International Attitudes Toward Prohibitions
This is hardly an original observation, but recently I have been struck by one of the major differences between the US and the EU. In general, we have much different attitudes toward prohibitions.
In the US, anything that is not explicitly prohibited is allowed.

In the EU, anything is that is not explicitly allowed is prohibited.

I know parents in the US who follow the EU strategy when it comes to raising their children. This quote is from Lucy. I found it at Sand in the Gears.
About five minutes ago, I informed our children that they were only allowed to call each other by their given first name. Period. Because they can think up their own "bad" names quicker than I can ban them!
From a parent's perspective, this strategy may make sense. Adults are wiser and more experienced than children and parents may find it easier to limit what their children are allowed to do instead of placing limits on what they are not allowed to do. However, once a child grows up, he is recognized as an adult and given the same rights and responsibilities as other adults. In the European Union, the EU believes it is wiser and more experienced than its citizens and prohibits its citizens from anything that is not specifically allowed. Even my UK friends do not have permission to buy grape tomatoes since grape tomatoes have not yet been specifically approved by EU bureaucrats. (And no, the grape tomato is not a genetically enhanced food, it is a simple hybrid that simply wasn't very popular when the EU made their rules.)

The US has plenty of people who want to imitate the European nanny state for some reason. Fortunately, they are a minority. In a world with finite resources, I can think of little more wasteful than paying bureaucrats to tell me what I am allowed to do.

 
 
Comments

Don't forget the other posts !
Here in the EU we are also protected from excessively bendy bananas, both tomatoes and carrots are officially fruit, a commercial kitchen must use six diffferent colour coded chopping blocks and one may use cirtus juices in the production of jam, but essential oils of citrus fruits may only be used in marmalade.

Posted by: Tim Worstall | 05/07/2004 - 11:07 AM

One of the main points of the South Park Movie ("Bigger, Longer, Uncut") was that censorship is different in Canada and the US. The kids in the cartoon were complaining that Canadian kids could watch a movie they couldn't. That movie and the difference in censorship standards was what prompted (in the movie) the US invasion of Canada.

To greatly simplify one cultural difference, in the US, kids are not restriced from seeing movies with lots of violence, but are restricted from seeing movies with any sex. In Canada, kids can watch sex, but not violence.

Posted by: Drew | 05/07/2004 - 12:14 PM

Brings to mind Hong Kong's film ratings:

I - no objectionable content
IIA - mild nudity
IIB - fantasy violence
III - extreme violence or nudity or both

breaking down Category 2 seems to make sense to me.

In the US the feeling seems to be that since violence is faked and nudity is not, faked violence is not as disturbing as real nudity.

This seems crazy to me, but since I enjoy films with vast amounts of both, I may not be the best qualified person to judge ;)

Posted by: khobrah | 05/07/2004 - 12:44 PM
 
 
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