Everyone loves complaining about the government and how much they screw up the country, but sometimes the powers that be take it a bit too far. We’re all looking at you, North Korea. Here are a few of the most over the top and bizarre government bans from around the world.
Why: The country said they were tired of men having what they described as “Western haircuts” and banned multiple hairstyles, including the infamous mullet. Ponytails were also banned, as a catalog was released showing what styles were permissible. You are still allowed to use a little bit of gel, though, if that’s any consolation.
2. Unauthorized Reincarnation
Why: This one is pretty bizarre, but China regulated reincarnation stating that, unless you were giving permission by the government, Buddhist monks in Tibet are not allowed to reincarnate. Even the Dalai Lama has said he refuses to be reborn in Tibet until it’s no longer under Chinese control. That’ll show them!
3. Unapproved Baby Names
Why: Denmark got tired of celebrities, and the non-famous eccentric parents, naming their children ridiculous names, so they came up with an extreme solution. The government put together a list of approximately 24,000 approved baby names and if you had a child in Denmark, you had to pick one from that list. It may seem absurd, but at least it would prevent anyone else from naming their child Apple.
4. Time Travel
Why: The Chinese government really likes banning things that don’t exist. I would love to be in one of the meetings where they decide what to outlaw next. In 2011, they put a ban on time travel, but if you had the ability, couldn’t you just travel back to a time before they outlawed it? I mean, if you wanted to make sure your time travel was within government regulations, of course.
5. Baby Walkers
Why: You know those magical little wheeled playsets you put your toddler in so they don’t run out the front door while you’re cooking lunch? Those are illegal in Canada. The country felt that they’re too dangerous so, not only are they outlawed, but if you’re caught with one in your possession you could get fined up to $100,000 or even serve jail time. Do you think there are underground baby walker dealers in Montreal? I like to think so.
When: Almost in 2012
Why: OK, so this one hasn’t gone into full effect yet, but in 2012 French President Francois Hollande became the hero of every 6th grader when he said that he plans to abolish homework. He wanted to put more of a focus on in-class education and claimed that the majority of homework was just busy work. Finally, something a politician says that I 100% agree with.
7. Video Games
Why: The government felt like children and teens were wasting too much time playing video games, so instead of setting a limit on playtime or regulating them, they banned video games completely. The ban was lifted in January 2014, which I’m sure resulted in numerous GTA and Skyrim marathons.
8. Emo Fashion
Why: Russia must really hate My Chemical Romance. In 2008, the country banned emo clothing because they felt it led to depression and suicidal behavior. Despite protests the bill outlawed teens from wearing everything from face piercings to black hair with bangs.
9. Chewing Gum
Why: The only way you’re allowed to chew gum in Singapore is if it’s for therapeutic value and has been prescribed by a doctor. Other than that, the ban is strictly enforced with a $500 fine. The ban originated in 1992 when the government claimed vandals were leaving gum all over floors and public walkways, and on elevator buttons. The ban is still in place so if you visit Singapore, leave the Doublemint at home.
10. Yellow Clothing
Why: After a protesting activist group had caused a bit of a headache for the government, they responded in an extreme manner. The group was known for wearing yellow shirts, so therefore all yellow clothing became illegal. Seems sensible? The ban wasn’t limited to just shirts, but any clothing or accessories that were yellow was considered a sign of protest and, therefore, illegal.
11. Claire Danes
Why: Don’t ask any of your friends in Manila if they’ve seen “My So-Called Life.” After it was revealed that Danes said Manila was “smelly, rat-infested and weird,” the city took offense. Not only did they ban Danes from returning, they also banned all of her movies and television shows.
12. Cell Phones
When: Anytime Before 2008
Why: Cell phones were only permitted for executives working for foreign companies or the highest-ranking government officials. This should come as no surprise considering the amount of censorship Cuba has enforced over the years. The ban was lifted in 2008, but since most Cubans only made about $20 per month at the time, the general population really couldn’t afford them. Now around a half a million Cubans have cell phones in the country.
Where: United States
Why: In the late ’80s, the US feared that sheep organs were not only unhealthy, but could be lethal. As a prevention, the government banned haggis, which is traditionally made with sheep lungs. The ban was lifted 21 years later in 2010, but I still think I’ll pass on eating sheep lungs.
When: Late 1980s
Why: Before Nicolae Ceausescu left power, he made one last bizarre and terrible decision – he banned Scrabble. What possible reason could you have for banning a game that simply involves spelling words? He said it was too intellectual and therefore must be subversively evil. Out of all the things in the world to consider evil, Scrabble has never come to mind. If Ceausescu saw “Jumanji,” his head would explode.