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"Crazy laws" (also known as "stupid laws", weird laws", "unusual laws" or similar) are a pop culture phenomenon going back at least to the 1990's that consist of wild, typically unsourced claims that certain jurisdictions have bizarre or absurd laws in their statute books. Many "crazy law" books and articles liberally cite each other as they weave a tangled web of citations. These claims are very interesting from a Skeptics perspective as they have not only been around for decades but originate in a combination of complete fabrications, mangled misunderstandings of real laws, and obsolete laws that were repealed after the reasons for them existing ended. Tracking each of them to their original sources is a very difficult challenge indeed.

Research into these questions tends to look like this (made-up example, but based on real such claims):

Claim: It is illegal for children in Podunk County to drink imported milk.

Reality: A 1982 regulation of the Podunk County Board of Education (currently codified as Regulation 44.3 here: [link]) requires local public school lunch programs to purchase milk from local farmers. Local is defined as anywhere in Podunk County, Green County, Smith County, or any jurisdiction sharing a border with any of them. There are exceptions when local milk is not available, and the regulation does not apply at all to private schools, grocery stores, restaurants, or private homes.

Examples of actual crazy law questions here on this site are Is it true that in New York City there is a special law stating "It is Illegal to break the law"? and Is it against the law to mispronounce Arkansas?

These questions are typically tagged with , but that tag also includes many questions of a more mundane variety - questions about claimed laws that are relevant from a Skeptics perspective but do not fall under the "crazy laws" phenomenon.

An example of a non-crazy law question is Is it illegal to air a prank call in the United States because of FCC regulation?. It is a question about law that relates to a claim that is in-scope for Skeptics, but the claimed law is neither bizarre nor part of the historic "crazy laws" copypasta phenomenon.

So, should "crazy laws" have their own tag (e.g. or ), or are we just fine keeping them under ?

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    Just for clarity: I am not taking any action on this, because I don't think I need to. The OP has more than enough rep to create a tag, and is <strike>one upvote away from being</strike> able to add synonyms. Be bold. If you need help, let me know.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Apr 19, 2022 at 5:57

2 Answers 2

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I am fine with having a tag - perhaps mainly because these types of questions tend to share the exact same problem: i.e. they so very easy to invent to flesh out a listicle, but are very difficult (or expensive) to rule out, or to find the precedent that turns out to be misrepresented.

I would rather avoid the word "crazy" as it is considered ableist and stigmatising. (e.g. see [1], [2].)

Joe W's answer points out that "weird" is opinion-based. I think that is a good point, but if we aren't asking people to answer whether a law is weird, I think it isn't a show-stopper.

Perhaps we can come up with another phrase?

Wikipedia has settled on "Strange Laws". Is that any better than "Weird"? I think they are about equivalent.

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    I think strange laws is better then weird laws and defiantly better then crazy laws. I also agree with your point that the lists are really easy to make and can be difficult to fact check. These laws in general tend to be older laws that where created for different sensibilities and situations that no longer exist but have never been removed from the books. Maybe an old laws or outdated laws tag would be better?
    – Joe W
    Apr 16, 2022 at 15:50
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    'Antiquated laws' would be a great way to describe old laws that are no longer useful/acceptable/enforced, though the word 'antiquated' itself might be a bit too antiquated to be useful as a tag.
    – Giter
    Apr 16, 2022 at 16:39
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    Possibly tag it [is-it-a-law]? ELU has a bunch of tags similar to this, and Law has [is-x-legal]. (Either way, you can make synonyms.)
    – Laurel
    Apr 16, 2022 at 17:34
  • @JoeW While it's true that many 'strange laws' end up being 'antiquated laws' I'm not sure having a tag for antiquated laws helps. If I hear that it's illegal to pet a robin before 9 AM (I really hope that's not real....) I know that law sounds strange, I don't know if it is antiquated. It may turn out that the laws does exist as an ancient law that somehow made sense at the time, but I, the questioner, and tagger, likely don't know that when I apply tags. As such the tag will rarely get used even if most of the time it turns out it would have been appropriate.
    – dsollen
    Dec 15, 2022 at 23:19
  • @dsollen Are you sure you replied to the correct person? I never mentioned anything about antiquated laws in my reply.
    – Joe W
    Dec 16, 2022 at 0:21
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I say no, at least not call it crazy laws as what one person considers a crazy law someone else will not consider a crazy law. The same could be said for weird laws as well. Unless there is a compelling reason we should just keep using the law tag as it fits the needs.

In general most of these laws that appear on the list are from a significant amount of time in the past and are based on sensibilities and situations from that era that no longer apply anymore. The issue in most of those cases is that they have not been removed from the books when things changed and people no longer cared about them or they no longer applied.

While we may call them crazy/weird/strange the people at the time would have considered them normal and needed. What about saying old laws or outdated laws instead as that would be a more accurate way to categorize all of these laws.

A quick example of this would be various laws about riding a horse around town and how it is tied up at your stops. While we may consider that crazy/weird/strange now at the time they where normal and needed just never removed from the books.

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