UK News

 2010: Jan-March



7th May   

Reprehensible...


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Police notice to scare the shit out of internet cafe users
Link Here

poilce noticeSpotted at an internet cafe in Leather Lane, Clerkenwell, London.

Presumably it is a notice produced by the Metropolitan Police and distributed to internet cafes.

It is totally irresponsible to group all these categories into one and then suggest that they are all totally illegal.

A thoroughly nasty, fear creating tactic, produced by Britain's Stasi police.

 

31st March   

Comment: Evidence of Censorship...

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Spectator blog becomes the first to be censured by the PCC
Link Here

spectator rod liddle logo Spectator columnist Rod Liddle has become the first blogger to be censured by the Press Complaints Commission.

On the Spectator's website, Liddle wrote that the overwhelming majority of London's violent crime was carried out by young, Afro-Caribbean men. But the PCC ruled the former BBC Radio 4 Today editor's words breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of its code. It said the significant ruling showed publications' websites would be held to the same standards as print editions.

Liddle had written that the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community .

Although the Spectator had provided some evidence to back up Liddle's assertion, it had not been able to demonstrate that the 'overwhelming majority' of crime in all the stated categories had been carried out by members of the African-Caribbean community , Stephen Abell of the PCC said.

He added that the ruling was significant because it demonstrated that the PCC expects the same standards in newspaper and magazine blogs that it would expect in comment pieces that appear in print editions . There is plenty of room for robust opinions, views and commentary, but statements of fact must still be substantiated if and when they are disputed.

Offsite: Liddle censure a plus for serious newspaper and magazine websites

31st March 2010. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

greenslade bg logo Roy Greenslade writes in a well meaning blog:

A US reporter calls to ask whether I think the Rod Liddle censure by the Press Complaints Commission amounts to a constraint on the freedom of the press.

It is a natural consequence of America's journalists being appalled by the fact that we subject our newspapers and magazines to a self-regulatory regime that conflicts with their own constitutional right to freedom of expression.

So I reply that it is, of course, a constraint. But with freedom comes responsibility and it is surely irresponsible to present an opinion as a fact.

...

By showing that a magazine website cannot get away with publishing an inaccurate statement, the PCC has reinforced the public perception that British online journalists cannot put up any old rubbish online.

...Read the full article

But really...you only have to read about how many 'trafficked' sex workers there are arriving in Britain every year, or how many will be coming to the London Olympics, or how many children have been 'harmed' by watching post watershed programmes on iPlayer, to realise what a load of bullshit is published by major newspapers.

 

30th March   

Updated: Progress Report...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Tanya Byron to report on progress of Byron Report recommendations
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Tanya Byron TV's Dr Tanya Byron is to meet with Gordon Brown at the end of the month to discuss progress

Two years on from the now infamous Byron Report on video games age ratings, TV presenter Dr Tanya Byron is to return to her work and review the progress that has been made since her set of proposals in 2008.

Byron is currently meeting UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) officials and industry stakeholders to assess progress, and will report to the Prime Minister at the end of March.

Update: Less talk … more action

30th March 2010. Based on article from  thescotsman.scotsman.com

Action to protect children from pornography and other online 'threats' must be accelerated to keep up with advances in technology, a Government adviser has warned. Tanya Byron called for less talk … more action on issues such as parental controls on mobile phones, and warned youngsters could now access adult sites with extraordinary ease .

The TV child psychologist said the creation of Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and a national safety strategy had made the UK a world leader in tackling the issue. But said it must speed up to stay ahead .

In the two years since I published my first review, a lot has changed – we have a huge number of under-aged children on social networking sites; we know that there are location-based devices; we know that there is an extraordinary ease of access to pornography for children and young people.

Speeding up, we need to see a code of practice for companies and providers, we need to really think about parental controls for mobile phones that can access the internet.

Less talk and a little more action, a little more delivery would be a good thing.

She also criticised a lack of sufficient consultation with young people and parents and urged the Government to push through new rules on video game classification before the election.

 

27th March   

Update: Supreme Hate...

Men jailed for Holohoax website to appeal to the Supreme Court
Link Here  full story: Race Hate Internet Prosecutions...UK prosecutions over internet comments

Uk Supreme Court The men who became the first to be convicted of inciting racial hatred online are to petition the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the convictions.

The move by Stephen Whittle, along with Simon Sheppard follows the decision of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division to certify three points of law in the case - although it denied permission to appeal, meaning the pair have to petition the Supreme Court directly.

