5 Laws Designed to Screw Over One Guy in Particular

5 Laws Designed to Screw Over One Guy in Particular

One person does something bad, and so we pass a new law, to forbid anyone else from trying that same thing. That may not be the most thoughtful path toward creating a legal code, but it’s a routine way of doing things. 

Sometimes, though, when we pass a reactive law, we’re not worried about that crime becoming a trend. We just want to keep our thumb on that one guy. This was the inspiration behind, for example... 

Ohio’s Urine Collection Law

In 2008, a 56-year-old man named Alan David Patton was caught collecting urine from a bathroom in a park in Dublin, Ohio. Patton was already a convicted sex criminal, so he clearly had something disgusting in mind for the collected urine, even more disgusting than the general concept of public bathroom urine. 

urine vial


He probably wasn’t checking COVID levels.

Authorities charged him with criminal mischief. This broad and ill-defined law landed him a maximum of 60 days in jail, which really didn’t seem enough for this weird freak. So, they came up with a new law. Ohio now made it illegal for anyone for to collect “bodily substances without consent and for non-medical purposes.” The new penalty for this new crime? Six months in prison.

Sure enough, three years later, they managed to nab that scamp Alan for trying his old tricks again. This time, he’d clogged up a Burger King’s bathroom to keep anyone from flushing, then he ducked in and scooped up some prime urine, spiriting the stuff away in a Burger King bag. Commendably, he made it a point to clear the clog once he’d collected that bounty, which meant he left this fast-food bathroom in a better state than most non-trapped counterparts. 

Burger King bag


Officers became suspicious when they noticed his bag didn’t smell gross.

Soon, Patton was in court facing the urine collection charge. His lawyer called the charge a joke, brought in no witnesses, assumed the judge would chuck the case out and was right. The judge found Patton guilty of another criminal mischief offense but not guilty of the dubious bodily substances crime, which had been written just for Patton. The judge did ban Patton from visiting public restrooms, though, just in case he unclogged any more toilets and rendered them usable. 

The Right to Detain Greg

Australian man Greg Kable stabbed his wife to death in 1989. Not cool, Greg. Thanks to some allegedly extenuating circumstances around the sort of argument they were having at the time, he was able to plead guilty to manslaughter. This meant only a couple years in prison. While in there, he was not quite a model prisoner, writing threatening letters to his wife’s family, who were caring for his kids while he was away. This counted as a crime and meant an extension to his sentence, but still, he was due for release after five and a half years total. 

His scheduled release came in 1995 and happened to coincide with a state election. Two parties were competing — the Liberal-National Coalition, who were running on a “Law and Order” platform, and Labor, who were also running on a “Law and Order” platform. Apparently, the entire world was cracking jokes about Australians all descending from criminals, and the politicians decided a little overcompensation was in needed.

King Street Court House, Sydney

Kgbo/Wiki Commons

Now, people joke about Australia being fascist. Much better. 

The sitting Parliament passed a new order called the Community Protection Act. If a prisoner due for release was deemed a danger to the public, said the order, they would keep him in prison until they were satisfied he wasn’t. Other countries have something similar when considering a prisoner for early release, but they normally can’t keep someone in prison beyond their maximum sentence simply because they fear what that prisoner may do. They can only be imprisoned for the crimes they have committed. That’s how sentencing works. 

Obviously, a law such as this one could lead to all kinds of abuse, being applied to various criminals in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner. Fortunately for all future prisoners, New South Wales amended the act to limit its scope. Now, it would only apply to Greg Kable, specifically. Problem solved!

Cable Deadpool 2

Walt Disney Pictures

If authentic, this photo of Kable does reveal him to be dangerous. 

Not exactly, said the High Court, who went on to rule the act unconstitutional. Kable then spent the next 18 years suing the government till a court ruled that they owed him compensation for the additional prison they’d subjected him to.

Banning One Kid from Talking About Grass

The most formal, institutionalized version of these laws we’re talking about, which target one single person, came out of the U.K., starting in 1998. They were called “anti-social behaviour orders” (ASBOs), and they lasted till 2014. Police would observe one person engaging in anti-social behavior and then craft a specific prohibition on that one person’s activity. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “anti-social behavior,” good, because it’s a stupid term. With ASBOs, the anti-social actions included such varied stuff as rudeness, racism, begging and loitering. 

Victorian Police Constable with itinerant - recreation

Antony McCallum

That’s right. Lollygagging. 

