US Censorship News

 2008: Jan-March



31st March   

Update: Novel Idea for Repression in Indiana...


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Book shops selling Lady Chatterley must register as sex businesses
Link Here  full story: Registration for US Adult Business...US adult businesses must pay registration fees

Indiana state seal A new Indiana law that requires sellers of adult material to register with the state has Hoosier bookstore owners fuming about government censorship and threatening a legal challenge.

This lumps us in with businesses that sell things that you can’t even mention in a family newspaper, said Ernie Ford, owner of Fine Print Book Store in Greencastle.

Ford was talking about HEA 1042, which Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law last week. He was one of 15 independent Indiana booksellers who signed a letter last week urging Daniels to veto the legislation.

The new law that takes effect July 1 requires businesses that sell sexually explicit material to pay a $250 fee and register with the secretary of state, which would then pass the information to municipal or county officials so they can monitor the businesses for potential violations of local ordinances.

Co-sponsor Brent Steele said the law does not apply to businesses that sold sexually explicit material on or before June 30; it applies only to new businesses, those that relocate or businesses that begin offering such material after that date.

But groups representing state and national booksellers say the law casts its net too wide. A legal scholar agrees, calling it overly broad and so ambiguous that it may violate constitutional rights.

The way we read this bill, if you stock a single book with sexual content — even a novel or a book about sex education — you will have to register as a business that sells sexually explicit material, said Chris Finan, president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression: This is just outrageous from our standpoint, and we believe it is a violation of the First Amendment.

While the law does not prohibit stores from selling a book with sexual content, he said, it has a chilling effect that could force sellers to limit the scope of their offerings or get out of the business rather than being placed on a state list of businesses that sell sexually explicit works.

Finan said his group will ask the Media Coalition — a New York-based group that defends Americans’ First Amendment right to produce and sell books, movies, magazines, recordings, DVDs, videotapes and video games, as well as the public’s right to have access to the broadest possible range of opinion and entertainment — to take legal action to overturn the legislation. A decision by the coalition on whether to enter the fight is expected by mid-April, he said.

 

26th March   

Update: Get the FCC Out of Here...

Sex Shop City
 

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The largest city full of erotic articles and sex toys
 

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Fox refuse to pay FCC fine for pixellated nudity
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

FCC logo In an unusually aggressive step, Fox Broadcasting yesterday refused to pay a $91,000 indecency fine levied by the FCC for an episode of a long-canceled reality television show, even as the network fights two other indecency fines in the Supreme Court.

The FCC proposed fining all 169 Fox-owned and affiliate stations a total of $1.2 million in 2004 for airing a 2003 episode of Married by America , which featured digitally obscured nudity and whipped-cream-covered strippers.

Fox appealed immediately after the FCC ruling. Last month, four years later, the FCC changed its mind, saying it would fine only the 13 Fox stations located in cities that generated viewer complaints about the program. That reduced the fine to $91,000.

Despite the sharp reduction, Fox said it would not pay the fine on principle, calling it arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent, and patently unconstitutional in a statement released yesterday.

Fox has asked the five FCC commissioners to reconsider the fine without its having to pay, a move that sets Fox in a two-front indecency war: It is battling the FCC at the agency level on the "Married" fine and in the Supreme Court on other indecency fines levied at about the same time.

Last week, the Supreme Court said it would take up FCC v. Fox Television Stations this fall. The lawsuit filed by the network aims to overturn FCC fines levied in 2002 and 2003. In each case, live broadcasts of awards shows, variations of a vulgar four-letter word were uttered on the air.

 

24th March   

No Profit...

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The Profit, a film banned by scientology litigation escapes onto internet
Link Here

The Profit film poster Copies of The Profit , a 2001 film blocked from distribution in the United States due to a court injunction won by the Church of Scientology, appeared on the Internet Friday on peer-to-peer file-sharing websites and on the video sharing site YouTube.

Directed by former film executive Peter N. Alexander, movie critics have characterized The Profit as a parody of Scientology and of its founder L. Ron Hubbard. Alexander was a Scientologist for twenty years, and left the organization in 1997. The film was funded by Bob Minton, a former critic of Scientology who later signed an agreement with the Church of Scientology and has attempted to stop distribution of the film.

The film was released in August 2001, and was shown at a movie theater in Clearwater, Florida and at a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France. A Scientology spokesman gave a statement at the time saying the movie is fiction and has nothing to do with Scientology. The Church of Scientology later took legal action in an attempt to stop further distribution of the film. The Church of Scientology claimed that the film was intended to influence the jury pool in the wrongful death case of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who died under Scientology care in Clearwater, Florida.

In April 2002, a Pinellas County, Florida judge issued a court order enjoining The Profit from worldwide distribution for an indefinite period. According to the original court injunction received by Wikinews, the movie was originally banned because the court found that it could be seen as a parody of Scientology and so influence potential jurors.

Luke Lirot, the attorney for the film's production company, announced on the film's website on April 7, 2007 that We have absolutely no exposure for any repercussions from the court order, but that the film was still blocked from distribution due to an ongoing legal battle. Lirot wrote: all that's stopping the release of the movie is the legal battle with the partner who was compromised by Scientology (Robert Minton) and is currently using his power as partner to stop the release of the film.

On Friday, copies of the film began to circulate on peer-to-peer file-sharing websites and on YouTube. 

On Saturday, Scientology critic and Emmy award-winning journalist Mark Bunker put a streaming version of the film on his website, www.xenutv.com, and encouraged others to watch and discuss the film on a real-time chat channel.

In a post on Sunday to the message board attached to the official website for the film, attorney Luke Lirot asked that individuals stop distributing copies of The Profit over the Internet. Lirot wrote: It has been brought to my attention that several unauthorized transmissions and downloads of this protected work have taken place over the last 72 hours. Such actions are copyright violations and are unlawful. I request that any further distribution and/or dissemination of this important work cease immediately and any copies of the work that have been downloaded please be deleted. He said that unauthorized distribution of the film will only serve to harm the goal of vast distribution.

 

24th March   

Virtual Jihadi...

Dodgy council decision to close building with controversial art exhibit
Link Here  full story: Virtul Jihadi...Troy uses building regs to censor art

Wafaa Bilal animation Protesters gathered at Troy City Hall in New York State speaking out about the closing of a local art venue. The crowd of protesters included professors, artists and local residents.

The citizens of Troy have had enough. They want a more free Troy. They see their civil liberties dwindling, said Professor Branda Miller of Media Art at RPI.

The Sanctuary for Independent Media became the home of a controversial art exhibit after it was suspended at RPI. The exhibit includes images from a video game in which the kill target is President Bush. Wafaa Bilal said he wants to provoke debate about the war. Opponents include Troy's DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch, who calls it un-American and pro-terrorist.

Last week, the city put a stop to public gatherings at the sanctuary, citing nonsense about long-time code violations such as doors that could be a hazard in an emergency.

Based on an article from North Country Gazette

A civil rights attorney working on behalf of the New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a formal request for information relevant to the decision to close an arts and media center on code violations after a controversial art exhibit debuted last week.

