As the EU Parliament prepares to vote to censor any content that might demean women (whatever that might mean), feminist and stripper Edie Lamort writes about the good side of porn, and the dangers of censorship.
The question of what exactly constitutes pornography, as always, is problematic no matter where such laws might be implemented. Sex is sex is sex, you say? People pay to watch fully-clothed women do unspeakable things to bowls of jelly specifically for
the purposes of sexual arousal. The I know it when I see it obscenity argument, aka the Hicklin Test, is indicative of the sort of thinking that usually surrounds such issues. Would we have to appoint a Pornfinder General?
What about your own naughty photos? Would they be banned too?
People would rightly be concerned about the status of private entertainment. Would partners taking naughty pictures of each other for their private consumption be prosecuted? Or is it only paying for it that's considered problematic? In that case what
about the people in Iceland who pay to advertise on swinger's websites or go to fetish club nights? Britain's culture of swinging, dogging, and fetish clubs is leaps and bounds beyond Iceland's, by the way. How can you tell the difference between images
produced for free and images produced for pay, or who the intended audience is? And who gets prosecuted?
How do you delete people's hard drive?
Finally there is the reality of porn consumption in countries like Iceland and Britain that have had longstanding access to internet porn: people who view porn online don't just stream it, they save it. Would it be possible to eliminate the porn already
in the country? Of course not. Would it be feasible to stop people from being able to share it through peer-to-peer applications, email attachments, and the myriad other ways of transferring files? Unlikely. Is any government prepared to institute and
pay for a system by which all of the country's electronic traffic passes through some checking bottleneck?
People can and did exchange contraband information long before the advent of the internet. They always will. And if so, be prepared for early-90s computing skills re-emerging - you know, back in the pre-World Wide Web days when internet porn collectors
used to share and decode files. Simply applying some iteration of a pink block filter wouldn't stop this.
Extract: Even Russia Today has published an article about the stupidity of porn blocking
A former MI5 agent Annie Machon warns, this could be a slippery slope to even more censorship from the government.
RT: If Iceland introduces this ban, what effect would that have on the rest of the world?
AM: I think it is unlikely that they will introduce it. But if they do, then I think it is very quickly going to be seen as failed. As I said people will find a way to tunnel around it, they will be up against the innovation of the porn industry. So, it
would probably be a failed experiment within a year or two. But I think if a western country seen to be doing this it will be a justification for other more totalitarian regimes to say Well, you know, Iceland's doing this. So we can do it, too. And of course it might well encourage ill thought out policies in other western democracies.
RT: Critics have been pointing out that censorship technology is linked to surveillance technology. If Iceland gives the green light to this ban, can we be sure it will be just about child protection?
AM: We absolutely can't. As soon as you start allowing certain technologies to be input onto the internet to stop and censor certain information they will be misused by police, by intelligence agencies and as soon as we are aware that the internet is
being censored and we might be being watched or monitored all times, then we start to self-censor as well. We will not download books or information as freely as we might in case it might be deemed radical or subversive and we are going on some domestic
extremists hit-list. And then, of course, we self-censor what we say on the internet as well. So, it will be very quick to slide in some sort of Orwellian big brother dystopia.
The Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 prohibit obscene publications, performances and photographs. Are these laws in today's society still relevant or should they be repealed. Written by Alistair Burns.
Canadian drink censors have ordered stores in the province of Manitoba to remove bottles of Ron de Jeremy rum from shelves. The bottle features an image of Jeremy's face on its label above the slogan the adult liquor
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries spokeswoman Andrea Kowal explained that they erred on the side of caution after it received several complaints.
But on Thursday the rum was back in stores, after the drinks censors changed their mind and deemed the bottle unoffensive. Kowal told Canada's The National Post:
There's nothing offensive about the name of the product or its label; you have to know who Ron Jeremy is and what his former profession was --- and then that has to offend you,
The man behind the Ron Jeremy-dedicated booze said he was thrilled his product was back on shelves.
A police forensic investigation of a man's computers found fragments of 11 indecent images of children.
However it was accepted that these images were unwittingly downloaded and presumably had been deleted anyway.
The police found the fragments in sectors that could not have been accessed without forensic tools.
