Most, if not every, country in the world has strange laws that don’t make sense to outsiders – and sometimes, they even seem silly to insiders too. The question they provoke is: What were they thinking? Some reasons have been lost in the mists of time, while others may never have had a reason. Is it possible they were included by a mischievous clerk and then ratified because no-one really read through the whole document before it was signed?
However they came about, here are 15 weird, crazy, nonsensical and strange laws in the United States of America.
It is illegal to wake up a hibernating bear for the purpose of taking a photo of it. This may be to protect the tourist from getting mauled by a grumpy bear but it’s more likely that it’s meant to protect female bears that are pregnant and nursing cubs during this time. Shooting a sleeping bear during the hunting season is, strangely, allowed. Go figure.
In Blythe, California, you are only allowed to wear cowboy boots if you already own two cows. Thank goodness this strange law is limited to Blythe as it would render barefoot anyone attending a Country & Western show at the Grand Ole Opry in Tennessee as well as every rodeo rider who doesn’t own his own cows!
Did you know that the same parking fee for a car must be paid for an elephant that is tied to a parking meter? Everything about this is weird. Elephants are not indigenous in the Americas. Who would ride an elephant into town and “park” it? Where is the parking ticket going to be placed if the meter expires? Makes you wonder about this law, right?
It is illegal to carry coins in your ears in Hawaii. This peculiar law is said to stem back to the time when Hawaii was bought by the U.S. in 1900. At the time, the islands’ currency was replaced with that of the new master, and so the inhabitants decided to hide their old coins in their ears. How big were their ears back then?
This state takes its potatoes very seriously and woe betide the person who sells Idaho Deluxe potatoes that show signs of sun damage or rot, or have any other blemishes on them. This bit of consumer protection isn’t too weird but the penalty for selling dud spuds will see you behind bars for up to six months. Supermarket and grocery store owners beware!
In 1990, the Commonwealth of Kentucky trademarked “Kentucky” and legislated that all businesses had to pay licensing fees to use that word. The intention of this strange law was to bring in much-needed funding into the debt-ridden coffers, but businesses balked at it: Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC; the Kentucky Derby was renamed The Race for the Roses; and Neil Diamond had his song “Kentucky Woman” removed from all U.S. playlists.
Here’s a weird and baffling one: no chick or duckling may be sold to a minor within one week of the Easter holidays. Huh? Ever known a kid who wanted to do that? Were they worried that the kids would use them as ransom if their parents didn’t give them Easter eggs? Talk about a weird law in Maryland.
A nonsensical law in Minneapolis, MN, forbids the driving of any red vehicle along Lake Street, which is a major east-west thoroughfare in that city. We assume there must be a special parking lot for drivers of red vehicles as well as transport from the lot to the businesses there. There must also be a non-red fire engine reserved for putting out fires in that street.
You can have a whale of a time in Nebraska but, strangely, it is against the law to go whale-fishing in this land-locked state. There isn’t even a whale, of any kind, at the Omaha aquarium. A dictaphone operator in the Federal typing pool probably misheard ‘Nebraska’ for ‘Alaska.’
William Shakespeare included sexual innuendos in many of his plays to further entertain his adult audiences with carefully written puns. Puritanical state legislators in New Mexico would have none of that and ordered that 400 “sexually explicit” words be deleted from the “Romeo & Juliet” in that State. However, it is legal for kids aged 14 to 17 to send nude selfies to each other.
New York, New York – so good they named it twice. They should have thought twice about this strange law in New York: donkeys are not permitted to sleep in bath tubs there. No bath I’ve seen is big enough for a donkey to sleep in and I don’t know why one would be invited in for a sleep-over.
Known for its Quaker and Amish people, this Pennsylvanian law is not as strange as it first appears: A minister is not allowed to marry a couple if one (or both?) is under the influence of alcohol. If you’re in need of Dutch courage before the ceremony, it’s probably a good idea not to get married.
This tiny state requires that, “The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give a timely, audible signal”. What happened to using a vehicle’s indicator lights? How do they discern between an overtaking hoot and a warning hoot?
Getting legally married in the Lone Star State is so easy. All you have to do is publicly announce three times that you take someone (by name) as your wife or husband and the deed is done. Maybe some law maker came up with this strange law so they don’t have to drive to Vegas in the middle of the night. Here are some more strange laws in Texas.
It is illegal to stage a boxing match between members of the opposite sex in Washington D.C. Who knows how this strange law came about, but maybe the male politicians were worried a female might want to run for president one day and challenge her male opponent to a bout.
STRANGE LAWS OR STRANGE PEOPLE?
Whichever way you look at it, it’s clear the U.S. has some strange laws that were never really thought out or debated. If you know some strange laws in your state or country, why not tell us about it in the comments below.