We at Cracked know what is and isn't legal in America better than most anyone. And while Johnny Law has sunk many of our brilliant business ventures, from vodka-infused vodka to Badger Royale, it's surprisingly ineffective in areas far more important than the odd drunken mauling. For example ...

Conversion Therapy Is Still Legal In Most States

Conversion therapy, in which the beatings continue until the heterosexuality improves, is rapidly becoming unpopular because of, you know, its inherent barbarism straight out of 19th-century sanatoriums. But in the same way there are still people listening to My Chemical Romance, being frowned upon by polite society is far from being illegal. When Colorado banned conversion therapy for minors in June 2019, it was only the 18th state to do so.

The medical evidence against conversion therapy is on par with the medical evidence against drinking mercury. It's been known for decades that it doesn't work. Not only is there a consensus that someone's sexual orientation shouldn't be changed, there's also a consensus that it can't be changed. It's like inducing nausea in someone until they change their eye color. A staggering 42% of LGBTQ minors who underwent conversion therapy in 2018 reported a suicide attempt. It turns out that trying to talk teenagers into believing that they're abnormal and need to be "cured" isn't super great for their mental health, especially once drug cocktails, electric shocks, and outright physical abuse enter the mix.

Organizations ranging from the APA to the WHO therefore oppose conversion therapy, citing the important medical precedent of "It isn't the goddamn 1940s anymore, you assholes." But an estimated 16,000 minors will be subjected to conversion therapy in the 32 states where it's still legal, and licensed practitioners will make good money applying it. Progress is being made. Even more conservative states like North Carolina are starting to move against the practice, and in states where no ban is in sight, individual cities like Kansas City and Miami have acted instead. As those efforts continue, perhaps it should be rebranded with a less medical-sounding name. How about straightwashing?

Related: 5 Horrifying Things That Should Have Been Illegal Way Sooner

Serving Shark Fin Is Only Illegal In 12 States

Finning sharks in American waters has been illegal since 2000, as the wasteful and cruel process involves cutting the fins off the creatures before dumping them immobile to suffocate or bleed to death. An estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year just for their fins, and when combined with their slow reproductive rates, some species have been pushed to the brink of extinction. Gordon Ramsay calls it "the worst act of animal cruelty I've ever seen," and that dude has a black belt in cruelty. Trust his word.

Despite all of this, serving shark fin is only illegal in 12 states. There are rarely enough resources available to effectively police fin sales, and more serious efforts can be countered -- by hiding sales and storage sites, by making the soup a secret off-menu item, by claiming that the fin is a legal alternative that forces the government to decide whether they want to deal with the cost and hassle of a DNA test, by claiming the shark in question was terrorizing Amity Island, etc. And if you're caught in, say, Texas, a typical punishment would be a fine of less than $1,000. A single pound of shark fin can sell for $400, so that's a worthwhile risk for many dealers.

4 Crapsack Things That Are Still Legal In The USA
All of that for soup, the worst possible food delivery system.

Conservationists are debating the best way to solve this problem, with ideas ranging from a blanket national ban to only allowing fin imports from countries where shark populations are protected and the full animal is consumed for its meat. In the meantime, awareness campaigns, backed by celebrities like Yao Ming, are helping curb consumption, with the dish's popularity dropping in China by 80% since 2011. But that consumption hasn't dropped enough to save shark populations, which is why far stronger efforts are needed in America. If nothing else, wouldn't you love to watch a reality show where haute cuisine cops bust foodies and work their way into ingredient-based secret societies? Food Cops: Taste Justice, this fall on CBS. Mark it down.

Only 20 States Have Made It Illegal To Leave A Child Unattended In A Car

Kids are sticky and exhausting, so we understand why you'd want to leave them in your car for a couple minutes while you grab a carton of milk, slam a quick whiskey sour, etc. But errands can drag on, and one drink can turn into a recounting of how you're totally the person who gave Twenty One Pilots their name, and those extra few minutes can make a difference for a weak and puny baby. 2018 saw 54 unattended American children die of vehicular heatstroke (a new record!), and the country averages 38 a year.

That's an average that feels about 38 dead kids higher than it needs to be. Plus, an unattended kid in a car could totally screw up your radio settings. And yet only 20 states have laws that address this. That's 11 fewer states than those with laws protecting unattended dogs in cars, and every time a dog dies of heatstroke, the internet threatens a violent uprising.

The specifics of current laws vary, and some states without laws will still charge parents with negligent homicide in the case of death, which is known as a "Come on, we shouldn't have had to spell this out for you" law. But regardless of whether you're legally in the clear, maybe skip the risk and take your kid with you, even if they are in the middle of a three-hour deep dive into what the best chicken nugget shape is. It's dinosaur, you little idiot. Everyone knows it's dinosaur.

Related: 5 Things You Won't Believe Are Legal (In Certain States)

Six States Still Lack Anti-Hazing Laws Of Any Kind

College hazing, the proud basis of many a forgettable movie, has killed at least one American student a year since 1961. Alcohol consumption at a level recommended only for veteran internet comedy writers is usually involved. This happens either directly (as in the 2017 case where an FSU fraternity initiate died after drinking an entire bottle of bourbon), or indirectly (such as the 2017 Penn State student with a BAC of 0.4, who fell down a flight of stairs during a hazing and was left with his injuries for 12 hours before an ambulance was called, then died two days later).

Other students have drowned, died in accidents caused by exhaustion and sleep deprivation, been unintentionally beaten to death, or suffered even nastier fates that are too depressing to get into here. Despite all of this, six states lack anti-hazing laws, and only 10 have made it a misdemeanor or felony. Hazing also tends to continue regardless of laws against it, like when an unsanctioned Alabama fraternity's pledge died after drinking 60 ounces of vodka, leading to a criminal investigation.

4 Crapsack Things That Are Still Legal In The USA
liandstudio/Adobe Stock
But hey, what's 48 shots between friends?

The boundary between hazing and drunken misadventure can sometimes be nebulous, and it's possible to creatively initiate someone into your group without being a dangerous asshole about it. But rather than explore any of that boring nuance, 55% of fraternity and club initiates are still hazed, and 21st-century hazing rituals tend to be more brutal than their predecessors. Maybe laws should demand that hazing just be more creative? Don't ask why we know this, but it's very easy to publicly embarrass people without resorting to alcohol poisoning and accidental manslaughter.

Mark is on Twitter and wrote a book.

For more, check out How Gun Control Made Australia Safer Than America:

Follow us on Facebook. Or don't. It's your life.

Get the Cracked Daily Newsletter!

We've got your morning reading covered.

Forgot Password?