Despite the fact that the United States is a developed country according to a variety of major socioeconomic metrics, its legal system is… not exactly “developed”. So if you think you’re the typical law-abiding citizen, think twice! This article presents 9 weird laws you’ve never heard of. Who knows, maybe you’ve broken some of them before?
YOU CAN’T DRESS UP AS A POSTAL CARRIER
Have you ever dressed up as a postal carrier? Well, if you have, you actually broke the law. That may sound crazy, but the law takes the postal service very seriously. According to 18 U.S. Code 1730, such a mischief may result in a heavy fine or even up to 6 months of prison time.
Fortunately, an actor or actress who plays the role of a postal carrier has nothing to worry about. Why? Because the law against dressing up as a postal carrier includes a provision stating that the restriction “shall not apply to an actor or actress in a theatrical, television, or motion-picture production.” Now I’m clear, phew..
A USPS carrier job might not sound like the most attractive profession out there. Nonetheless, in the eyes of the law, a USPS carrier is a federal officer. Make sure you keep that in mind!
YOU CAN’T FALSIFY A WEATHER REPORT
You read that right. According to 18 U.S. Code § 2074, falsifying official weather reports is a no-go. This includes misrepresenting official reports/warnings from the National Weather Service.
Take, for example, a fishing enthusiast who is sick of having to share precious space with fellow fishermen. If such a delinquent were to deceive others by posting a fake weather forecast on social media, they would be breaking the law.
So next time you feel like lying about the weather, remember that it may cost you a heavy fine or even prison (up to 3 months).
YOU CAN’T TELL FORTUNES (WITHOUT A LICENSE)
Can you see the future? If you live in Massachusetts and dream of becoming a professional fortune teller, you must first get licensed. Fortunately, the only requirement you have to meet is that of residence (you need to have lived in a given town for at least 12 months to obtain the license).
But, if for some reason you do decide to dabble in black-market fortune-telling, you will be breaking Massachusetts state law. Don’t be surprised when the authorities knock on your door and demand you pay a fine of up to $100.
You’re in luck, though. My cards are telling me you’ll be just fine following the law.
YOU CAN’T SELL PICKLES THAT DON’T… BOUNCE?
Yeah… this one is weird weird. In Connecticut, if you’re selling bounce-less pickles, you are likely breaking the law. It’s not strictly because they can’t bounce but rather because their inability to bounce might mean they’re unfit for human consumption.
That’s according to Connecticut’s Food and Drug Commissioner Frederick Holcomb, who in 1948 “coined” the term and law. Following an arrest of two illicit pickle merchants, Holcomb indicated that one of the ways of checking whether a pickle is fit for consumption is to drop it on the ground. If it bounces, you’re all good; if it doesn’t, be ready to pay a hefty fine.
Try this at home. Just don’t expect the full jar of pickles to bounce.
YOU CAN’T SPEED ON A HORSE
Speeding is a serious offense, and the authorities of Indianapolis, Indiana seem to agree. The city does not allow its citizens to ride a horse at a speed exceeding 10 mph. You might think this is some obscure and antiquated law, but it was passed as late as in 1975.
What’s more, you can’t even “park” your horse where parking for vehicles is prohibited.
So, if you ever go horse-riding in Indianapolis, Indiana, remember that you might get a speeding ticket!
YOU CAN’T PLAY BINGO FOR MORE THAN 5 HOURS
If your grandpa ever forced you to play bingo for more than 5 hours, he might go to prison. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is illegal to hold bingo sessions that are longer than 5 hours in North Carolina.
It doesn’t just end there. No organization can hold more than two bingo sessions a week, and each session must be separated by a full day’s rest. Also, drunk bingo is strictly prohibited. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
YOU CAN’T EAVESDROP
Now, this weird law is one we’ve all broken before. In the beautiful state of Oklahoma, you are not allowed to eavesdrop and repeat/publish what you’ve heard with intent to “vex, annoy, or injure others.”
So, if you eavesdrop on someone and share what you’ve heard on social media, you might be committing a misdemeanor. Be careful out there!
YOU CAN’T MISPRONOUNCE “ARKANSAS”
How many times has someone mispronounced your name? Many of us know just how annoying it can get, especially if it happens all the time. Apparently, that includes the state of Arkansas, which decided to legally regulate the pronunciation of its own name.
Arkansas state law strongly “discourages” pronouncing the final “s.” It’s unclear what punishment, if any, such a mischief might prompt. Still, I suggest you pronounce it correctly. That is, if you don’t want to become public enemy number one in the state of Arkansas. Excuse me, Ark-In-Saw!
YOU CAN’T MAKE LACKLUSTER CHEESE
When you say cheese, I think French Brie or Camembert, Swiss Gruyere, Dutch Gouda, Bavarian Muenster, Danish Havarti, Spanish Manchego, Polish Oscypek, Greek Feta..
But this gem of a law was passed in America’s dairy heartland, Wisconsin. According to the state’s legislature, any cheese produced in the state must be “highly pleasing and free from undesirable flavors and odors.”
If your cheese is only “fairly pleasing,” it will fall into a different, less prestigious category. It is unclear what might happen if the cheese you produce is not pleasing at all. So, if you decide to go on a cheese-making journey in Wisconsin, I suggest you proceed with caution. There’s more than just money on the line.
We all know Wisconsin cheese is some of the best out there, but penalizing mediocre cheese-makers might be going a bit too far, no? I guess it’s all got to do with marketing, brand-preservation and competing in international export markets.