We take a lot of things for granted. We turned the internet into a free utopia of naked boobs and girl-on-girl pornography. We knock back strong drinks until our arms don't have the strength to lift the glass to our green faces. We watch grown men, both real and fictional, beat the living juices out of each other for our own amusement. But there was a time when these moments of euphoria were in danger of becoming nothing more than a distant memory.
10. Jack Thompson
First of all, he's an attorney, so he's pretty much been trained to seek out and destroy all forms of fun like a fun-seeking tactical missile. Second of all, he's dedicated his already-stained profession to enforcing a morality clause in just about everything he deems offensive from Howard Stern's radio show to overrated rap music. But mostly, he's known for rearing his grey-haired head whenever tragedy strikes to blame the whole sordid mess on video games. If an angry kid shoots up his school, Thompson is on TV the next day to blame the whole thing on the fact that the shooter played video games.
9. Charles Keating
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The former face of the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal didn't spend his entire life trying to take the life savings of every man who walked into the scope of his view. He also spent part of it trying to take their pornography from them. The Cincinnati attorney formed the Citizens for Decent Literature in the late 1950s, an organization that used any legal recourse necessary to outlaw pornography in all of its forms. He even produced his own film, Perversion for Profit, that became a huge bestseller among disappointed men in trench coats.
He not only failed to outlaw porno, but ended up in jail on charges of wire and bankruptcy fraud, where the term "Perversion for Profit" has more to do with earning cigarettes.
8. John McCain
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If history has taught us anything, it's that banning something only makes it stronger. Tell people they can't have something and they will want it ten times as much as they did before. Presidential loser John McCain learned that lesson the hard way when he tried to completely ban mixed martial arts and disband the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the 1990s by getting nearly 40 states to outlaw the sport and two major cable networks to take the fights off of their pay-per-view rosters.
Now the league is worth millions of dollars and enjoys more popularity than ever. We're not saying his stance on the issue cost him the chance to become president in 2008, but if debate rules allowed him to anaconda choke his opponent the minute he starts stammering, it couldn't have hurt him.
7. Joe Lieberman
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The Democratic turncoat sounds and looks like the world's most boring human being. So it should serve as no surprise that he has dedicated more than half of his political life trying to snuff out any form of objectionable entertainment from passing past your eyes and making them bleed from their extreme filthiness. He not only led a public crusade against violence in video games, but even helped pass the Communications Decency Act, which aimed to regulate and monitor objectionable and offensive material on the internet. The measure obviously didn't work because you're reading Spike.com and a SWAT team hasn't tossed a flash bang in your living room and rappelled through the windows for clicking on a PG Porn link.
6. Dr. Frederic Wertham
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Adults like to blame lots of things for children's bad behavior, other than a convenient lack of knowledgeable parenting. In the 1950s, Dr. Frederic Wertham aimed his blame-thrower on comic books, specifically EC Comics titles like Tales from the Crypt, Shock SuspenStories, and even classics like Wonder Woman, which he claimed carried undertones of bondage and S&M behavior. It sounds like he developed that theory based less on careful scientific thought and more on wishful thinking.
Wertham managed to get most of EC's titles banned, except for a little-known title named Mad, by forming a Comics Code that forbade comic publishers from the use of certain words, gory depictions, or females with "exaggeration of any physical qualities." Thank God those rules don't apply anymore. That last one would have made Catwoman completely unwatchable.
5. Carrie Nation
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Imagine you're in a bar with your best buds enjoying a beer or maybe something stronger when, without any reason, an axe-wielding grandmother storms in and smashes your glass to pieces. You'd probably try to punch this woman dead in the face, assuming you still had all of your fingers.
Extreme abolitionist Carrie Nation tried to do just that throughout the early 1900s in bars throughout the Midwest, all in the name of divine intervention, the world's oldest excuse. I'm still waiting for my God to come down from heaven and order me to impregnate NFL cheerleaders in order to fulfill some divine plan to achieve peace or cure hunger. I would be willing to make the sacrifice.
4. Frank Hogan
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This former New York County District Attorney isn't all bad. He dedicated his career to bringing down corruption within the police department and sent some hardcore murderers and racketeer…ers to the slammer.
That part of his resume gets erased when you get to the part about how he led a witch hunt prosecution against comedian Lenny Bruce for obscenity. The legendary comedian spent most of the latter part of his life in and out of court defending his act before judges and grand juries, only to die from a drug overdose in the bathroom of his Hollywood home. Bruce's sacrifice in the press and the legal system helped keep future groundbreaking comedians on stage and out of legal trouble, which is a good thing as long as you don't count Dane Cook and Carrot Top.
3. Tipper Gore
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The former second lady or vice lady or whatever the hell you call the wife of a former vice president led a crusade against objectionable music by creating the Parents Music Resource Center. This group is responsible for the warning labels you find on CDs that contain at least one curse word or references to naughty behavior that would get you the business end of a nun's ruler in private Catholic school.
The group didn't succeed in an outright ban of the music, but it did rile the feathers of artists like Frank Zappa, Joey Ramone, and John Denver, who joined forces to stop the organization, making it the only time in history that Frank Zappa, Joey Ramone, and John Denver ever appeared together in the same sentence.
2. Anita Bryant
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Believe it or not, there was a time when lesbians were not revered as productive and useful members of society. If the very thought of such intolerance fills you with uncontrollable rage, take a second to calm yourself down. Then if the very thought of lesbians fills you with…well if we have to tell you what to do, then that explains the uncontrollable rage.
The chief crusader against gays and homosexuals in the 1970s and '80s was sickly sweet singer Anita Bryant, who not only publicly spoke out against the acceptance of such "deviant" behavior, but even tried to help pass or squash state and federal legislation that helped or hurt her cause. Her cause failed so miserably that she ended up with egg on her face, as well as a quarter of a cup of sugar, one-eighth of a cup of flour, two cups of milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
1. Jack Valenti
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If you and your friends ever tried to sneak into an R-rated movie, got caught and then banned for life from your favorite local movie theater, you have this man to blame. The longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America helped develop the movie rating system that continues to plague the influential young minds of children today. Today the system is used to water down overtly sexual films to get them out of the dreaded NC-17 rating and prevent the world from understanding the peace, harmony, and love that can be achieved from seeing a naked boobie.
Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, reporter, humorist, and protest pie taste tester living in Texas. He can be found on the web at DannyGallagher.net.