Here are some laws that actually exist in the United States. I don't know why they were put into place, or even proposed in the first place.



  • Butter substitutes are not allowed to be served in state prisons.
  • It is illegal to kiss on a train.
  • In Milwaukee if one is thought of as offensive looking, it is illegal for him to be in public during the day.
  • In St. Croix women are not allowed to wear anything red in public.


These are just a few of the ones I found. At you can find a bunch from every state. It also has dumb laws from countries other than the United States.

As did I until I found out that England had some even more stupid ones. I guess most of these date back to the middle ages but apparently they are still law, it's just people have forgotten. Anyway, here we go......

  • All males over the age of 14 are to partake in 2 hours of longbow practice a week, which is to be supervised by a local member of the clergy.

  • London taxi cabs (Hackney Carriages) must carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats.

  • It is illegal to be intoxicated in a licensed premises ie. A pub or a bar.

  • It is illegal for two men to have sex if a third person is present in the same house.

  • It is illegal for a Member of Parliament to enter the House of Commons wearing a full suit of armour.

  • Mince pies may not be eaten on Christmas day. what the fuck?!?

  • If you are a boy under the age of 10, you are not allowed to see a naked manequin.

  • It is legal for a male to urinate in public, as long it is on the back wheel of his motor vehicle and his right hand is on the vehicle.

  • It is illegal for a women to eat chocolates on a public conveyance.
  • Beds cannot be hung out of windows.

Oh, and in York it's legal to shoot a Scotsman dead, with a bow and arrow, but not on Sundays.

Thanks in particular for the research material

"It is illegal to be intoxicated in a licensed premises ie. A pub or a bar."

social_inadequate doesn't provide a source for the rest of the laws, so we can't really check their veracity. I can confirm, however, that the above is an actual, and indeed current law, both in England, and here in Ireland (where most of our laws are derived from British common law).

This is not some leftover Medieval law that the police don't know exists: you can be arrested for being intoxicated in a pub. What's more, the licensee (the publican) has the responsibility, as a condition of his/her license, to prevent you from becoming intoxicated.

In practice, of course, the police don't raid pubs looking to bang up tired and emotional people in order to meet their arrest quotas. However, the law can be brought into force to remove somebody from a premises if the landlord thinks he/she has "had enough".

A good point: someone needs to hunt through the statute books for these. In many cases (I'll guess) you will find that the situation is something like the following.

This is a summary of, which credits one Nigel FitzMaurice* for tracking it all down.

The laws making archery practice compulsory were instituted because people spent too much time gaming and drinking (it's hard to imagine what it must have been like in those days, isn't it?), so the same laws also regulated betting, ale-houses, and so on. In the third year of Henry VIII (1511) ownership and use of bows was made compulsory for most men under the age of forty. This law was made perpetual in 6 Henry VIII (1514) and confirmed or rephrased in a law of 33 Henry VIII (1541).

In the 1541 law all men and man-children between seven to sixty are required to have a bow and arrows. The law also forbids foreigners from taking bows overseas, regulates where bowyers and fletchers may dwell and what they may do, and so on. Other sections of the same chapter regulate bowling, dice, etc, etc.

The 1511 law was repealed in the 1863 Statute Law Revision Act, whose purpose was to clean out an enormous amount of the dead wood of mediaeval law. And the applicable chapter of the 1541 act was repealed in 1960 under the Betting and Gaming Act.

* Hey! Nigel FitzMaurice is at least a real person, and an old friend of our own kmcardle. Small world.

I heard this one from a friend who's currently studying law - His professor gave it as an example of the fact that it always pays to read the full Act. I don't remember the exact dates and names, but the gist of it was that in about 1850 in England, in the middle of some very long and tedious land bill, one of the civil servants inserted a section something like the follow:

27(4)(c) Furthermore the marriage of draughtsman John Smith, of 27 Uffington Place, is hereby annulled and declared void, and possessions of the two spouses shall be sundered between the two, in proportion to their yearly earnings, and no further responsibility shall rest with either party.

The bill was passed and signed into law before the section was noticed - so the guy got his divorce. Also, since it's illegal under Common Law for the parlaiment to force two people to marry, there was nothing anyone could do about it, even if they repealed the act.

Bizarre one number two. In Ireland, there is a law still on the books that makes it illegal to impersonate a witch. There's no law about being a witch, but you can't impersonate one, apparently. The media drag this one up every Halloween and chuckle about it.

And number three. This last one is probably anecdotal, but anyway: I very much doubt you'd get away with it, as I think it's only a college bye-law - but apparently in Trinity College, Dublin, there is one day of the year where you can legally murder. The law, dating from some time around the year dot, states that a person who stands on top of the campanile (a big phallus-type monument thing) and shoots a Catholic with a bow and arrow will not be prosecuted so long as he remains within the grounds of the college.

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