True Crime Thursday – Crazy but True Laws

 

By Debbie Burke

@burke_writer

Criminal Kissing
Photo credit: Vera Arsic – Pexels

In Elko County, Nevada, the law requires people to wear a mask at all times.

Since Covid 19, many cities and counties have enacted similar ordinances requiring masks so what’s strange about that?

Elko County’s law has been in effect for a century. It was passed at the time of the Great Influenza Pandemic in 1918-1919. No one got around to repealing it so it’s remained on the books all these years.

As of April 13, 2020, the Elko City Council considered passing a new ordinance requiring employees of businesses to wear masks and gloves. Maybe if they dust off old records, they’ll find they’ve already had such a law…for the past hundred years!

While they’re at it, legislators should consider repealing a late 19th century law in Eureka, Nevada, that prohibits a man with a mustache from kissing a woman. The lawbreaker in the above photo is reportedly still at large, armed and dangerous. 

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Since 1961, it’s been illegal in Gainesville, Georgia to eat fried chicken with a fork—only hands are permitted. That law actually makes a lot of sense because it’s “finger-lickin’ good.”

 

 

 

In Florida, it’s illegal for a man to wear a strapless dress in public—no mention of other dress styles. It’s also illegal to sing in public while wearing a bikini or bathing suit.

A widely-circulated urban myth is that Florida bans sex with porcupines. Actually Florida’s 2011 law prohibits sexual relations with any animal, not singling out porcupines. However, a couple of Russian tourists decided to challenge that law…with predictable results.

Also in Florida, you cannot legally ride a skateboard without a license.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Speaking of skateboards, on April 16, 2020 in Los Angeles, a front-end loader filled the Venice Skatepark with beach sand to prevent Covid 19. Hmmm.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Pexels

 

My home state of Montana has its share of unusual laws. For instance, it’s illegal to drive with a sheep in the cab of your truck unless you have a chaperone.

 

 

 

TKZers – What crazy but true laws does your state have? What is the weirdest law you’ve heard of?

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About Debbie Burke

Crime novelist, suspense and mystery novels are her passion. Her thriller Instrument of the Devil won the Kindle Scout contest and the 2016 Zebulon contest sponsored by Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Her nonfiction articles appear in national and international publications and she is a regular blogger at The Kill Zone. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers. http://www.debbieburkewriter.com

30 thoughts on “True Crime Thursday – Crazy but True Laws

  1. Well, last I heard it’s illegal to drive a motorboat up Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama…

    This hearkens back to the days when the Alabama River used to flood, and the boat wake would cause further damage to waterlogged businesses on the street leading up to the capitol…

    No mention of other streets… though I can’t picture folks water skiing up Monroe or down Decatur Streets at such times…

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  2. What a fun challenge, Debbie! Have I got a list for you…
    Disclaimer: Got these when I Googled “weird laws in WA State”. I absolutely plead the Fifth as to it’s veracity.

    1. Lollipops are banned. (Say what?)
    2. X-rays may not be used to fit shoes. (See number 3…ha!)
    3. The harassing of Bigfoot, Sasquatch or other undiscovered subspecies is a felony. (Only Washingtonians claim that privilege. My parents used to tell us that only we four could pick on each other, no outsiders…)
    4. No person may walk about in public if he or she has the common cold. (They got a head start on C-19 now, didn’t they?)
    5. It is illegal to pretend one’s parents are rich.
    6. Destroying another person’s beer cask, barrel, keg or bottle is strictly forbidden, as is filling any of these things without the owner’s written consent. (Now this one kinda makes sense…except for that last part. Fill’ er up!)
    7. One may not spit on a bus. (Yuck!)
    8. You cannot buy meat of any kind on Sunday. (Applause from vegans.)
    9. You can’t buy a mattress on Sunday, either. (On the Day of Rest? Come on!)
    10. It is illegal to sleep in an outhouse without the owner’s permission. (Man, who’d want to, anyway?)

    Only on TKZ on True Crime Thursday. Thanks for the chuckles, Debbie…

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  3. “Outraged” doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt reading that porcupine article. Those scumbags considered animal abuse a “fun” activity. Glad the porcupine won that battle.

