The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America 

Donn Saylor
Updated July 16, 2018 2.3k votes 346 voters 15.2k views 25 items

List Rules Vote up the broken laws that need fixing.

Laws should keep us safe, but human silliness and petty bureaucracy often derail the best intentions. For instance, the strangest small-town laws in America prove regulations don't always have to make sense. From protecting elephants in the Deep South to regulating the height of weeds in the Rockies, America's most bizarre state laws confirm the nation's penchant for overreaching Big Brother-ness at the micro level.

Weird laws are nothing new in the United States. Many of these stretch back hundreds of years - they are typically outdated and rarely, if ever, enforced. But these odd laws are worthy of a good laugh.

Greene, NY: No Eating Peanuts And Walking Backwards At Concerts
Greene, NY: No Eating Pe... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: NIAID/Wikimedia/CC BY 2.0

This one is a real head-scratcher. The city of Greene, NY, specifically bans eating peanuts while walking backward, but only during concerts. Little evidence exists to put this law into any context, but it's safe to assume lawmakers saw the discarded peanut shells and backward-walking as safety hazards. Why the ordinance only applies to concerts remains a mystery.

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Topeka, KS: Never Scream In A Haunted House
Topeka, KS: Never Scream... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: Corey Coyle/Wikimedia/CC BY 3.0

The city of Topeka, KS, has strict rules when it comes to haunted houses. They've implemented regulations that prevent attendees from screaming or creating any disturbances, ensuring they are "orderly at all times." Violating this law can result in a disorderly conduct charge, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to one month in prison, or $500 maximum in fines.

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New York, NY: Jumping Off A Building Is Punishable By - Wait For It - Death
New York, NY: Jumping Of... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: Emiliano Marin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

When it comes to nonsensical laws, this one is near the top of the collection. In New York City, someone who jumps off a building can receive the death penalty - but only if they survive the jump. Many think the outdated law originally meant to discourage would-be jumpers from leaping. However, why would a double threat of death stop someone intent on jumping off a skyscraper?

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Wilbur, WA: No Riding Ugly Horses
Wilbur, WA: No Riding Ug... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: Jussi You-S-See/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

In the town of Wilbur, WA, equine appearances are important. The city has an active law making it illegal to ride an ugly horse within city limits. The local council has not discussed the reasoning behind this law. It's also unclear who's responsible for determining a horse's repulsiveness. But one thing is known: If you violate this ordinance, you face a fine of $300.

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