Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty.
J.BenthamA. LEAD-IN A1. How many rules and regulations can you think of for each of the following situations? Make a list.
1. In the university 2. Until you are 18 years old 3. If you are in a foreign country
Compare your lists in groups. How many of the rules on your lists are the same? Are there any that you would like to change?
B. READING B1. Read the text about some strange laws in the past and think of the title to it.
Peculiar (adj) – странный, особенный
allow (v) – позволять, разрешать
tax (n) – налог
vehicle (n) – транспортное средство
concerning (prep)– относительно, касательно
odd (adj) – странный, необычный
permit (v) – позволять, разрешать
permission (n) – разрешение
originate (v) – происходить
resign (v) – уходить в отставку, отказываться от должности
offense (n) – правонарушение
acceptable (adj) – приемлемый
curious (adj) – любопытный, странный
prohibit (v) – запрещать
prohibition (n) – 1) запрет 2) запрещение продажи спиртных напитков
consume (v) – потреблять
cause (v) – причинять
amendment (n) – поправка
to get rid of (v) – избавляться от чего-либо
Laws of the past
Different countries had different laws in the past. Sometimes these laws were strange, or at least they seem now to be strange. The following information illustrates some peculiar laws adopted in various countries years ago.
Everyone knows that in the times of Peter the Great in Russia noblemen weren’t allowed to have beards. If they were against the law, or they didn’t obey it, and still wanted to keep their beards, they had to pay a special tax to the Tsar’s government.
Some singular laws were introduced in eighteenth-century England. How strange it might seem now, people had to pay “window tax” for each window in their house. Later, this law was changed because many poor people chose to live in houses without windows just so that they didn’t have to pay. Another law was no less funny. If you traveled in any motor vehicle in nineteenth-century Britain, the law said that someone had to walk in front of you waving a red flag, or at night time a red lamp. This meant, in practice, that you couldn’t travel at more than about 8 kilometers per hour! Some other British laws concerning social behaviour were very strict. For example, until recently pubs in Britain weren’t allowed to stay open all day. They opened at eleven in the morning and had to shut again at three in the afternoon. In the evening they closed at half past ten. On Sundays the laws were stricter.
The USA are also famous for their quite odd laws. For example, in Illinois animals could go to jail, in Florida you had to wear clothes in the bath, in Kansas you were not permitted eat snakes in public, in North Carolina you could not drink milk on train, in Idaho you could not buy a chicken at night without the sheriff’s permission. Such bizarre laws originate from the fact that each state was ruled by its own government, which enacted laws according to political, economical, or religious reasons. Geographical position and natural resources might also influence legal rules. Modern feminist-oriented women would be struck to know that in the 19-th century, female teachers in the USA couldn’t get married, or even go out with men. If they got engaged, they had to resign from their job immediately. Male teachers, on the contrary, could get married and have children without any problem! Or in Montana it was a criminal offense for a wife to open a telegram sent to her husband. However it was perfectly acceptable for a husband to do the same.
One more curious law in the Midwest of the USA in the 1880s was that you were not allowed to eat ice-cream sodas on a Sunday. Restaurant owners managed to solve this problem by serving ice-cream without soda, which became known as a “Sunday” or a “Sundae”. In the beginning of the 20-th century drinking of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the USA. A new word –“prohibition”- appeared: it meant that you could not produce or consume alcoholic drinks. Prohibition was not popular, and it was too expensive to make sure that the law was obeyed. So later the prohibition law was changed, because it was causing terrible crime, and people were drinking more alcohol than they had done before! Prohibition amendment was the only repealed amendment to the US Constitution.
Some American laws served their function at some point of time, but outlived their usefulness. However, they are still on the books…may be because no one can be bothered to get rid of them. In Michigan, for example, a woman is breaking a law if she cuts her hair without getting her husband’s permission, because in this state a man legally owns his wife’s hair. Similarly, in Kentucky lady must have her husband’s permission to buy a hat.
These days the state laws are becoming more and more similar across the country, but there are still different laws in different states concerning age limits for driving cars, getting married, having guns, etc.
In other European countries there were also many unusual laws which arose from country’s policy of that time. For example, during the French Revolution, people could not use the polite form of “you” (“vous”), because this was the word servants used to speak to their masters. Instead everyone had to use “tu”, the familiar form. Or in Italy in the 1930s when Mussolini ruled the country, Italians weren’t allowed to use foreign words. That’s why Italian is one of the few languages which doesn’t use the international word “football”: they use their own word “calcio”.C. COMPREHENSION C1. Agree or disagree with the following statements on the text:
1. Noblemen in Russia had to pay special taxes for wearing moustache.
2. Two centuries ago people had to pay “door taxes” in England.
3. In Britain you were allowed to travel in a motor vehicle with a red flag on it.
4. Different laws in the USA originate from various political, religious or other reasons.
5. In the USA all teachers were allowed to get married and have children without any problem.
6. in the Midwest of the USA in 1880s people were not allowed to eat ice-cream sodas on Mondays.
