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You Break the Law Every Day … Without Even Knowing It

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Washington’s Blog
October 22, 2013

Wired notes:

James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and former defense attorney, notes in his excellent lecture on why it is never a good idea to talk to the police:

You Break the Law Every Day … Without Even Knowing It  221013law

Image: Do you break the law?

Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. These laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are ”nearly 10,000.”

If the federal government can’t even count how many laws there are, what chance does an individual have of being certain that they are not acting in violation of one of them?

As Supreme Court Justice Breyer elaborates:

The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code and the virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know, in advance, just when a particular set of statements might later appear (to a prosecutor) to be relevant to some such investigation.

For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.

If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.

And that’s just federal laws.

Crazy State Laws

Here is a small sample of state and local laws which are still on the books today:

Alabama

  • One is not allowed to play dominoes on Sundays
  • Men are not allowed to spit in front of the fairer sex
  • One is not allowed to wear a fake mustache to church

Alaska

  • It is legal to shoot bears, but walking up to a sleeping bear to take a photograph is strictly prohibited
  • It is prohibited to view a moose from an airplane

Arizona

  • Cars cannot be driven in reverse in Glendale, Arizona
  • An ordinance passed in Nogales prohibits wearing suspenders
  • Women are not allowed to wear pants in Tucson

Arkansas

  • Mispronouncing the name of the state of Arkansas is illegal

California

  • It is illegal to eat an orange sitting in a bathtub
  • In Riverside, one cannot carry their lunch down the street between 11 am to 1 pm.  Kissing on the lips is illegal in that town … unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water
  • A person is not allowed to wear cowboy boots in Blythe, if he does not own at least two cows
  • It is illegal to cry on the witness stand in Los Angeles
  • Cats and dogs in Ventura County can have sex only if they have the permit to do so
  • The copyright to the term ‘San Francisco’ is held by the city of San Francisco One cannot manufacture any item with the name San Francisco without the permission from the city

Connecticut

  • It is illegal to dispose of used razor blades
  • It is against the law to train dogs for obedience or any other purpose
  • It is illegal to kiss your wife on a Sunday in Hartford
  • It’s against the law to eat in your car, in Bloomfield

Delaware

  • It is illegal for anyone to fly over any water body without sufficient supplies of food and water

Florida

  • A husband is not allowed to kiss his wife’s breast
  • Only the missionary position is legal when having sex
  • It is an offense to bathe naked
  • It’s a crime to parachute on Sundays
  • Women are fined for falling asleep under the hair dryer and so is the salon owner

Georgia

  • In Jonesboro, it is illegal to say “Oh, Boy”

Hawaii

  • One is fined if one does not own a boat

Idaho

  • A man cannot gift his lover a box of candy that is less than fifty pounds in weight
  • It is strictly prohibited to walk along the street with a red-tipped cane
  • It is a crime to ride a merry-go-round on Sundays

Illinois

  • All bachelors should be called master, not mister, when addressed by their female counterparts according to a state law
  • It is illegal to speak English. The officially recognized language is ‘American’
  • It is illegal for barbers to use their fingers to apply shaving cream on a customer’s face
  • It is illegal for women over 200 pounds wearing shorts to ride horses, in Chicago
  • An individual may be arrested for vagrancy, if he does not have at least one dollar bill on person

Indiana

  • All males 18 to 50 years old must work six days a year on public roads
  • It is illegal to indulge in ‘spiteful gossip’ and ‘talking behind a person’s back’
  • It is illegal to take baths between the months of October and March
  • Mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans
  • One is not allowed to carry a cocktail from the bar to a table; only the waiter or waitress can do it

Iowa

  • A man with a mustache may never kiss a woman in public
  • The ‘Ice Cream Man’ and his truck are banned in Indianola
  • Kisses may last for as much as, but no more than, five minutes
  • Within the city limits, a man is not allowed to wink at any woman he does not know in Ottumwa
  • A husband in Ames is not allowed to drink more than 3 gulps of beer while lying in bed with his wife after making love or holding the wife in his arms

Kansas

  • In Kansas City, one cannot say the name ‘George Washington’ without adding the phrase ‘blessed be his name’
  • Pedestrians crossing the highways at night must wear tail lights

Kentucky

  • No female weighing between 90 and 200 pounds shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within the state, unless she be escorted by at least two officers, or unless she be armed with a club.
  • A person needs a license to walk around nude in his/her property
  • A woman may not buy a hat without her husband’s permission in Owensboro

Louisiana

  • It is considered illegal for a woman to drive a car unless her husband is waving a flag in front of it

