US photographer Nan Goldin has criticized the cancelation of her Brazil show.
It's ironic that this happens in Brazil, a country that has always seemed open, a place where I thought people were free, without the fear that showing one's body
would result in Puritan social restrictions, Goldin told O Globo daily.
The photographer said any controversy over her photos pales in comparison to the crisis Brazil faces with its huge population of at-risk youths: Many of these
children are in the streets, living difficult and dangerous lives, even facing death threats from police. These are much, much more serious problems than the issue of the work I do.
The Oi Futuro Flamengo museum reportedly scrapped the show,
set for next January, after deciding some of the pictures, many of which depicted sexual situations, drug use, or children, were 'inappropriate'.
Several Brazilian artists have come out in support of Goldin, and Rio's Museum of Modern Art
(MAM-Rio) has agreed to host the exhibition instead from February 11 to April 8.
The Canadian city of Fredericton has hit the news with a ludicrous show of prudery in banning an art exhibit featuring a tiny image of a naked female breast.
The city has a gallery where art from various sources is displayed. Since Oct. 5,
pieces from the Fredericton Arts Alliance's Artists-in-residence summer series have hung there.
One of the pieces, by photographer Jeff Crawford, showed a woman with one of her breasts visible. When that became apparent, Crawford was asked for a
replacement photo that did not feature nudity.
Crawford, not wanting to hide the piece from the public, came up with a brilliant, progressive and technological way around it. He removed the photo, but instead hung a large quick response (QR) bar
code in its place. Those with smart phones can scan it and get the internet link to the actual photo.
Fredericton's Cultural 'Development' Officer Angela Watson says it's probably time the city write a policy on what can hang in its gallery. She
lamely justified the prudery saying:
Our policy has been a verbal policy where every time I work with a group to show, I say, 'Look, it's a city hall gallery, so we can't have anything too challenging or racy or
violent or graphic because that's to be left to the galleries here in the city that do it so well'
PEN Canada has announced its support for Conservative MP Brian Storseth's private member's bill calling for the repeal of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) which deals with hate speech.
The best defense against so-called 'hate
speech' is not government enforcement of vague prohibitions, but an educated and alert citizenry and vigilant and responsible media, said Charles Foran, President of PEN Canada.
Section 13 makes it a discriminatory practice to communicate by
telecommunication, including the internet, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
In 2008, the Canadian Human Rights Commission hired constitutional law expert Professor Richard Moon of the University of Windsor to examine section 13. He recommended that it be repealed, a recommendation that was never acted on. In his
report, Professor Moon wrote: We must develop ways other than censorship to respond to expression that stereotypes and defames the members of an identifiable group and to hold institutions such as the media accountable when they engage in these forms
of discriminatory expression.
The right of free expression is guaranteed as a fundamental freedom by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms said Philip Slayton, Chair of PEN Canada's National Affairs Committee, section 13
of the CHRA is inconsistent with the right of free expression in Canada and is wrong in principle.
PEN Canada is an organization of writers and others that defends freedom of expression both at home and abroad.
The offices of the Mexican daily El Buen Tono were almost totally destroyed in an early morning arson attack, barely a month after it was launched.
A description obtained by Reporters Without Borders from the newspaper's publisher, Julio
Fatanes leaves no doubt that it was intended to silence the newspaper, the press freedom organization said.
A motive has yet to be established, although some elements point to a political one. We hope that the judicial authorities in
Veracruz state will have the courage to explore this avenue and will act with complete independence.
We recall that other serious attacks on press freedom in the region since the start of the year have gone entirely unpunished. Veracruz has
become one of the deadliest states in the country this year with the murders of three journalists, and among those most affected by the war among drug cartels.
About 15 armed men burst into the newspaper's offices after firing at the front of
the building. About 20 employees were on the premises at the time. The attackers emptied cans of gasoline and set fire to the building. Members of the editorial staff had just enough time to take refuge in the press hall.
Fatanes described the
newspaper as a citizens' campaigning daily for the city. We draw attention to bad workmanship and negligence on the part of local authorities, he told Reporters Without Borders.
El Buen Tono recently published several articles accusing the
mayor of Cordoba, Francisco Portilla Bonilla, of involvement in corruption and influence-peddling. It went so far as to demand the dismissal of the state's head of public transportation, Carlos Demuner Pitol, because he did not have the academic
qualifications for the job.