Attorney Peter Henner is investigating whether the Sanctuary’s building is being treated differently than other buildings in the city. The building was ordered closed earlier this month, a day after the opening of Iraqi- American artist Wafaa Bilal’s video game and art installation, Virtual Jihadi . The exhibit is intended to provoke thought about the roots of violence, but it angered some people who believe it is sympathetic to terrorism.

Among those upset by the artwork was Robert Mirch, public works commissioner and majority leader of the Rensselaer County Legislature. Mirch, who oversees code enforcement, led a protest of the exhibit last Monday outside the Sanctuary’s building.

The public deserves to know what motivated the sudden decision to close the Sanctuary, said Melanie Trimble, director of the NYCLU’s Capital Region Chapter. Public officials cannot selectively enforce building codes simply to shut down an art exhibit they find distasteful. Such behavior would be an abuse of power wholly inconsistent with the First Amendment right to free speech.

 

22nd March   

Update: RapeQuest...

US game nutters finally find a game featuring rape
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Custer's Revenge game Last Month, British Parliamentarian and frequent video game industry critic Keith Vaz sparked a bit of controversy by claiming that interactive rape is depicted in video games.

A top aide to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino apparently offered similar commentary at a hearing at the Massachusetts Legislature.

A University of Calgary professor now cites the 1982 game release Custer’s Revenge in a piece about current video game violence issues for the Calgary Herald.

Author Tom Keenan touches on U.S. Defense Department recruiting game, America’s Army . Keenan wrote: You won’t see strippers suddenly appear [in America’s Army ], or be encouraged to rape a virtual character, as happens in the hideous Custer’s Revenge game…

But Game Politics point out: Playing Custer’s Revenge? Who can even find Custer’s Revenge , much less play it? The game was released 26 years ago by a publisher that no longer exists for an Atari 2600 console that you might be able to locate on Ebay if you searched diligently.

 

20th March   

Moral Turpitude...

US invaders and torturers deny entry to British author on the grounds of immorality
Link Here

Dandy in the Underworld book Controversial British author Sebastian Horsley was denied entrance into the United States as he arrived to promote his memoir of drug addiction, sex and his dysfunctional family, his publisher has said.

Seale Ballenger, spokesman for HarperCollins Publishers, said Horsley was stopped by immigration officials at New York's Newark airport after flying in from London to promote his latest book Dandy in the Underworld.

He said the flamboyant writer was accused of "moral turpitude" in connection with his former drug use, pro-prostitution stance, and controversial self-crucifixion in the Philippines in 2000.

Horsley claims to have slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes, worked as a male escort, and been in and out of rehab to treat drug addiction, with video interviews of him talking about his drug use and sex life posted on the Internet.

Ballenger said after several hours of questioning by immigration officials, Horsley was put on a plane and returned to London.

The New York Times quoted a customs spokeswoman, Lucille Cirillo, saying she could not comment on individual cases. But in an e-mail to the newspaper she explained that under a waiver program that allows British citizens to enter the United States without a visa, travellers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (which includes controlled-substance violations) or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible.

Publisher Carrie Kania, from the HarperCollins' unit Harper Perennial that published the book in the United States, said she found it hard to understand why Horsley would be denied entrance into the U.S. for "his notoriety."

Horsley's memoir was published last September in Britain with reviewers calling it both amusing and revolting.

 

20th March   

Update: Mass Bollox...

US political nutters pick up on Vaz's ludicrous claim that some games feature rape
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Massachusetts Last Month, British Parliamentarian and frequent video game industry critic Keith Vaz sparked a bit of controversy by claiming that interactive rape is depicted in video games.

A top aide to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino apparently offered similar commentary at yesterday’s hearing by the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary concerning HB1423, a proposal designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors.

Larry Mayes, Menino’s director of Health and Human Services, urged lawmakers to view for themselves some “Mature”-rated games, many of which award players points for shooting people, raping women or setting people on fire. Mayes pointed to several researchers who have found a correlation between such games and aggression: I’m sure you will conclude Mayor Menino is in fact right to do all he can to protect children, even if it means pushing back on a multi-billion-dollar industry.”

Game Politics said: As we asked Keith Vaz when he made similar remarks, can Larry Mayes name even a single game which features rape as a playable option?

 

19th March   

Sketches of My Nightmare...

Banned Guantanamo sketches redrawn
Link Here

Al Hajj cartoon The US army has banned the publication of four cartoons drawn by Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to his lawyer.

The pieces, called Sketches of My Nightmare , include a drawing depicting al-Hajj, who has been on hunger strike for eight months, as a skeleton being force fed by US guards.

The drawings were submitted to the military censor but they would not permit their release.

However, detailed descriptions of the sketches were allowed through the censorship process and Lewis Peake, a political cartoonist, was able to recreate one entitled Scream for Freedom.

Al Hajj described the way he sees himself being force fed in the so-called "Torture Chair" - the restraint chair into which they are strapped twice a day to have a 110cm tube forcibly inserted into one nostril so that liquid food can be administered.

My picture reflects my nightmares of what I must look like, with my head double-strapped down, a tube in my nose, a black mask over my mouth, with no eyes and only giant cheekbones, my teeth jutting out – my bones showing in every detail, every rib, every joint. The tube goes up to a bag at the top of the drawing. On the right there is another skeleton sitting shackled to another chair. They are sitting like we do in interrogations, with hands shackled, feet shackled to the floor, just waiting. In between I draw the flag of Guantanamo – JTF-GTMO – but instead of the normal insignia, there is a skull and crossbones, the real symbol of what is happening here, he said.

Al-Hajj was seized by the US military while he was covering the war in Afghanistan for Al Jazeera's Arabic channel and has been held as an "enemy combatant" without trial or charge since 2001.

 

18th March   

Update: An Indecent Change of Policy...

Supreme Court to hear case against the FCC
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

FCC logo The Supreme Court of the United States has announced that it will be hearing the FCC's appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that the FCC has changed its policy on fleeting expletives without adequate explanation.

It's now up to the FCC to explain to the Supreme Court why its policy has changed. This is also the first time the Supreme Court has heard a major 'broadcast indecency' case in 30 years.

 

18th March   

Constitutional Games...

Attempts to legally ban minors from buying mature games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Minnesota state seal A 2006 Minnesota law sought to fine kids - not retailers - $25 for attempting to purchase a game for which the ESRB rating deemed them too young. The law was promptly overturned by U.S. District Court Judge James Rosenbaum, who, in a novel judicial move, tried out several violent games on his law clerk’s Xbox.

Following Judge Rosenbaum’s ruling that the law was unconstitutional, Minnesota opted to appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit. That case was argued before the Court in February of last year. Now, as reported by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the 8th Circuit has upheld Judge Rosenbaum’s finding that the Minnesota law is unconstitutional.

From the newspaper report:

While the judges upheld Rosenbaum’s ruling that violent games are entitled to First Amendment protections, they did so reluctantly.

[Judge] Wollman wrote that whatever our intuitive (dare we say commonsense) feelings regarding the effect that extreme violence portrayed in the above-described video games may well have upon the psychological well-being of minors, precedent requires incontrovertible proof of a causal relationship between exposure to the games and some psychological harm.

