As with many things I find Snowflakes in Hell has a link to an article on the book ban Congress passed. I know what you’re thinking, how could Congress pass a ban on books? The first amendment protects the freedom of speech.
Although that’s true Congress didn’t base the ban on a book’s content but on the ink. Remember last year when there was a panic over Chinese toys that contained lead? As a knee jerk reaction Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. This act in essence banned any amount of lead from childrens’ items and it was retroactive. We’re not talking simply lead paint on toys but lead in any products aimed for use by children.
So how does this ban books? Well before 1985 there was no law regulating the use of lead in dyes and inks used in children’s books. This means any children’s book printed before 1985 must first be tested for lead before it can be sold. Failing to to this means you a used book you sell can be an illegal item for resale and you could face up to a $100,000 fine or even prison time.
This law was appalling to begin with but is doubly so to me since I’m an avid reader with books printed before 1985. If I should allow a child to read such a book I can be brought up on charges. And this is how the government works people. If they can outright ban something they do it through regulations. Granted I don’t believe banning childrens’ books was the intention of this law but due to its poor wording that’s what it has accomplished.
But government does use regulations to ban items directly. The assault weapon ban of 1994 a perfect example. The government knew it would be hard to flat out ban specific guns so they regulated the features hoping that would accomplish the ban. They made a list of features which were not illegal when a certain number of them were on a single gun. Everything from bayonet lugs to pistols grips fell on this list. Furthermore any magazine with a capacity beyond 10 cartridges was now illegal to produce. Unlike the law this article primarily aims at the assault weapon ban was not retroactive.
The scary thing is anything can be regulated so long as it can be found to be bad in some way. Lead ammunition is being restricted more and more in the Peoples’ Republic of California because it’s “harmful to the environment.” The federal government could pull the same thing. Being you can still get ink poisoning it is possible to regulate anything that uses ink period. Granted that’s an extreme case but it is meant to be to show the extent unregulated government to reach.
This is why we need to fight pointless and knee jerk laws. They never accomplish solving anything and always accomplish harming people whom were not criminals before the passing of the law.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. (PDF)