Unconventional laws and where to find them

03.2022 | Alistair Duff

A look at some crazy laws from around the world

As many of us marvel at the coming of the digital age, consider just how much has changed over the course of a single lifetime, even half a lifetime. We can be left feeling overwhelmed. How can we keep up? The changes in society whizz past and are reflected in our everyday lives, from small chores to electing politicians. The whole planet can seem a little crazy. And all the craziness seems available live 24 hours a day.

In this article we hope to take you back to a simpler time. A time when we were all a little bit more innocent, possibly naïve. We like to think of this past era as a period in which the world was just as crazy; but luckily, we were so much less aware of it. So, as our world struggles to deal with so many issues from diversity to an age of hard-line political choices, it may be of comfort to know that some things haven’t changed. Why haven’t they? That is a true question to ponder.

We would like to invite you on a world tour of some of the most egregious, outdated, and ludicrous laws that can still be found if you know where to look. When discussing the idea, a good many people just raised their eyes to the heavens and groaned the word “America”. It is certainly true that America is home to some extraordinary pieces of legislature and it would be simple to mock and single it out. The thing about America is that it is a country of many states, most of which have their own rules and regulations. To find just a single aberration in each state would already supply a list of over fifty questionable acts of law. So, no, we refuse the obvious (minus a few handpicked examples) and instead give you a selection of the most insane laws from around the globe. Buckle up.

Not all laws are old

Many of the laws that made it onto our list have simply existed in stagnancy and remarkably missed erasure, but this is not always the case. Our favourite law was passed in China as recently as July 2013. The law states that it is illegal for adult children to not visit their parents “often”. They are also required to attend to their parents’ spiritual needs. While all of us fear the day that our mum tries to friend us on Facebook, we certainly don’t worry that a refusal might lead to arrest.

Livestock and the law

There is a preponderance for some of the older rulings to concentrate on livestock and a time when people worked the land to survive. Quite how well these laws stand up to interpretation in more modern times is pretty questionable. A good few examples of this can be found in Europe, especially those countries with a long history but a seeming unwillingness to update. We begin with Britain, where it is still illegal to operate a cow while intoxicated. Fairly responsibly, yes, but I haven’t seen anyone speeding down a motorway on a bovine. In France, it is still illegal to name a pig Napoleon. Apparently, this is a slight to the great French general and emperor. Once again questions around enforcement seem obvious.

Maintaining civility is important

Not all of Europe is as concerned about animals. Some countries are strict on their citizens too. Italy is a particularly good example of maintaining a civilised and productive population. When vacationing in Capri, it is important that the beautiful scenery faces no annoying distractions. To curb a potentially catastrophic example of noise pollution. There is a ban on “noisy footwear” in Capri, meaning flip-flops and squeaky shoes are not allowed.

If you are seeking work in Ferrara, Italy it would be advisable that you either avoid the dairy industry or make sure you are able to get a good night’s rest, as it is illegal to fall asleep in a cheese factory there.

Meanwhile, in Australia

A truly strange law actually appears in a number of different territories despite a noticeable degree of specificity. To successfully span another continent, let’s pin this one on Australia. Many find Australian law to be somewhat pedantic, but as a people the Australians seem to be quite advanced when it comes to tolerance (unless you are an inbound English cricket team). Certainly, Australia is noted for their open-mindedness toward LGBTQ rights and is one of the bigger examples of the Gay Pride march each year. The exact level of tolerance may vary by city as evidenced by Melbourne, where it was decided to draw a line and ban men from wearing strapless gowns in public.

Ugly horses and skydiving

I suppose the list would be incomplete without a couple of mentions from America. So, let’s continue the process of starting with animal rights and ending on maintaining order among the populace. Firstly, it is illegal to ride an ugly horse in Wilbur, Washington, despite no supporting text on what constitutes the attractiveness of your steed.

In Hartford, Connecticut, there must be an excessive number of dirty floors and balls left un-fetched, as you are legally not allowed to teach any dog anything.

Finally, and especially for those of you wondering what politicians spend their time on, it would seem they have a few very specific concerns to address, which may explain why in the state of Florida, a woman is only allowed to skydive on a Sunday if she’s married.

Order people, remember, we have to maintain order!