Lawyers for the two men confirmed that they would be filing petitions with the Supreme Court. The case will raise important issues about whether material placed on the internet counts as written material, and whether the courts have jurisdiction in cases involving material posted online from abroad.

Sheppard was convicted of 16 offences and Whittle of 5. In January the Court of Appeal rejected their appeals against conviction, but reduced Sheppard's sentence of four years and 10 months by a year and Stephen Whittle's term of two years and four months by six months.

The Court has now certified three issues in the case as a point of law of general public importance. These cover whether a document stored in a computer memory and/or displayed on a screen is written material within the meaning of Section 29 of the Public Order Act 1986, the issue of the correct test of jurisdiction for criminal cases involving or arising from the use of the internet, and whether, for the purposes of Section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, making material generally accessible or available to placing or offering it to the public via the internet counts as publication to the public or a section of the public.

 

21st March   

Valued Obscenity...

Auctions related to the Oz obscenity trial of 1971
Link Here

oz schoolkids The controversial and pioneering 70s style magazine, Oz, will feature in two Bonhams sales

Richard Neville, the editor of counter-culture magazine Oz, sat naked for a David Hockney drawing. This is now up for auction at Bonhams as part of its Post War and Contemporary Art and Design sale on March 10.

Modesty intact , the image by David Hockney, was drawn to raise funds for his 1971 obscenity trial. The picture (estimated at £10,000-15,000) was used, alongside drawings of Neville's co-editors Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis, to raise funds for the Oz obscenity trial in 1971.

The trail followed the prosecution of Neville, Anderson and Dennis for publishing a sexual Rupert Bear cartoon parody in an issue of the magazine edited by a group of school kids.

Hockney was one of dozens of artists who donated works to the Oz defence fund. The original drawings of the editors naked were put up for auction at the time, along with numbered lithographs, combined into a triptych.

The trial became a cause célebre, testing boundaries on censorship which had remained largely unchallenged since the Lady Chatterley's Lover court case in the early 1960s. The three were found guilty and sent to prison where the shaving of their heads caused yet more controversy, though the convictions were later overturned on appeal.

A complete set of the 48 issues of OZ magazine published between 1967 and 1973, including the infamous Schoolkids issue, is also being offered by Bonhams in the Printed Books, Maps and Manuscripts sale on March 23. The complete set is estimated at £1,000-2,000.

 

18th March   

Update: Offended by Libel Tourism...

Saudis use UK libel courts to attack Danish newspapers over the Mohammed cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Politiken cover The Danish minister of justice has called on the European Commission to put a stop to a lawsuit by a Saudi lawyer who is using the UK's famously libel-happy courts to go after Danish newspapers for their publication of cartoons of Mohammed.

It's fundamentally reasonable that judgments in the EU can often be exercised across borders, the minister, Lars Barfoed, said according to the Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

But it would be taking it to the extreme if a UK court could rule against the Danish media and then require compensation and court costs to be paid.

Britain is said to be the libel tourism capital of the world. In English and Welsh courts, the burden of proof is borne by the accused rather than the complainant, and as a result they have become the jurisdiction of choice for oligarchs and mafiosi, Saudi billionaires and even totalitarian governments.

On Monday, the Danish government said that they had had enough. Danish justice minister Lars Barfoed demanded that Brussels step in to prevent lawyer Faisal Yamani from suing the Danish papers for damages in British courts on behalf of 95,000 descendents of Mohammed who claim they and their faith have been defamed.

In August 2009, Yamani asked 11 Danish publications to take down the Mohammed cartoons from their websites. While most papers have refused to do so, the left-leaning daily Politiken, finally agreed to do so in February. Rebuffed by the Danish publications, Yamani has moved his fight to UK jurisdiction, where even publication on the internet in a foreign country in another language is considered as good as published domestically.

 

16th March   

Update: Cinema Chain Smoking...

Nutter researchers think they can undermine the credibility of film classification to suit their own agenda
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films
101 Dalmations still

  Don't smoke kids.
Smoking addles the brain and
you may turn into a barmy researcher

The analysis of hundreds of films released in the past decade found that young Britons see more cigarette use in movies than their US counterparts because the UK censors judge more films to be family friendly.

Researchers warn that the more smoking adolescents witness onscreen, the more their chances of taking up the habit increases, with those who see the most tobacco use about three times more likely to start smoking than those who watch the least.

