site failed to list:

    • In the City of Denton, it is illegal to park your horse on the town square after 4PM on Sunday.
    • Again, in the City of Denton, dancing on the square in Sunday is prohibited.
    • Town of Oak Point says that no plot of land for sale may be smaller than 10 feet by 10 feet.
    • City of Lewisville bans advertising signs on telephone poles and inserted into the ground, but laying them on the street is OK.
    • In Flower Mound, the cutting of a tree on your property is illegal without a permit.
    • In Marshall Creek, you may not have a home that is larger than 1800 square feet (this is interesting, considering the town is only about 200 acres anyway).
    Have fun.

  • I heard that in Kansas its illegal to teach evolution in school...

    Um... then you heard wrong, or you have some sort of reading deficiency. In Kansas it is no longer Required to teach "Macro" evolution, IE species evolving from other ones. It is still required to teach "Micro" evolution, Evolution within a species.

    I'm not defending the law, just pointing out what it actually is.
  • In Canada, they listed "every fifth song on the radio must be by a canadian born person" as a dumb law. This law reflects the desire to remain seperate from the United States. It is a way of preserving Canadian identity. What's dumb about that?

    I believe that this law has been changed since then, and it is now even higher. In Canada we call it Canadian content, and it does not have strong support from the people, especially in the west, where we feel that it takes away our freedom to choose what want to listen to or watch on tv. The CRTC, the regulatory body has a great deal of power, and makes it very difficult to get a tv station, even with only Canadian content. This law is dumb, but it is not near as bad as the laws in Quebec, which include the French sign law which require the French on any sign to be larger than the English. This is NOT cultral protection, but persicution of other cultures.

    However after being to Quebec, the worst law is the no left turns on red, i did this right in front of a police car, but they were frienly and gave me a warning in perfect english. In my home province of Alberta, the best law is

    If you are released from prison, it is required that you are given a handgun with bullets and a horse, so you can ride out of town.
    The difference is that this law would not hold up, but the language and Canadian content laws will
  • Given how many really, genuinely dumb laws there are out there (stuff along the lines of "it is illegal for bees to fly within the city limits on Sunday after 2 pm."), I'm kinda annoyed at the fact that the site feels the need to deliberately oversimplify and misinterpret somewhat sensible laws to have an effect.

    Case in point: The Ohio driver's education manual states that you must honk the horn whenever you pass another car.

    Now, as an Ohioan who only learned to drive a couple of years ago, I can tell you that the rule is more along the lines of "When passing another driver on a 2 lane road, you must use your turn signals and sound your horn, to alert the other driver." Granted, nobody does it. (Too many people don't even bother with the turn signals.) But it's not entirely nonsensical when you examine the context

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Drunk grey squirrels are nasty critters. I've met a couple. Greys are abusive to begin with, but when drunk they're foolhardy too. I had a drunk grey throwing things at me, before jumping on my head, and he would probably have bit me, if I hadn't removed him quickly. He was cursing vociferously in squirrel throughout. Normally, greys do scream and throw things at creatures that enter their territory, but they do not normally attack large predators (which is what humans are, essentially -large, pack-hunting, apes which can run, swim and climb, powerfully built with nasty teeth (an adult male human bite can do lethal damage, on a par with other large predators, it's just our upbringing which restrains us.))

    So - if your little borther feeds cider to some squirrels, wiat for them to sober up before trying to go into the garden...
  • It seeks to address the symptom, and ignores the cause of the problem, like most dumb laws.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [].
  • Yes - here I am. Andy Powell of the site that someone found worthy of posting on slashdot (I was surprised to see dumb laws on slashdot - I read slashdot regularly, and this seemed like a good time for a first post). I'm thrilled to see that people have found dumb laws so interesting. I see that some of you have had a couple objections to the content. For example - the "not so stupid" laws (the crib regulations, English baggage law, Arizona water etc.), and the "must be blatantly fake". I'm with everyone about the baggage and the crib - they don't need to be on the site. The blatantly fake? Well we probably need to research them. I'd guess a few legends have crept in during the past year.

    Yes, there are outdated laws on the site. I meant for it to be that way - some of them, I don't know if they are still on the books or not. I found them funny anyhow. Should outdated laws be marked as such? I suppose I hadn't paid much attention to that. I'll try to get it all 'up to par' soon - the site should be undergoing a major overhaul soon, as we've had that same design for over a year. I'd appreciate all the suggestion everyone has - I'll be checking this board, or you can e-mail me directly at

    By the way, this isn't my full time job - and I'm not a lawyer or anything like that. In fact, I'm not even a high school graduate, I'm currently in the tenth grade, so between that *and* the site, things get challenging.



