31. 3. 2021

English version | Wrong way

by Sara Andrade

 

Which is like saying, that it doesn't make sense. In this list of items, more or less bizarre, unauthorized in certain parts of the globe, the first thing that seems to have been banned was awareness.

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Imagine that one day you were told that you could create the law you wanted, without limits of reasonability. In some of the examples that follow, it could be assumed that this freedom existed and was not only used, but taken to the extreme. Many of these standards were created in ancient times and never questioned, so keep on existing, even though they may not necessarily be applied. Others, more recent, are simply peculiar. For example, in the United States, the famous Kinder eggs - a toy, a surprise and a chocolate - have been banned since practically their appearance, since, according to the laws of that country, it is prohibited to place toys inside food, at least risk of a child choking on them - a reasonable logic, but curious considering that, from the age of 16, you can already buy a firearm. Chocolate with a toy not so much... In 2013, Kinder’s conquered supermarket shelves, but only if the surprise inside was large and whole, that is, it wasn’t divided into pieces. We know what you're thinking. We thought the same: what more seemingly absurd laws, especially when compared to other permits, exist around the world? We didn't know, but the Internet, that world full of fun facts, brought us the curiosities that we have listed below. Introduced by the classic expression that presents all the peculiarities that we don't know but that we really wanted to know. In cyberspace, it says that the following happens around the globe.

Did you know that… 

Do you know that in Texas, there were, at least, until 2008 - more laws banning the use of sex toys than weapons? There were even limits imposed – to sex toys, not weapons. Five or less, it’s ok, as of the sixth toy, it is a crime. How far could your sexual desire go? We will only count to five before declaring you guilty as charge. However, in a lawsuit initiated by sex shops in the area, this law that allowed punishing anyone who sold or promoted such items with up to two years in prison, was repealed - the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that it violated the privacy right established in the 14th Amendment. Speaking of guns, in Nevada and Kansas City, in Kansas, fake or toy guns are forbidden for minors - but if they are real, there is no problem whatsoever. Still in the United States, more specifically in Alabama, you cannot wear a fake mustache inside a church, because it can cause others to laugh during the solemn ceremony; and in Georgia, in Sandy Springs, sex toys, as they once were in Texas, are considered obscene and, therefore, prohibited, unless the user has a medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or, in general, legal reason, to acquire such item. And for recreational reasons, no? Not anymore. It is said that in that same state, it is also illegal to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork - you can only eat it with your hands, so we believe in mostly everything. Still in Georgia, you can't walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in your pants pocket, a technique used to attract and steal horses that was particularly popular on this holy day. Maybe when everyone was in the church, not wearing fake mustaches. What you can't wear in this case in Louisiana, either, is a sleeveless jersey - neither the sports person for their morning run. When will a similar law apply to small speedos? Another piece of prohibited clothing are baggy pants in Illinois, at least since 2011: according to the law, the trousers must be very secure at the waist, to prevent them from falling about 10 cm below that area, exposing the skin or underwear. Fines start at $ 100 and there is community service for the first time you are caught in the act with your pants down. In New Hampshire, you can't be caught with something else in your hands either: seaweed. Here, taking seaweed from the seashore is illegal. What is also illegal is not being able to vote in New Mexico, if you are an idiot - the law specifies that "every American citizen who resides in New Mexico for 12 months" can vote in municipal elections, with the exception of "Idiots". What they mean by an idiot is not specified in the law, it seems. In Florida, if a single woman parachutes on Sunday, she risks being arrested, and in Ohio, it is forbidden to get fish drunk. What?! Forbidden? Can we start by asking if this is even possible? The neighboring country also has some interesting rules. In Canada, according to a 1985 law, you cannot pay for items with coins only, if the total is over 10 Canadian dollars. In 2013, a law was passed to prevent the use of more than 25 pennies in a transaction (the goal was to get this currency out of circulation, hence the restriction). Still in Canada, baby “spiders” were also banned in 2004 for safety reasons - the Government believes that, according to studies, these baby walkers do more harm than good, being the main cause of injuries to children in the 90s. Across the Pacific, in the independent state of Samoa, a law appears, within a list of unusual rules, which already seems reasonable: it is forbidden for a man to forget his wife's birthday; if you do, you may have to pay a fine that goes directly to your wife's bank account. 

On this side of the Atlantic Ocean, other English-speaking people also seem to have their own peculiarities. Did you know that in the UK you cannot eat cookies on Christmas Day? In 1644, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, banned Christmas parties for being considered immoral, with consequences for some attributes of the festivities, which were then banned, namely sweets and cookies, illegal only on Christmas day. Cromwell's law was never abolished, so the English who eat cookies on December 25 are actually committing a crime - but the truth is that nobody cares. Also in the UK, don't pet whales (if you had that on your wishlist). Marine mammals such as whales and dolphins are considered the property of the Queen, so it is forbidden to touch them. Try not to give in to the temptation, please. Still in Her Majesty's land, and also in France, it is forbidden for a couple to kiss at railway stations: the law appeared in French territory in 1910, because trains were often delayed at the exit of the station by couples who did not want to be apart.