Maine

  • Shoelaces must be tied while walking down the street in Portland
  • It is illegal to blow one’s nose in public in Waterville

Maryland

  • Eating while swimming in the ocean is prohibited in Maryland
  • It is illegal to mistreat oysters in Baltimore
  • A kiss more than one second is illegal in Halethrope
  • A woman is not allowed to go through her husband’s pocket while he is sleeping
  • One cannot swear within the city limits of Baltimore

Massachusetts

  • Any person caught eating peanuts in church may be jailed for up to one year
  • It is illegal to take a bath unless prescribed by a physician, in Boston
  • It is illegal to peep into the windows of automobiles in Milford

Michigan

  • A wife’s hair belongs to her husband, and it is illegal to alter her hairstyle without his permission
  • One may not swear in front of women and children
  • It is illegal to sleep in a bathtub in Detroit

Minnesota

  • It is compulsory for all men driving a motorcycle to wear shirts
  • Each and every man in Brainerd is required to grow a beard by law
  • No child under the age of 12 is allowed to talk over the phone unless monitored by a parent in Blue Earth
  • In Alexandria, it is illegal for any man to make love to his wife with the smell of garlic, onions or sardines in his breath If the wife requests him, it becomes mandatory for the husband to brush his teeth
  • Hamburgers are not to be eaten on Sundays in St Cloud

Mississippi

  • It is illegal for a man to be sexually aroused in public
  • It is illegal to create unnecessary noises in Oxford

Missouri

  • It is illegal for four unrelated women to rent an apartment together (to prevent prostitution)
  • Yard waste may be burned any day except on Sundays, in Buckner
  • Hard objects cannot be thrown by hand in Excelsior Springs
  • Dancing is strictly prohibited in Purdy

Montana

  • It is considered felony for a wife to open her husband’s mail
  • It is illegal for a man and a woman to have sex in any position other than missionary style
  • It is illegal for unmarried women to fish without a companion

Nebraska

  • If a child cannot hold back a burp during church service, the parents can be arrested
  • It is not legal for a tavern owner to serve beer unless a nice kettle of soup is also brewing
  • A man is not allowed to run around with a shaved chest
  • It is illegal to sleep naked in a hotel/motel room
  • The owner of every hotel in Hastings is required to provide each guest with a clean and pressed nightshirt. No couple, even if they are married, may sleep together in the nude. Nor may they have sex unless they are wearing one of these clean, white cotton nightshirts
  • Barbers are forbidden from eating onions between 7 am and 7 pm, in Waterloo

Nevada

  • Sex without a condom is considered illegal
  • Men who wear mustaches are forbidden from kissing women, in Eureka

New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire law forbids you to tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe
  • Citizens may not relieve themselves while looking up on Sundays
  • Any cattle that crosses state roads must be fitted with a device to gather its feces

New Jersey

  • It is against the law to ‘frown’ at a police officer
  • One may not dance or wear shorts on the main avenue
  • All cats must wear three bells to warn birds of their whereabouts
  • It is forbidden for a woman, on a Sunday, to walk down Broad Street without wearing a petticoat
  • It is illegal to buy ice cream after 6 pm, in Newark
  • Lovers in Liberty Corner should avoid satisfying their lustful urges in a parked car. If the horn accidentally sounds while they are frolicking behind the wheel, the couple can face a jail term

New Mexico

  • It’s forbidden for a female to appear unshaven in public in Carrizozo, New Mexico

New York

  • While riding in an elevator, one must talk to no one, and fold his hands while looking towards the door
  • It is illegal for a woman to be on the street wearing ‘body hugging clothing’
  • A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting. This is an old law that specifically prohibits men from turning around on any city street and looking ‘at a woman in that way’. If convicted a second time for a crime of this magnitude, it calls for the violating male to be forced to wear a ‘pair of horse-blinders’ wherever and whenever he goes outside for a stroll
  • A man can’t go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that do not match, in Carmel
  • It is illegal to eat on the street in residential neighborhoods, and the only beverage you can drink on the beach is water in a clear plastic bottle, in Ocean City

North Carolina

  • All couples staying overnight in a hotel must have a room with double beds that are at least two feet apart. Making love in the space between the beds is strictly forbidden
  • In Charlotte, women must be swathed in at least 16 yards of fabric before stepping out into public
  • Fights between cats and dogs are prohibited in Barber
  • Before a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage, he must be inspected by all the barnyard animals on the young woman’s family’s property, to ensure a harmonious farm life, in Raleigh
  • It is required that one must pay a property tax on their dog, in Rocky Mount

North Dakota

  • It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on
  • It’s against state law to serve beer and pretzels at the same time in any bar or restaurant
  • You may be jailed for wearing a hat while dancing, or even for wearing a hat to a function where dancing is taking place, in Fargo

