Sep. 26, 2012 at 8:10 PM ET
A ban on laptops by the German parliament has given rise to a humorous, anachronistic protest by the country's Pirate Party: instead of laptops, they brought in a typewriter.
The ban became official a week ago, when the "Council of Elders," a group of senior officials, added new rules to the parliament guidelines that specifically prohibited laptops. Their objection is ostensibly that the fans and keyboards on such devices are loud and distracting; tablets are allowed, since they generally operate silently.
A second problem is the use of social networks during state business. Young and Internet-savvy factions like the Pirate Party advocate dissemination of information using the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but the Council of Elders deems it a "parallel debate" (as rendered by Google Translate) and therefore bans such activity.
When the ban was announced, the Pirate Party members brought out an old electric typewriter instead, drawing instant remonstration from the parliamentary president, Klaus Schlie, who accused them of "monkey business."
Monkey business or not, the symbolic challenge to the ban resulted in debate and permission, for now, for members to bring laptops. The matter was reported on the German news site KN Online, and the typewriter itself was captured by Twitter user @appgra.
The larger question, that of using social networks to augment political debates during parliament time, will be discussed at a later session.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.