Can we ban mis-use of the word “ban”?

Fresh off a Facebook conversation in which one participant insisted the fact that the fact he can’t buy a confederate flag at Wal-Mart or at a state-run gift shop in California constitutes a “ban”, I ran into this. Critic Lou Lumenick says of “Gone with the Wind”:

If the Confederate flag is finally going to be consigned to museums as an ugly symbol of racism, what about the beloved film offering the most iconic glimpse of that flag in American culture? […]  I have a feeling the movie’s days as a cash cow are numbered. It’s showing on July 4 at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the museum’s salute to the 100th anniversary of Technicolor — and maybe that’s where this much-loved but undeniably racist artifact really belongs.

At no point in the opinion does Lumenick suggest the film be banned in any way shape or form. The most he seems to be suggesting is that a) it belongs in museums as an artifact of its time; and b) maybe Warner Brothers should (and will) stop milking it for money sometime soon.

This did not stop the Guardian from breathlessly reporting:

US critic: ‘undeniably racist’ Gone with the Wind should be banned from cinemas

…which then spawned more Facebook discussion of the virtue (or not) of bans.

Look, I know words are all ultimately subjective, but the word “ban” means something, and it’s not what some of y’all seem to think it means.

This is what a ban looks like:

Whoever domestically disseminates or produces, stocks, imports or exports or makes publicly accessible through data storage media for dissemination domestically or abroad, means of propaganda […] which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

I thought about including the dictionary definition of “ban” here, but let’s be honest: you could look that up yourself, and you already know exactly what it will say. Now can we please tone down the hyperventilation a notch? Maybe have some sweet tea, sit on a wraparound porch, and contemplate the glory of living in a country where we emphatically do not ban political symbols, no matter how negatively-charged they may be.

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