You Got Cited for What? The Top 5 Strangest Laws on the Books

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In a nation where there are laws at every level down from the Federal, to the State, to the County, all the way to the lowly City Ordinance, you are bound to end up some pretty crazy rules and regulations. After all, laws are made by people, and people are really strange creatures. Today we are hardly even making a scratch in the tip of the iceberg with the five wacky laws we unearthed, but at least these totally real (though rarely enforced) legal statutes will give you a sense of the madness afoot!

5 HONK! HONK! HONK! HOOOONK! HONK!

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And last, we heed the clamor, if you will, and tell you about a wacky law in Ohio: technically, you are required to honk your horn every time you pass another vehicle on the road. This law likely harkens back to the days when there were ten or fifteen Model Ts on any given Ohio road, but today we assume that the thousands of people to be found on any given stretch of Interstate 70 are probably breaking the law, and probably being summarily forgiven for doing so. This law would be funny if enforced in a movie; not funny in real life. Why? Because every second of every day of your life would sound like this — ahem: HONK! HONK! HONK! HOOOONK! HONK!

4 Don’t put any tomato-derived product into clam chowder

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And speaking of state (or at least regional) pride, there is a law in Massachusetts that prohibits putting any tomato-derived product into clam chowder. We assume this ban refers only to New England Clam Chowder, because Manhattan Clam Chowder sans tomatoes would be the real violation. We assume this was some minor bit of BS snuck into a larger law for a very specific, likely ephemeral cause, but we still kind of want to try making soup in front of one of Boston’s Finest to see if they’ll haul us in for violating the tomato chowder clause. Our guess is… they won’t.

3 Say It Right or Go to Jail

In the state of Arkansas, there seems to exist a bit of a state of denial about how their state’s name is spelled. This is evidenced by the fact that a state law bans the mispronunciation of the word “Arkansas.” Say it right, get out, or go to jail. In theory, at least. We say AR-KIN-SAW. And we think we’re right. But the state is just the word “Kansas” with an A and an R stuck in front, so why not go with AR-KAN-ZUSS? Well I’ll tell you why, because that’s against the law!

2 Ban for exiting planes in flight

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Way up in Maine, a state rarely thought of in terms of extremes, apparently there was a rash of people exiting planes while said planes were in flight. Thus the state legislators passed a law specifically banning exiting planes in flight. Does this preclude parachuting, we wonder? Or leaping out of tumbling, flaming wreckage? Ideally, we’ll never have to know on that latter account. But I’ll say this: if I am ever in a position to bail out of a plane in Maine’s airspace, parachute at the ready and no reason other than some pesky law to stop me, call me on the lam, because I’m jumping.

1 It’s illegal to wear a hat

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In the great state of Wyoming, it is illegal to wear any hat or piece of headgear that obstructs another’s view from entertainment (such as a film or theatrical performance). We can just picture the angry Wyomian (the proper term, we have been advised) who was sitting behind some behatted gentleman at a Cheyenne opera house decrying another missed view of a fine aria saying “Those fat cats oughtta do something about this!” Well, they did. We would love to see someone try to enforce this one at a rodeo: “Sir, your cowboy-style cap is impeding my view of the bull riding fellows!” Aaaaaand fist!

We are guessing that when Martin Luther King Jr. so wisely proclaimed: “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law” he was not talking about any of the law above.

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