Most of us will never spend any time dredging through the mountainous volumes of laws that constitute a legal code, which is a shame. Because hidden among the expected laws barring disorderly conduct and reckless driving are some astoundingly weird decrees. In Louisiana, for instance, there's a law specifically aimed at alligator thieves. The law goes so far as to state what parts of the alligator are protected from theft and, based on the value of a given alligator, what the penalty is for stealing it (for the curious, the maximum penalty includes 10 years in prison and a $3,000 fine).
As peculiar as such laws are, they offer a unique glimpse into the societies where they're enforced. So read on to learn more about the top 10 weird laws around the world. You'll thank us the next time you're considering bear wrestling in Alabama.
10: Please, No Bear Wrestling in Alabama
Laws don't write themselves. A dedicated legislator has to recognize a pressing need for a law, write the law up in the form of a bill, submit the bill to various committees and debates where it's scrutinized and massaged, and finally put the bill to a vote. If legislators pass the bill, it can finally be signed into law. So, creating a law is a long, difficult process -- which means bear wrestling must have been a really big problem in Alabama. In fact, that's how "Bear" Bryant, a man who would become the legendary University of Alabama football coach, earned his nickname.
Now you might be thinking bear wrestling is outlawed by extension of another law, maybe one barring cruelty to animals or animal fighting of any kind -- be it dog, rooster or bear -- but no. Alabama devotes an entire section of its legal code to bear wrestling-related offenses, which make everything from training a bear to wrestle to charging admission to a bear wrestling match a class B felony.
9: Don't Run Out of Gas on the Autobahn
OK, let's say bear wrestling never tempted you. The autobahn, the most revered of all highways, may have. The word alone brings visions of finely tuned supercars screaming along ribbons of highway without a policeman in sight. The reality, of course, couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, there are a few stretches of the autobahn that don't have a posted speed limit, but the autobahn is anything but lawless.
Following too closely? That's a fine. Eating while driving? That's a fine, too. And you might want to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge as well, because running out of gas is no excuse for using the emergency lane. After all, you should have seen your predicament coming, right?
Speaking of predicaments, we'll cover chick-related problems next.
8: Watch Your Step with Chicks in Kentucky
If you ever look closely at the labels on certain packaged foods or other products, you'll sometimes see a disclaimer stating that the item is "not to be sold separately." That disclaimer doesn't only apply to food. In Kentucky, you really don't want to mess with selling or trading baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits under two months of age in any quantity less than six. Got that? Six chicks? Good. One chick? Not so much. It gives strange new meaning to the phrase "picking up a six-pack."
Assuming you decide to go and pick up some chicks, you'll also want to note that it's illegal to dye or color baby chicks, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits. Aimed squarely at a tradition of coloring animals for Easter, the same law is found in several other states in the United States. Kentucky also outlaws displaying, selling or trading dyed chicks, ducklings and rabbits, any of which can incur a fine of up to $500. That's not cheep.
We'll discuss another barnyard buddy next.
7: Don't Raise Pigs in Israel Except...
It's no surprise that a country's laws often reflect its citizens' values and traditions and, by extension, their religion. For instance, many Hindus revere the cow as a sacred animal, and as a result, it's against the law to butcher cattle in many parts of India. It's no surprise, then, that Israeli law prohibits pig farming as a nod to the country's predominantly Jewish population. The strange part is that the law has a giant loophole that a few entrepreneurial pig farmers have stepped right through.
According to Israeli law, pig farming is legal as long as the pigs are used for medical research. Sounds reasonable enough; pigs have proven extremely valuable to medical research throughout the world. But what happens if the farmers overestimate the number of pigs needed for research? The law says that, in that special circumstance, the extra pigs can be sold for food. That might explain why Kibbutz Lahav, Israel's only legal pig farm, tends to produce thousands more pigs than they end up using for research.
Next: Some advice about dying (and where not to do it).
6: Kindly Don't Die in Sarpourenx, S'il Vous Plait
Don't murder, don't steal, don't jaywalk -- easy enough for most people. And if you do choose to break a law or two, at least it's your choice, right? Not always. In the tiny French village of Sarpourenx, the mayor has declared that anyone without a plot at the local cemetery will be "severely punished" for dying. The decree stems from the lack of space at the only cemetery in town. When plans to expand the cemetery were denied, the mayor felt the only sensible solution was to outlaw dying altogether.
