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Melon Farmers



19th December  French FUCT

From the Independent

French customs officers will be searching for a new form of contraband from New Year's Day, recent Hollywood movies. The struggle of the French state to maintain its cultural boundaries against the tide of globalism will enter a new phase in 2001, with a ban on imports of video discs, or Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs), from North America.

The measure, intended to protect cinema as a public spectacle, may prove as doomed as other efforts to defend French "exceptionalism" from the information revolution.

French movie buffs say they will still be able to order new films, illegally, in DVD directly from America, long before they appear in French cinemas. And, from the end of next year, they can download movies over the internet.

French regulations currently block the sale of films in video or DVD format, until nine months after the title is released to cinemas. The new edict from Catherine Tasca, the Culture Minister, reduces the waiting period to six months but bans DVDs from North America.

France has gone DVD-crazy. In recent months there has been a flourish in the sale of DVDs, which are the same size and weight as compact discs, especially those containing brand-new Hollywood movies. Since the French public often has to wait many months for a new Hollywood release, the ultimate in movie one-upmanship here is to own the DVD weeks or months before the film appears in the cinema.

Movies imported from the US are not dubbed or subtitled in French but so many young people in France speak English these days that this is no longer a barrier. If anything, it adds to the status symbolism of owning a transatlantic DVD.

Chains of small shops, and larger stores such as FNAC and Virgin, have begun to import American DVDs and offer movies to the French public, long before before the film appears on general release. There is also a trade in direct sales of DVDs from America over the internet.

For instance, the Woody Allen movie, Small Time Crooks, released in America in the spring, has only just appeared in cinemas in France. It has been available on DVD in Paris for several months.

In the past year, sales of DVD players (at £200 a time) have tripled, making France more plugged into the new form of video entertainment any other European country.

Technically, it should be impossible to view American video discs on a French-bought DVD player. The discs are encrypted to be played in only one of the six DVD "zones" established by the audio-visual industry. America and Canada are in Zone One. France, Britain and the rest of Europe are in Zone Two.

But beating the encryption system is easy. On some DVD players, the code can be changed with the zapper.

Other disc players can be switched from one zone to another with computer chips (available in specialist shops) or by down-loading codes from several sites on the internet. The French ban on DVD imports from America is intended to protect not so much the French film-making industry as the movie-going industry.

There is no evidence that the transatlantic flood of DVDs has reduced the cinema-going audience in France, but the film distribution and cinema-owning industry (including the American-owned chains) has pressed for the loophole to be closed.

The centre-left newspaper Libération accuses the government of setting up a commercial "Maginot Line". "Banning French consumers from buying products available across increasingly virtual borders at the click of a mouse risks making pirates of us all," it said.

 

12th December  Germans UNFUCT

Thanks to Stuart for providing follow up to earlier news of FUCT like raids.

The major media chain, WOM have restocked with Region 1 DVDs and it appears that they are back to stay.

Perhaps someone can tell me why Region 1 DVDs have recently vanished from Amsterdam's Fame Music store?

5th December  The Heavens Open, the Seas Parteth & Italian Blasphemy Law is Strikethed Out

Theprovision that up to now punished anybody who committed blasphemy (vilification of the Catholic religion) with imprisonment for one year has been struck out from the Italian Criminal Code. The Constitutional Court has in fact declared Article 402 of the Criminal Code to be unconstitutional, as incompatible with the principles of equality and freedom of religion.

The case had been raised by the second Court of Cassation, which held that Article 402, granting Catholicism, "the State religion", alone a "privileged protection", is null and void because it violates articles 3 and 8 of the Constitution re the equality of all the citizens without religious distinction and the equal freedom for all faiths under the law.

The Court furthermore points out that the agreement amending the Lateran Concordat has explicitly asserted that the principle of the Catholic religion as the single religion of the State has been diminshed. Hence the conclusion that the presence of Article 402 in the Criminal Code represents an "anachronism" which it had to remedy.

