Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has a simple mission: regulating commercials so that they do not mislead or cause gross offense.
But on Tuesday, the ASA announced that it has gone insane.
That's because, starting next year, the ASA will ban commercials "that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics." The ASA believes those commercials impose "costs for individuals, the economy, and society."
The BBC reports that the ASA changes were motivated by complaints that followed a 2015 advertisement poster. On it, an attractive female bikini model was shown alongside print asking Britons if they were "beach body ready." This upset some Britons by making them feel judged. Or something.
Still, according to the ASA's summary report on its plans, the following commercial features will now also become unacceptable.
A commercial "which depicts family members creating mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up."
A commercial "that suggests an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys or vice versa."
A commercial "that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks."
The chief executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, explained his rationale. "Portrayals," he said, "which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people."
Let's be clear: Unless their commercials are obscene or fraudulent, companies should be judged on their product only by consumers, not by government bureaucrats. The free market establishes the opportunity of individuals to purchase goods and services that they desire.
Yet the ASA would engender a society that raises shields between individuals — a society in which we chill both the individual right to express opinion and the social need for creativity.
But the trend as defined by the ASA is also troubling. After all, if it is inappropriate for a private advertising company to broadcast a "man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks" on TV, then surely it is also wrong for a television comedy show to do the same?
And that speaks to the critical point here.
Ultimately, professional losers and their enablers are always going to be upset by something. It's what they live for.
Nevertheless, the rest of us shouldn't play their game. Commercials are primarily not designed to impress social attitudes or gender roles on individuals, simply to sell stuff.
They deserve the right to do so as they please. And Britons deserve the right to see their creativity and judge it.
The ASA should get back in its box.