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The only constant thing in this universe is change. That’s something Greek philosopher Heraclitus said ages ago, and since then a lot—a lot—has changed.

So, it’s only normal for subject legality to be affected by this as well. Well, that, and everything that it is subject to. Mostly ethics, morality, and not losing your head because child labor laws were not a thing back in the olden days.

Image credits: u/90sVib3z

Yep, we’re of course talking about things that used to be quite normal, yet are illegal today, with Redditors posting some of the most spot-on facts to bend our minds a little bit.

#2

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Sending your kids to the store to buy cigarettes

henri915 , Alfin Auzikri Report

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Donkey boi
Community Member
3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Every Saturday, when I was 12. I used to walk in the bank, withdraw money from my dad's account, buy his cigarettes, and place bet for gramps in the bookies. All just by carrying his bank book.

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#3

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now When you picked someone up at the airport, you used to be able to walk right up to where they got off the plane.

JoystickMonkey , Pixabay Report

So, several days ago, a Redditor by the nickname of u/90sVib3z approached the AskReddit community with a question: what's something that's illegal now, but used to be perfectly normal?

It didn’t take long for the question to take off and for answers to come pouring in. As of this listicle, the thread has 6,400 upvotes (94% of them positive) and has generated over 8,200 comments, either answering the question or discussing it.

#4

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Riding around town in the back of a pickup truck.

I’m someone who won’t take my car out of park if all the seatbelts aren’t fastened, but as a kid I would jump at the chance to ride in the truck bed.

yeasayerstr , cottonbro studio Report

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#5

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Smoking at school.

My HS had a smoking area for students.

Japanat1 , Irina Iriser Report

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MEB
Community Member
3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When I was in college, in the 90s, we smoked right inside the buildings. Didn't even have to go outside... I've quit, since then, and I could not live in a smoke friendly environnement. Nasty.

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#6

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Cocaine. Used to be in everything, an I think it’s time we brought it back. -caffeine isn’t kicking the way it needs to.

ZMAUinHell , Olena Bohovyk Report

Much of the thread deals with answers that tie in with dangerous things—either physically and directly, or more passively and more long-term. At least health-wise. You know, being able to buy dynamite at the store, smoking among minors, lead paint, stuff like that.

But some suggested societal issues that could more likely be attributed to morality and ethics. It was things like public executions, guns in schools, child labor laws, that sort of thing. Humanity used to live in wild times.

#7

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now So much pollution. People used to change the oil on their car and dump it down storm drains or pour it into a hole in the ground. Old bottles of pills got thrown in the trash. So much aerosol hairspray. Commercially, we dumped so much chemical waste into rivers they started catching on fire, and it started burning through the ozone layer. Superfund sites, the list goes on and on

AMoreExcitingName , Antoine GIRET Report

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David Paterson
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This needs to be voted higher. Pollution is down to about 1% of the level that it was in the 1970s, in most countries of the world. Anti-pollution legislation is made tighter and tighter every five years or even more often than that. "On June 22, 1969, an oil slick caught fire on the Cuyahoga River just southeast of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The image that the "the river caught fire" motivated change to protect the environment", throughout the world.

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#8

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now I can remember when it was perfectly normal for someone to leave their kids in the car (doors unlocked and windows open) while they went inside a business. No one gave it a second thought.

Outrageous_Click_352 , Yakup Polat Report

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GoGoPDX
Community Member
3 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

While not illegal, it is greatly frowned upon, and doing this can get the cops and or CPS called on you. What is interesting is kids are actually safer than ever and there are a lot less incidents of being kidnapped by a stranger. What happened is the Internet. What would have been local news, now is national news thanks to the ability to share news on a much larger scale. Now people know about everything that happens, and it makes it feel that things are less safe, so the pendulum swung to being overcautious. I am a xenial (a sub generation between 1977-1983) and I grew up watching shows like Americas Most Wanted which had a lot of Kidnappers because the creator's sin was kidnapped, Adam Walsh. We watched the Polly Klaas kidnapping happen in real time, and missing kids faces were plastered on milk cartons. Being kidnapped was a very real threat to us, even though rare, and it has greatly effected the way we raised the next generations.

