Lists are all over the internet, this blog looks at those lists. Some lists purport to contain facts, but how true are they?
In 2008, UKTV Gold held a poll of the stupidest laws, presumably based on Nigel Cawthorne’s book “The Strange Laws of Old England”. (BBC) Previous in post I covered the UK Laws list, but they also did international laws…
The laws are reprinted as fact on various sites:
FALSE – The law does not exist or cannot be found on the books (it has to be found to be enforced). Obviously these have no place on a list of stupid laws.
UNLIKELY – Probably not true, but cannot be proven false. These should not be on a list of stupid laws unless proof of their existence can be found, as such they shouldn’t be.
UNKNOWN – Possibly false, but no evidence of a proper search can be found. These should not be on a list of stupid laws unless proof of their existence can be found, as such they shouldn’t be.
PARTIALLY TRUE – There is some truth to it, but there is some errors. Only the fully correct version should be on lists of stupid laws, this version shouldn’t be.
TRUE – Actual laws we can point and laugh at. But how many on the list are actually true?
In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk (9%)
- A search of Ohio laws found no evidence of the law existing.
In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation (8%)
- The Australian television show Media Watch requested clarification. The Indonesian embassy replied that it was not true.
3. In Bahrain, a male doctor can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror (7%)
- No references to the law can be found, but there has been no reply from the Bahrain embassy.
4. In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm (6%)
- Local police regulations call for peace and quiet between 10pm and 7am, but do not stipulate no urination while standing up, but rather generic language about considering others. Tenancy agreements in some flats, however, may do so at the Landlord’s.
In Alabama, it is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle (6%)
- Like most jurisdictions Alabama has laws about obstructing the driver’s vision, but nothing specifying no blindfolds.
6. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed (6%)
- Florida Skydiving companies (like Skydive Jacksonville, Skydive City and Start Skydiving Florida) know nothing of this law. You’d think if anyone would be aware of the law, they would.
7. In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth (6%)
8. In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except funerals or hospital visits (5%)
- Someone very publicly and famously being forced to smile in Milan. No legal reasons noted.
9. In Japan, there is no age of consent (5%)
- Age of Consent is a term simplifying a much more complex series of laws and the phase rarely appear directly in any law books. That said, laws governing age of consent do exist in Japan.
10. In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon (4%)
- Usually believed to be a hold-over from Code Napoleonic. A search found no such laws.
0/10 (0%) are proven to be true.
1/10 (10%) is partially true.
2/10 (20%) have no actual source supporting them (besides the internet requoting them over and over.
3/10 (30%) cannot be found in law books and are not likely to be true and are unenforceable.
4/10 (40%) are demonstrably false, laws exist that disprove them or official sources deny the laws existence.
Therefore – there is not enough proof for any of them to be on a list.