The law is a strange beast. There are thousands of laws dictating the things that we do every single day. We don’t study these laws. We don’t read guidebooks and our lives are not constantly monitored by lawyers. But we know to wear a seatbelt and not to talk on the phone when we drive; we know not to buy or sell certain substances; we know not to download copyrighted content.
For the most part, these laws are just common sense, and we know them because we know the difference between right and wrong. But there are many grey areas and there are also many very bizarre laws that you would never give a second thought to.
Flushing the Toilet After 10pm
If you’ve lived in an apartment block, then there’s a good chance you’ve been annoyed by a few arguments, parties and TVs disrupting your sleep in the early hours. If so, just move to Switzerland, where it’s illegal to even flush your toilet after 10pm.
This ludicrous law only applies to apartment blocks, where it is considered “noise pollution,” and where we imagine there exists at least one very embarrassed convict who gets flashbacks every time he looks at a toilet and breaks out in a cold sweat whenever the sun goes down and he needs to pee.
One Fifth Canadian
There are many popular Canadian musicians around the world. Justin Bieber. Avril Lavigne … Justin Bieber. And that’s good, because in Canada it’s illegal to dominate the airwaves with foreign acts. According to the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, all national radio networks have to fill their programming with at least 1 Canadian song for every 5 that they play.
That means that every radio show is probably running Justin Bieber on repeat just to keep the CRTC happy, which no doubt means that you’re now rethinking your plans to emigrate to Canada if you’re American and are a little more committed to fighting deportation if you’re Canadian.
Equality for the Few
It’s shocking to think that in 2017 there are still countries where homosexuality is a crime, but it’s true, and according to The Independent, there are 74 countries where this is the case.
It’s easy to think that these things only happen in third-world countries, but such laws haven’t long since been abandoned by the US. Prior to 1962, you could be sentenced to hard labor and/or prison for sodomy. What’s more, these laws weren’t officially repealed until 2003 in most states, and some states are still battling with them.
Virginia only removed the ban on same sex relationships in 2014, while a total of thirteen states (including Alabama, Florida and Michigan) still list sodomy as an illegal act, with three of them (Kansas, Kentucky and Texas) focusing on same-sex relationships.
Let’s be honest, chewing gum is a menace. In many countries there are teams of street cleaners hired to patrol busy areas jet-washing bits of discarded gum from the streets. It’s expensive, it’s an eye-sore and it’s dirty. Which goes some way to explaining why it’s illegal in Singapore.
In many countries you will be fined for littering if caught spitting out chewing gum, but in Singapore you can be fined up to $1,000 just for possessing it. They don’t sell it in the country (although there probably is a black market, which is both tragic and hilarious) and they confiscate everything that comes in.
Many tourists have fallen into this trap and have been forced to pay fines, which can also be imposed simply for spitting on the floor. Clearly they were going for the utopia angle, but we think they may have crossed over into Equilibrium territory.