Law The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America  

Donn Saylor
332 votes 43 voters 1.1k 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 Many of these stretch back hundreds of years - they are typically outdated and rarely, if ever, enforced.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.


Grand Haven, MI: Don't Throw Your Hoop Skirt Into The Street

Grand Haven, MI: Don't Thr... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: Gazette of Fashion/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Grand Haven's anti-hoop-skirt-tossing ordinance dates from the mid-1890s. A former resident visiting the city wrote a letter to the local newspaper bemoaning "the hoop skirts and other rubbish" littering the streets. The person throwing their hoops skirts on the road is unknown. The city passed an ordinance prohibiting such lawlessness, and the penalty for breaking it was steep for the time: a whopping $5. Adjusted for inflation, the fine is about $130 today. The law remains on the books.

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Belhaven, NC: Your Number Two Could Cost You A Surcharge

Belhaven, NC: Your Number Two ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: Ladarozan/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Belhaven, NC, sought to add a service charge for residents using the town's water supply. They started including a fee itemized as a "$2 per month, per stool" surcharge. The unusual wording led to confusion, and they've since updated the description to "$2 per toilet." Whew.

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3 13 VOTES

Greene, NY: No Eating Peanuts And Walking Backwards At Concerts

Greene, NY: No Eating Peanuts ... is listed (or ranked) 3 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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Los Angeles, CA: No Dog-Mating Near Churches

Los Angeles, CA: No Dog-Mating... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Weirdest Laws In Small-Town America
Photo: MarkScottAustinTX/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

LA has a law on the books saying dogs cannot mate within 500 feet of a church. This law is not reserved only for Angeleno canines; several communities in California have this same ordinance. If someone catches dogs in flagrante delicto near a house of worship, the dogs' owners face a fine of up to $500 and/or six months in jail.

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