America's Most Ridiculous State Laws

The United States may have one of the most respected and enviable forms of government, depending on your perspective and whether your preferred political party is currently in power. (There are always major changes that need to be made when your team is losing, of course.) But over the centuries, it's led to the passing of strange, ridiculous laws that to this day make little sense. 

Some of these are the wackiest laws ever passed ... and many of them still exist to this day. State laws can stay on the books without being enforced, and when elected representatives have trouble keeping the government running, it might be a bit too much to ask them to clean up old laws. Who will make wacky new laws if they're busy cleaning up old ones? That doesn't make these weird state laws any less bizarre. Buckle up (it's the law!) and take a ride on the wild side.

Massachusetts: You cannot rearrange the 'Star Spangled Banner'

Roseanne Barr aside, have you ever wondered why celebrities' renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner" tend to be very simple, very traditional and, let's face it, very boring? Well, there's actually a reason behind that—at least in Massachusetts, anyway. According to Massachusetts State Law, anyone who plays, sings or renders the "Star Spangled Banner" "other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies" is subjected to a fine of "not more than one hundred dollars." The law also extends to using the song as dance music, an exit march, or a medley. In other words: unless you want to fork over $100, you should probably stick to the script. Hilariously enough, in January 1944, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky found out he was liable to said fine after he conducted his own arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. According to an article published by the New York Times shortly thereafter, then-Boston Police Commissioner Thomas F. Sullivan confirmed "there would be no action" regarding Stravinsky's criminal act. Well, unless you count the Cold War, anyway.

Nebraska: You can't get married if you have an STD

The State of Nebraska is famous for many things. It was the birthplace of two-time Academy Award winner Marlon Brando; it's home to the famous geological wonder, Chimney Rock; and, depending on who you believe, it created the popular deli sandwich, the Reuben. Oh yeah, it also passed one of the creepiest sex laws ever. According to Nebraskan Legislature, "no person who is afflicted with a venereal disease shall marry in this state." So, does that mean that you have to see a doctor in order to obtain a marriage license? In a word, no. In fact, subsequent cases that have referenced the law have proven that it's easy to get around, and not even really enforced to begin with. Incidentally, for the year 2013, Nebraska ranked 32nd, 33rd and 41st, respectively, for newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV in the United States, according to a report published by the Center for Disease Control. So, maybe the law scared everyone off.

Nevada: Camels were once banned on public highways

Nowadays, the idea of a camel running along a major public highway in the United States is only featured in a story told by your drunk grandfather during the holidays. But, believe it or not, there was a time in U.S. history when camels apparently posed a threat to settlers in Nevada. According to USA Today, the State of Nevada passed an act on February 9, 1875 that explicitly prohibited "camels and dromedaries from running at large on or about the public highways." If that sounds completely outdated to you, that's because it is; the law was repealed in 1899. But never fear, camel-lovers: USA Today goes on to say that, to this day, you are still able to own a camel in Las Vegas. Which, for anyone who's ever spent five seconds in Vegas, sounds totally believable.

Virginia: You can't have sex before marriage

Looking to get cozy with your loved one later tonight? If you're a resident of Virginia, you'd better make sure you're married. Otherwise, you could be convicted of a crime. According to NBC News, Virginia still has a law on the books that states it is a misdemeanor crime for "any unmarried person to voluntarily have sexual intercourse with any other person." Getting caught ultimately won't land you in the slammer; however, you'd still have to cough up an insane $250, as eight people did in the year 2013. In 2014, lawmakers wisely pushed to get the statute removed from the rulebooks. Unfortunately, it stalled out of the House subcommittee due to fears "over potential loopholes the change would make in relation to incest and other sex crimes," according to the report. Fair enough. NBC News went on to say that Virginia holds a handful of other "morality laws"; adultery, for example, carries the same $250 fine. Suddenly, everyone just canceled their summer plans to go to Virginia Beach.

Tennessee: Sharing your Netflix password is illegal

Let's be honest: If you have a Netflix account, odds are, you've probably shared your password with at least one of your friends over the years. And why not? House of Cards is brilliant and everyone needs to see it, regardless of how. Well, the good ol' folks down in Tennessee eventually got annoyed that people were doing this—so annoyed that they passed a web entertainment theft bill in June 2011, making it illegal to use a friend's login to access streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. According to the Associated Press, the bill, which was pushed heavily by the Recording Industry of America, mostly targets hackers, thieves, and that dude in your college dorm who emails his login information to all of his friends. In turn, downloading services "that believe they are getting ripped off can go to law enforcement authorities and press charges," according to the report. Naturally, the college students the AP interviewed vehemently referred to the bill as "stupid." One in particular said she thought people will "keep doing it, like illegal downloading." Ah, Millennials.

