Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Law is a Ass

I originally intended to call this blog "Quaintness and Absurdity in Everyday Life." I was reminded of this today when I read a news article about a Denver bus driver who pushed three people out of the path of a speeding pickup truck, and was later ticketed in his hospital bed for jaywalking by the Colorado State Patrol.

Jim Moffett and a passenger on his bus had helped two elderly women cross a busy street during a snowstorm. As Moffett saw the truck careening toward them, he pushed the three other people out of harm's way but had no time to save himself. His injuries were serious and he is now in intensive care.

This bizarre circumstance inspired me to find out what other weird laws exist. It turns out there are quite a lot of them:

In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle. (Blind drunk is ok, though.)

In California, it's illegal to set a mousetrap without a hunting license. (How the West was won.)

Also, in our fair state, a person must own at least two cows before he is permitted to wear cowboy boots in public. (As usual, the unfashionistas are missing the point.)

In Ohio, it is against state law to get a fish drunk. (But everyone knows they drink like a fish.)

In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. (Yep. Can't let Nellie eat more than her share, now can we?)

In Kentucky, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon more than six-feet long. (So I have to leave my rocket launcher home when I attend the Derby?)

It is also the law that everyone must take a bath at least once a year. (All together now: Whether they need it or not.)

In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on Sundays can be jailed. (Yet another stunning advantage to being married.)

Also, in the Sunshine State, an elephant tied to a parking meter must pay a regular parking fee. (It's only fair.)

Hunting and killing a deer while swimming is illegal. (Is it ok if only the deer is swimming?)

In Maine, it's illegal to bite the landlord, no matter how much he deserves it. (Landlord-tenant laws really need revising.)

In Illinois, it's against the law to speak English. (Explains a lot.)

It's also illegal to give lighted cigars to dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals kept as pets. (Does that include hamsters? Oh, damn.)

It is a crime to make love while fishing or hunting on your wedding day. (Does that mean we're not cruising the Greek Isles, honey?)

In Iowa, horses are forbidden to eat fire hydrants. (Then why do they make them so tasty?)

In Maryland, it's illegal to take a lion to the movies. (Clearly discriminatory. If I lived there, my Senator would hear about this.)

It's illegal to take a bath in Massachusetts unless one has been ordered by a physician to do so. (We all know how that goes: When you make them illegal, the criminal element flourishes.)

In Nevada, it's illegal to drive a camel on the highway. (But they get such great mileage.)

Whale hunting is strictly forbidden throughout the entire state of Oklahoma. (Especially the coastal parts.)

In Oregon, a dead person cannot be required to serve on a jury. (What a relief.)

In Tennessee, it's illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish. (But so much more sporting than shooting them.) You can't shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile. (No wonder they're endangered.)

It is also illegal in TN to drive a car while sleeping. (But perfectly legal to make laws while unconscious.)

In Utah, birds have the right of way on all highways. (Especially the ones with 50 or 60 wives to support.)

Pharmacists may not sell gun powder as a headache cure. (But it's so effective, especially if you buy a gun with it.)

In Washington State, having sex with a virgin is illegal under any circumstances, including the wedding night. (Population control at its best.)

It's also illegal to ride in the streets on an ugly horse. (There are no ugly horses, only ugly people.)

In Wisconsin, it's illegal to wake a fireman when he's sleeping. (Planning is everything.)

In Alaska, it's forbidden to push a moose out of a plane in motion. (Shooting wolves from planes is legal, though.)

It isn't only in America that we have absurd laws. In France, it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon. (But ok for a pastry.)

Some of them have probably been on the books for awhile:

In London, it's illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague. (What if the taxi driver has it, too?) It is also illegal for a London cab to carry rabid dogs or corpses. (This one begs clarification. Does it mean rabid dog corpses or might the corpses be of any species, not necessarily canine? It is difficult to follow the laws if one does not understand them.)

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. (Not sure if that applies only to Parliamentarians, or to others who might be visiting the building for any reason. Please advise ASAP.)

It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down. (How can you tell?)

Wait. It gets worse.

In San Salvador, drunk drivers can be punished by death before a firing squad. (Seems a tad harsh, unless the shooters are blind drunk, too.)

In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation. (But ones head is not the offending organ.)

In New York, the penalty for jumping off a building is death. (Even if I promise not to do it again?)

I would like to be a law-abiding citizen, I really would, but they don't make it easy for those of us who have not had lobotomies. I think they're saving them all for our lawmakers.


Anonymous said...

SOme of those archaic lwaws remaining on the books are a hoot. But there are also some current ones that astound me - in Tennessee it is illegal to bring any amount of alcohol across the state wine. Over three gallons is a felony. That means if you buy a case of wine while visiting family in Georgia and bring it home with you, you're committing a felony crime.

nick said...

I guess some of those laws must have had good reasons originally, but they're now lost in the mists of time. What annoys me is when current laws are applied willy-nilly regardless of the circumstances as in Jim Moffett's case. And as in my own case the other day when I was ticketed for parking within 15 metres of a road junction, even though I was causing no obvious danger to anyone.

the walking man said...

