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Honduran Narco-Culture Ban Would Trample Free Speech

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Apr 21, 2015, 2:57 pm
The Honduras Parliament is currently debating a ban on entertainment products featuring "narco-culture."
The Honduras Parliament is currently debating a ban on entertainment products featuring “narco-culture.” (DiarioRoatan)

EspañolParliaments around the world are increasingly passing bills that see prohibition as the ultimate solution to social ills, much to the applause of groups who cannot see the real causes and support limitations on what they can choose, think, buy, or say.

That Honduras suffers from dire insecurity due to the illicit drug trade is news to no one. The country has become a battlefield for cartels that have to cross its territory to reach the major destination market, the United States.

Why have Hondurans become so involved in this illicit business? We would need an array of reports, studies, and analysis to unearth the reason, but one would think it’s safe to rule out television and music, right?

Not for congresswoman Kritza Pérez, from Honduras’ Anti-Corruption Party (PAC). She’s just unveiled the “Anti Narco-Culture” bill, which seeks to ban the broadcasting and distribution of any content featuring drug-trafficking themes: TV shows, series, soap operas, and songs. It also prohibits the sale and import of toy guns, sometimes used to carry out real crimes.

Diverging opinions exist as to whether these measures will effectively tackle the problems at hand, but it most likely won’t stop drug activity in Honduras or Mexico, where similar initiatives have been tried.

Why? Because it’s the same strategy that created the problem in the first place: prohibition. Far from reducing the unwanted activity, it ends up being strengthened.

Why can’t our legislators muster a little more creativity instead of the populist knee-jerk reaction? As Thomas Reed rightly put it: “One of the greatest delusions is the hope that the evils of the world can be cured by legislation.”

Opening the door for prohibition on the basis of content is a slippery slope. Why not ban movies extolling infidelity to reduce family disintegration, or blockbusters about car chases to prevent accidents?

How can we vote in people who dictate what we can or cannot see on television or hear on the radio? In order to occupy a seat in any parliament around the world, we must seek out those who are intelligent, hard working, and above all demonstrate a commitment to liberty, because if the latter doesn’t prevail, everything else will be in vain.

Legislators, please help by setting an example. Instead of bans, let’s foster free minds who are capable of knowing the difference between narco-fiction and the reality that could damage or take their lives. Don’t deny citizens the ability to choose. What we watch or listen to doesn’t concern you or anyone else.

Translated by Daniel DuarteEdited by Laurie Blair.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.