Animal rights group Peta has demanded that Britain's oldest pub changes its name to show compassion for animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says that Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans should update its name to Ye
Olde Clever Cocks to reflect a change in society's attitudes.
Since it was founded in the eighth century, the pub in Abbey Mill Lane has had many names, but since 1872 it has been called Ye Olde Fighting Cocks because of its history of cockfighting - a sport banned in the UK in the 1800s.
Peta director Mimi Bekhechi said:
Changing the name would reflect today's rejection of needless violence and help celebrate chickens as the intelligent, sensitive and social animals they are.
Today, kind people are appalled by the thought of forcing birds to fight to the death and more people than ever are making the compassionate choice not to eat chickens, either.
Hundreds have taken to social media to express their outrage at the idea. Alasdair Melville who used to work at the pub said:
Rather than worrying about the name of a pub, I think Peta should worry about looking after chickens at chicken farms for example.
Another local added:
I do not associate the name with cock fighting, I associate with the history.
The letter below was sent to Peter Wanless, CEO of the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), on 10th March. It is signed by leading academics, sex educators, journalists and campaigners.
Dear Mr Wanless,
We write to express our deep concern about a report you published last week, which received significant press coverage. The report claimed that a tenth of 12-13 year olds believe they are addicted to pornography, and appears to have been fed to
the media with accompanying quotes suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people.
Your study appears to rely entirely on self-report evidence from young people of 11 and older, and so is not -- as it has been presented -- indicative of actual harm but rather, provides evidence that some young people are fearful that
pornography is harming them. In other words, this study looks at the effects on young people of widely published but unevidenced concerns about pornography, not the effects of pornography itself.
It appears that your study was not an academic one, but was carried out by a "creative market research" group called OnePoll. We are concerned that you, a renowned child protection agency, are presenting the findings of an opinion poll
as a serious piece of research. Management Today recently critiqued OnePoll in an article that opened as follows: "What naive readers may not realise is that much of what is reported as scientific is not in fact genuine research at all, but
dishonest marketing concocted by PR firms."
There have been countless studies into the effects of porn since the late 1960s, and yet the existence of the kinds of harm you report remains contested. In fact, many researchers have reached the opposite conclusion: that increased availability
of porn correlates with healthier attitudes towards sex, and with steadily reducing rates of sexual violence. For example, the UK government's own research (1) generated the following conclusion in 2005: "There seems to be no relationship
between the availability of pornography and an increase in sex crimes ...; in comparison there is more evidence for the opposite effect."
The very existence of "porn addiction" is questionable, and it is not an accepted medical condition. Dr David J Ley, a psychologist specialising in this field, says: "Sex and porn can cause problems in people's lives, just like any
other human behavior or form of entertainment. But, to invoke the idea of "addiction" is unethical, using invalid, scientifically and medically-rejected concepts to invoke fear and feed panic." (2)
Immediately following the release of your report, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the Tories would be introducing strong censorship of the Internet if they win the next election, in order to "protect children" from
pornography. The Culture Secretary's new announcement would probably lead to millions of websites being blocked by British ISPs, should it come into force. We would point out the experience of the optional "porn filters", introduced in
early 2014, which turned out in practise to block a vast range of content including sex education material.
The BBC news website quotes you as saying, in response to the minister's announcement: "Any action that makes it more difficult for young people to find this material is to be welcomed." We disagree: we believe that introducing
Chinese-style blocking of websites is not warranted by the findings of your opinion poll, and that serious research instead needs to be undertaken to determine whether your claims of harm are backed by rigorous evidence.
Jerry Barnett, CEO Sex & Censorship
Frankie Mullin, Journalist
Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland
Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University
David J. Ley PhD. Clinical Psychologist (USA)
Dr Brooke Magnanti
Feona Attwood, Professor of Media & Communication at Middlesex University
Martin Barker, Emeritus Professor at University of Aberystwyth
Jessica Ringrose, Professor, Sociology of Gender and Education, UCL Institute of Education
Ronete Cohen MA, Psychologist
Dr Meg John Barker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University
Kath Albury, Associate Professor, UNSW Australia
Myles Jackman, specialist in obscenity law
Dr Helen Hester, Middlesex University
Justin Hancock, youth worker and sex educator
Ian Dunt, Editor in Chief, Politics.co.uk
Ally Fogg, Journalist
Dr Emily Cooper, Northumbria University
Gareth May, Journalist
Dr Kate Egan, Lecturer in Film Studies, Aberystwyth University
Dr Ann Luce, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University
John Mercer, Reader in Gender and Sexuality, Birmingham City University
Dr. William Proctor, Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University
Dr Jude Roberts, Teaching Fellow, University of Surrey
Dr Debra Ferreday, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Lancaster University
Jane Fae, author of "Taming the beast" a review of law/regulation governing online pornography
Michael Marshall, Vice President, Merseyside Skeptics Society
Martin Robbins, Journalist
Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn (University of Western Australia)
Dr Lucy Neville, Lecturer in Criminology, Middlesex University
Alix Fox, Journalist and Sex Educator
Dr Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Durham University
Chris Ashford, Professor of Law and Society, Northumbria University
Diane Duke, CEO Free Speech Coalition (USA)
Dr Steve Jones, Senior Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University
Dr Johnny Walker, Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University
Update: NSPCC's shoddy political campaigning gets picked up by the Independent
13th April 2015.
