The 5 Most Absurdly Petty National Laws Ever Enforced
Once your bloody coup is over and all that sweet, sweet authority starts pouring in, how do you keep it? There's a fine line between governing the people fairly and letting them walk all over you. After all, you got where you are by couping the shit out of the last guy, so what's to stop the people from doing the same to you?
Furious, insane crackdowns on irrelevant bullshit, that's what!
Just take a lesson from these folks ...
Vote for the Wrong Song, Become an Enemy of the State
The Eurovision song contest, for those of you not familiar, sets country against country in a sort of pop song Thunderdome: Over 50 countries enter, but only one leaves (feeling good about itself).
Although it really, really shouldn't.
Each country chooses the artist that best represents its musical culture, or, barring that, has the most rockin' titties on display. These groups compete, all of Europe gets a chance to vote, and the winner presumably never has to compete in Eurovision again. You'd think this was all a bit pointless, like a grade school student body election: Won't every country just vote for itself?
But sometimes the results surprise you, as happened with Azerbaijan and Armenia in the 2009 Eurovision competition. Now, those two nations have been at each other's throats ever since they invented nations and throats (uh ... sometime back in the early '90s). No way in hell were citizens of one country voting for another. And for the most part, that was correct. But 43 Azerbaijanis bucked the nationalist trend and were so moved by Armenia's song that they picked up their phones and voted for the enemy.
In any other time, in any other place, this is where the ability to give a shit politely leaves the room, hops a Greyhound, and starts a new life somewhere far, far away. But not this time. This time the Azerbaijan security forces pulled the phone records to find out who some of these pop-traitors were and called them into police stations for questioning. The musical rebels were accused of being unpatriotic, and were even deemed "potential security threats" by the Azerbaijan authorities.
"Not loving this is equal to terrorism."
And rightfully so. God forbid they buy a One Direction song on iTunes and bring the whole country to its knees.
Iranians Crack Down on "Counter-Revolutionary" Water Gun Fights
After the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini pushed a huge "let's get it on" campaign to boost population. The people did their civic duty and nobly used their genitals on one another for the good of the nation. So many babies were born that the government eventually put the brakes on the lovefest, but it was too late: Now half of the country's population is in their early 20s, and all they want to do is rock and roll all night and consume Western culture every day.
We'll just assume their hands all say "Nicki Minaj."
And because young people are stupid regardless of regime, young Iranians have fallen in love with the concept of the flash mob. In the summer of 2011, a particularly hot one, bored youths decided to set up a playful public stunt. The plan was to get a bunch of strangers together, have an impromptu water gun fight, and then disappear. It worked, if one can describe professional time-wasting as working (we sure do): Dozens of young Iranians showed up at the appointed time and played squirt guns for a bit. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
"Say 'salaam alaikum' to my little friend."
Whereas any other country might shrug its collective shoulders and idly wonder why these kids don't get jobs, the Iranian government decided this was a national threat and cracked down with the full weight of its police state.
They put on their best, formal tinfoil hats (bowlers, we believe) and claimed that foreign powers were seeking to undermine the Islamic state by staging squirt-gun battles. One judge went further, and proclaimed that people who took part in said water fights were "counter-revolutionaries." A few arrests were actually made, with some participants even spending time in Iran's notorious prison system. Presumably when asked by other hardened criminals what they were in for, they did not answer "super soaking."
"I ... uh, killed the army. The whole army."
Being a Dick to Michael O'Brien Will Cost You Precisely $11,945
In 2006, Australian politician Michael O'Brien was serving as the totally official and not-made-up-sounding Shadow Minister for Gaming. In 2010, O'Brien was promoted to For-Realsies Gaming Minister (actual title). And he found that the limelight, she burned.
Nearly as much as his chlamydia.
