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7th May   

Reprehensible...

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Police notice to scare the shit out of internet cafe users
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poilce noticeSpotted at an internet cafe in Leather Lane, Clerkenwell, London.

Presumably it is a notice produced by the Metropolitan Police and distributed to internet cafes.

It is totally irresponsible to group all these categories into one and then suggest that they are all totally illegal.

A thoroughly nasty, fear creating tactic, produced by Britain's Stasi police.

 

16th April   

Updated: BCA Drops Simon Singh Libel Claim...

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Can back massage cure a pain in the wallet?
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bca logoThe BCA have served a Notice of Discontinuance bringing to an end its ill-fated libel claim against Dr Simon Singh arising out of criticisms he made of its promotion of treatments for childhood ailments.

Dr Singh's predicament as the sole defendant in an action brought in respect of a comment piece in the Guardian newspaper, became a rallying point for those concerned about the abuse of UK libel laws in connection with scientific debate.

Comment: Delighted

16th April 2010. From www.libelreform.org

A delighted Simon said:

It still staggers me that the British Chiropractic Association and half the chiropractors in the UK were making unsubstantiated claims. It still baffles me that the BCA then dared to sue me for libel and put me through two years of hell before I was vindicated. And it still makes me angry that our libel laws not only tolerate but also encourage such ludicrous libel suits. My victory does not mean that our libel laws are okay, because I won despite the libel laws. We still have the most notoriously anti-free speech libel laws in the free world.

And other news, the Libel Reform Campaign petition has just hit the 50,000 signature mark!

 

16th April   

Offsite: The Guardian Asks...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh

 

Are there too many 'fucks' in the Guardian?
Link Here

The GuardianThe people we write about seem to be swearing more and more. Our rivals opt for asterisks, but we tell you what they said. Are we right?

The statistics tell their own story: the word fuck (and its variants) has appeared 705 times in the past year, with a further 269 mentions in the Observer. The figures for other national newspapers are as follows: Independent 279, Independent on Sunday 74, Times 3, Sunday Times 2, all other papers 0.

The figures for the C-word, still regarded by many people as taboo, are: Guardian 49, Observer 20, Independent 8, Independent on Sunday 5, everyone else 0.

Two questions: how do we justify using, as a Steve Bell cartoon memorably put it in the week the word appeared on the cover of G2, more fucks than you can shake a fucking stick at ? And do many people object?

...Read full article

 

13th April   

Update: Manifestly Reformist...

All 3 major parties commit to libel reform
Link Here

Libel Reform Campaign logo All 3 major political parties in the UK are committed to libel law reform.

Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Justice Minister, told us on Friday that the Conservative party is committed, if elected, to undertaking a fundamental review of the libel laws with a view to enacting legislation to reform them. This reform could best be done by means of a separate Libel Bill and this is the preferred approach for us.

The Lib Dems made libel law reform a policy in September 2009 after Professor Richard Dawkins addressed their party conference and Jack Straw committed Labour to reforming English libel law at our mass-lobby of Parliament on 23rd March.

The Labour manifesto, released today, pledges To encourage freedom of speech and access to information, we will bring forward new legislation on libel to protect the right of defendants to speak freely.

 

9th April   

Foot in the Mouth Fetishists at the UKIP...

UKIP suspend Liverpool chairmen for making mild erotic films
Link Here

sex game video The UK Independence Party has shamed itself with a bad attitude towards an erotic film maker. Compare that with the Lib Dems who embraced porn film maker Anna Span as one of their general election candidtes.

Rob Ager was chairman of UKIP's Liverpool branch until party chiefs found out about his films, which include scenes of bondage, incarceration and flagellation.

One of Ager's films, called The Sex Game , features a half-naked man being whipped and abused by a dominatrix . However it is hardly porn, and is even hosted on the nudity averse youtube.com

Another, called The Victim , features what Ager describes as a duo of deranged sadists who capture a man at random so that he can be tortured and eventually killed .

Until he was warned off doing so by party officials, some of his films also contained plugs for Ukip in the closing credits.

A spokesman for Ukip said Ager had been suspended while party officials examined the films, which she said contained serious themes . She said: As a result of the evidence that has been supplied to us about Mr Ager, he has today been suspended as the chair of the Ukip Liverpool branch. There will be a thorough inquiry into the matter.

Ager confirmed he had been asked to step down but defended his films, saying many commercial productions were much more sexually and violently explicit . He said: My material is pretty tame. I put a lot of intelligent material into the scripts.

 

9th April   

Police Dicks...

Police censors confiscate willy garden ornament
Link Here

free willy A curiosity shop owner and councillor has had his stone willy seized by police after complaints it was supposedly obscene.

Jason Hadlow, chairman of Yarm Town Council and owner of the Simply Dutch store in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, was left gobsmacked at the confiscation.

Now he faces an £80 fine to get his 4ft high masonry manhood back - something he has refused to do. Hadlow has instead ordered 150 more of the garden ornaments from Indonesia, 10 of which have already been sold.

It's absolute madness they've taken this willy - it was right there in the shop window next to a statue of Venus and a replica of Michelangelo's David, said the entrepreneur, who lives in Yarm. They involve boobs and willies - and there was a sign nearby saying Big Dick's Sausages and they didn't take that.

Hadlow was given 24 hours to remove the stone penis. When officers returned and he hadn't complied, it was put into a police van and Hadlow ordered to pay an £80 fine to release it or face court action. He added: The policewoman said it was 4ft tall. It's not that high, but people do often overestimate when it comes to willy size.

Hadlow has 21 days to pay the fine - but is hoping a Facebook group he set up called Free Willy will persuade the police to drop the charges - at the time the Evening Gazette went to print today he had 269 supporters online.

A spokesman for the North Yorkshire Police dicks said: The owner of Simply Dutch was visited on March 31 following a complaint from a member of the public. He was given the opportunity to remove the offending item within 24 hours. Officers returned the next day and issued him with a penalty notice for disorder for committing a public order offence after his decision to leave the item on view.

 

2nd April   

Update: Singh Stiffs Back Quacks...

Simon Singh wins right to use fair comment defence against chiropractors' libel claim
Link Here

Old BaileyThe science writer Simon Singh has won the right to use the defence of fair comment, in a landmark ruling at the Court of Appeal.

The strongly worded judgment by three of Britain's most senior judges brings Dr Singh significantly closer to defeating the action brought against him by a group of chiropractors. The ruling also sets a precedent that could, in practice, make scientific criticism and debate exempt from claims of defamation by companies or organisations.

Dr Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over an opinion piece he wrote for The Guardian in April 2008, suggesting that there was a lack of evidence for the claims some chiropractors make on treating certain childhood conditions, including colic and asthma. The BCA alleged that Dr Singh had, in effect, accused its leaders of knowingly supporting bogus treatments.

In May last year, Mr Justice Eady, in a preliminary High Court ruling in the dispute, held that Dr Singh's comments were factual assertions rather than expressions of opinion, which meant that he could not use the defence of fair comment.

However, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Sedley ruled that Mr Justice Eady had erred in his approach last May and upheld Dr Singh's appeal. Dr Singh described the ruling as brilliant , but said the action had cost £200,000 and two years of his time just to define the meaning of a few words . He added: At last we've got a good decision. So instead of battling uphill we're fighting with the wind behind us.

The written judgment said that the original decision threatened to silence scientists or science journalists wishing to question claims made by companies or organisations. It said: This litigation has almost certainly had a chilling effect on public debate which might otherwise have assisted potential patients to make informed choices about the possible use of chiropractic. Asking judges to rule on matters of scientific controversy would be to invite the court to become an Orwellian ministry of truth , the judgment said.

In a statement issued after the ruling, the BCA expressed disappointment and said it was considering whether to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. This is not the end of the road ... Our original argument remains that our reputation has been damaged, it said. The BCA can now either appeal to the Supreme Court, proceed to trial and challenge Dr Singh's defence of fair comment, or withdraw its case. A BCA spokesman said that board members would decide in the coming days.

 

31st March   

Comment: Evidence of Censorship...

Spectator blog becomes the first to be censured by the PCC
Link Here

spectator rod liddle logo Spectator columnist Rod Liddle has become the first blogger to be censured by the Press Complaints Commission.

On the Spectator's website, Liddle wrote that the overwhelming majority of London's violent crime was carried out by young, Afro-Caribbean men. But the PCC ruled the former BBC Radio 4 Today editor's words breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of its code. It said the significant ruling showed publications' websites would be held to the same standards as print editions.

Liddle had written that the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community .

Although the Spectator had provided some evidence to back up Liddle's assertion, it had not been able to demonstrate that the 'overwhelming majority' of crime in all the stated categories had been carried out by members of the African-Caribbean community , Stephen Abell of the PCC said.

He added that the ruling was significant because it demonstrated that the PCC expects the same standards in newspaper and magazine blogs that it would expect in comment pieces that appear in print editions . There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary, but statements of fact must still be substantiated if and when they are disputed.

Offsite: Liddle censure a plus for serious newspaper and magazine websites

31st March 2010. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

greenslade bg logo Roy Greenslade writes in a well meaning blog:

A US reporter calls to ask whether I think the Rod Liddle censure by the Press Complaints Commission amounts to a constraint on the freedom of the press.

It is a natural consequence of America's journalists being appalled by the fact that we subject our newspapers and magazines to a self-regulatory regime that conflicts with their own constitutional right to freedom of expression.

So I reply that it is, of course, a constraint. But with freedom comes responsibility and it is surely irresponsible to present an opinion as a fact.

...

By showing that a magazine website cannot get away with publishing an inaccurate statement, the PCC has reinforced the public perception that British online journalists cannot put up any old rubbish online.

...Read the full article

But really...you only have to read about how many 'trafficked' sex workers there are arriving in Britain every year, or how many will be coming to the London Olympics, or how many children have been 'harmed' by watching post watershed programmes on iPlayer, to realise what a load of bullshit is published by major newspapers.

 

28th March   

Ethically Challenged...

Ofcom to investigate the Islam Channel
Link Here

islam channel logo Britain's leading Muslim TV channel was last night accused of encouraging marital rape and promoting hatred and intolerance.

TV censor Ofcom launched an investigation after being handed a major report by counter-terrorism think tank Quilliam on the London-based Islam Channel, which has a worldwide audience of two million.

The report claims the Islam Channel's presenters and guests regularly make derogatory statements about women and their role in society .

In one programme, a guest tells viewers that Muslim women cannot refuse their husbands' sexual advances. He says: The idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband's relations – this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage. He said the concept of a woman's individual choice was something which is part of the Western culture, but not Islam .

A presenter said the main sources of problems facing modern society were caused by women. Viewers were told the majority of the people in hell will be women because they are the cause of calamities, hardship and suffering .

Last night an Ofcom spokesman said: This report raises some serious allegations. We will investigate where our rules may have been broken.

 

27th March   

Pre-teen Networking...

Ofcom reports that Social Networking sites are popular with the under 13s
Link Here

Facebook logo A quarter of children aged 8-12 who use the internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, new Ofcom research revealed. These sites have a minimum user age of 13.

But 83% of these children have their profile set so that it can only be seen by friends, and 4% have a profile that can't be seen.

Nine in ten parents of these children who are aware that their child visits social networking sites (93%) also say that they check what their child is doing on these types of sites. However one in six parents of this group are not aware that their child visits social networking sites.

Ofcom's annual Children's Media Literacy Audit provides an overview of media literacy among children and young people and their parents and carers.

The report also includes internet audience data which showed that amongst 5-7 year old home internet users, just over a third (37%) visited Facebook in October 2009 (but did not necessarily have a profile).

 

27th March   

Update: Supreme Hate...

Men jailed for Holohoax website to appeal to the Supreme Court
Link Here  full story: Race Hate Internet Prosecutions...UK prosecutions over internet comments

Uk Supreme Court The men who became the first to be convicted of inciting racial hatred online are to petition the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the convictions.

The move by Stephen Whittle, along with Simon Sheppard follows the decision of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division to certify three points of law in the case - although it denied permission to appeal, meaning the pair have to petition the Supreme Court directly.

Lawyers for the two men confirmed that they would be filing petitions with the Supreme Court. The case will raise important issues about whether material placed on the internet counts as written material, and whether the courts have jurisdiction in cases involving material posted online from abroad.

Sheppard was convicted of 16 offences and Whittle of 5. In January the Court of Appeal rejected their appeals against conviction, but reduced Sheppard's sentence of four years and 10 months by a year and Stephen Whittle's term of two years and four months by six months.

The Court has now certified three issues in the case as a point of law of general public importance. These cover whether a document stored in a computer memory and/or displayed on a screen is written material within the meaning of Section 29 of the Public Order Act 1986, the issue of the correct test of jurisdiction for criminal cases involving or arising from the use of the internet, and whether, for the purposes of Section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, making material generally accessible or available to placing or offering it to the public via the internet counts as publication to the public or a section of the public.

 

24th March   

Gaff Gag...

Straw proposed ban on disclosing information about senior Royals
Link Here

UK Government arms The government is trying to change the law to protect the Prince of Wales from scrutiny when he intervenes in public affairs.

Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has tabled an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to impose a blanket ban on anyone disclosing information about Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William.

The move comes after a freedom of information (FoI) application revealed how Charles scuppered a £3 billion redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks.

The royal family is exempt from direct requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. However, public bodies can be asked to release information that may include details about the royals.

Critics of Straw's amendment say it would seriously undermine freedom of information laws. More than 60 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for it to be dropped. Clarence House said Charles had not lobbied for the changes.

 

18th March   

Update: Offended by Libel Tourism...

Saudis use UK libel courts to attack Danish newspapers over the Mohammed cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Politiken cover The Danish minister of justice has called on the European Commission to put a stop to a lawsuit by a Saudi lawyer who is using the UK's famously libel-happy courts to go after Danish newspapers for their publication of cartoons of Mohammed.

It's fundamentally reasonable that judgments in the EU can often be exercised across borders, the minister, Lars Barfoed, said according to the Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

But it would be taking it to the extreme if a UK court could rule against the Danish media and then require compensation and court costs to be paid.

Britain is said to be the libel tourism capital of the world. In English and Welsh courts, the burden of proof is borne by the accused rather than the complainant, and as a result they have become the jurisdiction of choice for oligarchs and mafiosi, Saudi billionaires and even totalitarian governments.

On Monday, the Danish government said that they had had enough. Danish justice minister Lars Barfoed demanded that Brussels step in to prevent lawyer Faisal Yamani from suing the Danish papers for damages in British courts on behalf of 95,000 descendents of Mohammed who claim they and their faith have been defamed.

In August 2009, Yamani asked 11 Danish publications to take down the Mohammed cartoons from their websites. While most papers have refused to do so, the left-leaning daily Politiken, finally agreed to do so in February. Rebuffed by the Danish publications, Yamani has moved his fight to UK jurisdiction, where even publication on the internet in a foreign country in another language is considered as good as published domestically.