Sometimes, this made sense. For example, a 26-year-old was brought up for repeatedly playing “Do They Know It’s Christmas” to annoy his neighbors, an offense that ought lead to life in prison. They issued him an ASBO saying he must not play more loud music. The orders could get a lot more ridiculous, however.

A 16-year-old was banned from showing his tattoos. The court could not remove his tattoos, but they banned him from showing them to anyone. A 21-year-old was banned from entering any car park, riding a bicycle or wearing a hat. Two other miscreants were banned from any school grounds unless they were attending a class. These last guys weren’t sexual predators, if that’s what you’re picturing. They were brothers, aged 10 and 11, who had been observed throwing stones and lighting gasoline with matches. 

Jamie Liam Bradford

via BBC

Clearly a matter for the court system. 

Perhaps it sounds like the authorities never enforced these orders. They did. Consider, for instance, an 18-year-old forbidden from congregating with “three or more other youths,” to deter gang activity. They caught him entering a youth club that was holding a session on combatting anti-social behavior. They arrested him. Or consider the woman booked for solicitation and then given an ASBO banning her from carrying condoms. You’d think her dispensing with condoms would worsen things for everyone, but they caught her with condoms later and found her guilty. Then there was the 26-year-old given an ASBO banning him from begging. He violated it and spent two years in jail, then three additional years after begging again. Begging is legal, by the way, absent an ASBO. 

The silliest ASBO may have been given to a 13-year-old. It forbade him from saying the word “grass.” Of course, this was because grass is slang, for something unrelated to lawns, but that doesn’t make a law forbidding him from saying the word any more sensible. At least when some offenders wound up in court, the judge would refuse to punish them. An ASBO from 2003 forbade an 87-year-old man from being sarcastic to his neighbors. He was arrested for violating the order three separate times, but the judge was not interested in putting him behind bars. 

An Anti-Armstrong Law

The burgh of Langholm in Scotland has a law on the books that says any Armstrong who enters the town must be hanged. Wow, that’s not a very nice law. Which Armstrong sparked this law, and what did he do exactly? 

Johnnie Armstrong


We bet it was this guy, wasn’t it?

The Armstrong was Johnnie Armstrong, who lived in the 16th century. The English remember him as a criminal due to his habit of raiding England, while the Scottish remember him as a folk hero, due to his habit of raiding England. In 1530, James V — that was the King of Scotland, not of England — figured Johnnie was getting a little rich for comfort. He rode out to Langholm to eliminate the problem.

What wants yon knave that a king might lack?” said James, when the two met. This sounds like some old-timey riddle, the kind where the answer is always something to do with penises, but the real punchline to this exchange was James’ men hanged Armstrong, along with all his compatriots. To further put an end to the Armstrong clan, the king made sure Langholm got a law keeping Armstrongs out from then on.

Gilnockie Tower, in Dumfries and Galloway.

Farmer Erik/Wiki Commons

RIP Johnnie. We hardly knew ye. 

We’d probably never know about this old law. Except, in 1972, Langholm received a famous visitor: astronaut Neil Armstrong. Neil wanted to find the homeland of the Armstrong clan, and while there, someone presented him with a copy of the law, so he could read it out. We can find no reports saying the town then immediately hanged him dead, but because no one is above the law, we have to assume they did exactly that. 

The Man Who Worked His Butt Off

As of 2016, Britain’s National Health Service had a certification for something called a “rectal teaching assistant.” This was someone employed by the government to visit medical schools, so doctors in training could learn how to conduct prostate exams by practicing on his well-documented body.

The certification applied to one man. His name remains undisclosed, to grant one bit of privacy to someone who otherwise has none. All we know is he’s from Birmingham.

The Shitterton Sign

Jameslox/Wiki Commons

We would have guessed Shitterton, a hamlet in Dorset. 

At least, that was the story until 2016. That was the year that the country debuted a device they called the “robotic bottom.” This model of the human pelvis contains silicon parts that change size through the power of hydraulics. While it does not fully replicate the experience of examining a human subject, it beats the certified Birmingham man in one respect: Professors can enlarge or shrink the artificial prostate at will, to simulate different conditions and see if students can correctly detect them. 

Robotic bottom

Imperial College

It also never moans in pleasure. 

A lot of workers say that when robots take our jobs, technology is fucking us all in the ass. Sometimes, however, the truth is the exact opposite. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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