Arkansas: Is it really illegal to mispronounce Arkansas?

If you were to Google something like "wacky state laws," most lists will tell you that it is illegal to mispronounce "Arkansas" within state borders. Is that actually true, though? Well, like most lists you read on the Internet, not really (present company excluded, of course). In 1881, the Arkansas legislature at the time did draft and pass a resolution that included a whole bunch of language regarding the proper pronunciation of Arkansas. Not adhering to said pronunciation was simply "discouraged," which probably meant that you were subjected to a lot of snide looks and comments by your neighbors. On the fun side, though, Arkansas still has a bunch of local laws that are, indeed, true—like, you know, a law in Little Rock that states you cannot honk your horn in front of a place that serves cold drinks and/or sandwiches after 9 p.m. The law has adapted a bit over time to include advancements in the service industry, but yeah, it's there.

Minnesota: It's illegal to chase a greased-up pig

Midwesterners must be forced to come up with ways to entertain themselves. Instead of experimenting with drugs or spending countless hours in bars like many people do, they come up with some seriously strange activities to pass the time. One of the more controversial of these activities includes a mud pit, a bit of grease, and a traumatized pig. The object of this game, which is played all over the country at county and state fairs, is to catch the slippery oinker and toss it in a barrel. Fortunately this inhumane nonsense is no longer allowed in Minnesota.

Pushed by animal rights protesters and PETA, Minnesota law now states that anyone organizing or participating in this kind of game or contest will be charged with a misdemeanor. The law doesn't stop at just pigs, though. It seems that in line with pig wrestling, people have also used chickens and turkeys in a desperate attempt to cure boredom out in the middle of our fine country. The Minnesota statute declares that throwing live poultry in the air with intention to compete with other people to catch them is also illegal. Thank goodness. Those turkeys need to be in good condition come November.

Florida: Dwarf-tossing is illegal in bars

Bored people in Florida could one day hit up a good ol' dwarf-tossing competition, which is just as insane as it sounds. The object of this game is to toss the participating dwarf as far as possible. The tossee usually wears some kind of protective gear and is thrown onto a mattress or a wall lined with Velcro — if the drunk idiot doing the tossing has good aim.

According to an interview in VICE, the trend began in South Florida where a local bar owner became friendly with a regular customer, "Midge." Hailing from Australia, Midge was a talented circus professional and a small person, something the bar owner thought he might be able to cash in on while also helping out a friend with a paying gig. Midge was used in the first dwarf-tossing games, designed to attract more customers and bring in more money. His acrobatic skills were a huge hit, as his prior training in the circus allowed him to do somersaults and flips in the air. But the combination of too much alcohol and a head injury received during an event led him to bleed to death.

This outraged the little people community, and the event was then deemed illegal to organize or participate in anywhere alcohol is served. Not all little people are happy with this law, though, and some are in full support of a repeal. Some little people have difficulty finding competitive jobs and turn to these kinds of entertainment gigs to get by. It might be dangerous, but people do stupid and dangerous things for money every day without having to break the law, so why can't they?

Delaware: Getting married on a dare is grounds for annulment

Back in the day, people had their side piece once or twice a week but kept it quiet and held their marriages together for public appearances. These days people would much rather go through a lengthy and expensive divorce process than continue living under the same roof with someone they no longer get along with. The process is so common that people often come up with fabricated reasons for annulment as an alternative to signing those papers, as they can't wait for the marriage to be over with. Those in Delaware, however, might have an easy out.

Delaware marriage and relationship laws state that any couple who married on a dare or in jest hold grounds for an annulment that will make their marriage void. This might be the way to go if you live in the area, as it will keep your separation short and sweet. Divorce, on the other hand, can't even be filed until a couple has at least six months of legal separation under their belt. Even worse, if you have kids with your spouse and are filing for divorce in Delaware, you must enroll and complete a parent education class before a divorce can be granted. Sounds like a whole lot of work just to get away from an ex.