(A few pointers to the UK where the even more diminished Church of England is still protected by an equally anachronistic blasphemy law.)

 

23rd November  French Nazis

Yahoo in the US have been unbelievably threatened by the French courts who have given three months to find a way to keep French Web surfers away from auction pages involving Nazi memorabilia - or face a $13,000 per day fine until it does comply.

Both the popular Internet portal and free speech advocates decried the ruling. The Associated Press says they fear it sets a dangerous precedent by granting one country the right to reach across borders and impose its laws on Websites based in other nations. (It surely does not set a precedent unless Yahoo stupidly pay heed to this threat. I remember Europe getting well pissed off when the US tried to impose penalties for European firms trading in Cuba)

Yahoo says France has no lawful jurisdiction in the matter. Yahoo attorney Greg Wrenn says the company would ignore the ruling unless an American court steps in to enforce it - and would refused to pay any fines.

France has laws banning exhibiting or selling anything deemed to incite race hate. Two Paris-based groups - the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism and the Union of French Jewish Students - sued to compel the law's enforcement against Yahoo. Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez agreed with their case.

Yahoo! argued mostly that its English-language Web pages and services can't be blocked because of U.S. Constitutional rights to freedom of speech, and that Yahoo!'s French-language version doesn't host Nazi memorabilia auctions - though French surfers can find the English version just like anyone else can.

20th November

 Canada: Baise-Moi Banned

The Ontario Film Review Board have decided to ban the controversial French film Baise-moi (Fuck Me)

Baise-moi should be seen because it's a challenging, important film, both politically and aesthetically, said Kay Armatage, a professor of women's studies and cinema studies at the University of Toronto, and a programmer at the festival. She also suggested there's some hypocrisy afoot. It seems to me the controversy has been about connections between women's sexual pleasure being depicted realistically and violence, women angry, women killing guys. But those scruples don't seem to operate the other way. . . . There are zillions of films in which women are brutalized, killed, beaten up and they're popular movies and nobody seems to mind that at all.

Last month, a three-member panel of the film review board decided the graphically explicit movie, about two young women on a sex and killing spree, was not suitable for commercial release in Ontario - a decision upheld this week after an appeal to a five-member panel. Board chair Bob Warren said board members - who are regular citizens - issued the province-wide ban because the film was so clearly over the line. One rape was particularly graphic and objectionable. We would probably look at it differently if that rape scene were gone.

It's still extremely rare for a mainstream film to be banned in Ontario, citing only two other examples in the last four years; a re-released version of Caligula, and Spike and Mike's Second Perverted Cartoon Festival, which was approved after edits were made.

Baise-Moi has been approved in Quebec and British Columbia. An enraged audience member stormed the projection room and damaged the print during a screening in Montreal.

Craig Adlard of Remstar Distribution, which appealed the original ban, said the company hasn't decided on its next step, including whether to consider making edits to the film and resubmitting it to the board.

14th November

 Melon Farmers Censored in Singapore

This is an outrage...this issue features a few choice quotes from yours truely

The British magazine The Face has been withdrawn from sale in Singapore for featuring a picture of a topless woman - but only after keen readers snapped up copies from newsagents. The November issue of the magazine was sealed in a pink plastic wrapper with the word "sex" emblazoned across the front page in capital letters.

One newsagent says the issue quickly sold out, but authorities say the magazine should not have gone on sale because it broke Singapore's strict regulations on pornography. The country's New Paper asked: How did smut slip into Singapore? while reproducing the front and back covers of The Face and the offending topless picture - with the model's breasts blacked out.

Distributors usually regulate themselves using guidelines set down by the Films and Publications Department, part of the Ministry of Information and Arts. A spokesman says The Face's latest issue should not have been distributed under the Registered Importers Scheme.

5th November  US: Presidential Positions

Thanks to Phil for spotting nutters at work.

