Briefly Noted: Gratuitous Government

“In Liverpool,” New York attorney Nathan Belofsky reports, “it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store.” Although puzzled readers might want a bit more explanation, that is all they learn about this weird decree in Belofsky’s redundantly named compendium The Book of Strange and Curious Legal Oddities (Perigee).

If Belofsky had devoted less space to extended quotations from statutes, regulations, and court proceedings, he might have had room to discuss the motivation for edicts like the British law against eating mincemeat pies on Christmas Day or the Brighton, Michigan, ban on actions that “annoy another person” and “serve no legitimate purpose.” 

Still, it’s fun dipping into his grab bag of gratuitous government, which includes entertaining and enlightening excursions into such topics as kissing regulations, the 500-year war on bowling, Britain’s Anti-Social Behavior Orders, and the insane injunctions of Turkmen dictator Saparmurat Niyazov.

Find this and hundreds of other interesting books at the Reason Shop, powered by Amazon.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement