Citizens of Arizona are no strangers to dealing with the passage and debate of controversial laws. Within just the last 5 years, Arizona has been in the national spotlight more than once as our lawmakers have proposed history-making pieces of legislature. And while some of these proposed laws may make perfect sense in context of the situations we face today, it might be difficult to know how they’ll be perceived 100 years down the road.
The truth is, there are already some strange and rather stupid sounding laws already on the books in Arizona. Many of these seemingly odd laws are tied to a specific incident or set of circumstances that tend to make them more understandable. We’ll point out a few of those in a minute.
But first, here are a few laws that may sound strange, but actually seem fairly logical. Keep in mind that these are actual Arizona laws either in effect today or in law at one point in time:
- It’s illegal to harass a seeing-eye dog – It’s probably not very smart either. Hopefully, most people have the decency and common sense to follow this law.
- One cannot sell eggs that are addled, green, moldy, musty or that have meat spots – Good! Besides a few hard-core Dr. Suess fans, we can’t imagine anyone would be too eager to break this law.
- Using waste from a dump or junkyard to stuff a mattress is illegal – It’s difficult to even come up with a visual for this one.
- It’s unlawful to tamper with a petroglyph found in a cave – Not sure how often this situation even comes up, but it seems based on pretty simple logic.
- A restaurant cannot offer horse meat on their menu without a warning in green print – We feel sorry for whoever it was that had to suggest this law because they found out the hard way that they were eating horse.
Now those are some strange sounding laws that actually make some sense. But what about the laws that sound ridiculous and make no sense at all…like these:
- Any misdemeanor committed in Arizona while wearing a red ski mask is automatically considered a felony
- Anyone caught stealing soap must wash themselves with it until it is all used up
- Wearing suspenders is prohibited
- It is illegal to shoot a camel
- No more than 6 women can live in the same house at the same time
- Donkeys cannot sleep in bathtubs
It’s easy to read these laws and mistake them for punch lines of a joke. While some of them seem completely ridiculous and unneeded, a closer look at the origin of the law may shed some light on how these laws every came into existence at all.
For example, the law that states it is illegal to shoot camels seems rather pointless today as we seldom see a camel walking down the road. The law was, however, actually very important back 1857 when camels were abandoned after being used by the Army. In those days, the Army decided to enlist the help of camels to do the work normally completed by mules and horses. Camels were more adept to the desert and could live on much less water than a horse. They could also carry twice the load of a mule.
So the Army imported hundreds of camels from Egypt to help them with their work. Once the work was completed, there was no more use for the camels and they were either let loose or sold to private businesses. This is when the law preventing the shooting of these animals was passed.
As for 6 women or less living together in the same house, historians say that law was most likely passed to prevent brothels and prostitution. If you put that in context to the way people lived 100 years ago, it starts to make sense.
But how about the donkey in the bathtub? Why in the world would we need a law prohibiting donkeys to sleep in bathtubs? There is actually a good story here. It begins back a few years before the law was passed in 1924. It seems that a certain rancher who lived near Kingman Arizona had a donkey that became accustomed to sleeping in an abandoned bathtub on the rancher’s property. This may not seem like such a crime…a little weird, but not something that would hurt anyone else.
The problem arose when a dam broke lose and flooded the town and surrounding areas. When the flood reached the rancher’s property, it took his donkey and bathtub for a ride down the wash and into a basin. The story goes that quite a bit of the town’s resources and manpower were spent trying to rescue the donkey from the bathtub. It must’ve made the townspeople pretty upset, because not long after the event, the law banning donkeys from sleeping in bathtubs was passed.
Laws may not always make sense at face value and unless you are either practiced in the law or have an understanding of the legal system, it can be difficult to interpret these laws on your own. At the Naegle Law Firm, we’re always ready and willing to explain the law to our clients and provide the best representation. Don’t make the mistake of trying to guess what a law means. Work with an expert like Charlie Naegle who will put his knowledge and experience to work for you.