“I don’t think people of the same sex should be able to form a relationship. Let’s ban homosexual relationships.”
“I don’t like pornography. It objectifies women. Let’s ban pornography.”
“I don’t like what that person said. Let’s ban them from saying it.”
Notice how the first two ideas would be considered (and rightly so) utterly preposterous, but the latter two ideas have become a common and familiar outcry in today’s Britain? If you didn't notice, then you must have been living under a rock for the past decade or so. Either that, or you have been swept up in the ‘liberal’ hypocrisy that is the ban culture that has descended on these islands like a miasma, making everyone who comes into contact with it much worse off.
I write this having survived just the latest e-petition outbreak that has been periodically plaguing my inbox since the end of last year. I’ll be clear, I don't have anything against e-petitions; they're the perfect way to help lazy 'activists' sleep easily having made a 'difference' to this immoral, corrupt, harsh world, secretly run by a patriarchy, of course.
I have personally signed two such petitions in my time, both of which were for rather admirable causes. The last one I signed even resulted in ministerial action! However, since signing it, I have been on the receiving end of an unrelenting onslaught of self-righteous, pretentious and quite frankly, pathetic drivel.
Now, if this were just your garden-variety drivel, it wouldn't have much of a problem (I would have just sent it to my spam folder with the rest of the tripe littering my inbox), but each e-petition I have been asked to sign have all had something in common. Something as a libertarian I could not ignore. They were all asking me to help them get something banned.
Too many things have been banned in this country, but some (most) (all) of these emails really did take the biscuit, so to speak.
One email asked me to help them ban a certain bookmaker from organising wagers on a particular court case. Another asked me to help them have an entire social networking website removed from the Internet. A third invited me to join them in their struggle to ban the Sun's Page 3 (change the record). I shan't punish you with anymore examples, you probably understand my plight, by now.
Though irritating, these e-petitions are merely but a small part of the wider problem haunting Britain. This problem, or perhaps more accurately, this pestilence, is the growing belief that we can and we should ban anything that we do not agree with. It's embarrassing.
We're all entitled to our grievances and opinions, of course, I'm not saying otherwise. What I am saying is that there are a number of better ways of solving the things that irritate, offend or disgust us other than banning them. For instance: don't agree with gambling? Don't gamble. Are you being cyber-bullied? Why not turn off your computer? Morally outraged by Page 3? Here's an idea, don't look at it.
Don’t think that just because you don’t like something you should spoil it for everyone else by forbidding it. Let’s save bans for things that can actually infringe upon the rights of others, ruin their lives, or cause pain upon them. Let’s concentrate on enforcing the ban on theft, murder and rape, rather than outlawing trivial things like Robin Thicke’s music, certain Twitter hashtags or the broadcasting of a documentary on Channel 4.
People who call for things to be banned need to ask themselves whether or not they have a modicum of empathy. Whether or not they understand that their moral outlook is not shared by everyone. And whether or not they want to live in a world where the songs they listen to, the films they watch and the things they read have to be approved of by a gang of smug, condescending, sanctimonious, and controlling degenerates.