Lock ’em up and throw away the key.
Law and order must be maintained by punishing criminal acts, teaching lawbreakers (and the public as a whole) that crime won’t be tolerated. What society, after all, would want to put up with a pig named “Napoleon,” an unsanctioned haircut, or someone brazen enough to keep a pet goldfish in solitary confinement?
Let’s take a peek at a few of the most preposterous crimes still on the books around the world, some of which will make you chuckle—while others, depending on circumstance, could put your very life in jeopardy should you be found guilty of breaking the law. (How’s that for a macabre turn?)
Top Picks for You
WHERE: Victoria, Australia
If you live in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria and have been thinking about practicing hypnotism on friends and neighbors (or perhaps setting up a hypnotism-based business), make sure you’re at least 21 years of age. Apparently, in this part of Australia, underage hypnotic hijinks are frowned upon—although if you’re any good at your craft, you could simply hypnotize the authorities into ignoring your mesmerizing indiscretions.
Just Say Non to Revolutionary Pigs
Babe, Wilbur, Peppa and more. Plenty of famous pigs have trotted through our imaginations over the years. Even so, if you happen to live in France and own a real pig, it’s against the law to name that rutting truffle hunter “Napoleon.” This law was enacted to keep people from mocking the emperor.
Of course, Napoleon was the name of the Berkshire boar who takes power in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm, but as far as we know, Orwell, though he lived in Paris for a time, never kept a pig named Napoleon, or ran afoul of French police looking into reports of inappropriately named swine.
A Lone Star Ban on the Weather Gods
If Marvel’s superheroes Thor and Storm can do it, dagnabbit, any Texan with the power of a weather god should be able to alter the climate whenever they feel like it too, right? Well, that’s not the case in the Lone Star State. If you plan on transforming the weather with your superpowers, or a bit of science, you’ll need to alert a local newspaper before doing so. That’s the rule, enshrined in state law.
If you do want to modify weather in Texas, you’ll need to target a specific county and publish a notice in a paper “at least once a week for three consecutive weeks” prior to wielding your weather-changing know-how.
Unholy Italian Snacks
WHERE: Florence, Italy
If you get a snack attack while wandering around Florence and want to plop down on some church steps or maybe catch a breather inside a church courtyard to chow down on your favorite nibbles, resist the urge. You can, of course, munch on edible goodies while in Florence, but not on church property. The city even hoses down church steps during the day, keeping them wet to discourage people from using them as picnic benches.
Rice Rice Baby
WHERE: Cadiz, Spain
Rice and weddings go together like paella and rabbit (if you know Spain, you should get that reference). Yet in Andalusia, in the port city of Cadiz, throwing rice at weddings has been banned. Apparently, overzealous rice throwers have attracted too many pigeons over the years, which is why the city decided to put a stop to this seed-based matrimonial tradition.
Locked Up for Hot Pants
WHERE: Victoria, Australia
If you’re anything like us, you have a pair of killer pink hot pants you want to sport around town whenever you darn well feel like it. In Australia, a strangle regulation forbids the donning of pink hot pants on a Sunday afternoon. We have no idea why this rule exists, although we like to imagine a darker time when Australian authorities were dealing with a pink hot pants crime epidemic.
INSIDER TIPChoose a different color of hot pants if you don’t want to break this rule on a Sunday afternoon—or if actually stopped by the police, feign color blindness.
Watch Out for the Haircut Police
WHERE: North Korea
North Korea has a list of 28 approved haircuts, covering both sexes. No Hare Krishna-style haircuts or mohawks allowed, although 28 is still a fairly decent selection. Some reports have the list of official hairstyles a little higher or lower, but regardless of the actual number, it’s probably a good idea to not stand out from the crowd in North Korea when it comes to your coiffure.
Yay, Girl Power?
Adultery is absolutely legal for women in India to engage in—but not for men, who can be charged as adulterers under the current law. So, if a married woman cheats—while we’re not encouraging this kind of behavior at all—legally speaking, she won’t have to worry about being officially reprimanded or thrown in the slammer. But if a married man cheats, well, that’s another story. Official punishment for adultery can be a hefty fine, up to five years behind bars, or both.
Don’t Ever Embezzle Money in China
Fraud, embezzlement, and illegal fundraising are punishable by death in the People’s Republic of China. And if you think this is just an outdated law that’s on the books to scare folks but never actually used, think again. China has executed plenty of billionaires and white collar criminals over the years for alleged financial malfeasance. The Chinese version of The Wolf of Wall Street would have ended very differently. Bye-bye DiCaprio.
If you only want to splurge on one pet goldfish, you could be up to something a little fishy, according to Swiss authorities. By not giving your gilled friend an aquatic companion of its own, you’re subjecting your poor fish to cruel isolation. Probably a rigid fine rather than hard jail time. Still, don’t take the Nirvana lyric “… it’s okay to eat fish ’cause they don’t have any feelings …” to heart, because in Switzerland, pet fish officially do have feelings.
Making Hay in Taxicabs
WHERE: Queensland, Australia
Once upon a time, before the internal combustion engine came into its own, taxis were pulled by horses. You’ve seen this in movies, of course, but it seems the law requiring taxis to carry a bale of hay around in the trunk, or boot, for those hungry horses, is still on the books in certain parts of Australia. Eventually, some overworked bureaucrat, tired of people pointing out how arcane this law is, will get around to repealing it—if that hasn’t happened already.
Who Hates Watermelons?
It’s illegal to sell watermelons in the city of Rio Claro. Why does this law exist? We have no idea. Perhaps, in the past, some type of watermelon mafia was trying to take over, and melon turf battles got so out of hand, city officials decided to ban the problematic fruit altogether. While that’s probably not the case, we do like to entertain these kinds of bizarre scenarios from time to time—if only to stir the pot and keep the tradition of urban legends alive.
Reincarnation is illegal in China without the express permission of the government. Really. That means if you happen to be Buddhist, or belong to any other practice that believes in reincarnation, make sure you reincarnate outside the borders of the PRC. The law was enacted to give the atheist state control of Tibet’s living Buddhas and most important lamas. If you’re a Buddhist monk and plan on reincarnating in China, make sure you register with the appropriate authorities (State Religious Affairs Bureau) first and submit all of the required paperwork.