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Weird Laws in New York

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List of strange state laws on the books in New York. These rules and regulations were passed by the New York state legislature, or in an individual New York city, and for one reason or another, were never overturned, remaining active on the books until this day. Almost every city and state has some outdated, old-fashioned or even nonsensical laws on the books, and they can come about for a variety of reasons. Most frequently, the laws appeared in the books following a court ruling on a specific case, that then set a common law precedent from that point on.

Strange or unnecessary laws have become a popular source for humor, online and more generally in popular culture. TV shows like "The Simpsons" have had a lot of fun with the notion of small towns having peculiar regulations on the books. (In one episode, Mayor Quimby is surprised to find out the town charter mandates that all ducks wear long pants.)

Often, "dumb laws" as reported on websites and in humor books have been shown to be inaccurate. This sometimes happens because a real, sensible law has been exaggerated or misunderstood, turning into something that sounds silly or ridiculous. Other times, it is simply the result of a hoax being repeated enough times to gain some kind of credibility. If you think any of the laws on this page are not accurate or do not remain active in New York, let me know in the comments below.
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  1. 1
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    Down 86

    Going Topless in Public is A-OK

    Women may go topless in public, providing it is not being used as a business.

  2. 2
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    If Jumping Off a Building Doesn't Kill You... the City of NYC Will

    The penalty for jumping off a building is death.

  3. 3
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    It's Illegal to Call Sons Homophobic Names

    It is illegal for a father to call his son a “f*ggot” or “queer” in an effort to curb “girlie behavior." (Staten Island)

  4. 4
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    Couples Must Both Agree that Their Differences Are Irreconcilable

    New Yorkers cannot dissolve a marriage for irreconcilable differences, unless they both agree to it.

  5. 5
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    Thou Shalt Not Wiggle Thine Fingers at Fellow Citizens

    Citizens may not greet each other by “putting one’s thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers”.

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