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Ban on Politics

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"Henry, I suggest you stick to two subjects: the weather and your health."
Mrs. Higgins, My Fair Lady

If a forum is not specifically about political current events, then you are usually not allowed to talk about political current events there.

Many forums not dedicated to politics have an official or unofficial ban on discussing current politics. (Historical politics, as long as it doesn't involve comparing others to Nazisnote , is usually okay if relevant to the matter at hand; 20 years seems to usually be the threshold for "current", with a few notable exceptions.)

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The reasoning is quite simple: Any discussion of current politics is likely to lead to a Flame War. Unnecessary flame wars are bad. Thus, any discussion of politics is likely to be trolling, although you will get the occasional Naïve Newcomer who genuinely doesn't know any better. Thus, the Ban On Politics.

Politics is not the only subject that gets this treatment, but it is the most prominent; both sex and religion also get this treatment, but both are usually more prone to self censorship anyway. There is a long-standing belief that one should never discuss sex, politics or religion at dinner parties. Of course, in Real Life, dinner parties that do discuss these topics are always the fun ones. Regardless of that, the point is that some subjects can create fights, and thus many forums ban these subjects.

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Around here, we call our version of this the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment.

The only exception is, obviously, articles about politicians, which we try to treat with all the delicacy and care typically reserved for land mines. Keyword being "try", since we usually have chronic edit wars anyway, but hey, we need the articles for completeness' sake.

A worldwide Ban On Politics has been adopted by a large number of Freemason lodges (which frequently extends to a ban on religious talk as well, to discourage arguments between members of different sects or religions). Their dinner parties are said to be the most pleasant and friendly ones on the planet.

A slight variation on the Ban On Politics often exists in environments with some degree of internal politics, for similar reasons of stopping incipient fighting. For example, a forum may ban some or all discussions of moderation or administrative actions if these discussions have previously led to Flame War, a venue/bar might ban a band if its presence leads to a Bar Brawl, or a group of any sort may bar an individual whose presence fractures the unity of the group for some reason or another. Another similar variation is the "ban on discussion," e.g. closing a post of some sort to comments entirely if it is in regard to a sensitive issue and/or people cannot stop fighting in the comments/attacking the poster.

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A similar variation is the "Containment Unit" tactic used by a number of sites, where they will feature one single all-purpose thread about politics and this is the one and only place on the entire website where anything political, serious, funny, sarcastic, what-have-you, is allowed to be posted. This allows the site's owners to skirt accusations of censorship and demands for "free speech"note  while still keeping the majority of the site happy, and of course makes moderating such topics easier as keeping an eye on one thread is much easier than keeping an eye on a whole site. The trade-off of course is with everyone coming to this one place to talk about politics, these threads tend to be absolute graveyards of comments where you can barely get a serious word in edgewise without having people come in from all sites to harass you about it. Another tactic that works only on sites that feature tagging and filtering systems is to be strict about tagging political posts appropriately and/or having one blanket catch-all tag for anything political to allow anyone who dislikes such a thing to simply not see them.

Ironically, the opposite of this trope is not too rare either. Meaning it is permissible to talk about current political events, but against the (written or unwritten) rules to talk about general political issues. This is likely because if you take a general political topic, like socialism vs. conservatism (or other types of ideologies), it will often be the same old forum members who come up with the same old arguments that they cannot account for and use them as an excuse to flame each other (or new members who interfere by doing the same or are ganged up on by older members). While with a current political issue, it is often easier to research it thoroughly and have some facts to back your arguments up and there is a fair chance that the discussion will stop once the issue stops being commonly brought up in the media, while the formerly mentioned discussion of socialism vs. conservatism will likely continue as long as humankind is alive. Similarly, debates about concrete issues can be based on concrete facts - general debates tend to be based much more on feelings and philosophical / ideological differences.


Examples

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    Comic Strips 
  • Jim Davis refuses to put any sociopolitical discussion in Garfield, as it's meant to just be a funny entertainment strip about a fat lazy cat. As explained in his About Me section in Garfield Weighs In:
    Garfield consciously avoids any social or political comment. My grasp of the world situation isn't that firm anyway. For years, I thought OPEC was a denture adhesive.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Exception, when Wehrmacht soldier Captain Brandt is about to be introduced to the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Kaiser's adjutant Siguard lays out some ground rules, including the forbidding of political discussions:
    Colonel Sigurd von Ilsemann: You'll address him as sir and his wife as madam. The Treaty of Versailles forbids any other form of address. His left arm is slightly deformed; you will not refer to it or look at it. You will speak only when spoken to and all discussion of politics is forbidden. Express no opinion of your own, agree with his and remember, at the age of four, he bit the Duke of Edinburgh in the leg.

