Malawi to Outlaw Public Flatulence

The African nation of Malawi has proposed making it illegal to fart in public, according to reports receiving widespread international attention.

In addition to the reported ban on passing gas, the Local Courts Bill of 2010 also deals with citizens who hinder the burial of dead bodies as well as people who pretend to be fortune tellers, according to Malawi media reports.

Although the country’s opposition leader, John Tembo, has raised concerns that the nation’s justice system will be unable to handle the expected influx of cases, the bill has generated mixed feelings in Malawi. One Malawian quoted as saying: “How can this government criminalize the release of intestinal gases…even if it’s in public or it has an accompanying sound which is boring,” while a supporter described the bill as “welcome.”

Original article via Nyasa Times (Malawi)

Ed. Note: This story has been updated here.


2 Comments to “Malawi to Outlaw Public Flatulence”

  1. I don’t see references to flatulence or foul air in the text of the bill or in its references to codes or rules. Isn’t it possible that the flatulence notion and subsequent viral media craze came from an opponent of this bill criticizing the “breach of peace” clause? If so, it is not entirely clear that this bill contemplates anything about flatulence at all.

    • Peter: it is absolutely possible – and common – for an opponent of a proposed law to spread false rumors about the future interpretation and implementation of that law – it happens all the time and throughout the world.

      Here in the US, during the debate over healthcare legislation, Republican opponents very successfully spread the falsehood that the bill called for the creation of “death panels” to decide who could live and would die (and over a third of the population believed it).

      I haven’t read the Malawi bill. I was tempted to, however, because major websites were carrying this piece based on a link to a webpage that did not seem legitimate to me. When I found that Nyasa had reported on it, however, false interpretation or not, the fact that this is being discussed in Malawi was confirmed for me.

      I’m not getting huge hits on this post – I purposefully did not include the word “fart,” which would have generated a lot more traffic – but people have been viewing this every day and your comment provides a valuable caution to them.

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