A private members bill introduced into the Canadian House of Commons is seeking to delete the controversial hate speech provision in the Human Rights Act that has been used to silence Christians and conservatives who express politically incorrect
I've been working with colleagues to try to make sure that we make some changes to a piece of legislation that is flawed and --- quite frankly --- has been abused over the last several of years, said Conservative MP Brian Storseth
who introduced the bill.
Bill C-304 proposes to delete Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to ensure that there is no infringement on freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It
received its first reading on September 30th, 2011.
Critics of section 13 have long argued that the clause creates the precise equivalent to a thought crime. The provision defines a discriminatory practice as any matter that is likely to
expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt if the person or persons affected are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
This is really about freedom
of speech in our country and pushing back on the tyrannical bureaucracy need to censor speech in our country.
If we don't have freedom of speech, what good are the other freedoms that go along with it? What good is the freedom to
assemble or religious freedoms if you don't have the freedom of speech in the first place?
Storseth hopes that the bill will be debated at the beginning of November and that the first vote will take place at the end of that month.
Reporters Without Borders condemns President Bharrat Jagdeo's order suspending broadcasting by Guyana's CNS Channel Six, a privately-owned opposition TV station, for four months from 30 September.
The presidential order is all the more
reprehensible for forcing the station off the air during the run-up to regional and general elections that must be held by 28 December.
Firstly, this suspension is both discriminatory and absurd, Reporters Without Borders said. How can
the president's personal view of a comment made on the air be grounds for reducing CNS Channel Six to silence? But this appalling measure is all the more inopportune for coming during an election period. The fact that the station is owned by Chandra
Narine Charma, the leader of the opposition Justice for All Party, is a further reason for seeing it as an attack on pluralism and democratic debate.
The official reason for the suspension was opposition parliamentarian Anthony Vieira's
on-the-air criticism of Protestant bishop Juan Edghill, the head of the Ethnic Relations Commission. The bishop was too close to the president and was not doing enough for Catholics, Vieira said. President Jagdeo held the station responsible for the
comments, which he said were intended to sow discord among Christian denominations.
Downloaded pictures of the animated likenesses of characters from The Simpsons television show engaged in sexually explicit acts does not constitute child pornography, an Ottawa judge has ruled, acquitting a man of possessing the graphic images.
Ontario Court Justice Robert Fournier ruled a pair of sex pictures of Bart and Lisa Simpson and Bart's friend Milhouse found in the recycle bin of Richard Osborn's computer can't constitute child pornography because an objective observer
would find it difficult, if not impossible to assign ages to the characters from the popular show by looking at the picture.
My perspective is that the characters depicted could just as easily be perceived as teenagers or young adults,
However Fournier did find Osborn guilty of possessing child pornography for a separate collage that included pictures of naked children, adult pornography and bestiality.
Saudi Arabia, an oil rich dictatorship, has moved to censor a Canadian television ad that educates Canadian consumers about the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and the role played by Saudi oil exports in enabling this oppression.
is a brazen act of domestic political interference by a foreign dictatorship that neither understands nor respects the rights of women or freedom of speech, said Alykhan Velshi, executive director of EthicalOil.org, a grassroots advocacy organization
that educates consumers about their choice between ethical oil from Canada's oil sands and conflict oil from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.
Telecaster Services from the advertising review and clearance service, notified EthicalOil.org that it
had received a cease and desist letter from lawyers for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia demanding that approval for EthicalOil.org's ad be withdrawn.
Telecaster Services had approved the ethical oil spot on August 18, 2011 and the ad subsequently ran
and completed its run of schedule on the Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada).
In response to the Saudi dictatorship's move, EthicalOil.org is taking the following actions:
The ad has been put back on the air. Starting today the Sun News Network is airing the spot.
EthicalOil.org has written to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Canada, informing him the ad has been put back on the air and challenging
him to a televised debate about the ad and its contents.
EthicalOil.org has alerted Foreign Minister John Baird and Dean Allison, Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade about the
incident in writing, calling on the government and the parliamentary committee to investigate a foreign dictatorship trying to censor what Canadians can and cannot see on their televisions.
One broadcaster has now caved to legal threats this week and won't run the Ethical Oil advert. But Sun News Network continues to run the ad because it
champions free speech and won't cave to threats when it comes to constitutional protections.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird plans to discuss with Saudi Arabian officials their attempts to stop Canadian broadcasters from airing an
advertisement that depicts desert oil as unethical, QMI Agency has learned. Baird's spokesman Chris Day said:
We are proud that unlike many countries, the press and third-party organizations are free to speak their
minds in reporting and advertising in our country and we will defend their right to do so,
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said the Saudis should respect rights protected in the Constitution:
Freedom of speech is a core Canadian value and I don't think that Canadians appreciate a foreign country attempting to limit that freedom.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney added that:
Canada doesn't take kindly to foreign governments threatening directly or indirectly Canadian broadcasters or media for giving voice to freedom of
The bodies of a young man and woman were found hanging from a bridge in the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo.
A sign hung nearby the dead bodies said the pair was killed for condemning drug cartel activity on a social networking site.
Several media outlets in Mexico self-censor out of fear that the cartels will retaliate, and that's why people turn to blogs and social networks to keep the community informed of dangers. In this case...It was a fatal decision.
Canada's radio censor has overturned its earlier ban on Dire Straits' Money For Nothing song playing on local airwaves.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council reviewed a January 2011 decision by its Atlantic Canada panel on the1980s
Dire Straits hit song.
That original decision concluded the use of the anti-gay slur faggot three times in its lyrics breached industry codes on human rights.
In its latest ruling, the CBSC said the Atlantic censors were correct in
deeming the word faggot may sometimes be inappropriate for broadcast on Canadian airwaves. But this was not one of those times.
The CBSC's national panel concluded:
There may be circumstances in
which even words designating unacceptably negative portrayal may be acceptable because of their contextual usage. The ad hoc National Panel finds this is one such occasion.
Courts in the Brazilian state of Ceara have blocked access to $140,000 in the accounts of Google Brazil refused to take down a series of blogs with content supposedly offensive toward the mayor of Varzea Alegre.
The blogs in question accuse
the mayor of corruption and diverting public funds, although no sources have been cited for the accusations. The mayor has reportedly said the blogs' anonymous messages smear his image.
A court in the Venezuelan capital Caracas has issued a temporary injunction to prohibit the publication and circulation of satirical magazine 6to Poder after it published a cover with six Venezuelan government officials portrayed as cabaret
The Intelligence Service arrested the magazine's editor, Dinorah Giron, and put out a warrant for the arrest of the president of the publishing company, Leocenis Garcia.
A judge has this week lifted a week-old court ruling banning the distribution of 6to Poder . However, the weekly was still prohibited from
referring to the case in print or from publishing similar content.
An Argentine court has granted an injunction that blocks Google from suggesting searches that lead to certain sites that have been deemed anti-Semitic, and removes the sites from the search engine's index.
The injunction, filed by DAIA, an
umbrella organization of Argentina's Jewish community, also prohibits Google from advertising on the stated websites.
The injunction names 76 sites that the organization considers highly discriminatory.
Google's suggested searches
are a Google algorithm that offers search terms similar to the one the user appears to be typing in.
The common denominator on these sites is the incitement of hate and the call to violence, DAIA said in a statement. In none of these
cases are there discussions or criticisms from the academic, technological, political or philosophical perspectives.
Judge Carlos Molina Portela concluded that the terms mentioned (in the lawsuit) as well as the results obtained through
'suggested searches' could be described as discriminatory acts and/or at least, incitement and/or encouragement for discrimination.
According to DAIA, the suggested search complaint focused on 13 terms that led to websites that are
anti-Semitic, some of which deny that the Holocaust took place. The group did not disclose the 13 terms in question, nor the names of the websites that were blocked.
No superheroes came to the rescue of two U.S. comic publishers who had their books confiscated by Canadian customs officers on suspicion of obscenity.
On May 6, Tom Neely and Dylan Williams' rental car was pulled over by the Canadian Border
Services Agency. They were carrying copies of about 30 titles to sell at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and had carefully prepared all the tax-related paperwork required to cross the border with print merchandise. But they didn't anticipate that a
customs officer would pull a random selection of books from the car, including the graphic novella Young Lions by Portland artist Blaise Larmee.
Larmee's pencil sketches caught the officer's attention. He took a copy inside the office. One
of the customs officers suspected that Larmee's novella depicted children engaged in sexual contact, but Neely explained that while the characters appear child-like, the book is actually about young adult artists. Asked to prove otherwise, Williams
pointed out a caption of a character talking about his unemployment cheque, but this wasn't considered definitive evidence.