    Theatre 
  • The page quote is from My Fair Lady, in which Mrs. Higgens advises Henry to enforce a Ban on Politics to avoid unnecessary drama.

    Video Games 
  • Azur Lane, a Chinese game, censors with asterisks the phrases "free Hong Kong" and "free Tibet" in its international version.
    • The 2022 Northern Overture event introduced a number of Russian and Soviet ships (referred to as "Northern Parliament" in-game), including one named "Kiev", on the exact day that Russian troops began to enter Ukraine. Less than an hour after the mandatory maintenance was finished, an emergency hotfix was pushed that disabled commenting on all Northern Parliament ships in addition to the ones introduced in the event. A company higher-up commented on the unfortunate coincidental timing of the release and affirmed the event was planned about two years in advance.
  • Kim from Disco Elysium applies this attitude to policing, preferring to avoid talking about politics or the Great Offscreen War on the job, and he tends to disapprove of you openly siding with any particular ideology. Partly because he thinks it's unprofessional and unbecoming of a police officer, partly to head off time-wasting disagreements, and partly because he simply isn't that invested in politics. You can try to follow his example, but given that the whole point of the game is that you're a Defective Detective of some stripe or another, you'll mostly just succeed in being, as the game puts it, "the world's most laughable centrist".
  • Genshin Impact, a Chinese game, disabled the editing of player statuses and nicknames for the weeks surrounding June 4 in 2021 as a preemptive measure to avoid any mention of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident.
  • War Thunder, formerly developed and published in Russia with a very significant Russian, Ukrainian, and international playerbase, disabled chat in all matchmade games indefinitely in February 2022, two days after the start of the Ukrainian conflict, "to make sure that it is not used for political discussions that might offend other players". It was later reenabled in May, albeit limited to one message every 30 seconds.

    Webcomics 
  • Shot And Chaser: While they allude to the dangers and annoyances of the politicized response to the pandemic Tre and Olly cut themselves off whenever politics come up as they're trying to have "one good day" and thus discussions of politics are off the table.

    Web Original 
  • For 13 years since its inception in 2003, this was how Rooster Teeth operated. Any discussion threads forbade political discussions, and when core members would do podcasts or live recordings, they would do everything in their power to make sure politics stayed out of their talks. However, following the heat of the 2016 Presidential Election, Rooster Teeth backed out of this stance, claiming that having to hold back on political discussions was an unhealthy practice.
  • The Image Board Derpibooru has a semi-official rule against posting political discussion anywhere other than their dedicated politics thread in the forums and in the comments of a political image — while there is no specific rule about it, they'll typically delete political comments posted elsewhere under Rule 0 ("Do not post content whose only apparent purpose is inciting anger, arguments, or controversy") or Rule 6 ("Don't post off-topic content"). Similarly, the site's default filter hides anything tagged as "politics", meaning you need to make a conscious effort to change to a new filter to see such posts.

    Web Video 
  • James Rolfe, be it as himself, The Angry Video Game Nerd, Board James, or what-have-you, has made it very clear that he makes a deliberate effort to avoid even so much as acknowledging politics or current events in his videos. He has explained that the charm of his videos is that they're not about anything important, that they draw their humor from quibbling over such inconsequential topics like bad retro video games and board games people remembered taking so seriously as children, and that he wants people to be able to turn their brains off and just enjoy something simple and fun for a while. The closest he ever got to such things was with his "Non-review of the 2016 Ghostbusters" — his review is actually very matter-of-fact and doesn't even acknowledge the controversy behind the casting beyond complaining that the original characters didn't have a role in the film, and when Trolls tried to make it political and accuse him of being some kind of racist or sexist Manchild he didn't care or respond and the entire thing died down in about a week.
  • The Game Grumps have a similar no-politics policy to James Rolfe, and will often openly reaffirm that they will never get political on Grumps. However, they occasionally do poke fun at the concept and will sometimes make wildly stupid and obviously fake "political" statements that have little, if anything to actually do with real-life politics. The most "political" they've ever actually gotten was laughing their asses off about Donald Trump's inane "Covfefe" tweet and all the memes and parodies that arose from it, and during which they were very careful to only mention said memes that had nothing to do with politics like "Don't talk to me until I've had my morning covfefe!"

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