 

16th March   

More T-Shirt Nonsense...

A bit worrying when airport security staff show a lack of common sense
Link Here

freedom or death shirt A man was told to hide his T-shirt because airport security staff claimed the slogan it bore was an incitement to terrorism.

Lloyd Berks arrived at Gatwick Airport wearing a trendy white Levi Strauss T-shirt sporting the phrase Freedom or Death in turquoise lettering. Beneath the slogan is a picture of a skeleton dressed in armour.

The Gothic imagery is common on the high street but 'security' officers decided it was threatening and told the father of two, who was travelling with his partner and two young children, to turn the T-shirt inside out. The man obliged but he has accused the airport of being over-zealous and attacking civil liberties.

Berks was stopped at a security checkpoint by Gatwick staff. They said airlines might be worried by my T-shirt because its "threatening". I thought they were joking at first. I was with my family. I was hardly a terrorist risk. And the T-shirt is trendy, not an incitement to terrorism. I've never heard of anything more ridiculous. It's an attack on people's civil liberties. What has happened to common sense? Have people forgotten how to use it?

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said it was yet another example of how paranoid we have been made by terrorism: This is a sad example of the terrorism paranoia which increasingly affects every part of public life. T-shirt slogans do not imply malicious intent and the pathetic security officers should have known better.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport has since apologised. She denied the airport had a policy on T-shirt slogans. She said: London Gatwick does not apply a policy relating to appropriate or inappropriate T-shirt slogans worn by passengers passing through airport security. While safety and security are our highest priorities, we also expect staff to apply common sense and judgment.

 

15th March   

Update: Turning a New Leaf Salad...

Gordon Ramsey claims an end to his strong language
Link Here

Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares DVD Gordon Ramsay has vowed to cut out the strong language.

He reckons that at 43 he's now too old for the four-letter tirades. The cocky chef has also decided to ease up on bullying the owners of dodgy diners on screen.

Gordon said he counted 298 'fucks' when two episodes of Kitchen Nightmares were condensed into one last year. He said: I wasn't proud of that. There has come a time when I'm getting a bit tired of the foul-mouthed bully chef.

But Gordon admitted he won't be able to axe the F-words completely and turn into a touchy-feely chef.

Gordon's long-standing cooking colleague and Hell's Kitchen star Angela Hartnett urged him to soften his image. She said: People don't like the aggression so much. They no longer want to see him or Simon Cowell make people cry.

 

15th March   

Self Harm...

Royal College of Psychiatrists calls for internet ban on images of self harm
Link Here

Royal College of Psychitrists logo The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has called for internet images that "romanticise" self-harm to be removed after 50% rise in young people being admitted to hospital for deliberately cutting themselves.

There were 1,758 admissions for self-harm with a sharp object among people under 25 in 2004-5. This rose to 2,727 in 2008-9, according to the BBC research.

Dr Margaret Murphy, chair of the RCP child and adolescent faculty, said: The RCP is seriously concerned at the recent growth in the number of internet sites featuring images and video footage of young people engaging in self-harm and, in particular, websites which appear to promote self-harm.

 

15th March   

Offsite: The Infidel...

Religion and comedy: drawing the line before you get killed
Link Here

the infidel I've written and co-produced The Infidel , a movie about a Muslim who discovers that he was born a Jew, which comes out on April 9. As part of the build-up to the movie, the company behind it is running an online competition called Which Religion Is Funniest?, a nationwide search for the best religious joke.

All this will hopefully provoke, if not necessarily answer, all those questions that are worth asking when comedy and religion meet: when does a religious joke become a racist joke? Can a comedian joke only about his or her own religion? Is it the culture or the religion that is being laughed at? Is religion being laughed at, or with? And the big perennial, where do you draw the line?

Well, one place where you might perhaps draw the line is before you get killed. In Life of Brian times, making a film that some people thought was offensive to their faith led to nothing more frightening than a late-night TV argument with Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark; now, as Theo van Gogh can't tell you, blasphemy can have much more serious consequences. Because The Infidel is about Muslims and Jews, it's created around me a certain amount of what I might describe as God!-what-he-is-thinking-about?-ness. I don't personally feel that the movie is offensive to either community, but that didn't stop Simon Schama, who was at one of the early screenings, saying to me afterwards: I adored it. So funny. Get some security.

...Read the full article

Update: BBC pulled out of The Infidel production

14th April 2010. See  article from  freethinker.co.uk

The BBC had originally been a co-producer of The Infidel, but, says Baddiel, then got cold feet: The BBC changed character. The BBC became much more wary about doing anything that might be considered to be offensive, trouble making or whatever.

Update: Banned in Dubai

23rd August 2010. See  article from  cbc.ca

They've had strong sales of the film in the Middle East, though it didn't get past the censorship board in Dubai.

A distributor in conservative Iran, where Djalili has a big YouTube following, bought it, but Israel is so far a holdout.

 

15th March   

Offsite: Detecting Lies...

Academic paper doubting lie detector capability banned by libel
Link Here

francisco lacerda Francisco Lacerda, a professor of phonetics at Stockholm University, is one of two scientists threatened with legal action after the publication of a scientific article condemning the use of lie detectors. The Israeli company Nemesysco, which manufactures detectors, has written in a letter to the researchers' publishers that the researchers may be sued for libel if they continue to write on this subject in the future.

One year ago, Francisco Lacerda, a professor of linguistics at Stockholm University, and Anders Eriksson, professor of phonetics at the University of Gothenburg, published an article in the International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, a magazine for voice experts working for the police and security services. The article entitled "Charlatantry in forensic speech science" gave an overview of the last fifty years of research in the field of lie detectors. The article's conclusion is that there is no scientific evidence to show that lie detectors actually work.

...Read the full article

 

13th March   

Words Can Never Hurt Me...

Except in a British court where a man is fined for a Facebook insult
Link Here

Facebook logo A man has been ordered to pay £165 for calling his ex-girlfriend an 'offensive' name on Facebook.

Darren Mattox admitted posting a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character when he appeared at Wrexham Magistrates Court.

He used the word in a posting to ex-girlfriend Ashleigh Speed.

The Crown Persecution Service spokesman said: " There have probably been only a handful of cases resulting from offensive material either on Facebook or YouTube."

A spokeswoman for the Magistrates Association said: Its certainly not a common offence. I haven't come across it in the 20 years I've been sitting as a magistrate, but I imagine it may become more common.

Mattox admitted the offence. He was fined £65, plus £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Rod Williams, defending, said: Mattox went to see his son at hospital – that is the one and only time he has seen his son. He became increasingly angry and frustrated and it's because of this that he has posted these messages. There was a whole background of animosity. The comment certainly wasn't particularly abusive or offensive. He basically made a posting calling her an offensive name.

 

13th March   

Anna Span...

Noted British porn director to stand for parliament for the Lib Dems
Link Here

hug a hoodie Anna Arrowsmith, also known as Anna Span, is the new Liberal Democrat candidate for Gravesham in Kent.

She is also the auteur of hundreds of female-friendly porn films. Her neighbours in Tunbridge Wells may or may not be disgusted to learn that some of these, including Be My Toyboy , were shot in the front room.

Last year she won a battle with the British Board of Film Classification to be allowed to show a scene of female ejaculation.

She said that campaign was idealistic. It was about saying to the censors that you can't tell the women of this country what their bodies can or cannot do.

How seriously will the voters take Ms Arrowsmith, 38, on the election trail? She wants to be respected for her business and campaigning record but knows that her career will present a problem for some. There will be some people who will never like porn, she says. People approach sex in different ways. For some people it is only an emotional act. For others it is a variety of different acts. Some people will never accept that. They are probably the same people who never had a one-night stand. There will be some people who are conservative and very anti-porn. I think on the whole these days people are far more liberal.

What about the Liberals? Aren't some of them going to be affronted by a pornographer in their midst? I don't think so. On the whole they are a sexually liberated bunch.

Fed up with seeing porn films that focused on women pleasuring men she has carved a niche making films in which a third of shots show the woman, a third the man and a third the couple together. She says that the films she makes are humorous and that there is no airbrushing. Nearly half her customers are women, she says: Women definitely need this. She laughs at the idea that for all her talk of being a feminist she is really in pornography for the money. For years she made very little. Now, I do OK — nice house in Tunbridge Wells. No way am I the millionaire I thought I would be.

In her Tory-Labour marginal a Lib Dem victory is a long shot, but she is determined to become an MP eventually.

 

12th March   

Update: Big Mouth...

TV censor clears Vinnie Jones over the use of the word 'retard'
Link Here  full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

Vinne Jones Ofcom said that its TV programme code guarantees freedom of expression to broadcasters as well as the audience's right to view programmes without interference from the authorities.

It made the defence as it rejected a request, made by the mother of two disabled children, to discipline Channel 4 after Vinnie Jones said the word retard on a Big Brother off-shoot programme.

The regulator claimed it was editorially justified because the insult was directed at someone who is not disabled, and because viewers of the reality show expect a certain level of outspoken banter .

Lloyd Page, a spokesman for Mencap, the learning disability charity, said: As someone with a learning disability, I was disgusted and hurt to hear the word 'retard' used on Big Brother. We will never change people's attitudes if this sort of thing carries on. I hope Ofcom will realise why we want this to stop.

Nicky Clark, who made the complaint, added: Channel 4 has a commitment to ensure that diversity is fully and positively represented on its channel. If we are to have our faith restored in Channel 4's suitability to broadcast the Paralympics, it needs to show that it regrets this incident by apologising on air.

She had complained to Ofcom about an exchange shown on Channel 4's digital channel, E4, during an episode of Big Brother's Big Mouth in January this year.

Vinnie Jones was asked how he had known that Davina McCall, the presenter, had entered the Celebrity Big Brother house in a chicken costume rather than a fellow contestant. He replied that it was because she was walking like a retard , at which McCall laughed.

Ofcom rejected the complaint that the term was offensive, claiming that the context showed that it was not directed at anyone with any disabilities, and had been used light-heartedly.

 

10th March   

CleanFeed Force Fed...

Government bully ISPs who don't use IWF internet blocking
Link Here

IWF logo Public bodies have been banned from using internet companies that refuse to block a range of websites specified by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

The ban on public bodies signing contracts with companies that do not actively block paedophile sites was announced by the Office of Government Commerce.

In an instruction to all departments, agencies and quangos, it said that they should deal only with contractors who agreed to block a list of sites known to carry abusive images. The list, containing between 500 and 800 websites, is maintained by the IWF and updated twice daily.

An action note issued to all departments said the new policy applied to contracts with internet firms, mobile operators, search providers and filtering companies. The note said: The Government should lead by example and require its suppliers of internet services to deploy the list across services they provide to Government.

The move follows intensive lobbying of the Government by children's charities, which have long protested against the failure of internet providers to block illegal sites. John Carr, of the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, said he was delighted by the Government's action: Although almost all of the internet service providers active in the domestic market are blocking access to child abuse websites, some very large companies that supply internet connectivity in the business market are not doing so. We hope this will help them to change their mind. Now they have a business reason to do the right thing.

 

10th March   

Facing Down CEOP...

CEOP berates Facebook for not using its abuse reporting button
Link Here

emeregency stop The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) called on the social networking website Facebook to feature its alert button following the conviction of Peter Chapman for the murder of Ashleigh Hall. Chapman posed as a teenager on Facebook in order to 'groom' Ashleigh, 17, before raping and murdering her.

Jim Gamble, the chief executive of CEOP, said 267 reports of suspicious activity on Facebook had been received in 2009 but users had been unable to log their concerns directly with his agency. Facebook itself had brought only a handful of cases to the attention of the unit, which investigates online paedophile activity.

Facebook indicated that it would resist the demand to put the CEOP alert button on its site because it believed its own reporting system was adequate. Sources said that Ashleigh Hall had also made contact with her murderer via MSN chat sites, which do carry the CEOP button, but she did not use it to alert the authorities.

A spokesman for Facebook said: The safety of Facebook users is our top priority. We have reporting buttons on every page of our site and continue to invest heavily in creating the most robust reporting system to support our 400 million users.

Update: CEOP Advert to Appear on Facebook

13th July 2010. Based on article from  independent.co.uk

Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behaviour and access internet safety advice with the launch of a new application. Users of the social networking site will be able to access an advice centre from their homepage, where there will be a dedicated facility for reporting inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The facility is the result of a initiative between Facebook and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and users will be able to add the ClickCEOP service as an application to find information about online safety.

An advert for ClickCEOP will appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

 

6th March   

Updated: Copyright on Bad Ideas...

Lib Dem peers propose a state internet filtering law
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

House of Lords logo Not So Liberal Democrat peers have proposed a new clause for the Digital Economy Bill that sets the ball rolling for state internet filtering:

Lord Razzall and Lord Clement-Jones have proposed the following new clause

Preventing access to specified online locations

In Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, after section 97A insert—

97B Preventing access to specified online locations

(1) The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court.

(2) In determining whether to grant an injunction under subsection (1), the Court shall have regard to the following matters—

(a) whether a substantial proportion of the content accessible at or via each specified online location infringes copyright,

(b) the extent to which the operator of each specified online location has taken reasonable steps to prevent copyright infringing content being accessed at or via that online location or taken reasonable steps to remove copyright infringing content from that online location (or both),

(c) whether the service provider has itself taken reasonable steps to prevent access to the specified online location, and

(d) any other matters which appear to the Court to be relevant.

(3) An application for an injunction under subsection (1) shall be made on notice to the service provider and to the operator of each specified online location in relation to which an injunction is sought.

(4) Where—

(a) the Court grants an injunction under subsection (1) upon the application of an owner of copyright whose copyright is infringed by the content accessible at or via each specified online location in the injunction, and

(b) the owner of copyright before making the application made a written request to the service provider giving it a reasonable period of time to take measures to prevent its service being used to access the specified online location in the injunction, and no steps were taken, the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner's costs of the application unless there were exceptional circumstances justifying the service provider's failure to prevent access despite notification by the copyright owner.

(5) In this section—

copyright owner includes a licensee with an exclusive licence within the meaning of section 92 of this Act,

infringing content means content which is produced or made available in infringement of copyright,

online location means a location on the internet, a mobile data network or other data network at or via which copyright infringing content is accessible,

operator means a person or persons in joint or sole control of the decisions to make content accessible at or via an online location, and

service provider has the meaning given to it by section 97A(3) of this Act.

Update: Shared Interests

5th March 2010.

Lord Clement-Jones one of the proposers of the  new clause became the talk of the internet when it was noticed that he receives significant money from a law firm standing to gain from measures in the Digital Economy Bill

See Register of Interests from publications.parliament.uk

CLEMENT-JONES, Lord

Partner of DLA Piper (international law firm) and adviser to its global government relations practice.

The member is paid £70,000 in respect of his services as Co-Chairman of DLA Piper's global government relations practice

Update: Amendment Passed

5th March 2010. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

One of the most contentious parts of the controversial digital economy bill was voted down by the House of Lords last night – only to be replaced by a clause that campaigners say is even more draconian.

