The Honking Goose

something to honk about

how can I know everything that is illegal?

The simple truth is, I can’t. There are so many laws on the books, beyond the basics of don’t steal, don’t kill. There are very specific laws that just pertain to specific industries like land development or food production. But even putting that aside, there are how many laws that govern my own life and actions? I don’t even know how many. I certainly don’t know what they all are. And if I don’t know about a law, how can I follow it? I might just get lucky.

golden lady of justice statue holding the scales of justice

Here is a small selection of obscure laws (source: DMV.org)

In University City, Missouri it is illegal to honk the horn of someone else’s car. In Reno, Nevada it is against the law to place a bench or chair in the middle of the road. In Hilton Head, South Carolina, it is illegal to store trash in your vehicle. In Chico, California it is against the law to plant rutabagas in roadways. In Connecticut hunting from cars is illegal.

I’m not saying that any of these things should be legal. Just that the burden should be on the state to educate people about the laws they need to follow. I don’t think it’s fair to prosecute people for breaking laws they don’t know about.

I think there should be a law that says it has to be proven that someone knew a law existed before they can be found guilty of breaking it.

I’m completely serious, folks. Do you agree that would make the justice system more just?

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35 comments on “how can I know everything that is illegal?

  1. Uncle Guacamole
    October 25, 2014

    I remember very well the day in law school when I brought this up in my criminal law class. The professor very patiently explained that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is what is known as a “legal fiction” that is necessary to allow our system of laws (and hence, the social compact) to operate. Our legal system doesn’t expect everyone to know all the laws, but it does obligate us to investigate those that are likely to pertain to the activities of life in which we choose to participate. For example, you should see an attorney before you open a business, as there are a lot of laws with which you will be expected to comply. Similarly, before you drive in another country, you should check out their rules of the road so that you don’t do something dumb (like drive on the wrong side of the road) and get yourself and others killed. Typically, in gray areas, law enforcement hands out “warnings” so that next time you can’t say you didn’t know.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2014

      I can almost understand and agree to system that places the burden on the individual to educate themselves. The problem I have with that is the laws are not easily accessible to most of us commoners. I don’t think anyone should need to have the means to hire a lawyer to understand the laws pertaining to them because lawyers are not uniformly accessible to all people. And the law needs to be written in clear, simple language if we are to read it ourselves and come out with understanding on the other side. I am fairly well educated, I graduated high school and attended college for several years and I am very well read. But reading all the laws, just that pertain to myself, that I need to follow in my daily life, would spin my head around and I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to correctly interpret a large portion of it.

      Like

  2. khalkinised
    October 24, 2014

    Hi. Here in London we are subject to European laws which govern the ‘shape’ of our bananas amongst other things. It is completely against logic and totally ridiculous.

    I think law should be there for a few things:

    Social stability.
    Protecting the vulnerable.
    Maintaining equality and fairness for minorities.

    I don’t see how the shape of our bananas achieves this. Which probably means that in Britain, the law is not working for us in the same way that it used to.

    😦

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 24, 2014

      I might revise the above to: Maintaining equality and fairness for all people. I really don’t know how the shape of bananas could factor in there. Strange.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. chandlerklebs
    October 24, 2014

    “I think there should be a law that says it has to be proven that someone knew a law existed before they can be found guilty of breaking it.

    I’m completely serious, folks. Do you agree that would make the justice system more just?”

    There may already be such a law, but I don’t know for sure. Either way I think it is a good idea. Whether or not the justice system can be more just or not, I have no clue.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 24, 2014

      There is always room for improvement. Whether or not my plan is the way to improve it – that I do not know.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sing Better English
    October 24, 2014

    You just reminded me how much of a staple the idiosyncratic laws of America are on British comedy shows like this one http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007mf4f

    Without the creativity of your law makers, we would be a sadder people πŸ™‚

    Do you think any of the past law makers knew that inventing improbable laws would guarantee fame for their words far, far into the future? Perhaps they were all disappointed novelists, doomed to spend their lives in government administration, with only the occasional Friday afternoon law to channel their desperate creativity. Maybe they had competitions, between states, for the most ridiculous law slipped past the consciousness of the voters. Maybe they were early Surrealists.

    Like

  5. cheergerm
    October 23, 2014

    Crikey! An actual law against no rutabagas planted in the streets…a good thing too. (I am now going to google what a rutabaga is, a vegetable methinks?)

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      A root vegetable no less. I assume the law was created because of dangerously located rutabaga plantings. Interesting from a historical perspective, but I can’t imagine the law is still needed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ginjuh
    October 23, 2014

    I remember learning as a kid that ignorance of the law was not valid excuse and wondering the same thing you outline here in this post. I think lots of laws don’t come into play until someone has hurt/damaged someone or something else and needs to be held responsible. For example, it is against the law here to operate a riding lawn mover while drunk on your own property. Odds are, though, that if you’re just buzzed while cutting the grass, know one knows or cares. If you hit and injury a neighbor’s kid, though, they will have something more significant with which to charge you.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      And chances are, having a law against something like that is not keeping anyone safe from bad accidents. So what good does it do to bog down the legal system with frivolous laws?

      Like

  7. Dustin John
    October 23, 2014

    The tax code laws are only like 400,000 pages long. Read though it and have it on my desk by Monday. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Lol πŸ™‚

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      Perfect example. I think I’m probably abiding those laws, but I don’t have time to find out for sure. Even assuming I would understand it if I did read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bruce Thiesen
    October 23, 2014

    I think everyone should be protected from rutabaga

    Like

    • Very Bangled
      October 23, 2014

      This is the kind of inflammatory statement that I just cannot tolerate 😸

      Like

  9. Very Bangled
    October 23, 2014

    I knew there was a reason to hate Chico! Anti-rutabaga fascists!

    Like

  10. Very Bangled
    October 23, 2014

    Ehhh… “But I swear I didn’t know murder was illegal!”

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      Your comment made me realize I should have used some specific examples, so I have updated my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yoshiko
    October 23, 2014

    It will be better to make the justice system more just.

    Like

  12. christianliving2014
    October 23, 2014

    Great write! Completely agree.

    Like

  13. jinx0923
    October 23, 2014

    Did you discover an unknown law?

    Like

  14. John
    October 23, 2014

    We live in a dictatorship. ..

    Like

  15. Carl D'Agostino
    October 23, 2014

    When George Washington became president there were just 4 federal laws I think: piracy, treason, counterfeiting and pay federal taxes.

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      That’s the sort of legal framework I think most people could understand. πŸ™‚

      Like

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This entry was posted on October 23, 2014 by in Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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