Tag Archives: silly regulations

Regulation of the Day 225: Boobie Pillows

Kern County, California’s government takes morality very seriously. Chapter 9.12.010 of the County Code states that “No vendor shall vend stuffed articles depicting the female breasts (sold as “boobie pillows”) within one thousand (1,000) feet of any county highway.” The punishment for each offense is a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail. Worse, “Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense.”

The purpose of the boobie pillow ban, according to the Finding of Fact Leading to Enactment that accompanies the text, is to prevent children on their way to church from seeing such adult-themed merchandise.

Strangely, boobie pillows are the only adult-themed merchandise subject to the ban. So, according to the law, purveyors of smut can still set up shop almost anywhere they please. They just can’t sell “stuffed articles depicting the female breasts.”

In other news, Kern County is currently running a budget deficit in the $25-30 million range. If the county liberalized its strict boobie pillow policy, it could increase its sales tax revenue and tame its deficit.

Regulation of the Day 213: Dying


Falciano del Massico, a small town in Italy, has banned its 4,000 residents from dying because the local cemetery is completely full. Mayor Giulio Cesare Fava’s ordinance reads, in part, “It is forbidden for residents to go beyond the boundaries of earthly life, and go into the afterlife.”

An ongoing feud with a neighboring town has made it difficult to fix the problem.

Interviewed by the BBC, Mayor Fava pleaded with a straight face: “Citizens, while we await the construction of the new cemetery, I order you not to die, so we don’t have any problems.”

While this writer is often skeptical of the power of regulation, I sincerely hope that Mayor Fava’s death ban succeeds. If it does, Falciano del Massico might be just the place for my wife and I to spend our retirement years.

Regulation of the Day 205: Singing the National Anthem

Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem in 1814. He set his lyrics to an old English drinking song with an intentionally difficult melody. The range spans roughly an octave and a half, which is a challenge for any singer. Revelers in pubs would challenge each other to sing the melody without screwing it up; punishments for mistakes would often involve beer.

Even professional singers can’t always get through “The Star-Spangled Banner” unscathed, as Christina Aguilera found out at last year’s Super Bowl.

We’ll never know what Key would have thought of contemporary singers’ habit of improvising and embellishing his song with their own touches. But we do know that Indiana state Sen. Vaneta Baker, an Evansville Republican, is not a fan.

Sen. Baker introduced a bill that would require singers “to sign a contract agreeing to follow the guidelines and would set a possible $25 fine for violators.” It only affects performances at the state’s public schools and universities, as well as private schools that receive state funds. If her bill passes, it would not affect this year’s Super Bowl, which will be played in Indianapolis.

Singing out of key does not violate the terms of the contract. Not singing it “the way that we normally have it sung or heard throughout most of our state and our country” would. The bill would let schools set their own standards. But they will also be required to keep archives of every national anthem performance going back at least two years.

Given the amount of paperwork schools already have to deal with, this is just a bad idea. Surely Sen. Baker has better things to worry about in these troubled economic times.

Regulation Roundup

Yet another batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • Motorists entering Tacoma, Washington with criminal intent are required to telephone the chief of police.
  • It is illegal to catch fish with your bare hands in Kansas.
  • It is illegal for a man to curse in front of a woman in Nebraska. Women can cuss away, though.
  • Turtle racing is illegal in Key West, Florida.
  • You can’t play checkers in public in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
  • In Hartford, Connecticut, you may not cross a street while walking on your hands. Feet only, please.
  • The U.S. Code requires the federal government to employ a Construction Metrication Ombudsman. His job is to encourage federal contractors to use the metric system.
  • Don’t ride your bicycle faster than 65 mph in Danbury, Connecticut. You could be arrested.

Regulation Roundup

Enjoy a fresh batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • In Belvedere, California, “No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.” Think about that for a minute.
  • It is against the law to eat more than three sandwiches at a wake in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Tennessee law specifically forbids catching fish with a lasso.
  • It is illegal for St. Louis, Missouri firefighters to rescue a woman if she is wearing a nightgown.
  • In Providence, Rhode Island, drugstores are allowed to sell toothpaste on Sundays, but not toothbrushes.
  • In Ohio, it is illegal for donkey riders to go faster than 6 miles per hour.
  • In Tennessee, it is illegal to buy or sell cotton after dark.
  • It is illegal to slurp your soup in New Jersey restaurants. You can be arrested, fined, and even jailed.

Regulation Roundup

Here’s a fresh batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • Flirting is illegal in Haddon, New Jersey. (see § 175-12)
  • It is illegal to play cards on the street in Madison, Iowa.
  • In Haverbill, Massachusetts, it is illegal for women to wrestle.
  • It is a felony for bears to wrestle in Alabama.
  • You may now sit outside year-round in Stratford, CT if you like.
  • Talk about attention to detail. Massachusetts state law requires gift certificates to be valid for at least 7 years.
  • In Florida, it is illegal to release 11 helium balloons per day. 10 is ok, though.
  • Adams County, CO requires all male massage parlor workers to wear white shirts and white pants. Transparent clothing is expressly forbidden.

Regulation Roundup

Some of the stranger regulations I’ve dug up recently:

  • In Delaware, it is a felony to wear a disguise while committing a felony.
  • In New Orleans, it is illegal to inflate meat.
  • In England, it is illegal to turn off someone else’s lamp if you’re both on or near a city street.
  • In Connecticut, it is illegal to use a white cane unless you can’t see it.
  • Minnesota regulations prohibit washing teflon-coated cookware with abrasive sponges.
  • In Indiana, it is a class B misdemeanor to dye birds and rabbits.
  • Vertical integration has been a regulatory no-no for a long time. In 16th century England, it was illegal to be both a tanner and a currier.
  • If you’ve ever been in a duel, you may not work as a first responder in Kentucky.