The state failed to meet that burden, Wollman wrote… Indeed, a good deal of the Bible portrays scenes of violence, and one would be hard-pressed to hold up as a proper role model the regicidal Macbeth, Wollman wrote.

See full article from Game Politics

Massachusetts state seal The Massachusetts legislature will hold a hearing on Tuesday to consider House Bill 1423, a video game measure introduced last year but not acted upon.

In its current form the bill closely resembles the Jack Thompson-authored Louisiana video game law, which was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court judge in 2006. Indeed, Thompson was involved in drafting the original version of the Massachusetts bill.

Although Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been an advocate of HB1423, the main legislative sponsor is Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry.

HB1423 is a “games-as-porn” bill which would seek to restrict minors from buying violent video games under the same 'harm' rationale used to block them from buying sexually explicit materials.

Update: Game for an Appeal

17th April 2008

The state of Minnesota has filed an appeal of a recent 8th Circuit Court decision which invalidated its 2006 “fine the buyer” video game law.

Perhaps more than any previous case, the unusual Minnesota law, which would fine underage buyers of violent games $25, has a chance to beat the video game industry’s legal challenges.

Update: Sent into Study

10th May 2008

The Massachusetts measure has been “sent into study,” which essentially means it is on life support. From the Business Journal story:

Menino’s proposal, which would make it illegal for minors to buy video games with graphic content, was sent into study in March — a big win for the state’s burgeoning video game industry…

But the mayor, seeing a link between violent content and violent behavior, still is in favor of the proposal, and plans to continue to push for it on a grass-roots level, said Larry Mayes, chief of human services for the city of Boston. To get this through, we’re really going to have to do a statewide push. We want to go to the communities, particularly to the parents and sit with them and show them the material.

 

13th March   

Undercover Censorship?...

Cops don't rate RateMyCop very highly
Link Here

Rate My Cop logo A new web service that lets users rate and comment on the uniformed police officers in their community is scrambling to restore service after hosting company GoDaddy unceremonious pulled-the-plug on the site in the wake of outrage from criticism-leery cops.

RateMyCop founder Gino Sesto says he was given no notice of the suspension. When he called GoDaddy, the company told him that he'd been shut down for "suspicious activity."

Police departments became uneasy about RateMyCop's plans to watch the watchers in January, when the Culver City, California, startup began issuing public information requests for lists of uniformed officers.

Then the site went live on February 28th. It stores the names and, in some cases, badge numbers of over 140,000 cops in as many as 500 police departments, and allows users to post comments about police they've interacted with, and rate them. The site garnered media interest this week as cops around the country complained that they'd be put at risk if their names were on the internet.

Since undercover officers aren't in the database, and the site has no personal information like home addresses, that fear seems unfounded. Chief Jerry Dyer, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, voices what sounds like a more honest concern: that officers will face "unfair maligning" by the citizens they serve.

Sesto says police can post comments as well, and a future version of the site will allow them to authenticate themselves to post rebuttals more prominently. Chief Dyer wants to get legislation passed that would make RateMyCop.com illegal, which, of course, wouldn't pass constitutional muster in any court in America.

Sesto says he'd arranged for the Texas-based hosting firm RackSpace to take over permanent hosting for RateMyCop.com. But he heard from RackSpace's lawyer minutes ago, and the deal is off.

At the moment, the site has temporary hosting on its own server, but Sesto says it won't be able to handle the kind of traffic he expects as RateMyCop.com becomes more popular. He doesn't sound too worried, and there's little doubt that he'll be able to find a hosting company.

 

13th March   

Anonymous Nutter...

Kentucky lawmaker inspired by Chinese repression
Link Here

Kentucky seal Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.

Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted.

If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.

Couch says enforcing this bill if it became law would be a challenge.

 

11th March   

Come in No 9, Your Time is Up...

Even state governors just want to get laid
Link Here

Eliot Spitzer Eliot Spitzer, the crusading New York Governor often tipped as a future American president, suffered a spectacular fall from grace yesterday when he was implicated in a prostitution ring.

Mr Spitzer, whose eight years as New York State’s Attorney-General earned him a reputation as “the sheriff of Wall Street”, reportedly told senior aides that he was a client of an international escort service that charged up to $5,500 (£2,750) an hour. Court papers hinted at risky sexual practices. He cancelled all his public appearances and met officials in his Fifth Avenue apartment before making a public apology to his family and the public.

I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and in a way that violates my or any sense of right and wrong, he said, with his wife Silda at his side. I apologise first and most importantly to my family. I apologise to the public, whom I have promised better. I am disappointed I have not lived up to the standards I have set for myself.

He did not immediately step down, but said that he needed to dedicate some time to regaining the trust of his family.

A source told The New York Times that Spitzer was one of the men identified in court papers as a client of the prostitution ring. Court papers say that the man identified as Client 9 had arranged to meet a prostitute in Washington on the night of February 13. An affidavit lists six conversations between Client 9 and a booking agent for the Emperors Club.

Client 9 was captured by a telephone tap setting up an appointment with a prostitute called “Kristen”, who travelled by train from New York to Washington to meet him.

In 2004 Spitzer voiced revulsion as he announced the arrests of 16 people for running a prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

See full article from Game Politics

Update: Resigned

13th March 2008

Eliot Spitzer, confirmed what had seemed all but inevitable since the news exploded of his illicit dalliances with high-price prostitutes: he is resigning his post and leaving politics.

I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I deeply apologise, he said in a brief statement. He added: The remorse I feel will always be with me... For those to whom much is given, much is expected.

 

9th March   

Blue Laws...

Massachusetts to repeal blasphemy laws
Link Here

Boston Massachusetts residents could spit on the sidewalk, give a tattoo, even commit blasphemy or adultery without fear of a fine or jail time under a bill being considered.

The bill would repeal nearly two dozen so-called "blue laws", laws that often deal with moral or religious issues. The laws are often considered outdated or even unconstitutional, but have remained on the books.

One of the laws mandates a $300 fine or year in jail for anyone who wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world.

Another sets a $20 fine for spitting. And even though tattooing is now legal in Massachusetts, there's still a law on the books mandating a $300 fine for anyone giving a tattoo who's not a doctor.

The bill also would eliminate laws declaring the Communist Party a subversive organization, making adultery a criminal offense punishable by three years in jail or a $500 fine, and barring anyone from acting in a suspicious manner around any steamboat landing, railroad depot, or any electric railway station.

The bill's sponsor, state Representative Byron Rushing, said there's more than just legal house-cleaning behind the legislation: There was a feeling that we shouldn't have laws that we never use. And there were a few laws that could be used and shouldn't.

Kris Mineau, a nutter of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said his group opposes removing the laws banning adultery and fornication, saying it sends the wrong message: If we remove these laws we are telling young people that adultery and fornication are acceptable.

 

8th March   

Havana Nice Day...

US censors European travel business offering travel to Cuba
Link Here

Cuba Guantanamo logo Steve Marshall is an English travel agent. He lives in Spain, and he sells trips to Europeans who want to go to sunny places, including Cuba.

In October, about 80 of his Web sites stopped working, thanks to the United States government.

