Find Out How 50 Peculiar State Laws Came To Be


We love our weird laws here at mental_floss, (like, really, really love them), but perhaps more interesting than these legislative anomalies themselves is just how they came to be.

Folks from the criminal justice program at Olivet Nazarene University found themselves thinking about that recently after they published a collection of “crazy laws” from each of the 50 states. They followed that post with the infographic below, called “How Every State’s Craziest Laws Came To Be."

This visual guide contains a grab bag of origin stories. Some speak to the rich history of a place, like how it’s illegal to mispronounce Arkansas in the state because the name is meant to reflect the state’s heritage (it’s a French pronunciation of a word in the Sioux language). Others are purely antiquated (and sometimes infuriating), like how in Michigan it’s illegal for women to cut their hair without their husband's permission. Others reflect quirkier bits of historical character—like how it’s illegal in Washington to harass Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or other “undiscovered subspecies." (That one was enacted in the '60s during Bigfoot-mania.)

The team behind the graphic make note when a particular law isn’t verified or traceable, and it’s safe to say that most, if not all, of these zany regulations usually go unenforced. But they still stand to say something about state legal systems and the people they govern. (Plus, many of them are pretty funny.)