October 30-November 3 was Pornography Awareness/White Ribbon Against Pornography Week. Together, American Family Association, Morality in Media (MIM) and other pro-family groups are making sure illegal pornography prosecution is a campaign issue. Voters need to know where the candidates stand in order to make informed decisions in the booth on November 7.

From its members, MIM received copies of correspondence from the Bush-Cheney campaign on its letterhead with candidate George W. Bush's signature. The letters stated, in part, Pornography has no place in a decent society. As Governor of Texas, I have used the bully pulpit of my office to send the message that pornography is not welcome in the Lone Star State. The letters continued, If I am fortunate enough to be elected President, I will insist on vigorously enforcing federal anti-pornography laws

MIM members did not receive any responses from the Gore-Lieberman campaign. The campaign's Web site states, Al Gore supports an approach that: Increases law enforcement resources to crack down on material on the Internet that is clearly illegal, such as child pornography and obscene material.

Pro-family advocates are anxious for change. During the Clinton administration, obscenity prosecutions dropped more than 80 percent. In 1998, the Department of Justice prosecuted only eight obscenity cases. Even after pro-family groups met with Deputy Attorney General in 1998 and the new Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division this year, the department made no progress in halting this critical problem.

Thanks for the response from Keith

I feel that I must offer another point of view about you branding of George W. Bush as an Arch-Nutter. The simple fact is that Bush is electioneering and trying to play up the god-fearing family man image and in doing this pornography is an easy target. I would suggest that it is very unlikely that a Republican President would be able to interfere with the law governing pornography in the US too much as the business is worth $8bn and is the third largest domestic industry after guns and chemicals. Simple economics suggest that there will be no interference in the industry because it would be too economically costly.

Furthermore America has always had a large pornography industry, it just that in the 1960's it pretended that it was producing shocking exposes of teenage behaviour, in fact in 1978 President Jimmy Carter gave an interview in Playboy which suggests that the culture has always been tolerant of such material.

On a more legalistic note, pornography is protected by the First Amendment and undoing this would require the Supreme Court to change its mind - something which it would be loathed to do as this would start a bad precedent - Courts would undo each others rulings.

I would suggest that Bush is doing nothing more than playing to the extreme right as a candidate, I doubt much will change if he got elected.

22nd October  Ireland: Gardaí Raids

From the Irish Times

A company which owns a Galway sex shop was convicted and fined £2,400 at Galway District Court yesterday for being in possession of prohibited X-rated videos and magazines as well as distributing an advertisement for a brothel.

Charges were brought against Shardam Trading Company (Limerick) Ltd. The company's licence to deal in videos was forfeited for five years. Gardaí raided the Galway shop, 4 Play, at Buttermilk Walk, off Shop Street, in the city centre on two occasions last year.

 

22nd October  New Zealand: Half a Solution

From AVN News

New Zealand is closer to decriminalizing prostitution, a bill now in first reading in Parliament has bipartisan support, and would eliminate laws making it illegal to offer sex for money. The kicker: it won't change the law which makes it illegal to pay for sex. Christchurch lawmaker Tim Barnett proposed the bill, saying he hoped it would promote safe sex.

22nd October  Finnish Censorship Finished

Thanks to Jouni

Finland's parliament has decided, that adult censorship will cease after 1st January 2001. After tha time adult material can be published without advance vetting. This will improve things for the video/DVD producers but is doesn't sound as if Finnish censors have been too strict anyway. They have not cut or banned anything from cinema releases since 1995.

22nd October  Germans FUCT

Thanks to Stu

We've fallen foul of the 'English' disease. At the beginning of April, the German equivalent of FACT sent out an open letter saying that it would raid, confiscate from and prosecute shops stocking Region 1 DVDs. At first, no-one really seemed to take it seriously; a few Dixons-like chain stores, which hardly ever had any R1 material anyway, stopped stocking imports.

