Love at first sight. Many of us, at least the very young and very naïve, believe it happens. But whether love occurs with the speed of lightning or following long and complex efforts at a relationship, most agree romantic love exists. Being humans our expressions of love, our fascination with romance take many forms, most of them relatively harmless. We shower gifts of jewelry on our beloved, share preferences in food and wine, proclaim our feelings on social media. We search for examples of love in films, music, art, and enjoy emotions vicariously.
Recently on opposite sides of the globe, however, authorities are intervening in physical demonstrations of attraction. First up, Vietnam, where the Publishing and Printing Department is cracking down on “clichéd, useless, obscene and offensive” works that are “poisoning” the youth. This same claim has been used off and on in the U.S. during various censorship battles. Furthermore, “government needs to regulate an activity related to culture and people’s way of thinking so that it can benefit people.”
If only. If only all of humanity could agree on a method to truly benefit people. Unfortunately, down through the ages, this activity always seems to include punishing, even destroying those who don’t concur with authorities, like Nazis and various religious fundamentalists.
Let’s move on to Paris, where the city is removing locks from the Pont des Arts and other bridges on which star-struck lovers have attached fixtures as symbols of their relationships. A book and film started the craze in about 2006, and thousands of visitors adopted the fad. However, now sections of fencing on bridges are crumbling under the weight, posing a safety risk as well as “degradation of property heritage,” not to mention problems associated with graffiti, pickpockets and street vendors.
At least in this example of anti-romanticism, official action carries some weight. The equivalent of some 20 elephants to be accurate.
Other cities face the problem ways different from removing locks. In Rome city officials created official spots—steel posts with chains on the bridge—to eliminate damage to the infrastructure.
I’m not optimistic either activity will control the interest in and demonstration of romance. Humans are nothing if not creative. We’ve been dodging censors for millennia and finding creative ways to express emotion even longer. However, the attempts at restraint are ever-changing and as entertaining as the many paths of love.
love, censorship, Paris, Vietnam, locks, bridges, books, romances