A Problem with Censorship

[Ukraine’s] Parliament voted Thursday to ban Soviet as well as Nazi symbols here….

Lawmakers voted 254-0 in favor of the bill, which outlawed any “public rejection of the criminal nature” of the Soviet or Nazi regimes in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that was overrun by the Germans in World War II.

Their heart is in the right place.

Yuriy Lutsenko, a senior Member of Parliament with the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, added this about the legislation:

Symbols including five-pointed stars and hammers and sickles will disappear from the streets of Ukrainian cities[.]

But the USSR’s flag isn’t the only thing that uses the symbology of a five-pointed star. So do the United States flag and the European Union flag—the latter which Ukraine would like to join.

This illustrates a problem with government censorship. Leaving aside the fundamental inappropriateness of censorship by governments, it’s tough for government to censor narrowly enough to block the target without also blocking the friends.

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