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.
I recently watched a documentary on Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who kidnapped, drugged, and raped his daughter for 24 years; forcing her to be his sex-slave and mother to incestuous grandchildren. What more evidence is required for us to postulate the non-existence of a loving, caring god? Certainly, the systematic extermination of nearly an entire race of people was not enough; the brutality of the world throwing up destruction – whether through volcanoes or hurricanes – does not dint the happy glaze in the faithful’s eyes; and now, a woman raped by her father and kept in his dungeon for a quarter of a century, does not appear to slow faith, either.
Ideally, I would like to stop there and say: The jig is up. There is no man behind the curtain. Praying is the still-frame of an audience slow-clapping for the arrival of their beloved stage performer. Yet this performance has ended, there is no one watching out for you. We are here to look after ourselves and, by definition, each other. Leaving it up to god to catch your babies, let your favourite football team win, get you that hot date, earn your promotion, get you through this terrible ordeal, cure your son’s incurable disease, stop your wife’s neverending pain as cancer destroys her from the inside, take grandma up into heaven, forgive the wrongs of murderers and pimps and drug-lords, proclaim what’s right or wrong, is not a viable alternative to facing this stupid, bigoted, terrible world we live in. This is not a place of happiness. It is a place filled with suffering, with stupidity, with bigotry, which, after our toil and struggle, ends finally in death. Continue reading →