Personally inspiring and law [Laws inspired by particular acts not previously considered crimes]

Curiosity has struck me again.

Are there many examples of a person doing something that everyone knows is bad but is technically legal because no one had thought of it yet, after which a law was made to specifically stop them from doing it?

I expect there are a fair few finance/trading related ones but I’d like to know the most heinous or impactful ones, bonus if the law is named for the perpetrator.

There’s a case this week that might be of interest.

Most laws are reactive, not preemptive, so there are lots of examples. “Everyone” knew texting while driving was dangerous before laws prohibiting it were passed. “Everyone” knew riding a motorcycle without a helmet was dangerous long before helmet laws came along. It was widely accepted that smoking is bad for pregnant women before the law requiring the warning labels on cigarettes went into effect. And so on, and so on…

Wow, that one will be hard to beat…not a law yet though.

“Depraved indifference” maybe?

Title edited to better indicate subject.

General Questions Moderator

Here’s a really disgusting one:

Washington State never bothered making bestiality illegal because it’d just never come up. Until 2005, when a man died due to a … “farm sex tourism” industry nobody really knew existed, and a law was quickly drafted.

Those responsible for running the sex farm couldn’t be criminally charged. (I think they gave them some slap-on-the-wrist animal abuse charge, which is the best they could manage at the time. Laws can’t be retroactive of course.)

I bet you’re sorry you asked now.

EDIT: now that I look at your post again, I’m not sure it meets your requirements. Bestality is illegal pretty much everywhere; that it wasn’t in Washington State was really just an oversight. But it was “technically legal”, so that part of it meets your criteria.

Not particularly heinous, and the law passed was only a city ordinance, but I was involved in such an incident.

I owned a business that had a sizable piece of property next to it that we didn’t use. My business partner knew the owner of a traveling carnival. The carnival owner had an un-booked weekend and we worked out a deal where he set-up the rides and games for the weekend in our spare lot.

Unfortunately a fight broke out at the carnival which involved enough participants that law enforcement from neighboring towns are called in to help breakup. It was also the same weekend as the city’s highly prized art fair.

At the next city council meeting, they passed an ordinance that required any carnival to acquire a permit in order to operate within the city. The ordinance also exempted a wide array of organizations from needing the permit, such as schools, churches, charitable organizations, and the like.

Of course, my business wasn’t exempted and you can take it to the bank that we’d never be able to get a permit in the future.

I heard through the grape-vine later that the art fair organizer was the driving force behind the ordinance. She took umbrage at having another function detracting from the fair.

In 2014, a guy was arrested for taking ‘upskirt’ photos in a Massachusetts trolley but the courts found there was no law actually prohibiting it and it was tossed out. A law was soon drafted and passed (though the guy in question couldn’t be charged).

Not exactly what you asked but still interesting (and gross), in 2006 three men were arrested trying to exhume a corpse in order to have sex with it. The lower court and appeals court threw out the case, ruling that Wisconsin had no law against necrophilia but the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided that they could be charged with 3rd degree sexual assault since a corpse, pretty much by definition, can not consent to sex. I don’t know if WI has passed an explicit ban on necrophilia since then or if they’re still relying on standard sexual assault laws.

I’m sure there’s examples that don’t involve degenerate sex stuff but they don’t make the news.

(Too late to edit but the men above were charged with attempted third-degree sexual assault since they failed to access the corpse and do the act)

Further thread drift: I caused a ordinance to be passed that made things more lenient. I filed for a permit to extensively remodel my home in 2005. The prints were returned with a city ordinance quoted which stated that all visible foundations must be made of brick or stone, or made to resemble brick or stone. What the heck? My house had an existing 140’ concrete block perimeter and the 15’ x 4’ foundation for the stairway had to be brick?

I appealed and appeared at the zoning board of appeal meeting and made my case and was allowed to make the additional foundation out of blocks. The next year I was at the building department and taped onto the counter was a placard that stated so and so foundation requirement had been amended to include, “Or it may match the present building material”.

I asked the inspector if that was because I appealed the old requirement and he confirmed it. Too bad they didn’t name it after me.


Son of Sam Laws attempt to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes by selling their stories to the highest bidder. But the original New York statute was passed not because David Berkowitz actually sold his story, but because people were afraid he might. Some such laws have been found to be unconstitutional.

The Sherrice Iverson law in Nevada (text) and California make it illegal to fail to report a violent or sexual offense against a child. The law was inspired by the rape and murder of seven-year-old Sherrice Iverson in a Las Vegas casino bathroom. The killer’s friend witnessed part of the attack and failed to report it. He was found to have committed no crime under the laws of Nevada then in force.

Not exactly the same because the act was still illegal under other jurisdiction/statute, but assassinating the president of the US wasn’t a federal crime until after Kennedy. It was, of course, still a Texas murder case, and Ruby’s initial claim of justification for Oswald’s murder was to preclude Mrs. Kennedy from having to return to Dallas to testify at a murder trial. The illegal removal of the body from Dallas County for autopsy under federal authority is the jumping off point for many a conspiracy theory. The assassination of several high-ranking officials was made a federal crime in 1965.

Not exactly “heinous” or criminal, but Franklin D. Roosevelt was pretty much the entire cause for the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

You can’t get much more impactful than being single-handedly responsible for amending the Constitution!

Finance-related, but it amuses me that in the USA, onions - onions specifically and no other commodity - cannot be traded on futures markets. Wiki “Onion Futures Act”. The act was in response to two speculators (Sam Siegel and Vincent Kosuga) cornering the onion market in 1955 and causing chaos.