6 Laws That Were Great On Paper (And Insane Everywhere Else)

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. And Bourbon.

The point being, history is full of well-meant laws and reforms meant to protect us from ourselves that either don't do a damned thing, or in these cases, actually make things worse.

#6. Smoking Bans in Pubs and Bars Means More Drunk Driving

Let's face it, alcohol and cigarettes are a magical combination: They go together like peanut butter and chocolate; a rock star and a porn actress; a Cracked writer and minor felonies. You'd think it would be common knowledge by now that if you mess with one of these vices, it's going to affect the other in some way. But anti-smoking laws have been in the news quite frequently, with newly implemented indoor smoking bans taking effect all across the UK and the U.S. The benefit to public health seems obvious at first glance. But as astute readers might have guessed already, there is always a potential backfire just waiting to happen...


Keeping us safe from second-hand smoke.

How Did it Backfire?

Smokers who also drink alcohol are going to smoke when they drink alcohol. As obvious as that statement is to anyone with a shred of common sense, the unbreakable bond of smokes and booze escaped lawmakers completely. They figured that smokers would go to bars, have a drink or two, step outside for a quick nicotine fix and then resume their drinking inside. They forgot to take two tiny little things into account: Winter is cold and wet, and people with genitals typically like to not "freeze them off."


And no practical advancements in winter smoking.

A study by researchers Scott Adams and Chad Cotti discovered that, when faced with smoking bans in bars near their homes, alcohol-drinking smokers would simply drive further to other jurisdictions where the bans weren't in place. That also meant they had a longer drive home when they were potentially drunk off their asses. Adams and Cotti found that, on average, there was a 13 percent increase in drunk driving fatalities in areas that had instituted smoking bans.


Do the right thing.

If we've learned any lesson today, let it be thus: Never underestimate the love affair between beer and cigarettes, or the motivational power of cold balls.

Oh, also don't drink and drive. That's somewhere in there too.

#5. Sex Offender Laws Make Them Harder to Track

If a stampede of pedophiles running rampant through the streets sounds like a nightmare, you might not be sleeping. You might just be in Iowa.

It all seemed like such a great idea on paper: The good legislators of Dubuque, Iowa, in an attempt to keep pedophiles and other degenerates as far away from their children as possible made it illegal for a registered sex offender to live within 2,000 feet of a school. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But then someone remembered that kids also congregated at other places besides schools. There were libraries, daycare centers, swimming pools and parks to think about too. In the end, sex offenders were forbidden to live within a half-mile of any place where adolescents might gather.

How Did it Backfire?

Somebody took a map of Dubuque and drew 4,000-foot diameter circles around every "predator free" landmark in town. They quickly realized that with dozens of overlapping circles covering the entire city, there was literally no place that a sex offender could legally live. Like some alternate-universe version of the Book of Exodus, the county's molesters had no choice but to pack their shit, sing "Let My People Go" and head for the Promised Land. The Promised Land, in this case, being the town of Galena, right across the Mississippi River in Illinois, where no such restrictions were in place.

When the good people of Galena realized that a herd of dudes named Chester was headed for its borders, they in turn passed their own Draconian residency laws. The next town down the line did the same thing, as did the town after that. A frenzied passing of sex offender residency legislation swept across the entire region and now, presumably, there is a tidal wave of homeless child molesters thousands strong that is going to crash into the Atlantic Ocean at any moment.

Iowa lawmakers reluctantly came to understand that while having sexual predators living in your town is not very appealing, knowing where they live is an important part of policing them and making sure they are controlled and accounted for. Once everyone on the sex offender registry became basically homeless, a good number of them went underground and disappeared off the police radar altogether. The end result: Like a sexually deviant remake of Predator, Iowa is now being stalked by legally invisible child molesters scattered throughout the state.

#4. Fishing Restrictions Mean Smaller Fish

If you happen to be hunting on land, you have to follow some pretty strict permit rules like: Only hunt in designated areas, observe all safety rules and don't slaughter anything that can sing you an adorable song about the forest. So it only make sense that the same should apply for fishing, right?

Nope! Don't you look stupid for assuming that? That's what you get for applying logic, suckers!

How Did it Backfire?

Fishing restrictions are actually causing the fish to shrink and depopulate. And this isn't some new development either; this has been happening over the past century or so. The average size of cod has gone from 95 centimeters to 65 over the space of 60 years, for example. And while most people were happy to shrug it off, assuming water shrinks fish the same way it makes fools of all men, some scientists suggest we might be the ones actually responsible.

In one study, a batch of Atlantic Silversides were divided up between three tanks. In the first tank, 90 percent of the largest fish were culled; in the second, 90 percent of the smallest fish were culled; and in the third control tank, they culled fish at random (though presumably the ones that "swam like dicks" went first). Counter-intuitively, it turned out that the second tank ended up having larger fish, over longer periods of time.

Do you see the reasoning yet? As we're actively removing all the big fish from the ocean, while simultaneously protecting the smaller fish, we're teaching the genetic structure of the fish to favor slow growth. Not only does this mean that we're getting smaller fish to catch, it also means that fish are now taking longer to reach maturity, meaning they're taking longer to repopulate.

In short: We cull the strongest and the largest (the Schwarzenegger fish) while throwing back the weak and sickly (the Steve Gutenberg fish) then when nature sees this shit go down, BAM!

Perpetual nerd fish.

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