Wednesday, December 26, 2012 / by Nathan Clark
It’s a safe bet that we’ll ring in 2013 with at least a few discussions of banning this or banning that.
Some of those discussions will be warranted. When awful things happen, there aren’t many courses of action that shouldn’t at least be discussed. But it seems that all too often, we’re a bit quick to ban things.
Sometimes, it’s the lazy way out. We look for an answer and instead of examining a complex problem inside and out, we just put a ban on whatever’s the easiest target. Instead of healing the wound, we merely put a “ban”-daid on it.
Horrible pun, yes, but you get the point.
Some bans are fine. Like asbestos. It’s smart that asbestos is banned in buildings. But others are questionable at best. If you want to check out a pretty comprehensive list of things that were banned in 2012, check out this Yahoo! slideshow. If not, here are the more ridiculous bans in effect:
- In New Jersey, a middle school principal banned hugs. Yes, hugs. After seeing what he described in news reports as “incidents of unsuitable,physical interaction,” he made the school a no-hugging zone.
- APennsylvaniaschool district has banned students from wearing the popular UGG brand boots. The fur-lined footwear, officials scandalously revealed, was being used to hide cell phones in class.
- A gym inCanada banned thin people. Apparently, the facility’s focus is on obese people, and the skinny people were deemed bad for morale.
- A male high school student inMissouri, who is of Scottish descent, was banned from wearing a kilt to his school’s prom.
- A coffee shop inBerlin,Germany, banned baby strollers
There are plenty of other examples, many of which include various types of restrictions on various types of clothing in schools. Tight pants, loose pants, short skirts, controversial T-shirts – the list goes on and on. It would seem that if people can’t figure out how to address an issue, they just issue a ban.
InFrance, president Francois Hollande has proposed a ban on homework. Nope, you read that right – he is pushing to make homework illegal. The reasoning, according to news reports, is that schoolwork assigned outside of a school building gives an unfair advantage to kids who grow up with better home lives. A poorer child from, say a single-parent family, is at a competitive disadvantage.
So instead of addressing the problem of poorer, single-parent households, what do we do?
Ban homework, of course.
In many countries around the world, there are bans on women. They are banned from wearing certain things, banned from going certain places (like school), banned from saying things, and, inIndia, even banned from talking on cell phones.
I get that there are religious reasons behind this, but in our culture these examples kind of show that banning seems to be a backwards way of handling things.
In this day and age of political correctness, nobody wants anybody to get offended over anything. Often, thin skin prevails over common sense. Politeness prevails over freedoms we thought we had. You don’t like the color of length of my hair, the message on my T-shirt or the fit of my jeans? Ban them.
It’s the knee-jerk reaction to problem-solving. That can’t be the greatest thing, can it?
How about addressing problems instead of wishing they’d go away? Dealing with difficult things instead of simply avoiding them?
I don’t have the answers to a lot of the tough questions we, as a society, have to ask ourselves. But banning the things that are on the surface of a problem seems to be the easy way out of facing that problem.
That doesn’t seem that great an idea to me. I think I’d be in favor of a ban on taking the easy way out.