The Liberal Democrats forced through a surprise amendment to the bill's notorious clause 17 on Wednesday – in a move that dealt a defeat to the government but troubled critics, who suggest it will have the opposite effect that its creators intend.

Instead of sweeping new powers that threatened sweeping alterations to British copyright law, the Lib Dems added a clause that gives extra oversight to the high court.

The new proposal – which was passed in the House of Lords by 165 votes to 140 – gives a high court judge the right to issue an injunction against a website accused of hosting a substantial amount of copyright infringing material, potentially forcing the entire site offline.

Putting forward the amendment, Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones said that it would placate concerns over the so-called three strikes rule – which could see those accused of sharing files illegally online having their internet connections cut off – and added that it was a more proportionate, specific and appropriate way to approach infringement than the previous proposals made by the government.

But instead of making the proposed system more transparent and accountable, critics say it will simply leave it open to abuse.

This would open the door to a massive imbalance of power in favour of large copyright holding companies, said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. Individuals and small businesses would be open to massive 'copyright attacks' that could shut them down, just by the threat of action. This is exactly how libel law works today: suppressing free speech by the unwarranted threat of legal action. The expense and the threat are enough to create a 'chilling effect'.

In particular, there are concerns that the amendment could follow in the footsteps of America's controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been accused of encouraging companies to file bogus copyright claims to block material they dislike.

The high costs and dangers of dealing with copyright claims in court mean that many web hosts simply take down the material in question without checking whether the copyright case is legitimate – even going as far as shutting down entire websites in some cases.

The new amendment could also have dire implications for websites like YouTube, where users can upload copyright-infringing material without the knowledge of the site's owners.

Update: A Good Summary from Metro

6th March 2010. Based on article from metro.co.uk

Metro Video-sharing websites such as YouTube could be blocked in Britain after a last-minute change to a new law

They are facing a major clampdown on using copyright material under an amendment passed by the House of Lords.

The change grants TV and music companies the right to demand their material is taken down. If the request is refused, they can take their challenge to court, where high legal costs will make it pointless to launch a defence.

Under the new law, copyright holders must ask ISPs and the website itself to remove the material or any links to other sites hosting it. If it is not taken down, a court order can force the ISP to block the site.

The amendment is aimed at websites with substantial amounts of copyrighted material. However, critics say the law, which is set to be passed in April, is unclear about what substantial means and that it is unfair to block an entire site over a few minor breaches. They say ISPs would simply shut out a site rather than risk the high legal costs of defending a case.

Nicholas Lansman, secretary-general of the Internet Service Providers Association, said: Our members are extremely concerned that the full implications of the amendment have not been understood.

 

5th March   

Updated: Threatening to Make a Mockery of the Law...

Campaigner prosecuted for religious hatred with claims that cartoons are 'threatening'
Link Here
Adam paintng

  By the way, I've just invented blasphemy
Thought you'd like a bit of fun

A campaigning atheist who left leaflets mocking Jesus Christ, the Pope and the Koran in the prayer room of an international airport has gone on trial charged with religious harassment.

The materials left by Harry Taylor at Liverpool's John Lennon airport included one image showed a smiling Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of no nails glue. In another, Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise are told: Stop, stop, we've run out of virgins.

A further cartoon showed two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption: Not for women or gays, obviously.

Taylor, a self-styled philosophy tutor, denied bearing a grudge against people of faith and said he was only trying to convert believers to atheism. He said: The airport is named after John Lennon and his views on religion were pretty much the same as mine. I thought that it was an insult to his memory to have a prayer room in the airport.

The leaflets were discovered by Nicky Lees, the airport chaplain, who told the court she felt deeply offended and insulted by their contents. [But didn't mention feeling threatened].

Outlining the case against Taylor, prosecutor Neville Biddle said that he had gone beyond freedom of expression by leaving the insulting, threatening and abusive images in a room used for worship. He said: Of course people have a right to speak freely and have a right to insult people. It is one of the most important rights we have and it must be jealously guarded ...BUT... it is a right not without some prescription. Mr Taylor exceeded that right.

The defendant from Salford, Greater Manchester is charged with three counts of religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress under the Crime and Disorder Act. The alleged offences took place on separate dates in November and December 2008.

Taylor denied the charges and said it was preposterous to suggest that people could be incited to violence by the cartoons. He said: I am not hostile to religious people but I am hostile to religion. He told the court that he adapted cartoons cut out of newspaper and magazines like Private Eye and added captions of his own.

The images shown to the jury included a drawing of the Pope with a condom on his finger, and a picture of a woman kneeling in front of a Catholic priest captioned with a crude pun. In another image sausages were were labelled as The Koran .

The trial continues.

Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Based on article from opsi.gov.uk

29A Meaning of “religious hatred”

In this Part “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.
Acts intended to stir up religious hatred

29B Use of words or behaviour or display of written material

(1) A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.

29C Publishing or distributing written material

(1) A person who publishes or distributes written material which is threatening is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.

29J Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.

Update: A Disgraceful Verdict

5th March 2010. Based on article from liverpooldailypost.co.uk

The jury of ten women and two men, at Liverpool Crown Court took just 15 minutes to find Harry Taylor guilt of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress after viewing the grossly abusive and insulting images in court.

Harry Taylor is now on bail awaiting sentencing on 23 April. Religiously aggravated offences carry a potential seven-year prison term.

The National Secular Society have supported Taylor. They claim that new laws dealing with religiously aggravated offences amount to a blasphemy law in another guise.

Terry Sanderson, president of the society, said: This is a disgraceful verdict, but an inevitable one under this pernicious law. It seems incredible in the 21st Century that you might be sent to prison because someone is 'offended' by your views on their religion . . . Mr Taylor struck me as slightly eccentric and he acted in a provocative way, challenging the necessity for the prayer room. He didn't cause any damage and he didn't harm anything, nor was he threatening or abusive. Yet he might still end up behind bars because some Christian has decided they are offended.

In a multicultural society, none of us should have the legal right not to be offended. This law needs to be re-examined urgently.

 

4th March   

Offsite: Michael Foot...

Free speech campaigner and politician dies aged 96
Link Here

Michael Foot Kenneth O Morgan Michael Foot was not only a principled politician, writes Paul Anderson. The former Labour party leader was a passionate journalist and a lifelong defender of free expression

Michael Foot, who has died at the age of 96, is best remembered these days as a politician — and a very important one he was too. He was the leader of the left in the Labour Party from the late 1950s until he took a government job in the 1974 Labour government, and then was Labour leader from 1980 to 1983.

But before that — and after that — he was primarily a journalist, and probably the most consistently active campaigner in Britain for freedom of speech in general and journalistic liberties in particular during the 1940s and 1950s.

...Read full article

 

2nd March   

Update: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee...

Britain to ban open Wi-Fi hotspots
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

free wifi logo The government will not exempt universities, libraries and small businesses providing open Wi-Fi services from its Digital Economy Bill copyright crackdown, according to official advice released earlier this week.

This would leave many organisations open to the same penalties for copyright infringement as individual subscribers, potentially including disconnection from the internet, leading legal experts to say it will become impossible for small businesses and the like to offer Wi-Fi access.

Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in an explanatory document would effectively outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses , and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position.

This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in, Edwards said.

Even if they password protect, they then have two options — to pay someone like The Cloud to manage it for them, or take responsibility themselves for becoming an ISP effectively, and keep records for everyone they assign connections to, which is an impossible burden for a small café.

In the explanatory document, Lord Young, a minister at BIS, described common classes of public Wi-Fi access, and explained that none of them could be protected. Libraries, he said, could not be exempted because this would send entirely the wrong signal and could lead to 'fake' organisations being set up, claiming an exemption and becoming a hub for copyright infringement .

Young added that free or coffee shop access tends to be too low-bandwidth to support file-sharing and, under the bill, such a service is more likely to receive notification letters as a subscriber than as an ISP . He recommended that they secure their connections and install privacy controls, to reduce the possibility of infringement with any cases on appeal being considered on their merits .

 

2nd March   

Update: Sexualisation of Young People Review...

The 36 recommendations
Link Here

Sexualisation of Young People Review The government  commissioned  a report, Sexualisation of Young People Review , from Dr Linda Papadopoulos.

For completeness here is the full list of recommendations  No doubt the government will take it as inspiration for more censorship.

Education and schools

1) All school staff to have training on gender equality. Specialist training should be given to those who teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and citizenship.

2) The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to issue statutory guidance to schools to promote a whole school approach to tackling gender inequality, sexual and sexist bullying and violence against women and girls.

3) References on sexualisation, gender stereotypes and pornography to be included in DCSF's revised Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) guidance for schools. New SRE resource materials should be made available for teachers who work with children with special education needs and learning difficulties.

4) Schools to ensure that all incidents of sexual bullying are recorded and reported separately to other forms of bullying.

5) New practical How To guidance on tackling sexualisation is disseminated to all schools.

6) Primary schools should make specific reference to the influence of the media on body image and personal identity within a new programme of study on 'Understanding Physical Development, Health and Wellbeing'.

7) A module on gender equality, sexualisation and sexist/sexual bullying be developed as part of the DCSF's Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme.

8) Media literacy should be taught not only through PSHE education but also through English, drama, the arts, history and citizenship.

9) More investment in youth workers to enable them to work with young people outside of mainstream education around the issues of sexuality, sexist and sexual bullying and gender equality.

10) The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to further develop its current online resource centre where parents can access internet safety advice.

11) Digital literacy to be made a compulsory part of the national curriculum for children from the age of five.

12) The government should work with internet service providers to block access to pro-anorexia ('pro-ana') and pro-bulimia ('pro-mia') websites.

13) A schools campaign to be developed which promotes positive role models for young men and young women and challenges gender stereotypes.

14) Schools should encourage girls to value their bodies in terms of their physical ability. This should be linked to the work of the 2012 Get Set education programme.

15) Local Authorities must be accountable for treating victims of child sexual abuse and ensure that specialist services receive adequate funding for the treatment of children who have been abused.

16) One-to-one confidential help in school/college from a trained professional such as a psychologist to be made available to every child and young person.

Media and awareness-raising

17) A national campaign to be launched to address the issue of teenage relationship abuse, including a specific pack for primary and secondary schools so that they can build on issues arising from the campaign.

18) A working group of high profile women in media together with academics should be set up to monitor and address gender inequality in the media.

19) The establishment of a media award that promotes diverse, aspirational and non-sexualised portrayals of young people.

20) The government to launch an online one-stop-shop to allow the public to voice their concerns regarding irresponsible marketing which sexualises children with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action. The website could help inform future government policy by giving parents a forum to raise issues of concern regarding the sexualisation of young people.

21) Information on body image, selfesteem, eating disorders and e-safety to be included in the government's proposed Positive Parenting booklets for parents of older children.

22) The government should support the Adversing Standards Agency (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites.

23) The introduction of a system of ratings symbols for photographs to show the extent to which they have been altered. This is particularly critical in magazines targeting teen and pre-teen audiences.

24) The content of outdoor advertisements to be vetted by local authorities as part of their gender equality duty to ensure that images and messages are not offensive on the grounds of gender.

25) Broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed.

26) The current gap in the regulatory protection provided by the Video Recordings Act 1984 to be closed by removing the general exemption for 'works concerned with music'.

27) Regulation of UK-based video on demand services to be strengthened to ensure that they do not allow children to access hardcore pornography.

28) Games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to unlock the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.

29) This idea should be extended to 'child friendly' computers and mobile phones where adult content is filtered out by default.

Working with businesses and retailers

30) The government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate responsibility with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups.

31) The existing voluntary code for retailers regarding the placements of 'lads' mags' should be replaced by a mandatory code. Lads mags' should be clearly marked as recommended for sale only to persons aged 15 and over.

32) The government overturns its decision to allow vacancies for jobs in the adult entertainment industry to be advertised by Jobcentre Plus.

Research

33) A new academic periodical to be established and an annual conference series should be held focusing solely on the topic of sexualisation.

34) Funding be made available for research that will strengthen the current evidence base on sexualisation. This should include trend research into teenage partner violence and frequency of sexual bullying and abuse.

35) Clinical outcome research to be funded and supported to find the most effective ways to identify, assess and work with the perpetrators and victims of child sexual abuse.

36) A detailed examination of media literacy programmes should be carried out jointly by the DCSF, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

 

1st March   

Update: Po-faced Thought Police...

Race relations watchdog unimpressed by police over-reaction to Anyone But England football shirts
Link Here  full story: Anyone but England...Police investigate football shirt banter

Anyone But England T-Shirt The race relations watchdog has dismissed police concerns over Anyone But England World Cup T-shirts being sold in Scotland, describing the garments as harmless fun.

Trevor Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that the slogan was good natured banter that was unlikely to cause offence .

His comments come after Grampian Police asked Slanj, an Aberdeen-based kilt-maker, to consider removing a window display of T-shirts because of its potential to cause disturbance .

Phillips said the commission would react swiftly to any serious evidence of racism, but over-reacting to jokes risked making it appear like po-faced thought police .

 

28th February   

Updated: Labour Growing Up Obsessed by Sexualisation...

Home Office propose UK censorship measures to curtail child 'sexualisation'
Link Here

Sexualisation of Young People Review A review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has just been published.

Commissioned by the Home Office, the review forms part of the government's strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence.

Key recommendations include:

  • the government to launch an online one-stop-shop to allow the public to voice their concerns about marketing which may sexualise children, with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action.
     
  • the government should support the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites
     
  • broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed
     
  • the government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate compliance with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups
     
  • games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to unlock the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.
     
  • lads' mags to be confined to newsagents' top shelves and only sold to over-15s
     
  • a ratings system on magazine and advertising photographs showing the extent to which they have been airbrushed or digitally altered.
     
  • The exemption of music videos from the 1984 Video Recordings Act should be ended. The report in particular criticises lyrics by N-Dubz and 50 Cent for their tendency to sexualise women or refer to them in a derogatory manner, and singles out the rap artist Nelly for a video showing him swiping a credit card through a young woman's buttocks. But it adds that, while degrading sexual content is most apparent in rap-rock, rap, rap-metal and R&B, it is to be found across all music genres.
     
  • jobcentres should be banned from advertising vacancies at escort agencies, lapdancing clubs and massage parlours.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: We will now consider the full list of recommendations in more detail and continue to ensure that young people's development and well-being are a top priority.

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said:

Children today are growing up in a complex and changing world and they need to learn how to stay safe and resist inappropriate pressures. That is why we are making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory so that we can teach children about the real life issues they will face as they grow up.

PSHE already includes teaching about advertising and body image and from 2011 will include issues around violence against women and girls. The PSHE curriculum is age appropriate to give children and young people the right information at the right time to help them make the best choices and to develop their confidence.