Then things warmed up. Approximately two months ago WOM (World of Music) in Berlin was raided. This is a big chain store, very much like Virgin. About a month after that, my local branch of WOM in Stuttgart suddenly removed all its R1 stock (which was nearly half its DVDs) - including all of the legal, under-the-counter, 'indiziert' material. I honestly don't think that they were raided, so it was most likely a knock-on effect from what happened in Berlin.

Some of the independent cinema shops have kept their stocks, but it's probably only a matter of time before we are forced to rely on the internet and mail-order. Welcome to the Dark Ages.

28th september  Ulysses

Thanks to Mark for pointing out that things are not always quite as reported. I have indicated follow up comment in red

The Irish Censors have relented and removed the ban on the film of James Joyce's Ulysses. It was refused a certificate originally in 1967 and then unbeleivably again in 1974. It has now been awarded a 15 certificate.

Although it was banned, there was never any difficulty getting hold of it prior to it being deleted about 5 years ago. Most major chains like HMV or Virgin carried it, and just about any decent video store had it available to rent. I suspect the reason the film has remained banned for so long was simply that it wasn't resubmitted after 1974 (remember its 7 years before the Irish Censor will even _consider_ a reapplication). At a guess, its up for reissue or something and it was submitted as a matter of course. The really bad old days of censorship of non-porn have pretty much passed here now though (though its still not great).

I also read last week that the Irish are considering removing their media gag on terrorist organisations. A generally ineffective measure in eliminating propaganda which only serves to diminish the standing of the state that imposes it.

Thats not entirely fair - Our media ban on terrorist organisations was the same as in the UK (remember the dubbed voice of Gerry Adams?). It was also lifted at the same time (about 4 years ago, I think). All that's happening now is the law regarding this is being taken off the books completely

On another issue it will be interesting to see if the UK liberalisation of porn has any knock-on effect in Ireland where our shared border is open.

9th September  Germany: First Hardcore Channel

From www.avn.com

Beate Uhse says it won a license to set up an erotic cable television channel with Premiere World. This clears a path for Germany's first known all-porn television station.

The license comes by way of local broadcast authorities in Brandenburg, and Beate Uhse plans to launch the channel in October on the Premiere channel Movie World. Neither Beate Uhse nor Premiere World gave more details, though the German press is reporting the porn channel would air from 8 p.m. through 5 a.m. seven days per week.

Beate Uhse is a rising porn player in Europe, with a chain of hardcore video and sex shops in Germany. They reported profits before taxes of about $8.6 million over the first six months of 2000.

9th September  US: Shopping Censors

From Bloomberg News

Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart said they would restrict sales of violent video games to children. The announcements come as the entertainment industry braces for a congressional hearing Wednesday on the marketing of violent music, movies, video games and other material to children via legislation that would require warning labels on violent material.

A U.S. Federal Trade Commission study to be made public on Monday concludes that companies are flouting their own voluntary ratings systems and failing to warn about the amount of blood and gore that will be shown in the games. Lieberman and other lawmakers say they will see how entertainment companies, movie theaters and retailers respond to the FTC report in deciding whether to push for labeling legislation.

Legislators have been pressuring retailers to help stop children from getting access to games rated "M," or "mature" content, by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a panel run by the software and video-game industry. These games typically cast the player in the role of the killer, said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kas. The higher the body count, the higher your score.

Kmart sells M-rated "Mortal Kombat Gold," "Alien Trilogy," "Syphonfilter II" and "Shadow Man." One of the Mortal Kombat series is touted as "a digital bloodbath" on a company Web site. But Wal-Mart and Kmart aren't waiting for Congress. Both companies said their cash registers will prompt cashiers to check the identification of customers buying an M-rated video game. The changes would take effect before the holiday shopping season.

Troy, Mich.-based Kmart said it won't sell violent video games to children under 17 without a parent of guardian present. The company would restrict access to M-rated video games, which are now sold alongside other titles in its stores. Kmart's policy will take effect in all of its 2,164 stores Oct. 15. M-rated titles generate 2.9 percent of Kmart's total sales of video games and software.