    Great post, Debbie. It’s amazing what old laws are still on the books. Here’s a few in New Hampshire:
    — A 1971 law regulates the opening in sugar shakers in restaurants. It must be less than 3/8 of an inch.
    — “No person, while hunting or obviously on his way to or from hunting, may have a ferret in his possession, custody, or control.”
    — It is illegal to pick up seaweed off the beach.
    — In Claremont cemeteries it is illegal to get drunk, enter at night, or enter by oneself if you are under 10 years old.
    — You may not tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern or café.
    — It is illegal to show a movie before 2 p.m.

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  4. Whaling on Sundays is illegal in the state of Ohio.
    .
    I guess I’m safe. Me and the boys tend to do our whaling on Wednesdays.

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      • I caught a pike once in Lake Erie… About 20 inches long. I think the fish don’t get much bigger than that. .

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  5. Whaling is also illegal in Oklahoma.
    Also in Oklahoma:
    – It is illegal to make ugly faces at dogs
    – It is illegal to have tissues in the back of the car
    – Spitting on the sidewalk is illegal
    – Females are not allowed to do their own hair unless licensed by the state
    – Cars must be tethered outside public buildings (I am guessing due to there being so many Mustangs, Pintos, Stingrays, and Marlins in the state)
    – It is illegal to go to bed wearing boots
    – A bar owner is not allowed to let anyone inside to pretend to have sex with a buffalo.

    Amazing what one can find on a Google search of weird state laws in Oklahoma.

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  6. Funny! And people say our legislators waste time on frivolous business.

    In Iowa, it’s illegal for a kiss to last longer than 5 minutes (which would explain why there were so many families with 10 or so children back then – got right to it).

    One-armed piano players are required to play for free.

    In Ottumwa, it’s illegal for a man to wink at a woman he doesn’t know.

    One had best not let his horse eat a fire hydrant in Marshalltown.

    Hotels in city limits are required to have a water bucket and hitching post. (Now when we take our drives to get out of the house, I’m going to check every hotel we pass to see if it’s in compliance.)

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  7. For brevity, I will omit the dozens of bills that Missouri’s batsh*t crazy wing of the GOP file each year, except HB 2044 that would have outlawed most libraries. We made the national news with that one.

    My favorites are Missouri’s (and most other states) liquor laws. In Missouri, there used to be several pages of leagaleze describing allowed attire for “gentlemen’s clubs”. A ten foot rule has replaced most of those, but “”Semi-nude” or in a “semi-nude condition”, a state of dress in which opaque clothing fails to cover the genitals, anus, anal cleft or cleavage, pubic area, vulva, nipple and areola of the female breast below a horizontal line across the top of the areola at its highest point. Semi-nudity shall include the entire lower portion of the female breast, but shall not include any portion of the cleavage of the human female breast exhibited by wearing apparel provided the areola is not exposed in whole or part;” still is on the books.

    In Missouri the bar in a saloon must be visible from the street. Bars used to be closed on election day. Both of these are from the days of political machines buying votes with beer. Bars can be open on election day now. That changed about 15 years ago. The St. Louis Cardinals home opener was on election day.

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    • Alan, your comment reminded me of a bar called Fast Eddie’s that used to be in San Diego. The reader board out front read:
      “Semi Live Nude Dancers.”

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  8. In 1980, in a pretty bold move for the time, Missouri removed gender from rape laws. Today there are still places where a woman cannot be charged with rape. Missouri’s re-wording went into effect on August 30, 1980. My good friend the juvenile officer informed a 37 year old woman of the change about two weeks later. Her 17 year old boyfriend’s parents were very unhappy with the relationship. She is probably out by now.

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  9. Here’s a “timely” one I just remembered… sign in several stores in Palmetto – south of Atlanta – about max occupancy being 10 customers during the crisis, punishable by “City Fine” – my question is, if the officer writing the citation is number 11, does he write himself a ticket, too? (Made me think of Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle… “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest…”)

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  10. Unfortunately, NZ is one of those countries that amends its laws regularly and throws old ones out.

    However, I did find this one, which I found intriguing, in a disheartening kind of way.

    Imbecile Passengers Act 1882 (right around the time of colonisation) imposed a bond on the owner of any ship which transported to New Zealand any “lunatic, idiotic, deaf, dumb, blind and infirm person who was likely to become a charge on the public”. I believe the fine was 100 pounds (read the law here: http://www.nzlii.org/nz/legis/hist_act/ipa188246v1882n58261.pdf)

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