Offsite: Let children be children

28th February 2008. See article from guardian.co.uk by Frank Furedi

Frank FurediWe can't hide all sexual images from children but we can stop reading their behaviour through a prism of adult motives

It is difficult not to feel disturbed by the sexualisation of childhood. We live in a world where a significant proportion of 11-year-olds have been regularly exposed to pornography and where many actually believe that what they see is an accurate depiction of real-life relationships.

It is tempting to panic in response to this development and lose sight of the real problem. Sadly, the Home Office report published today proposes the tired old strategy of protecting children from exposure to sexual imagery. The report's addiction to banning and censoring is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. The real problem is not simply inappropriate sexual imagery but a highly sexualised adult imagination that continually recycles its anxieties through children.

...Read the full article

Offsite: The inevitable nonsense from the Daily Mail

28th February 2008. See article from dailymail.co.uk by Liz Jones

She Wolf Shakira The woman is naked - or looks like she is. Only a flesh-coloured leotard covers her body. Her long blonde hair tumbles down her back. She's in a cage, sliding her fingers provocatively in and out of her mouth.

A scene from a cliched pornographic film? Sadly not. The woman in question is Shakira, a pop superstar and the fourth richest singer in the world.

The images can be seen in the video for her single, She Wolf , which will be watched obsessively, again and again, by thousands of young men and women, many of whom will form the opinion that writhing in a cage is precisely the way sexy women should behave.

 

27th February   

The Devils...

Warner Brothers are sitting on the Director's Cut of The Devils
Link Here

Devils Special Restored Vanessa Redgrave Mark Kermode points out that, despite being finished and waiting on the shelf for five years, the director's cut of The Devils has still not been released by Warner Brothers.

Mr. Kermode also says in his video blog Kermode Uncut - film school 101:deadpossessfilm school 101   that film fans should try and do something to remedy such apparent inactivity.

Thus, I thought it appropriate to forward this suggestion so any fans can participate in the debate should they wish to.

 

27th February   

Update: Dangerous Books...

Salman Rushdie to tell his story about life under threat of death
Link Here  full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world

Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie is to write a book about the decade he spent in hiding while living under a fatwa issued by the then-Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini.

Rushdie said: It's my story, and at some point it needs to be told. That point is getting closer, I think, added Rushdie.

Rushdie was forced into hiding in 1989 when Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill the author, claiming that his book The Satanic Verses insulted Islam.

At one point the bounty on Rushdie's head rose to £1.8m. The Japanese translator of the work was killed, the Norwegian and Italian translators barely survived assassination attempts, and an attempt on the life of the Turkish translator in 1993 resulted in a riot causing the deaths of 37 intellectuals who had gathered in Sivas, Turkey, for a cultural festival.

D'Souza doubts that the book will be a straight diary . There are a huge number of incidents that people may not be aware of, she said. There were times when he was absolutely under threat. But he will make it into a novel of a kind.

 

26th February   

Updated: Shrink Me Windows...

Odeon cinemas refuse to show Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Link Here

Alice Wonderland Blu ray Johnny Depp Tim Burton's new film version of Alice in Wonderland will not be screened at Odeon cinemas in the UK, Irish Republic and Italy, the cinema chain says.

The move is in response to the Disney studio's plan to reduce the period in which it can be shown only in cinemas from the standard 17 weeks.

Odeon said it would set a new benchmark, leading to a 12-week window becoming rapidly standard .

Odeon's decision will not affect the film's Royal premiere on Thursday, which is coincidentally set to take place at the Odeon Leicester Square in central London. Nor will it affect its plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria - territories where Disney intends to observe the normal DVD release window.

The Odeon & UCI Cinema Group is Britain's largest cinema chain with more than 100 sites nationwide.

Disney told the BBC that one of the main reasons for the decision was to bring the film to customers more quickly, thereby helping to beat piracy. It said if a cinema stopped showing a film before the 17 week exclusivity period, the audience did not have a legitimate way to see the movie - potentially leading to piracy.

Update: Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

26th February 2010. Based on article from homemediamagazine.com

In another win for packaged media and The Walt Disney Co, Great Britain's Odeon Cinema Group said it has agreed to shorten the theatrical window for the March 5 2D/3D release of Alice in Wonderland to 12 weeks from the typical 17-week run.

Odeon also reported it will show Alice in Wonderland in its cinemas in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria. The largest theatrical chain in the United Kingdom, with 834 screens, earlier this week threatened to boycott the fantasy adventure film staring Johnny Depp after Disney asked European theater operators to scale back the release window so it could expedite the title's retail availability on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

 

25th February   

Update: Would You let this Man Censor the Internet?...

Opposition unites against powers to let the government change censorship of the internet without consultation
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Blair Revolution Revisited Peter Mandelson Controversial proposals that would give Lord Mandelson unprecedented powers to amend censorship laws will be jettisoned next week when the Government suffers the first large defeat of its flagship media plans.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat lords will unite to vote down Clause 17 of the Digital Economy Bill, which has been criticised by internet giants such as Google and Yahoo!, when the Bill is put to vote in its report stage.

The Government maintains that the plans are necessary to future proof the Bill against emerging methods of piracy.

But internet firms and the Opposition said that despite attempts by Lord Mandelson to water down the proposals and increase parliamentary scrutiny of any fast-tracked legislation, via measures such as a 60-day consultation period, the proposals still allowed ministers to impose arbitrary measures.

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative Shadow Culture Secretary, said his party will vote against the clause next week. He added: The Government has failed to address any of the concerns we raised with them. They still want a wide ranging and unconstitutional power yet can't tell us what they want to use it for.

 

25th February   

Anyone But England...

Police have a word with Scottish T-Shirt company
Link Here  full story: Anyone but England...Police investigate football shirt banter

Anyone But England T-Shirt A Scottish clothing company has been warned by police over t-shirts expressing the hope that Anyone but England wins this summer's World Cup. World Cup Anyone but England t-shirt.

Police have warned proprietors of the Slanj clothing store in Aberdeen that the garment could cause offence.

An impromptu visit from an officer raising concerns over the shirt's sentiments left staff at the shop flabbergasted .

The visit was not in response to a complaint, and no action has been taken against the company.

However, Grampian Police claim that they would be neglecting their duty if the matter was not addressed.

PC Kirk Hemmings said: The primary role of any police force is to preserve the peace and we would be failing in our duty if we did not make people aware of the potential for disturbance such a window display could cause. The Grampian area, in common with the rest of the country, has recorded incidents relating to nationality and we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that incidents of this nature are kept to a minimum.

Ross Lyle of Slanj said: To be honest we're absolutely flabbergasted: We have been selling this T-shirt for the past three months and we've had a great response. Even the English people who come into the store think it's a laugh and just a bit of tongue-in-cheek football banter.

The t-shirt is described on Slanj's website as A light hearted dig at our English neighbours and their prospects in the forthcoming World Cup, not that we're bitter or anything, just because we didnae qualify!

 

24th February   

Update: Fighting Back Quacks...

Simon Singh has his day in the Court of Appeal
Link Here

Pen protest at courtSimon Singh's libel case v the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was heard at the Court of Appeal in front of three of the most senior judges in England and Wales: Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley.

They heard arguments from both barristers on the meaning of Simon's article and on whether it was fact or comment and their judgment is expected in 6 - 8 weeks. A crowd of supporters greeted Simon as he arrived at the court.

Simon said after the hearing: First of all, thanks to everyone who came to the Court of Appeal today, and everyone who has been so supportive over the last two years. Without your goodwill, I probably would have caved in a long time ago.

I am delighted the Court of Appeal has decided to reconsider the meaning of my article about chiropractic, and I am particularly glad that three such eminent judges will make the ruling. They grilled both sides on all aspects of the appeal. However I should stress that whatever the outcome there is still a long way to go in this libel case. It has been almost two years since the article was published, and yet we are still at a preliminary stage of identifying the meaning of my article. It could easily take another two years before the case is resolved.

More important than my particular case is the case for libel reform and I know that you share my concern on this matter. My greatest desire is that journalists in future should not have to endure such an arduous and expensive libel process, which has already affected the careers of health journalists such as Ben Goldacre, and which is currently bearing down on the eminent cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst. If Peter loses his case then he will be bankrupted. Please continue to spread the word about libel reform.

Simon's solicitor Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave LLP said: It was encouraging to see three such senior judges taking such an interest in the appeal, and the BCA's counsel was given a thorough grilling by the court. What was significant was that the Lord Chief Justice said he was surprised that the BCA had not taken the opportunity offered them back in 2008 to publish their side of the story in the Guardian, rather than insisting Simon apologise and beginning proceedings. He also said it was a waste of both parties' time and effort. I hope that this is borne in mind by MPs when they grapple with the need for libel reform.

 

24th February   

Turning the Airwaves Brown...

Paxman forced to apologise after reading Gordon Brown's words
Link Here

Jeremy PaxmanNews presenter Jeremy Paxman was forced to apologise after he read out a swear word live on Newsnight.

The presenter was interviewing journalist Andrew Rawnsley, whose book The End Of The Party has triggered accusations of bullying against Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Reading a passage from the book, Paxman said: Brown went berserk with [US political advisor] Bob Shrum. 'How could you do this to me, Bob?' Brown screamed at a shaking Shrum. 'How could you fucking do this to me? '

Immediately after reciting the quote, Paxman was told by his editor to issue a full apology for repeating the swear word.

Apparently I'm told by our editor I have to apologise for quoting what you said the Prime Minister said, so honour satisfied now, he said during the live broadcast.

 

24th February   

Offsite: Today is a good day for free expression...

Select Committee reports on privacy and libel
Link Here

House of Commons logoWhen the culture, media and sport select committee began its work more than a year ago, many feared the worst.

Yet the more they probed and the more they heard from organisations defending free expression, the more the MPs began to understand the vital need to distinguish between investigative journalism, a noble cause, and prurient journalism, a less salutary one. Some aspects of the report are disappointing. One that relates to privacy is potentially alarming. On balance though this is an important step forward, giving cross-party support for fundamental change to England's hideous libel laws.

The committee details the enormous costs faced by publications, particularly small ones, in defending themselves. The report criticises law firms for deliberately stringing out suits so they can ratchet up costs and force people into settling and apologising, even where they have nothing to apologise for. It stops short of reversing the burden of proof, but it does suggest reinforcing the defence in court for brave reporting and making it harder for companies to sue to protect their reputations. The committee's chairman, the Conservative MP John Whittingdale, says he and his colleagues were eager to correct the balance which has tipped too far in favour of the plaintiff .

The MPs denounce the ease with which foreign-based oligarchs, sheikhs and their like have used avaricious legal firms and pliant judges to chill the free speech of NGOs, authors and others – so much so that US Congress has considered legislation to protect Americans from British courts. They criticise Jack Straw, the justice secretary, for not tackling the problem of libel tourism , and the damage to the country's reputation, describing the measures taken by US legislators as a humiliation.

...Read full article

See also article from business.timesonline.co.uk

Rules for reporting:

  • No legislation on privacy
  • Press Complaints Commission to recommend prior notification to the subject of articles, subject to a public interest test
  • A new law to clarify Parliamentary privilege and ensure free and fair reporting
  • The burden of proof should be reversed in the case of big corporations so that they must prove libel and not the defendant
  • Action to curb the use of super-injunctions and research to discover the extent of their use
  • A new regulator, a Press Complaints and Standards Commission, with powers to fine and halt publications

 

22nd February   

Ofcom Bare their Fangs...

Man with talent for eating snakes alive does not impress the TV censor.
Link Here

Snake eater on ARY Dum Hai Tou Entertain Kar
ARY Digital, 3 December 2009, 11:00

ARY Digital is a general entertainment channel serving a UK Pakistani audience, and is broadcast on cable and satellite platforms.

Dum Hai Tou Entertain Kar ( Entertain, if You Dare ) is a Pakistani talent show.

Ofcom received a complaint that in this particular episode a contestant came on stage with a live snake and proceeded to bite the live snake's head off, and then skin the snake with his hands and teeth while continuing to eat it. The complainant considered this content was inappropriate for broadcast.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3 (children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling)
  • Rule 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision:   Breach of 1.3 and 2.3

In this case, a talent show contestant was shown bringing a live snake on stage. After holding the live snake in his teeth, the contestant was then shown biting the snake's head off. The programme then continued to show the contestant biting into the snake and gradually ripping off and eating the skin and flesh of the animal to leave just its skeleton.

Ofcom noted that this whole sequence lasted several minutes and, at several times, the shocked reactions of both the studio audience and two judges were shown on screen. Ofcom considered that this explicit and graphic killing, and then eating, of a snake by the talent show contestant was clearly unsuitable for children and had the potential to cause offence to viewers in general.

This is because the snake was clearly alive before its head was bitten off and no measures appeared to have been taken before the killing to lessen any pain; the contestant proceeded to skin and then devour the snake's flesh in front of the audience; the whole sequence lasted several minutes, including a number of close ups; and the sequence was designed purely for entertainment.

In Ofcom's view this material was not appropriately scheduled so as to provide the necessary protection to child viewers. The programme was broadcast at a time when there was a material chance that children, including some of the very youngest children, may have been in the audience. As a consequence, Ofcom considered that this was a breach of Rule 1.3.

Concerning Rule 2.3, for the reasons set out above this material had the potential to offend. The issue was therefore whether it was justified by the context.

This offensive content was not justified by the context which primary purpose is a programme to entertain the audience and was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

Ofcom considered that ARYs' compliance procedures have been shown to be seriously inadequate by this case. In particular, we are concerned that the broadcaster had not viewed this particular episode at all prior to broadcast. Instead on its own admission it based its compliance decisions for this programme, and the whole series from which it came, on viewing only one episode in this series.

In addition, we are concerned that despite attempts to communicate with its transmission department following the 2 December broadcast, ARY was not able to prevent the programme, including the Snake Contestant content, being repeated on 3 December 2009.

Breach of 1.3 and 2.3

 

21st February   

Update: Unsafe Propaganda...

Government to tell TV producers to include more references to condoms and STDs
Link Here

Dept of Health logoThe Government will this week order television chiefs to include more references to condoms and sexually transmitted diseases in their story lines.

Officials will reveal that they have analysed popular TV shows and concluded that not enough sex scenes feature the characters discussing contraception.

A report, called Mis-selling Sex , to be launched by the Department of Health, will call on television writers to include more dialogue about condoms and plot lines featuring the consequences of unsafe sex such as unwanted pregnancies and disease.

It will also call for more slang words to be used in order to connect with teenagers. Gillian Merron, the Public Health Minister, said: Young people relate to the programmes they watch on TV, so it's important that they see both realistic and responsible portrayals of sex and contraception.

It's not for Government to say what happens on TV ...BUT... we can have conversations with broadcasters to help them have a more positive impact on attitudes to sex. I'm encouraged that some broadcasters are working to address these issues, and hope others will follow suit.