Wal-Mart and Kmart join Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward Holding, both of which recently stopped selling all M- rated titles.

13th August  White House Porn

From WorldNetDaily

A consultant hired last year to beef up security for the White House's computer network found massive pornographic video files passing through the system's Internet firewall The real-time video files -- which came from hard-core porn sites featuring homosexual, farm-animal and teen sex acts -- were so large in byte volume that they accounted for most of the traffic coming into the firewall.

All Internet links and e-mail must first pass through the firewall before coming into the local area network for the Executive Office of the
President and on to individual network users. The firewall system is designed to screen Internet traffic for messages containing network-crippling viruses.

A Y2K computer consultant in early 1999 discovered the unusually large volume of porn-site traffic coming into the White House while reviewing the firewall logs. It looks like the majority of traffic going through the firewall is pornography, said a White House employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

16th July  Well Fuck Me Again

From the Observer

An explicit French film featuring graphic scenes of sex and violence is set to go on show at cinemas in Britain. The film, called Baise-moi ( Screw Me ), caused huge controversy when it was screened in France because of its close-up sex shots. It was released in France with a '16' certificatein June and drew more than 30,000 filmgoers in its first week. However a campaign group linked to the far Right forced cinemas to withdraw the film temporarily, but it is now to be re-released with an '18' certificate. In fact the French seem to be acting remarkably quickly to define a new version of the 18 certificate which is acceptable in mainstream cinemas and presumably avoids the additional taxation associated with porn films.

Optimum Releasing, a London-based independent distributor, last week said it had been speaking to Canal Plus - the French entertainment giant that is marketing the film - and hoped to show it in British cinemas. Films like this can perform an important function, said Will Clarke, Optimum's managing director. We are interested in quality movies. The controversial angle is of interest but it has to be decent artistically. Two other film companies have confirmed their interest to The Observer . The English version is entitled Rape Me, but is no different from the one that - in France in June. It offers 90 minutes of almost non-stop hardcore sex and violence. British companies hope shifts in the UK in attitudes to screen sex may help get Baise-moi shown in cinemas. Last year Romance, a French production, was passed almost uncut but for a one-second excision of an ejaculating penis.

Baise-moi will face resistance in Britain. You cannot possibly allow a film like this, said John Beyer of the National Viewers and Listeners Association. We have a rising number of sexual crimes and if you constantly put up lifestyles and roles glamourising what is harming our society then it is just going to make things worse.

The film was shot in northern France and follows the fortunes of two bored young suburban women who set out on a spree of sex and murder after one of them is brutally raped and then shoots dead her brother in a row. A passer-by is shot for her cashpoint card, a tramp who leers at the two women is gunned down and two gendarmes who stop them for a check on papers are summarily executed. A man is picked up for sex and then stamped to death with high-heels, another dies during a shoot-out in a sex club when he is forced to strip and pretend to be a pig before being shot in the anus. There are graphic sequences of fellatio and intercourse.

Anyone who goes to see it for a thrill will be disappointed, said Coralie Trinh Thi, co-director and ex-porn star. Many critics have praised the film's examination of the 'moral nihilism' of modern life. The liberal establishment is behind Trinh Thi and her co-director and writer Virginie Despentes, with politicians calling the pornography laws 'obsolete'.

Vincent Maraval, in charge of marketing the film for Canal Plus, said it had been sold to 30 countries, including Spain, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

10th June  Well Fuck Me
Baise Moi, (translated variably as Fuck/Screw/Rape Me), will be shown uncut in Frech cinemas without the 18 rating usually associated with hardcore. Presumably it has been awarded a 16 rating.

The first film by author Virginie Despentes is a violent, sexually explicit film featuring porn actresses in leading roles. Despentes adapted Baise Moi from a best-selling book; her co-director is porn actress Coralie Trinh-Thi.

