301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

6.23.23 – KLAW –

If you scour the internet long enough, you’ll naturally come across tidbits of information sharing some of the weirdest laws in the land. Even worse, social media will latch onto a soundbyte to gain massive notoriety from a public that is interested enough to share misinformation, but not interested enough to dig into the truth between the lines.

Here is the long and short of some of Oklahoma’s crazy and weird laws.

Getty Images

Whaling Is Illegal In Oklahoma

Have you heard this before? It’s a left-field curveball of a statement for sure. After all, our population of whales have stayed steady at zero long before Oklahoma became a state… So why do we have a law banning the hunting of whales? We don’t. While it would be nice to think Oklahoma took a progressive stance on commercial whaling with the rest of the world in the 1940s or 1970s outright US ban on the practice, Oklahoma has no mention of whaling on the books… sort of. So is it illegal to hunt whales in Oklahoma? Yes, but not because we’re trying to protect our Sooner State whales. This hyperbole is a crazy zero-to-100 jump from our wildlife and hunting laws in the state. In the 2006 Oklahoma Code: Title 29: Game & Fish, § 29-2-135, Oklahoma statutes ban the hunting or killing of any threatened species. As most whales are considered threatened at a minimum, they are technically illegal to hunt or kill in Oklahoma. For the record, so are pandas, tigers, koalas, rinos, etc… Because of this law, if you happened to find and kill Bigfoot without a credible story that you were in imminent danger from the mythical beast, you’d likely serve time in jail.


Illegal To Keep Tissues In The Back Of Your Car

This one is actually true, but it’s not just an Oklahoma thing, it’s practically nationwide in modern America, but it has nothing to do with tissues and everything to do with flying objects in the event of a crash. Before cars became aerodynamic, there was a shelf located behind and above the rear seats. It was common to see things stored there, so much so, it was called a package shelf for decades. My grandpa always kept a hat there, facing outward so the whole passing world could see he was from Hollis, Oklahoma, and supported his Hollis High School Tigers. My dad and his brothers put speakers in that location in their shared Chevy Belaire… Heavy wood boxes with heavier metal speakers in it. The early days of custom audio. Grandma legit kept a box of tissues there for us kids in the back seat, but laws began to change in the 80s and 90s to keep things removed from that shelf for safety. In the event of a crash, anything not secured becomes flying debris. Example… When my dad ran his car through the front doors of the local feed store, those speakers came flying toward the front seat. Had he been wearing his seatbelt and not been thrown into the floorboard, there’s no telling what could have happened to him from blunt force trauma. The overhead door support beam sticking through the steering wheel and into the seat where his navel would have been is another minor detail, but worth mentioning all the same.

Spitting On The Sidewalk Is Illegal

This is actually an Oklahoma law, but there are several municipalities in the state with this statute in their local code book and it dates back to early state formation. When the federal government opened Oklahoma up to settlement and held seven different land runs to the masses, boomtowns popped up overnight. As these tent cities became towns, the unsettled state tried to take on a more civilized demeanor. You’ve probably seen that classic bar scene in every campy western where the bad guy spits his tobacco juice into a brass spittoon, right? That’s the theme of this ancient line of laws. Whether it was the boardwalk in front of the general store, or the modern-day concrete sidewalk around the downtown area, it has been illegal to spit on whatever walking surface existed in places like Tulsa, OKC, and tons of smaller towns around the state. Most of them read something akin to: It shall be unlawful for any person to spit on any sidewalk, or on the floor or wall of any public building, or to spit in or upon any part of any taxicab, bus or other public vehicle carrying passengers for hire in the city.


It’s Illegal For Women To Do Their Own Hair

Technically, even though it reads like a weird flex, this one is as accurate as it is ancient. Simply put, there are a ton of products used in cosmetology that can harm humans. From chemical burns to a quick and painful death, it was decided long ago that it was best left to trained and licensed professionals to handle these things. Of course, this was back in the day when most women would get their hair done once a week and do whatever it took to maintain it… Shower and sleeping caps, special pillows, etc…While you can now purchase a multitude of hair products and dyes over the counter, they aren’t the same as the professional line of products only available to our resident beauty specialists… So it’s not illegal to do your own hair, but it isn’t legal for you to use products to achieve a look that only beauticians and cosmetologists are licensed to handle.


It’s Illegal To Wear Boots In Bed

Just like the spitting on sidewalks law, this one is another old fashion law aimed at early Oklahoma trends. Simply put, the people that own the beds got tired of having to clean dirt, feces, spit, and all sorts of disgustingness off their sheets… they put together what we’d call today a political lobby, and somehow managed to get a law passed making bed boots illegal. Instead of just simmering in your own disgust after a gnarly-booted traveler checks out and leaves town, the law was on your side to change his ways with justice.


Illegal To Call A Woman A “Slut”

While we enjoy a very wide margin of constitutionally protect free speech in America, tossing out a “slut” label maliciously towards anyone is technically illegal in Oklahoma. This, like the whole “whaling is illegal in Oklahoma” thing, is a sensationalized soundbyte of the actual true story. In the Oklahoma statutes on slander, it’s illegal to create false rumors, and it’s not limited to women. Technically, you’re not allowed to call any of your fellow humans names that would falsely impune their honor in a malicious way. As the law reads: Any person, who shall willfully, knowingly, or maliciously repeat or communicate to any person, or persons, a false rumor or report of a slanderous or harmful nature, or which may be detrimental to the character or standing of such other person, or persons, whether such person is a private citizen, or officer, or candidate for office, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or imprisoned not less than thirty (30) days nor more than one hundred and twenty (120) days in the county jail, or both so fined and imprisoned for each offense.

There are dozens more crazy laws on the books around the state. Too many of them are so obscure, I can’t find any reference online. Of the entire internet, can you imagine not finding what you’re looking for? That’s brisket in the oven rare right there.