Her report analysed 350 episodes of programmes popular with 16-24 year olds including EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Holby City, Home & Away and Neighbours . American favourites such as CSI, My Name is Earl, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Desperate Housewives were also studied.

Researchers found that only 7% of sexual content featured discussion of safe sex. Of the 102 encounters of actual sex, only three couples used condoms. 13% of sexual encounters where contraception was not featured dealt with any kind of consequence, such as pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Of the 99 instances of unsafe sex, nine characters regretted their behaviour.

 

21st February   

Potential for Abuse...

Scottish ministers consider new offence of sending threatening or harassing emails
Link Here

Kenny MacAskillMinisters in Scotland are considering a new law which would help stop people stalking and harassing their victims by text or online.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill wants a new offence outlawing threatening, alarming or distressing behaviour .

The government will seek to change this by lodging an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill, which is going through parliament.

Once the new powers are enshrined in law they will give prosecutors the ability to act against stalkers who send threatening messages via email, text, phone calls and on internet sites such as Facebook.

MacAskill said: Stalking can be a deeply frightening crime for victims and we want to ensure that the small minority of perpetrators who engage in this criminal activity are brought to justice. We want to send out the message loud and clear that if you carry out this offence, there will be no escape, there will be no wriggle room to exploit and you will be met with by the full force of law.

A government spokesman said the proposed offence would cover not only the sending of threatening or harassing emails, text messages or phone calls, but also persistent following, pursuing or spying on someone.

 

21st February   

Update: A Sexualised Government...

Government report to recommend magazine age ratings and photoshop warning on all glamour images
Link Here  full story: Photoshopped Models...Campaigners to ban photoshopped adverts

Zoo MagazineChildren are being sexualised from an increasingly early age by computer games, pornography and sex-related slogans, a government report will warn.

The study was written by clinical psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos for the Home Office. She said: Little boys are always told 'aren't you clever, aren't you strong'. Little girls are told 'aren't you pretty?' even in 2010. They are adhering to what society expects and internalising behaviours.

Papadopoulos cited the example of the computer game Miss Bimbo , where the aim of the game is to accumulate boob jobs and marry a billionaire.

The report, due out later this month, will suggest imposing age restrictions on lads' magazine such as Zoo and Nuts and introducing a symbol to signify when a image in a magazine has been airbrushed.

Papadopoulos told the Times Educational Supplement: It's a drip-drip effect. Look at porn stars and look at how the average girls looks now. We are hypersexualising girls, telling them their desirability relies on being desired. They want to please at any cost. And we are hypermasculinising boys. Many feel they can't live up to the porn ideal, sleeping with lots of women.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: We know that many parents are concerned about the pressures that their teenage and even pre-teen daughters are under to appear sexually available at a younger and younger age, and about the negative impact this may be having on boys too.

 

19th February   

Update: Hard Apology...

US campaign against the word 'retard' comes to the UK
Link Here  full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

Vinne Jones The retard controversy swirling around public figures in the US has also been noted in the UK.

Channel 4 has 'enraged' disability charities and disabled people, with its initial refusal to apologize for the Channel 4 program Big Brother's Big Mouth , broadcast on 29.1.10, in which Vinnie Jones accused Davina McCall of walking like a retard, and gave the audience a demonstration of what a retard walks like. Davina McCall responded by saying: I do not walk like a retard.

Channel 4 originally said that participants should be able to talk without censure, but after an active Facebook campaign by disabled people and groups did apologize privately to two individuals. A spokesman admitted that the original defensive response was a mistake and there should have been an on-air apology.

It has now made its apology public, saying: We would normally respond to an inappropriate comment of that nature by asking the presenter to admonish the person responsible and apologize to the audience, but on this occasion, this did not happen. We have removed their comments from the Video on Demand version of the program.

A spokesman for Vinnie Jones said: On behalf of Vinnie Jones I'd like to apologisze for any offense caused by comments made on Big Brother's Big Mouth on January 29th 2010. While the show was live and the conversation was unscripted and off the cuff, Vinnie in no way meant to upset anyone and fully appreciates the choice of word was inappropriate.

The matter has gone to Ofcom which has ruled against the first complaint from Nicky Clark, who runs a campaign to boost disabled talent on-screen, saying that although the matter was sensitive the word was not aimed against people with a learning disability. How strange, then, that so many people with a learning disability feel it was! As Mark Goldring, the chief executive of the learning disability, Mencap, comments, it's both offensive and insulting.

 

19th February   

Update: Press Censor Escapes Ban...

Parliamentary committee considers PCC and libel reform
Link Here

PCC logoTougher powers for the Press Complaints Commission and an end to the right of companies to sue for libel will be proposed next week in a long awaited report by MPs. But the much criticised press watchdog will escape calls for its abolition or for any form of state regulation of the press.

The PCC needs a radical shake-up to turn it into a body that is proactive, rigorous and is taken seriously by the public, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will say. New powers could extend to halting the printing of a newspaper edition. John Whittingdale, the committee's chairman, says the watchdog should also have the ability to impose large fines.

The commission has come under fire this week for failing to uphold complaints about a Daily Mail article into the death last October of the Boyzone singer Stephen Gately. The column attracted 25,000 complaints from readers who perceived it to be homophobic. But the PCC said it should be slow to prevent columnists from expressing their views, however controversial they might be . It was a point of principle that newspapers could print views that might offend people, it said.

The complaint made to the PCC that the Daily Mail's column on Gately's death was inaccurate, intrusive and discriminatory was not upheld. Gately died at his holiday home on the island of Majorca. His civil partner Andrew Cowles made a complaint to the PCC about what had been written by the columnist Jan Moir. The PCC said that it could fully understand why Cowles and a record number of complainants were upset, but ruled that Moir's comments had not breached press guidelines.

In a second move that will please media organisations, the committee is expected to reject calls by Max Mosley, the former Formula One chief, for victims of media exposés to be notified in advance. There are fears that a requirement for prior notification will lead to judges imposing injunctions that would prevent many investigative stories going to print.

A third key recommendation expected in the report, to be published next week, is that businesses with more than ten employees will lose the right to sue for defamation.

The wideranging report by MPs will cover press standards, privacy, libel and libel tourism , super-injunctions and costs in defamation cases.

 

17th February   

Offsite: Named as Incompetent...

Government retreats over Internet Domain Name Registries
Link Here

House of Lords logoOur previous blog article: Digital Economy Bill 2009 seeks to crush UK Internet Domain Registry industry with bureaucratic red tape and unfair legal costs was almost correct in its analysis of just how appallingly badly draughted clauses 18 to 20 of the notorious twice disgraced, unelected, Labour Minister Mandelson's Digital Economy (destruction of) Bill was, as originally published:

Digital Economy Bill [HL] House of Lords debates, 26 January 2010,

Lord Young of Norwood Green (Government Whip; Labour): I turn to the amendments in question. Following representations made by the industry, the Government realised that the scope of the domain name provisions in the Bill could have unintended consequences.

Specifically, the definitions in Clause 18 as currently drafted would bring any organisation or company in the UK that runs its own name server within the scope of the powers-that was not intended.

Similarly, the UK-based domain name registry operations of some third countries are also caught. Again, that is not what the Government had in mind when they proposed this draft legislation.

...Read full article

 

15th February   

Offsite: A Legal Reminder...

Server location is ruled irrelevant to the internet posting of racially inflammatory material
Link Here

Old BaileyThe law of England and Wales applies to material published online, even if it is hosted on a server in another country, the Court of Appeal has ruled. As long as a substantial measure of the activities takes place in England, its law will apply, it said.

Two men's appeals against convictions for publishing racially inflammatory material were based on their claim that the law of England and Wales should not apply because the material in question was hosted on a server in California in the US.

The Court of Appeal rejected that claim, saying that according to a precedent set in a previous case domestic law will apply so long as much of the activity in question took place in the UK.

Lawyers for the two men also argued that there was no actual publication of the material because there was no actual proof that anybody had read it. The Court of Appeals dismissed this claim.

Lord Justice Scott Baker said: The point that there cannot be publication without a publishee is in our judgment fundamentally misconceived, he said. It is based on an irrelevant comparison with the law of libel. Libel is a tort or civil wrong where it is necessary for the claimant to prove that the words complained of were published of him and were defamatory of him … the offences of displaying, distributing or publishing racially inflammatory written material do not require proof that anybody actually read or heard the material.

...Read the full article

 

14th February   

Offsite: Dave Blame...

Demonising Films is Child's Play
Link Here

Child's Play DVD For people of a certain age the recent conviction of two brothers from Edlington, aged ten and eleven, for the torture and near killing of two other children of a similar age will, no doubt, bring back memories of the abduction and murder of Liverpool toddler James Bulger and, somewhat inevitably, the spectre of the video nasty.

…of course, blaming videos is not as popular as it used to be and even the Tories are reduced to making half-hearted links: On each occasion, are we just going to say this is an individual case? That there aren't any links to what is going wrong in our wider society, in terms of family breakdown, in terms of drug and alcohol abuse, in terms of violent videos, in terms of many of the things that were going wrong in that particular family? was the strongest tone David call me Dave Cameron was willing take but, although it was not exactly the ban this filth stance that his ancestors took, the same old line was being trotted out. When looking for scapegoats film is still one of the easiest targets.

...Read full article

 

9th February   

Update: Ratty Australia...

I'm a celebrity TV show fined for cruel bush tucker
Link Here

Celebrity Get Out Here DVD ITV has been fined 3,000 Australian dollars (£1,672) after contestants on its show, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! , killed and ate a rat.

The fine, for animal cruelty, was issued by the RSPCA in Australia, where the show was filmed last year.

The animal was killed for a TV show, that's not appropriate, said RSPCA chief inspector David Oshannessy.

A spokesman for ITV said: ITV has apologised for the mistake which led to this incident. He continued: The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise in New South Wales, and accepts that further inquiries should have been made.

 

8th February   

Updated: Ofcom Abuse...

Sri Lanka used Ofcom to curb Channel 4 News reports
Link Here

Sri LankaThe scandal of Britain's libel laws and their facility for libel tourism is well known. So too is our cavalier attitude to freedom of speech. But the idea that a country with one of the worst records for press freedom and human rights could use UK broadcast regulations to challenge legitimate reporting of allegations of cold-blooded killings in a brutal civil war surely takes the UK to a new place.

Last year we broadcast a video showing nine bound and naked men, two of whom were shot, on camera, by soldiers who appeared to be wearing Sri Lankan army uniform. On the night in question I made it clear that while we couldn't authenticate this video, sent to us by a group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, it raised matters of such importance that further investigation was warranted. The Sri Lankan high commission immediately denied the atrocities that the video appeared to show.

Two weeks later, at a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka said independent analysis had declared the video a fake . It mounted a high-profile global campaign to discredit the report, protesting outside Channel 4's London headquarters. The Sri Lankan government opened up a second front in the UK, filing a series of complaints with Ofcom – one for accuracy and impartiality, one for fairness and privacy. What had begun as a media campaign to try to destroy the credibility of our news report had become a private battle using the UK's broadcast regulator. It was a battle in which they were initially allowed to hide anonymously behind the confidential nature of the procedures.

Battle was spared by the findings of a UN committee which concluded that the tape did appear authentic, and dismissed Sri Lanka's analysis. Strangely, on the eve of the UN report's publication the government of Sri Lanka dropped its Ofcom complaints.

...Read full article

Comment: Ofcom not exploited

8th February 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk by Chris Banatvala, Director of standards, Ofcom

Ofcom logoJon Snow is absolutely right when he says that Ofcom's complaints function must not be used by governments to curb … investigative reporting [to] hide from public scrutiny . But, contrary to the suggestion contained in your headline, Ofcom did not allow the Sri Lankan government to exploit our procedures, when it complained about Channel 4 News broadcasting footage of the apparent atrocities committed against the Tamils.

Ofcom has an excellent track record in defending freedom of speech for legitimate investigative journalism (for example, our decision in Channel 4's Undercover Mosque ).

In this Sri Lankan case, Ofcom did not take forward the Sri Lankan government's fairness complaint and rejected its impartiality and accuracy complaint.

Ofcom has a statutory duty to ensure that broadcasters comply with the broadcasting code, irrespective of the identity of any complainant. As the Channel 4 News presenter points out – only parliament can change that.

 

2nd February   

Update: Glorified Censors...

UK police set up national internet terrorism unit
Link Here

Ragged Union JackTerrorist websites will be targeted by a new national police unit.

Government officials and senior police officers hope the small team will better co-ordinate work to silence online extremists. They want to replicate the success of police in hunting down paedophiles.

The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) will handle tip-offs from members of the public about suspect sites.

Investigators will work with internet service providers to remove illegal content or alert authorities overseas.

The move came after it emerged that the government has never used powers granted under the Terrorism Act 2006 to close down a website.

Speaking in the House of Lords last November, security minister Lord West said police forces preferred to use informal channels to shut sites.

CTIRU, comprising five detectives and civilian employees from forces across England and Wales. They will remove sites containing information about weapons and targets that could help terrorists strike, as well as those promoting extremist groups.

 

1st February   

Update: Little Hitlers at eBay...

Dad's Army game banned at eBay
Link Here  full story: eBay Censors...Arbitrary censorship of what is sold on eBay

Dad's Army gameAuction site eBay has backed down after banning the sale of a rare Dad's Army board game for promoting hatred and racial intolerance .

The game, originally released in the mid-70s at the height of the much-loved TV series' popularity, was deemed offensive because it contains a picture of a swastika.

Just like the opening title sequence of the show, the board game box depicts arrows bearing swastikas and Union Jack flags moving across a map of Europe.

Seller Dave Davidson, who bought the game at a car boot sale, was amazed when eBay removed his item from the site. He told the Worcester News: I want to expose eBay for what they are - a laughing stock. They allow coins and stamps with swastikas and there are hundreds of novels which are war stories that have them. It's ridiculous that they can't use any common sense. Dad's Army is the most harmless TV programme in the world.

Davidson discovered his item had been removed from the site when he received an e-mail from eBay.

He told the paper it explained that his listing breached the company's offensive material policy. It said: We don't allow sellers on eBay to list items that promote violence, hatred, racial or religious intolerance, or items from organisations that promote these views. We don't allow items or memorabilia associated with the Nazi Party.

However, the site has now said it will allow him to sell the game but Davidson has decided to hang on to it: I think I'll keep it as a souvenir to political correctness gone mad.

 

1st February   

Offsite: Superinjunctivitus...

Could Trafigura and Terry signal the demise of the superinjunction?
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Libel Reform Campaign logo It is a measure of how deeply the Trafigura fiasco affected the public psyche that much of the anger (and humour) directed at footballer John Terry online on Twitter and other social networks concerned his legal representatives Schillings' use of a superinjunction, rather than his alleged extra-curricular activities.

...Read full article

 

1st February   

Equality of Inbrededness...

Cornishness not protected by equality law
Link Here

EHRC logoCalling Cornish people inbred is acceptable in law because they are not a distinct racial group, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has ruled.