I bet there was a good reason for there being no whale hunting in Oklahoma, were the fat ass politicians trying to save themselves?

forest wisdom said...

Absolutely hilarious! Thanks for the much needed laugh today.

furiousBall said...

when i was attending Georgia Tech, a sorority had to get a law repealed that basically said a house with more than 20 women living in it was a brothel... this was in 1989

meno said...

It's good to know that we are protected from the evils of whale hunting in Oklahoma. The lawmakers were really ahead of the curve on that one.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


When I lived in TN, they had no open container laws and many, many accidents ensued, so this one frankly shocks me.


I feel your pain. I got a $100 ticket for double parking a few weeks ago, which ironically I almost never do although in SF, it is nothing to see entire extra lanes of parked cars in the street with no one in them.


That must be it. It's good we're onto them.


Laughs are good every day.

Thank you for your visit!


So you're saying that sorority houses are NOT brothels?

Who knew?


Definitely. When the West coast falls into the sea as predicted, Oklahoma may be the new West coast.

franki said...

What a fantastic list. I can never move back to Florida, for Sunday is my special skydiving day.

Sorry to be so absent. I posted just for you Susan.

The CEO said...

I agree that there are old laws that are crazy, and there are also new ones that make little sense as you also point out. The ones that make me angry are the ones for the corporations. In Maryland, injuries on the job that can't be assigned to a specific accident, like tearing a rotatr cuff when carrying a heavy bag, aren't covered by Workman's Comp. The Legislature neatly relieved the Insurance Companies of liability for injuries like repetitive motion problems such carpal tunnel problems, etc. The Insurance Companies don't like to pay claims, just collect premiums.

thailandchani said...

Wow.. that would be a couple of full time jobs right there - just to clear all that garbage off the books! Can you believe....?? :)


Wanderlust Scarlett said...

You have a lovely wicked sense of humor, fueled by a brilliant mind.
The combination is amazing and hilarious.

I love the Palin zinger the most, but only barely. Such subtle arrows you shoot, dear lady, and they all made their mark.

In Wyoming it is legal to have a spittoon at ones office desk and it is still legal to hang horse thieves.
Until very recently (when a woman who had a lot of time to research these things used it, after which it was immediately removed), anyone being paroled in Wyoming had the right to request a horse, an outfit and two hundred dollars in silver from the state.
They had to give it to her, but she was the last one.

Our politicians aren't making much progress, are they!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What took you so long? I mean, thank you. I would simper for you, but I don't simper very well.

Sunday is my favorite parachuting day, too. Why do you think I got married?


I've noticed that.

If those injuries are not work-related, then nothing falls into that category. How convenient for the insurance companies, which surely do love collecting their premiums, though.


They would probably outsource those jobs, too.

It makes sense, since most of them were written by aliens - and I don't mean humans from other countries.


Now I'm beating myself up because I didn't move to Wyoming in time to get a free horse. Jail just wouldn't be the same without that reward at the end.

Val said...


Now I'm gonna go check out more of your blog!

Jocelyn said...

You know, I always react strongly to your comments on my blog--they are so astute and clever and thoughtful.

Then I come here and read this and know I am meant to be your fan forever, that we are linked on some plane, somewhere. My first year of high school, when I really realized I could ROCK the forensics team and had a gift for was with a speech on just this topic, citing just such examples, and mocking them in just such a manner.

You'd have saved me many trips to the bathroom before each round of the tournament if you'd been there to give the speech for me. Clearly, you have the material in hand.

Parlancheq said...

Too funny. And too bad that in some spots they actually enforce ridiculous laws like that.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Please do! Thank you so much for your visit.


I'm sure we were twins separated at birth. And I really hate that you got the red hair. Mom always did like you better.

I was a debater in high school and felt that I had found my niche since I was naturally argumentative anyway.

I love your posts and am always sorry when they end, so when you say such nice things about mine, it makes me feel incredibly good.


There is nothing like extending stupidity in perpetuity.

seventh sister said...

In Texas it is still illegal to carry wire cutters in your pocket. This dates back to the range war days of the late 1800s.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What is the penalty for being caught with them in your pocket?

Is it ok to carry them openly, and not as a concealed weapon? Sometimes, you just need wire cutters.

Molly said...

Are these for real?? I must notify my California Girl immediately about that two cow law! I don't think she's aware of it. Wouldn't want her to end up in the slammer.....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


No, we certainly wouldn't want that. You'd better send her two cows posthaste.

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

I sent links to this page to everyone I know....which is probably against the law somewhere.

Still laughing....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm sure it is. Everything is against the law somewhere.

Thanks for coming by!

On a limb with Claudia said...

wow. I missed the bus driver story. Who knew? I didn't know they even gave jaywalking tickets here. Guess it was a slow day?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Maybe the incident wasn't reported in Denver to avoid a citizen uprising.