As much as we love thinking of ourselves as the rebellious kids fighting against an oppressive society run by unreasonable old men, the truth is that most things that are illegal are illegal for a reason. Society just doesn't enjoy your public urination as much as you do.
But sometimes, the grownups get it wrong. Hilariously wrong, in fact.
#6. NSA Bans Furbies
Good old 1998. El Nino dominated the news, Microsoft was sweating the antitrust case, and you could still put a gallon of gas in your car for about a buck and a quarter. As the year drew to a close, however, something had grabbed the world by the nuts even more so than the upcoming impeachment of the President of the United States, and it was a goddamn toy.
We're talking about Furbies, some kind of nightmarish mechanical rabbit with a beak that quickly became the must-have toy for Christmas in 1998 and 1999. Nearly 16 million of the electronic spawns of Satan were sold. Because of this popularity, Furbies were finding their way in to the homes of millions, and even some places of employment. Which is fine (albeit annoying) unless your employer happens to be the National Security Agency.
Via Chris Fritz
Because Fridays are only "Bring your Cabbage Patch Kid into Work Day."
In 1999, an internal memo was sent out officially banning Furbies from the NSA's headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland because officials were worried that people would take them home, and that the spiritual predecessor to Tickle Me Elmo would overhear, and proceed to talk about classified information. This was due to the Furby's supposed ability to not only speak its native language Furbish, but also to progressively learn English over time the more you interacted with it.
The NSA's Furby, after strip searches and shouting "reveal your secrets robot!" failed to yield results.
What the NSA failed to realize is that Furbies didn't actually develop or learn anything at all. Hell, they didn't even repeat what they heard like most people thought. In fact, what nobody seemed to realize is that the Furbies' language development was pre-programmed, and that no matter what you say to the Furby, it's not going to learn or say anything different than the 100 English words it was already programmed to "learn." You can read it Portuguese porn articles every single day for six months straight, and it's still going to end up saying, "I big worried."
But, it's easy to see how the NSA wouldn't know that. It's not like they are big on, you know, gathering information about things.
Via David Erickson
Blue is going to be taken in for serious questioning after this.
#5. Greece Bans All Video Games
In 2002, Greece's government wanted to crack down on illegal gambling; specifically, electronic gambling machines. Makes sense -- these machines offer all of the money-sucking ability of a casino, but without the free buffet. The problem comes when laws regulating any kind of electronic entertainment are made by people too old or sheltered to have ever actually seen one. As a result, the vague, all-encompassing wording of the new law wound up effectively banning every possible kind of video game, anywhere.
"I have the Bubble Bobble. Hand over your firstborn."
The law banned any games or gaming systems with electronic mechanisms and software. So instead of regulating gambling, they effectively grounded the citizens of the entire country and told them to go do their homework. According to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, "The blanket ban was decided ... after the government admitted it was incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines." That is, rather than bog themselves down with figuring out what exactly these newfangled "video games" were, they just threw out a blanket ban figuring no one would care as long as it took out the gambling machines along with it. That's really all people use video games for anyway, right?
This wholesome family scene will be shattered when Carol's legs are broken as payment for losing at Smash Bros.
Needless to say, the ban was not well received since the legislation's stubborn ignorance meant that anyone caught playing games as innocuous as Minesweeper in a cafe could potentially be slapped with a hefty fine and a prison sentence.
"I'm here for murder...ing Goombas."
This drew scorn from both the gaming community and Europe as a whole. Shortly after it was passed, the European Court of Justice sent a letter to Greece explaining delicately that the law was idiotic. Greece responded by allowing more leniency in the law and also with a follow up letter to the European Court of Justice asking how to get those songs from their computer screens onto the little record players everyone carries around.
#4. China Bans Time Travel
From Tibet to Tiananmen Square, China has celebrated an illustrious career of censorship, fudging details and generally hiding shit from the world. Anything that might endanger the delicate social fabric of their country is susceptible to suppression or banning, and recently there was a new addition to that list of national threats: time travel.
Not the pursuit of actual time travel -- though it seems like that would make sense in the name of Terminator prevention -- but time travel as a fictional concept. China's General Bureau of Radio, Film and Television noticed a recent uptick in the number of shows and movies featuring time travel as a central theme (Lost, we bet) and decided that the completely fictional concept of manipulating the flow of events was, "disrespectful to history."
More rational governments realize the finale of Lost was only disrespectful to intelligence.
Apparently, the problem isn't with depicting the act of time travel itself, but with the actual historical events or people portrayed, because inevitably the recounting of those events are not 100 percent accurate. You know, since putting an original spin on history is kind of the point of a time travel movie.
According to the Bureau, "The producers and writers are treating serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore." What, do they think this law can stop that Bill & Ted sequel from happening? Come on, China, if that could be done, don't you think we would have tried? Keanu is pushing 50-years old -- we're not any happier about it than you are.
This is the face of a man desperate to reclaim his youth.
And quite frankly, we're shocked that a massive political system that's so reliant on heavy media manipulation and selective truths would have the balls to tell their citizens they are no longer entitled to the suspension of disbelief.