The open letter has been picked up by both the Independent and the website politics.co.uk
The Independent leads
NSPCC accused of risking its reputation and whipping up moral panic with study into porn addiction among children
The NSPCC has been accused of deliberately whipping up a moral panic with a study suggesting a tenth of all 12- to 13-year-olds fear they are addicted to pornography.
In an open letter to the child protection organisation's chief executive Peter Wanless, a group of doctors, academics, journalists and campaigners criticised the NSPCC for suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of
young people .
Meanwhile politics.co.uk note that the NSPCC research was hogwash
How the NSPCC lost its way.
Late last month, the NSPCC released some startling findings. A tenth of all 12-to-13-year-olds were addicted to porn, it found. One in five had been shocked or upset by the things they'd found online. Twelve per cent had made their own porn.
The findings were widely reported . Immediately afterwards, culture secretary Sajid Javid promised new censorship measures, with a regulator ensuring adult sites have age verification technology to prevent young people accessing porn.
The cycle from research to reporting to promises of legislation was accomplished in the space of a morning. It was a remarkably effective operation.
The only problem was, it was all nonsense. The NSPCC research was hogwash.
Children addicted to porn Don't believe everything the surveys say
OnePoll was behind a recent survey revealing that 20% of people believe that smoking has improved their career opportunities . This one was commissioned by an E-cigarette company . A poll commissioned during National Ferry Fortnight for
Discover Ferries -- which had just invested heavily in improved seating -- revealed that travellers really hate aircraft seats. You get the picture.
Thank you for your letter detailing your concerns about our recently launched porn campaign for young people and a poll that was published with it.
As you will be aware the NSPCC has a long tradition of campaigning on difficult issues that affect children. Our work is solely designed to make the most difference to the protection of children. Through our various services, including ChildLine,
we listen to the voices of children day in day out and it is essential that we respond to their concerns and help them confront and address issues that they find worrisome. Porn is a subject which has always drawn strong debate but that doesn't
mean that we should shy away from what children are telling us.
As you will expect we make no judgment on adults viewing porn. But we know through those who call ChildLine, that children can be worried and upset by the effect pornography is having on them. A recent European-wide piece of research into
violence and abuse in teenage relationships found a high proportion of boys in England regularly viewed pornography, and one in five harbored extremely negative attitudes towards women. High levels of sexual coercion and in some cases violence
within teenage relationships were reported. We believe that as a society we need to ensure that children are both protected and educated in the best way possible. Rather than seek to restrict debate we seek to promote it for it is only when
subjects are not allowed to remain in the shadows that they can be properly dealt with.
As a campaigning organisation, the NSPCC uses a wide range of methods to listen to the voices of children, parents, carers and professionals. We continue to explore how sensitive subjects, including pornography, are affecting young people. This
will no doubt uncover difficult and complex issues; and we must work together as a society to address these challenges.
Nanak Shah Fakir is a 2015 drama by Harinder Singh Sikka.
Starring Tanmay Bhat, Gurmeet Choudhary and Amyra Dastur.
Police were called and a cinema cleared and closed after protestors pushed through the main entrance and headed for the screen showing Bollywood blockbuster, Nanak Shah Fakir.
Once inside the Cineworld multiplex at Bentley Bridge in Wednesfield., the Sikh protestors sat down on the floor and began to shout, refusing to move until cinema bosses met their demands and stopped the screening.
Nanak Shah Fakir, which is directed by Sartaj Singh Pannu, has been mired in a blasphemy controversy since its release last week. Apparently the depiction of the religious figures in human form is considered to be a blasphemy by many Sikhs.