The study, compiled by Dr Christopher Millett of Imperial College London and Professor Stanton Glantz of California University, advocated an overhaul of the ratings system: Awarding an 18 rating to films that contain smoking would create an economic incentive for motion picture producers to simply leave smoking out of films developed for the youth market .

The researchers assessed the number of onscreen smoking or tobacco occurrences in 572 top grossing films in the UK between 2001 and 2006, including 546 screened in the United States, plus 26 high-earning films released only in the UK. They then divided the total box office earnings of each film by the year's average ticket price to calculate the estimated number of tobacco impressions delivered to audiences for each film.

Among the films assessed, over two thirds featured tobacco. Of these more than nine out of ten were classified as suitable for adolescents (15 or 12A) under the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) system.

The study, which will be published in Tobacco Control, found that in all, 5.07 billion tobacco impressions were delivered to UK cinema-going audiences during the period, of which 4.49 billion were delivered in 15 and 12A rated films. Because 79% of the films rated only for adults in the US (R) were classified as suitable for young people in the UK young Britons were exposed to 28% more smoking impressions in 15 or 12A rated movies than their US peers.

Dr Millett said: The decision to classify a film as appropriate for youths clearly has economic benefits for the film industry. A film classification policy that keeps on-screen smoking out of films rated suitable for youths … would reduce this exposure for people under 18 years of age and probably lead to a substantial reduction in youth smoking.

However, Sue Clark, spokeswoman for the BBFC, said imposing an 18 rating on films which feature scenes of smoking is not going to happen .

She said: Sometimes smoking is included in a film for reasons of historical accuracy. The only time we would consider stepping in is if we felt a film was actively promoting smoking. But I have never seen a film that did that.

 

16th March   

More T-Shirt Nonsense...

A bit worrying when airport security staff show a lack of common sense
Link Here

freedom or death shirt A man was told to hide his T-shirt because airport security staff claimed the slogan it bore was an incitement to terrorism.

Lloyd Berks arrived at Gatwick Airport wearing a trendy white Levi Strauss T-shirt sporting the phrase Freedom or Death in turquoise lettering. Beneath the slogan is a picture of a skeleton dressed in armour.

The Gothic imagery is common on the high street but 'security' officers decided it was threatening and told the father of two, who was travelling with his partner and two young children, to turn the T-shirt inside out. The man obliged but he has accused the airport of being over-zealous and attacking civil liberties.

Berks was stopped at a security checkpoint by Gatwick staff. They said airlines might be worried by my T-shirt because its "threatening". I thought they were joking at first. I was with my family. I was hardly a terrorist risk. And the T-shirt is trendy, not an incitement to terrorism. I've never heard of anything more ridiculous. It's an attack on people's civil liberties. What has happened to common sense? Have people forgotten how to use it?

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said it was yet another example of how paranoid we have been made by terrorism: This is a sad example of the terrorism paranoia which increasingly affects every part of public life. T-shirt slogans do not imply malicious intent and the pathetic security officers should have known better.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport has since apologised. She denied the airport had a policy on T-shirt slogans. She said: London Gatwick does not apply a policy relating to appropriate or inappropriate T-shirt slogans worn by passengers passing through airport security. While safety and security are our highest priorities, we also expect staff to apply common sense and judgment.

 

15th March   

Self Harm...

Royal College of Psychiatrists calls for internet ban on images of self harm
Link Here

Royal College of Psychitrists logo The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has called for internet images that "romanticise" self-harm to be removed after 50% rise in young people being admitted to hospital for deliberately cutting themselves.

There were 1,758 admissions for self-harm with a sharp object among people under 25 in 2004-5. This rose to 2,727 in 2008-9, according to the BBC research.

Dr Margaret Murphy, chair of the RCP child and adolescent faculty, said: The RCP is seriously concerned at the recent growth in the number of internet sites featuring images and video footage of young people engaging in self-harm and, in particular, websites which appear to promote self-harm.

 

15th March   

Offsite: The Infidel...

Religion and comedy: drawing the line before you get killed
Link Here

the infidel I've written and co-produced The Infidel , a movie about a Muslim who discovers that he was born a Jew, which comes out on April 9. As part of the build-up to the movie, the company behind it is running an online competition called Which Religion Is Funniest?, a nationwide search for the best religious joke.

All this will hopefully provoke, if not necessarily answer, all those questions that are worth asking when comedy and religion meet: when does a religious joke become a racist joke? Can a comedian joke only about his or her own religion? Is it the culture or the religion that is being laughed at? Is religion being laughed at, or with? And the big perennial, where do you draw the line?