This display of affection was therefore prohibited - except in areas designated for that purpose. And if you want to drown the sorrows of longing with junk food, pay attention to the condiments: mayonnaise, ketchup and vinaigrette have a limit in France, in public schools - in an effort to improve the quality of the students' diet, the rule dictates that the sauces are not freely accessible, but distributed according to the dish. Also in this country, know that it is forbidden to call Napoleon a pig. Not far away, in Italy, more specifically in Venice, feeding pigeons is punished by law, a rule created to prevent these birds from huddling around the statues and using them as toilets. At another point in Italy, there are other obstacles. For example, you can be fined if you wear flip flops on the island of Capri. Because is it unsightly? Because you are too relaxed? Because you can stumble? No, because they make a lot of noise. In Rome, you can have a clown fish, but you can't have it in a round aquarium - yes, one of those classic goldfish - because it is considered cruel since it limits the flow of oxygen and the animals can go blind. It is also prohibited, according to the same law, to give away these fish - or any other animal - as a prize. Speaking of offers, in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, you will not be able to offer lace lingerie, because their sale has been banned since in 2013 a rule was established that the clothes that touch your skin must contain at least 6% cotton, for health reasons - and lace is not a breathable fabric. Lace, however, can be worn in Greece. What cannot be worn there since 2009, are high heels in historic areas, according to an NPR report, because the thin heel can put pressure on the ground and fragment the century-old architecture. If you go to Romania, you can put high heels in your suitcase, but not Scrabble: the President banned the board game for being "too intellectual" and "subversively malicious."

A trip to Asia reveals dictates that were unlikely to be deemed possible: for example, Buddhist monks in the Tibet can only be reincarnated with the permission of the Chinese government. We do not know how do they control this law issued in 2007 - many believe it served only as a form of insult to the Dalai Lama, so that people did not hold it in high regard. And if you reincarnate, avoid doing it in North Korea while wearing blue jeans - prefer black denim instead. The color blue is associated with the USA, so North Koreans are not allowed to wear it. But you can wear them in Singapore - as long as you are not chewing gum, everything is fine. Only a few are authorized, for medical reasons, because otherwise it is forbidden to import the product, with huge fines for whoever does it. In Japan, they say that if you are between 40 and 74 years old, the company you work for can measure your waist: if the value is greater than the limit imposed by the Government, you are given a nutritional plan and the company can be fined. Still in Japan, the inhaler with the drug Vicks is also banned due to strict anti-drug rules: everything that includes pseudoephedrine, such as the aforementioned inhaler, is prohibited in the country. If you go to Iran, know that certain haircuts are not allowed: ponytails, mullets, long hair and a list of Western hairstyles are banned from that territory, because the government does not want Western practices to get into people’s heads - literally. In the case of women, among the countless restrictions, we are also not allowed to buy women's magazines in the territory [in an unrelated note, www.vogue.pt/shop, FYI). But there is something that is not illegal: sexual relations with certain animals, as long as they are domesticated - what is indeed forbidden is sex with wild animals. In Saudi Arabia, in addition to women being unable to drive (it is not new that driving is illegal for women in too many areas of the planet, but continues to surprise by how ridiculous it is), neither can we celebrate Valentine’s day for being considered totally against Islamic beliefs. Therefore, everything related to the date is  cannot be marketed. Further down the globe, in Australia, there is no space for fetishes with small breasted women: pornography of this type was banned because a woman with tiny breasts can encourage pedophilia, according to the Aussies. A story worthy of a meme? Not in Australia, where creating and sharing memes is supposedly prohibited, for the sake of protecting copyright: the country has strict rules with respect to copyright and determines, in the Copyright Act, that “distributing an article that infringes rights and that adversely affects the rights holder” on that content is illegal. And memes come into this category. More emasculating than this is this law in Victoria, also in Australia, which says that you cannot change a lamp unless you are an electrician - if caught, the fine is 10 Australian dollars. Well, no worries: it’s not like you’re going to need light to create memes or watch porn with small breasted women.

And here in Portugal, nothing? There has been, especially in the Salazar era. It is not new that, during the Estado Novo, certain books, records or films were banned, that divorce was not allowed, that a woman could not walk alone at night, nor wear a bikini on the beach, nor a miniskirt in high school, nor allowed to enter bare-headed in a church. She also couldn't travel without the written authorization from the husband, nurses could not marry and gatherings with more than three people were dispersed. It was a dictatorship, after all. Among the rules, already highly emasculating of our freedom, there were still other restrictions that seem harmless, but not to mr. António de Oliveira Salazar: drinking Coke, for example, was prohibited, because national products had to be benefited and the Portuguese drink was wine. Playing cards on a train? No way. That was an addiction because the game was the work of the demon - just like talking about politics, getting drunk or opening the train windows if other passengers did not want to. There is also that of the names: around here, as in Denmark and Iceland, for example, there are certain names that cannot be registered, because “they are not clear about the gender of the individual.” This list of references is just the tip of the iceberg of dated (or not) legislation that reveals bizarre rules at the very least, still operative. Stupidity can have no limit, but these pages have, so we stop here with the fun facts. We just add some wisdom from days gone by: Marco Túlio Cícero, Roman lawyer, politician, writer, speaker and philosopher (106-43 B.C.), said "more laws, less justice." Excessive laws castrate justice, because they restrict common sense. The same thinker also said that laws must be interpreted in a liberal sense so that their intention is preserved - perhaps what is lacking here is a global law that makes common sense mandatory. Because all of these prohibitions would be absolutely pointless if there was simply common sense. Can someone find out about this, please?