When I was a younger, more scared, less intellectually developed man (and we're talking about a period that lasted well into my thirties, mind) I thought that the ability to ban something was an important tool in the progressive box. So many things were so obviously "bad"; their prohibition, so unchallengeably good.
I think that the only thing I have ever directly been a part of trying to get banned myself was Holocaust denial literature from my university's library. An act of which I am profoundly ashamed. Not because I'm now of the opinion that well, yes, 6 million does seem a little bit high, now you come to mention it. But because a) the idea that my fellow students would overnight become neo-Nazis based on reading such works was absurd and offensive, and b) even if they did, I had the arguments ready to deploy in defence of the truth.
I was reminded of my childishness in such matters by my own short post on Monday on the putting away of childish things, by @johnrentoul's highlighting of Richard Thaler's things we used to believe but were wholly wrong, and by this article about anti-comic book campaigner Fredric Wertham.
These also got me thinking about all the objects or media or ideas or cultural phenomena that have have been, in my lifetime at least, the subject of moral panic or dire warnings about adverse effects on health, life and civilisation as we know it.
They all, of course, turned out to be either completely safe or passing fads or a lot less fatal and dangerous to Western society than "predicted".
So. I'm starting a list of Things They Said Will Kill Or Destroy Us But Haven't (TTSWKODUBH). Please add your own in the comments below.
...were going to disrupt classrooms, and turn children into gambling addicted, emotional wrecks.
Last seen: interesting only elderly, obsessive collectors. And NEITHER disrupting classrooms NOR turning children into gambling addicted, emotional wrecks.
#2 Mobile phones...
...were going to give us all (especially the young) brain tumours and other types of cancer.
Last seen: forming part of a Teenage Cancer Trust survey about cancer myths. And NOT causing cancer. Especially not amongst the young.
#3 Harry Potter...
...was going to turn children into occultist satan worshippers, gathering in covens to practice witchcraft and wizardry, rather than doing their trigonometry homework.
Last seen: Hmm. Not sure. Might be a new film out or something, I think. Anyway. Trig homework is still getting done. With slide rules*, not wands.
*Yeah, alright. Calculators.