The Cuba related sites, in English, French and Spanish, had been online since 1998. Some were literary, others discussed Cuban history and culture, still others were purely commercial sites aimed at Italian and French tourists.

It turned out that Marshall’s Web sites had been put on a Treasury Department blacklist and, as a consequence, his American domain name registrar, eNom Inc., had disabled them. Marshall said eNom told him it did so after a call from the Treasury Department.

There is no dispute that eNom shut down Marshall’s sites without notifying him and has refused to release the domain names to him. In effect, Marshall said, eNom has taken his property and interfered with his business.

Marshall said he did not understand how Web sites owned by a British national operating via a Spanish travel agency can be affected by U.S. law. Worse, he said, these days not even a judge is required for the U.S. government to censor online materials.

A Treasury spokesman said Marshall’s company had helped Americans evade restrictions on travel to Cuba and was a generator of resources that the Cuban regime uses to oppress its people. It added that American companies must not only stop doing business with the company but also freeze its assets, meaning that eNom did exactly what it was legally required to do.

Marshall said he was uninterested in American tourists. They can’t go anyway, he said.

Susan Crawford, a visiting law professor at Yale and a leading authority on Internet law, said the fact that many large domain name registrars are based in the United States gives the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, control over a great deal of speech — none of which may be actually hosted in the U.S., about the U.S. or conflicting with any U.S. rights. OFAC apparently has the power to order that this speech disappear.

Unlike Americans, who face significant restrictions on travel to Cuba, Europeans are free to go there, and many do. Charles S. Sims, a lawyer said the Treasury Department might have gone too far in Marshall’s case: The U.S can certainly criminalize the expenditure of money by U.S. citizens in Cuba but it doesn’t properly have any jurisdiction over foreign sites that are not targeted at the U.S. and which are lawful under foreign law.

 

6th March   

Offsite: Grand Theft Childhood...

The surprising truth about violent video games
Link Here

Grand Theft Childhood In 2007, results from a breakthrough Harvard video game study found that children used video games to manage their feelings, the stereotype of the socially stunted gamer was a myth, and there was no obvious connection between violent games and youth crime.

Two of the researchers who conducted the study have written Grand Theft Childhood, due out this spring. Expanding on what they have already written, this authors promise to cut through the “myths and hysteria” about the affects of violent video games on children and address the real issues “parents, teachers and public policy makers” need to be concerned with.

Co-author Dr. Cheryl K. Olson was kind enough to answer some questions about the book:

The book was based on our two-year, $1.5 million research project at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School – particularly the surveys and focus groups we did with middle-schoolers and their parents, in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

From the start, our research was designed with parents in mind. We weren’t just interested in statistical significance; we wanted to help parents and policymakers understand what’s normal, when to worry about violent video games, and when video games might benefit some kids.

Game Couch: One of the findings of the original study (reported in a Massachusetts General Hospital press release) was Children who play violent games are more likely to play to get their anger out, and the study noted that while violent video game playing is up, youth crime is in decline. Doesn’t this run contrary to the popular view that violent video games indoctrinate children into a culture of violence?

Dr. Olson: Many children in our survey, as well as our focus groups with boys who play violent games, said they played games to manage their feelings. This included playing games to help get my anger out, to forget problems, to relax, and to feel less lonely. Children who played at least one M-rated video game a lot in the past six months were significantly more likely to agree that getting anger out was one reason they played video games.

...

One reassuring thing we found is that most children who play GTA don’t see the characters as role models, and don’t see the game as like real life. In fact, the “unreality” is one thing they like about the series. They can test boundaries and try things that, as one boy put it, hopefully, will never happen to you. So you want to experience it a little bit without actually being there.

One of the biggest draws of GTA seems to be not the violence but the open environment and array of choices: You can be a good guy and a bad guy at the same time. Every child will play the game differently.

...Read the full article

 

4th March   

Update: Supreme Expletives...

Supreme Court to consider isolated or fleeting expletives on TV?
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

FCC logo The Los Angeles Times reports that the debate over what constitutes an "indecent" broadcast may come up before the Supreme Court this week. It would mark the first time in 30 years that the question has appeared before the court.

The court last ruled on the issue in 1978, and, as The Los Angeles Times points out, media has changed dramatically since then with cable television, the internet and radio "shock jocks."

The question for the court involves "fleeting expletives" in on-air broadcasts. U2 frontman Bono used an expletive on NBC when receiving a 2003 Golden Globe Award.

Following complaints from angry viewers, the FCC made the decision to fine broadcasters who aired what the agency called isolated or fleeting expletives during daytime and early-evening hours.

However, last year, Fox and other networks sued to block the FCC's policy. An appeals court in New York put the issue on hold. Now, according to the Times, the FCC is asking the Supreme Court to clear the way so the agency's new policy can be enforced. The court may act on the FCC appeal as soon as today. If the justices vote to hear the case, arguments would take place in the fall.

According to the Times, broadcasters insist they have no wish to be free to air "indecent" language. Their concern is that when an unscripted expletive is aired that they aren't subject to huge fines.

 

4th March   

Approved Propaganda Only...

US Air Force censors airmen's access to blogs
Link Here

Censored head up display The US Air Force is tightening censorship on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.

The Air Force Network Operations Center (AFNOC), under the service's new "Cyber Command," has taken over responsibility for internet censorship.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ...

Airmen can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source, he said ...

Within the Air Force, there's also a strong contingent that wants to see open access to the sites -- and is mortified by the AFNOC's restrictions. When I hear stuff this utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.... Piles of torn out hair are accumulating around my desk as we speak, one senior Air Force official writes in an e-mail. I'm certain that by blocking blogs for official use, our airmen will never, ever be able to read them on their own home computers, so we have indeed saved them from a contaminating influence. Sorry, didn't mean to drip sarcasm on your rug.

 

4th March   

Lame Blame...

Video games blamed for murder
Link Here

Alabama state seal The lawyer for a man being tried for murder is trying to convince an Alabama jury that the defendant believed he was acting out a video game when he murdered an 80-year-old man on Halloween, 2005.

Andrew Lackey does not dispute that he stabbed, shot and gouged out the eye of his victim. However, Lackey’s attorney, Randy Gladden, is pointing the finger at video games. From the newspaper report: Actions that led to a deadly confrontation between a defendant and an 80-year-old widower resembled a video game to the accused…

[Attorney] Gladden described Lackey as a computer geek who had immersed himself in video games and lived in a different world than you and I.

Tapes of a 911 call made by the victim during the fatal confrontation, however, indicate that simple greed may have been the motive. Lackey is heard to demand of the victim, Where’s the vault? seven different times. Charlie Newman’s grandson had previously told Lackey that the victim kept a large sum of money in a vault under the stairs. However, no such vault existed.

No video games were specified in the news report. However, items recovered by the police from Lackey’s car (ski mask, a knife, a police scanner, night vision goggles, stun gun) suggest that the defendant put a lot of real-world thought into planning the crime.

 

4th March   

Setting Up ISPs for the Fall...

