The strange laws that websites talk about fall into several categories. Some laws seem so strange to us because they are antiquated and don’t fit at all with our modern habits and ideas. Some, especially city or county laws seem to be the result of a very specific event. Others are laws that make sense, but the wording is particularly awkward or easy to misinterpret. Some encompass several of these traits.
For instance, Washington State has a fair amount of legislature around a place called Maple Lane School. The Washington State Legislature page has all the rules and laws surrounding the school, which used to be a school for girls who had committed crimes. Sources on the Internet are a little unclear, but it appears that this school is still in operation, and some Washington State websites refer to it as a school with rehabilitative qualities. A law exists that prohibits people from enticing girls away from the school.
This would seem to make sense – if it’s a minimum security school and girls are there as a sort of punishment it wouldn’t do to just go letting them out, would it? A website that is devoted to weird laws speculates that the real reason behind the law is eugenics. Their research shows that forced sterilizations occurred in Washington State between 1921 and 1944, and that Maple Lane was a feeder institution for those practices. It makes one wonder what is real and what is not, and what the motivation behind certain laws were.
There are whole other websites devoted to laws that pertain to men and women. These are the more antiquated laws that don’t really have a place in modern society, but are still out there because nobody every bothered to have them repealed. We’ve all heard these old laws – that it is illegal for a man and woman to walk at night together, that it is illegal for a man and woman to be in a dark room alone together, and more like it. Some of the antiquated laws also seem a little too specific. For instance, in Tredmonton, Utah, a woman is prohibited from having sex with a man in a moving ambulance. One website says that not only will the woman be charged, her name will also be published in the newspaper, while the man will get off (no pun intended) scott-free.
Whatever the reason for a law like the Utah ambulance law, those specific strange laws make the most interesting fodder. The same website with the strange theory on Maple Lane School for Girls is particularly fond of those types of laws. Since sometimes it is extremely difficult to uncover the real motivation for passing some of the laws, this website makes up scenarios that might have surrounded the formation of a particular law. One post talks about a law in Alabama that says that you can’t make someone laugh by wearing a fake mustache in church. Apparently the author tried to uncover the real reason behind the law, but because he couldn’t, he made up an imaginary scenario.
That must be the real reason why people enjoy reading about strange and weird laws – they spark the imagination. Also, it is fun to think about the circumstances that brought a particular law into existence. Let’s face it – most of the laws that are broken cause serious harm to society. These weird laws – they are a little bit of insulation from a world that is so scary and serious.
Sources: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=72.20&full=true, http://www.lawsome.net/maple-lane-school-for-girls/, http://weirdsexlaws.com/laws/state/UT/, http://www.lawsome.net/alabama-moustache-la/