Germany's media regulator has revised its code on reporting whether crime suspects belong to an ethnic or religious group.
The German Press Council, a voluntary, industry-run body, says information about a person's ethnicity shouldn't be published unless there is a justified public interest in doing so. Previous guidance said such details should only be
published if there was a link between a person's ethnicity or religion and the crime.
Numerous German media outlets complained that the old code was hard to interpret during a breaking news situation and that withholding such information left readers searching for it on questionable social media sites and stirred conspiracy
theories of media cover-ups of migrant crimes.
A Walking Dead T-shirt has been removed for sale by the British clothing retailer Primark, after a complaint that the shirt was racist and fantastically offensive.
The shirt in question bore the image of a baseball bat and the message Eeny Meeny Miny Moe , a reference to a scene from the AMC zombie drama in which Negan is deciding who in the protagonist group to kill with his barb wire mace.
In the scene, Negan continues the phrase with, Catch a tiger by his toe .
Ian Lucraft complained to Primark saying:
We were shocked when we came face to face with a new t-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text. It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its
A Primark spokesperson grovelled an apology for the shirt, saying that any offence that the shirt caused was wholly unintentional:
The T-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the U.S. television series, 'The Walking Dead,' and the quote and image are taken directly from the show. Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely
apologizes for this. Primark has pulled the product from sale.
The t-shirt is widely available with several similar designs also on sale.
For the unenlightened I should explain that a sensitivity reader, or beta reader, is a person employed by a publisher to vet an author's works with the aim of identifying and excising any material that might be deemed offensive. Once limited
to children's fiction, sensitivity readers are now being enlisted to monitor works intended for adult consumption.
Riptide Publishing explains more in a recruitment advert:
Riptide Publishing, a publisher of the finest LGBTQ fiction, is hiring paid sensitivity readers. Our SRs will read manuscripts during developmental edits with an eye toward any potentially inaccurate, inauthentic,
insulting, misrepresentative, harmful, or *-ist themes, phrases, or actions in the text.
Sensitivity readers must be a part of the culture(s) or identity/identities they are reading for.
We need readers in all areas of racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, sexual and gender orientation, and mental and physical illnesses and disabilities.
ludicrous PC extremists at Cardiff Metropolitan University' have banned phrases such as right-hand man and gentleman's agreement under its censorship rules governing what students and staff are allowed to say.
The college's guidance dictates that gender-neutral terms should be used where possible, adding that students should not allow their cultural background to affect their choice of words.
It advises that the terms forefathers , mankind and sportsmanship should be avoided, as part of efforts to embrace cultural diversity through language.
Dr Joanna Williams, a lecturer in higher education the University of Kent and author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, notes that advising that certain words are banned is unnecessary . Shed said:
It is a very authoritarian attempt to control the way people think and the language people use.
The idea that in a university people need to be dictated to in this way is really insulting to students and academics, we should be able to cope with words. These words have evolved over a long period of time and they don't have sexist
A spokesprat for Cardiff Metropolitan University spouted:
The University is committed unreservedly to the principle of academic freedom within the law. It is also committed to providing an environment where everyone is valued and treated with dignity and respect. These two commitments are cornerstones
of academic life at the University.
A politically correct Californian law targeting age discrimination has failed to win the immediate approval of a judge. The law requires date of births or age to be withheld from documents and publications used for job recruitment. One high
profile consequence is that the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) would be banned from including age information in the profiles of stars and crew. This has led to the challenge of the law on grounds of unconstitutional censorship.
This week's ruling does not look good for the Californian law as the judge decided that birthday prohibition shall not apply until the full legal challenge is decided. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled:
[I]t's difficult to imagine how AB 1687 could not violate the First Amendment. The statute prevents IMDb from publishing factual information (information about the ages of people in the entertainment industry) on its website for public
consumption. This is a restriction of non-commercial speech on the basis of content.
To be sure, the government has identified a compelling goal -- preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. But the government has not shown how AB 1687 is 'necessary' to advance that goal. In fact, it's not clear how preventing one mere website
from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all. And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal antidiscrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and
less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end.
Chhabria held that -- because the law restricts IMDb's speech rights -- the site is suffering irreparable harm and enjoined the government from enforcing the law pending the resolution of this lawsuit.
The Royal Navy has banned posters of glamour models so as not to offend women sailors after some complained of feeling intimidated by the soft porn.