Utah bill to award seal of approval to ISPs filtering porn
Link Here

Utah state seal A new measure under consideration by the Utah House of Representatives would create a Community Conscious Internet Provider (CCIP) designation for ISPs that agree to filter content and take measures to ensure users cannot access online pornography or other content deemed harmful to minors.

Under the bill, H.B. 407, the state’s attorney general would create the CCIP designation, which would include a “seal” that could be used in the promotional materials of any ISP that receives the designation.

Seeking the state’s seal of approval would not be without its risks, however; under the bill, any ISP that obtains CCIP status could be liable for fines of up to $10,000 for if it does not fulfil its agreement as defined by the proposed law.

Among other requirements, an ISP could be certified as a CCIP under the proposal if it agrees to:

  • Prohibit its customers by contract from publishing any “prohibited communication,” which includes material that meets the state’s definition of “pornographic” or “harmful to minors”
  • Remove or prevent access to any prohibited communication published by or accessed using the ISP’s service within a reasonable time after the ISP learns of the prohibited communication
  • Comply with any court order concerning the removal of a prohibited communication
  • Maintain a record for two years following its allocation of an IP address of the IP address, the date and time of the allocation, and the customer to whom the IP address is allocated.

It’s very difficult to figure out a way to monitor the Internet, said the bill’s sponsor, Representative Michael Morley: I think [the bill is] a positive thing for those who are looking for a site that is dedicated to fighting pornography.

Attorney Jeffrey Douglas, chairman of the Free Speech Coalition, told XBIZ there’s at least one problem with the proposal: if adopted, it would be unconstitutional: They cannot argue that this is designed to mitigate secondary effects of the material, so this would be a restriction on protected speech subject to strict scrutiny. The state simply cannot favor one form of speech over another because it does not like the one form of speech. Substitute the words ‘Democratic party’ for ‘pornography’ and you can immediately see the problem with this proposal.

Douglas added that there is no need for such government-issued seals of approval, because the market takes care of this. We don’t need a government-issued ‘Good Housekeeping’ seal. That’s what Good Housekeeping [magazine] is for. All those groups like Morality in Media can designate which ISPs are ‘family-friendly’ — we don’t need the government to do it.

 

3rd March   

Unrated Marketing Rated...

Contributing to the hype for Frontier(s)
Link Here

Frontiere(s) poster Given the tag of President Gore in the indie film community, After Dark Films CEO Courtney Solomon now has the rapt attention of Hollywood's biggest film studios. Not for the content of his next extremely grisly horror film, Frontier(s) , but rather for its unusual distribution and marketing strategy.

Distributor Lionsgate will release Frontier(s) unrated giving the film access to more screens than it would have with the NC-17 rating that it would have been given by the MPAA.

What's more, Frontier(s) will be out on DVD the weekend after its theatrical run in the top 10 markets May 9, eliminating the need for separate marketing campaigns for theater and home video.

The move is a significant gamble. As Solomon explains, a French-language horror film was never going to have enormous box-office potential, but the NC-17 rating it initially received from the MPAA would have doomed it, he said, both theatrically and on video. (Solomon noted that many of the largest theater chains, like Cinemark, won't exhibit NC-17 films, and most big video stores, like Blockbuster, won't stock them. Theaters will exhibit unrated films, and video stores will carry them, too.)

The last 40 minutes are just relentless blood and gore, said Soloman in an interview with Ad Age: It's a gorgeous-looking film.

See full article from the BBFC

BBFC logo Meanwhile the BBFC passed the film as 18 uncut with the following comments:

FRONTIER(S) is a subtitled French film that has been classified '18' uncut for very strong bloody violence.

The film contains scenes dwelling on the terrorisation of victims and the infliction of pain and injury. The inclusion of several 'strongest gory images' (mutilation) preclude the possibility of a '15' classification. However, all elements in this work are containable, uncut, by current guidelines for the '18' classification.

Current guidelines state: The BBFC respects the right of adults to choose their own entertainment, within the law.

The film also contains strong language, sex references and soft drugs use.

 

23rd February   

Update: Married to Censorship...

Pixellation not enough for tits at the FCC
Link Here

Married by America The US TV censor has fined 13 Fox TV stations $7,000 each for a 2003 episode of Married by America that included offending scenes from bachelor and bachelorette parties.

The Federal Communications Commission, FCC, had initially proposed a $1.2 million fine against 169 affiliates of Fox that aired the since-canceled reality show. But, under a new policy, the agency said it would only fine stations in markets where viewers complained.

Fox strongly disagrees with the commission's conclusions in the notice and we will be actively considering our options, Scott Grogin, the company's senior vice president of corporate communications said in a statement.

The six-episode Married by America introduced a cast of single men and women and allowed viewers to match them up by popular vote. Five matched couples then went through some rituals of dating but none married.

Fox also said some images found to be offensive appeared on-screen for 10.5 seconds. The hour-long episode in question featured explicitly sexual scenes from bachelor and bachelorette parties.

In its order released Friday, the agency said by any reasonable definition many of the activities at the parties constitute sexual activities and the scenes also depict sexual organs.

While it is true that the nude female breasts and buttocks shown were pixilated, the commission has never held that the full exposure of sexual or excretory organs is required to satisfy the first prong of the broadcast indecency standard, according to the FCC order.

 

19th February   

Indiana Jones and the Mysterious Censored Guns...

Trailers reveal a censored US version of the new Indy film
Link Here

Indiana Jones trailer It seems that the US version of the trailer for the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is being censored

At :40 seconds in, all those soldiers come running into frame. WITH MACHINE GUNS. How do we know? Well, because we can SEE THEM, and because we hear the sound of all of the guns being cocked at the same time. Guns established, MPAA. We now know they are there.

Then a few shots later, we see the guns again. THEY ARE STILL THERE.

And at :56 seconds, just to make sure we get the point, there's the sound of a gun being cocked AGAIN. So we are reminded, “Hey, there are guns pointed at them!”

Except... there aren't. Not in the US version.

There are certainly guns appearing in the international version.

It was also noted that there is another difference. There is a US flag plastered over the US version.

 

19th February   

Update: FCC Butt Cheeks...

ABC TV companies appeal FCC nudity fine
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

A nude scene from NYPD The 50 ABC television affiliates slapped with fines for airing an "indecent" episode of 'NYPD Blue' in 2003 have filed an appeal with the FCC.

On Jan. 25, the FCC ordered the stations to pay a total of $1.4 million in fines for broadcasting the episode containing a seven-second glimpse of a woman's bare buttocks.

Lawyers for the ABC stations argued in their appeal that the FCC should reverse the decision because the “simple depiction of nonsexual nudity” is not indecent by law or community standards.

According to Broadcast & Cable, the appeal states that the FCC's action is rife with procedural infirmities; is predicated on form complaints that do not satisfy the commission's own policies; proscribes material outside the scope of the commission's indecency-enforcement authority; misapplies the commission's own multifactor test for patent offensiveness; is inconsistent with the commission's governing precedent at the time of broadcast; and reaches a result that is plainly unconstitutional.

Central to the FCC's definition of the 'NYPD Blue' scene as "indecent" is the idea that the buttocks are "a sexual or excretory organ." The affiliates' appeal helpfully provides a detailed medical description of the buttocks, proving for the record that the butt is neither a sexual nor an excretory organ.