The two adult performers play bad girls who want nothing other than sex. Baise Moi drew considerable interest at the Cannes Film Festival. It's going to be shown in Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain, with prints being previewed in the United States by various distributors who showed interest.

A spokesman for the distributor said: The French censors' decision not to rate it 18 shows that France is a civilized country, The censors realize the film is good, that it represents a certain subculture in France and its aim isn't to excite people [in the same way as] a porn film.

Baise Moi is scheduled for a June 28 release in France.

29th May  Liberty, Fraternity, Equality

The French are currently seeking to equalise their definition of liberty with that of our very own JackBoots Straw...brotherly or what.

Web users in France who want to publish online will have to register their intent with the government, if a bill being considered by French Parliament this week is passed. The Liberty of Communication Act -- passed by the House Tuesday and being debated in the French Senate this week -- stipulates that users will have to fill out an online registration form in order to post to the Internet.

Many have suggested the added complexity to users could force French Web hosting companies to relocate. Others have damned the bill as a serious infringement to online freedom of speech and privacy that could spread across Europe. A spokesman from The European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) said that if passed, the French government could try to get the European Union to consider enforcing similar regulations Europe-wide.

Supporters of the bill say it is intended to make people legally liable for the material they post on the Internet. Opponents say the bill goes too far in removing personal privacy. This is a terribly conventional approach, said British Internet legal expert Nicholas Bohm of civil liberties group, Cyber Rights and Cyber Liberties. It comes from a government's long standing fear of freedom of speech. Bohm added: This is an example of what happens if you don't talk to industry and don't have the required expertise to deal with these issues.

Robin Bynoe, partner with law firm Charles Russell, said that the bill, ironically, is in keeping with European directives. The basic approach [of the EC] is that the intermediary existing [ISP] is not liable for content posted. It is the responsibility of the individual. He added however that, those who want, will be able to circumvent French laws to post scurrilous material.

1st May  Undeveloping Nations

Spotted on Usenet

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been ruled by the military for the last 40 years. The rulers have banned the Internet fearing that it will allow citizens to have access to opposition Web sites operating abroad. The regime, which is accused of denying its subjects political and human rights, imposes a 7 to 15 year prison term for unauthorized ownership of a modem. The government also shut down the few private email services in the country and now runs the only authorized email server itself. The use of email is restricted to about 600 foreigners, privileged officials, and businessmen with close ties to the government.

(They're only banning it because they can't afford to listen in to every single message like what rich old Britain can)

28th April  There's Votes in Porn

The Australian sex industry yesterday warned MPs opposed to a relaxation in the classification of X-rated videos that it would make it a political issue in marginal constituencies.

The Eros Foundation, the industry's lobby group, said it was prepared to use its extensive mailing list in an aggressive campaign to target subscribers in marginal seats held by politicians from the right-wing, rural-based National Party. The National Party, which governs Australia in coalition with the conservative Liberal Party of the Prime Minister John Howard, is resisting moves to change the X-rating of videos to "non-violent erotica". They want the word erotica replaced with the more loaded term, pornography.

A spokesman for Eros said that theirs was no idle threat. I think there are a number of National Party MPs in marginal electorates who wouldn't want this brought up as a political issue. He then outlines an example constituency where they could target 4,797 purchasers of sex products; 6.2 per cent of the electorate, perhaps more if partners are counted. In total, he said, there were 1.1 million Australians who could be targeted with political information by the industry within 48 hours.

Earlier this month a Senate committee recommended that the rating be changed. De-Anne Kelly, a North Queensland National MP who has led the campaign to persuade the Cabinet to adopt the word pornography, was unmoved yesterday. She said: I and my colleagues who raised this matter initially aren't going to be put off.

(I wonder if the Melon Farming monthly readership of 30,000 could be put to equally good use)

28th April  Hardcore Stains

A surreal story noticed in What Satellite. Do they have April Fool's Day in Sweden?