Apparently Michael O'Brien liked life in the shadows; he just wasn't crazy about that whole "public" part of "public office." Mostly because, much to O'Brien's shock and absolutely nobody else's, he found that some people in politics were big fat meanies. To combat this, when changes were being made to the Gambling Regulation Act in 2011, the Gaming Minister stuck an amendment in there that made it illegal to insult the Gaming Minister. If you, for example, were to call Michael O'Brien a suckling mama's boy with skin so thin that you can see through it, you would have to pony up 100 penalty units. For those of you who aren't up on obscure conversions, that's about $11,945. That's right: In Australia, it costs nearly $12,000 just to say that Michael O'Brien is the new name for the sand that gets in your vagina.
Here in America, luckily, it's totally free.
In fact, the First Amendment requires us to call him the closest a human has come to being the herpes virus.
The law also forbids picking on those working under the Gaming Minister, whom we can only assume waved their arms dramatically and mouthed "We're good" when the GM suggested they be included in the act.
Cracking Down on Facebook Revolutionaries
Facebook is a wonderful and useful thing.
OK, well, maybe it's just a wonderful thing.
Well, it's certainly a thing; you have to give us that.
Facebook, seen here existing.
But in some countries, Facebook is more of a curse than a banal occupier of time and space.
In India, a woman expressed her opinion that the decision to close the "financial hub" of the country during the funeral of a politician was something less than smart. A friend of hers liked the post. Arrested. We would have loved to have been in that courtroom: "Your honor, this woman is charged with enjoyment."
"I find you in contempt of boredom and fine you 300 hours of indifference."
A photojournalist lost his appeal and will spend a year behind bars for having a picture of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, next to a fictitious French character on his Facebook profile. What's worse: The journalist says the photo was posted on his wall. Meaning somebody else posted it there. The authorities deemed this information "insignificant."
That probably should not have come as a surprise. Earlier that year, a Palestinian college student named Anas Awwad was sentenced to one year in prison for "cursing the president." His exact crime? Humorously captioning a picture of Abbas kicking a soccer ball.
Mahmoud Abbas? More like Fatmoud Ball-Pass.
Maybe at this point you should just stick to Myspace, Palestine.
China Bans All Mention of Its Toilets
Chinese censorship isn't exactly news. Probably because the anchorman who thought it was is now soldering microchips at the Apple Internment Camp.
But the country is getting a bit better. Documentarian Justin Rowlatt, for example, was allowed to film in China recently, even covering something as taboo as economic inequality. The government was fine with that. They were not, however, willing to discuss their toilets.
"Poo along, sir. Nothing to pee here."
Apparently toilets are an international issue: China's poop-holes had been harshly criticized for their unsanitary nature by the World Toilet Organization, which is hilariously an actual thing. When Rowlatt jokingly asked about the controversy, his guide suddenly got serious and, forgive the pun, that's when shit got real.
This man's bodily waste is actually the cleanest thing in the room.
The official government minder for the documentary said that if Rowlatt tried to report about the toilets, his entire project would be shut down. But of course, the second you tell somebody they can't talk about something, that's all they want to talk about. Rowlatt immediately reported on Toilet Terror: China's Brown Menace to the BBC once the documentary was finished.
So how bad, exactly, do the toilets have to be for an institute that governs poop containers to formally object? We have no idea. Because it isn't just foreign documentarians who can't talk about toilets -- friggin' nobody discusses the john in China. Internet censors also purged references to a movement called Occupy Men's Toilets, a campaign for the government to install more women's bathrooms, because it mentioned the state of the crappers. Seriously, China's toilets are like Fight Club: You do not talk about it.
And if it's your first trip, you have to shit.
"Waaaay ahead of you."
Yosomono writes for Gaijinass.com, and you should like their Facebook page. Follow Patrick McCarty on Twitter. Robert is a columnist for Freakin' Awesome Network and would like for you to follow him on Twitter. Richie Ryan occasionally works the wood. You can also follow him on Twitter if you find that sort of thing entertaining. Richie is most definitely not a citizen of Australia.
For more bizarre abuses of the legal system, check out 6 Laws That Were Great On Paper (And Insane Everywhere Else) and 9 Insane Cases that Prove the US Legal System Is Screwed.
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