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Friday, July 11, 2014

It is Not Illegal for Mustached Men to Kiss Women in Public in Iowa

I recently came across this list of things about Iowa that "you probably don't know" on my Facebook news feed. The first item on the list caught my eye:

1. In the state of Iowa, it is illegal for a mustached man to kiss a woman in public. Shorn face PDA only please.

This "fact" reminded me of a recent post by Kevin Underhill over at the Volokh Conspiracy. He writes:

There are an untold number of “dumb law” lists on the Internet or in book form, but with rare exceptions the people who compiled those lists didn’t actually confirm they were real. Sure, it’d be kind of funny if a California town had a law against riding a bicycle in a swimming pool, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t. Believe me, there’s no need to make this stuff up.
I began to wonder if that mustache law could be real. So I decided to put my legal research skills to the test. I started where anybody who cares about saving money and informing the public should - with Google.

I found no shortage of websites claiming that this "dumb law" exists. But common to all these websites was a dearth of citations to any Iowa statute. Websites making the mustache law claim without any citation can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Although with names like omglaws, sodahead, and stupidlaws.com, I'm not sure why any citation is needed.

There are some citations out there. Yahoo Voices, Bored.com, the Date Report, and Crime Wire cite Dumblaws.com, for instance. But while Dumblaws.com provided several links to the text of some of the laws it listed, there was no citation for the mustache law.

Having struck out with Google, I decided I might as well take advantage of my final few weeks of Westlaw access. Searches of Iowa materials such as (kiss! /s mustache!) and even (kiss! & mustache) turned up no laws restricting the kissing activities of mustached men. A "mustache" search of the Iowa Code on the legislature's website led to a number of regulations on barbers, but no kissing prohibitions.

I'm going to go ahead and say it: there is no Iowa law that prohibits men with mustaches from kissing women in public. The law is fake and has gained a life of its own through the terrible power of the Internet.

To those who may argue that this law may be in a municipal code: the claims that Iowa law criminalized mustached men from kissing women in public are all claims about Iowa law, not some ordinance or municipal law of an Iowa city or town. The mustache law is often listed alongside examples of dumb municipal laws, implying that the mustache law is a statewide regulation.

I unfortunately cannot provide a citation for the claim I am making in this post. After all, I am arguing that a law does not exist, and I cannot cite something that does not exist. If anybody wants to dispute the claim I am making here, I welcome the commentary. But I would like a citation as well.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. I was just verifying all the laws that are given on all these sites. Glad I came across this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So Mishika, would you let a man with a mustache kiss you in public?

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