July 30, 2010

The Bizarre Laws of Travel Destinations

As a law student, I have profound respect for the judicial system and the laws it strives to uphold. However, as a law student, I am also aware of just how many ridiculous and bizarre laws are actually still on the books. In my landlocked home state of Oklahoma, it is illegal to go whaling. When I moved to Evanston, Illinois, I learned it was illegal to skip because skipping was a sign of drunkness. (Of course, that meant the first time my friends and I got drunk we attempted to skip and found it surprisingly difficult to do so while under the influence.)

The more I travel and the more places I go, the more weird and inexplicable laws I encounter. I recently read “I’m Under Arrest for What? 50 Bizarre Laws U.S. Laws” and got to thinking about some of the weird laws I’ve learned about my travel destinations.

Here is a sampling of some bizarre laws in the states I have written about in this blog:

  • It is illegal to speak English. Only "American" may be spoken in Illinois.
  • It is also illegal to have less than one dollar on your person. If you don't have at least one dollar, you may be arrested for vagrancy.
  • In Chicago it is illegal to eat in a place that is on fire. Because apparently common sense needs to be legislated.
  • In Chicago, it is also illegal to fish while sitting on a giraffe's neck. No really. That is explicitly forbidden.
  • It is illegal to shoot rabbits from a motorboat.
  • It is illegal to catch a fish with your bare hands.
  • It is illegal for restaurants to sell cherry pie à la mode on Sundays.
  • A law in Kansas requires that if two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed. Think about that for a second.
  • Children are permitted to buy shotguns, but not toy capped guns.
  • Any single man between the ages of 18 and 50 is required by law to pay a tax of one dollar.
  • Any city in Missouri can levy a tax to support a band, as long as the mayor plays piccolo and each band member can eat peas with a knife.
  • It is illegal to take a bite out of another person’s hamburger.
  • It's illegal to get a fish drunk.
  • It is illegal to wear your boots to bed.
  • Please note, these are the clean ones. If you want to know all the dirty things that are illegal in Oklahoma - and there are a lot of them! - click here.
  • It is illegal to shoot a buffalo out of a second story hotel. I guess that means its okay to shoot one out of the first story.
  • It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer while standing. But I would pay money to see the police attempt to enforce this one.
  • A recently passed anticrime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed. Once again, I would pay money to see the police attempt to enforce this one.

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