Travel

11 reasons why America is the land of the free

People who aren't lucky enough to live in the greatest country in the history of world like to give America a lot of flack for a lot of things. Sure, we can’t drink in public, or lounge around parks topless, or take more than one wife unless we're on a reality TV show, but we’re not called the land of the free for nothin’. Here’s a bunch of stuff we can do, that other countries can’t.

We can: Put ketchup on whatever we damn well please
They can’t: France
Leave it to the French to be so enamored by their own cuisine that they’d ban ketchup in cafeterias, thereby barring barbaric kids from smothering everything in the tasty sauce. Further proving their egotism, ketchup is allowed once a week -- but only on Freedom fries.

We can: Rock a mullet
They can’t: Iran
While we don't encourage anyone to sport a Kentucky Top Hat [we're looking at you, Ryan], Iranian’s are actually forbidden by law from wearing a Wisconsin Waterfall, as well as ponytails and spikes. In fact, the government created a catalogue of acceptable haircuts.

We can: Let the yellow mellow
They can’t: Singapore
In Singapore, a place so concerned with cleanliness that gum is forbidden, not flushing a public toilet is huge a no-no. We have no idea how many toilets had to go unflushed for a law to be deemed necessary, but police in Singapore allegedly perform regular random bathroom checks. 

We can: Look at small breasts on film
They can’t: Australia
The Australian Classification Board decided that small boobs are synonymous with underage girls, and consequently banned a number of adult films featuring small-breasted stars. While the law is meant to ban movies in which actresses “are or appear to be persons under the age of 18", they effectively have the right to ban any adult film featuring women they deem to look underage.

We can: Name our pigs anything we want
They can’t: France, again
The French are forbidden by law from naming a pig Napoleon -- the name was even changed to Caesar in French language versions of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

We can: Pee in the ocean
They can’t: Portugal
Not that we’d ever do such a thing, but in Portugal peeing in the ocean is illegal. Not sure how they’d catch someone in the act, but better to pee safe than sorry.

We can: Commercialize love
They can’t: Saudi Arabia
In an effort to discourage pre-marital sex and the violation of Muslim beliefs, the Saudi government orders florists and gift shops to remove anything red or romantic around Valentine's Day. While bitter singles might applaud the effort, the joke's actually on the government -- allegedly, a romantic black market is thriving.

We can: Play video games all day, every day
They can’t: China
Make that couldn’t. Ironically, for a country that produces most of the world’s gaming consoles, buying them was illegal from 2000 until this year. China only just lifted a 14-year ban on video games.

We can: Name our children Apple, or Blue Ivy, or whatever
They can’t: Denmark
While celebs are going gaga for stupid baby names here, that would never happen in Denmark, where they have official child naming guidelines. In fact, there’s a government-approved list of around 7,000 names that Danes can’t stray from… unless they get approval from the feds. North West would probably be grateful.

We can: Poison ourselves with artificial food dye
They can’t: Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and the UK
Those neon Froot Loops you love so much? They're so bright and beautiful thanks to chemicals from petroleum and coal tar, which, incidentally, are also linked to brain cancer and nerve-cell deterioration. 

couple cuddling
shutterstock

We can: Co-habitate with significant others
They can’t: United Arab Emirates
In Dubai, where kissing in public can land you in the slammer, it’s illegal for unmarried couples to live together, or even share a hotel room. For tourists, though, a blind eye is usually turned.
 

Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and she misses subway pre-games. But not the naked men in the park. Follow her @Sohostyle.