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Collection of crazy US laws have been in circulation for at least fifty years, probably longer. So when I went to the USA as a high school exchange student, in the mid 1970s, I asked whether the stories were just jokes, or what. They are mostly true, I was told, but ...
In local American politics, far away from "strange" presidental rumblings, it is (or at least was at that time) often so that the two main parties in reality were in agreement about some action to be taken. But if this was proposed by party A, party B couldn't just give party A right, saying "Great idea! Your party is doing the right thing with this proposal!" - that would be loosing face completely. So behind the curtains, they made a trade: OK, we will go for your proposal if, and only if, you will support our proposal for a law that prohibits drying men's and women's underwear on the same clothesline! (This is an actual example of those crazy laws.)
Everybody knew that the law was not meant to be practiced, it was just a way for party B not to loose face: They could say "Look what we made party A follow us on - that is crazy, isn't it?" Everyone knew that this was party B's way of showing their power, rather than submission under party A. According to my sources, and I had others confirming it, this was not that uncommon, regardless of which party was A and which was B. Maybe that practice is gone now, 40+ years later, but it seems to me like a probable explanation of lots of the crazy local laws you read about in the US. The collections you find at newsstands today is more or less a blueprint of the 1970s and 80s collections; it looks as if the growth of new crazy laws is quite limited nowadays.
Here in Norway, we have nothing of a similar kind: We have national laws only - county or local laws do not exist. A specific national law may leave to a local authority, usually the police, to define detail interpretation, such as identifying in which streets parking is forbidden. The local authority is strictly limited by the national law. If you are sued for violation a law, it is always a national law, not regional or local.
Not all crazy laws are local. But for US laws at the state/federal level, if foreigners are shaking their head in disbelief, it is usually not because of the law itself, but of the culture that lays the ground for such laws. We realize that the law is consistent with US (or US state) culture, so the law in itself makes sort of sense in that framework. But we may shake our heads over the culture that makes such laws "natural".
I have always like the Oklahoma law prohibiting getting fish drunk.
If you follow up on the history, it was way to arrest moonshiners. The would dump their stock (moonshine) in a local creek so the law would not have any evidence. But the law said 'OK, you made all those poor fish drunk; we will make a law against that'
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, navigate a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects! - Lazarus Long
In New Zealand there's still a section of laws that can only be committed by Maori, and enforced by Maori Wardens - not regular police officers.
I believe they were laws to give individuals nominated by local Maori authorities similar powers to police officers (including the power to issue fines) in specific situations that Maori leaders at the time thought were a problem they needed to deal with - mostly I think to do with drunken and disorderly behaviour, which I guess was a problem to Maori leaders in the 60s.
But it's a funny set of laws, or as a former Prime Minister referred to it "a bit racist", if you strip it out of the context of what it was meant for.
At least the laws about prohibiting animals to mate in fields adjacent to roads were scrapped though.
Some years ago in the UK, there was a proposal to repeal the law requiring a man to walk in front of every railroad train waving a red flag as a warning. The proposal was turned down; in the House of Lords, the proposal was described as "cultural vandalism". (Brits are Brits... )
My favorite Norwegian law dates back to 1687 - it might make you smile, but it really is great:
If an animal of one man's livestock atacks another man's animal and kills it, the owner of the animal that killed shall pay a compensation to the man whose animal was killed. If the killed animal was a better animal than the one killing, half its value shall be compensated. But if it was inferior to the one killing, the full value shall be compensated.
So the farmer whose animal was killed mustweigh back and forth: Shall I admit that my livestock is inferior to my neighbour's, just to get the maximum compensation? Or should I hold that my livestock is the better one, and sacrify half the compensation?
Whatever the law says, people will be complaining about not being allowed to make copies.
In Norway, the copyright law state explicitly that you can make private copies of protected works for private use. You are in your full right to record TV programs and make copies of you vinyls onto your PC etc. etc. This is way more liberal than in most other countries, but not yet enough for lots of people.
There are some restrictions. First, this explicit right to make private copies does not extend to databases nor to computer programs. People scream out: But that is exactly what I want to make copies of, especially computer games!
Second: You must create the copies yourself, with no "foreign assistance". If you go to a pirate website to download protected works, it is considered foreign assistance. People scream out: But that is where I find the stuff I want!
Third: Copying is protected in a private context, but what is private and what isn't? It is clear that it extends beyond the core family: You are entitled to borrow a CD from a friend and make your own private copy of it. But if, say, the conductor of a 50 members chorus makes 50 copies of a recording of the work they will presenting at their Christmas concert, then it is not private: Anyone may join the chorus, the members are not necessarily personal friends or social bonds beyond that of the chorus - this is not considered "private", but organization activity. Bur people scream out: I sing in that chorus in my spare time - it is private! The lawmakers do not agree.
Even if Norway may have the most liberal copyright laws of Europe, Norwegians complain at least as much as others. People who demand "Peace, liberty and everything for free" will never be satisfied.
Many of these "silly laws" may still be on the books but are not active as they are superseded by other laws, however it is still illegal to be drunk in a pub in the UK, and it is also illegal to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk.
English law prohibits MPs from wearing armor inside the Houses of Parliament. (Would be more fun to watch )
Do Not Flag Down a Taxi in London if You Have The Plague. (or Corona )
A Bad Reference Given by Your Employer is Libelous.
Killing a Swan is an Act of Treason.
Do Not Import Polish Potatoes into England. (Nothing about Polish people )
Entering the Hull of the Titanic Requires State Permission.
During these covid weeks - with almost any fast-food stall closed - I dropped 70% of my sugar intake... Not even Zero anymore...
I'm still fat, but breath much easier and just thinking to do something more serious than swimming around...
"The only place where Success comes before Work is in the dictionary." Vidal Sassoon, 1928 - 2012
That is one of the most obvious signs for me to know that I am getting old: Whether I refer to (any of) my favorite artists, authors, movie makers, radio programs ... to my coworkers, I get a blank stare back. They don't know any of them.
And I return the service: When they refer to their fantasy litteratue heroes, the new Netflix series, the computer games they play, then it is my turn to give them a blank stare.
Last Visit: 1-Dec-20 8:50 Last Update: 1-Dec-20 8:50