The Kernow branch of the Celtic League complained to the EHRC about the use of the term and other mockery of the people of Cornwall in the media.

But the commission said it was powerless to prosecute anyone because under the Race Relations Act, the Cornish did not exist as a separate nationality from the English.

In this reply to the Celtic League, Qaiser Razzak, the South West regional manager of the EHRC, said that in order for any remedy to be available in domestic (UK) legal proceedings, the Cornish would need to be defined as a racial group under the Race Relations Act, which had not yet been done.

To date, case law has not established the Cornish as a 'racial group', for the purposes of the Race Relations Act, so currently, it is not clear whether any claim of racial discrimination against Cornish people would be successful.

He added that a European treaty, which the UK was bound to follow, set down protection for national minorities . However, although binding on the UK Government, it has not been implemented into domestic law and does not therefore provide a right to bring any legal proceedings, he said.

Last month, the Kernow branch of the Celtic League said it utterly condemned repeated descriptions of Cornish nationals as inbred , and other insulting phrases, in newspapers and on the Internet.

 

1st February   

Offsite: Perverse Logic...

Dangerous Pictures or Dangerous Animals?
Link Here
Tiger porn

Endangered species

Despite the odd absurd anomaly, such as an attempt to prosecute for a depiction of a woman having sex with a cartoon tiger, the UK government's “extreme pornography” laws have not have proved to be the threat to free expression.

Critics of the extreme porn law, which took effect a year ago this week, may be feeling a sense of ironic let-down on its anniversary, as legislation supposedly passed to protect the innocent from extreme sadists appears to have turned, all too rapidly, into the “Safeguarding Vulnerable Animals Act”.

...Read full article

 

31st January   

Toadying to Political Correctness...

Oona King wants more diversity in the media
Link Here

Princess Frog Single Disc Widescreen Disney has been praised for breaking down barriers by featuring its first black princess in the film The Princess and The Frog . Oona King, who was Gordon Brown's senior policy adviser on equalities and diversity, is not satisfied, however.

You never see disabled people, the former Labour MP complained to Mandrake at a screening at the Mayfair Hotel in London. When are you going to see a Disney film with a disabled character in the lead role? Tell me that.

King is clearly on a mission in her new role as Channel 4's head of diversity. I think all of the media has a problem, she said: If you look at the members of the media's cultural network, all British broadcasters, none of us do well in terms of diversity. The people making film and TV have to really get their act together.

 

31st January   

Bad Taste...

Campaign against Dead Bay Jokes group on Facebook
Link Here

Facebook logoA mother in Wrexham says she has been subjected to online abuse after campaigning against Dead Baby Jokes, a group which is putting jokes about dead babies on a social networking site.

Vicki Archer, who lost a baby through a miscarriage five years ago, was so sickened she set up her own protest Facebook group, Ban the group "DEAD BABY JOKES", which attracted 600 members.

But now her group has itself been inundated with dead baby jokes and pictures. She told the Leader: I was removed as administrator and now the group has been over-run by dead baby jokes. It's made me ill and I really wish something could be done. I'm even getting horrible inbox messages on Facebook off these sick people. I'm at the end of my tether and really don't know where to turn for help.

The online version of the Leader's story about Vicki has attracted a large number of comments from readers. But while many are against the group, a significant number say its removal would amount to a breach of free speech. And our question Should Facebook remove the dead baby jokes group? has so far seen a majority saying no .

Last week, North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham branded the group as sick and disgusting and pledged to raise the matter directly with Ofcom, the communications industry watchdog. She has now done this but said: I spoke to Rhodri Williams of Ofcom. It's his firm opinion that this is a matter for Facebook and that they should be contacted and told about the group.

 

30th January   

The Only Ones Being Sexualised are the Nutters...

Scottish report finds few sexualising images in stores
Link Here

The Scottish ParliamentAny crackdown on sexual imagery in goods aimed at children would be fraught with difficulties , a new Holyrood report has found. The study also said that relatively few goods of this nature were aimed at children in stores. 

Holyrood's equal opportunities committee commissioned independent research after hearing in evidence sessions that items such as high-heeled slip-on shoes were available for babies and underwear items for girls had sexual slogans printed on them.

Attention was also drawn to Bratz dolls, which were condemned by the NSPCC as increasing the sexualisation of children.

The report, which has not yet been passed by the committee, said: The attempt to control the production and distribution of sexualised goods, or at least control children's access to them, is likely to be fraught with difficulties, not least in terms of how we define what is to be regulated in the first place. While it did not discourage any attempt to impose controls, it said it could be costly and have counterproductive consequences .

Many of the stores surveyed for the report, such as Tesco, Littlewoods, Debenhams, D2 Jeans and Marks & Spencer did not sell any goods with sexual imagery aimed at children.

However, Sandra White MSP, who had sat on the committee, did not accept the report's assertions. She said: This sounds like a cop-out, and I would hope the committee would reject this part of the report. I don't see how it would be difficult to control. We've just banned cigarette machines and advertising, so why can't we look at legislating (to protect] young people from sexual imagery?

Ed Mayo, co-author of Consumer Kids, a critical study of children's marketing, who gave evidence to the committee, agreed with Ms White: It's a wonderful piece of academic research, but what it doesn't do is come off the fence. We know children are exposed to sexual material more than before, but what it's difficult to work out through this study is where the responsibility lies. There's no one group that is responsible for pushing too much too young to children. Everybody is. It's a good overview, but it leaves a question mark as to what schools can do, what parents can do and what the Scottish Government can do to act on this.

The study was led by Professor David Buckingham, from the Institute of Education at London University.

 

30th January   

Update: Fitna Repeats...

Wilders to show Fitna in the House of Lords
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

House of Lords logoDutch MP Geert Wilders will travel to London on March 5 to show his short video compilation Fitna at the invitation of two members of the British upper house of parliament, the House of Lords.

Last February Wilders was refused entry to Britain to screen his film because the government said his presence would be a threat to public order.

But in October, a British immigration tribunal ruled Wilders should not have been refused entry.

 

27th January   

Vulgarian...

Billy Connolly speaks of the censorship of comedians
Link Here

Billy Connolly Live Greatest Hits Billy Connolly has spoken out against censorship, complaining that comedians who swear on stage are unfairly branded vulgarian and foul mouthed .

The star, who is currently performing a string of stand-up dates at London's Hammersmith Apollo, said comedy was not about causing offence to people: I don't offend, that's not my job. My job is to make people laugh . There's a lot of deep and desperate unfairness been going on.

Speaking at Tuesday's South Bank Awards, he said: I think it was (US comedian) George Carlin who said, 'the job of a comedian is to know where the line is and to step over it'.

We will dictate where that line is and where it should be. If you swear in a book, you're some kind of clever guy, if you swear in a poem, oh how dangerous he is, you swear in a song - oh my God, what a groundbreaker!

You swear as a comedian, and you're a vulgarian and foul mouthed.

When did this happen? Who's doing the judging?

 

26th January   

India's Poor Reputation...

India to complain about showing the life in Mumbai slums in a British TV documentary
Link Here

Grand Designs 4 Complete DVD India plans to lodge a complaint against a British TV documentary on Mumbai slums, describing it poverty porn as it portrays a very wrong image of India's commercial capital and will affect its tourism.

The Indian High Commission in the UK will lodge a complaint with the British TC censor Ofcom about the content of Channel 4's' two-part documentary, Grand Designs on Dharavi Slums in Mumbai showing children living among open sewers, dead rats and toxic wastes.

According to an official, the High Commission in London granted a filming permit to Kevin McCloud, the TV presenter of the channel in the belief that he was making a programme highlighting Mumbai's architectural history.

We thought it would be about the architecture of Mumbai but it was only about slums. He was showing dirty sewage and dead rats, children playing among rubbish and people living in these small rooms.bHe never talked about architecture at all, the official said.

Describing it as poverty porn , the official said we are upset. Many people know India but for people who don't travel, they will think all of India is like this. Of course it will affect our tourism. It is not representative at all.

Channel4 and the production company, Talkback Thames, said: Kevin McCloud follows everyday life in Dharavi and the film is a balanced and insightful account of his experience there.

 

25th January   

Antique Fuddy Duddies...

18th century classic art covered up for day time TV
Link Here

BBC logoBBC nutters ordered an auction house to remove a neo-classical oil painting of a semi-naked woman in case her exposed nipple 'offended' viewers.

Auctioneer Alan Aldridge was being filmed for Flog it!, BBC2's daytime antique programme, when the production team asked him to take down the 19th-century oil painting. BBC Flog It! It features the mythical Greek goddess Ariadne holding a goblet of wine with her left breast exposed.

Aldridge, who runs Aldridge Auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire, offered to cover the offending nipple, but was still told to take the canvas down. neo-classical painting. He said: It is absolutely ridiculous. This is a 19th century neo-classical work of art. I can't imagine anyone getting offended over a naked female nipple these days.

Flog it! presenter Paul Martin, who lives in nearby Seend and used to run an antiques shop, defended the decision saying viewers would complain; Yes, they had to have the painting moved. It wasn't a big deal but they do get complaints about this sort of thing. You'd be surprised.

 

24th January   

Gordon's Great Escape...

Gordon Ramsey thought he'd got away from whingeing Brits for a while
Link Here

Gordon Ramsays Great Escape Channel Gordon Ramsay has been criticised for his disrespectful treatment of Indian chefs in his latest show.

More than 100 viewers complained to Channel 4 about his behaviour on Gordon's Great Escape .

The restaurateur described an Indian guru as Father Christmas and repeatedly used obscenities when speaking to locals.

The three-part series, which aired last week, featured Ramsay visiting different parts of India to learn about traditional cooking methods.

In one scene, Ramsay  met a guru and learned how to cook vegetarian food. He made fun of the guru's beliefs, saying on the show: When I first saw him I thought he was Father Christmas. But I don't dig all the stuff about the food. I respect carrots, fine, but they're not living to keep us happy.

In another scene, he told a Keralan tree climber: You little fucker, making me look like a twat.

Channel 4 admitted it had received 116 complaints – more than double the average the network receives for his other show, The F Word .

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: Gordon is a passionate character and viewers know what to expect when watching his programmes. The series was broadcast after the watershed and each episode was preceded by a clear language warning.'

 

24th January   

Comment: eBay Censors...

The arbitrary vision of censorship on eBay
Link Here  full story: eBay Censors...Arbitrary censorship of what is sold on eBay

Baise Moi DVD Region US NTSC I recently listed a DVD on ebay, which is readily available at on amazon, play.com, etc and my local HMV has it on the shelves. eBay have deemed this DVD unsuitable for sale, and have pulled my listing. The DVD in question was Baise Moi.

To quote eBay: Sexually orientated adult material is meant for people who are 18 years and older. Materials adult in nature are not permitted on eBay, as they breach laws in the United Kingdom and many other countries. Some items, though legal to sell to adults outside of eBay, are still restricted on the site.

So eBay, consider an 18 film to be illegal. A very dangerous precedent. What I do find strange is they allow DVDs of Lady Chatterley's Lover and copies of the Emmanuelle books to be listed. Again to quote eBay: Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader are prohibited. I thought both of the above were designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader. Maybe I am wrong.

Comment: eBay Censors Follow-up

21st January 2010. Thanks to Paul

Ken Park I concur with Trog having come-up against this a few times, most recently trying to sell Larry Clark's Ken Park DVD, being told it was banned in Australia and therefore my listing needed changing so Australian's couldn't bid on it (I live in the UK) plus it contained the dreaded Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader ! Crazy, considering films such as Caligula, 9 Songs , etc. etc. can be cheerfully traded on the site despite having similar levels of sexual activity.

A few years ago I tried to sell a copy of Puppetry of the Penis . Despite being rated only 15, eBay deemed this too strong and asked me to withdraw the DVD...

As an aside whilst shopping in Sainsbury's recently we used the self-scan facility. Scanning a bleach based product went through without a hitch, however we couldn't proceed with a 12 rated DVD without the intervention of an assistant to confirm we weren't children! Apparently it even requires intervention on PG rated DVDs too - despite being discretionary.

Comment: Re eBay Censors

22nd January 2010. Thanks to DarkAngel

I Spit on your Grave DVD cover I've had similar run-ins with Ebay myself, it seems they have a very strict policy against "strong adult content" which goes beyond pornography, however no one who works for them seems to know why this is.

I had a listing for I Spit on Your Grave pulled, I duly complained stating that it was a legimate release, not a bootleg, and that it was the toned down UK version which had been censored and rated 18 by the BBFC and was freely available from Amazon and ordinary high street stores like HMV and even WHSmiths and Woolworths (they were still going at the time).

They responded that the UK release still fell foul of their policies on strong adult material and the fact that it was available elsewhere made no difference to whether they were going to allow it.

I asked why they felt the need to prohibit this material, they said because they regarded it as being unsuitable to be sold by them. I pressed them as to why they regarded it as unsuitable, they said because their legal team had a list of films they considered in breach of this policy. So I asked why they felt the need to have such a policy, they said because they consider certain films unsuitable and round and round the answers went (in a scene rather reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch) until they eventually stopped replying to me.

It was just one circular reason after another, you couldn't pin them down as to why, so I could only conclude that they didn't know and the decision was down to someone higher up.

It does seem, judging by their arbitrary decision making, that the people who make up these lists of films to block don't really know which ones do and don't breach their policies as they are blissfully unaware of the many films with similar content that continue to be happily traded, until someone tips them off about it (I bought and sold numerous different uncut VHS and DVD versions of I Spit on Your Grave back when Ebay were still relatively new on the scene).

Also, they have been known to pull auctions solely based on a films title. A colleague of mine listed some films that had been released by the company "X-rated" (they're a German/Austrian cult movie label). Of course Ebay saw the words X rated in the description and duly pulled the lot thinking X rated referred to the content, as opposed to the name of the distributors.

I've said this before but back in the early days, Ebay were quite liberal with the sort of stuff you could sell on their site, as long as it wasn't porn. Now that they've cornered the market and wiped out the competition, they seem to be trying to impose their moral views on what can and cant pass through their site, which is probably why, according to the news this morning, more and more people are defecting to Amazon marketplace.

Comment: Ebay double-standards

24th January 2010. Thanks to Jon

Amateur Porn Star Killer Shane Have just read your articles on eBay's double- standards over adult/extreme horror DVD's. It was interesting to here that eBay claim such titles like the BBFC-approved and heavily-censored edition of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE aren't allowed to be sold, and yet I found lots of copies, as below...

Search eBay for I Spit on Your Grave

Also, if you type in the words Porn DVD , you get plenty of more dubious materials, such as Amateur Porn Star Killer .

EBay really do need to get their act together, and either ban everyone selling specific titles, or allow anything that is legal in the seller's/purchaser's own country.

 

23rd January   

Are You Being Served?...

