We have previously discussed how Great Britain has embraced the “nanny state” in regulating speech and conduct that are deemed unhealthy or inimical to good social policy. The latest example are new rules to take effect in 2019 the will ban sexist or gender stereotypes from advertising. This includes showing men or women in gender stereotypical activities because such images are deemed to contribute to pay inequality or psychological harm.
The rules will also crackdown on ads that promote the concept of being more romantically successful with more beautiful bodies. Who will decide such questions? The Advertising Standards Authority of course.
Moreover, jokes will also be banned if they are deemed as advancing stereotypes. ASA’s Ella Smillie, who helped to devise the new rules, explained that “The use of humour or banter is unlikely to mitigate against the potential for harm. It’s fine to show people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles such a woman cleaning. But if an advert showed a woman being solely responsible for cleaning up mess within a home while a man sits around with his feet up, then that would be a problem.”
So Smillie and others will sit around and pass judgment on whether an ad is advancing a stereotype even in jest. That level of speech regulation is normally anathema in free countries but Great Britain has eviscerated free speech protections.
There is an alternative. You can let the marketplace address such stereotypes and leave it to customers to make their own decisions on the content of advertisements. That would be called freedom of choice and freedom of speech.
What do you think?