banI recently posted the following as my status on Facebook:

Tell me what you would like to ban, and I will tell you who you are.”  

People responded with their ideas of what to ban.  Some were personal and reflected things that *should* be addressed by self discipline.  Examples:  Smoking and sugar.  I get it.  For some, it is a difficult struggle to keep away from addictive substances.  Many of us will argue against banning, say, sugar.  Granted sugar is bad for you.  And as adults, we can take responsibility of our health and eat sugar in moderation. Banning these are for weak minded people who do not take responsibility for their own indulgences; and so want to ruin it for everyone else. Ditto smoking, alcohol, and drugs.

Some were in the nuisance category, most likely made in jest; example: mosquitoes.  I live in South Florida, and in the middle of the winter, if I walk out for 30 seconds, the sole mosquito in the 5 mile radius finds me and bites me.  I get it.  Mosquitoes are annoying.  But these same people who think nothing of “banning mosquitoes” however will have opinions on banning nuisance animals such as coyote that harm farmers livestock.

The other category was the “noble” category.  Some wanted to ban wars.   Others wanted to ban poaching.  Others still environmental destruction. These are great sound bites; and the people talking about it probably feel strongly about it as well.  But let’s put things in perspective. Poaching, by definition is illegal.  So how would a ban be different than anti-poaching laws? Let’s just write that off to a less thought through knee jerk response.

Let’s tackle Environmental Destruction.  I understand pollution – to some extent.  A factory dumping harmful chemicals into a river that get’s all users downstream sick is not desirable. That can be made illegal (or banned).  However, my kids taking a piss in the river upstream is also technically “pollution”.  Building a home on land is technically “destruction of environment”.  Building roads, damns, bringing water to villages using pipelines – all destroy the environment.  Lofty goals such as “banning environmental destruction” may be well intended, and when specified with clarity may be constructive; but on their own do nothing but make the person desiring it look and feel good.  I am a vegan, and I can ask all these people wanting to save the planet to ban eating animals.  But that’s just plain silly. Improving food sustainability, one specific goal at a time is commendable.  Claims of “Ban Environmental Destruction” is nothing more than grandstanding.

How about war?  Can we ban war?  I don’t much care for wars.  I am against some recent wars the US has been involved with.  But can we ban them? The way I see it happening is to first relinquish all control (city / state / country / continents) to an entity that can have such power as to ban war.  Then, ban war.   And after that, let’s hope we don’t find hostile aliens somewhere in the universe.  Let’s take the example of the former Yugoslavia.  Under Tito’s regime, there was no war.  However, political dissidents were jailed.  Serbs gained political power and years of resentment grew to the point where, soon after Tito’s death, the area fell apart and what did we get?  War.  What you resist persists.  I for one am glad there was the French Revolution, the War in Independence, and India fought it’s occupier.  The concept of banning wars, IMHO, is naivete.

The final category was banning emotions such as hate.  Again, I get that hate is not the healthiest of emotions.  But can it be banned?  Can I hate broccoli?  How about Crocs (those ugly shoes)?  What would happen to people who are not allowed to express their hatred of (say) broccoli out loud?  Will they love broccoli – or will they hate broccoli, the ban, and all the enforcers of the ban?

What say?  And what would you ban?  And what does that say about you?

(the quip about gravity in the title is meant to show the futility of bans)