Perhaps the banning of public space pin ups is understandable in these PC times but the Navy's rules go further and effectively ban sailors from all but a tiny portion of available porn.
Sailors were told about the ban when they were given an amended version of the Royal Navy's Queen Regulations. A new section titled Pin-ups and Pornography reads:
Possession of films/videos and all forms of digital media (e.g DvDs, or downloads from the internet) that have been certified by the British Board of Film Censors is permitted. All other pornographic material is prohibited.
A Naval source told The Sun about these miserable rules:
To be fair, this is part of the service coming into the 21st Century, being more inclusive and not offending women.
But a lot of the lads are moaning about this because porn has been rife across the fleet for generations, and this is the result of a few people complaining.
The company speaks of providing tools to get such speech removed in a blog post:
Recently, many passionate users have reached out to us regarding instances of hate speech across our network. Language that offends, threatens, or insults groups solely based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation,
or other traits is against our network terms and has no place on the Disqus network. Hate speech is the antithesis of community and an impediment to the type of intellectual discussion that we strive to facilitate.
We know that language published on our network does not exist within a vacuum. It has the power to reach billions of people, change opinions and incite action. Hate speech is a threat, not only to those it targets, but to constructive discourse
of all forms across all communities. Hate speech creates fear, deters participation in public debate, and hinders diversity of thoughts and opinions.
We have the opportunity and the responsibility to combat hate speech on our network. Our goal is to foster environments where users can express their diverse opinions without the fear of experiencing hate speech. We persistently remove content
that contains hate speech or that otherwise violates our terms and policies . However, we know that simply reactively removing hate speech is not sufficient. That is why we are dedicated to building tools for readers and publishers to combat hate
speech, and are open to partnering with other organizations who share our goal.
We recently released several features to help readers and publishers better control offensive and otherwise unwanted content. User Blocking and User Flagging allow users to block and report other users who are violating our terms of service. Our
new moderation panel makes it easier for publishers to identify and moderate comments based on user reputation .
Currently, we are working on improved tools to help publishers effectively prevent troublesome users from returning to their sites. And as we get smarter about identifying hate speech, we are working on ways to automatically remove it from our
As an organization, Disqus firmly stands against hate speech in all forms. To recap, in an effort to combat hate speech both on and off our network, we are making the following commitments:
We will enforce our terms of service by removing hate speech and harassment on our network. To report hate speech and other abusive behavior, please follow these instructions .
We will invest in new features for publishers and readers to better manage hate speech. We hope to talk more about this soon.
To support this philosophy, we will also be supporting organizations that are equipped to fight hate speech outside of Disqus. We are exploring several options and plan to dedicate portions of our advertising profits to fight hate speech.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for using the expression Islamist terrorism , saying the phrase saddened Muslims.
After a meeting in Ankara Merkel said:
We spoke in detail about...the questions of the fight against Islamist terrorism, against every form of terrorism, also the terrorism of the PKK.
Erdogan, sitting next to Mrs Merkel, was stony-faced as she used the phrase Islamist terrorism . Erdogan, glancing sternly at the German chancellor, pointedly remarked:
This expression "Islamist terror" seriously saddens us Muslims. Such an expression is not correct because Islam and terror cannot be associated. The meaning of Islam is peace.
It has become a bit of a political correctness issue for the media and politicians to report on world violence and terrorism when a disproportionately large number of news items are initiated by muslims. Maybe there can never be a polite or
acceptable word to describe this association. But neither is the association easy to cover up. If motivations or allegiances of terrorists are not reported, then readers/viewers simply notice the rather obvious omission and simply infer that this
must be due to it being related to islam.
Last year, a coalition of over 70 social justice groups and individuals released a list of demands to Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to address their concerns over Facebook's use of censorship in compliance with law
Several organizations reported on activists whose facebook accounts were censored while covering the civilian uprisings in Charlotte, NC. Other incidents include the removal of live footage from anti Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the temporary
disabling of Palestinian journalists' accounts, and reports that Facebook sent data to help police track and surveil protesters in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. , Reem Suleiman, campaigner at SumOfUs said:
We're still in the dark about how Facebook censors users and collaborates voluntarily with law enforcement. Facebook needs to come clean with the hundreds of thousands of people asking for transparency and public accountability.
