SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
You probably think the US Congress, our nation’s legislative body, comes up with some really crazy laws and makes insane, or at least dumb, decisions.
You’d be right.
However, they’re not the only ones. Across the world, there are laws, rules, and regulations that are just a bit … strange. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t make sense, but they’re definitely attention grabbing. As we hit once again the dog-days of election season (November-October) let’s take a look at some.
Speaking of dogs, there was a time when dogsleds were the only way to get around in Antarctica, a place perpetually frozen. I know what you’re thinking: Couldn’t we relocate America’s Capitol to there, and let all that hot air thaw it out? Well, no. First, it wouldn’t be such a good idea to thaw Antarctica. Haven’t you ever seen The Thing?
Second, Antarctica doesn’t belong to the people of the USA. Of course, these days neither does our Capitol.
Sorry for my dogged political jokes. My point is it’s a good thing powered equipment came along, because it’s no longer legal to have dogs in Antarctica, something the dogs are no doubt happy about. Why? Because it’s illegal to have any non-indigenous species in Antarctica. After all, look at the bad things that happen when non-native species are introduced to an area. Hordes of dogs could destroy the entire continent’s ecosystem.
If hordes of dogs would survive down there.
Just the same, I support this, for the sake of penguins and … um … fish.
Speaking of politicians, there’s one thing that will keep you out of political office in the great state of Tennessee. Well, two things – you have to actually live in Tennessee if you run for election. I doubt they’d take to carpetbaggers, either … you hear that, Hillary Clinton?
But back to the point: It’s illegal in Tennessee to hold elected office if you don’t believe in God. Discrimination, you say? Maybe, but it’s also illegal to seek public office if you’re a member of the clergy. Or if you’ve ever had anything to do with dueling, such as setting up a gun fight between a preacher and an atheist. And yet, for all that, they don’t have trouble finding people to run for office.
What do we take from this? If you’re an atheist in Tennessee, you don’t have a prayer.
Yeah, I went there.
Let’s go back a ways – say, to 1403. About that time some people in Wales rebelled against the King of England, Henry IV, who was just half the man Henry VIII would be. Being a king, Henry naturally enacted a law allowing his subjects to, well, hang any Welshman they found within the rebellion-hotbed city of Chester, in northwest England.
Furthermore, Henry added, he wanted to keep his subjects both entertained and skilled at fighting. So, he allowed them to shoot at any Welshman within arrow distance of the town.
It wasn’t nice; it’s just the way things were done back then. What makes this law remarkable is that … wait for it …
It’s still a law.
So if you live in Chester, and you own a crossbow – go for it, dude! You’re all good.
Maybe the Welsh should do what Sao Paulo, Brazil, does. Over 41 million people live there, making it one of the largest provinces in the world. Why so many people?
Maybe because, by city ordinance, no one living in the city of Biritiba-Mirim within the province is allowed to … stop living.
It’s a tough rule to enforce. I mean, how do you punish people who break it? The death penalty?
Turns out the rule was made to protest to a national law, something we Americans can understand. The country as a whole prohibits new cemeteries in environmentally sensitive areas, and Biritba-Mirin sits on a major water source. The city has run out of cemetery space, a grave situation, although … do you really want to feel like you’re drinking your ancestors?
For now, if people break the rule in Biritba-Mirin and pass away, they end up sharing a crypt with another body – or they end up buried under local sidewalks. So either you’re on a party line to the afterlife, or you feel like someone’s walking on your grave.
Back in England, there’s also one place where it’s illegal to die: the House of Parliament. Why? Because anyone who kicks the bucket there is automatically entitled to a state funeral. Imagine some loud American tourist standing there in his Hawaiian shirt, who suddenly chokes on a ham sandwich and – as they say – bites the big one. Yeah, they gotta give him a state funeral.
It’s also illegal to wear a suit of armor inside Parliament, but I’m picturing them repealing that rule and sticking the dead tourist in one, so he doesn’t look out of place during the festivities.
But at least you can chew gum. In Singapore, they’ll cane you for that. The place is a little … uptight.
Finally, here’s my favorite somewhat odd law of them all, not because of its oddity but because I can relate:
In New Orleans, it’s illegal to curse at firefighters.
The idea is that while a firefighter is, say, running into a burning building, or doing CPR on a heart attack victim, or extricating people from a wrecked car, he’s probably stressed enough. He doesn’t need, “Hey! You’re a lousy firefighter, you @%#&!”
So be nice to firefighters. For all you know, they may have just adopted some poor unemployed Antarctic dog.