Well, one place where you might perhaps draw the line is before you get killed. In Life of Brian times, making a film that some people thought was offensive to their faith led to nothing more frightening than a late-night TV argument with Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark; now, as Theo van Gogh can't tell you, blasphemy can have much more serious consequences. Because The Infidel is about Muslims and Jews, it's created around me a certain amount of what I might describe as God!-what-he-is-thinking-about?-ness. I don't personally feel that the movie is offensive to either community, but that didn't stop Simon Schama, who was at one of the early screenings, saying to me afterwards: I adored it. So funny. Get some security.

...Read the full article

Update: BBC pulled out of The Infidel production

14th April 2010. See  article from  freethinker.co.uk

The BBC had originally been a co-producer of The Infidel, but, says Baddiel, then got cold feet: The BBC changed character. The BBC became much more wary about doing anything that might be considered to be offensive, trouble making or whatever.

Update: Banned in Dubai

23rd August 2010. See  article from  cbc.ca

They've had strong sales of the film in the Middle East, though it didn't get past the censorship board in Dubai.

A distributor in conservative Iran, where Djalili has a big YouTube following, bought it, but Israel is so far a holdout.

 

15th March   

Offsite: Detecting Lies...

Academic paper doubting lie detector capability banned by libel
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

francisco lacerda Francisco Lacerda, a professor of phonetics at Stockholm University, is one of two scientists threatened with legal action after the publication of a scientific article condemning the use of lie detectors. The Israeli company Nemesysco, which manufactures detectors, has written in a letter to the researchers' publishers that the researchers may be sued for libel if they continue to write on this subject in the future.

One year ago, Francisco Lacerda, a professor of linguistics at Stockholm University, and Anders Eriksson, professor of phonetics at the University of Gothenburg, published an article in the International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, a magazine for voice experts working for the police and security services. The article entitled "Charlatantry in forensic speech science" gave an overview of the last fifty years of research in the field of lie detectors. The article's conclusion is that there is no scientific evidence to show that lie detectors actually work.

...Read the full article

 

13th March   

Words Can Never Hurt Me...

Except in a British court where a man is fined for a Facebook insult
Link Here

Facebook logo A man has been ordered to pay £165 for calling his ex-girlfriend an 'offensive' name on Facebook.

Darren Mattox admitted posting a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character when he appeared at Wrexham Magistrates Court.

He used the word in a posting to ex-girlfriend Ashleigh Speed.

The Crown Persecution Service spokesman said: " There have probably been only a handful of cases resulting from offensive material either on Facebook or YouTube."

A spokeswoman for the Magistrates Association said: Its certainly not a common offence. I haven't come across it in the 20 years I've been sitting as a magistrate, but I imagine it may become more common.

Mattox admitted the offence. He was fined £65, plus £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Rod Williams, defending, said: Mattox went to see his son at hospital – that is the one and only time he has seen his son. He became increasingly angry and frustrated and it's because of this that he has posted these messages. There was a whole background of animosity. The comment certainly wasn't particularly abusive or offensive. He basically made a posting calling her an offensive name.

 

13th March   

Anna Span...

Noted British porn director to stand for parliament for the Lib Dems
Link Here

hug a hoodie Anna Arrowsmith, also known as Anna Span, is the new Liberal Democrat candidate for Gravesham in Kent.

She is also the auteur of hundreds of female-friendly porn films. Her neighbours in Tunbridge Wells may or may not be disgusted to learn that some of these, including Be My Toyboy , were shot in the front room.

Last year she won a battle with the British Board of Film Classification to be allowed to show a scene of female ejaculation.

She said that campaign was idealistic. It was about saying to the censors that you can't tell the women of this country what their bodies can or cannot do.

How seriously will the voters take Ms Arrowsmith, 38, on the election trail? She wants to be respected for her business and campaigning record but knows that her career will present a problem for some. There will be some people who will never like porn, she says. People approach sex in different ways. For some people it is only an emotional act. For others it is a variety of different acts. Some people will never accept that. They are probably the same people who never had a one-night stand. There will be some people who are conservative and very anti-porn. I think on the whole these days people are far more liberal.

What about the Liberals? Aren't some of them going to be affronted by a pornographer in their midst? I don't think so. On the whole they are a sexually liberated bunch.