Neely, who self-publishes his comics, was also carrying five copies of BLACK EYE 1: Graphic Transmissions to Cause
Ocular Hypertension , an anthology of dark humour comics he was delivering to the festival. The officer opened the book to a spread by cartoonist Onsmith Jeremy called Blood Clots, which includes some sexual and violent imagery.
of both books were taken from the car, and will be sent for review to the CBSA's Prohibited Importations Unit in Ottawa. If they are approved within a 30-day period, the books will be returned to Buffalo. If the books are deemed obscene, they will be
Tom Neely described his experience at the border crossing in an interview with the CBLDF:
They asked us to stand by the wall of the building and asked for the keys to our car. They opened up our suitcases and pulled out a random sampling of about 5 comic books we had in our bags. Those included Blaise Larmee's Young Lions and the Black Eye anthology published by Rotland Press, of which I'm a contributor. The security guy asked us what the books were. We described them as
art comics and he said he was going to take them inside for review. While we waited, two other security guards came out, opened the car and proceeded to pull out everything in the entire vehicle, pulled out a copy every book, and then went back
Both Young Lions and Black Eye were singled out after the review of the books. The guard expressed concerns about Young Lions because the young-looking protagonists are shown kissing, and [he] said that he thought
would be inappropriate if they were children , said Neely. Black Eye was singled out for its dark, satirical content:
He flipped it open to a page of Onsmith Jeremy gag panels (many of which
depict some rather extreme examples of dark humor -- like men having sex with dead women) and asked me about them. I said It's an anthology of dark humor, and all of the work is an extreme form of satire. He said something about a strip of someone peeing
on another person and that that is not allowed in Canada.
The uncut region 2 DVD of
Dead Hooker in a Trunk is available at UK Amazon for release 23rd May 2011
A double feature of the films Dead Hooker in a Trunk and The Taint has been cancelled after its venue, the Roxy Theatre, received complaints about the film titles and wording on posters around Saskatoon.
Dead Hooker in a Trunk
plays something like a Quentin Tarantino movie whilst The Taint is a low-budget, independent movie about tainted water than turns men into women-killing zombies. The violence is said to be more against the men than the women.
about both the title Dead Hooker in a Trunk,a so-called grindhouse moviie, and the use of the words Kill women in the advertisement for the feature The Taint.
The screening was organized by the Dark Bridges Film Festival. Dark Bridges
creator John Allison said he was surprised to hear Magic Lantern, which owns the Roxy Theatre, decided to cancel the event: It's a very slippery slope when we start saying this topic is not appropriate to talk about. Grindhouse movies generally are
not serious. They are satires. It's pushing boundaries and trying to make you question your beliefs on some of this stuff.
Last week, Allison put up posters around town. The next night, nearly all of the posters on Broadway had been torn down.
He also received several complaints via email. Several people wrote to Allison that free speech should not include hate speech. 'Kill women, kill women' is not only poor judgement and bad taste but it's very threatening and dangerous.
Allison was then informed the screening had been cancelled.
The film's creators, Vancouver sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska, say the people complaining are being closed-minded about the film's title: I am shocked and saddened that someone in this day and age could be so closed minded about the mere title of
a film. Without attempting to research the film in the slightest, they rushed to judgment and condemned something that in fact should be something that Canadians should be very proud of.
Magic Lantern said: Our theatre does not play
pictures that are smut nor use titles whose only purpose is to shock and offend .
Meanwhile in Britain, Dead Hooker in a Trunk has been passed 18 uncut with the comment: Contains strong bloody violence, gore and one use
of very strong language
A screening for the films Dead Hooker in a Trunk and The Taint, which was pulled from the Roxy Theatre by the theatre owner, has been moved to
the Broadway Theatre.
The movie night, sponsored by the Dark Bridges Film Festival, was pulled after the Roxy and organizers received several complaints about the poster, which featured the words kill women on the promo for The Taint. The
poster was also torn down at various locations around the city.
The Dark Bridges double feature will play at the Broadway Theatre on April 22 at 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Mexican authorities have lifted a ban on a hit documentary that charts flaws in the country's justice system.
The interior ministry had ordered the distributors to accept a judge's order and pull the film, Presumed Guilty. But another court has
now overturned that ruling, saying that it was in the public interest for it to be shown.
The film, about a man wrongly convicted of murder, has been a big hit since opening in Mexico last month.
Last week, a judge in Mexico City ordered
screenings of Presumed Guilty to be suspended, pending a complaint filed by a prosecution witness in the documentary. He claimed he had been filmed without permission and alleged his right to privacy had been violated.
The judge's ruling provoked
a storm of protest and complaints about censorship.
Both the interior ministry and distributors Cinepolis appealed against the injunction.
The ban has now been lifted, although the legal battle is set to continue.
