Strange and bizarre laws of bygone days

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Friday, 8 August 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • According to Hammurabi's Code (earliest known law code from the Near Ancient East), the penalty for medical malpractice was to cut off the doctor's hands. A barber who made a serious mistake could face a similar fate.
  • Under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry, and therefore there are reportedly men whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time.
  • In Norway, you may not spay your female dog or cat.
  • In Italy, a man can be arrested for wearing a skirt in public.
  • In Finland, taxi drivers must pay royalty if they play music in their cars for paying customers.
  • In Ireland, any person using any type of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, or pretend knowledge of any occult or craft or science shall be imprisoned for one year.
  • In 1845 English law, attempting to commit suicide was considered a capital offence, punishable by hanging.
  • The first Jewish member of the British House of Commons was Lionel Nathan Rothschild of the prominent family of European bankers. He did not assume his seat for 11 years, until Parliament finally let him take the oath in a manner acceptable to his Jewish faith.
  • In 1692, the good people of Salem, Massachusetts, hanged 19 convicted witches, and pressed another to death beneath heavy stones. They did not, however, burn any at the stake.
  • A judge in Louisville, Kentucky, decided a jury went a "little bit too far" in recommending a sentence of 5,005 years for a man who was convicted of five robberies and a kidnapping. The judge reduced the sentence to 1,001 years.
  • A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defence: "My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offence commited by his limb". To put which the judge replied: "Well put! Using your logic, I sentence the defendant's arm to one year's imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses". The defendant smiled. With his lawyer's assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.
  • John Bunyan, who was a popular writer from the 1700s, was put in prison for 12 years for preaching.
  • In 1924, a nicotine-addicted monkey in South Bend, Indiana, was convicted of smoking a cigarette. His punishment was to pay a US$25 fine and trial costs.

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