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Dumb Laws

picture of dumb sign

Some laws are so bizarre or dumb that you question whether they are real. In some cases these laws have been on the books for years, but life has changed so much that it seems as if certain laws need to be stricken from the books. At times it's seeing a sign (like the one on the right) or a hearing of a local regulation that gives cause to wonder. Some dumb laws are not old at all — new ones are being made all the time. Today's post highlights both old and new dumb laws.

My dad used to say, "Well, should we watch the 6:00 news and get indigestion or the 11:00 news and get insomnia?" As my wife and I ate dinner this evening, we had the news on the TV, which may not have been a good idea. There was a story about a school in Danvers, Massachusetts where the use of the word "meep" has recently been banned. I don't know all that went into making that ruling, but at first blush, it seems over the top to me. Any readers from that area might be able to enlighten us.

This got me to thinking about dumb laws. On a web site devoted to dumb laws, I found the following laws still on the books here in South Carolina:

Dumb Laws in South Carolina

By law, if a man promises to marry an unmarried woman, the marriage must take place.

Railroad companies may be held liable in some instances for scaring horses.

Horses may not be kept in bathtubs.

A railroad may not remove itself from a town of more than five hundred people.

When approaching a four way or blind intersection in a non-horse driven vehicle you must stop 100 ft from the intersection and discharge a firearm into the air to warn horse traffic.

It is perfectly legal to beat your wife on the court house steps on Sundays.

Every adult male must bring a rifle to church on Sunday in order to ward off Indian attacks.

It is a capital offense to inadvertently kill someone while attempting suicide.

Here are some laws in several cities in South Carolina.

It is against the law to drive a motorized vehicle on King Street.

The Fire Department may blow up your house. This law was made so that the fire department could create a fire brake.

Fountain Inn
Horses are to wear pants at all times.

Eating watermelons in the Magnolia Street cemetery is forbidden.

If you'd like to see some dumb laws in your state or country, go to http://www.dumblaws.com and click on your state. I want to warn you that I haven't explored much of the site at all, and there are several items on the South Carolina page alone that I would not post on my blog. Caveat lector!

Being a French teacher, I was interested to learn a few dumb laws in France....

Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., 70% of music on the radio must be by French artists.

It is illegal to kiss on railways in France. (We've spent a lot of time on trains in France and have seen a lot of flagrant violation of this law.)

No pig may be addressed as Napoleon by its owner.


If you're into this at all, you might want to take a look at the Real Dumb Laws game.

picture of Real Dumb Laws game

On the radio this morning I heard about something that ought to be against the law — the selling of grades as a means of fund-raising in Goldsboro, NC. Scandalous!

I also heard on the radio about an article at the American Thinker concerning the extreme reticence of our nation's leaders and of their lapdog media to mention at all that Major Nidal Malik Hasan is Muslim. The contention of the author is that Shariah Law is already in effect in the USA. The article called It Isn't Political Correctness; It's Shariah is definitely an interesting read.


We had some very nice visits yesterday with campus son Tim who was in the Campus Store all day for a book signing. Here's a picture of him and me right in front of "ivman central" holding my copy of his new book.

picture of Tim and me

Many thanks to those of you who went by to see him yesterday. He said that many of the people who came by to see him and get his book mentioned my sending them.

I look forward to your comments on dumb laws, perhaps even some from your neck of the woods.


"If we had all the answers, we'd be God." - Ken Ham

=^..^= =^..^=

THE BILL OF RIGHTS (Void where prohibited by law)

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14 Comments on “Dumb Laws”

  1. #1 Roxanne Silva
    on Nov 12th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    How surprised I was as I read your blog to see that the town that I live close to was listed. I had not heard about the story of the points being sold as a fund raiser. I guess I need to start getting the paper! I also found the Fountian Inn law interesting. My in-laws lived there when they were alive. I have never seen horses wearing pants.

    I always enjoy your posts. Keep it up.

  2. #2 Carrie
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 1:35 am

    . . . hurries to get her horse out of the bathtub. . .

    .-= Carrie’s most recent blog post … A Little Alaskan Adventure =-.

  3. #3 Laura
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 8:17 am

    A law in Maryland (my home state):

    Thistles may not grow in one’s yard.

    And a few from Baltimore….

    It’s illegal to throw bales of hay from a second-story window within the city limits.