A new sexy party computer game has 'outraged' parents with lurid adult content which they claim will encourage orgies and under-age sex.
The Nintendo Wii game We Dare has styled itself sexy but has only been given a 12+
Many parents insist it is not suitable for a console which is popular with families and teenagers.
In an 'explicit' trailer, two girls can be seen virtually kissing, the couples stripping to their underwear and spanking each other.
And other parts of the two-minute video, viewed over 150,000 times on the Internet site You Tube, are suggestive of orgies, pole-dancing and wife-swapping.
The game is to be released on the Wii and Playstation 3 next month, with the promotion line
The more friends you invite to party, the spicier the play! It is described as a sexy, quirky party game that offers a large variety of hilarious, innovative and physical, sometimes kinky, challenges .
Parents have described
the 12+ certificate as appalling and unbelievable . Laura Pearson from Birmingham, said: I have a 13-year-old daughter and if I knew she was playing such a highly charged sexual game with boys, I would be appalled. It is encouraging
under-age sex. The video pretty much shows them swapping partners, girl-on-girl kissing. That kind of thing is not something that young teenagers should be exposed to.
George Hardy, a 46-year-old father, said: No wonder we have problems in
society with unsafe sex and under-age sex when kids can get hold of games like this. This sort of computer game will only serve to fuel sexual tensions and, in a worse-case scenario, sexual touching or assault. Imagine a room of testerone-fuelled
teenagers playing this, something could get out of hand. It sounds drastic but I could see it.
The body responsible for classifying computer games in Britain yesterday defended the 12+ certificate.
Laurie Hall, director general of the Video Standards Council, said: The average 16-year-old would think everything in We Dare was beneath
them -- although the game contains innuendo and suggestion, if it showed anything sexual it would be have received a 16 rating . Hall added that a part of the game which included characters stripping did not show anything more revealing than cartoon characters in bras and pants
and said that it was in the context of a game about characters losing weight.
He said that a YouTube trailer for the game was more extreme than anything in the game itself. There is no sexual activity, he said. There is
suggestion and innuendo if you're that way inclined but you don't actually see anything .
Labour MP Keith Vaz, a long-time critic of aspects of the video games industry, said: The new 'We Dare' game has clearly been wrongly marked as a 12
plus. As a family friendly console, Wii must ensure that there are proper checks and a full consultation before games are graded for use by children. This game should not be released until these checks are made.
Meanwhile, the upcoming Nintendo Wii and PS3 game We Dare is due for release in Australia on March 3 and has been rated PG by the Classification Board. The box promises flirty fun for all , above an image of a plush pink chair draped in
lingerie and padded handcuffs.
The game has caused an uproar amongst British tabloids which quoted parents accusing it of promoting orgies and lesbian sex to kids as young as 12.
Barbados' Film Censorship Board is taking another look at the award winning film, Black Swan , after initially banning it last week in a move that triggered an appeal by one cinema and sparked a petition by disappointed movie goers and other
The Board will decide this week, after another screening, whether Barbadians will get to see the film in cinemas after all.
The Board instituted the ban deeming the film inappropriate for viewing because of offensive sexual
behaviour. The movie features a scene depicting a lesbian encounter.
Barbados is just one of two countries that have banned Black Swan , the other being the United Arab Emirates. It has been rated R in most other countries.
ban was announced, the Olympus Theatres filed an appeal and the Film Censorship Board agreed to review the movie.
An online petition, Against the Affront to Freedom of Expression in Barbados by the Barbados Board of Film Censors , and a
Facebook group entitled For Freedom of Thought and Expression in Barbados have been gaining momentum and had reached 247 signatures and 459 members, respectively, by this morning.
The online petition makes several demands of the Film
Censorship Board, including that it reverse its decision to restrict freedom of expression by banning the film ; understand the meanings and intent of MPAA film ratings (or the rating from the films originating country), that is, to inform parents
on the suitability of a film for viewing by children, and to protect artistic freedom; refrain from changing a films rating; and hold a limited screening of films to unbiased members of the public and rely on their input before pronouncing a ban. The
The Barbados Board of Film Censors chose to censor this film, without any discussion about its content with the public, and subsequently failing to publish adequately explained reasons behind its
decision. We believe that freedom of expression is a key pillar in a democratic society, and when leaders choose to censor material without consulting the public, particularly artistic material which may be of cultural significance, our whole society
Indeed, in this case, it is patronizing that the board doesn't think that Barbadians can handle a film that has won such prestigious awards, and that people the world over are enjoying...Banning art sets
a dangerous precedent, which encourages those around the world who wish to restrict freedom of expression.
