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Strange Laws
Laws against feminine wiles? It's illegal to drive more than two thousand sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at one time?

Discuss laws that are outrageous, outdated, wasteful, ridiculous and just plain funny here!

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Anon Ymos - 09:25am Apr 26, 1999 PST(#19 of 166)

Want to hear about rediculous laws? How about some that still really effect us.

For example, Companies are legally "Fictitious Persons", and it is because of this definition that they are granted essentially all the same rights that real people are entitled to according to the US constitution (and similarly for most other countries). However, companies don't go to jail when their negligence or outright policies criminaly cause pain or death, and they don't get executed when their policies and actions kill (even in states that have the death penalty). Imagine the uproar if some serial killer were convicted, and asked to pay $1,000,000 to the family of each victim instead of going to jail or the electric chair? Or to put it even more realistically, in Michigan a driver can kill (manslaughter) 3 people before the state is legally required to revoke his or her drivers license (though a judge may do so at an earlier stage), and each case of manslaughter may result in jail time as well, in addition to a fine and reparations to the family of the victim. There is no limit to the number of fatal industrial accidents a company can have, as long as it can keep paying the fines and reparations. Its company charter can never be revoked. And in fact large companies have calculated how many such accidents they expect to have per year and how much they should budget for these costs. Imagine sitting down at the beginning of the year and saying, "well, I expect I'll kill 2 people with my car this year, so I better set aside $3 million for legal fees, fines, and reparations".

On a similar note, fines for industrial polution in the united states are often set so low, companies sometimes prefer to intentionally break the law and just budget the fine into their costs. "Its gonna cost us $1.5 million in fines to keep poison Spring Creek through the rest of this year, but we've budgeted for it and profits are up, so no worries."

On a completely different note, US citizens, such as myself, grow up being taught that we have "fredom of speach" because the constitution says "Comgress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speach or of the press . . . ". However, the Supreme Court has interpreted this according to English common law, which understands freedom of speach and of the press in terms of "no prior restraint". THis means, the government isn't allowed to STOP you from saying anything (no prior restraint), but the govenment CAN decide that certain things are illegal to say. So if you do say them, you can be prosecuted and you can go to jail--and many people have gone to jail under laws that take advantage of this "no prior restraint" interpretation of free speach--the US state department usually call these people "political prisoners" when countries like Iraq and China use these kinds of laws. Additionally, the Supreme Court has often ruled that the govenment CAN use prior restraint, that is, it CAN prevent you from printing/saying certain things that are determined to be detrimental to "national security". Which, by the way, is the same excuse China usually uses to lock up dissidents and prevent them from priting/saying things the government doesn't like. For example, there was an ex-CIA agent who wrote a book on the CIA (can't remember the name off the top of my head right now). The CIA went to court and requested that the publication be blocked. The judge read the book (the judge is allowed to read it, but regular citizens aren't!) and said he wouldn't block the publication of the book, but he would order the deletion of about 200 sections, a section being anything from one word up to several pages in length. So much for freedom of speach and of the press.

To me these are really weird laws, and they are being enforced today.

antjuan gilbert - 10:04am Apr 26, 1999 PST(#20 of 166)

In Florida there is a law that says snooring is illegal, its like disturbing the peace.

michelle brook - 02:23pm Apr 26, 1999 PST(#21 of 166)

aren't these laws really wierd, you are allowed to strip in your front garden but only if no-one sees (in kingston, england) stiff upper lip eh

Rob Lewis - 07:01pm Apr 26, 1999 PST(#22 of 166)

I saw one America's Dumbest Criminals last night a state (I don't remember which) has a law that is illegal to carry a concealed weapon....over six feet long. I think it applies to Paul Bunyon types.

Diva - 01:49am Apr 28, 1999 PST(#23 of 166)
look famous, be legendary, appear complex, act easy, radiate presence, travel light, seem a dream, prove real

Anon Ymos - the national security thing is an old one. To the best of my knowledge is was first introduced to the British parliament in the 1790s, when Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister of England. They were known as 'the gag acts', and made it illegal to criticise the government in any way due to the war they were having with France. Anything the government considered blaspheomous, seditious or libelous could be prosecuted. They also suspended Habeus Corpus, meaning that people could be arrested and imprisoned without trial indefinitely.

These were reinstated twenty years later during the Napoleonic wars, read anything by Leigh Hunt and Thomas Carlyle, who were advocates of the free press and who were both gaolled under the blasphemy sedition and libel laws. Read Shelley's Queen Mab, which was banned, or The Mask of Anarchy which Shelley wrote as a protest against the government, but Leigh Hunt wouldn't publish as he had only just got out of prison and wasn't willing to risk it again so soon. Shelley also got expelled from Oxford at the age of 17 for writing 'The necessity of atheism', but to avoid greater scandal they expelled him for denying its authorship, rather than for blasphemy.

The 'national security' argument is just an updated version of these laws. Nothing new under the sun really . . .

later, Diva

did my honours thesis on Byron & Shelley's political writings and the gag acts of the Castlereagh government :-)

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