BBC to consult over the portrayal of gay people
Link Here

Tangled Forward Grainger Wedding Slocombe The BBC is to ask the nation if its comedians should be allowed to tell jokes about lesbians and gays. The issue will be part of the most wideranging piece of research on sexuality that the corporation has commissioned.

Tim Davie, BBC director of audio and music, will chair a working group on the portrayal and inclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. It will examine how they are reflected in the corporation's use of language, tone, stereotyping, humour and scheduling.

The report was commissioned last August, months before the corporation received hundreds of complaints over a headline on the BBC News website relating to a debate on Ugandan government policy. It asked: Should homosexuals face execution? The corporation apologised and amended the headline.

2CV, a research group, will conduct the project for the BBC, with a report due this summer. It will even canvass parts of the community, such as religious bodies, that are seen as anti-homosexual.

Davie said: As a public service broadcaster, we have a responsibility to serve all of our audiences and it's vital that we reflect the differences among all of the UK's diverse communities, nations and regions.

Gay rights groups have long called for the BBC to include more gay characters in its output. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, which lobbies for lesbian, gay and bisexual interests, said: This is long overdue. Stonewall research into BBC output found that during 168 hours of programmes, gay lives were represented positively for just six minutes.

 

22nd January   

Blame Alert...

Tortuous brothers shown 'extreme' horror movies
Link Here

Shock Horror Two brothers who brutally attacked two young boys witnessed serious domestic violence against their mother and had a toxic home life , a court has heard.

The brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, attacked their victims in Edlington, South Yorkshire, last April.

Peter Kelson QC, representing the older brother said his client had been shown horror films at his home when he was as young as 10. He said the films were extremely violent and gruesome movies in the extreme .

The barrister said the boy also had access to his father's pornographic DVDs.

See article from dailymail.co.uk

One of the boys regularly watched his father's porn films before he was even ten. His other favourites included gory DVDs of the Saw series and the Chucky films, all of which feature grotesque and gratuitous violence.

 

22nd January   

Comment: eBay Censors...

The arbitrary vision of censorship on eBay
Link Here

Baise Moi DVD Region US NTSC I recently listed a DVD on ebay, which is readily available at on amazon, play.com, etc and my local HMV has it on the shelves. eBay have deemed this DVD unsuitable for sale, and have pulled my listing. The DVD in question was Baise Moi.

To quote eBay: Sexually orientated adult material is meant for people who are 18 years and older. Materials adult in nature are not permitted on eBay, as they breach laws in the United Kingdom and many other countries. Some items, though legal to sell to adults outside of eBay, are still restricted on the site.

So eBay, consider an 18 film to be illegal. A very dangerous precedent. What I do find strange is they allow DVDs of Lady Chatterley's Lover and copies of the Emmanuelle books to be listed. Again to quote eBay: Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader are prohibited. I thought both of the above were designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader. Maybe I am wrong.

Comment: eBay Censors Follow-up

21st January 2010. Thanks to Paul

Ken Park I concur with Trog having come-up against this a few times, most recently trying to sell Larry Clark's Ken Park DVD, being told it was banned in Australia and therefore my listing needed changing so Australian's couldn't bid on it (I live in the UK) plus it contained the dreaded Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader ! Crazy, considering films such as Caligula, 9 Songs , etc. etc. can be cheerfully traded on the site despite having similar levels of sexual activity.

A few years ago I tried to sell a copy of Puppetry of the Penis . Despite being rated only 15, eBay deemed this too strong and asked me to withdraw the DVD...

As an aside whilst shopping in Sainsbury's recently we used the self-scan facility. Scanning a bleach based product went through without a hitch, however we couldn't proceed with a 12 rated DVD without the intervention of an assistant to confirm we weren't children! Apparently it even requires intervention on PG rated DVDs too - despite being discretionary.

Comment: Re eBay Censors

22nd January 2010. Thanks to DarkAngel

I Spit on your Grave DVD cover I've had similar run-ins with Ebay myself, it seems they have a very strict policy against "strong adult content" which goes beyond pornography, however no one who works for them seems to know why this is.

I had a listing for I Spit on Your Grave pulled, I duly complained stating that it was a legimate release, not a bootleg, and that it was the toned down UK version which had been censored and rated 18 by the BBFC and was freely available from Amazon and ordinary high street stores like HMV and even WHSmiths and Woolworths (they were still going at the time).

They responded that the UK release still fell foul of their policies on strong adult material and the fact that it was available elsewhere made no difference to whether they were going to allow it.

I asked why they felt the need to prohibit this material, they said because they regarded it as being unsuitable to be sold by them. I pressed them as to why they regarded it as unsuitable, they said because their legal team had a list of films they considered in breach of this policy. So I asked why they felt the need to have such a policy, they said because they consider certain films unsuitable and round and round the answers went (in a scene rather reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch) until they eventually stopped replying to me.

It was just one circular reason after another, you couldn't pin them down as to why, so I could only conclude that they didn't know and the decision was down to someone higher up.

It does seem, judging by their arbitrary decision making, that the people who make up these lists of films to block don't really know which ones do and don't breach their policies as they are blissfully unaware of the many films with similar content that continue to be happily traded, until someone tips them off about it (I bought and sold numerous different uncut VHS and DVD versions of I Spit on Your Grave back when Ebay were still relatively new on the scene).

Also, they have been known to pull auctions solely based on a films title. A colleague of mine listed some films that had been released by the company "X-rated" (they're a German/Austrian cult movie label). Of course Ebay saw the words X rated in the description and duly pulled the lot thinking X rated referred to the content, as opposed to the name of the distributors.

I've said this before but back in the early days, Ebay were quite liberal with the sort of stuff you could sell on their site, as long as it wasn't porn. Now that they've cornered the market and wiped out the competition, they seem to be trying to impose their moral views on what can and cant pass through their site, which is probably why, according to the news this morning, more and more people are defecting to Amazon marketplace.

 

19th January   

Politically Correct Del Boy...

Censor Del Boy for being racist? Don't be a plonker
Link Here

Only Fools Horses Complete DVD Is Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses racist?

The issue arises because the other day I interviewed John Sullivan, the creator of Only Fools, and he told me about the way he has to edit old episodes to cleanse them of politically incorrect dialogue. He cited an episode from the Eighties in which Del told a child to pop down to the Paki shop . That line is no longer broadcast in repeats.

I think it should be. Now, before I explain why, I must make clear that, to me, the phrase Paki shop is reprehensible and racist. I'd hate to hear it used in everyday speech. This is, after all, 2010.

But that's exactly the point: it's 2010, not the early Eighties. In the early Eighties, such a phrase was common currency. Whether we like it or not, that's how some people spoke – so it's only realistic that the odd fictional character should have spoken like that too. Tackling racism is one thing. Pretending racism never existed is another.

...Read full article

 

17th January   

Update: A Fetish for Censorship...

The Notorious Bettie Page by Mary Harron
Link Here

Notorious Bettie Page DVD The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) is a smart, funny and engaging look at the life of one of the first pin-up sensations, the titular Ms Page. Well acted and flawlessly directed (Harron creates a perfect 50's woman's film feel and mixes black and white and colour without drawing attention to it), the film tells it's story in a matter of fact way that mirrors Page's own outlook and delivers an interesting study of a society on the brink of change.

See article from cinemascream.wordpress.com

Some time ago I wrote about Mary Harron's fantastic film The Notorious Bettie Page … well, to be honest, I spent most of the time having a moan about the rather harsh 18 cert. bestowed upon the film by the BBFC. Anyway, in true disgusted of Tunbridge Wells style I emailed the BBFC the following…

Having recently viewed The Notorious Bettie Page (Mary Harron, 2005) I was somewhat perplexed by the 18 rating. Looking on the BBFC website the only comment I can see regarding the rating is contains sexual fetish theme .

Considering that the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) have given the film a 15 rating ('15A in cinemas) due to moderate violence, sex/nudity and language (The further information on their website notes just one expletive and their guidelines for the 15A rating state that mild/moderate sexual activity/nudity is acceptable, particularly when portrayed positively .) I was wondering if you had any more information on the decision and the reasoning behind the 18 rating?

…and here is the BBFC reply…

Our classification decisions are carefully considered and made in line with published Guidelines and the available research evidence...

Our Guidelines for sex at 15 state that: "Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour". It was recognised that THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is an intelligent and rather sweet-natured film which stays within our '15' criteria on a number of issues (eg. nudity and sex). However, it was ultimately judged that placing a work that dealt with S&M and other fetish activities at '15' would confound public expectations of the our classifications. Although THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is not a 'sex work' , its detail of fetish activity just pushed this work to the 18 category. At '18' our Guidelines state that the BBFC "will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law."

Chief Assistant (Policy)

…which seems to suggest that no matter what the 'content' the subject matter is all that matters and some things, especially country matters , are just plain taboo.

 

16th January   

Update: Licensed to Censor...

Bill to exempt small venues from government music censorship
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

pub band My bill would exempt small venues from the absurdities of the Licensing Act, which is stifling emerging artists

In November last year, Britain's Got Talent finalist Faryl Smith performed a song for her fans at an album signing at HMV in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The local council immediately threatened HMV with criminal prosecution because it hadn't applied for a licence.

Back in May, the headteacher of a school in Daventry had to scrap the annual musical when he was told he risked a £20,000 fine or even imprisonment because the school hadn't got a licence for the show.

And locals in Gloucestershire were bitterly disappointed last summer when a free brass band concert was cancelled at the last minute.

What links all these ridiculous situations is the Licensing Act, which stipulates that all live music performances need a licence, whatever the venue.

It is a result of these absurdities that I have introduced the live music bill which has just received a second reading in the House of Lords.

Small venues are vitally important to Britain's creative culture. Many of our most successful and popular musicians started their careers gigging in bars, student unions or cafes. The decrease in live music in small venues, as evidenced by the DCMS's most recent substantive survey into the act, is potentially denying us a generation of new performers.

The bill – which has the support of UK Music, the Musicians Union, Equity and the National Campaign for the Arts – amends the Licensing Act in three respects.

First, the bill establishes an exemption for live music in small venues. The exemption applies to a venue that has a licence for the sale of alcohol and has a permitted capacity of not more than 200 people. The live music can also only take place between 8am and midnight on the same day. This exemption is conditional on a mechanism that can trigger a local authority review and make live music in a venue licensable if complaints by local residents are upheld.

Second, the bill reintroduces the two-in-a-bar rule so that any performance of unamplified and minimally amplified live music of up to two people is exempt from the need for a licence.

Finally, the bill contains a total exemption for hospitals, schools and colleges from the requirement to obtain a licence for live music when providing entertainment where alcohol is not sold, and the entertainment involves no more than 200 persons. This will enable schools, colleges and hospitals to perform concerts and music therapy treatments which currently require licences.

The government's consultation on this issue is flawed. The proposed exemption for up to 100 people is inadequate. The live music bill, supported by the recommendation of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, proposes that a figure of 200 would result in a more effective exemption.

The timing of the consultation and the process by which an exemption can be achieved is also put in jeopardy by the imminent general election which means the bill presents the most realistic opportunity to get a small gigs exemption in place this year. You can demonstrate your support for the bill by signing up to the No 10 Downing Street petition in support of the bill's aims.

 

15th January   

Hate Censorship...

Home Office considers block on Hamas website for children
Link Here

image from Al FatehThe Home Office is considering blocking a childrens' website run by the Palestinian group Hamas following suggestions it incites hatred of Jews.

Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, chair of the Labour Jewish Movement, has called on ministers to block access to al-Fateh.net, a webzine launched by Hamas in 2002. Alongside baking recipes and exam advice, the fortnightly publication features tributes to suicide attackers and encourages love of jihad .

Ellman told The Register: It's nasty stuff. It incites hatred of Israel and Jews - the government should remove it.

An extract from April 2008, translated by IMPACT-SE, a Jewish education lobby group that has campaigned against al-Fateh.net across Europe, reads: Jerusalem will remain as a trust in our hands and the hands of all Muslims, and they are to unite and gather for its liberation and the liberation of the land of Palestine from the impurity of the Zionists, the descendents of apes and pigs.

In response to Ellman's parliamentary question on al-Fateh.net, policing minister David Hanson said: We are currently assessing whether there is sufficient evidence to include the al-Fateh website in the list of material provided on a voluntary basis to filtering companies for inclusion in their parental control software.

There remains nothing the government can do to prevent access where filtering software is not installed. Suggestions by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that an ISP-level filtering system similar to the Internet Watch Foundation child pornography blacklist might be created for extremist material appear to have been abandoned.

Tim Stevens, an expert on internet radicalisation at King's College London, said Ellman's call showed how powerless the government is online: Unpleasant as this site may be, it is not up to single-interest groups to determine what is and is not illegal, he said.

 

15th January   

Update: UK Internet Censorship...

Government offer concessions about draconian control powers
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Ragged Union JackMinisters have given a concession over what critics claimed were draconian powers which would enable them to crack down on online content in the name of copyright infringement.

A clause in the Digital Economy Bill would have allowed ministers to amend existing internet control laws without the need for further legislation.

Google and Facebook were among firms to complain about the measure, saying it would hamper digital innovation.

Officials said they were refining the proposals after heeding concerns.

Section 17 of the bill, which has attracted the most anger, would give ministers reserve powers to draft fresh laws to tackle net-based copyright infringement without needing parliamentary approval.

Ministers argued that such powers were needed to support copyright laws against future, more technically advanced forms of piracy. But Conservative and Lib Dem peers had both threatened to vote against the measure when it is considered next in the House of Lords.

In response, the government has tabled several amendments.

These would mean existing copyright laws could only be amended by statute if there was a significant new threat of infringement and would provide for more parliamentary scrutiny before this happened.

The Department for Business said it was not backing away from the controversial clause and its core objectives but had listened to concerns about how it was being targeted.

 

13th January   

Update: Exempt from Reason...

Andrew Dismore sponsors Video Recordings (Exempt from Classification) Bill
Link Here  full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill

Andrew DismoreAndrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab):

I beg to move, that leave be given to introduce a Bill to extend the criteria under which music and sports video works and documentaries lose their exemption from classification.

Although we passed-or perhaps I should say re-passed-the Video Recordings Bill last week, for technical reasons of urgency it was not practical to propose amendments at that stage. However, some small but highly significant amendments are needed to ensure a more robust regime for child protection. As chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I am an ardent supporter of the right to free speech and expression, but I acknowledge the need for a system of regulation that protects children from harmful content in film, videos and DVDs.

At the current time, we have a very effective system of classification. The British Board of Film Classification undertakes extensive research into public opinion about what is acceptable content. The BBFC also takes account of research evidence and the advice of psychologists, health care professionals and the police, among others, to produce guidelines, which are updated every four years, that ensure that the content that reaches children in the UK legally in the form of film, DVDs and videos is of an age-appropriate nature and is not harmful to them.