Police seized 6 computers and returned 2, but they refused to return the other 4 saying that they still contained the inaccessible image fragments.
They took the unfortunate man to court for the forfeiture and destruction of the hard drives they had kept which had a massive 888GB of adult movies and 2.5GB of adult photos.
A district judge found in the police's favour last July, saying they could not return hard drives containing child porn because they would be distributing illegal material.
The man appealed, pointing out that they could delete or transfer the child images and return his collection of adult pornography. Or perhaps they could just pay compensation to cover new computers and the re-purchase of the adult porn.
But his appeal was rejected by Judge Julian Lambert, sitting with magistrates Simon Brookes and Chris Barke, who said the police were entitled to keep the computers. They said there was no foolproof way of deleting the offending material from the
computers before returning them. And the law states that if it is not practicable to do that the item should be forfeited to the police.
Digital evidence recovery policeman Scott Eggins told the court:
Deletion in a computer sense is a very complicated matter. There is no such thing as a permanent deletion on computers unfortunately - or fortunately. There is no way of permanently deleting it, short of putting it through a shredder.'
The man was told that he would have to pay the police to recover his legal property and was also find legal costs for appealing.
It may seem obvious to some but a new £ 118,000 study has discovered people do not like the idea of strip clubs being outside schools.
It took a whole year for the University of Kent's School of Social Policy to reach the conclusion of their report which was paid for using taxpayers' money.
The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, a non-departmental public body that receives most of its funding through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Paul Alcock, chairman of Maidstone Town Centre Management, said:
This survey is a total waste of money because they are actually telling us the flaming obvious. Most people don't want lap-dancing venues where kids can see them. The place for this sort of club is at the bottom of the high street or somewhere out of the
But Professor Phil Hubbard, who led the research, defended the study. He said:
If you are the type of person who believes all research in this country ought to be looking for a cure for cancer then I am sure our research seems unnecessary.
However, we set out to help local authorities decide where might be appropriate for lap dancing clubs, with a view to making safer cities for all.
Many councillors and local authorities have already thanked us for producing research which will make it easier for them to evolve sensible policies for controlling lap dance clubs.
Scottish politicians have called for an investigation into a website which introduces Scottish cash-strapped female
students to sugar daddies in an effort to help them cover university costs.
The SeekingArrangement website claims the average college Sugar Baby receives approximately £ 5,000 per month to cover the cost of tuition, books and living expenses. The site describes sugar daddy dating
as a mutually beneficial arrangement between seekers and finders where the sugar babies state the amount of money they expect to earn from the relationship and the sugar daddies state their budget.
Brandon Wade, chief executive officer and founder of the US-based site, which has two million members worldwide, said:
While some may argue that these women are just using men for their own personal gain, I believe that they are proactive in pursuing a higher education.
Unfortunately, because of the of recent tuition hikes, the college experience has become greatly unbalanced.
But Liz Smith, MSP, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman claimed that such sites could put female students at risk.
I do not think I will be alone in having deep-seated concerns about this. I am sure there will be many parents, members of staff and indeed many students themselves who will rightly be very wary of the approach of this type of website.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a member of the education committee, said:
The company may like to spin this as students 'being proactive in pursuing a higher education' but I am very concerned that this may take are more sinister turn.
Updated: Corrected to absolve Scottish politicians of all blame
Thanks to Alan who kindly pointed out:
I know some Scottish politicians are sanctimonious, authoritarian dipsticks - especially the insufferable Johann Lamont and Nicola Sturgeon, but this time I think you're unfair to them. To give haggis-noshing politicians their due, they abolished tuition
fees for Scottish students at Scottish universities. It's English politicians who have imposed fees that may encourage students to earn a bit of dosh as sex workers.
A year-long research project into people's attitudes to lap-dance and striptease clubs in towns and cities in England
and Wales has found that most people are only concerned by them if they are situated too near their own homes or local schools.
Lead researcher Professor Phil Hubbard, of the University's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, found that although many residents consider lap-dance clubs lower the tone of neighbourhoods, most do not consider clubs located in
town centres to be a source of nuisance.
