Thursday, August 13, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

10 Things You Can Do in the US that are Illegal in Other Countries

The Land of Opportunity provides the chance to do things that you can’t do in other countries. You can eat stuff, do stuff, and touch stuff that is highly illegal just across the border! Sometimes, this is nice. While some of us might think mullets should be illegal, I’m sure we can all agree that it’s nice to choose how we want to wear our hair. Other things probably should be banned, because they’re definitely not safe. Judge for yourself which of these are good freedoms and which might be kind of bad.

1     Eat Ketchup at School

Ketchup is an all-American staple. We love it on everything. In fact, we are bold enough to desecrate Asian food, Mexican food, and Indian food with this delicious condiment. In France, however, school kids can’t eat ketchup at lunch. Apparently, ketchup is an insult to French cooking and French culture.

Eat Ketchup At School


2     Wear Your Hair However You Like

Aside from individuals in private schools and professional workplaces, Americans are free to wear their hair however they like. Big, bulky, brilliant blue—it’s up to you to express yourself with your hair. In some countries in the Middle East, hairstyles are actively monitored. If you’re caught with a Western hairstyle, you get your hair chopped off and time in jail.

Wear Your Hair However You Like


3     Use Plastic Bags

Plastic shopping bags are a well-known cause of reckless environmental destruction, yet they somehow manage to remain legal in the United States. Other countries, who clearly love sea turtles way more than we do, have banned these deadly bags. Rwanda, for example, does not permit plastic bags.

Use Plastic Bags


4     Visit Strip Clubs

Iceland has recognized that stripping for cash is a degrading and dehumanizing job. Strip clubs are now banned in Iceland. We can only hope that this will catch on for the sake of women’s dignity everywhere.

Visit Strip Clubs


5     Choose any Name for Your Child

In the United States, you can name your child anything you like. You can have a boy named Sue, if you want. Or, you can name your kid Apple. According to Baby Center, there are a lot of little kids out there named Alaska. In Germany, this is not the case. Name your child a typical, gender-specific name, or face consequences. If you go so far as to name your child “Hitler,” your child will be removed from your home and you will go to prison.

Choose Any Name For Your Child


6     Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Saudi Arabia sees Valentine’s Day as a Christian holiday, so they actively enforce a law against it. Your best bet is to avoid chocolate, flowers, and being seen with the opposite gender for the entire day.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day


7     Deny the Holocaust

In the United States, you can say whatever the heck you want. Feel like being a moron? Freedom of speech protects that. Want to act like an idiot? Why not. If you deny that the Holocaust happened and claim it was an elaborate hoax, you certainly won’t face jail time. You might seem very offensive and uneducated, but it’s your right to do so. However, there are many countries that impose penalties for claiming the Holocaust never happened. In some places, it falls under “hate speech” since it denies the suffering of millions of individuals and is usually connected with anti-Semitism.

Deny The Holocaust


8     Kiss in Public

Dubai does not look kindly on PDA. If you want to kiss your spouse in Dubai, then get a room. Actually, the rooms in Dubai are pretty fancy and luxe, so that might not be such a bad idea! If you kiss outside your suite, you’ll get another kind of room—one with bars and concrete floors.

Kiss In Public


9     Use Certain Pesticides

Many pesticides are known to cause terrible effects on the environment or on human health. However, this hasn’t kept companies from selling hazardous chemicals all across the United States. Some pesticides are banned in virtually every other developed country! I guess America thinks it’s too indestructible to care about things like the risk of death.

Use Certain Pesticides


10     Use Formaldehyde

The European Union has banned formaldehyde. Why? Because it is known to cause cancer. I’m sure it’s “known to the State of California to cause cancer,” just like paint, beer, and Disneyland, but the rest of the U.S. apparently hasn’t gotten the memo. Some elementary school students come in contact with this stuff every day in science class! Maybe it’s time to focus on formalin.

Use Formaldehyde


What do you think? Should any of these things be illegal, and why? American freedom is precious and should be protected at all costs, of course, but where should the line be drawn? At what point do we get rid of dangerous substances for the sake of health and safety? These are the questions that American lawmakers and voters will have to wrestle with as the rest of the world draw their own lines. No matter what, though, one thing is clear: ketchup has to stay.

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