Newspapers everyday are filled with the news of something being banned or people asking for a ban on something.
Too much traffic ban vehicles, too much plastic ban plastic, too much noise ban speakers, too much merriment ban parties. Ban books, ban movies, ban people, ban animals, ban this, ban that. Banning seems to be seeping deep into our socio-political culture. All of us are a drop of hat away from pronouncing a ban on something. I ban TV for my children when they do not obey.
Banning is easy. To ban ‘it’ is perceived as the most common solution for many real and imagined problems. Banning is, however, a lazy policy, I believe. How can you make ‘it’ go away by banning ‘it’? ‘It’ will be there, maybe hidden somewhere, or swept under the carpet. Banning something will not stop it from happening. It would of course give the legal system more power to deal with it in a different spectrum.
When a ban is enforced on certain behaviour it may certainly have a deterrence effect on it. But will the behaviour be modified? I highly doubt. I believe that the behaviour may actually worsen because now it will be criminalised. On the surface the ban will please a majority of people, but in the long term effects may be unsatisfactory and even unpredictable.
Banning something, I feel actually increases the interest of people in it. It becomes like the forbidden fruit you want to taste. More than that I think, banning something is not the solution. When you ban something you fail to correct human behaviour. You are not holding the person responsible for the wrong, you are blaming ‘it’, the inanimate thing.
I read of ban on use of loud speakers after eleven at night. Loud music disturbs everyone, but we do not realise that when we are the ones celebrating. A ban is necessary because we are not sensitive to each others needs. A ban on crackers because we still do not understand the ill effects of pollution. When we become more responsible and answerable then the need for ban will not be there.
But then there have been bans of the bizzare kind. I found few on the net. I do not vouch for the truth of these bans, but I found these preposterous.
Turkmenistan bans lip-synching at large cultural events and on TV programming. In 2005, President Saparmural Niyazou banned lip-synching in order to preserve true culture. He also banned opera and ballet deeming them unnecessary. ( source https://www.quora.com/what-are-some-strange-things-banned-in-countries )
In the 80’s Romanian leader Nicole Ceausescu banned the game calling it “subversive” and “evil”. Luckily the ban is no longer there.
- CHEWING GUM
Well, in Singapore there is a ban on the import or sale of gum. So it gets impossible for locals to get any. Except if it is medically prescribed. The ban was imposed in 1992 when someone used chewed gum to bring the public transportation system to a halt! How??
- ALCOHOL ADVERTISEMENTS
In India you cannot advertise alcohol. The ban came into effect in the 1990’s. Many companies have tried to get around the ban by promoting surrogate products.
- TIME TRAVEL
Not literally. China bans the movies and shows about time travel. Chinese authorities felt that representattions of time travel resulted in frivolous depictions of “serious history”
- BLACK JEANS
North Korea bans wearing black jeans (among various other things). You can only wear blue jeans. Black is a colour, apparently associated with United States.
- GAMBLING AT CASINO IF YOU ARE A CITIZEN OF MONACO
Yes! Despite being a symbol of Monaco, Monte Carlo Casino does not allow citizens of Monaco to enter and gamble there. In 1860’s Prince Charles III was afraid that his citizens would lose all their money there. It was perfectly fine for foreigners to do so.
- DYING IN THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
In United Kingdom one is not allowed to die inside the Houses of Parliament as that would entitle one to a state funeral. Don’t know how they would prosecute you for breaking this law?
- RUNNING OUT OF GAS ON AUTOBAHN
Autobahn is the federal controlled highway system in Germany and you cannot run out of gas while driving there. And if you do, do not think of walking to the gas station as walking on Autobahn is also banned.
- PONYTAILS ON MEN
The Iranian government issued a list of appropriate male hair styles in 2010, which prohibits ponytails, mullets and hair that is too spiky.
Was that a long list? I’m sure it can be longer though. The idea behind this was to make us think: Is banning helpful or should we focus on correcting the underlying human behaviour so banning can be banned.