However, there are gaps in the current regime covering videos and DVDs under the Video Recordings Act 1984-the VRA-and that is what my Bill aims to address. The VRA permits a number of exemptions to the classification regime. Currently they relate not only to video games but to other video works such as music and sports videos. When the Act was passed in 1984, the assumption was that such works were unlikely to cause any concern. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has recognised that the regime for video games needs to be updated, and the Digital Economy Bill, currently in the other place, is intended to do so. As an aside, it is important to note that in doing so it should in no way undermine the classification regime for linear-non-interactive-material by confusing the responsibilities of the BBFC and those of the Video Standards Council, which is intended to be the statutory authority for classifying video games.

Except in relation to video games, exemptions are unfortunately not addressed in the Digital Economy Bill. That is a missed opportunity and the reason why I have chosen to bring forward my Bill, which would extend the criteria under section 2 of the VRA to result in specified video works losing exemption from classification. At present, exemption can be claimed for video works such as music and sports videos, which can be very popular with children. Those videos can then be sold to children perfectly legally, even if they contain material that is potentially harmful. My Bill is not intended to extend the VRA to all such exempted works, only to those that contain content that is potentially harmful, such as graphic violence, sexual content falling 12 Jan 2010 : Column 561 short of actual sexual activity, imitable dangerous behaviour and drug use. Harmless video works of football matches or artists from the The X Factor would remain exempt.

I have seen some of the less benign sport and music videos myself. For example, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's UFC Best of 2007 is a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques. It is available on the high street to any child because its distributor has, quite legally, claimed exemption from BBFC classification under the VRA. It therefore carries no age rating or consumer advice. It contains close-up images of bloody and sustained head blows, which are replayed in slow motion from every conceivable angle to ensure that the best possible view is given of the moments of impact.

Another work that I have seen is Motley Cre's Greatest Video Hits , which features topless lap dancing and a George W. Bush lookalike in a limousine with a prostitute. The packaging carries an E for exempt rating. Gorgoroth's Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam features bloody bodies being crucified and a sheep's head on a spike. The American band Slipknot is hugely popular with children, some as young as 10, as well as with teenagers. As expected from the band's reputation, its 10th anniversary DVD features strong content designed to offend parents. Among the most concerning images are those of the consequences of self-mutilation carried out by two teenage girls who have carved the name Slipknot into their arm and torso respectively, yet the video carries a letter E in a green triangle indicating that it is exempt from VRA classification.

Those are all works that parents could and should legitimately expect to be regulated, yet under the current legislation they can all be sold legally without any age restriction. Indeed, it is worth noting that some of that material is rated and age-restricted in other countries. For example, the German film classification body rated the Slipknot DVD as suitable only for those aged 16 and above and the Gorgoroth DVD as suitable only for adults.

Trading standards officers would welcome the power to prosecute the supply of such unclassified works, but believe that the current legislation exempts them because, for example, they do not contain gross violence, which is a very high threshold, or actual sexual activity. Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services, which represents local authorities on this matter, and the BBFC both support my Bill's minor amendments to section 2 of the VRA in order to broaden the criteria that determine when a video work loses its exemption. Such amendments would enable law enforcement agencies to prosecute the supply of video works that are currently exempted, to protect children from potentially harmful media content.

I understand that the Government believe that the enforcement authorities can already take such action. However, the view of those who actually have that responsibility is that they cannot, because of the very high bar set by the VRA in order to lose an exemption. For example, had the Slipknot DVD shown the two girls actually in the process of mutilating themselves with a sharp blade, that may well have constituted gross violence under the VRA, but showing the scars after the event almost certainly does not constitute violence sufficient to lose exemption from classification.

Many responsible members of the home entertainment industry voluntarily seek classification certificates for exempted video works that contain such potentially harmful material. Members of the British Video Association-the BVA-do so even though they are not legally obliged so to do. Their actions in this regard are to be commended. I understand that BVA members support amendments to the Video Recordings Act that would make it a legal obligation on distributors to have potentially harmful material classified, as proposed in my Bill, but there are distributors who do not take the same responsible attitude. That lack of a level playing field serves only to add to consumer confusion.

A parent looking through a shelf of music or fighting videos, some of which are rated 15 or 18, but some of which are marked E for exempt, is likely reasonably to draw the conclusion that the E video is suitable for younger children. Otherwise, the parents would assume, surely it would have been classified. Yet often, the content of E for exempt videos is virtually identical to or worse than that of an age-restricted product. I would therefore like to urge my hon. Friend the Minister to support this Bill.

To conclude, this Bill is aimed at modernising the VRA and improving consumer-and most particularly-parental empowerment, to protect their vulnerable children from harmful video material. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, that Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mike Gapes, Rob Marris, Mr. Virendra Sharma, Mr. Edward Timpson, John Austin, Ms Karen Buck, Clive Efford, Mr. John Whittingdale, Judy Mallaber and Keith Vaz present the Bill.

Mr. Andrew Dismore accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February and to be printed.

 

10th January   

Offsite: Sing a Song of Censorship...

Andrew Dismore MP to propose extending VRA to sports and music DVDs
Link Here  full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill

Andrew DismoreSport or music videos containing cage-fighting, nudity and self-mutilation are currently available to buy without a censorship certificate.

MP Andrew Dismore will this week push to amend the current censorship law which allows these films to be exempted from the usual classification system, under the House of Commons' 10-Minute Rule.

At present videos and DVDs primarily concerned with sport, religion or music do not have to carry a classification.

These have included the cage-fighting DVD UFC Best of 2007 , a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques, which is available on the high street quite legally without age restrictions, having claimed exemption from classification.

It means there is no age rating or consumer advice, although it contains close-ups of bloody and sustained head blows, some of them in slow motion.

Tory Culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt last month called for the law to be redrawn to remove these exceptions.

Now Dismore is to begin this process, introducing classifications for the images of 'concern'.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said: As the regulator, the BBFC has been concerned for some time about the content of some very popular music and sports DVDs which have claimed exemption under the Video Recordings Act but which we believe should not be exempt. We do not have any powers to require these DVDs to be submitted for classification. We believe that it is important that material which will be attractive to young audiences should be properly labelled to enable parents to know that their children are protected from inappropriate material.

 

10th January   

Offsite: TV Fit for Teletubbies...

PC-mad BBC where even church bells and Teletubbies are vetted
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Teletubbies Time DVD BBC staff say they have been forced to spend hours vetting preschool children's series and classical music concerts for sex, violence and inappropriate language under idiotic compliance rules introduced after the Jonathan Ross scandal.

taff have told The Sunday Telegraph that his legacy is a burdensome bureaucracy which stifles creativity while being unlikely to prevent further incidents.

Under the enhanced compliance procedures, which apply to most pre-recorded programmes, every second of material to be broadcast must be watched or listened to check for unacceptable content, and a seven-page form must be filled out.

Among the programmes subjected to the new procedures are parts of the BBC's Armistice Day coverage. All episodes of the Teletubbies must be vetted, despite the show being aimed at under-threes and containing few or no normal words. Also being vetted are many Radio 3 concerts of works written after 1900.

...Read full article

 

7th January   

Offsite: Animated to Persecute...

North Wales Police missed Frosties connection
Link Here
Tiger porn

 Flying Mount

The CPS dropped a prosecution under the extreme porn law last week when it apparently accepted that the soundtrack on a clip of a tiger apparently having sex with a women rendered the video comical rather than pornographic.

Andrew Holland appeared at Mold Crown Court on New Year's Eve to answer two charges of possessing extreme porn. Both charges related to video clips sent to him by friends, allegedly as jokes.

The first charge involved a video clip of a woman having sex with a tiger. The tiger, according to Holland, was an animated image, rather than a real tiger.

He told El Reg that the fictional nature of the action was obvious from the fact that, at the end of the scene, the Tiger turns to camera and said: that beats doing Frosties ads for a living .

...Read full article

 

6th January   

Update: Manic Whingers...

Manic Street Preachers album cover praised by fans
Link Here  full story: Manic Street Preachers...Whinging at Manic Street Preachers album cover

Journal for Plague Lovers CD The controversial sleeve to the Manic Street Preachers' latest album has come second in a best cover art poll.

Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's all ordered the sleeve off their shelves in May amidst supposed concerns the image on Journal for Plague Lovers showed a beaten-up girl with a blood-spattered face.

Cambridge-born artist Jenny Saville's painting actually depicts a child with a port-wine stain birthmark.

Now, in a national poll of 4,000 people, fans decided only Muse's The Resistance had better artwork. The poll was conducted by sleeve framing company Art Vinyl.

Director Andrew Heeps said: It's interesting they (the supermarkets) put emphasis on shielding the image. I'm sure in many independent record stores where it was on display it did not cause any controversy whatsoever.

Peter Black, AM and Wales Liberal Democrat health spokesman, condemned the supermarkets for their decision at the time: The award is well deserved because the cover is excellent and also portrays a very important message that people with facial disfigurement are normal human beings who should not be treated as different. It shows that the supermarkets who opted to ban this cover from their shelves were wrong.

 

5th January   

Call of Duty...

Tom Watson MP interviewed about his support of gamers
Link Here

Tom WatsonNowGamer have interviewed Tom Watson. The MP for West Bromwich East notable for starting a Facebook group called Gamer's Voice. This takes a more mature pro-gaming approach than the usual knee jerk blame bollox that we have come to expect from most politicians.

NowGamer: It's rare to hear a political voice, let alone an MP, speak out on the side of the games industry, so how have you got involved?

Tom Watson: Well, I love games and I'm inspired by the world of games that my kids are going to grow up in. The debate in Westminster is skewed against gamers. They need their voice heard. That's why I set up Gamers' Voice.

NowGamer: You seem to feel strongly that videogames are being misrepresented in parliament. Why do you think that is?

Tom Watson: There's a toxic mix of tabloid sensationalism and busy MPs who are too busy to plug in a console and enjoy themselves.

NowGamer: The gaming audience is getting older and the content of videogames seems to be following this trend by tackling darker and more adult topics, but in your opinion can a game go too far?

Tom Watson: It's about choice. There are games that repulse me. And as a parent, there are games that I won't let me kids get anywhere near. But as long as people know what the content is like, I don't have a problem.

NowGamer: The interactivity of games is often felt to make the way in which adult content is experienced in them significantly different from when seen in films or on TV. Do you agree with this position?

Tom Watson: I've never wept or screwed up my eyes in fear at a videogame. I have for plenty of films. The people who make the argument that games are more immersive and therefore dangerous should calm down.

 

5th January   

Offsite: Scone-Snarfing Crackpots at the BBFC...

Female Ejaculation - Myth Or Reality?
Link Here

BBFC logo Ok, bear with me here—I know a lot of you don't give much of a crap about the scone-snarfing crackpots who make, watch, and rate porn in the UK. They're prudes over there, after all, with warm beer and bad teeth, and up until just a few days ago, they wouldn't allow female ejaculation to be shown even in pornographic films. According to BlueViolet's latest San Francisco Chronicle article, the BBFC wouldn't allow even R18 certified (read: hardcore porn) films to show squirting because the expert medical advice they were going on maintained there is no such thing as female ejaculation, and therefore any depiction of a woman's ejaculation was pee porn .

Sweet jumping Christ on a pogo stick, are you serious? I've been writing for jizz rags for two years now, and this isn't the first time I've come across this kind of small-minded three-ring-circus of male-centric, pseudo-scientific jaw flapping. I've reviewed numerous films that featured Niagara-like gushers, but in the reviews I couldn't mention the truly impressive waterworks because our distribution lists in European countries would consider it urination and not legally be able to sell the magazine. I assumed these countries must be backward Medieval places like Uzbekistan or Belarus or, I dunno, fucking Poland even. But apparently my editor meant Great Fucking Britain, home of some of the greatest thinkers, universities, and sexual deviants in the world. Where men still wear wigs in court, drink tea, and consume crumpets. Unbefuckinglievable.

...Read full article

 

5th January   

Offsite: Fear and Censorship...

Commenting on Index on Censorship on Danish Mohammed cartoons book
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Index on Censorship logoIndex on Censorship has refused to publish the cartoons of Muhammed in a discussion of their earlier censorship. This betrays its ideals.

Last summer Yale University Press struck a blow for censorship-by-prediction-of-violence when it decided to withdraw illustrations from the academic Jytte Klausen's book about the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. YUP removed not only the cartoons that are the subject of the book, but also all other purported images of Mohammed. This move was fraught with irony given that the cartoon affair itself revolved around predictions of violence, and self-censorship because of fears of violence, and predicted violence eventually, after much effort and encouragement, morphing into actual violence.

Yale consulted with diplomats and security experts before deciding to withdraw the cartoons and the other images of Mohammed (none of which were literally pictures of Mohammed, of course, but artists imaginations of what Mohammed may have looked like), but Jytte Klausen points out that the experts consulted are in fields that predispose them to focus on risks or to prefer peace and silence to disagreement. Diplomats cherish harmony more than free speech, security experts value security over other goods.

But the people at Index on Censorship have other priorities, surely. They at least know the value of free expression, and would not let purely notional imaginary projected risks cause them to censor themselves.

...Read full article

 

3rd January   

Offsite: Thrown to the Lions...

Joke tiger porn victim found not guilty
Link Here
Tiger porn

 Thrown to the Tigers

A North Wales man has been cleared of possessing an extreme pornographic image involving a tiger having sex with a woman.

The prosecution offered no evidence when it was accepted that the tiger in the clip was not real, and that it was all a joke.

It emerged in court that police and prosecutors had not previously listened to the film with the sound on. Following the act, the tiger turned to the camera and roared: That beats the Frosties advert! .

Defendant Andrew Holland appeared at Mold Crown Court today and pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Bell said that the prosecution had decided to offer no evidence against him.

When asked by Judge John Rogers QC why that was being done, she said that when the case was previously reviewed the film had no sound track. It had been further reviewed, the sound track could be heard, and it was clear that the film had been produced for the purposes of a joke rather than for sexual gratification.

The sound track confirmed that the person watching the image would realise that it was not actually a real tiger that was involved in the fact, she said.

The judge recorded a formal not guilty verdict.

The court heard how the film had been blue toothed to the defendant as a joke.

Following the hearing, defending barrister David Potter said that the prosecution now accepted that any reasonable person viewing the video would not consider it to be real and that it was produced for the purposes of a joke.

The sound track showed the tiger describing himself as Tony the Tiger, the Frosties advert character, who roars and says 'that beats the Frosties advert', he explained.

The joke meant that Holland had found himself accused in court - and on various Internet sites - of possessing an extreme pornographic image which portrayed a person performing an act of intercourse with a tiger which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

Unfortunately the persecution is not an an end, Holland faces another charge under the Dangerous Pictures Act involving the 'serious injury' clause. This will be heard in court on 17th March.

Offsite: Tiger has its day in court

3rd January 2010. See article from heresycorner.blogspot.com

It's oddly appropriate that the last day of a year notable for its stories about police powers, questionable prosecutions and state intrusion should have seen what must be one of the strangest cases on record come to court.

...Read full article

 

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