Swiss artist Milo Moiré has been arrested in London after allowing strangers to stroke her breasts and genitals for her latest performance piece.
The project, titled Mirror Box , saw the artist walk around various European cities with a large mirrored structure covering her body. Using a megaphone to attract attention, she would then invite strangers to stick their hands in the box,
and fondle either her breasts or vagina for a 30-second period.
The performance is a follow-up to her naked protest against Cologne's New Year's Eve sex attacks. She explained that she wanted to give a symbol for the consensual nature of sexual acts. She said:
I am standing here today for women's rights and sexual self-determination. Women have a sexuality, just like men have one. However, women decide for themselves when and how they want to be touched, and when they don't.
However, when she arrived in London's Trafalgar Square she was arrested shortly after the performance began -- with police eventually forcing her to spend 24 hours in a prison cell, and fining her for a "4-digit fine".
Nobody should be surprised that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instituted effective blasphemy laws to defend himself from criticism in Turkey. But many of us had assumed that these lèse-majesté laws would not yet be put in place
At the end of last month, during a late-night comedy programme, a young German comedian called Jan Böhmermann included a poem that was rude about Erdogan. Incidentally the point of Mr Böhmermann's skit was to highlight the obscenity of Turkey
already trying to censor satire in Germany.
What happened next happened in swift order. First of all the Turks complained to their German counterparts. Within a few days the programme had been pulled. A few more days and it was whitewashed out of existence altogether. In the meantime Mr
Böhmermann himself was forced to go under police protection. The worst blow then came late last week when Chancellor Merkel allowed the prosecution of Mr Böhmermann to go ahead in Germany. Strangely enough, Chancellor Merkel is currently
pretending that the trial of a German comedian in Germany for insulting a foreign despot is a liberal act. .
Well I'm a free-born British man, and we don't live under the blasphemy laws of such despots. So in honour of this fact I have spent the weekend writing rude limericks about Mr Erdogan. And I would hereby like to invite all readers to join me in
a grand Erdogan limerick competition. That isn't to say that entries which come in the form of Iambic pentameters, or heroic couplets will be completely discounted. I think a work in the Homeric mode, for example, about the smallness of Erdogan's
manhood could (if suitably disgusting) stand some chance of winning. But I recommend limericks because almost everything insulting that is worth saying can usually be included within the five lines of that beautiful and delicate form.
A generous reader, who shares the Spectator's belief in the freedom of speech, is offering a £1000 prize for the best limerick. We've had some great entries so far, please keep them coming.
And the melon farmers get the ball rolling:
There was a little dicked hater from Turkey,
Who got his hooks into a frau somewhat murky,
He bullied and cajoled,
Got free speech overruled,
And celebrated by fucking the donkey.
Well the entries have been flooding in for the Insult Erdogan Poetry Contest . Thousands and thousands of them in fact, with entries from all over the world. The volume is quite extraordinary, particularly the number that are being
submitted in Arabic.
Next week there is going to be a major development as I unveil the international prize jury who are going to help judge the event. I am proud to say that we already have an extraordinary array of international literary stars who are going to help
adjudicate what is now the world's highest paying poetry prize.
Positive Hell is a 2014 UK / Spain documentary by Andi Reiss.
POSITIVE HELL is the story of five individuals who have defied their doctors and lived on for nearly thirty years with a diagnosis of death. The film highlights a network of people diagnosed HIV positive in the province of Galicia, Northern
Spain. How can this be? Haven't we been told that everyone who tests positive is sure to die? Do these people have a special magic gene that protects them against HIV? Or could it be that this death sentence has been mistaken all along? The five
protagonists describe their struggle to survive when faced with a death sentence, their experiences as social pariahs, their battles with doctors and the medical orthodoxy and their absolute conviction that the science behind AIDS is cruelly
LIFF, the London Independent Film Festival has axed its screening of the film Positive Hell, scheduled for April 17, in a move described by the film's writer and narrator, Joan Shenton, as blatant censorship and the latest case
of 'no platforming' .
Shenton said that she had been contacted by LIFF director, Erich Schultz, to say that he had pulled the film after four HIV/AIDS campaign groups had threatened protests at the screening venue and at festival sponsors' premises if we
[LIFF] don't comply . Schultz also said he had received over twenty protest letters .
Positive Hell was successfully screened at the Frontline Club in Paddington, London, last year after similar threats, though no protest actually materialised at that screening.
Joan Shenton said:
Positive Hell, the right to free speech and the HIV-positive people honestly depicted in the film are the victims of barefaced censorship. The film presents a view of HIV and AIDS which is not shared by the giant pharmaceutical companies, their
lobby groups and some activists, but it is an evidence-based view nonetheless and has just as much right to be aired and debated as any other.
I am flabbergasted by LIFF's censorship in response to a handful of emails that were clearly designed to shut down this debate by intimidating the festival and its sponsors. It questions just how 'independent' the London Independent Film
Festival really is.
Following its controversial no platform banning by the London Independent Film Festival (LIFF), announced on Monday , the HIV & AIDs film Positive Hell is to be screened in London this coming Sunday, the day originally scheduled by
LIFF, but independently of the supposedly independent festival. The film's writer, narrator and co-producer, Joan Shenton, announced this afternoon:
We do not accept that London's so-called 'independent' film festival should censor our film in this high-handed way, nor that it has the right to tell London film-goers what they can and cannot watch, just because it was 'got at' by four
charities who have a vested interest in not challenging the AIDS status quo.
So the screening of Positive Hell will go ahead, irrespective of LIFF, at noon on Sunday April 17, at the Soho Screening Rooms in D'Arblay Street, W1, followed by a Q&A. And this time tickets are available at no charge. This is Britain, not
some totalitarian regime.
Other quite mainstream film festivals are very happy to screen Positive Hell. It was even nominated for best documentary at the Marbella International Film Festival, as well as being selected for LA Cinefest, the Digital Griffix online festival
and the Indie Festival 01. And the previous time we screened Positive Hell in London, we received similar threats but nothing ever came of them.
I believe this decision by Mr Shultz and his student selection panel is timid and incredibly short-sighted, as well as being blatant censorship and yet another denial of free speech through the practice of 'no platforming'. But we will not be
censored. Sunday's screening will go ahead from noon in its new venue, and will be followed by a Q&A which may well touch on censorship as well as debating, rather than silencing, the issues raised by the film.
The screening of Positive Hell will take place at Soho Screening Rooms, 14 D'Arblay St, London W1F 8DY. Doors will open at noon for a 12.30 showing, followed by a Q&A.
Offsite Comment: Positive Hell: silencing the HIV heretics
The legality of Britain's surveillance laws used for the mass snooping of communications come unders the intense scrutiny of 15 European judges on Tuesday in a politically sensitive test case that could limit powers to gather online data.
The outcome of the hearing at the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg is likely to influence the final shape of the government's investigatory powers bill and will test judicial relationships within the EU.
Around a dozen EU states including the UK have intervened in the challenge against the government's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Dripa) that was originally brought by two MPs , the Conservative David Davis and Labour's deputy
leader, Tom Watson.
The British case is being heard in conjunction with a Swedish case based on similar principles.