The appeal further notes that the FCC failed to measure the scene's alleged "indecency" by community standards in any of the 50 broadcast markets, making the fines arbitrary and unconstitutional.

 

17th February   

Update: Blame Counter Strike...

Counter Strike to blame for Illinois shootings
Link Here  full story: Counter Strike in Illinois...Blaming video games for school shootings

Counter Strike game The New York Post, a daily tabloid, has a story in this morning's edition with this screaming headline: College Killer Crazy for Violent Vid Game

The article claims that NIU rampage killer, 27-year-old Stephen Kazmierczak, was “obsessed” with Counter-Strike , which the paper describes as an ultra-violent video game.

The Post quoted a former dorm mate of Kazmierczak's, Ben Woloszyn: He played a lot of video games, especially Counter-Strike, really loud.

 

16th February   

Illinois Blame...

Jack Thompson quick to lay blame for Illinois shootings
Link Here  full story: Counter Strike in Illinois...Blaming video games for school shootings

ECA logo The Entertainment Consumers Association president Hal Halpin has issued a statement about the Illinois school shootings:

we are disgusted, but no longer shocked, to find that anti-game activists are again rushing to conclusions about what drove Stephen Kazmierczak, the clearly disturbed 27-year-old who police say was responsible for this tragedy, to commit such an act.

Blaming video games for the behavior of the mentally-challenged is vile on many levels. And, as Generations X and Y mature, it is extremely likely that just about all of us have played at least one video game at some point in our lives.

Drawing a parallel between games and violence without any substantive proof is sensationalism for its own sake. This is a sad event, made worse by the irresponsible actions of attention-seekers and the media that has given them a platform for their reckless venom.

Anti-video game violence nutter Jack Thompson has already appeared on Fox News and once again has tried to draw a link between violent video games and a deadly school shooting.

 

14th February   

Update: Increasing Feelings of Hostility...

Tennessee nutter specifies violent media study and its result
Link Here

Tennessee The Tennessee State Senate will consider a measure which seeks a legislative study into the ”adverse societal impact” of violent electronic media.

Such a study would likely encompass video games as well as television, movies and the Internet. In fact, games and TV are specifically mentioned in the resolution, SJR 613. The legislation was proposed by Senator Roy Herron, a Democrat.

While calling for a study, the language of Senator Herron's resolution seems to suggest that, at least in his mind, the matter has already been decided: ...decades of social science research reveal the strong influence of televised violence on the aggressive behavior of children and youth; and…there appears to be evidence that exposure to violent media increases feelings of hostility, thoughts about aggression, and suspicions about the motives of others, and…

It is also noteworthy that Senator Herron's proposal appears to have both its outcome and subsequent course of action pre-determined: Be it further resolved that as part of its study, the committee should identify ways and means to impress upon the entertainment industry that the depiction of the consequences of violent behavior in the electronic media should be associated with negative social consequences.

SJR 613 has been referred to committee. If approved, its called-for “study” is due by February 1, 2009.

 

13th February   

Police Butt Cracks...

Police make an arse of themselves in Virginia Beach
Link Here

Obscene psoter? Posters of scantily clad youths that were seized by police at an Abercrombie & Fitch store in a Virginia mall this weekend may be inappropriate for young children, but they are not obscene, according to legal experts.

Virginia Beach police apparently have agreed. They have dropped charges against the clothing company that markets to chic teens.

The window displays went up in 363 stores across the country in mid-January, including the Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach.

Offensve poster? One of the posters showed three shirtless young men, one with his upper buttocks revealed. The second one revealed a woman's breast — with all but the nipples.

Was the police response to the store an overreaction? Yes, according to legal experts. Though local laws can vary, courts require that the image show sexual activity or a "lewd display" of genitals, says Lawrence Walters, an Orlando lawyer and First Amendment specialist: There is not a chance any jury in America would find the photo obscene under these standards.

Virginia police had referred to City Code Section 22.31, which says it is a crime to display obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles, said police spokesman Adam Bernstein.

The manager of the store could have faced a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail.

Walters said police may have misread the standards for obscenity, as is often the case. He also said they improperly seized the posters without a search warrant, which constitutes prior restraint, which is barred by the Constitution.

 

12th February   

Censorship Cover Up...

Wal-Mart to cover up covers of 'M' rated video games
Link Here

Wal-Mart logo t seems that Wal-Mart will soon be making another step in it's ongoing endeavors to censor its own stock. Stores will soon begin displaying “M” rated games in a black sleeve that obscures 3/4 of the game's cover, much like adult magazines in many news shops.

It is the responsibility of Wal-Mart to protect our children from potentially damaging content, such as the covers of some video games, said a company spokesperson.

It's still pretty ridiculous though, especially since I can't think of a single “M” rated title that has anything too offensive on its cover. Not to mention the fact that the games are encased in glass, so children can't even inspect the back. And if they're so concerned about the games' content, then why are they stocking them at all?

Update: Spoofed

See full article from Game Politics , 15th February 2008

There's also a story out there claiming that Wal-Mart will be shrouding M-rated games in a black cover. The original story is from Scrape TV, a faux news site. However, it's been repeated in some legit sites and a GP reader even mentioned it in our forums.

GP heard from a game-savvy Wal-Mart exec Tuesday night who denied any knowledge of such a plan.

 

12th February   

Same Old Story...

Taxing strip clubs in Florida
Link Here

Florida state seal Florida representative Rick Kriseman has introduced a bill that would tax adult entertainment as a means of raising money for the state's low-income senior citizens.

House Bill 751 proposes a sales tax on adult businesses and services including lingerie, bikini or nude modeling; body shampoos or scrubs; private shower shows; peep shows; nude, seminude or topless dancing; nude, seminude or topless waitressing; lap, friction, couch or table dancing; erotic massages or performances; nude photo sessions; and personal escort services.'

According to the Gainesville Sun, Kriseman wants to use the sales tax on admission to increase the monthly Medicaid "personal allowance" for nursing home residents and other elderly wards of the state from $35 to $70.

 

10th February   

Discovering a Lack of Bottle...

Discovery Channel drops plans to show torture documentary
Link Here

Taxi to the Dark Side poster Taxi to the Dark Side , a documentary about an innocent Afghan taxi driver tortured to death by US officials at Bagram Air Base, has received wide critical acclaim since its debut in April at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Director Alex Gibney agreed to sell the rights of Taxi to the Discovery Channel because executives convinced him they would give the film a prominent broadcast. Now, however, Discovery has dropped its plans to air the documentary because the film is too controversial. Gibney responded to the news in a press release this week:

Now, I am told that ‘it doesn't fit into Discovery's plans,' and that the film's controversial content might damage Discovery's public offering.

Having directed Enron , very little about this kind of corporate behavior shocks me, but I am surprised that a network that touts itself as a supporter of documentaries would be so shamelessly craven. This is a film that, in an election year, is of critical interest to the viewing public. What Discovery is doing is tantamount to political censorship.