It has been banned in many parts of India and attracted mass protests, while some UK cinemas have refused to show it through fear of religious strife. Cineworld said it has no plans to show the film in future following the incident. Odeon also
confirmed it would also cancel planned screenings following the protest.
One cinema goer said he was among dozens of customers asked to leave the multiplex when the commotion ensued. He said:
It was extremely intimidating. For a group of people to be able to get a film stopped and then banned is just ridiculous. It's an attack on freedom of speech. The atmosphere was quite aggressive in there and it's not what you expect to face when
you go and watch a film.
Cineworld spokeswoman Liz Larvin, said:
We have taken the decision to cancel screenings of Nanak Shah Fakir because we want our customers to enjoy visiting our cinemas and experience a wide range of films without disruption from others. We apologise to anyone disappointed by this
decision and to those customers impacted on Sunday.
The film was passed PG uncut by the BBFC for mild violence. For some reason the film was submitted twice in versions running 138:18s and 146:35s. The BBFC commented:
NANAK SHAH FAKIR is a Hindi language historical drama about the life and teachings of Sikhism founder, Guru Nanak, as he embarks on a spiritual journey during the reign of the Mughal empire.
There is mild violence in a scene in which a yak stamps on a man, who is out to fetch some water in the snow. There are also some images of battle and some rifle gunshots from soldiers, although there is no detail of injury shown.
The political organisation, Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, is lobbying parliamentary candidates to sign up for oppressive policies to ban all businesses from working with age restricted websites who don't sign for onerous and
unviable age verification requirements.
The political campaign group, Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, is an umbrella organisation funded by Action for Children, BAAF, Barnardo's, Children England, Children's Society, ECPAT UK, Kidscape, NCB, NSPCC, and Stop It Now!
CHIS has launched its Digital Manifesto which it is sending to all the major political parties contesting seats in the forthcoming General Election to the UK Parliament. The manifesto asks the parties to commit themselves to the policy
recommendations which are put forward. CHIS has more or less guaranteed political support by cunningly tacking on the internet censorship measures to a raft of measures targeting child porn.
Perhaps the most oppressive section in the document is:
Data protection and access to age restricted goods and services
39. The government should consider ways to ensure stricter compliance with the decision in R v Perrin (CCA 2002)15 in respect of adult pornography sites. Perhaps the Gambling Commission's experience in certifying age verification systems could
be brought to bear in this area. The Authority for Television on Demand's remit could be extended to enable them to advise or adjudicate on whether particular sites are covered by the decision in R v Perrin.
40. Legislation should be introduced to make it illegal for any bank, credit card company or other form of business or association to provide any services or facilities to companies or organisations that publish pornography on the internet but
do not have a robust age verification process in place.
41. Legislation should be brought forward to provide for the development of regulations governing the online sale of age-restricted goods and services. It should be a crime for any bank, credit card company or other organisation to provide
financial or other services to websites selling age restricted goods or services without a robust age verification system in place.
42. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) should issue clear, research-based advice and guidance on the respective rights and responsibilities of all the parties where online data transactions involving children are concerned. These
regulations should specifically address but not be limited to data transactions linked to the engagement of children in e-commerce.
43. In particular, the ICO should consider setting, or asking parliament to set, a legally defined minimum age below which verifiable parental consent will always be required in an online environment (though this should be balanced to avoid
overly restricting the children's activities online). This should apply for all types of data transactions, or for those transactions linked to e-commerce, or both.
Comment: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored
2nd April 2015. Thanks to Alan
Two thoughts spring to mind here.
1. How can these outfits claim to be charities when they are engaged in naked political activity by campaigning for changes in the law? Would it be worthwhile to mount a challenge with the Charity Commissioners?
2. I note their enthusiasm for the decision in R v. Perrin. You covered this case at the time, and it was pretty outrageous. Perrin, a straight Frenchman, had acquired as a going concern an American business, one of whose activities was a gay
scat site. (Nothing else it did involved porn.) Perrin ensured that the site complied with American federal law and the law of the states in which the porn was filmed and the servers housed. It was Perrin's misfortune to live in Sussex. He was
nicked on the basis that since the stuff could be downloaded here it was published here. The charities are creaming their pants over this case because the jury only found Perrin guilty in relation to the free samples, not the stuff
behind the paywall. Incidentally, the case was met with outrage and incomprehension in France, where Le Nouvel Observateur had to explain the bizarre concept of obscene publication to its readers.