The grand old Constitution and accompanying Bill of Rights might grant every citizen a certain amount of freedom, but that doesn’t mean that your everyday life isn’t subject to being curtailed by laws. Some of those laws, such as, say, the law prohibiting murder, seem like pretty sound pieces of legislation. But throughout the annals of United States law, more than the occasional oddball or quirky law has crept into effect. Here then are ten of the most ridiculous laws that are somehow still on the books.
Selling Your Eye – Texas
According to clause (a) of paragraph 48.02 of the Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs act, it is illegal to sell off any of the following organs: “Kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, eye, bone, skin, fetal tissue.” Which sounds like a pretty sane piece of Texas legislation, until you wonder why anyone would want to list one of their eyes for sale on Craigslist in the first place. Surely anyone seriously considering gouging out their own eyeball for profit isn’t going to be deterred by a pesky ol’ law? Either way, the safer bet is to traffic only in your own “hair or blood components,” which are exempt from the ambit of the act.
Oral Sodomy – Arkansas
One for former President Bill Clinton to muse over: In his home state of Arkansas, the act of consensual oral sex is considered to be sodomy. Which, anatomically, doesn’t really make any sense at all, being that one process involves a person’s rear end and the other is focused on a person’s mouth. It’s unclear whether Monica Lewinsky ever hit horndog Clinton with this whammy.
Wearing a Bulletproof Vest While Committing Murder – New Jersey
A quaint little piece of legislation from the garden state, it is apparently completely unlawful for a person to “wear a body vest while engaged in the commission of… murder.” The statute goes on to define a body vest as “bullet-resistant body armour which is intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection.” This is very nice and specific, but it’s still unclear whether this law is meant to discourage people from murdering someone else in the first place, or just make the whole bloody process a lot more fraught with danger.
Riding a Bicycle in a Swimming Pool – California
Possibly inspired by the aftermath of a particularly rambunctious pool party, the city of Baldwin Park in California took it upon itself to go through the process of putting into effect a law that outlaws the riding of a bicycle in a swimming pool. While the law may be well-meaning, it doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that it’s almost impossible — or, at least, likely to be an insanely rigorous physical workout — for a person to pedal a bike while submerged in water. But then what would you expect from a state that also has a law that mandates “sunshine is guaranteed to the masses”?
Falsely Promising to Marry Someone – Mississippi
A fine piece of wacked-out legislation from the crooked letter state, in Mississippi it is illegal for a crafty lothario to attempt to woo a woman back to his apartment for a night of physical intimacy by suggesting to her that if she succumbs to his moves he will do the decent thing and put a ring on her finger. The full text of the law, which dates back to 1892, reads: “If any person shall obtain carnal knowledge of any woman, or female child, over the age of eighteen years, of previously chaste character, by virtue of any feigned or pretended marriage or any false or feigned promise of marriage, he shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned.” It’s a wonder there wasn’t a Sex And The City episode based around this.
Cutting Down a Cactus – Arizona
It’s not just the awful crime of cold-blooded murder that can see you locked up for a whopping 25-to-life — in the desert climes of Arizona you can receive a similar sentence if you are caught cutting down a Saguaro cactus. The law exists with the honourable goal of protecting the environment, although it’s yet to be explained why such a draconian prison sentence is mandated in law. Oh, and gun-toters beware — shooting a bullet into a cactus is similarly punishable under the law.
Falling Asleep Under a Hair Dryer – Florida
So specifically silly you couldn’t make it up, the sunshine state of Florida mandates that it is completely illegal for women — the statute is gender specific — to fall asleep while lounging under an oversized hair dryer. Along with fining the lucky lady who is getting her hair done, the owner of the salon in question can also be hauled off to court for the offence. Sadly, the state seems completely ineffective in penalizing the more heinous crime of anyone willingly getting a perm of their own volition.
Handcuffing a Clown – Georgia
The state of Georgia has a fine string of nonsensical laws: You cannot carry an ice-cream cone in your back pocket on a Sunday; you cannot keep your donkey in a bathtub; and you cannot give away goldfish as an inducement to get someone to take part in a game of bingo. But it is the state’s anti-sadomasochistic laws that take the spoils, being defined in such a broad way that anyone who handcuffs another person who is dressed in a clown suit is liable to be imprisoned for “sadomasochistic abuse.” Best to rethink that hilarious comedy circus routine you’ve been working on.
Sleeping on a Fridge – Pennsylvania
A law that begs many a bemusing question, in Pennsylvania it is against the law for any person to be found sleeping on top of a refrigerator outdoors. Presumably, then it is okay to perch on top of your fridge and sneak a quick power nap from inside the sanctity of your own home, although why you’d find this even remotely appealing, let alone comfortable, is not explained in the law. Neither is it stated who the possibly unstable — or black-out drunk — person was who decided to kip on an abandoned fridge somewhere in the wilderness and inspired a prime piece of ridiculous legislation.
Flirting – New York
New York City may be one of the liberal centers of the known universe, and a place where women are legally allowed to walk around the streets topless (as long as they’re not baring their breasts in order to promote a business). But according to the state’s rule book you can be fined up to $25 for the relatively innocent act of flirting. So that means the next time you offer a polite but possibly flirtatious comment to the person in front of you in the line for your morning coffee, you could be slapped with a fine. Or that simply making polite-but-witty conversation at a bar after work could see you paying for more than the price of a happy hour drink. Although we suspect you’d be in more trouble trying to attempt to ask an officer of the NYPD to actually enforce this one.
Do you know any other weird and crazy laws from around the world? If you do why not let us law-abiding citizens know in the comments below!