Most of us are law abiding citizens who know right from wrong, but you might be surprised to hear about a few official no-nos around the United States. There are some absurd and archaic laws still on the books in some places that will make you scratch your head about our legal system. The US is known around the world as an excessively litigious society, but hopefully there aren’t too many people filing frivolous lawsuits for these kinds of offenses.
1. No Eating Dead Frogs in California
To be more specific, if a frog happens to croak during a jumping competition, you can’t make a meal of its corpse no matter how tempting its muscular frog legs are. It makes one wonder how much competitive amphibian consumption was going on in the state that warranted the time and effort required to make this a law? It stems from the old gold mining town of Angel Camp which has proudly hosted a Frog Jumping Jubilee for over 80 years. The legislators are just looking out for Kermit.
2. No Dwarf Tossing in Florida
Owners of bars and nightclubs in the Sunshine State can be fined up to $1000 if they promote any kind of dwarf tossing contest. This one made the law books as recently as 1989. It’s kind of sad that these things have to be specified, but it was a popular entertainment fad back in the day. It’s even sadder that state legislator Ritch Workman actually tried to have this law repealed in 2011. “I’m on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people,” he said to the Palm Beach Post. “This is an example of Big Brother government.” Well, somebody has to look out for the little people.
3. No Eating Humans in Idaho
Got the munchies? Don’t think about snacking on your neighbor in Boise or you can be imprisoned for up to 14 years (is that all?). There is, however, a caveat to allow it under extreme life-threatening conditions (like running out of potatoes, maybe). We don’t have a problem with this law, per se. Prohibiting cannibalism seems like a reasonable decree, so kudos to Idaho for taking a stand in 1990. What concerns us is that there is no official law against consuming human flesh in the other 49 states.
4. No Adultery in Michigan
We hope there weren’t a lot of Ashley Madison sign-ups in Kalamazoo, because cheating on your spouse is actually a felony there. Since 1929, Michigan residents can be sentenced to four years in prison plus a $5000 fine for stepping out on their spouse. In fact, the law goes on to specify that there be no hankie-pankie between a married woman and an unmarried man (oddly, the reverse isn’t itemized). It’s also a felony in Wisconsin and a crime in Illinois, Alabama, Minnesota and even New York. “Fornication” between unmarried folks is a Class 4 misdemeanor in Virginia. Granted, this is rarely prosecuted these days, but watch out as it is technically on the books.
5. No Funny Fake Mustaches in an Alabama Church
Attending a church service is no laughing matter in the state of Alabama, so leave that Groucho Marks ‘stache at home. Ditto for that Magnum P.I., Duck Dynasty or Fu Manchu falsie. It is actually a crime “to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church,” according to lawyers.com. It’s not something that is ever really enforced, but free speech activists have taken up an online petition to get this “infringement” off the books once and for all.
6. No Getting Drunk at a Bar in Alaska
Um, isn’t that kind of the point? To clarify, “a drunken person may not knowingly enter or remain on (the licensed) premises”. How do northern barkeeps stay in business with this law hanging over their patrons?
7. OMG, Only Believers Can Run for Office in Texas
You’d better believe in God if you want to run for public office in the Lone Star State, or at least claim to. There is no religious test or church-based qualification required, and you can’t be excluded from holding office for your religious sentiments. But you do have to “acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.” In other words, atheists need not apply.
8. No Cussing in Mississippi
To be specific, you’re not allowed to swear in front of two or more people in the State of Mississippi. If you happen to miss the paddleboat, keep that curse to yourself or you could spend 30 days in the slammer or be fined $100.
9. No Singing Off-key in North Carolina
You’d better not belt out a tune if you’re tone deaf here. Back in 1873, William Linkhaw was indicted for disturbing a Methodist congregation with his off-key caterwauling. He was actually found guilty, but later appealed. This rule is about disturbing the peace in general, and is more of a matter for the church to discipline than the state. However, the legal precedent is there, so sing at your own risk.
10. Keep Your Pants Up in Michigan
Plumbers and gangstas alike, watch your butts. Back in 2008, officers in Flint, Michigan started pulling people over for failing to pull up their sagging pants. Police Chief David Dicks made it his mission to clean up this sloppy fashion trend, and you don’t want to mess with Dicks. If you are caught wearing clothes that expose your skivvies, boxer shorts or bare bottom, you will be warned, then fined and ultimately thrown in jail for indecent exposure. What do you think of this controversial crackdown?