I came across a fun little book the other day called “Loony Laws…That You Never Knew You Were Breaking”. Of course I had to purchase it – how can you pass up a book with a title like that? And the book did not disappoint.
The book, which has a copyright date of 1990, states that all the laws cited are “still around – unless they’ve been repealed indirectly by blanket or collective legislation.”
Here are just a sampling of the laws cited:
Some fall into the category of impossible to comply with. For instance, Texas once passed a law that read “When two railroad trains meet at a crossing, each shall stop and neither shall proceed until the other has passed.”
A few fall into the category of bad wording that plants them in the realm of the absurd. For example, in Belvedere, California, there is an ordinance that states “No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.” Just think about that one for a minute!
Some are just plain humorous. In Berea Kentucky horses are prohibited from being out on the streets at night unless the equine has a bright red taillight attached to its rear end. Fort Lauderdale, Florida has a similar ordinance, but has added that the animal must also have a horn attached.
A number of entries fall into the category of attempting to legislate animal behavior:
California passed a law that prohibits animals from mating publicly within fifteen hundred feet of any tavern, place of worship or school. It carries a penalty of five hundred dollars and/or up to six months in prison.
In International Falls, Minnesota cats aren’t permitted to chase dogs up utility poles.
In Shawnee, Oklahoma, three or more dogs must obtain written permission to congregate together on private property.
Oak Park, Illinois prohibits roosters from crowing before six A.M.
In Norfolk Virginia, chickens are not allowed to lay eggs between the hours of 4 PM and 8 AM.
One wonders how any of these lawmakers expect to enforce these laws and just who gets penalized if the law is broken.
Then there are those that are obviously from a bygone era:
Both the state of Virginia and the city of Topeka, Kansas have laws banning the installation of bathtubs in the home. Tubs can only be kept in the yard or in a public bathhouse erected for that specific purpose.
Omaha, Nebraska requires that every home within the city limits have a wooden hitching post in its front yard.
The state of Oregon and the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota prohibit the practice of wiping dishes – they must be left to drip dry after washing.
- In Clarendon, Texas a lawyer can be disbarred if he refuses to accept farm produce in lieu of payment for his legal fees.
In Oxford, Ohio women are forbidden from taking off their clothing while standing in front of a man’s picture.
And finally you have the ones I call ‘head scratchers’, raising questions as to what brought the issue up to start with:
- In Minnesota it is illegal for a woman to try to impersonate Santa Claus on a city street.
Normal Oklahoma has a law that prohibits individuals from making ugly faces at a dog – penalties rang from fines to jail time.
- Saco, Missouri has made it illegal for women to wear hats that “might frighten timid persons, children, or animals.”
- In New Orleans it is against the law to kick a garbage can and in Lubbock, Texas you are forbidden to sleep in one. (Good thing Oscar the Grouch doesn’t live there!)
Tennessee prohibits the use of a lasso to catch fish
North Carolina has a law prohibiting the use of elephants to plow a cotton field.
The above are just a sampling of the Looney Laws outlined in this book.
So have you ever run into any strange or outlandish laws you’d care to share?