Have you ever been casually minding your business online, then suddenly come across something that immediately makes you realize: "Oh crap. There goes my entire day?" That's what happened to me when I found a website dedicated to stupid state laws. Going through, I realized that many of these ridiculous laws are going interfere with my parenting, as they pertain to children, parents, or items that directly affect parents, kids, or both.
Now I will fully admit that, try as I may (and I did try... like... way more than I should have for something so absurd, to be honest), I couldn't find strictly-speaking reliable sources for some of these laws. Whenever I could, I've linked to (or included) exact wording. In other instances, where no precise language or links to state governments could be found, I nevertheless made sure I could locate at least two sources of this information. But, honestly, some of these are just to absolutely bonkers not to share.
If I were to venture a guess, I'd say that these laws are largely either irrelevant or not enforced with any particular rigor. Still, and unless otherwise stated, they are still on the books. So, parents and children take note: you may be career criminals without even knowing it.... but, probably not because most of these laws are just straight up ridiculous.
In Alabama It’s Illegal To Have An Ice Cream Cone In Your Back Pocket
Allegedly, this law came about as a way to deter horse thieves, to which I say: there isn't an easier, less stick way to steal a horse? Seriously? But now, I fear, it's only going to serve to make parents' lives harder. Who among us hasn't used the old "ice cream cone in the back pocket" trick to get their kid to leave the playground without incident?
In Alaska, Stealing Snow From A Neighbor's Garden To Make A Snowman Is Prohibited
In Arizona, Children Can't Sing Nursery Rhymes After 8:00 P.M.
It makes no sense, but then again, neither does forbidding someone from having two dildos, and that's also apparently illegal.
In Arkansas, It Is Illegal To Call Your Child Zabradacka
It's just as well. That name is getting so popular. There's three Zabradackas in my son's class: Zabradacka P, Zabradacka R, and Zabradacka W, but everyone calls him Zabby.
In Los Angeles, California, You're Not Allowed To Bathe Two Babies In The Same Tub At The Same Time
This definitely puts me on LA's Most Wanted list. Oh well, though, because there's no way I can get both my kids in bed by 8:00 p.m. unless I combine baths. If that means I have to live the rest of my life as a hardened criminal, so be it. This mama's exhausted and needs some quiet time.
In Colorado, It Is Illegal To Wet The Bed Over The Age Of 8
Investigating and enforcing this law has to be the worst job on the goddamn planet.
Connecticut Arcades May Not Have More Than A Total Of Four Amusement Devices
Such devices include pinball machines, table tennis, or shuffleboards. In defense of my beloved home state, we were founded by Puritans whose staid and somber blood still flows through our veins. More than four amusement devices would definitely overstimulate us. First it's four ping pong tables in one place, the next thing you know the kids are all going to opium dens after school.
In Delaware, 6-Year-Old Girls Have To Keep A Shirt On
This Rehoboth Beach law states:
No female over the age of 5 years shall wear a topless bathing suit or otherwise fail to cover her breasts with less than a full opaque covering of any portion thereof below the upper portion of the nipple.
Joking aside, this is so absurd. It's stupid enough that grown women are required to cover their nipples when men aren't. It's profoundly bizarre when we hold little girls to this standard. "Cover her breasts?" Little girls don't have breasts, weirdo!
In Florida, Stay-At-Home-Dads Are Legally Considered "Vagrants"
Verbatim, my friends:
The following shall be deemed vagrants. (4) Common pipers and fiddlers. (13) Persons neglecting all lawful businesses and habitually spending all their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses and tippling shops. (14) Persons able to work but habitually living upon the livings of their wives or minor children.
In Georgia, You Can't Fly A Model Airplane Near The Columbus County Morgue
So, um, what is going on in that morgue that you don't want us to see, Columbus County, Georgia?!
OMG, is that where you're keeping The Walking Dead zombies? It is, isn't it?!
In Hawaii, It is Illegal To Put Coins In Your Ears
Like, I get the impression this one was extremely specific. Like a local alderman who was sick of his kid's sh*t was like, "You know what? I've had enough. We're making a law. It's illegal to put coins in your ears KYLE."
(The only actual theories I could find about this one were speculative.)
Also, I can't help but wonder if millions of uncles and grandpas are pissed that their super cool magic trick is ruined now.
In A Town In Idaho, It Is Illegal Not To Smile In Public
Wasn't this an especially terrifying episode of The Twilight Zone?
In Normal, Illinois, It Is Illegal To Make Faces At Dogs
I'm trying to figure out if this law was made a law at the behest of are extremely thin-skinned dog owners, or preternaturally influential dogs.
