6 Things You Won't Believe Got Banned By Modern Governments
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.
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.
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.
Blue is going to be taken in for serious questioning after this.
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.
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.
Russia Bans Emo
Like any parent, mother Russia just plain does not understand today's youth. The government was looking for a reason for the high suicide rates, depression and general gloominess predominant among teens throughout their vast, impoverished and often freezing country. It finally landed on a likely culprit: emo clothing. Hell, that has to be it, right? What else is there to be depressed about in glorious Russia?
"I've just bribed our way on to a bread queue!"
Dubbed "a threat to national stability," Russia introduced a bill to ban anyone in emo clothing from entering public schools and government buildings as if they were suicide bombers smuggling sadness bombs under their safety-pinned corsets from Hot Topic.
"You don't understand my inner pain. This corset has punctured my lungs."
So what is the tangible danger behind emo culture? Well, a hearing on Government Strategy in the Sphere of Spiritual and Ethical Education claims that emo culture is a "dangerous teen trend" that ranks right up there with being a skinhead. It encourages social withdraw and feelings of hopelessness. According to an advisor of one of the bill sponsors, "The point of the bill is so that by 2020, Moscow will have someone to rule its government."
It'll still be this guy presumably. He'd look good in eyeliner.
So the fear is that emo will eventually collapse the Russian power structure from within by wiping out a generation of future Putins. That's right: They believe that emo fashion would do what both Hitler and Napoleon could not. Although ...
All we're saying is that, he wore black, had an asymmetrical fringe
and thought nobody understood him. Come to your own conclusions.
Don't worry, Russia. The emo thing passes. Then it's the hipsters you have to worry about.
China Bans Reincarnation (Without Prior Government Approval)
For Tibetan Buddhism, reincarnation is kind of a big deal because it will determine how an individual spends his entire next life. This is of particular importance for the tulkus, otherwise known as the "living Buddhas." Unlike other monks, tulkus have the distinct benefit of actually choosing how they are reborn, which, when you think about it, is really, really fucking cool. Though we suppose choosing to be born with an 11-inch dong probably disqualifies you from the position.
"Hey, I have all my inner peace right here!"
But tulkus can't just go around reincarnating willy-nilly, not anymore anyway. As of September of 2007, China banned reincarnation without express permission from the government. The State Administration for Religious Affairs calls the ban, "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." Now, we are no experts on death and rebirth, but not only does this law seem pointless, it also seems pretty damn hard to enforce. We're pretty sure that would be the equivalent of a government regulating when and where Christ was allowed to perform his Second Coming.
"We've got yoga Wednesday and Paul's wife is having a baby next week, so this is a real dick move on your part, Jesus."
So why would the Chinese government try to legislate something so intangible and beyond the scope of a mortal control? The answer is this guy:
He's coming back as buffalo, somebody stop him!
China is flipping out because the Dalai Lama has already begun his succession plan, and has said that he flat out refuses to be reborn in Tibet while it remains under Chinese control. And since China insists that any reincarnated living Buddha that was not approved by the government is "illegal and invalid," people are looking at the distinct possibility of two Dalai Lamas existing; one chosen by the monks, and the other by Beijing. The only way he could make it worse is if he went around telling fake stories about when he traveled through time.
Or if he just had enough of the whole mess and came back as an eagle.
Australia Bans Small Breasts in Porn
Back at the beginning of 2010, the Australian Classification Board decided it needed to put an end to some of the more unsavory aspects of adult films and publications. First on their hit list was the depiction of any sort of female ejaculation. The Board felt these scenes were most decidedly deserving of a Refused Classification because it was one of two things:
Urine, and thus banned under the label of "golden showers," or;
an abhorrent depiction.
We presume all the wives of the men on the Classification Board are having affairs.
Also in the Classification Board's sights for banned content? Breasts. Or rather, the lack thereof. If you were going to have naked titties, they needed to be big titties. By order of the Australian government.
"What's that, Skippy? Big titties? Also this joke is playing on a horrible stereotype? Good boy."
The reason is that an Australian group called Kids Free 2B Kids was leading a campaign to forbid women with an A-cup breast size from appearing in pornography, claiming it encouraged pedophilia, since apparently all flat-chested women are under the legal age of consent.
Pictured: a 15-year-old boy, apparently
As a result, depictions of non-voluptuous women in their late 20s have been banned, including those in mainstream publications like Hustler. Not only that, but according to Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party, "It may be an unintended consequence of the Senator's actions but they are largely responsible for the sharp increase in breast size in Australian adult magazines of late."
OK -- we think we've discovered an ulterior motive here.
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And stop by Linkstorm to discover Brockway's Hustler spread.
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