Strangely enough, Sarpourenx isn't the only town that strongly discourages its citizens against dying. In the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen, residents must arrange plans for having their bodies transported out of town once they finally kick the bucket. The reason? The town's soil is too cold to allow bodies to decompose -- a fact that the town's residents didn't initially realize when they buried their departed.
Heading to Indiana after your trip to France? A word about bed linens is in order.
5: Absolutely No Short Sheeting the Bed in Indiana
We can be thankful that states require teams of inspectors to make sure our elevators are safe and our restaurants are clean, but the state of Indiana may have taken things too far. In an effort to ensure weary travellers never check into their rooms only to find their bedding comes up short, Indiana law places some very specific rules on sheet sizes and placement. For starters, all top sheets must be, at a minimum, 99 inches by 81 inches long (251 centimeters by 206 centimeters). What's more, the sheets must be long enough to fold back over the top of the blanket or other bed covering with at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) to spare. And don't even think about using an undersheet not large enough to completely cover the mattress.
Of course, the only bed-and-breakfasts required to follow these regulations are those that "furnish beds and bedding for guests" in the first place, so don't be surprised if they have you sleep on the floor rather than risk a fine.
We'll travel south to Mississippi next to see how the southern state treats deceitful Don Juans.
4: Don't Trick a Young Lady Into Loving You in Mississippi
Deserved or not, men have developed quite a reputation for shady behavior when it comes to romance. And while some say "all's fair in love in war," the state of Mississippi says otherwise. If a male suitor is caught seducing a woman of "previous chaste character" by tricking her into believing they'll get married, he's violated Section 97 of the state's criminal code.
The law doesn't explicitly state how a man -- or anyone, for that matter -- is supposed to determine which women are considered chaste or not, and you might take issue with the fact that, if you're deemed "unchaste" suitors are free to seduce you any way they can without penalty. Still, it's fun to think of a scheming Romeo getting the book thrown at him for his deceit.
As long as it isn't you of course.
3: Don't Bring Dastardly Comics to Canada
Most people can agree on the merits of a law abiding and orderly society, but it's hard to deny that criminal behavior makes for great comic books. Why have superheroes at all if they don't have supervillains -- and their dastardly behavior -- to fight at every turn? According to Canadian law, however, comic books depicting bank heists, epic battles and any other illegal activity might be, in fact, illegal.
The law states that comics cannot "exclusively or substantially" depict the commission of criminal activity. To stay on the safe side, Canadian cartoonists might want to stick to love stories and comical fare. After all, they don't want to get thrown in jail along with the bad guys in their story.
Stay tuned for advice on what not to wear in British Parliament.
2: Don't Wear Armor to Parliament
If you have official business in the United Kingdom's Parliament, you'll naturally want to put on your very finest suit. Just make sure it's not made of metal; wearing armor to Parliament is against the law. To be fair, the law bars all weaponry -- in addition to clanking suits of armor -- from the hallowed halls of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
A vestige of medieval Europe's violent past, the law was issued in 1313 by King Edward II in an attempt to keep things civil in the country's legislature. Today, of course, the law makes about as much sense as banning catapults from cricket matches, but that hasn't prompted U.K. legislators to take the law off the books.
Last, we'll save you exhibitionists from getting thrown in the slammer in Singapore.
1: Hey Naked People, Close Your Blinds in Singapore
Plenty of countries around the world have laws banning public nudity, and Singapore is no exception. But the country, famous for its strict laws against graffiti and littering, takes things even further. If you happen to walk around your house naked without remembering to close the blinds, you can be prosecuted under the same law and, if convicted, be required to pay a fine of up to &36;2,000 or spend up to three months in jail. What's more, a police officer is allowed to break down your door to arrest you if necessary, and, if an officer isn't available, a fellow citizen can legally arrest you as well.
But while some people protest that Singapore's laws are too harsh, it's hard to argue with their effectiveness. For instance, a United Nations study on crime showed Singapore's homicide rate to be among the lowest in the world and more than eight times lower than the United States.' It's not a stretch to imagine their indecent exposure rates follow a similar trend.