It's ironic that Taxi's content is too “controversial,” considering it depicts real acts perpetrated by the current Bush administration. In an interview with the Center for American Progress, Gibney noted that Americans are excited about dramatizations of torture, such as in the show 24 , but uncomfortable “with the reality of torture.”

 

9th February   

Candidate for World's Chief Censor...

Barack Obama speaks on media censorship
Link Here

Barack Obama Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has said that he is concerned about TV content and that he believes as president, it would appropriate to "work with the industry" to address issues of sex and violence, including the marketing of violent films in TV shows, but he believes parental control, not government control, is the best response.

He also said he was concerned about the Internet, as well as TV.

When asked by Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times, whether there was too much sex and violence coming out of Hollywood, he said that as a parent, as well as a presidential candidate, he was concerned, in the process managing to cite both cable and broadcast.

While Obama said he rejected the idea of censorship and felt that parents had the primary responsibility for controlling content, he also warned the TV industry to be careful how it markets movies on TV.

I'm also concerned [about] some of the violent, slasher, horror films that come out, he added. You see a trailer, and I'm thinking, I don't want my six-year-old or nine-year-old seeing that trailer while she's watching American Idol.'

 

6th February   

Conan Bloodied by German Censors...

Conan video game cut for Germany but not for the US
Link Here

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures game Funcom, developer of the upcoming Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures video game, has acknowledged that it will be censored in Germany.

In a forum post, community manager Shannon Drake noted that this was a legal requirement, rather than a design decision that could be reversed.

It was previously reported that the US version would also be cut to delete topless female nudity (but no cuts to violence)

However Drake corrected the post and revealed that the US version was submitted to the ESRB and given an M-rating without any server-side censorship. It will therefore feature full blood, full fatalities and breasts with nipples.

The "elsewhere in Europe" version, rated 18+ by PEGI, is also uncut.

 

6th February   

Contemptible Judge...

Suspended jail sentence for reading Maxim in US court
Link Here

Maxim Magazine cover North Carolina judge, Kevin Eddinger, held lawyer Todd Paris in contempt after he saw him reading Maxim magazine with “a female topless model” on the cover, according to the court order.

When Eddinger gave Paris a chance to respond he apologized and stated in his view the magazine was not pornography, was available at local stores and that he did not intend contempt, the order said. Eddinger fined Paris $300, gave him a 15 day suspended jail sentence that remains in effect for a year and placed him on unsupervised probation, according to the order.

Eddinger wrote in the order that The contemnor's (Paris) conduct interrupted the proceedings of the court and impaired the respect due its authority. In addition, the contemnor's actions were grossly inappropriate, patently offensive, and violative of Rule 12 of the General Rules of Practice. Courtroom staff, law enforcement, members of the Bar and the general public shall be able to conduct courtroom business in an atmosphere free of the display of offensive material as demonstrated by the contemnor, thus necessitating this action.

 

27th January   

US TV Censors in Need of Cold Shower...

NYPD Blue nudity winds up the nutters
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

A nude scene from NYPD US television network ABC may have to pay a total fine of $1.4m (£707,000) for airing an episode of NYPD Blue which depicted female nudity. The proposed penalty has been imposed on all 52 of ABC's stations who broadcast the episode.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said the 2003 show had "multiple, close-up views" of a woman's buttocks before the US watershed.

The FCC deems "sexual or excretory activities" shown in an "offensive" way before 2200 as indecent.

ABC has rejected the claims, saying the buttocks are not a sexual organ. The scene in the police drama shows a boy surprising a naked woman as she prepared to take a shower.

The FCC said it received several complaints about the sequence, which also showed one of the woman's breasts.

An ABC spokeswoman said that the programme was broadcast with parental warnings and that the realistic nature of NYPD Blue's storylines was well-known to the viewing public.

The broadcaster has said it will appeal against the decision, which is the second largest indecency fine imposed on a broadcaster.

 

26th January   

Vulgar Whinging...

US catholics whinge at performance of Jerry Springer: The Opera
Link Here

Jerry Springer: The Opera DVD US Catholics are calling for the cancellation of Jerry Springer – The Opera in Concert scheduled for performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 29 and 30.

The controversial production is being opposed by The American TFP and its America Needs Fatima campaign. The group’s web site, www.tfp.org, is asking its readers to voice their concern by signing an e-mail protest addressed to Mr. Sanford Weill, Chairman of the Carnegie Hall Board of Directors.

The e-mail message states: The show is vulgar beyond description and is an egregious display of blasphemy. Over 82% of America is Christian. Millions feel insulted by this show.

We’re hoping Carnegie Hall will just cancel the show and avoid becoming a center for the promotion of blasphemy and indecency, said TFP spokesman Robert Ritchie. The show mocks everything Catholics hold sacred: the crucifixion, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The Annunciation is described as a rape. Nudity and profanity abound and Catholic beliefs are ravaged.

 

25th January   

A Load of Bull or a Load of Balls...

Virginia lawmaker proposes to outlaw bulls balls
Link Here  full story: Bulls Balls...US states move to ban ornamental bulls balls

Bulls balls hanging off motor bike State Delegate Lionell Spruill has proposed a bill to the Virginia State Assembly that would outlaw replications of genitalia being displayed on motor vehicles. If the bill were signed into law, any violation would be subjected to a fine of $250.

The idea for the bill came to Spruill after his young daughter saw rubber testicles hanging from the trailer hitch of a pick-up truck and asked he father to explain.

I didn't know what to tell her,' Spruill said.

The rubber testicles are marketed on BullsBalls.com.

Update: Died

4th May 2008

A bill in Virginia, aimed at rubber trailer hitch replicas of human genitalia, died in committee this year.

 

24th January   

2257 Unconstitutional Laws...

US fight to keep onerous record keeping requirements
Link Here

Department of Justice The Justice Dept. has requested a rehearing of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling in the Connection Distributing case, in which the court found 18 U.S.C. 2257 record keeping requirements unconstitutional.

The government has requested a rehearing “en banc,” meaning that they want all the appellate court’s judges to consider the issue. In its petition for a rehearing, the Justice Dept. argued that the 6th Circuit panel that issued the October decision erred in several ways, including by extending the statute to reach ‘producers’ of content that is not subject to the law.

Construing the age verification and recordkeeping provisions to apply to private couples who create explicit images of themselves for personal use in their own homes, the panel invalidated the act on the ground that it is so over-inclusive that it can no longer constitutionally be applied even to producers of commercial images for the pornography industry, the Justice Dept. stated in its petition.

 

23rd January   

mychildishspace.com...

MySpace cuts itself off from the adult world
Link Here

myspace logo Social networking giant MySpace has entered into an agreement with 49 US states that includes the elimination of all links to adult websites.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said: Kids face a real danger on web sites like MySpace because they never know who they are communicating with online. This agreement recognizes the intentions of MySpace to make improvements but it is my hope that all social networking sites will find additional ways to protect children.

Such a move would pose further challenges for legitimate adult marketers that rely on receiving traffic from these popular portals to fuel their websites – an especially popular option for solo-model and personality website owners.