Fed up with seeing porn films that focused on women pleasuring men she has carved a niche making films in which a third of shots show the woman, a third the man and a third the couple together. She says that the films she makes are humorous and that there is no airbrushing. Nearly half her customers are women, she says: Women definitely need this. She laughs at the idea that for all her talk of being a feminist she is really in pornography for the money. For years she made very little. Now, I do OK — nice house in Tunbridge Wells. No way am I the millionaire I thought I would be.

In her Tory-Labour marginal a Lib Dem victory is a long shot, but she is determined to become an MP eventually.

 

11th March   

Update: Nutter Bait...

BBFC pass Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me as 18 uncut
Link Here  full story: Killer Inside Me...Michael Winterbottom film gets noticed

Killer inside Vintage Crime Lizard The BBFC have passed the eagerly awaited Michael Winterbottom film as 18 uncut.

No doubt the likes of the Daily Mail will be contributing further to the films publicity.

Anyway the BBFC kindly explained their decision as follows:

The Killer Inside Me is an adaptation of Jim Thompson's noir crime novel of the same name about a psychopathic small town Sheriff. It was passed 18 for very strong violence, sadomasochistic sex scenes and child abuse.

The film features several scenes of very strong violence. These include sadistic killings and beatings, with some focus on female victims' fear and terror (for example sight of a woman urinating after being beaten). There is some focus on the infliction of pain and injury , including a long sequence featuring a strong beating to a female character's face. This is shown from the perpetrator's point of view. There are also some strong bloody shootings.

There are scenes of sexual violence and threat, including a discreet child rape scene, and several shots of strong sadomasochistic sexual activity and violence. There is some focus on the aftermath of such activity, with focus on female characters with bruises and welts and cigarette burns, including black and white photographs of a bruised woman in a sexual pose. There are scenes suggesting child abuse including sight, from a child's point of view, of a female character with bruised and welted buttocks as she invites him to punch and hurt her.

In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC's public consultations and the Human Rights Act 1998, at 18 the BBFC's Guideline concerns will not normally override the principle that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment within the law. Although several scenes are undoubtedly very strong and impactful, with the potential to cause offence to some viewers, the clear generic context (a film noir) and presentation of complicated and disturbing ideas was permissible at 18 . No material was found to be in breach of the criminal law, or created through the commission of a criminal offence. Although there are portrayals of strong sexual and sadistic violence and sadomasochist sexual behaviour, the scenes in question do not eroticise or endorse sexual assault or pose a credible harm risk to viewers of 18 and over.

The Killer Inside Me also includes some strong sex scenes, some strong bloody detail after beatings and shootings and scenes of threat as characters are in danger. There are also brief references to suicide, although these lack any detail or novel information.

 

10th March   

Facing Down CEOP...

CEOP berates Facebook for not using its abuse reporting button
Link Here

emeregency stop The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) called on the social networking website Facebook to feature its alert button following the conviction of Peter Chapman for the murder of Ashleigh Hall. Chapman posed as a teenager on Facebook in order to 'groom' Ashleigh, 17, before raping and murdering her.

Jim Gamble, the chief executive of CEOP, said 267 reports of suspicious activity on Facebook had been received in 2009 but users had been unable to log their concerns directly with his agency. Facebook itself had brought only a handful of cases to the attention of the unit, which investigates online paedophile activity.

Facebook indicated that it would resist the demand to put the CEOP alert button on its site because it believed its own reporting system was adequate. Sources said that Ashleigh Hall had also made contact with her murderer via MSN chat sites, which do carry the CEOP button, but she did not use it to alert the authorities.

A spokesman for Facebook said: The safety of Facebook users is our top priority. We have reporting buttons on every page of our site and continue to invest heavily in creating the most robust reporting system to support our 400 million users.

Update: CEOP Advert to Appear on Facebook

13th July 2010. Based on article from  independent.co.uk

Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behaviour and access internet safety advice with the launch of a new application. Users of the social networking site will be able to access an advice centre from their homepage, where there will be a dedicated facility for reporting inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The facility is the result of a initiative between Facebook and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and users will be able to add the ClickCEOP service as an application to find information about online safety.

An advert for ClickCEOP will appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

 

5th March   

Updated: Threatening to Make a Mockery of the Law...

Campaigner prosecuted for religious hatred with claims that cartoons are 'threatening'
Link Here
Adam paintng

  By the way, I've just invented blasphemy
Thought you'd like a bit of fun

A campaigning atheist who left leaflets mocking Jesus Christ, the Pope and the Koran in the prayer room of an international airport has gone on trial charged with religious harassment.