In Elkheart, Indiana, It Is Illegal For Barbers To Threaten To Cut Off Kids' Ears
Dear God, this shouldn't have to be a law! You know this had to be inspired by one really creepy dude in Elkheart who refused to stop traumatizing children when asked politely, and the town had no choice but to make a law.
In Mount Vernon, Iowa, You Can't Go Throwing Bricks Onto The Highway Without A Permit
It is unlawful for a person to throw stones, bricks or missiles of any kind or to shoot arrows, rubber guns, slingshots, air rifles or other dangerous instruments or toys on or into any street, alley, highway, sidewalk, public way, public ground or public building, without written consent of the Council.
Cop: Hey! What are you kids doing?! You can't chuck those bricks off the overpass!
Kid: We have a permit.
Cop: Sorry. Carry on.
In Kansas, Snowball Fights Are Illegal
But then how do the people in the Hallmark Christmas movies begin the lighthearted, snowy romp that ultimately winds up with them falling into a snowbank in one another's arms and kissing? How?!
In Kentucky, All Naked People In Your Home Must Be Registered
I feel like if I had to register nudity in my home, my kids clothing habits would land me on some kind of list.
In Louisiana, Telling Someone's Future Is Illegal
"You're going places, little Billy! You're going to be a doctor! Or a lawyer! Or the president!"
"Hello, ma'am, we received a call that there's some illegal speculating about the future going on here."
In Maine, It's Illegal To Feed Deer
"F*ck you, Bambi, you freeloader. You might say... the buck stops here."
In Maryland, You May Not Eat While Swimming In The Ocean
I honestly can't imagine why anyone would eat in the ocean or why the state of Maryland feels the need to prohibit such a thing even if it happened, but here we are.
In Massachusetts, It Is Illegal To Scare A Pigeon
But how can you actually tell if the pigeon is scared? It's not like it can complain. And does there have to be intent? What if you accidentally scare a pigeon? Are you subjected to the same fines? Or is there some sort of lesser crime you can cop to, like manslaughter versus homicide? If we're talking about unintentionally terrifying pigeons, I'm pretty sure my son (who just wants to hug the birds!) is persona non grata in the state of Massachusetts for past crimes in New York.
Until 2002, It Was Illegal To Swear In Front Of Women And Children In Michigan
Which means I know a lot of Michigan parents who would have been f**ked!
In Minnesota, Children Talking On The Phone Must Be Supervised By A Parent
"I'm sorry I'm late, mom."
"Why didn't you call?!"
"YOU WEREN'T THERE! YOU RAISED ME TO OBEY THE LAW!"
"OH WHAT A HORRIBLE CONUNDRUM THIS LAW HAS PRESENTED!"
In Mississippi, Having More Than One Child Out Of Wedlock Is A Punishable Offense
"If any person, who shall have previously become the natural parent of an illegitimate child within or without this state by coition within or without this state, shall again become the natural parent of an illegitimate child born within this state, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days or by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00), or both. A subsequent conviction hereunder shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than three (3) months nor more than six (6) months or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), or both."
This law was ratified in the '60s. So it's not like we can say, "Those goofy old-timey people!" Oh, and also, this law disproportionately affects women, as men shall not be subjected to this law upon the word of the mother. So all a father would have to do is deny the child. Moms, on the other hand, can't do that.
I say this from the depths of my soul: f*ck you, Mississippi. Even if this law isn't enforced, if it's not off the books this is truly disgusting.
In Missouri, One Must Not Frighten A Baby
You know some babies are scared of, like, everything, right? My 3-year-old daughter is terrified of this one gumdrop-shaped shrubbery we pass on our way to the library. Are we going to arrest the bush?
In Montana, It's Illegal To Pretend To Ritually Sacrifice Animals In Front Of Kids
In Nebraska, It Is Illegal For A Mother To Give Her Daughter A Perm Without A License
Honestly, though? Good. Because I'm still carrying the psychic wounds of the basement perm my mom gave me when I was 5. It was terrible, people. I looked like a baby clown.
In Reno, Nevada, It Is Illegal To Lie Down On The Sidewalk
There are two kinds of people who pull this move: children and intoxicated adults, and while I know this law must have been written for the latter, I like to imagine it was written for the former. Like, "No, Madison. Not only do I not have time for this sh*t, but it's illegal. So pull yourself together, get up, and let's go to the car."
At One Point In New Hampshire, You Could Imprison A Stubborn Child
Or, like, anyone. Well, kind of:
"All rogues, vagabonds, lewd, idle or disorderly persons; any person going about begging; any person using any subtle craft, juggling, or unlawful game or play; any person pretending to have knowledge in physiognomy or palmistry; any person pretending for money to tell destinies or fortunes, or discover by any spell or secret act where lost or stolen goods may be found; any common piper, fiddler, runaway, stubborn servant or child, common drunkard, night walker, pilferer, or person wanton and lascivious in speech or behavior; any common railer or brawler; and any person who neglects his employment, misspends his earnings and does not provide properly for the support of himself and family; may be sent to the house of correction in the town or county in which such offence is committed, and for want of such house of correction the common jail of the county may be used for that purpose."