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#9

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Letting kids walk to school (or other places) by themselves.

The first time I heard about parents being arrested for this I thought "well, this is a one-off bizarre thing where we don't have all the facts". But I've seen it happen too often now and it blows my mind. I was walking a mile to school by myself in kindergarten and it was not only normal, but expected back then. Not one of my classmates had a parent drop them off at school.

Scary-Boysenberry , Caleb Oquendo Report

The first bit is probably self explanatory, right? Many, if not all laws are often written in blood or at the very least based on experience. Morality, on the other hand, is a whole different issue.

A study of the human brain suggests that morality isn’t merely a cultural construct. It’s also based on evolutionary factors, passed on from our ancestors, hard-wiring us to think in terms of cooperation and smooth social interactions.

#10

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Used to buy dynamite at the hardware store. My dad and I used it to remove stumps.

specialkwsu , Michael Coghlan Report

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#11

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Cigarette vending machines. No age restriction, just drop a couple of quarters in and pull the handle!

NewIdGuy77 , Byron Villegas Report

#12

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Being a latchkey kid. Growing up I had so many friends that would get home alone only for their parwnts to come home two or three hours later... Actually just saw somebody on this site who apparently called CPS on this recently

Lafitte_1812 , Austin Nicomedez Report

An interesting thing to note about morality in humans is that there are several locations within our brains that play a role in forming a sense of morality and ethics.

Without getting super nerdy, each part of the brain plays a role in handling things like understanding the intentions of others, being aware of how our body feels, managing self-control and intelligence, tackling emotional reactions, among other things. Each of these building blocks play a role in how we handle morality and immorality.

#13

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Dosing your baby with OTC Laudanum so you can go out dancing all night.

Or so my grandmother said - a couple of flappers overdosed their babies and they stopped selling Laudanum in the drugstore.

cardinal29 , Ryutaro Tsukata Report

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Roxy222uk
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When every member of the family had to work long hours in factories mothers had no choice but to dose their babies to keep them asleep while they were away.

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#14

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Adults marrying teenagers.

“Younger than she are happy mothers made.” - Paris, Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 2.

Juliet is not quite 14. She’s an eighth grader.

JimBeam823 , Agung Pandit Wiguna Report

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Agfox
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is misleading given Romeo was 16, so it was teenager marrying teenager

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#15

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now The ingredients in cough syrup at the beginning of the 1900s

AcidScarab , cottonbro studio Report

And while evolution is the basis, it doesn’t mean that morality is set in stone. Culture and social influences have an impact on what we think is right and wrong. This has allowed people to come to decisions to frown upon second-hand smoking. This also led to many human rights movements that have since then made tons of progress to care for each other more than we used to. Because remember, from a natural standpoint, we’re social beings.

#16

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Spankings in school, including with paddles.

Moist-Meat-Popsicle , Pixabay Report

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Biljana Malesevic
Community Member
3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My gym teacher slapped me across my face when I was 13 because I wouldn't do one exercise. I couldn't say why, so she slapped me. The truth was that I was supposed to do that exercise with a boy who repeatedly assaulted me and I didn't want to be nowhere near him. It was in '80s so no one did anything, sadly. And those things never go away, not even when you are an adult.

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#17

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Lead paint and asbestos in housing.

DreyfusBlue , Warren LeMay Report

#18

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Child labor. And the arguments to maintain it ranged from "nobody is forcing them" to "but if we ban it our industries will no longer be competitive" and "when they work, they are not on the streets"... I think this is an example that we must always keep in mind because many of these arguments from the "so-called choice" to "competitiveness" through to the "false alternative" are still regularly used today to justify practices that are morally reprehensible...

nicogla , kabita Darlami Report

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It is this that has pushed us as a species to form our own definitions of morality through interacting with those around us. The power of reason and intelligence in humans is what allows us to have an idea of what morality is and how to navigate it. Through reason, we reach new heights in things like empathy for others, forming bonds and communities. If anything, for survival, but there is potential for caring just because it’s the right thing to do and life is precious.

