The year began with a life ending. My grandmother was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and died quickly – but, thankfully, painlessly – within a few weeks. Her bodily deterioration scraped down the iron exterior of her social self. I had grown up with her presence always filling any room or event that we attended. The gaps of silence between withdrawn family members forced to interact, the awkward distances moulded by time apart between once close siblings and cousins, were filled by her incredibly sharp – usually scathing – wit, creating a bridge on which interaction could take place. She was someone who was lucky enough to have more people love her than she loved; not through malice but through being unaware that so many did.
Considering Christopher Hitchens was the master of the English language, it seems particularly stupid of me to use it now. It’s like trying to serenade the world’s greatest singer. But here goes my poor attempt which is aided greatly by a quotation by a Nobel prize winning author.
Er, not really sure how this happened.
I don’t consider myself an expert on any topic. Nevertheless, it is nice to be featured among such amazing contributors to Big Think. You can find my page there. I currently have two articles up. The latest one on incest is getting very lazy and emotive comments, as well as a few really complimentary ones. The most insulting comment I’ve received from it points out a typo. The rest is about someone called god, something about evolution being good and others pointing out how it leads to deformities (despite me dealing with it in the article).
It’s an amazing website. You should subscribe to their feed.
I am a test page. Please ignore.
News24.com is one of those websites that makes you ashamed to share a species label with other humans. The comments sections often reads as though a bunch of blind, three-fingered lunatics have been set alight and told that typing really fast on a keyboard will put the flames out. Oh and someone is hitting them on the head with a hammer. Regardless, sometimes a brave soul emerges from the cloud of nonsense to write something comprehensible. Recently the user ‘Increasingly Annoyed’, wrote an article ‘Ask an atheist’. I have a number of small problems with it, though I think it is fairly well-written (though it uses some unnecessary phrasing) and refreshingly sober.
The insightful legal writer, David Allen Green, has just penned an article asking whether we should ban “banning” things. His argument will be familiar to you if you’ve read some of the items here. Green provides a much clearer exposition on the ramifications of banning than I have, though.
Green points out that banning something does not eliminate it. This can be drugs, pornography, and so on. As he puts it, “to say there should be a law against a thing is often no more than saying there should be a spell against.” He clarifies further and says that should something be successfully banned, “it just means the legal system will be engaged in a way it otherwise would not be.” This truism highlights that just because the law is acting differently does not, by definition, mean we have ridden ourselves of banned items.
Recently I’ve been trying to locate items that I would consider horrid enough to ban the same way a conservative would upon seeing something that offends him. However, when I attempt arguments for why I would want a possible item banned, my “banning” arguments inevitably collapse into illegal or immoral ones (not necessarily the same): that is, what I want banned is essentially that which is bad enough to require intervention by the law. For example, I would ban adverts that paid actors to torture animals to death. But animal cruelty is already a crime. Indeed, ‘banning’ such an advert is an insulting way to treat such an act, since banning only means pushing it away from the public eye, not getting rid of the actual problem. *
The collapse of my “banning” arguments into criminal charges happens every time I try find an item that would force me to react as conservative Christians do to, say, angels abandoning their Heavenly status because of an average man, who happens to smell nice (one wonders what happens when the odour disappears). I have been so far unsuccessful in my search for such an item. I have vaguely considered the existence of shows like Jersey Shore to perhaps being the closest thing.
What we must notice is that items people want banned usually straddle the line between disgusting and criminal – that is, they are horrid enough for people to evoke outrage but not so horrid that they are crimes. After all, if they were crimes, banning would, as I said, be an obvious ineffective way to treat the ‘problem’. No one thinks just banning child pornography is enough: there are active police units that hunt down people involved in the manufacture of child pornography. So, items that are banned or that people want banned straddle this continuum of disgust and crime.