Taking a closer look at some silly laws


I’m starting to think it might be a good idea for me to start enjoying the wonders of tropical fish.

My typical relationship with fish of any kind is largely an edible one, but lately I’ve been considering the joys and wonders of having fish in my own home. You know, that soothing effect of sitting on the couch after a long day and living vicariously through the slow, easy moments of tropical fish as they meander their way around a tank.

Of course, I’d have to fly to Liverpool to buy my fish.

According to a story on the Yahoo news site, it is illegal for a woman to be topless in Liverpool, England, unless she is a clerk in a tropical fish store. Whoever said that dogs are a man’s best friend has obviously never been to a tropical fish store in Liverpool.

That was one of 10 odd laws in Britain that were voted on by residents as part of a promotion done by a television network there that carried a legal drama series. It’s hard enough to believe that I can get a matinee while buying an angelfish, but even tougher to swallow that this was voted as the third most ridiculous law in Britain.

Leading off the voting was the law that makes it illegal to die in the House of Parliament (though I’ve sometimes wished for just that fate when watching it on television), followed by the legislation that makes it a treasonous act to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down (though I’m now slightly nauseous after the mental imagery of the Queen standing on her head).

Also on the list included the gem that, if you live in Scotland, and someone knocks on your door and announces that they need to use your toilet, you must, by law, allow him or her to do so. I’ve had Scottish food. This one makes sense.

Not to be forgotten in all this is the British law that states, and I quote, “The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen.”

First off, this mental imagery is killing me. Tail of the queen? Ah, they meant that the whale tail is property of the queen. Well, that makes perfect sense to me. Almost as much as the law that states that it is illegal to enter the House of Parliament in a suit of armor. Didn’t they say it was illegal to die there? Shouldn’t you take every precaution to follow the law? The suit of armor seems appropriate to me.

But my favorite gem in the poll came in sixth place. This one says that a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including a policeman’s helmet. Anyone who has spent significant time around a pregnant woman knows that it’s simply a matter of survival to allow her to do pretty much anything she wants, so I’m guessing this was based on an event that actually happened at some point, and all the men were afraid to question her decision. But wouldn’t you love to get a ticket for dying in the House of Parliament by a police officer wearing that helmet?

Actually, you might not like that at all the more I think about it.

I found another Web site called dumblaws.com, hoping to find some strange ones on the books in our own nation. What better place to start out than California, my old stomping grounds and home to some of the strangest people and things I have ever come across?

Apparently, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school or place of worship in the Golden State. I can almost understand people’s desires to curb that behavior by animals in front of schools or places of worship. There are children there, who will inevitably ask questions. But a tavern? You can have a strip club in California featuring the hottest tropical fish clerks in Liverpool, but you have to call animal control if two California condors try to further their existence outside Buford’s Bar & Grille?

That’s California.

In the town of Blythe, you are not permitted to wear cowboy boots unless you already own at least two cows. They might be on to something here. Maybe the rest of the nation should stand up and take notice of this law that requires cowboys to be cowboys and make legislation that says it is unlawful for suburban kids to wear the belt of their pants around their knees unless they a) have lost an incredible amount of weight and haven’t had the opportunity to buy a new wardrobe, or b) their belt was taken by bullies.

Speaking of bullies, in Indianapolis one may only throw a rock at a bird in self-defense. This leads me to believe that the birds in Indianapolis have conspired with Leviathan and his group of merry raccoons down here to take over the world ...

But I digress.

Half-fearful of what I’d find, I clicked the icon promising some odd laws on the books in Delaware. I discovered that our neighbors in Lewes have a law that reads, “Getting married on a dare is grounds for an annulment.” Perhaps the law should read, “Getting married on a dare is grounds for wearing a police helmet around pregnant women in Britain.”

Just a thought...