7. In 1920 in the USA “prohibition” meant that you were not permitted to produce or consume cigarettes.
8. Some curious American laws are still on the books, perhaps, because nobody got rid of them.
9. In America there were different laws in different states in the past, but now laws in all states are similar.
10. Italian is one of the few languages which doesn’t use the word “football”.
C2. Complete the sentences:
a) If noblemen wanted to keep their beards they had to pay ………
b) Poor people in England didn’t want to pay “window tax”, so they …….
c) Until recently pubs in Britain ……..to stay open all day.
d) State governments adopted laws according to …….
e) Female teachers in the USA had to …..immediately in case they got married.
f) In Montana it was …..for a husband to read a telegram sent to his wife.
g) In the beginning of the 20-th century drinking of alcohol ……in the U.S.
h) The government had to change this law because …….
i) In European countries many unusual laws originate from …….
j) During the French Revolution people couldn’t use …….because ……..
D. VOCABULARY D1. Translate the following expressions using the text:
1) странные (необычные) законы в разных странах
2) дворянам не позволялось иметь бороды
3) люди должны были платить “оконный налог”
4) они предпочитали жить без окон
5) законы, имеющие отношение к общественному поведению
6) географическое положение могло влиять на законы
7) однако, это было совершенно приемлемо для …
8) удалось решить эту проблему
9) это являлось причиной преступности
10) некоторые законы изжили себя
D2. Give the opposites to the words below:
D3. Complete the sentences using the words from the box.
Allow, tax, permission, originate, resign, acceptable, prohibit, cause1) That kind of behaviour is not ……… in public place.
2) She is very strict with her children and …….. them to watch television only at weekends.
3) Bad weather in Spain continues to ……. problems for travellers.
4) You are not allowed to camp here without …….
5) Smoking is ……. inside the building.
6) He makes it clear that he doesn’t want to …….. from active politics.
7) The government promised not to increase …….. on petrol.
8) Although the technology ……..in the UK, it has been developed in the US.
D4. Word study. Pay attention to the following information.
a) The verb cause involves the meaning “cause a bad situation, cause something bad”. The following nouns are often used with cause:
Cause: alarm, anxiety, concern, confusion, damage, distress, harm, problems, pain, suffering, trouble, etc.
b) Cause, followed by an infinitive, is used mostly in formal or technical
language. The usual and less formal verb for saying that one thing makes
another thing happen is make.
Translate the sentences:
1) Smoking causes cancer.
2) A lot of traffic accidents are caused by carelessness.
3) Robert’s behaviour is causing his family a lot of anxiety.
4) Inflation has caused fuel prices to rise sharply in recent month.
5) Petra’s new hairstyle makes her look a lot younger.
6) Stop doing this – you’re making me nervous.
7) His actions made him widely respected.
E1. Work in pairs. Below the text you can find some possible reasons why some of the laws were introduced. Match the reason and the law.
The town council of Widnes, Lancashire, England introduced a fine of £5 for those who made a habit of falling asleep in the reading rooms of libraries.
In Switzerland it is an offence to mow* grass on your lawn on Sunday.
In New York city there is still a law which makes it illegal for women to smoke in public.
In 1659 it became illegal to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts.
In New York State you are not allowed to shoot at a rabbit from a moving trolley car. You have to get off the car, or wait for it to come to a complete stop, then fire away.
It is illegal to hunt camels in the state of Arizona, USA.
In Indiana, USA, it is against the law to travel on a bus within four hours of eating garlic.
In Alabama it is not allowed to wear a fake moustache in church.
In Singapore chewing gums are not allowed.
1. Because it makes their breath smell.
2. Maybe they’re an endangered species*.
3. It doesn’t give the animal a sporting chance.
4. Because it may cause laughter, but they must take their religious ceremonies very seriously.
5. Because it distracted people from the true meaning of their religion.
6. Maybe because it was considered unsuitable behaviour for a lady.
7. In case people snored*.
8. They want their streets to be clean.
9. Because it causes too much noise.
QUIZ 1. Dumb American laws
1. In Sarasota, Florida, while wearing a bathing suit in a public
place it is illegal:
- to shower
- to eat
- to dance
- to sing
2. In Baltimore, Maryland, it is illegal to take to the movies…
- your mother-in-law
- a swarm of bees
- a lion
- a drink
3. In Lexington, Kentucky, it is illegal to carry in your pocket…
- a slice of pizza
- an ice-cream cone
- a small animal
- eggs4. Which of these in Utah is NOT a law?
- you can have the nuclear weapons, but you cannot detonate
them- it is illegal to fish from horseback
- no one may have sex in the back of an ambulance if it is
responsible to an emergency
call- it is against the law to drink milk5. In Ohio it is illegal to sell beer while wearing…
- a bathing suit
- religious garb
- nothing- a Santa suit
6. In Idaho you can not give it to someone if it weighs over 50
- a box of candy
- a Christmas present
- a sack of potatoes
- a book
7. In Atlanta, Georgia, it is illegal to do this to a lamp post or
- dance with it
- tie a giraffe to it
- stand under it at night
- take a picture of it
8. In West Virginia it is illegal to do what underwater:
- to fish
- to sleep
- to swim
- to whistle
9. Which of these are actual laws in the cities of California state?
- Arcadia: peacocks have the right of way to cross any street,
- Baldwin Park: you are not allowed to ride the bicycle in a
- Hermosa Beach: one may not show their buttocks while on a
playground- all of these
10 In Ohio it is illegal to do what to a fish?
- throw it back in a river after catching it
- get it drunk
- fry it on Sunday
- name it “Fido”
11. If you commit adultery in West Virginia, what is the penalty?
- 6 months jail
- $20 fine
- $500 fine
- you must apologize to your wife in front of her parents
12. In Minnesota it is illegal to make fun of…
- humans- monkeys- skunks- fish