Dumb Arkansas Laws

Correct Pronunciation

Apparently, there was a fair amount of confusion about how to pronounce “Arkansas.” To that end, the General Assembly in 1881 passed a resolution (later modified) declaring that the name of the state “should be pronounced in three syllables, with the final ‘s’ silent, the ‘a’ in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of ‘a’ in ‘man’ and the sounding of the terminal ‘s’ is an innovation to be discouraged.” Source

Pinball Regulations

Looking to discourage gambling, Arkansas prohibits pinball machines from awarding more than 25 free games to a winner. Also, a pinball machine “designed so that more than one coin can be inserted so as to give the player additional odds in making a high score or winning an additional free game is unlawful.” Violators face fines of up to $1,000 and up to a year in county jail.

It’s Legal to Beat Your Wife

When you’re looking into dumb laws in Arkansas – or, in this case, horrific laws – you’ll likely come across many sources that reference a supposed statute stating that a man can beat his wife with impunity, just so long as he does it no more than once a month. As is so often the case with these supposed stupid laws, there is no primary source to confirm that this is, or ever was, a law in the Natural State. All we have by way of evidence is website after website regurgitating the claim with nothing to back it up. Moreover, Lorraine Lorne, who was the assistant director of the University of Arkansas’ Young Law Library, debunked the myth of the wife-beating law in 2007.

Public Dancing Outlawed

This one is true – or, at least, it was. In 1953, city leaders in Fort Smith deemed that public dancing on Sundays “greatly endangers the public health, safety and welfare,” according to a dancing ban that was signed by then-Mayor H.R. Hestand, per the AP. The law had more recently been dubbed the “Footloose” ordinance, a nod to the 1984 movie about a Chicago teen who relocates to a small town where dancing is forbidden. Fort Smith city directors repealed the law, which had established fines of $25 to $500 for violators, in 2018, the Southwest Times Record reports.

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