The video game, Call of Juarez: The Cartel , is set to release this summer. Unlike the previous releases in the series, The Cartel is set in the present day and focuses on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico. But apart
from this, little information has yet been released about the game
The modern-day setting combined with the title has rubbed law enforcement officials in south Texas up the wrong way. Gang and drug cartel-related violence is very real to towns in
southern Texas bordering Mexico.
Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia says that any game involving organized crime sets a bad example:
Unfortunately there are companies that are looking to capitalize on
the violent situation in Mexico which has had a very negative impact on the country, said Garcia. There have been spillover cases in certain areas of our country with cases of kidnappings and murders. This is a serious topic and this is just another
violent video game.
It doesn't matter if it deals with the cartel in Juarez, the Gulf Cartel or the Sinaloa Cartel. It is simply not something that is appropriate for our youth, Garcia added. This leaves lasting images
and ideas in teenagers who get caught up in the game and may try to make it a reality and live the violent lifestyle they see in these games.
While Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio admitted that he was not familiar with the
game, he says that he agrees with Garcia that any type of media that glamorizes the criminal lifestyle should be discouraged.
The title itself leads one to believe that the game deals with
narcotic trafficking organizations. Games like these create a false idea in the minds of teenagers who are still developing and may grow up and want to imitate these characters. Sadly enough these kind of games are protected by freedom of speech, but the
violence that comes from cartels is not a game and it affects us all.
Update: Chihuahua lawmakers recommend Call of Juarez: The Cartel
The video game Call of Juarez: The Cartel by game developer Ubisoft has drawn criticism from Mexican and US officials even before anything substantive is known about the game beyond the promotional statement:
You'll embark on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico immersing yourself in a gritty plot with interesting characters and a wide variety of game play options. Take justice into your own hands in this modern Western
Mexican blogger Ismael Flores explains that legislators in the state of Chihuahua,where Ciudad Jua'rez is located, have now called on the Secretariat of Governance and the Secretariat of Economy to prohibit the sale of
the video game in Mexico.
It remains to be seen whether Mexico's federal government will act upon the request. But of course if they do they will have to answer why they are not spending their time concentrating on banning the real violence in
We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with comments made about Mexicans in the programme on 30 January 2011.
producers of Top Gear have apologised to the Mexican Ambassador for the comments made about him during the show. Whilst the majority of the piece on the Mastretta had been discussed in advance with BBC Editorial Policy staff, the comments about
him were ad libbed by the presenters during the recording. The BBC's Editorial Guidelines are very clear about singling out individuals for irreverent/mocking/ comments. Those guidelines were not adhered to and the Top Gear production team has apologised
for this. The comments about the Ambassador have been removed from all repeats of the programme.
With regard to the other comments made about Mexicans, these were indeed playing off a stereotype, and that practice is
something that regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar with, as the presenters often make jokes about the perceived characteristics of various nationalities when talking about the cars made in those countries. It is something that has been done in
the past with the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Italians, so Mexico was not singled out for special treatment in this case.
Comments made by the Top Gear presenters are clearly exaggerated for comic effect
- to imply that a sports car is no good because it will spend all day asleep is self evidently absurd, and not meant to be taken as vindictive. The Top Gear audience understands this clearly and treats these remarks accordingly.
The UK prides itself on being a tolerant nation, but one of the contributing factors towards that tolerance is the fact that jokes made around national stereotyping are commonplace, and are indeed a robust part of our national
humour. Typically the most comedic ones are negative - for example our own comedians make material out of the fact that the British are supposed to be terrible cooks, terrible romantics, and forever happy to come second. In fact, some of the more
humorous complaints we have received from Mexico are based on stereotypical retorts, with one excellent one in particular referring to the presenters as effete tea drinkers.
In line with that British tradition,
stereotype-based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines, in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case, as it indeed is with Top Gear. Of course it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who
are unfamiliar with its humour.
It was not the intention of the programme to offend Mexicans but rather to use a clearly unbelievable stereotype of Mexicans to humorous effect.
Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said that the Cuban government has unblocked access to her blog, which had been off limits on the island's Internet since 2008.
In a posting on Twitter, she wondered how long Cuban Internet users would be able
to view her Generation Y blog but exulted in the opening, however brief: In the long night of censorship, a small hole has opened. My blog Generation Y returns to the insular light.
Her blog criticizes the Cuban system and the
difficulties of daily life on the communist-led island.
