Whoa on the Whoas

Outcry and outrage are inevitable consequences of free speech. So it is, so it has been, so it shall be. People will take offense, and that's okay. You don't have to hear it, but I do get to say it, with certain exceptions. There are things you don't say in public out of courtesy, at work due to policies, etc. When the kneeling issue was a thing in the NFL, I had no problem with the players doing it and wanted the owners and the league to OK it. They banned it, and while I didn't agree, I expected the players to either stop or accept the consequences, which they did.

What I'm getting at is this: When a piece of art comes out, a store gets to say they won't stock it (Walmart didn't sell explicit-labeled CD's for a long time) within reason (not on a religious, race-based, or a sexuality-rooted basis), but an outright ban is and should be immensely difficult to obtain. Censorship within an institution happens, sometimes too severely, but keeping art and information from the public is a problem, as is influencing what can reach the public.

If you don't want your family watching certain things, you talk to your family about it. If something is rated M or NC-17 or has an explicit label, you shouldn't buy it for your kids without deliberation or even (dare I say it?) research. You don't get to say whether it should be published at all. We consenting adults get to enjoy our "grown-up" entertainment. You don't get to enforce your views on the rest of us, even if that means you have to take a more active role in your family. That's on you.

There are responsible practices that need to be followed on the other side too, though. Heavily violent or sexualized content shouldn't be advertised directly to children, and there are programs to keep that from happening (RIP Joe Camel). Ratings boards are in place to help you decide what's appropriate, with both the X and NC-17 ratings introduced to bar children from films expressly intended for adults (how they were used is problematic, esp. when compared to other countries A-ratings,but that's another topic). They should not be used to keep things from being made or released.

Sure, there are exceptions, truly vile things that shouldn't be available, but putting everything that offends you into that category is inappropriate. Besides, if the things you like offend others, they'd have to go, too. It would get out of hand quickly.

So, if you hear someone calling for a ban or are yourself itching to pick up your pitchfork, remember to consider further implications and consequences. When a restriction is put in place, someone will try to tilt it to their own purposes, and you may eventually be strangled with your own rope.