Should cultural appropriation be illegal? | The Tylt

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Should cultural appropriation be illegal?
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#AppropriationIsFine

A United Nations committee is pushing for international laws that would make cultural appropriation illegal. Proponents say it's necessary to make appropriation explicitly illegal to stop companies like Urban Outfitters from mass producing Native American symbols for their clothes. Others think cultural appropriation is not a big deal. Culture isn't something to be so closely protected—it's mean to be shared and mixed. What do you think?

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Should cultural appropriation be illegal?
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Making cultural appropriation illegal through international law is about giving marginalized communities a legal mechanism to take on large corporations when they've been wronged. Urban Outfitters is the highest profile case where this has happened. The clothing company used traditional Navajo patterns for products like underwear, socks and flasks. The Navajo nation sued, saying the company was appropriating their traditions for profit. It ultimately took four years and a lot of legal wrangling on both sides before they ultimately came to a settlement

Stopping appropriation through the law is about giving indigenous people and other marginalized communities the tools they need fight back.

The committee is pushing for three pieces of international law to put sanctions place. This will expand international property regulations to protect indigenous property ranging from designs to language. The UN should "obligate states to create effective criminal and civil enforcement procedures to recognize and prevent the non-consensual taking and illegitimate possession, sale and export of traditional cultural expressions," James Anaya, dean of law at the University of Colorado, told the committee.
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Others say cultural appropriation isn't an issue that needs to be legislated. It's not as big of a problem as people say it is. For all of human history, people have stolen from other cultures. That's just what happens when cultures mix—they pick and choose things from one another and change. No culture has remained the same as it was a hundred years ago, or even fifty years ago. 

We as humans have been around for awhile at this point. So long in fact, that almost everything has some root in “ancient times”; it would be very tough to think of even one modern “original” idea that cannot be traced back to inspiration from another culture. Should we really be placing blanket criminal restrictions on innovation?

The real issue is, how do you even define appropriation? Urban Outfitters taking Navajo patterns is an obvious example. But what about styling your hair in certain ways or jewelry associated with certain cultures? At what point does cultural exchange become cultural appropriation? 

Appropriation is a cultural and social issue which should stay firmly in the ream of culture and society. It does not need to become a legal issue, because do we really want the government telling people what is and is not okay to do? Who gets to decide that?

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FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should cultural appropriation be illegal?
#StopAppropriation
A festive crown for the winner
#AppropriationIsFine