A group of Swedish hotel maids have been protesting about the downside of hardcore hotel TV. They feel that the AIDS risk in clearing up after excited male customers is unacceptable and they are demanding more 'protection'. They are apparently also none too keen on the embarrasment caused by the ocasional entry into rooms at an inopportune moment.

You'd think that the problem could be easily solved in openly liberal Scandanavia by the provision of suitable door signs:

  • Do Not Disturb: Having a Wank
  • Please Make Up the Room: Mind the Gism
28th April  Greek Nutters

Spotted in the Guardian

Attempts to ban a novel which portrays Jesus Christ as a philander who finds it hard to resist Mary Magdalene intensified as religious zealots ran amok in an Athens court.   As the protestors shouted "blasphemer", lawyers for the author, Mimis Androulakis, were granted a postponement of the hearing to decide if the bestseller, M to the Power of N, should be banned throughout the country. Last month sales were stopped in northern Greece to prevent violence after the Greek Orthodox church declared it blasphemous.

The book seeks to explore the theme of misogyny. Its opponents have taken particular exception to passages that allude to Jesus's simmering sexual desires. The Orthodox church's governing board said: Our religion may teach love but we will never speak to Mimis Androulakis again.

Mr Androulakis, a former MP, said: I cannot understand all the fuss. We are not a theocratic regime, we are a European country. (so...)

23rd April  Land of the Not So Free

Two weeks ago the US Supreme Court upheld a ban on public nudity in Erie, Pennsylvania. The law was written to ban all types of nudity outside of the home from streaking downtown to topless dancing bars. The law had perviously been struck down by a lower court presumably for being anti-constitutional.

Of course this judgement is like a red rag to a bull for the nutters of America as reported in a local paper from Columbus Ohio. An aptly named councillor, Mike Mentel, is looking to ban nudity in his town (as long as it would pass constitutional muster): I'd give that serious consideration. I will explore that to see what we can do. Its certainly a concern of mine with Columbus that we have all these adult entertainment establishments in a community that really is family oriented. There may be places for these establishments but I don't know that they're in the communities and the back yards of our neighbourhoods..

(It sounds like the plot development to some awful moralistic blame movie from the fifties)

12th April  Eastern Block

A couple of stories from Hong Kong:

Poster for lesbian film banned

Government censors have banned a poster for a lesbian-themed film which shows a woman's bare back. The poster is a realistic spray painting of two women embracing each other, showing one woman's naked back to just above her buttocks. Classified as Category III - suitable for viewing by those 18 and over - the film needed the approval of the Film Censorship Authority for its advertising material.

A spokesman for the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority said the poster for the Canadian film Better than Chocolate failed to fulfil the advertising guidelines of the Film Censorship Ordinance. The spokesman said: The advertising material should not contain materials which are offensive to public morality, decency and ordinary good taste.

Hint of controls on porn in press

The Hong Kong Chief Executive,Tung Chee-hwa, has hinted at tighter controls on pornography in newspapers and magazines. He said the community and the Government were concerned about articles which profaned the morals of young people. The Government attaches much importance to the control of pornographic publications and is determined to tackle the public concern.

The statement came amid reports that a set of stringent measures would be proposed to curb the distribution of pornographic publications. The proposals include requiring the obscene contents of newspapers be sold separately or in wrappers. Mr Tung said: The younger generation represents Hong Kong's future. We have the responsibility to create a healthy environment for their development. This is not solely the responsibility of the press. We need the joint efforts of
parents, teachers and the entire community.

9th April  Poland Rejoins Civilisation

Poland recently passed a bill banning porn (see Poland Joins UK Back in the Middle Ages) but their President has recently pulled them back from the brink.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has vetoed the Penal Code amendment passed by the Polish parliament that would have banned production and distribution of all pornography.

The Criminal Code bill approved by the Polish Sejm on March 3, 2000 would have criminalized the production and distribution of so-called soft-core pornography by up to two years' imprisonment, and up to five years for production and distribution of hard-core pornography.

