Sometimes politicians get bored with all that progress and meaningful work. They’re so busy making the world a way better place, passing laws that increase the general population’s quality of life, that they get antsy and need to blow off a little steam. It’s at this point that they decide to react stupidly to something they don’t understand and then ban it for everyone. Here, then, is a brief, not-at-all-comprehensive history of that wasted effort:
Recently, Montana State Representative David Moore claimed to have been just kidding when he said yoga pants should be banned. What he meant to say was what that he backed a bill that would forbid the wearing of “any device, costume, or covering that gives the appearance of or simulates the genitals, pubic hair, anus region, or pubic hair region, or exposes any device worn as a cover over the nipple or areola of the female breast that simulates and gives the realistic appearance of a nipple or areola while in a public place.”
So basically… yoga pants. Which he did say, although allegedly in his patented off-the-cuff comedy manner. Then he backpedaled.
Outcome: Failure. Internet ridicule. Women will still be allowed to shop for produce in Lululemon yoga pants and men going commando in flimsy basketball shorts will still be allowed to flop around freely.
Oklahoma Representative Dan Fisher is backing a bill that would ban the state’s current Advanced Placement U.S. History course. He would like to see it replaced with a more patriotic and religious curriculum, one that includes the study of the Ten Commandments and at least three speeches by Ronald Reagan. Oklahoma’s Education committee has approved the bill in an 11-4 vote. Seems that everyone supporting this thing is upset that the current A.P. curriculum covers this country’s (actual and true) history of oppression and exploitation.
Outcome: To be continued… by high school graduates qualified to work nowhere that requires an actual education.
In the Great Hall of Washington D.C.’s Department of Justice lives a statue — half-naked with one breast covered, one exposed — called the Spirit of Justice. In 2002, without argument or a vote, and without asking her what she wanted, then Attorney General John Ashcroft had her right breast covered up, all draped in blue. Stupid Republicans.
Outcome: Even though Ashcroft’s replacement, Alberto Gonzalez, removed the curtain in 2005, in 2014, the Obama administration covered her up again. Stupid Repub — oh, wait.
In the mid-1980s, Al Gore’s wife, Tipper Gore, began an organization known as the Parents Music Resource Center. The PMRC lobbied for the music industry to begin labeling records, tapes, and CDs with warning stickers designating explicit content (sex, violence, all other cool stuff).
They got their way thanks to (among other songs), Sheena Easton’s Prince-penned tune “Sugar Walls,” which was on their “Filthy Fifteen” list of songs exemplifying everything wrong with pop music. While not exactly a ban, some major retailers used the labels as a pretext not to stock certain albums and artists.
Outcome: We all got those meaningless stickers on CDs; the word “explicit” on every iTunes track with a swear on it; and the late ’80s 2 Live Crew controversy, which saw a record store clerk charged with (and eventually acquitted of) selling an “obscene” product to a minor. In other words, it all kind of worked. At least until it became routine and nobody cared about it anymore. These days, President Obama told everyone that Jay-Z was in his iPod and Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck With You” became a platinum-selling single of 2014.
Kinder Surprise Chocolate Eggs
This wasn’t just a vain attempt. This was a victory, one more step on the path to tyranny. Kinder Eggs are (or in this country at least, were) hollow chocolate eggs with a tiny plastic toy inside. And some kid probably choked on one somewhere and now the FDA bans “the sale of any candy that has imbedded in it a toy or trinket.” Thanks, that kid’s inattentive parents, you’ve ruined the joy of eating a thing with a mouth-destroying prize inside.
Outcome: Sadness; a diminishment of choice in the arena of chocolate treats; everybody sucking the life and fun out of everything.
Previously published February 25, 2015.