    It’s illegal to take a lion to the movies.

    It is a park rule violation to be in a public park with a sleeveless shirt.

    It is a violation of city code to sell chicks or ducklings to a minor within 1 week of the Easter holiday.

    And lastly, in Rockville citizens may not swim in the public fountains within the city limits.

    Nothing from anywhere near the town where I grew up… I should probably check with my mom about the thistles, though…

  4. #4 Michael
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    The one in France about not calling a pig Napoleon was interesting. Wasn’t one of the animals in Animal Farm named Napoleon?

    And, the question comes to mind, if a law is no longer enforced, is it still a law?

  5. #5 Vikki
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I grew up in east central Wisconsin (America’s Dairyland) and when I was a kid, all yellow butter substitutes were banned. It was illegal to sell it or to even have pre-colored yellow stick margarine in your home. You could buy white margarine which had a bubble of yellow dye in the package. It came in a plastic bag so that you could break the dye bubble (hopefully it would break inside the package and not outside!). You had to kneed the bag to mix the color in to make it yellow. However, this stuff wasn’t very tasty, the color was rather pale and the dye rarely mixed completely.

    My great-grandparents lived in southern Wisconsin, just over the Illinois border. When my grandparents drove down to visit, they would cross over into Illinois and smuggle several cases of yellow margarine back into Wisconsin. They would always give my mother some of the forbidden yellow stuff when they came back, but we were always warned not to tell anyone we had it.

    This was actually a very common practice for Wisconsinites to smuggle margarine over the border because the yellow margarine taste just about as good as butter and was a lot cheaper than butter. Eventually the state wised up and killed the law making yellow stick margarine legal to sell and possess in the state.

  6. #6 Tammy
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I heard the buying grades story for 2 days on the news. Made big headlines in Raleigh.

    Remember Blue Laws? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_law

  7. #7 A. H.
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I do not know if these are real laws, but here are a few I have come across.

    Cheyenne, Wyoming – citizens may not shower on Wednesdays.

    Wilbur, Washington – citizens may not ride ugly horses.

    Cleveland, Ohio – citizens may not catch mice without a hunting permit.

    Newark, New Jersy – citizens may not buy ice cream after 6:00p.m. without a doctor’s permit.

    Florida – If you leave your elephant tied to a parking meter, the fine
    has to be paid.

    West Virginia – Whistling underwater is prohibited.

    Minnesota – Citizens may not cross the state line with a duck on their

    Colorado – It is illegal to lend your neighbor your vacuum.

    Texas – It is illegal to ride your horse at night without tail lights.

    Alaska – It is illegal to push a live moose out of an airplane.

  8. #8 Kathleen
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Here’s a couple for you:

    You can’t serve drinks to a moose in Anchorage, Alaska.

    It is illegal to die in the houses of Parliament. Yes, you read that right, it is illegal to die there! There’s actually a good money-saving reason behind that one, though. The houses of Parliament technically constitute a palace, and anyone who dies in a palace is entitled to a state funeral. However, by dying in the houses of Parliament, they have broken the law, and therefore are no longer eligible for a state funeral, so the government doesn’t need to foot the bill. So for once the politicians have actually passed a law that makes sense.

    Another law over here that is pretty ridiculous, but rather annoying at the same time: you are now limited to buying three days dosage of cold medicine for an adult at any store the same day. We had a cold going around our family of six last month, and my dad was only able to buy three days worth of cold medicine for ONE adult. Grrrrr… 🙂

  9. #9 b.j.
    on Nov 16th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Wow! That yellow butter comment was something else!

    I think that someone should fire a gun 100 feet from an intersection, just to prove a point! THAT would be something to see!

  10. #10 Roy Hooper
    on Nov 16th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Rob: I too heard on WORD radio on the way to work the “It Isn’t Political Correctness; It’s Shariah “article as well and it was definitely an interesting “hear”. I will now print it out and share the “read” with others. Here is something else that is VERY pertinent to the PC season about to be entered into:

