Don’t use an elephant to plow cotton fields

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2024

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A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from my daughter who asked a really strange question.

“Dad, can a husband take his wife to a courthouse in North Carolina on a Sunday and legally spank her,” Danielle asked.

Of course my initial reaction was why would my son-in-law want to do such a thing.

“Oh, no, he doesn’t want to do that. He just heard it was a law and thought it was weird,” Danielle said.

So, being the inquisitive newspaper guy that I am, I went online to see if such a law exists.

Other than an old tale that referenced something similar once on the books in South Carolina, there is thankfully nothing that allows a man to do that. Domestic abuse/violence is a crime in any state, no matter which partner is guilty.

However, what I did find online was hundreds of crazy, weird, or downright bizarre laws that remain or were once on the books. Here are some I found at

In Alabama, it’s illegal to pretend to be a religious figure. On that religious note; you also can’t play dominoes on a Sunday. Or hunt, shoot, play cards, or race.

Alaska has a statute that says an “intoxicated person may not knowingly enter or campout where alcohol is sold.” Which means you can’t get drunk in a bar and remain on-premises. But you also can’t drive home. And I’m guessing they don’t have a ton of Ubers out there?

In Arizona, it’s illegal to feed garbage to pigs without a permit. But if they’re pigs you plan on eating yourself, you don’t need a permit.

Arkansas made it illegal for a pinball machine to give away more than 25 free games to a player in one sitting.

In California, there’s a health code that says if a frog dies during a frog-jumping contest, it can’t be eaten and you must destroy it as soon as possible.

Connecticut officials recently overturned a law that made it illegal to sell pickles, salsa, or anything with a pH below 4.6 at a farmer’s market.

In Idaho, cannibalism is usually illegal. The state does allow for cannibalism “under life-threatening conditions as the only apparent means of survival.”

It’s illegal in Illinois to possess any variety of aquatic life that was captured or killed in violation of the fish and aquatic life code, or whose value exceeds $600. So, yes, you can own $600 worth of salamanders – but it can’t be just one salamander worth $601.

Indiana made it illegal for liquor stores to sell refrigerated soft drinks or water. The law states that a beer and wine store should be exclusively alcoholic. That means any water or soft drinks sold at those locations must be at room temperature.

Apparently, those making the laws in Iowa are serious about their butter. In that state, anyone trying to pass off margarine as real butter is guilty of a misdemeanor under the food labeling laws.

In Kansas, it’s illegal to shoot a rabbit from a motorboat. The law makes no mention about shooting a rabbit from a boat without a motor.

Traditional Louisianan jambalaya is not subject to state sanitary codes. This means that jambalaya in Louisiana can be made for public consumption in the open using iron pots and wood fires.

Singing, playing only part of, remixing, or dancing to the national anthem is punishable by a fine of up to $100 in Massachusetts. Additionally, swearing at sporting events if you’re over the age of 16 is still against the law in that state. Lawmakers there have perhaps never attended a baseball game at Fenway Park.

In Michigan, you can’t be drunk on a train, but you can be drunk on a plane.

Those engaged in competitions where they are trying to capture a greased or oiled pig are breaking the law in Minnesota.

In Missouri, if a bull or ram over the age of one year runs rampant for more than three days, a person may castrate the animal without liability for the damage. However, three town residents must attest in writing that the animal is loose, and its owner must fail to reclaim the animal after notice is given.

A person wearing a bulletproof vest while carrying out a criminal act in New Jersey can be charged separately for “suiting up.”

In New Mexico, you can be charged with a misdemeanor if you trip a horse.

Adultery is illegal in New York, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Kind’a makes you wonder about the availability of jail cells in New York.

It’s against the law in North Dakota to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on. Though whether this is in private or public, the law doesn’t say.

In Ohio, every operator of an underground coal mine must provide “an adequate supply of toilet paper for each toilet.”

If you’re traveling with bottled pee in Oregon, you cannot throw it out of your vehicle or leave it on the side of the road. This is a class A misdemeanor. The same is true for fecal matter.

Down in South Carolina, a male over the age of 16 can’t seduce a woman by falsely promising to marry her. If found guilty of that crime, the man will be charged with a misdemeanor and possibly fined or imprisoned for no more than one year.

In South Dakota, every hotel must have twin beds two feet apart, and “thou shalt not make love between the beds.”

The state of Washington identities bigfoot as an endangered species and killing or trapping one is illegal.

I save our state for last. In North Carolina, elephants can’t be used to plow cotton fields. But using one to plow other fields seems to be okay. Just no cotton, so don’t even think about it.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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