Most of us haven’t learnt all the rules that apply in our country by heart, and it is usually enough to use our common sense to know how are we allowed to behave and how not. But some laws are so unusual and commonly unknown we have perhaps already unintentionally broke them.
I often carry a pack of chewing gums in my bag, especially for lessening the stress before writing a test paper. As it seems, some vandals in Singapore had different intentions, and used it to mess with the Mass Rapid Transit system (local railway system), according to Singapore Infopedia. Then, they began disposing of spent gum everywhere – on the ground, seats of public buses and trains, tourist attractions, stairways, pavements, even in mailboxes, on lift buttons and inside keyholes, causing great damage to owners and costing the Housing and Development Board $150,000 each year to clean gum litter. Therefore, Singapore banned all gum substances in 1992, except nicotine and dental gums because of their proven medical benefits. The penalty for importing, selling or making the gum can be as high as $100,000 or a prison sentence of up to two years. The results of strict regulations and penalties are seen even nowadays, almost 20 years after introduction, as Singapore being considered as a country with one of the highest standards for cleanliness.
On another side of the world in Mexico, it is illegal for bicyclists to lift their feet off the pedals while riding, as this might result in them losing control of the bike and crashing, as Insider reported. This law passed in the late 19th century and it is kind of understandable, because monkeying around while driving a bike at a high speed isn’t unsafe only for the bicyclist, but may put other traffic participants in grave danger as well. Though, I do not entirely understand why haven’t they banned driving without holding handle bars instead – in my opinion, this way of biking is way more risky, considering the importance of drop bars for balance and the brakes being attached there.
In Oshawa, a city in Canadian province Ontario, it is against the law to climb a tree, according to Canadian Law Discussion. It is reasonable they would like to protect their citizens, but I think this rule is exaggerated. In reality, everything can actually be dangerous – like you can cut yourself with a knife while chopping vegetables, or you can cause an accident driving a car, but those potentially threatening things are still not forbidden, because they have so many more benefits than disadvantages. In my opinion, the same should go with climbing trees. Yes, of course you can fall down and get seriously injured, but on the other hand, every child has climbed a tree in their childhood and it is a part of growing up. When at such young age, it is so fun spending hours playing and exploring new places with friends in addition to using imagination to create your own world up in the treetop for example, or maybe having a treehouse, or even enjoying picking dark red cherries from the highest branches in the summer months. The advantages are so much more worth than potential fear, which is also a reason why this law shouldn’t have entered into force.
In Milan, Italy, it is prohibited for people to frown in public, except when visiting patients at hospitals or funerals, as Mail Online reported. Lawmakers might want to create a merry atmosphere, but it is not a true representation of reality. Life has ups and downs, and it is totally humane to not always be the happiest and filled with so much joy to want to smile all day long. Well, even the happiest ones can’t smile for hours, because it is normally exhausting.
Within the town of Sarpourenx in France, you are not allowed to die without pre-purchasing a burial plot, because the local cemetery is already too full, as Reuters reported. The mayor stated that offenders will be severely punished, but no one up to this day hasn’t solved the mystery of how to punish the dead. It is quite similar in England, where it is forbidden to die in the Parliament, according to The Culture Trip. These two laws are so extraordinary, because nobody really understands how are we supposed to follow them, because… well, I think it requires no further explanation.
Some restrictions go even further. Not only they are forbidding us to do something we can’t actually influence, but they are banning something that is not even proven to exist.
In Skamania County, Washington, the (probably) made-up creature called Bigfoot, Sasquatch or Yeti, which has been a part of North American folklore for centuries, is officially an endangered species. Killing it is deemed a gross misdemeanor and punished with a fine of up to a $1,000, a sentence of one year in jail, or both, according to This Old City. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a French town, a similarly bizarre law is in force. For the last 66 years, flying over, landing, or taking off of flying saucers in the area has been illegal – and the mayor of the town has refused to overturn it, according to The Telegraph. In 1954, a man in northern France claimed he saw seen two figures resembling “deep sea divers”, coming from a “cigar-shaped” space ship. At that time, extraterrestrials were an especially common topic in people’s conversations, so the journalists reporting about the man’s experience was the straw that broke the camel’s back, resulting in the extraordinary law coming in force. On the other hand, those two laws law are truly genius, as they draw media attention and this way have their countries become attractive destinations for tourists.
Some of the extraordinary laws have had a very beneficial effect, while others are needless and therefore only stress people out as they get fined for doing legitimately nothing wrong. Most of these bizarre rules make no sense at first sight, but as it turned out, some lawmakers have been very deliberate making them and cleverly used them as a masterpiece of advertising.