  • Rememeber that England has suffered from a prolonged civil war (known as "our little problem with Northern Ireland") with frequent bomb attacks on civilians.

    That would be one possible interpretation. A more accurate one, IMFFHAQBIO (in my far from humble and quite bombastic Irish opinion) would be to say that Ireland has suffered the imperial aggression, colonization and occupation of half the country for most of the duration of that abomination referred to as the British Empire, and that even to this day the struggle for freedom is still depicted as a religious quarrel in the American media...

    But then, I'm nitpicking. :-)

    26 + 6 == 1

    "Rex unto my cleeb, and thou shalt have everlasting blort." - Zorp 3:16

  • I and any other Angelinos should be proud to hear this one:
    "it is illegal to beat your wife with a strap wider than 2 inches without her consent" in Los Angeles.
    And people wonder why we have the nation's highest divorce rate :)
    "Some people say that I proved if you get a C average, you can end up being successful in life."
  • After taking a quick glance at the Swiss section, I (as a swiss national) have the feeling that the research done by the operators of the site has been somewhat sloppy:

    Clothes may not be hung to dry on Sunday. You may not wash your car on a Sunday. It is considered an offense to mow your lawn on a Sunday, because it causes too much noise.

    These are purely social conventions and not enforced by any law I know of.

    It is illegal to flush the toilet after 10 P.M. if you live in an apartment. A man may not relieve himself while standing up, after 10 P.M. If you forget you car-keys inside the car and you leave the car open, you will be punished.

    Utter nonsense. Whilst such norms might be part of rental or insurance contracts, they are certainly not part of a national law.

    Though it is illegal to produce, store, sell and trade absinth (special alcohol), it is legal to consume it.

    This is no longer valid as of Jan 1, when the constitution of 1874 is replaced by the new 1999 revision.

    The highest speed allowed on national freeways is 120 km/h

    So what? I don't call that dumb.

    Maybe I'm a bit too legalistic here... but we Swiss have a reputation to lose in that regard.
  • by Delta-9 ( 19355 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (9atled)> on Saturday December 04, 1999 @01:57PM (#1480072)
    This one is confirmed from a former PA Turnpike manager

    It is illegal to have sex in a turnpike ticket booth. This is in response to a situation when a female turnpike employee had sex with a truck driver in the booth.

    No lie, no legend.
  • There is a perfectly good reason why you should not be allowed to molest butterflies in Pacific Grove, California. Monarch butterflies congregate there as part of their breeding migration, hundreds of thousands on one tree. It's impressive to see - I've been there while it was happening. Someone molesting them with a bug sprayer could do serious damage to the species.


  • Too bad it wasn't part of the Constitution (all of them) that all laws have to have expiration dates - each law has to be thoroughly audited by the appropriate legislature & repassed to maintain its existence.

    That situation might be a good incentive for the Congressional Critters(tm?) to keep the laws simple, so they can review them w/in their own lifetimes...
  • But some of the "dumb laws" seem to be people airing their personal gripes, for example. Sorry, I don't recall the specific locations, but I remember these:

    - people pissed off about getting speeding tickets -- "In City, State, you can only go 30 mph downtown".

    - people pissed off that they couldn't paint their house purple -- "city legislates acceptable house colors"

    - someone pissed off that they have to go to smoke outside -- listed as a dumb law: "In ____, ___, smoking indoors is prohibited".

  • So I guess there is mayhem anytime a high school has a football game.

    It's just something to keep all the lawyers busy.
  • by blue ( 2742 )
    To prevent procreation, surely. And/or enacted for some fatcat to do this legally.
  • There is a defante difference between Canadians and Americans, however the culture is very similar. Although i would like to see a drop in the amount of Britney Spears, why not let us choose what music we listen to. The law is there to help canadian musicians, not to protect 'Canadian Culture', but i do not like my freedom to choose being taken away, and i think it sets a bad precident. I agree that these are of great benifit to Canadian artiest, but i do not like having to here Alanis Morriset 12 times a day. Most Canadian radio stations are really good to Canadian artists and would act in good faith with out having to repeat songs, there are 10 times the number of Americans.

    As far as the turning on red lights, it is a hard hibit to break, and different from everywhere's else. As for Alberta dirvers, most are awful, we have one of the highest injury rates in Canada, and it's in the cities and major highways, it is so fustrating driving on a road where some jackass is going 10Km below the limit in the passing lane.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling