We often hear that the United States is a ‘nation of laws’ from politicians. What people often fail to realize is that a lot of those laws are either not based on any kind of morality or they’re outright stupid. Stupid laws can also be hilarious as well.
Some laws are written for valid reasons that cease to exist months after they’re written. The business of repealing laws is ugly, though, so they just fester on the books. This is the source of most stupid laws. Some laws are so stupid that people have written about them for years and nothing has been done to get rid of them. They could be outright racist or misogynistic. Some are ludicrous because of where they’re written and the fact that the locality doesn’t lend itself to the law ever being violated. Some just make you scratch your head at why anyone would bother writing them.
Here are some that made us giggle.
10You don’t have mountains, Nebraska
Nebraska is nice and landlocked with nary a mountain in sight except to the west on a clear day. That didn’t stop some busybody politician from proposing a law that didn’t apply within the state mandating that people drive carefully on dangerous mountain roads. It was written in 1957, but it’s still there.
Newsflash: the laws of physics trump the laws of dumb politicians every time. When people don’t obey this one, no punishment the law can dole out is as bad as the one gravity is sure to give you. Did we mention that it doesn’t even apply in Nebraska?
Here’s how it reads:
NRS484B.120 Driving on defiles, canyons or mountain highways.
The driver of a motor vehicle traveling through defiles or canyons or on mountain highways shall hold such motor vehicle under control and as near the right-hand edge of the highway as reasonably possible.
9In Tennessee, holding hands means pregnancy
They actually passed a law in TN that makes it illegal for students to hold hands during school hours because hand-holding is a gateway to sex. It was, in the TN house, called The Gateway Sexual Activity Bill. That’s right. In the state of Tennessee, they think that handholding results in sex. You might think this was a 1950s law. You would be wrong. This was 2012.
TN lawmakers: Find a computer. Visit UrbanDictionary.com. Read any random definition. Congratulations. You just discovered that kids these days know more about sex than you ever will. They write all those definitions, and you won’t protect them from sexual activity by preventing them from holding hands. Handholding is the last thing on the mind of a kid who can describe, in great detail, what a ‘flying camel’ is. Hell, he’s probably done it.
8Don’t Harass the Squatches
In Skamania County, Washington, you had better not mess with Sasquatch. Nevermind the fact that you’re potentially dealing with a massive hominid from the Pleistocene era. The law is coming for you, Jim. Stupid law is stupid because if anyone actually finds a ‘squatch and doesn’t mess with it like they’re the star of a Jack Link’s commercial, we’ll lynch that guy.
Yeah, so this dumb law was written in the late ’60s (could it be LSD-related?), and it’s called the ‘Undiscovered Species Protection Act.’ How do you not mess with a sentient hominid? How? If you mess with any of the species outlined (Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, or Giant Hairy Ape <- I can’t believe they actually typed that), you can be fined up to $10K and spend a decade in jail. They take their ‘squatches super serial in Skamania County.
To this day, no one has broken this ordinance. It’s sad, really.
7Don’t say Ar-Kan-SAS, or else…
It’s actually illegal and has been since 1881, to misspell or mispronounce the state name of Arkansas if you’re within the state of Arkansas. If you want to butcher it, you need to go to Mississippi (Missippi), Louisiana, or Oklahoma. Texas and Missouri have their own issues, and Tennessee gets a pass due to their accent.
The irony is that the state, under the governorship of William Jefferson Clinton, who would later become POTUS, went from 50th in the nation in education to 49th. Spelling wasn’t high on their priorities list prior to Slick Willie, let alone pronunciation.
The state’s name is, by their own definition in law, a native word bastardized by the French who are notoriously bad spellers (seriously, how many silent letters does one language really need), into what we have today. Given that fact, can we just admit that one really stubborn guy just got mad and made his way into law?
Next time you’re there, make a point to pronounce it wrong to everyone and report back if you get arrested.
6Color Books, not Chickens
In Akron, OH, don’t get caught with punk chickens or rabbits you want to sell or display. Apparently, this was enough of a problem that the city passed an ordinance. If you dye your chickens, you’re an evil person, indeed. I wonder what all those chicken dyers switched to after the law was passed in 1973. That must be where all those painted rocks came from.
I get that some parts of some states can be pretty boring. If decorating rabbits and chickens is a pastime so prevalent that it needs a law to prevent it, maybe find other entertainment? The Pro Football Hall of Fame is right there in Canton, people. There’s a Rubber Museum somewhere up there. Wait, that closed. Cleveland is like, an hour away. Never mind. There’s nothing to do in Cleveland either. I guess just dye chickens on the DL. Maybe start a club where the first rule is that you do not talk about Dye Club.
5Trailer denizens, you must move before you move
In Anchorage, AL, you aren’t allowed to live in a trailer you’re dragging across town. The full text of the ordinance is, “No person may occupy a house trailer while it is being moved upon a public street.” Now, I understand what they were going for here, but what they ended up doing is making it illegal to live in the thing if it was moving. So, do you need to put in a change of address before you move it, or maybe live with your parents?
I suppose the real question here is, how many people were having breakfast in their trailer while their friend was dragging it to a new location? I suppose the answer is, enough to make it illegal. It should only take one, I suppose. That one guy always ruins it for the rest of us.
4Greasy thieves face felony charges
Grease theft became a big deal with the advent of biofuels. It became illegal to steal grease and a felony to steal grease with a street value of $1,000 in North Carolina in 2012 (several other states far earlier). The really funny part of this story is not that grease theft is apparently a bigger deal than anyone cared to know, but that there are people who objected to the law on the basis that it shifts the grease market playing field to favor large grease corporations.
That’s right, folks. The gub’mint is in cahoots with big grease to squeeze out the little guy. From the linked article we learn that, not only are there big grease corporations in North Carolina but also that there are small-time, mom-and-pop (if you will) grease slingers. Let’s not forget that we now all know that people steal grease. Shittiest heist movie, ever.
3Wisconsin surreptitiously avoids peasant uprisings
I suppose completely out of fear of their very own French Revolution, Wisconsin made it illegal to wave around torches. Their laws concerning the ‘Negligent handling of burning material‘ basically amount to an end run around the likelihood that the rabble might storm the steps of the capitol building in an effort to redress their grievances. Pretty sneaky there, Wisconsin.
No torch waving for you Cheese Heads. If you’re beset by a Frankenstein’s monster, you’ll need to use flashlights or lanterns to light the way. Maybe bring along a zippo for the bonfire part of the uproar, though. It’s pretty difficult to burn monsters at the stake without flint. I wonder if that includes fireworks. Fireworks are basically ‘negligently handled burning material’ from the time you light the fuse.
2Don’t bite off legs in Rhode Island
Firstly, we should all know that Rhode Island is not actually an island. Secondly, if you do anything silly there, like bite off someone’s leg or something, you’re going to spend a minimum of a year in jail. You heard that right. A minimum of one whole year. I mean, you may spend 20 years, but you’re guaranteed that year.
This law is stupid mainly because of wording. We know that when they said ‘bite off’ they meant fingers and ears and stuff, but it comes just before ‘disable’ and ‘limb.’ That conjures an interesting visual of a serious donnybrook where people lose eyes, have arms broken, perform appendectomies, and that one guy chews off a leg.
I suppose it’s safer to bar-brawl in RI than in West Virginia, though, as a result of this law. Was it ever legal to chew off someone’s leg anywhere in the world? Makes you wonder if maybe they wrote this one out of necessity.
1So many stupid laws
There are so many stupid laws that there are websites dedicated to not only describing them but having them repealed. It’s illegal to shoot any game from a moving vehicle with the sole exception of whales… in Kentucky. You can’t let your wife drive your car down Main St. unless you walk in front of her waving red flags in Waynesboro, VA. It’s illegal to have a boner in public in Kenosha, WI. You are forbidden to sell your own eyeballs in Texas. Arizona soap thieves must continue to scrub until the soap they stole is completely gone.
There are more idiotic laws than people who know about them. The question you should ask is, do we really need more?
Add your examples of stupid laws in the comments. I’ll bet there are some insane ones we couldn’t find that you’re just itching to discuss. Don’t be bashful.