It’s No April Fools’, These 12 Incredible, Strange Silly Laws Are Real
Compared to the past however, there are fewer silly laws on the books. Look back at American history and you might be surprised how many strange laws there once were.
William Seagle’s There Ought To Be A Law (Macauley), 1933, scoured state law books and compiled a couple of hundred laws in effect in 1933, many of them bizarre, others just confounding or silly.
Seagle writes that archaic laws remained on the books due to the passage of time and with no enforcement, legislators forgot that these laws were still statutes. Occasionally laws would be reexamined and states would rid themselves of the stranger ones. The following laws were repealed in the early part of the 20th century:
In Florida: “An Act to Prevent the Indiscriminate Digging of Holes in the Woods”
In South Carolina: A law that made it criminal to draw a check for less than one dollar.
In Massachusetts: A law prohibiting the showing of any movie lasting longer than twenty minutes.
Some laws that Seagle found strange, don’t sound so strange today.
For instance this law in Wisconsin doesn’t seem out of place with all the revisionist history happening now: A law forbids the use in the public schools of any history textbook “which falsifies the facts regarding the war of independence, or the war of 1812, or which defames our nation’s founders, or which misrepresents the ideals and causes for which they struggled and sacrificed.”
Seagle questions the intelligence of politicians and lawmakers. What event transpired that brought some legislator to write each one of these bills to enact the law?
How many of these laws are still in effect today? I would imagine most of them have been repealed. But you never know.
1 – Delaware: It is a misdemeanor to “pretend to exercise the art of witchcraft.”
2 – North Dakota: A law regulating carnivals expressly prohibits the dancing of the “hoochie -koochie.”
3 – Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota: It is a criminal offense to dance to the music of The Star Spangled Banner.
4 – Georgia: If any person shall fire a pistol, gun or other firearm on any excursion train, or at any picnic, except in self-defense, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
5 – Ohio: “An Act to Protect Innocent Girls and Unmarried Women, and to Punish Married Men Pretending to be Single.”
Any married man who shall fraudulently represent himself to be unmarried and make proposals of marriage to any unmarried female of good character, or repeatedly call on or keep company with such female upon such false pretense that he is unmarried, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
6 – New York: It is a crime to pawn or raffle the American flag.
7 – Delaware: It is prohibited to show any movie whose purpose it is “to exhibit a minister of the Gospel as a ridiculous person.”
8 – New Mexico: It is a misdemeanor for the warden of a penitentiary to allow a convict to leave the institution on election day, in order to vote.
9 – Kansas: “An Act to Prevent the Public Exhibition of the Eating or Pretending to Eat of Snakes or Other Reptiles.”
It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit in a public way, within the State of Kansas, any sort of an exhibition that consists of the eating or pretending to eat of snakes, lizards, scorpions, centipedes, tarantulas, or other reptiles.
10 – North Carolina: There must be at least two feet between twin beds in a hotel room.
11 – Oregon & Washington: It is unlawful for automobile manufacturers to advertise that their cars can exceed the state speed laws.
12 – Idaho: It is a misdemeanor for any person to shoot at any game bird or animal from an interurban trolley.