The debates that surround legislation can be tedious and cause heated arguments across the political spectrum. Topics like gun control, taxation, employment, international trade, and more fill newspaper headlines. Officials on either side of the political spectrum put a great deal of effort in trying to pass laws that they believe will benefit the country as a whole, and provide a safer, better place to live to the citizens they represent.
However, anyone who has spent any time watching the news and listening to political debates can tell you just how insane the wide world of politics can be. Crack smoking mayors, elaborate scandals, and shady business deals are just the beginning, and those are the things that we know about. With that in mind, is it really that surprising that some of the laws that get passed are a little, well, odd? There are 12 US states that have real, official laws on their books that are simply ridiculous. There’s just no other way to put it: they don’t make any sense. Yet, you can still go to prison or be fined a sizeable amount of money if you end up unwittingly breaking one of these laws. By the end of this article, you’ll have just one question: “why?”
12. Alabama – Bear Wrestling
In Alabama, bear wrestling matches are illegal. Okay, maybe this one actually does keep people safe – wrestling a bear isn’t the smartest thing to do, no matter what your high school wrestling coach said. The thing is that this law doesn’t fall under normal animal abuse laws. Alabama has an actual whole set of laws against bear wrestling and betting on bear wrestling (hot tip: bet on the bear), which means that at some point in the state’s history it had a problem with widespread bear wrestling matches.
11. Colorado – Mutilating Rocks
In Colorado, you can’t mutilate a rock in a state park. Now, I don’t know about you, but mutilating a rock (which Google says is to inflict a disfiguring injury upon one) is a lot harder than it seems. You can’t just break a rock in half and say you mutilated it – you’re going to have to inflict damage so that the rock is ugly to look at afterwards. That takes a lot of effort – I’m not even sure how you would go about something like that. If someone’s going to go to such lengths to ruin the attractiveness of a rock, they’re probably a little twisted and not someone you want to mess around with.
10. Rhode Island – Passing On The Left
Rhode Island’s strangest law is a little quainter: no wrestling or rock-related violence in this state. Instead, if you pass a car on the left, you have to make a loud noise to alert them of your presence. Not with your horn – with your mouth. This holds true for all vehicles – so bicyclists and horseback riders are presumably covered under this law as well. This seems like it would make driving a lot more confusing, and probably more dangerous with people yelling at each other as they merge into the left lane on the freeway.
9. California – Respecting Frogs
California’s another state that protects animals from cruel and unusual contests, though they concern themselves with the afterlife. In California, any frog that dies while competing in a frog jumping contest cannot be eaten, and needs to be destroyed as soon as possible. The frog jumping contests are completely legal, and people can capture as many frogs as they want to compete in these contests, but dead frogs need to be treated with a level of respect, or you face a violation of the state’s legislation.
8. Georgia – Llama Riders
Georgia continues the trend of weird animal laws by holding anyone riding a llama responsible for any damages or personal injuries that the llama inflicts during the ride. The llama owner, however, is completely free from any liability. Now, Georgia doesn’t seem like a common place for llamas to be, but there has been a problem associated with llama inflicted damages at some point in the state’s history for this one to be in the books.
7. Kansas – Alcohol By The Glass
In Kansas, bars and restaurants are barred from selling alcoholic drinks by the glass. At first, this seems like the worst law ever – but it isn’t. While eating establishments can’t sell drinks by the glass, they can sell by the bottle, which just means that you’re going to have to drink a lot more when you go out for dinner in Kansas. While dinner conversations are going to be a lot more interesting, it’s hard to see the benefit of this law. It doesn’t seem to keep anyone safe, and just encourages people to get super drunk instead of slightly tipsy.
6. Massachusetts – The National Anthem
In Massachusetts, you can’t play or sing less than the entire American national anthem – or else you face getting fined a hundred bucks. Additionally, anyone who dances to your segment of the national anthem can get fined as well. This is classified as a crime against the government, which is the same category of crimes that covers treason. Pretty harsh, huh? Of course, if you play the entire anthem, there’s no issue – so just make sure to stay away from remixes during the Fourth of July, and make sure that you have the time to finish the song once you start singing.
5. Mississippi – Swearing In Public
In Mississippi, it’s illegal to swear or be drunk in public in front of two or more people. If you do either of these things and get caught, it’s either a hundred dollar fine, or up to thirty days in jail. Of the two, the fine seems much more reasonable, though still excessive. This means if you’ve got a dirty mouth and go out for a night of drinking, make sure you only do it with one person. If you’re any more social, you’re risking an expensive night out.
4. Nebraska – STDs
In Nebraska, if you have an STD, you can’t get married. If you get an STD after you’ve gotten married, the marriage isn’t void, but can be voided if your spouse wants to end it (which is probably the case if you’ve gotten an STD after getting married). I don’t know how this law would be enforced since Las Vegas offers same day marriages, and I doubt that physicals are given out to eloping couples.
3. Kentucky – Stupid Voters
In Kentucky, it’s illegal for anyone who is stupid to vote. The law was written decades ago, back when idiot was a medical term that meant anyone with an IQ under 30, with the idea that someone with an IQ that low wouldn’t be able to make an educated decision about voting, but this isn’t explicitly spelled out in the law. This could be a problem if someone tried to enforce the current usage of “idiot” with the law – you’d have politicians accusing each other of not being eligible to vote all over the place, and the language in political debates would suddenly get a lot more colorful. What’s even more interesting about this strange law is that Mississippi has the exact same law, though it’s not clear if either of these laws are actually enforced.
2. North Carolina – Bingo
North Carolina has heavy regulations on bingo. Yes, bingo – the most popular form of gambling at retirement homes. Games can’t last more than five hours, can only happen once every forty-eight hours, and the maximum prize is limited to $500. There must have been some very high stakes marathon bingo games going on in the gambling underground of North Carolina for this law to still be hanging around. Maybe a whole crime ring of retirement homes, raking in tons of cash.
1. Texas – The Supreme Being
Finally, Texas. The Lone Star state has a strange law that most people aren’t aware of, but is pretty important. If you want to run for office, you have to acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being. Now, the law is worded so that the Supreme Being that you believe in doesn’t have to be God, which means you can be of any religious affiliation, but this does mean that you have to be religious. No atheists or agnostics are allowed in the Texas legislature. So much for the separation of church and state.