The United States is known for its diverse and often perplexing legal landscape, with each state having its own unique set of laws and regulations. While many laws serve essential purposes, others are so peculiar that they leave people scratching their heads in disbelief. In this quirky journey through the legal system, we’ll explore ten surprisingly loony laws from different U.S. states that range from Bigfoot hunting to peculiar dining rules.
1. Killing Bigfoot – Washington
In the state of Washington, it is illegal to kill Bigfoot. This seems like a pretty odd law, doesn’t it? While Washington is home to some stunning natural landscapes and wildlife, the state legislature saw fit to include a rather unusual clause in its legal code: the prohibition of Bigfoot hunting. While the existence of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, remains a subject of debate, Washington has apparently taken a stance to protect this elusive creature.
If you ever encounter Bigfoot in Washington, your best course of action may be to snap a photo instead of reaching for your hunting gear. However, in this peculiar legal scenario, you’re more likely to need a will attorney than a Bigfoot defense lawyer. This is one of the most loony laws on the books in Washington because do we even know if Bigfoot is a real or mythical creature?
Of course, there is also the element of why anyone would decide to kill a seven-foot mythical creature. The laws are loony, but they can come with serious penalties if you break them. In Washington, killing Bigfoot can result in jail time and heavy fines. When visiting Washington State, be sure if you run into Bigfoot, you run the other way and certainly don’t kill him/her.
2. Biting Off a Limb — Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, biting off another person’s limb is illegal. It seems that this is one of the loony laws that everyone should be able to get behind. Of course, the question begs to be asked: why did this law have to be spelled out and legislated in the first place? Can you even bite someone’s limb off?
While it’s generally understood that harming others is against the law, Rhode Island’s specific prohibition against biting off limbs raises eyebrows. This law appears to address a rather extreme form of assault. It’s a pretty sure bet that somewhere in the history of Rhode Island, there was a limb-biting incident that resulted in one of the most loony laws in the books.
To ensure you are protected from the risk of breaking this law if you have been personally injured by someone, don’t attempt to chew their limb off. Instead, call a personal injury attorney and fight it out in court. Biting someone’s limb off is never a solution. Clearly, this is one of those loony laws that has a purpose and can keep people and their arms and legs safe.
3. Occult Practices – Oregon
In Oregon, practicing occult arts, such as fortune-telling or using mystical powers to locate lost objects, is illegal. Oregon’s prohibition on occult practices seems more at home in a medieval witch hunt than a modern legal code. The law targets individuals who claim to possess supernatural abilities and offer their services for a fee, but it raises questions about freedom of expression and personal beliefs.
Let’s say it’s time for new floors, and you want to be sure that there is no bad energy left behind from your old floor. You hire someone to burn some sage and say a few prayers over your home. That is a punishable offense. Both you and the person you hire can be charged. These puritanical loony laws are largely outdated but still can be activated.
When you come across these loony laws, it is hard not to ask who made them and why. Oregon is not as well-known as Salem, Massachusetts for its witch hunting. However, something happened at some point that pushed the legislators to outlaw occult activities. If you’re interested in the occult, it may be wise to stay far away from this state! You don’t want to end up in jail — or worse!
4. Eavesdropping – Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, it is illegal to eavesdrop on another person’s conversation. While eavesdropping is generally considered rude, Oklahoma has taken the concept to a whole new level by explicitly outlawing it. These loony laws must be hard to uphold and prosecute. How do you know if someone is eavesdropping on your conversation?
No one should be listening in on a conversation they are not part of, but sometimes it is hard not to. In this digital age, when people are having in-depth conversations in line at the grocery store, how do you avoid listening in? Is that still a crime if you get caught listening in because you can’t avoid it? If roofers are working on your roof, and they catch wind of your conversation because they can’t help but hear, is that an arrestable offense?
Loony laws like the eavesdropping law in Oklahoma are usually very hard to prosecute. They are simply taking up space in the law books. Getting caught eavesdropping and the embarrassment that comes along with it should be enough punishment. Sometimes it’s best to mind your own business because as they say, ignorance is bliss!
5. Bear Wrestling – Louisiana
In Louisiana, engaging in bear wrestling matches is illegal. Louisiana’s law against bear wrestling reflects a peculiar chapter in American entertainment history. At one time, bear wrestling matches were a popular form of entertainment. However, it was an inhumane activity; this is a loony law with some merit.
Modern-day animal control services would never allow this, but it was a heralded activity at one time. Unfortunately, the bears that participated in the wrestling matches were malnourished and mistreated. Often, the claws were removed, leaving the bear unable to ever return to the wild.
