Mushroom Kingom Rules of the Road

The Mario Kart franchise is possibly my favorite video game franchise. My dad would play Mario Kart 64 with me and my brother all the time. Double Dash was really cool, but I didn’t get to play it too much. Mario Kart Wii was a nice update, but Mario Kart 8 is the gold standard. The few problems I have with it are mere nitpicks. The legal problems these racers would get into in America would be much more grievous. Mario and friends are never arrested while racing, let’s see why.

A lot this should be similar to my write-up on Cruis’n USA. The racers in Mario Kart are obviously in a racing league. Luckily for them, most of their races are on closed courses. In most situations they are not posing a problem to the general public. The bananas they toss, the bombs they drop, the shells they throw, these are not a problem because it is implied that everyone has agreed to this situation. They all chose to be there. No one is surprised when a massive Bullet Bill surrounds a racer and then smashes into other racers. Everyone has agreed to be involved with this. We encounter a problem when the racers go to a course like Toad’s Turnpike or Toad Harbor.

Courses like Toad’s Turnpike and Toad Harbor have people on the course. Toad’s Turnpike is most likely a real road that people use to get to work. All of a sudden there are reckless drivers getting in the way. In Mario Kart 64 you can get a star, use said star, and drive through trucks and cars. This is illegal in real life. I do not need to cite a statute, you know this. I will repeat it in case one of you is confused. It is illegal for you to take your car and willfully drive through another car. In Mario Kart this is not illegal. Now it could be that just like how Cruis’n USA operates, the government in Mario Kart, which is just Princess Peach as far as I understand, and Princess Peach is a participant in these races, has sanctioned these races. People have been told about the race and are accepting the risk of being on the road during it. They, like our racers, have agreed to be a part of this. A more dangerous alternative is that there are simply no rules of the road in the Mushroom Kingdom. I have already examined some of the laws of the Mushroom Kingdom, and it doesn’t seem too out of place to assume that the roads are not governed. Another alternative is that there has been no crime because there was no damage. When you hit the cars and trucks they jostle a little bit, but there doesn’t appear to be any damage. When you hit these vehicles when you are not invincible your kart explodes, but you can continue racing and your kart operates just fine. No one sues our racers for damages because they have not had an injury. They might be delayed in their drive for a few seconds, but that seems to be the extent of the nuisance.

Donkey Kong ready to drop a banana
Donkey Kong ready to drop a banana

Another law that can be examined is the littering law. Each State has its own rules on what is considered littering. Sometimes there is a separate statute for illegal dumping. In Wisconsin it is illegal for you to let solid waste be thrown from a vehicle you are operating. Wis. Stat. §287.81(2)(b) (2015). Solid waste is further defined as “any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant or air pollution control facility and other discarded or salvageable materials, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous materials resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations, and from community activities, but does not include solids or dissolved material in domestic sewage, or solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges which are point sources subject to permits . . . or source material . . . special nuclear material . . . or by-product material.” Wis. Stat. §289.01(33) (2015). It seems fair to assume for our purposes that the bananas the racers throw are solid waste that they are throwing onto a highway. There hasn’t been a case yet where someone was pulled over for throwing a banana and they fought it in court in Wisconsin. These racers are littering as well as attacking commuters. There is either a different definition of solid waste in the Mushroom Kingdom, or there is no law preventing littering.

An interesting aside about the littering law of Wisconsin, in 2014 the Court of Appeals stated that because littering is punishable by forfeiture and not a fine or imprisonment it is not a crime. State v. Iverson, 2014 WI App., LEXIS 833 ¶9. Crimes are punishable by fines or imprisonment. Id. Littering is not punishable by fine or imprisonment, so it is not a crime. Id. Littering is also not a violation of a traffic regulation. Id. at ¶10. Traffic regulations are only in chapters 194 or 341 through 349 in the Wisconsin statutes. Id. Since littering is in chapter 287 it is not a traffic regulation. See id. Thus, breaking the littering statute is not a violation of a traffic regulation.

A streetcar of innocent Toads watch the mayhem around them unfold
A streetcar of innocent Toads watch the mayhem around them unfold

A third subject we can examine is the possible animal cruelty inflicted on Chain Chomps. Chain Chomps can draw similarities to dogs in real life. In the Mario Kart franchise they can be found waiting on courses to attack racers that drive by. They are usually strong enough to disrupt a racer, but if that racer has a star then the racer is invincible and they hit the Chain Chomp and it is incapacitated for a while. The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson in 1966. It is the federal law that gives us baselines of what you are not allowed to do to animals. States have created stricter guidelines throughout the years and these laws vary wildly state to state. In Wisconsin it is illegal for you to treat any animal in a cruel manner. Wis. Stat. §951.02 (2015). You are also not allowed to shoot, kill, or wound an animal that is staked, like Chain Chomps are, with a firearm or deadly weapon. Wis. Stat. §951.09(1) (2015). Luckily, Mario and his friends are not killing these Chain Chomps, but they seem to be getting pretty close. It seems likely that if they were racing in Wisconsin they could be accused of treating these animals cruelly. In the Mushroom Kingdom it could be that pets and other animals are treated differently. Or it could be that I do not understand Mushroom Kingdom genetics and Chain Chomps are willing participants with fully formed brains and the like. After all, this world has mushroom people, turtles that can kidnap princesses, and dinosaurs that you can ride as horses, but the dinosaurs can also golf and play tennis. This unfortunately does not explain how penguins, cows, and porcupines are treated by the racers.

That’ll be all for today folks. The Mario Kart franchise has had a long history. It is a delightful game and will hopefully have many new versions in the future. It does treat things a little differently than our world though. It doesn’t seem to have littering laws, doesn’t seem to care about other drivers on the road, and doesn’t seem to have any laws protecting pets/animals. Again, this could probably all change if Princess Peach spent a single day ruling her kingdom instead of racing, golfing, playing tennis, competing in the Olympics, playing living board games, or getting kidnapped.

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