Dumb laws and odd customs

Jan 31st, 2009 | By Editor | Category: Geology, Humor, Math, Politics, Religious studies, The way we live, Uncategorized

On the subject of morals, customs, mores, and the relative nature of right and wrong: It is often the case that what is “right” in one culture, one time, is totally “wrong” in another culture, or at another time.

Nothing proves this better than dumb laws: laws that surely must’ve made some sense to someone somewhere, but just as surely make no sense to us now. Here are some odd customs and dumb laws for you:

  • The Tang dynasty empress Wu Hou, who ruled from 683 to 785 A.D., insisted that all visiting dignitaries perform oral sex on her to pay her homage.
  • During the Middle Ages menstruating women weren’t allowed to go to church or handle meat and other foods.
  • In 15th century Venice, the government ordered prostitutes to go topless.
  • It is illegal to own a dog in Reykjavik, Iceland.
  • Impotence is grounds for divorce in 24 states in the United States.
  • Among the ancient Egyptians, it was common practice to preserve the dead’s body in a huge crock of honey.
  • It was a widespread custom in the early 1700s for guests at a funeral to receive nice presents from the survivors of the deceased, including rings, spoons and gloves.
  • The official legal difference between a fruit and vegetable was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1893. According to the ruling, any plant or part of a plant generally eaten as part of the main course of a meal is a vegetable. Any plant or part of a plant generally eaten as an appetizer, a dessert, or out of hand is a fruit.

I actually found a funny book by some guys that decided to break a bunch of these dumb laws! Check it out. I also found this cool Photoshop contest based on dumb laws.

Can you find more? If so, post them below as comments!

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