As part of its agreement with the state attorneys general, MySpace will:

  • Strengthen software identifying underage users
  • Retain a contractor to identify and eliminate inappropriate images
  • Allow parents to send their child's e-mail address so MySpace can restrict the child from signing in or creating a profile
  • Obtain and constantly update a list of pornographic web sites and regularly sever any links between them and MySpace
  • Create a closed "high school" section for users under 18
  • Implement changes making it harder for adults to contact children
  • Dedicate resources to educating children and parents about online safety
  • Provide a way to report abuse on every content page, consider adopting a common mechanism to report abuse and respond within 72 hours to abuse reports.

MySpace will also create and lead an Internet Safety Technical Task Force; which in conjunction with the attorneys general and other social networking sites, experts and groups will develop improved Internet safety practices. Reports will be issued quarterly, with a report on the group's formal findings and recommendations planned for a late 2008 release.

 

17th January   

Update: Puerile Penile Censors...

US publisher relents over gallery drawings in kids book
Link Here

Rotraut Susanne Berner cartoon A German children's book can be published in the United States after a publisher there dropped its demand for the genitals on a picture of a statue in it be air-brushed out, it was revealed Thursday. The German illustrator of the book had angrily complained of censorship and withdrew it from the US market last summer after being told that shoppers might object to the nudity.

Rotraut Susanne Berner of Munich draws group scenes crowded with people, animals and objects. Her books encourage pre-schoolers to discuss with parents what they see in the pictures.

The offending male organ is a tiny squiggle in the picture: the male statue itself is only 7.5 millimetres high on the page.

Her German publisher Gerstenberg Verlag said the US client, Boyds Mills Press of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, had relented about the changes after the outcry it caused in Germany.

 

11th January   

Yee of Little Appeal...

California continues fight for video games law
Link Here

Califiornia state seal According to a press release from the office of State Senator Leland Yee, California has filed its planned appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling which struck down the state’s 2005 video game law last August.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced in September that his state would appeal Judge Ronald Whyte’s finding that the video game law, authored by Yee, was unconstitutional.

Yee said: California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of interactive, ultra-violent video games. As stated in the appeal, our efforts to assist parents in the fight to keep these harmful video games out of the hands of children should survive Constitutional challenge under all levels of judicial review.

Should California win its appeal, the video game law would levy fines of up to $1,000 on retailers who sell what Yee terms “ultra-violent” games to minors.

The case won’t likely be decided before 2009 at the earliest. Meanwhile, the California law is blocked from taking effect by Judge Whyte’s ruling.

 

11th January   

Land of the 0.01% Free...

Ocean City ban adult businesses from 99.91% of town
Link Here

Maryland state seal The Mayor and Council settled on a course of repression regarding sexually oriented businesses this week, with a unanimous vote for a scenario that outlines the tiny and limited portion of town that will allow for sexually oriented businesses.

Ocean City in Maryland currently consists of only one sexually oriented business, but the possibility of more following en suite was enough to spur the Mayor and Council to place a moratorium on sexually oriented businesses until a decision on the licensing and zoning of sexually oriented businesses could be made.

The council agreed to go with the most restrictive scenario available, which will require a 600-foot buffer from protected facilities and a 300-foot buffer from residential uses. This scenario will yield two acres of property and 0.09% of developable land for sexually oriented businesses. With the restrictions of the scenario, the only area of town that will be zoned for additional sexually oriented businesses will be in the Food Lion Shopping Center between 118th and 119th streets.

I think it's fair based on what we have today , said Mayor Rick Meehan.

 

7th January   

Update: Firewall Busters...

US funds development of tools to workaround internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Chinese Google logo The U.S. Congress is funding a modest assault on the great firewall of China.

The newly approved budget for the U.S. State Department includes $15 million for developing anti-censorship tools and services which could help Internet users breach electronic firewalls set up by China, Iran, UK and other closed societies.

The money is part of the 2008 budget for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. It is to be awarded competitively to software developers to produce internet technology programs and protocols that enable widespread and secure internet use in countries where the Internet is now heavily censored.

In a report that accompanies the bill, the House Appropriations Committee singles out China as a particular target. It cites recent efforts by Chinese President Hu Jintao to ‘purify’ the Internet via further monitoring and censorship, and through punishing Internet users who engage in uncensored communications. The report also decries recent Internet crackdowns by the Cuban and Russian governments.

The free-press organization Reporters Without Borders labels China the world’s most advanced country in Internet filtering. Chinese authorities monitor Web sites, chat forums, blogs and video exchange sites, and have imprisoned more than 50 Internet users for postings deemed to be anti-government, subversive and otherwise objectionable.

The Chinese government has required companies like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft to censor their search engines as a condition for operating in China. As a result, Internet searches for terms such as “human rights” and “Taiwan independence” have been blocked.

Internet censorship in North Korea is worse. Government control makes North Korea the world’s worst Internet black hole, Reporters Without Borders says. Only a few officials are able to access the Web, using connections rented from China.

Cuba is repressive as well. Virtually all Internet connections are government-controlled, and you can get five years just for connecting to the Internet illegally, the organization says.

The Iranian government boasts that it blocks access to 10 million “immoral” Web sites, including political and religious sites. Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt also make the Reporters Without Borders list of “Internet enemies.”

 

7th January   

Censorship Zone...

Nutters forcing book stores out of Witchita
Link Here

Kansas A new ordinance has taken effect in Wichita, Kansas relegating adult businesses to areas zoned for industrial or commercial use, and the city is attempting to convince two affected stores to close, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The law was originally passed in 2005, and of the nine stores located in non-approved zones, four have since closed, and three may be forced to close, relocate or sue the city on grounds of constitutional infringement.

Local attorney Charles O'Hara, who represents several of the affected stores, called the ordinance a ridiculous bunch of politics, and said, The owners do not intend to voluntarily move. A court is probably going to have to order them out.

Spearheading the effort to enact the new zoning law was Jan Beemer of Operation Southwind, a religious right group with ties to anti-porn crusader Philip Cosby: We would expect the city to proceed forward legally. They should be charged like you or I would be charged if we were violating an ordinance.

Under the new regulations, adult stores may not be located within 500 feet of churches, schools, licensed day care centers, public parks, residential districts, an Old Town area entertainment district or other sex-oriented businesses. One of the above, however, may not move into an area in order to force an adult store out.

 

2nd January   

Communication Ban...

New Jersey registered sex offenders to be banned from Internet
Link Here

New Jersey state seal New Jersey has enacted legislation banning some convicted sex offenders from using the Internet.

In signing the restrictions into law, Acting Governor, Richard J. Codey, noted that sexual predators were as likely to lurk at a computer keyboard as in a park or playground.

No federal law restricts sex offenders’ use of the Internet, and Florida and Nevada are the only other states to impose such restrictions.

The bill applies to anyone who used a computer to help commit the original sex crime. It also may be applied to paroled sex offenders under lifetime supervision, but it exempts work done as part of a job or search for employment.

Assemblywoman Linda D. Greenstein said the new law, which she cosponsored, updated Megan’s Law, which requires sex offenders to register with the state after being released.

Under the new law, convicted sex offenders will have to let the State Parole Board know about their access to computers; submit to periodic, unannounced examinations of their computer equipment; and install equipment on their computer so its use can be monitored.