Sanchez has won a number of international prizes and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2008. Her blog is translated into 15 languages and she
has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter.
The unblocking came as Cuba hosted an international computer science conference.
dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, famed for her outspoken online critiques of the country's communist regime, has issued an appeal to Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, to help her leave Cuba.
Sanchez, a Havana-based writer who has been
accused by Cuban authorities of conducting a cyberwar against the government, has not been able to leave the country since 2004 because of migration rules that require Cubans to receive government permission to travel.
She has now been
invited to the Brazilian state of Bahia in February for the screening of a documentary about press freedom in Cuba and Honduras in which she features.
In the video appeal to Rousseff, posted on YouTube, Sa'nchez called on Brazil's first female
president to intervene:
Please help me, who says it is her 19th attempt to get travel permission from Cuban authorities. Through this small video I want to send a very respectful [and] very humble message ... to the
president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff.
Unfortunately I am forbidden from leaving my own country -- I have not committed any crime.
The Cuban government must reform an arbitrary exit permit scheme that affects all Cubans and is used to punish freedom of expression, Amnesty International said after a prominent blogger was again blocked from travelling abroad.
Cuba's migration authorities denied blogger and activist Yoani Sa'nchez an exit permit (white card or tarjeta blanca) for the 19th time in four years. As on previous occasions, no reason was given for the decision.
The well-known author of
Generacion Y had been invited to speak at the premiere screening in Brazil's Bahi'a state on 10 February of a documentary on freedom of expression in Cuba and Honduras. Brazil had already issued her a visa to enter the country.
government's repeated denial of exit permits to critics like Yoani Sa'nchez can only be seen as retaliation for the expression of their legitimate political views and activism, said Javier Zuniga, Special Advisor to Amnesty International: Those
fighting for freedom of expression, association, and movement must be authorized to leave and re-enter the country without arbitrary restrictions, and the Cuban authorities must end other tactics used to clamp down on peaceful dissent.
The BBC has apologised for remarks made on the television programme, Top Gear , that caused 'outrage' in Mexico.
The comments about Mexicans were made when they were discussing Mexican sports cars. Reviewing the Mastretta, Richard
Hammond said vehicles reflected national characteristics: Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat. The
presenters, known for their edgy jibes, then described Mexican food as refried sick .
Jeremy Clarkson added that he was confident he would not receive any complaints about their comments because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep.
But somebody on the ambassador's staff must have been awake, as the ambassador demanded an apology, calling the remarks offensive, xenophobic and humiliating .
In a letter to Mexico's ambassador in London, the BBC said it was sorry if it
had offended some people, but said jokes based on national stereotyping were part of British national humour.
Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes
about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic, the French being arrogant and the Germans being over-organised, the BBC said. It added that stereotype-based comedy was allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience knew they
could expect it, as was the case with Top Gear . Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the ambassador that that was
absolutely not the show's intention .
Hundreds of Mexicans contacted the BBC Spanish-language website BBC Mundo to protest about the remark More expressed outrage in e-mails to Mexican newspapers and websites, where the Top Gear jibes have received huge coverage. The matter was also raised in the Mexican senate, where lawmakers were considering a motion of censure.
An all-party group of British MPs also urged the BBC to apologise, calling the remarks ignorant, derogatory and racist .
Scenes in which Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May poked fun at Mexicans will be cut before the show is broadcast in the
United States next week. The show is broadcast on the BBC America channel
Evangelical minister and television personality Charles McVety says he is the victim of political censorship and intends to take legal action after Crossroads Television System permanently cancelled his show this week.
The tension between
the reverend and the Christian broadcaster began in December, when the TV censors of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council said Crossroads broke their rules when McVety made disparaging on-air remarks about gays.
A station spokeswoman,
meanwhile, denied the cancellation of Word TV was a consequence of bowing to political pressure. Rather, it was based on the show's lack of compliance with the CTS code of ethics, Carolyn Innis said.
In December's ruling, the council
said McVety's description of Toronto's gay pride parade as a sex parade, as well as his characterization of gay events as malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial, were in breach of the standards.
His show was initially pulled from
the air but the station let him back the following week on condition that the TV company could pre-vet the show. But on Sunday night, any viewers tuning in to see McVety were instead met with a notice alerting them that the show had been cancelled.
Canada's TV censor (CRTC) has ordered the country's radio censor (CBSC) to reconsider its ban on the Dire Straits song Money For Nothing .
