Don’t lasso a fish... and other absurd laws


A lot of states have some strange laws, and lawmakers add plenty of new laws every year. But rarely do they rid the books of old laws that no longer serve a purpose, or refine laws that do not appear to be in the public interest.

We were reading an amusing editorial in the Kingsport (Tenn.) Times News that scrutinized some of these strange ordinances.

Tennessee has more such laws than you can shake a stick at — or a log. It is illegal in Tennessee to sell a log if it is hollow. Nor can you shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile. Because, you know, whales are a threat in Tennessee.

For more absurdities:

More than eight women may not live in the same house because that would constitute a brothel, no matter the activities of said women.

It is illegal to use a lasso to catch fish. One has to wonder what in the world prompted that law to be even written, much less passed and signed.

All persons riding scooters together must do so in single file.

Other laws we don’t really need include that no person may roller skate and listen to a radio at the same time; it is illegal to carry a foreign skunk into Tennessee or to drive a vehicle while you’re asleep; and you break the law if you share your Netflix password. As well, stealing a horse is punishable by hanging, no parent may require their children to pick up trash from the highway on Easter day, and any person who engages in a duel may not hold public office.

It is, however, perfectly legal to gather and consume roadkill.

Communities around the Volunteer State also have their share of weird laws.

In Oneida, Tenn., it is technically considered illegal for a woman to call a man and ask him on a date. In Memphis it’s illegal for frogs to croak after 11 p.m. and for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag. In Knoxville, all businesses must have a hitching post. In Lenoir County, when you pull up to a stop sign you must fire a gun out the window to warn horse carriages that you are coming. And in Lexington it is illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket.

Virginia also has some laws that you may not know about, including that it is illegal to use profane, indecent or threatening language on the phone. It is also illegal to tickle a woman (men are excepted). And it’s against the law to hunt any animal other than a raccoon on a Sunday (raccoon can only be hunted before 2 a.m.).

Virginia counties and municipalities have their own strange laws. For instance, it’s Illegal to flip a coin to decide who pays for coffee in Richmond; wash a mule on the sidewalk in Culpepper; or spit on a seagull in Norfolk. It’s illegal for a woman to be out at night in Norfolk unless she is wearing a corset and is accompanied by a male chaperone.

There seems no end to such laws as you may find in internet searches. You would be surprised at what you can or can’t do — according to outdated or just plain absurd laws — depending on where you are.


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