The research - funded by a £ 118,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council and jointly carried out by Dr Rachela Colosi of the University of Lincoln - is the first of its kind to study the regulation of
the 241 lap-dance and striptease clubs in England and Wales and their impact on people's feelings of safety at night. It was prompted by the introduction of new powers to regulate Sexual Entertainment Venues under the Policing and Crime Act 2009.
Professor Hubbard said:
Opposition to lap dancing venues appears mainly based on perceptions that clubs normalize sexism and promote anti-social behaviour rather than any direct experience of crime. Our study did not uncover any evidence that these clubs cause more nuisance or
crime than other night-time venues.
The majority of our respondents appeared unconcerned about clubs so long as they were not located near schools or places where they might be particularly visible to young people.
Professor Hubbard said that most local authorities have now adopted the new powers for licensing lap dancing clubs and have sought to develop guidelines indicating where clubs may or may not be located.
55% of all respondents in the research felt lap dancing clubs are appropriate in town and city centres. However, the majority of people felt lap-dancing clubs are inappropriate near to schools (83%) or religious buildings (65%). Very few (3%) felt clubs
are suitable in residential areas, even though those living closer to them were no more likely than those living further away to report any nuisance being generated by lap-dancing clubs.
Around one in ten respondents felt that there is no suitable location for lap-dancing clubs whatsoever; women constituted the majority of these respondents, though it was also evident that those over forty were less tolerant of lap-dancing clubs than
However, not all clubs were perceived to have similar impacts on their locality. Some clubs were judged to be better managed and less likely to be lowering the tone, primarily on the basis of their external appearance. Signage or club names that implied
sexual connotations were more likely to attract comments and anxiety, while blacked out windows appeared to arouse suspicion and were thought to lend some clubs a sleazy appearance .
Dr Colosi said: Those viewed as 'sexualising the street are most likely to cause offence, and create fear among those already fearful of the city at night.'
A catalogue selling various products, including home furnishings, kitchenware and jewellery featured a number of ads for erotic books, including Brief Encounters: A Woman's Guide to Casual Sex, Shoot Your Own Adult Home Movies and Disciples of
the Whip . The cover of each book was shown, some of which featured sexual imagery. Issue
A complainant challenged whether the ads were offensive and inappropriate in a catalogue that could be seen by children.
Premier Offers Direct said they marketed their catalogues to those who had opted in to receive further offers from them. The complainant received the catalogue because she previously purchased a product from the advertiser in 2009 and that, at the time,
had opted in for additional offers from the advertiser and third parties. They also said that the catalogue to which the complainant responded also contained similar adult-related products and that, had she objected at the time, they would have
suppressed her from future mailings. They did not believe that the pictures or content of the ads were offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The text that described each of the books was of a sexual nature and some of the covers featured sexual imagery. The ASA considered that such content was likely to cause offence when displayed in a medium that could be seen by children. We understood
that the complainant had opted in to receive the catalogue. However, we were concerned that, by opting in, recipients were not made aware that they might receive sexually suggestive material as a result. Because the ad was addressed to general recipients
and could therefore be seen by children we considered that it was irresponsibly targeted and concluded that it breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence). Action
The ad must not appear again. We told Premier Offers Direct not to include sexually provocative material in their catalogues in future, unless they were specifically targeted at recipients who had opted in to receive it.
U S porn producers, writers and performers are set to increase production in Britain due to a crisis in Los Angeles where
councillors ruled that all porn stars must wear condoms in sex scenes.
Studios are worried that the sight of condoms in adult films will dramatically hit the fantasy appeal of the material. The move has prompted porn chiefs and mainstream stars to threaten to relocate to the UK and elsewhere. A source in Los Angeles
Talent is leaving town as they are worried that this could be the end of the porn business. Britain and other territories have great porn set ups ready to go, and the cash to offer talent good wages. They will benefit from this and will see bigger demand
for their product. And there are no rules on condoms in the UK. At the moment Britain has high production values, but focuses more on small web stories.
Diane Duke, chief executive of the Free Speech Coalition, the trade association for the US porn industry, said:
The government can't compel an industry to create a product for which there is no demand. And that's what would be happening here in Los Angeles, and it just doesn't make sense.