The TV and radio censor had decided that Money For Nothing should not air on the Canadian
The CBSC's decision has elicited a strong public reaction and created uncertainty for private radio stations across the country, the CRTC said in its decision. The TV censor said it has received around 250 letters from
Canadians since the CBSC decision, most of which opposed the ruling and have been passed on to the broadcast censor.
The ruling that a British pop song which hasn't aired widely on the radio for a quarter-century, and which questioned MTV's
star-making machinery with apparent irony, has struck a chord among Canadians quick to criticize political correctness and the Nanny State.
The CRTC was also apparently forced to respond to the censorship debate after a host of radio stations in
the last week defied the CBSC decision and aired the original version of Money For Nothing unedited.
In Venezuela, a private television station has stopped broadcasting a Colombian-produced soap opera after government authorities demanded its removal, alleging it was insulting to Venezuela as a country.
The show, called Chepe Fortuna ,
includes as a character an unscrupulous secretary called Venezuela, who has a dog named Little Hugo , an apparent reference, some have alleged, to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez denounced the show saying it was horrible
and disrespectful to Venezuela.
The private TV channel Televen has stopped broadcasting the show after government censors accused it of promoting political intolerance and demanded it be pulled from the airwaves.
The Canadian music censor is being defiant after a wave of criticism over its decision to ban the nation-wide broadcast of an uncut Dire Straits song containing the word faggot.
Ronald Cohen, the national chair of the Canadian Broadcast
Standards Council (CBSC), told QMI Agency he sees nothing wrong with the fact one person was able to stop every private radio station across Canada from playing the popular 1985 song Money for Nothing.
The number of complaints is
irrelevant, Cohen claimed: Everybody is on our back about it (but) I think it was absolutely the right decision. This was a word that has no place today on the airwaves.
Cohen is unconcerned that the public was shut out from CBSC's
deliberations and sees no problems with the fact that neither broadcasters nor Canadians have any avenues to appeal the decision. If there was an appeal process, it would be cumbersome, he said.
Dire Straits' keyboardist Guy Fletcher joined
a chorus of fans on his website calling the ruling outrageous and the council's decision hilarious for having missed the point of the band's song about homophobia. What a waste of paper, he wrote of the decision.
Caledonia Civil Liberties Association's David Eby called the CBSC's decision very patronizing and suggested the federal broadcast censor, the CRTC, should take over its functions to ensure some public oversight: It is difficult for us to
understand how this private body can have such a profound influence on what Canadians see and hear without any accountability .
The CBSC has been the private broadcasters' self-regulator since 1990, when they decided they didn't want the
federal regulator to oversee their content. Although neither body has the power to levy fines or stop the broadcast of any songs (even those banned), the CRTC can revoke television or radio licences or refuse to renew them when they are about to lapse.
The Dire Straits song, Money For Nothing, has been banned from Canadian radio because it is deemed homophobic.
The song, written almost 30 years ago, uses the word faggot in the verse:
little faggot with the earring and the makeup. Yeah buddy, that's his own hair. That little faggot got his own jet airplane. That little faggot he's a millionaire
The Canadian Broadcasts Standards Council has ruled
that any radio station wishing to play the song must edit or bleep out the offending word, which appears three times.
In its ruling the Standards Council said that even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, [the word 'faggot']
no longer so. The societal values at issue a quarter century later have shifted and the broadcast of the song in 2010 must reflect those values, rather than those of 1985 .
Later versions of Money For Nothing replace the word faggot
with mother , which the Standards Council said the radio station should have played instead.
One listener had complained that the song was extremely offensive to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, the Vancouver Sun reports.
I'm not sure about other UK radio stations,
but both commercial radio stations in Peterborough, Connect FM and Heart (formerly Hereward) have been playing an edited version of the song for a number of years now, which totally omits that particular verse.
Newcap programmer Steve Jones said that Canada's Broadcast Standards Council went too far in banning the original 1985 Grammy-winning version of Money For Nothing.
He said: If you listen to the context of the terms, you will realize it
is an artistic portrayal of a bigoted person looking at the riches and excesses of the music industry. (The lyric goes That little faggot with the earring and the makeup/Yeah, buddy, that's his own hair/That little faggot's got a jet airplane/That
little faggot, he's a millionaire.)
K97 added that LGBT supporter Elton John has performed the song as written.
So on 14th January, the radio station CIRK and Newcap sisters Q104 and K-Rock protested about the dangers of censorship .
They looped the unedited version of Money For Nothing for a whole hour.
They've also invited representatives from the gay community to participate.