President Kwasniewski, in his veto justification, said that current regulations that apply to pornography are sufficient to protect minors and individuals who do not wish to be exposed to pornography. He also said the proposed pornography prohibition will not be enforceable. The president's Secretary of State, Barbara Labuda, said the ban would mean the return to censorship and would harm civil liberties.

The Sejm may over-ride the veto by a three-fifths majority (a quorom of 50% must be present). Analysts say this seems very unlikely, since the bill was passed with only a bare majority.

3rd April  Australia: Romantic, Confused & Updated

Catherine Breillat's film Romance has found itself banned in Australia. This arty film contains a few hardcore images that caused some confusion at their censors. It was judged too pornographic for the mainstream R certificate (Restricted to over 18s) but did not qualify for an X certificate (for hardcore porn) on the grounds that the sexual activity is not fully consensual.

For the record, the UK censor passed the film uncut for the cinema with an 18 certificate but decided to cut it for video.

Update:

The film has been classified R uncut. The ban lasted about a week. The Classification Review Board took only a few hours to decide that the sex scenes, although explicit in parts, were justified in context and the film merited an R classification. It's now playing nationally.

Australian classifications are valid for both cinema and video, so the Australian video release will be uncut.

17th January  Poland Joins UK Back in the Middle Ages

A bill banning pornography has been passed by the Polish senate sparking accusations that the Catholic country was returning to the Middle Ages.

Deputies from the ruling party Solidarity pushed through the bill, which won by the narrowest of margins, as part of a penal code bill still to be ratified by the lower house of parliament and the president. Under the bill, the distribution of any pornographic material carries a maximum two-year term.

The actions of fundamentalist AWS deputies are moving us back toward the Middle Ages, Ryszard Jarzembowski, senator from the ex-communist opposition SLD party, said. He added: Solidarity is pushing us towards regulations...encountered today only in fundamentalist Islamic states. (And the UK!)

Another senator said the bill marked a return to the values of the pre-World War Two period when judges decided what constituted pornography. (As opposed to the even worse situation in the UK where magistrates and individual customs officers make those decisions)

Since the collapse of communism in 1989, Poland's sex industry has thrived, with countless sex shops, peep shows and escort agencies.
Pornographic books and magazines are widely available at news kiosks, petrol stations and other retail outlets across the county.

However, the Senate dominated by the religious right-wing ruling Solidarity party - did not go as far as some feared, not raising the age of legal sexual consent to 18 from 15, as had been originally proposed.

   Swedish Erotica

From the informative newsgroup rec.arts.movies.erotica (RAME)

A debate on the subject or porn has arisen in Scandanavia. A recent cable TV documentary was reshown to the swedish parliament and caused 'shock waves' among the politicians. The minister of culture said that the fact that such a disgusting mix of sex and violence could easily be watched by children, called for a change of laws. Parts of the documentery was also shown on television in Norway, and the issue made the first page of two major tabloid newpapers. A celebrity lawyer and antiporn-activist is now planning a screening for the norwegian parliament in March, in order to prevent a planned liberalisation of the porn laws. Norway is the only anti-hardcore country in W. Europe outside of UK/Ireland)

The documentory, made by Alexa Wolf, bears all the well-known marks of feminist anti-porn propaganda: Particulary 'nasty' scenes from ultra hardcore movies (being in no way representative of ordinary cable porn) are removed from their context, given the worst possible interpretation, and presented as The Terrible Truth of Pornography. The most controversial scene is from Gregory Dark's Shocking Truth 2, and shows Mila Shegal being fucked rather roughly by four men. At one point she seems to have problems standing on her own two feet, and her eyes doesn't look too clear as she talks to the camera with cum all over her face. Based on these scenes the activist, politicians and the media has jumped to the conclusion: The girl is being raped! She's on drugs! This is how women are being degraded and abused in pornography! This how young men (in front of the TV) are being instructed how to rape girls! This is the same cynicism that lies behind the making of child pornography! And so on.