Loony laws may sound a bit crazy today when a former practice no longer exists, but not all laws are unnecessary. Banning bear wrestling in Louisiana was necessary at the time. Putting the law on the books with punishment outlined saved a lot of bears and a few humans, too.
Reptiles in Church – Kentucky
In Kentucky, releasing a reptile or letting one loose in a place of worship is illegal. Kentucky’s law prohibiting the release of reptiles inside places of worship initially seems like one of those loony laws until you realize there are some religious practices that still use reptiles in church. Dangerous reptiles in church can cause a lot of personal injury.
Some fundamental religions use reptiles in church to test parishioners’ faith. Church members are invited to hold the poisonous snake (yes, you read that right) while the other members raise their voices in prayer. Sounds like the loony laws banning reptiles in church are necessary in some states.
Luckily, even in churches that still practice the fine art of snake handling typically opt for funeral flowers and more serene-type activities during funerals and other events held at the church. Loony laws seemingly feel like they don’t belong until you pull back the veil and learn why they were enacted in the first place. No reptiles in church is a good law.
7. Fried Chicken with a Fork – Georgia
In Gainesville, Georgia, eating fried chicken with a fork is illegal. This local ordinance in Gainesville, Georgia, is known for its odd specificity. It is a fine example of one of the truest loony laws. There is no good reason you should not be able to eat fried chicken with a fork.
Luckily, you’re unlikely to need legal assistance for your choice of cutlery. The law has never been enacted in modern times, and no one can recall why it was enacted in the first place. Perhaps it had something to do with the number of cutlery available at the time. Maybe there were not enough forks to go around.
When it comes to loony laws, this one really takes the cake. You should be able to go to a restaurant and use the cutlery of your own choosing. Loony laws that have no clear reason are the most confounding. You can understand why killing Bigfoot is a crime, but eating fried chicken with a fork is hard to wrap your head around.
8. Outdoor Furniture – Colorado
In Boulder, Colorado, placing outdoor furniture on your lawn is illegal. Loony laws like this one seem counterintuitive. Where can you put furniture if you can’t place it on your lawn? This law restricts homeowners from using their own property as they see fit. Since Boulder is big on the outdoor lifestyle, why on earth would they ban people from enjoying their own lawn?
To ensure you never violate this law, shop with a furniture store that understands the law and can point you in the right direction. No one can confirm why this law was necessary. While you won’t go to jail if you break these loony laws, you may find a citation with a fine in your mailbox if anyone reports you.
These baseless laws are really an overstep by the government that infringes on people’s right to use their property as they see fit. Who are you hurting if you put lawn furniture on your lawn? Is it a public nuisance or hazard? According to Boulder, it is.
9. Sidewalk Spitting – Arizona
In Globe, Arizona, it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk. While it is gross to spit on the sidewalk, some people feel like this is one of those loony laws that have no place in our legal system. However, a hygiene-related law aims to ensure that public spaces stay clean and safe for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps after the COVID-19 epidemic, people feel a little more positive about this law.
Loony laws typically have an event related to them that promotes the formation of the law. This law has been on the books since the 1800s. Perhaps some epidemic or disease outbreak pushed legislatures to pass this law. Maybe it is truly about keeping the town clean and has nothing to do with the spread of disease.
Clearly, in Globe, hygienic practices are strongly encouraged. You can be cited for spitting on the sidewalk and getting caught. If you stop in Globe and decide on a meal at a pizza restaurant, be sure you don’t spit on the sidewalk on your way out.
10. Silly String – Alabama
In Mobile, Alabama, using Silly String during a parade is illegal. Silly String is a childhood favorite. The can of silly string sends string flying in the air to evoke a celebratory feel, but not in Mobile. In Mobile, the silly string is a no-no at parades or other public gatherings.
Mobile, Alabama, is known for its beautiful historic district and tree lined streets. Perhaps the silly string ban is not just one of those loony laws, but it is put in place to ensure that the streets stay beautiful. If you have ever used silly string, you know that once the string settles, it becomes a hard-to-remove sticky mess.
You could be fined if you deploy a can of silly string along a parade route in Mobile. It’s no doubt a strange law, but a law nonetheless. Leave the silly string at home if you are headed to a parade in Mobile.
The U.S. legal system is designed to uphold order and protect the rights of citizens. However, it is not without its quirks and oddities. These ten loony laws from various states offer a humorous glimpse into the peculiarities of American law. The takeaway from this is that you may not have plans of hunting Bigfoot or using a fork to eat fried chicken, but if you do, you should know you may be breaking a local law. Understanding local laws is essential to stay out of trouble, even when those laws are loony laws. Learn more about local laws.