Mississippi: It's illegal to use profanity in front of two or more people

If you tend to drop an F-bomb every so often or can't manage to control your tongue after a few drinks, Mississippi might not be a place for you to visit. Mississippi law states that anyone who uses profanity in front of two or more people in public can be fined up to $100 and be put in jail up to 30 days. So if you and a friend are walking down the street, you're free to use whatever kind of language you'd like as long as no one else is in earshot. However, if you happen to have more than one friend in Mississippi, you should be wary of what you say.

A hundred bucks might not seem like a lot, but teenage hooligans are always out and about making a scene and being loud regardless of what state they live in. If this law were heavily enforced, those bills could add up quickly.

New Hampshire: It's illegal to take seaweed home from the seashores at night

If you've ever walked along the shore during low tide and caught a whiff of all the washed up seaweed, you'd likely find the stuff repulsive. So when it's illegal to take the stuff home in places like New Hampshire, you might wonder why anyone would want to take any in the first place. According to an article that first appeared in The Concord Monitor reported by the Portland Press Herald, the law was originally created in the 1700s. Why? Hard to say, but it might have been so farmers who used seaweed as fertilizer would have an equal opportunity to gather the seaweed needed. Maybe a couple ruffians were going out in the middle of the night and sniping all the best ocean grass before the hard-working farmers were even done milking the cows.

This forgotten law was actually found by a fourth-grade class that won a contest that asked students to look for the most senseless laws. While the outdated law still exists, there has been talk of a repeal, but likely it'll be a while before any action is actually taken. Most laws that can't be applied to the modern day remain intact simply because no one wants to deal with the paperwork.

Nevada: It's illegal to use an X-ray device to determine a person's shoe size

About a century ago, figuring out your shoe size wasn't as simple as using a size chart or even trial and error. The shoe-fitting fluoroscope was the way of the future. The device was found in most shoe stores in the 1920s all the way up to the 1970s, and it was used to X-ray the foot so salespeople would know what size shoe the customer needed. Over time it became apparent that the devices were releasing an unsafe amount of radiation into the body, which led to strict regulations of use.

But many chose to ignore these regulations, and it was the operators of the machines who suffered. Customers were often subjected to such small amounts of radiation that no side effects were noticed. Store owners and employees, however, might use the shoe-fitting fluoroscope a dozen times a day, often subjecting their hands to the radiation while squeezing the customer's shoe to see if it fit. One of the most serious injuries happened to a shoe model. The radiation burns on her foot were so severe that her leg had to be amputated. It's no wonder Nevada made the use of these machines or anything similar illegal. It's just weird anyone had to make this law in the first place, what with people getting burned and all.

Idaho: You can eat another person to survive

While cannibalism is, in fact, frowned upon in most societies, it's actually acceptable to eat another person if you're starving in Idaho. Not just "I haven't eaten since breakfast" starving, though. You'd have to pretty much be on the brink of death, otherwise you might be facing 14 years in prison. The law doesn't mention whether or not the person you eat has to die of natural causes before you throw them over a stove, so if you get snowed in for any extended period of time in Idaho and you notice food is running on the low side, it might be best to watch your back. Especially around anyone who would be familiar with local laws. You might also start sharpening your own knives. As long as the meat was taken from your pal during "extreme life-threatening conditions," then you'll likely stay out of prison.

Alaska: You can't be drunk in a bar

People go to bars for three reasons: booze, food, and socialization. According to Alaskan law, you're welcome to enjoy these activities as much as you like ... all except the booze, of course. Once a few beers start to kick in, you must leave the property. As they say, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here!

What's so strange about this law is that it isn't just the bar's job to remove a clearly intoxicated person as it is in most places. Here, it's also the responsibility of customers to remain off bar property if they feel they've had enough to drink. So if you think you'll get to hang around with your friends and grab a burger at the bar after you taken a half dozen shots, you might be wrong. What's worse is that it's often freezing in Alaska and your Uber driver will probably be more than three minutes away if the bouncer drags your drunk butt out to the street.

Washington: All doors to public buildings must swing outward

If you find that you're often mindlessly pulling on doors to restaurants or theaters only to find that it says PUSH right on the handle, you probably don't live in Washington state. In Washington, all doors to schools, theaters, churches, and all other public buildings must always swing outward according to state law. This helps reduce potential embarrassment when you're attempting to leave, but it's also for safety reasons. Washington lawmakers must have realized that people crowd against the exits during emergencies, possibly preventing anyone from being able to open an inward-swinging door.

Most other states in our fine country, however, either have faith that people will be able to figure out how to get out of a building regardless of which way the doors swing or they simply don't think this issue is important enough to put on the books.