Wednesday, August 8, 2012

And The Ban Played On

There's been a lot of talk about bans lately.

No, not those.

Not that either.

That's the one.

All over the country, Americans are fiercely exercising their 1st Amendment muscles debating the things they think should and shouldn't be banned.  And good for them!  What's great about this country is we can have an open dialogue about pretty much anything we want.

But before that dialogue goes any further, I think we should all take a moment to sheathe our tongue shaped swords and reflect on what we've already learned about "banning" from history.  That way we can avoid looking foolish later on.  Then, after we've taken this moment, we can all go back to supporting or protesting the sale of chicken sandwiches.

So without further adieu, here are a few entertaining bans from human history, both recent and not:

  • Last year, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority decided to ban "glazed donut" from being texted on cell phones.  It was one of 1700 words deemed "offensive and obscene."  Also on the list, "Monkey Crotch."
  • California law currently bans vehicles from going faster than 60 mph when they don't have a driver.
  • In 1927, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sent out a formal ban of images that should be avoided in future movies.  Among them: "White Slavery."  Not among them: "all other kinds of slavery." 
  • In the 1980s, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu called the board game Scrabble "overly intellectual" and promptly banned it from his nation.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think all bans are terrible.  In Boulder, Colorado, for example, they were able to ban sofas from being stored on front porches.  How amazing is that?!  I think we can all agree that was tax dollars well spent, particularly if you've ever visited small midwestern towns or frat houses.

I also came across a list of notable authors whose books have, at some point, somewhere, by someone been banned from libraries, schools, and/or communities.  Some of them include:

Maya Angelou
Ray Bradbury
Lewis Carrol
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Anne Frank
Ernest Hemingway
James Joyce
Thomas Paine
William Shakespeare
George Bernard Shaw
John Steinbeck
J.R.R. Tolkien
Mark Twain

This clearly shows that banning isn't that bad.  I mean, if these brilliant authors have each been banned at some point, then there's gotta be something to it.  Maybe bans let us know when we're on the cusp of something great.  After all, history shows an idea is never really that new until it makes somebody mad.

So don't get discouraged, America!  We may all have different opinions, but we're not that different.  We can absolutely figure out what we want and what we don't.  And until we do, we just have to keep a healthy perspective on bans, which in turn, always lead to open minds and clean porches.

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