Ohio

  • It is against the law to roller skate without notifying the police
  • Women are forbidden from wearing patent leather shoes (to avoid men seeing the reflection of their underwear)
  • It is illegal to run out of gas
  • Breastfeeding is not allowed in public
  • It’s illegal to catch mice without a hunting license in Cleveland
  • Any person who leans against a public building will be subject to fines in Clinton County
  • It’s illegal for a woman to strip off her clothing while standing in front of a man’s picture, in Oxford
  • You cannot eat a donut and walk backwards on a city street

Oklahoma

  • Women are forbidden from doing their own hair without being licensed by the state
  • Dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property
  • By law, a kiss can last for 3 minutes, in Tulsa
  • It is against the law to open a soda bottle without the supervision of a licensed engineer, in Tulsa

Oregon

  • One may not bathe without wearing ‘suitable clothing’, i.e. that which covers one’s body from neck to knee
  • It is illegal to whisper ‘dirty’ things in your lover’s ear during sex
  • Anyone with a bad reputation is prohibited from distributing malt beverages, in Oregon

Pennsylvania

  • Any motorist driving along a country road at night must stop every mile and send up a rocket signal, wait 10 minutes for the road to be cleared of livestock, and continue
  • Any motorist who sights a team of horses coming towards him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass. If the horses appear skittish, the motorist must take his car apart, piece by piece, and hide it under the nearest bushes
  • No man may purchase alcohol without written consent from his wife
  • It is illegal to sing in your bathtub
  • Ministers are forbidden from performing marriages when either the bride or groom is drunk
  • Men are banned from getting aroused in public, in Allentown

Rhode Island

It is illegal to sell toothpaste and a toothbrush to the same customer on a Sunday, in Providence

South Dakota

  • Movies that show police officers being struck, beaten, or treated in an offensive manner, are forbidden

Tennessee

  • It is illegal for a woman to call a man for a date
  • It is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn the approaching motorists and pedestrians, in Memphis

Texas

  • The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home
  • One needs a 5 dollar permit before going barefoot
  • It is illegal for kids to have unusual haircuts, in Mesquite

Utah

  • It is illegal not to drink milk
  • It is a felony to persistently tread on the cracks between paving stones on the sidewalk of a state highway

Vermont

  • Denying the existence of God is considered illegal
  • Women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth

Virginia

  • All bathtubs are to be kept outside in the yard and not inside the house
  • One cannot work on a Sunday
  • Driving without shoes is prohibited
  • Children are not allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween
  • It’s against the law to tickle a girl under her chin with a feather duster in order to get her attention, in Newport
  • It is illegal to kick your wife out of bed, in Lebanon

Washington

  • One needs a license to sell condoms in Washington state

West Virginia

  • It is unlawful for chickens to lay eggs before 8 am and after 4 pm
  • One is not allowed to snooze on the train
  • It’s against the law to eat candy less than an hour and a half before church service in the town of Salem

Wisconsin

  • Car dealers cannot sell cars on Sundays
  • It is illegal to wake a fireman when he is asleep

Wyoming

  • Women cannot stand within 5 feet of a bar while drinking
  • One is not allowed to take pictures of a rabbit during the month of June
  • In Cheyenne, residents cannot take a shower on Wednesdays

Do you imagine that it is possible for you to go through life without violating a federal, state or local law?   It’s impossible.

As Stalin’s notorious chief of secret police famously said:

Show me the man and I will find the crime.

NSA Spying Can Trap You In Suspected Wrongdoing

Top NSA whistleblower William Binney – the former head of the National Security Agency’s global digital data gathering program – has repeatedly explained that just because you “haven’t done anything wrong” doesn’t mean you can’t be severely harmed by spying:

The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.

Binney explains that the government is storing everything, and creating a searchable database … to be used whenever it wants, for any purpose it wants (even just going after someone it doesn’t like).

And he notes that the government will go after anyone who is on its enemies list:

If you ever get on their enemies list, like Petraeus did, then you can be drawn into that surveillance.

Similarly, Edward Snowden said:

Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude … to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody – even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.

[If people don't oppose the surveillance state now] it will be turnkey tyranny.

Remember, it’s not just the NSA which is spying on your. Numerous government agencies are spying on all of your data, and sharing that information with federal, state and local law enforcement, the drug enforcement agency, the IRS and many others. So if any of those agencies thinks – rightly or wrongly – that you might have broken a law, they might target you.

Get it?

Mass surveillance is incredibly dangerous … and no one is immune.

This article was posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 4:55 am





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