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Dumb Laws, also weird, strange, or unnecessary laws, are laws that are perceived to be useless, no longer applicable (in regards to current culture or modern law), or humorous. There are relatively few real "dumb laws" on the books, but large amount of hoax or exaggerated dumb laws are circulated on the internet and in the print media. Common characteristics of these laws, are prohibitions against seemingly benign behaviors (for example it is claimed that in California "bathhouses are against the law" [1]) or prohibitions against acts that one is realistically unlikely to carry out (such as an Arizona law prohibiting hunting camels, while camels are not native to North America .[2]). In reality, California only bans bathhouses that encourage sex, in order to prevent the spread of AIDS [3] and the Arizona law was designed to deal with aftereffects of a failed army experiment to use camels as a military animal. [4]

Several books have been written and numerous websites exist on the internet purporting to list "dumb laws" in various jurisdictions (see "External links" section)[5]. The "dumb laws" are also often circulated via e-mail chain letters.

Some of the purported "dumb laws" have no basis in reality, or are an exaggeration of real laws. For example a reasonable law about preservations of rare cactus species [6] may be presented as humorous statement that "There is a possible 25 years in prison for cutting down a cactus."[7]. The minor phenomenon's popularity is attested to by existing websites that generate the "dumb laws" at random. [8] Local communities often express concern when their laws get cited on one of the lists on the internet, and see it as a cause to change the law.[9]

Contents

Examples

Some laws have been revealed as hoaxes:

- The law that claims that sorority houses are illegal since more than a certain number of single females living together constitutes a brothel has been debunked as fake. [10]

Some laws are however real and still exist on the books:

- In New Orleans it is prohibited by the fire code to curse a fireman when he is engaged in his official duties.[11] - Section 165-55 of the Australian A New Tax System (Goods and Services) Act 1999 [12] says:

"Commissioner may disregard scheme in making declarations"
For the purpose of making a declaration under this Subdivision, the Commissioner may:
a) treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened; and
b) treat a particular event that did not actually happen as having happened and, if appropriate, treat the event as:
i) having happened at a particular time; and
ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity; and
c) treat a particular event that actually happened as:
i) having happened at a time different from the time it actually happened; or
ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity (whether or not the event actually involved any action by that entity).

- In Kentucky, one may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale unless more than six are for sale at once.

- In California, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.

- In Florida, women may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer.

Dumb laws in popular culture

An episode of The Simpsons had the police ordered to fill the jails. The police arrest Homer Simpson for violation of a dumb law on the books which states that in Springfield tin cans may not be kicked more than five times, as it would constitute "illegally transporting litter".

References

External links

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