CHARLOTTE, NC. Every so often we come across a story about anachronistic and quirky laws that still exist in various parts of the world. Today, Myth Trivia looks at some of the strange legal regulations throughout the United States and other parts of the world.
Quirky laws in the US of A
- We begin in Alaska. Here, the first of our compendium of quirky laws actually makes sense. In Alaska, after all, residents must seriously consider the not uncommon chance that a bear might wander into their town to forage for food. Therefore, waking up a slumbering bear to take a selfie with Smoky or one of his cousins can get you arrested in America’s Last Frontier.
- Speaking of those huge furry beasts, did you know it is illegal to drive in Missouri with an uncaged bear?
- If you think that’s strange, how about a law in Chicago making it a felony to eat in a place that is on fire. Some bored lawmakers actually “cooked” this one up. It’s why we pay them the big bucks.
- The next in our list of quirky laws sounds like it should have come from West Virginia. But it actually comes from Utah, where it’s still legal to marry your cousin. There is a catch, however. You must both be over 65.
- In Mobile, Alabama, it’s against the law to throw confetti or spray silly string. No ticker-tape parades there, either.
- In Arkansas, an 1800s-era law remains on the books, stating that a husband may beat his wife, but only once a month.
- Regarding the ongoing war between (among?) the sexes… It really get hairy in Iowa where it is illegal for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman in public. Guess you just have to maintain a stiff upper lip to tread the straight and narrow.
- A Massachusetts law deems it illegal for a woman to be on top during sex. So much for the right to choose.
- Environmentalists had their say in Florida, where it is illegal to pass gas in a public place after 6 p.m. on a Thursday. In other words, “silence is golden” on Thursdays. So is clean air.
Quirky laws of sunny Italy
- On the international scene, we begin in Italy. There, goldfish are not allowed to swim inside bowls. The law requires they must reside in a full-sized aquarium.
- Milan is famous for fashion, art and opera, but lesser known is the fact that not smiling and/or frowning is against the law. There are two exceptions; hospital visits and funerals. After all common sense must prevail somewhere.
- By the way, if you feel the need for a nap in Ferrara, Italy, don’t go to sleep in a cheese factory. That’s against the law.
The UK: Where quirky laws likely began
- The UK has more than its share of quirky laws, rules and regulations.
- One British law that still exists from the Middle Ages requires all males over the age of 14 to be trained in shooting a long bow. You never know when you might be in need of “an arrow escape.”
- Salmon poaching is a serious crime in the UK. So it stands to reason that anyone caught “handling a salmon suspiciously” would be subject to arrest. Beware sinister characters wearing turned down hats and trenchcoats who might be lurking in dark shadows planning something fishy.
- Here’s a little more food for thought. You cannot import potatoes into England or Wales if you believe the spuds are Polish. Could it be that Polish potatoes are considered to be “common-taters”?
- Now for the real nuts and bolts in the realm of quirky laws. We discover this one indirectly by learning the answer to the age-old question of what Scotsmen actually wear under their kilts. Though the law is not strictly enforced, a Scot with underwear beneath his kilt can be fined two cans of beer.
- Now we move on from the UK to Australia, which, of course, has strong historical ties to the British Isles. Which include a fair share of quirky laws currently in force in the Land of Oz. According to the law in Melbourne, it is illegal for a man to wear a strapless dress. Whod’a thunk it? We were unable to locate a similar law for women who might decide to wear “gownless evening straps.” Must be a double standard.
More quirky laws from around the world
- Speaking of the Polish people and quirky laws, we were surprised to find out that even Winnie the Pooh is controversial in Poland. The government there banned the Pooh from a public playground because he wasn’t wearing pants. Donald Duck and Porky Pig escaped embarrassment by not being there.
- If you locate a long line at a public bathroom in Portugal, look out for the police. Given that country’s mile upon mile of Atlantic coastline, it’s against the law to urinate in the ocean. How the law is enforced is another matter.
- Singapore is well known for its strict rules against chewing gum since 1992. But there are other things you must be on the alert for as well. Singapore also frowns upon littering and jaywalking. And if you don’t flush a public toilet, look out! The police might nab you.
- Regarding quirky laws, we note that one odd Greek law dates only as far back as 2009. That was that year that Greece passed a law banning high heels from archaeological sites. At first, it might sound like a safety precaution. But the real reason for the law was that certain styles of women’s footwear proved damaging to the country’s ancient ruins in archaeological digs.
The final three
Our final three international quirky laws are among the oddest.
- For example, a wife in Hong Kong may kill her husband if she catches him cheating. But here’s the catch. She has to do it with her bare hands.
- Remember Sarah Palin’s comment about “lipstick on a pig”? Out of respect for their great general and emperor in France, it is against the law to name a pig “Napoleon.”
- Last, but certainly not least, the Japanese have a law on their books making it illegal to be fat. The maximum waistline for a man over 40 is 33.5 inches. Women get two-inches of relief with a limit of 35.4 inches.
Apparently the lawmakers are either not fans of or have never even seen a Sumo wrestling match.
— Headline image: Don’t take a selfie with Mr. Polar Bear in Alaska. It’s against their law. And it might be your last selfie, ever. (Image via Wikipedia entry on polar bears, CC 4.0 license.)
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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