#20

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Owning other humans

eagleman223 , Muhammad-taha Ibrahim Report

#21

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Driving with no seat belt. Driving while talking on the phone. Driving with no car seat for a child.

Nervous_Cell_25 , Kelly Report

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Multa Nocte
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Driving while talking on the phone? Good thing no one does THAT anymore. 😱

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So, why do we need laws, besides our own flesh and bone forcing an agenda on us? Laws give people structure. Without them, it’d be pure chaos (not the magical kind) and folks would end up doing whatever they please without exception. And that might, in the end, affect you as an individual.

In that sense, laws protect us from the chaos of other people’s decision making. They provide consequences for unfair situations, and the freedoms to express ourselves without prejudice. It’s what makes civilizations civil. Well, one of the things.

#22

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Lobotomies

You suffer from nightmares, headaches, or depression? We’ll just slice a chunk out of your frontal lobe and call it a day!

ShadowWolfKane , Павел Сорокин Report

#23

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Our high school had a rifle club in school. Kids kept their .22s in their lockers.

Edit: not saying rifle teams are now illegal. Bringing guns into school and storing them in a locker is what is now verboten. And I’m not from a particularly rural area.

justaguylookingup , Quenani Leal Report

#24

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now not wearing a seatbelt. people used to make fun of you for wearing one

BacchusBlue45 , Element5 Digital Report

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Michael Largey
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Probably the same type of people who make fun of you for getting a Covid vaccine.

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Take that away from societies and you have a civilization where anyone can do anything. And considering there are no consequences to anything, this would very likely mean crime and violence all around. And next to no protection against it too.

While some things are hard to speculate—mostly because we don’t live in a world of zero rules—it’s safe to say that life would be a lot more dangerous and unpredictable. And those are the two things humanity’s been trying to actively avoid throughout its existence.

#25

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Does anyone remember the 90s when "mooning" was a thing. I remember my mom driving down the highway and my brother and I laughing hysterically at some random guy who was mooning us out his window. I dont know if it's illegal now, but I think mooning would be perceived a lot differently these days. 

CassiesCrafties , Jonathon Burton Report

#26

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Burning your trash in the backyard.

Zuid-Dietscher , Hanumann Report

#27

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Smoking on planes.

Eis_ber , Philip Myrtorp Report

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Jill Rhodry
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And trains, buses, in cars with kids, hospitals, restaurants, g'ment buildings, the doctor's office - and the doctor smoked, schools, almost every workplace basically, everywhere - there were very few 'off limit' places at all.

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Bottom line is, it’s safe to say humans are going in the right direction. Moral breakdown, i.e. decline in morality, isn’t really a thing. Rather, it’s an illusion, a perception of things based on what we think and see, and not what is actually true.

There are literally hundreds of sources proving that war, genocide and child abuse are slowly declining as time goes on, volunteerism doesn’t show any significant changes, and cooperation among humans is on the rise (up by 10% in nearly 60 years).

#28

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Smoking indoors.

Ok_Day_8559 , Denx arman Report

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#29

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Drinking and driving

Low_Palpitation_4438 , energepic.com Report

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Ace
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Driving drunk was never legal. More rigorous laws and heavier punishments have been put in place as technology and understanding has improved. Remember the old (now removed) Monopoly Chance card "drunk in charge"? In charge of a motor vehicle, is what it meant.

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#30

30 Things That Used To Be Normal In Society But Are Illegal Now Punching your wife in the face for not having dinner on the table.

Sgt_soresack , Alex Green Report

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Pandora
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Any man who tries to do that to me, will getting a frying pan to the back of the head!

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Note: this post originally had 42 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

Considering all of this, what are your thoughts on morality, moral progress or decay, or really anything seen in this listicle? Share your thoughts and stories in the comment section below.

And if you need another hit, why not go through this list of legal things that you feel like a criminal doing?