But, could we bring back the bit about stubborn children? We wouldn't really jail them, of course. But maybe we could scare them into submission a little bit?
In Manville, New Jersey, You May Not Offer Whiskey Or Cigarettes To Zoo Animals
I've lived in New Jersey and, sadly, I feel like this really does need to be explicitly stated in the form of a law.
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, You May Carry A Lunchbox, But *Not* Down Main Street
What do you think this is? West Street?!
In New York, Puppet Shows May Not Be Performed From Windows
The gang on Sesame Street is clearly pulling strings at City Hall to crush competition. Do not cross Elmo, my friends. Oh no, he will destroy everything you love. Remember, children: today's word is "monopoly."
In South Carolina, Children Under The Age Of 7 Cannot Attend College
That's right. They have to wait until the far more reasonable age of 8.
In South Dakota, That Pet Elk You Keep In The Sandbox In Your Backyard is Not OK
That's why I don't let me kids play in those things: they're all full of cat poop and illegal pet elk.
In Toledo, Ohio, Throwing A Snake At People Is Illegal
Thanks a lot, Toledo. Now I know what my nightmares are going to be about for the rest of my damn life.
In Bromide, Oklahoma, It Is Illegal For A Child To Wear A Towel As A Cape And Jump Off The Roof Pretending To Be Superman
This is what happens when you elect Lex Luthor as your damn mayor. I warned you, Bromide, OK!
(No word on whether they can jump off a roof pretending to be Batman.)
In Portland, Oregon, Don't Even Think About Hitching Your Sled To A Car
Honestly, if the kid is that intrepid I say go for it. I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right?
If You Want Your Child To Become Governor Of Pennsylvania, Talk To Them Early And Often About Dueling
We've spent so much time and effort warning kids about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and unprotected sex, that we've forgotten about warning them of the perils of dueling. While Hamilton has brought the subject into the national discussion once again, it's not enough. I know it can be uncomfortable, especially if you were a duelist in the follies of your youth, but this is too important to eschew because of squeamishness. Don't let them throw away their bright future as a governor because they demand satisfaction from an enemy.
Rhode Island Feels Very Strongly About Biting Off Appendages
"Every person who shall voluntarily, maliciously or of purpose put out an eye, slit the nose, ear, or lip, or cut off, bite off, or disable any limb or member of another, shall be imprisoned not exceeding twenty (20) years nor less than one year."
Rhode Island: spoiling everyone's fun since 1790.
In Lancaster County, South Carolina, It's Illegal To Dance In Public
The Twinkle Toes Academy's annual spring recital was the single largest arrest in the history of the state. All those 5-year-old children, screaming for their lawyers, struggling against handcuffs, swearing at cops. Yikes. It went from a dance show to a sh*tshow real quick, let me just tell you.
Honestly, So Many Of The "Wacky" Laws Listed For South Dakota Were So Depressingly Racist, Sexist, And Authoritarian I Legitimately Couldn't Make A Joke
In Tennessee, You Can't Coax Your Kid To Buy Alcohol
In Texas, It's Illegal To Pee On The Alamo
You Can Get In Trouble For "Causing A Catastrophe" In Utah
So, does that mean kids are illegal in Utah? Because my kids cause a minimum of five catastrophes daily, and I don't think they're atypical.
All Residents Of Barre, Vermont Must Bathe On Saturday Night
Clearly, this is the work of that Socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. You don't tell me when to bathe, commie! This is America! I can be as filthy as I want! U-S-A! U-S-A!
In Radford, Virginia, It Is Illegal To Spit, Vomit, Or Urinate On Public Streets
Again, kids must be illegal because a child's motto is "Body Fluids Happen."
You Have To Be Careful About Comic Books In Washington
In the Evergreen State, it is illegal to sell to minors comics that might incite them to violence or depraved or immoral acts.
But can they jump off buildings wearing a towel pretending to be Superman?
Children In Western Virginia Need To Come To School Correct
Because, apparently, if your breath smells "of wild onions" you're going to have to answer to the law. Domesticated onions, I'm assuming, are OK.
Laser Pointers Must Be Handled Responsibly In Wisconsin
You can't, for example, use one to start a riot. So put it away before I take it away, Tyler. I'll not have a repeat of last semester's unfortunate incident on the playground.
It's A Good Thing For The Citizens Of Wyoming That Easter Never Occurs In June
Because you're not allowed to take a picture of a rabbit that month... apparently.
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