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Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Anatomy of Bans

We live in a world where the majority of people have a great big hard on for banning stuff. Whatever it happens to be. Do not like fast food? No problem, just propose to ban it. Do not like drugs? Just say you would like them banned. Do not like homosexuality? Support a ban on gay buttsex. Nearly every person today has some idea of what needs to be banned. Both people on the left and people on the right. What I think is very sad is that people do not understand what bans are. It will be my task here to explain exactly what bans are so that no one would be comfortable supporting bans once they truly understand what bans are really about.

Before explaining what a ban really is I want to explain what a ban is in the minds of most people (the very same people who believe that the world can be perfected through passing bans). Most people understand that there is a law and there is something which is illegal. Laws are the rules for society to follow. Anything which violates the rules for society is illegal. For an average citizen to ban something means to make that object or action illegal under the law. In the minds of these citizens what is illegal is something which cannot be done. Thus, when a law says that everyone must wear a seatbelt the citizen thinks to himself "okay this is the law that I have to follow, so I will follow it". Most people are good people and most people are law abiding citizens, so when a law is passed they will follow the law. Thus, when a citizen proposes a ban on smoking in public he thinks of a ban as something he would do if there was a new law. In other words, the citizen projects himself to the ban. Meaning that he thinks to himself, "if I was a smoker and there was a law preventing smoking in public I would have to stop smoking in public". Most citizens think this way because they are law abiding, and so that is how they understand how other people would react to such a ban. Thus, a typical citizen thinks that a ban on an object or action will simply stop other people from doing it because people follow the rules of society.

The above paragraph explains the mentality of a typical citizen. It is therefore understandable under this mentality why so many people are supportive of bans. Because these people think that bans will simply stop people from doing a certain action or owning a certain object. Thus, the citizen thinks that bans would be succesful.

The problem with such a mentality is that it is wrong. I already explained a sufficient condition under when all laws that we passed are doomed to fail here. Bans do not change human behavior. One of the great delusions of mankind is that it is possible to change people by passing laws over them. Much of our history is filled with this delusion, most of the problems in the world are the result of this great delusion. But I shall not get into this now for that would take me off topic.

But there is something even worse about the mentality of an average citizen with regard to bans, and that is the failure to understand the consequences of those who violate the bans. Citizens need to ask themselves the question, "what will happen to someone if he ignores the ban?". I do not know how these citizens think, I am not an average citizen, but I will guess at how their minds works. Since they do not see themselves as breaking the law, for they are good law-abiding citizens, they do not really consider this question in the first place. And even if they do consider this question the answer they are likely to give to such a question is, "those who violate the bans will have to pay a fine, a fine will make sure that people will follow the law". This is as much thinking that an average citizen will ever do on this question, I wonder how many citizens will dare ask themselves the question, "what if someone does not pay a fine?". I say this because every typical citizen will pay a fine without thinking of not paying it. He is a law-abiding citizen after all, the thought of rebellion does not really cross his mind. Therefore, I cannot see how typical citizens shall ask themselves the next question, "what if someone does not pay a fine?", indeed if they ask such a question they are no longer average citizens they become philosophical citizens.

What if someone does not pay a fine? The answer is very simple. The violater will get a warning that he must pay the fine. If he still refuses to pay a fine then he will have the authorities go after him. They would arrest him and throw him into a cage. And if the violater tries to defend himself from the authorities then the authorities shall kill him. Therefore, the answer to the question, "what if someone does not pay a fine?" is very simple, the ultimate outcome is either slavery or death. If follows from this that the ultimate outcome of any person who violates a ban is either slavery or death.

Thus, the nature of bans is brutish and violent. The fine is just an intermediate step between slavery/death for anyone who violates a ban, but the truth is that the end result is slavery/death. Anyone who supports a ban implies, without much philosophical thinking, that violence is the way to solve a social problem. Whenever we support a ban on something we need to ask ourselves a very simple question, "is violence a way to deal with this particular problem?". In some cases it is. For example, we need to have a ban on murder and a ban on theft. In those extreme cases violence can be a way to deal with such crimes. But in nearly every case violence is not a way to deal with problems in society. Violence is not a way solve social problems.

We all agree that violence is not a way to manage our personal life with other people. We do not beat up people or kill people with whom we have disputes. We may either come to some reasonable agreement, make up by appologizing, or simply avoid contact from one another. People who lie to us we simply ignore and tell other to ignore. We do not kill people who lie to us, and we do not enslave people who were supposed to do us a favor and did not do it. This would be a terrible way to live our lives. If we really lived our lives this way, then our lives would be so messed up. We all understand that our personal lives with the people around us need to be managed in a cooperative and non-coercive manner. Otherwise our lives would be failures. The question is therefore, why do we think that if we take the idea that "violence is not a way to solve social problems" and apply this simple concept to a national level then somehow it is fine. Why should we think that society would not be messed up because of it?

The entire world is run on this false idea, that we can improve social issues through more violence. And as I said above most of the abuses and problems that are today in the world are the consequence of this idea. Consider the following example. Say some people get offended that certain young people wearing their pants low. They go to their congressman (or whoever they go to) and complain that they do not like how young people wear their pants low. A law is passed that bans anyone wearing pants below a certain wasteline. What is the consequence of such a law? If you understand that bans are violent then a consequence of such a law is that more people would be abused and throw into jail. In particular, black people, it is a black thing to wear pants low. This law does not target black people specifically, it targets anyone, but its consequence is that more violence would be done to black people. Anyone who supports such a ridiculous law needs to ask themselves the question, "do I think that it is necessary to use violence on black people to impose a dress code?". This is the great delusion, that we can change the way people dress by a law. It does not change people's behavior, as explained already, its only consequence is to apply violence on people. This is exactly how most problems and many wars of the world have originated. By the idea of "improving" people by various laws. Indeed, the path to destruction is filled with good intentions.

The reason why typical average citizens, who support various bans, are not repulsed by imposing bans is because they think the bans would be succesful and furthermore they do not see the violent nature of bans. Anyone who fully understands what a ban is will feel repulsed by the idea of supporting it. And this is percisely why I am so hesitant and uncomfortable when someone says, "I think we need to ban ... ". If anything should be banned, it should be banning.

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