Federal laws in the United States trump all state and local regulations. If the U.S. government deems something illegal, it is illegal – no exceptions. That being said, although federal laws obviously reign supreme, the influence of state law is still a major force in this country.
While there are serious political and societal issues that are determined by states including, but not limited to: same-sex marriage, immigration enforcement, and the legalization of marijuana, there are also some not-so-serious ones.
If you take a close look at the books of each state, you will find some ridiculous, often borderline insane laws. Some are simply outdated (for instance, in Indianapolis, Ind., it is illegal to ride a horse at any speed exceeding 10 miles per hour), while others make you wonder just what happened in the first place that forced government officials to create them.
In order to understand the logic behind some of these laws, we reached out to Aidan J. Cassidy, a former law enforcement officer with more than 20 years of experience in the field. The question was simple: Why do some states have these bizarre items on their books?
"The United States is such a large country,” Cassidy explained. “It's no surprise that laws can vary from state to state. Each state has its own special circumstances and needs laws to protect the people living there."
It makes sense. Although things like gay marriage, immigration enforcement, and drug legalization are difficult to enforce on the state level if everyone isn’t on the same page, there are certain things that are better served being applied on a smaller scale. Regulations that are relevant to people living in California may not apply folks living in New York, and laws that work well on the East and West Coasts may not jive with what people in southern and mid-American states are looking for.
Aidan J. Cassidy’s explanation as to why these laws were created in the first place was reasonable, but there is really no denying that some of them are a bit unnecessary in this day and age. Here are just 10 laws that just might be the weirdest we have ever seen.
10) In Texas, it is illegal to take more than three consecutive sips of beer while standing.
9) In Michigan, you can be thrown in jail for over three months for showing "plumber's crack."
8) In Florida, having "sexual relations" with a porcupine is illegal. This one feels like a no-brainer, though it does make you wonder why this specific law needed to be written.
7) In Baltimore, Md., it is illegal to take a lion to the movies. Another no-brainer, though it remains uncertain why this rule needed to be spelled out. Also, why is this only illegal in the city of Baltimore and not the rest of the state?
6) In New York, it is illegal to throw a ball at someone's head for fun. I guess that means that throwing balls at people's heads is legal so long as you don't enjoy it?
5) In New Mexico, article VII of the state constitution dictates that it is illegal to vote if you are a convicted felon, legally insane or have not been a resident for twelve full months. Curiously, you are also considered ineligible to vote if you are "an idiot." It remains uncertain who is qualified to determine which citizens are idiots and which are not.
4) In Oklahoma, it is illegal to have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub after 7:00 p.m. Unfortunately, the law is ambiguous as to when the day resets in such instances. Can you have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub once the new day starts at midnight? Do you have to wait until sunrise to put the donkey back in the bathtub? The world may never know.
3) In Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church. To be clear, it is perfectly legal to wear the fake mustache to your place of worship, so long as no laughter is induced by it.
2) In Alaska, it is illegal to bring a moose into a barbershop. This only applies in the state's capitol, Juneau, however, so if you are trying to give your moose a professional haircut you may have to bring it to Anchorage...
And, last but not least:
1) In Nebraska, it is illegal for a tavern owner to serve beer unless a "nice kettle of soup is also brewing.”
We are a nation of laws, and as Aidan J Cassidy alluded, our enforcement of said laws dictates how society will function. Nobody is denying this. That said, it is probably safe to say that society will carry on just fine if donkeys in Oklahoma are allowed to take bathtub naps after 7:00 p.m.