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What's a Stupid Law?

Posted on 2014-09-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-10-07
Maybe they were ignorant, maybe inspired, maybe situational, maybe humorous, or ridiculous, only local, may be dated...

What's a Stupid Law?

How about something like:
Protect your dog
Question by:SunBow
  • 2
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LVL 39

Accepted Solution

BillDL earned 160 total points
ID: 40347634
Somebody has obviously taken the ambiguity of the law as it stands, and made their own sign, or a "photoshop" to parody that particular statute.

Section 56-2-7 of the 1984 Detroit City Code states this:

No person shall open any fire hydrant or use any water from the same without first obtaining a permit from the board of fire commissioners. No person shall in any manner obstruct the use of any fire hydrant in the city or have, place or allow to be placed any material or thing in front thereof or connect or tie thereto any object, animal or thing. Any material found as an obstruction, as aforesaid, may be removed by the officers and employees of the board of fire commissioners or the water and sewerage department, at the risk, cost and expense of the owner or claimants.

So, if I tied a cat, dog, elephant, dead yellowfin tuna, shopping cart, bicycle, helium-filled balloon, unruly child, or a sack of coal to a fire hydrant in the city it would be removed and I would be charged for the removal.  If I park my car in such a way as to obstruct access to a fire hydrant I shouldn't be surprised to find it either towed away or with both windows broken and the hose passing through the car.  The same laws apply to fire hydrants in every other civilised country worldwide.

Common sense tells us that laws should be written in such a way as to cover any possible eventuality without leaving a potential loophole for some smart-ass to twist the meaning and use as a defence, and they need to write the statute using as few words as possible so that the statute is easily understood even by a moron.  That's the reason they usually specify that it is unlawful to do something AND "allow to be" done.  There is always somebody who takes the generality of a law and tries to make it look parochial or ridiculous, when in fact it is a good solid one that covers all possibilities.

I could easily make a sign that is fully compliant with the Ordinances of Michigan that states:

Allowing anybody to jump from a hydrogen-filled zeppelin to descend within the city limits using an umbrella or opened handkerchief to slow the fall is prohibited.
Code 1964, § 4-1-8 (and other applicable statutes dealing with flammable gas)

It is also against section 39-1-90.3 of the Michigan municipal code for you and your wife to simultaneously wash both of your cars at 6am or 11pm.  It obviously refers to places that you take your car to be washed, but the definition of a car wash is "premises where two or more motor vehicles may be washed simultaneously", and does not specify any exemptions that would exclude washing your own cars in your own driveway with bucket and sponge between 7am and 10pm.

There is an old Scottish law that was written to cover "drunk in charge" and pre-dates modern cars.  By virtue of the statute it is illegal to ride an ordinary bicycle or a horse-drawn carriage while drunk, but if you study that law it is apparent that it also includes a supermarket trolley/cart.

In the UK commercial drivers are allowed to piss outside, but only if they piss onto the wheel of the vehicle.  This also pre-dates motor-powered vehicles and was an exemption to allow coachmen working long hours, and without access to emenities, to relieve themselves while waiting for their rich passengers.  The idea was obviously that they would be facing into the coach and not openly displaying their dicks to the public.
LVL 16

Assisted Solution

by:dhsindy Sparrow
dhsindy Sparrow earned 40 total points
ID: 40355926
It gets complicated, that's why we have liars...er, excuse me, lawyers and judges to figure it out.
LVL 24

Author Comment

ID: 40358824
- and local lawmakers to make even more laws such that it is hard to reveal what law applies where. Argh. Or rather, who can afford to buy more of them to attain favorable verdict

Abandoned (3 Days) - time for 'last call' for comment
LVL 24

Author Comment

ID: 40358876
As it were, one objective here was to lighten up a TA where opinions can get from different to rather divisive, contentuous, and more. Not all that easy.

Concerning hydrants, I've seen tied to them dogs, and bicycles. I've seen the vehicles of local public officials parked at hydrant to shop. I've seen the hydrants opened for children at play to cool on the hot days, both by public and FD personnel. Being 'right' can be relative. I've been arrested for getting caught seated on bicycle on sidewalk after having crossed a border.

I've seen the police failing to direct traffic, speeding through to make a pizza pickup, arrested for caught crossing state line where the law of state changed.

Quite likely where a specific law now seems stupid, at its initial enactment it was intended more to settle some local dispute to help attain more cooler heads.

Others may yet be ridiculous, but more difficult to identify, Others may be less desireable to enforce to the letter, like: vehicle may not be parked, more than 12 inches from curb. One citywide speed limit of 25, another city 30, another 35 - the unposted limits. Differing school zone limits. City borders irregular. "Rest area, 15 min limit"

Some may seem unnecessary, or more as the requirement to have sign: do not remove this sign under penalty of law. Do not insert fingers into fan that is turned on. Do not place feet or hands or face next to rotating lawn mower blade. Do not hop fence to pet the lion. Do not kill yourself. Suicide is a crime. Less bad - do not leave children unattended.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 40366629
Thank you SunBow

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