Brandi Collins, Campaign Director for Color Of Change said:
Social media platforms like Facebook are a powerful tool for Black people to draw attention to injustices our community faces That's why we're so concerned that a powerful company like Facebook has been quick to silence Black voices by censoring
individual Facebook users at the request of law enforcement. We recognize Facebook is under pressure from law enforcement and the company has a responsibility to protect its users' freedom of expression. Unfortunately, each time we've tried to
engage Facebook around these issues, our suggestions have been dismissed or ignored. We will continue to publicly call for an overhaul of Facebook's current policies and practices until the company refuses to enable the censorship of Black
Although the group is calling on Facebook to censor its own activists less, the coalition wrote to Facebook to ask for its opponents to be censored more:
At the same time, harassment and threats directed at activists based ont heir race, religion, and sexual orientation is thriving on Facebook. Many of thesea ctivists have reported such harassment and threats by users and pages on Facebook only
to be told that they don't violate Facebook's Community Standards. Similar experiences have been reported by Facebook users from a variety of communities, yet your recent response indicates you are adequately addressing the problem. We disagree.
Sky have pulled the broadcast of an episode of their satirical series Urban Myths after Michael Jackson's children said they were 'sickened' and 'offended' by the portrayal of their father, played by Joseph Fiennes.
The episode is a tongue-in-cheek dramatisation of a rumoured road trip taken by Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in 2001, after 9/11.
The casting of a white actor as Jackson had already proved contentious, prompting accusations of whitewashing, though many pointed out that the singer's skin had been considerably lighter by this point and he had undergone cosmetic surgery.
However, Jackson's children were 'enraged'. Paris- Michael said:
It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother, Liz, as well. Where is the respect? They worked through blood, sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and
remarkable legacies. Shameful portrayal.
Speaking to the Guardian this week, Ben Palmer, the series director, said people should not jump to conclusions and described Fiennes's performance of Jackson as a really sweet, nuanced, characterful performance .
Fearing that the feminist movie Embrace will be unattractive to young people, distributors commission a little BBFC cosmetic surgery to improve its appeal
13th January 2017
Embrace is a 2016 Australia / Canada / Dominican Republic / Germany / USA / UK feminist documentary by Taryn Brumfitt.
Starring Renee Airya, Jade Beall and Taryn Brumfitt.
When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn's crusade as she explores the
global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.
The BBFC rating for Embrace has been changed. The film has now been passed 12A for infrequent strong language, nudity, brief surgical detail after 9s of BBFC category cuts for 2017 cinema release.
The BBFC commented:
Company chose to reduce the number of uses of strong language (by bleeping spoken uses and blurring written uses) in order to obtain a 12A classification. An uncut 15 classification was available.
The BBFC Insight reveals a few more details about the content after cuts:
Infrequent strong language ('fuck') is seen on a website page. There is also milder bad language, including uses of shit , arse and God , and some bleeped and visually obscured additional uses of stronger language.
There is brief sexualised nudity, including a shot of pole dancing. Several scenes feature non sexual nudity, including female genital nudity.
Images of cosmetic surgery feature brief sight of scalpels cutting into flesh and brief bloody detail during Botox injections.
The BBFC originally passed the film 15 uncut for strong language, nudity, brief surgical detail for cinema release. A few days later the consumer advice was changed to remove the reference to nudity and surgical images. The original advice was
restored after the rating was reduced to 12A.
Never cut by Australian and New Zealand censors but the film made the news after the director successfully appealed against an Australian MA 15+ rating and won an M rating instead. In New Zealand the film censor exceptionally overruled the
A Bristol taxi firm has generated a little outrage by resurrecting a previously controversial advert campaign suggesting that if beer goggles are kicking in then perhaps it's time to call a cab.
The campaign for CityFox taxis features male and female adverts of overweight people next to the slogan: if I start to look sexy book a taxi .
Inevitably the advert featuring the woman has 'outraged' local feminists. Bristol Women's Voice said it was appalled by the ad as it reinforces harmful gender stereotypes and sends the message that women are to be judged by their
physical appearance .
However there are no reports of the feminists being concerned about men being judged by their appearance.
The same theme was previously used by West Quay Cars of Southampton in 2015, and on that occasion, advert censors of the ASA dismissed complaints saying that the adverts were light hearted and would not cause widespread offence.
CityFox has now decided to scrap the campaign anyway. However CityFox told the Bristol Post that it would not apologise for the campaign which also featured a dishevelled male on a flyer aimed at female passengers.