    Twas the month before Christmas
    When all through our land,
    Not a Christian was praying
    Nor taking a stand.
    See the PC Police had taken away,
    The reason for Christmas — no one could say.
    The children were told by their schools not to sing,
    About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
    It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say
    December 25th is just a “Holiday.”
    Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
    Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
    CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
    Something was changing, something quite odd!
    Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
    In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
    As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
    At Lowe’s the word Christmas — was no where to be found.
    At K-Mart and Staples and Penney’s and Sears
    You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.
    Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
    Are words that were used to intimidate me.
    Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
    On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
    At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
    To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
    And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
    Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
    The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
    The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
    So as you celebrate “Winter Break” under your “Dream Tree”
    Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
    Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
    not Happy Holiday!
    Please, all Christians join together and
    wish everyone you meet during the
    holidays a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  11. #11 Jason
    on Nov 16th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    My wife is originally from India, and apparently there it is illegal to kiss in public. I forget the details of the story, but an American celebrity was over in India for some fund-raiser, and during the presentation he kissed an Indian actress on the cheek (no big deal, American actors and actresses do that all the time, right?). He got sued for a pretty hefty fine for it later.

  12. #12 Rob
    on Nov 17th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    @all so far – I’m currently overwhelmed with school preps and have gotten behind in my replies to comments. Thanks for what each of you has added to this post.

    A couple of individual replies….

    @Michael – I don’t know. I just read today that there is still a law in Paris that women are not allowed to wear pants. There have been repeated requests to overturn it, especially since many women, French and otherwise, traipse around Paris in pants. Here’s a link to the article, freshly published earlier today – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/fashionnews/6583074/Women-banned-from-wearing-trousers-in-Paris.html

    @Vikki – That’s amazing about the margarine! We have friends who, when they were living in Germany, were told by dinner guests that their butter was too yellow!

    @Tammy – I remember Blue Laws well. I always had mixed thoughts about them since there were so many inconsistencies with them and since they seemed so legalistic, especially when most people really didn’t care about keeping a day special for the Lord. Tough one, I know.

    @Kathleen – I hope that law makers had sufficient self-control to keep themselves alive until they were out of chambers! 🙂

    @Roy – Thanks for the parody. It’s so true!

    @Jason – Interesting bit of information there. If I ever get to India with my wife, we’ll remember to refrain from kissing in public. 😀

  13. #13 Vikki
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Here’s some more really dumb laws.

    You may not educate dogs.

    It is considered an offense to shower naked. (Guess it would save on laundry time)

    You must contact the police before entering the city in an automobile.

    Law forbids eating in a place that is on fire.

    It is forbidden to fish while sitting on a giraffe’s neck.

    Persons classified as “ugly” may not walk down any street.

    It is illegal to pile horse manure more than six feet high on a street corner.

    You may not step out of a plane in flight. (Duh!)

    State Law made it illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese. (Must go along with the no butter substitute law)

    It is illegal to cut a woman’s hair.

    It is illegal for a chicken to cross the road. (That would put a strain on chicken jokes!)

    Violators can be fined, arrested or jailed for making ugly faces at a dog.

    All fire hydrants must be checked one hour before all fires. (Don’t forget to notify them before you start that accidental fire!)

    No gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car. (How about the front?)

    It is Illegal to go whale fishing. (It’s rough living in a ocean side state…)

    It is illegal to fish for whales on Sunday. (Guess it’s ok to hunt them in the great lakes the other 6 days of the week)

    You may not run out of gas. (Especially during whale hunting)

    Boogers may not be flicked into the wind.

    You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time.

    New Hampshire:
    If a person is caught raking the beaches, picking up litter, hauling away trash, building a bench for the park, or many other kind things without a permit, he/she may be fined $150 for ”maintaining the national forest without a permit”.

    You can’t shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile. (I didn’t know we had so many ocean side states!)

    It’s illegal for frogs to croak after 11 PM. (And who gets to enforce that one?)

    It is legal to gather and consume road kill.

    West Virginia:
    Road Kill may be taken home for supper.

    It is illegal for men and women over the age of 18 to have less than one missing tooth visible when smiling.

    Rhode Island:
    You may not sell toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same customer on a Sunday.

    If two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed. (Huh?)

    It is illegal not to drink milk. (I would have expected this one from Wisconsin!)

    It is considered an offense to hunt whales. (Where, in the mountains?)

    New York:
    The penalty for jumping off a building is death.

    I’ve often wondered what specific events prompted the passing of some of these crazy laws! This was a fun topic – thank for posting it!!

  14. #14 Rob
    on Dec 12th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Thanks for those additions, Vikki. (I’m just getting caught up on replying to comments.)