The materials left by Harry Taylor at Liverpool's John Lennon airport included one image showed a smiling Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of no nails glue. In another, Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise are told: Stop, stop, we've run out of virgins.

A further cartoon showed two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption: Not for women or gays, obviously.

Taylor, a self-styled philosophy tutor, denied bearing a grudge against people of faith and said he was only trying to convert believers to atheism. He said: The airport is named after John Lennon and his views on religion were pretty much the same as mine. I thought that it was an insult to his memory to have a prayer room in the airport.

The leaflets were discovered by Nicky Lees, the airport chaplain, who told the court she felt deeply offended and insulted by their contents. [But didn't mention feeling threatened].

Outlining the case against Taylor, prosecutor Neville Biddle said that he had gone beyond freedom of expression by leaving the insulting, threatening and abusive images in a room used for worship. He said: Of course people have a right to speak freely and have a right to insult people. It is one of the most important rights we have and it must be jealously guarded ...BUT... it is a right not without some prescription. Mr Taylor exceeded that right.

The defendant from Salford, Greater Manchester is charged with three counts of religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress under the Crime and Disorder Act. The alleged offences took place on separate dates in November and December 2008.

Taylor denied the charges and said it was preposterous to suggest that people could be incited to violence by the cartoons. He said: I am not hostile to religious people but I am hostile to religion. He told the court that he adapted cartoons cut out of newspaper and magazines like Private Eye and added captions of his own.

The images shown to the jury included a drawing of the Pope with a condom on his finger, and a picture of a woman kneeling in front of a Catholic priest captioned with a crude pun. In another image sausages were were labelled as The Koran .

The trial continues.

Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Based on article from opsi.gov.uk

29A Meaning of “religious hatred”

In this Part “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.
Acts intended to stir up religious hatred

29B Use of words or behaviour or display of written material

(1) A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.

29C Publishing or distributing written material

(1) A person who publishes or distributes written material which is threatening is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.

29J Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.

Update: A Disgraceful Verdict

5th March 2010. Based on article from liverpooldailypost.co.uk

The jury of ten women and two men, at Liverpool Crown Court took just 15 minutes to find Harry Taylor guilt of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress after viewing the grossly abusive and insulting images in court.

Harry Taylor is now on bail awaiting sentencing on 23 April. Religiously aggravated offences carry a potential seven-year prison term.

The National Secular Society have supported Taylor. They claim that new laws dealing with religiously aggravated offences amount to a blasphemy law in another guise.

Terry Sanderson, president of the society, said: This is a disgraceful verdict, but an inevitable one under this pernicious law. It seems incredible in the 21st Century that you might be sent to prison because someone is 'offended' by your views on their religion . . . Mr Taylor struck me as slightly eccentric and he acted in a provocative way, challenging the necessity for the prayer room. He didn't cause any damage and he didn't harm anything, nor was he threatening or abusive. Yet he might still end up behind bars because some Christian has decided they are offended.

In a multicultural society, none of us should have the legal right not to be offended. This law needs to be re-examined urgently.

 

5th March   

Comment: Censored by BBFC Fees...

Open Letter calling for an 'Independent Industry Of British Film'
Link Here

mancattan Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Colin Warhurst, and I am an independent film-maker from the North West, and the purpose of this open email is to stress the word independent. I apologise for its length, but this is a big issue that requires all of the facts. Today, affordable digital technology allows individuals or organisations to in affect, become virtually fully functional film studios. A camera, a computer and an idea are all that is needed to start making films. The realistic possibility of normal people, without funding or backing from agencies, of achieving this micro-studio setup and making their own feature films was virtually non-existent even up to 10 years ago due to technology.

What this means is that the film landscape going into the early 21st century is radically and fundamentally different to what has gone before. It is also important to note that this You Tube generation cannot be judged on the merits of virals, Internet celebrities and shaky spontaneous video often found on such video content sites. Yes, the quality varies massively, but the explosion in creativity on sites such as this should provide compelling evidence as to the potential talent and creativity out there, and of these millions of videos and ideas, a proportion of us go further, treating our work with an added level of ambition, professionalism, passion and commitment in order to go beyond simple viral film-making and into the creation of proper Film. To cut to the chase, I am one of these film-makers, and at great personal effort and expense, became one of the pioneers in what has been unofficially dubbed the North West New Wave. I Co-Directed and Produced an entirely independent feature film of our own creation entitled Mancattan . The film was made for under £600 of our own funds, and took two years to complete.

Now, as an independent artist, and as a business-person wishing to generate money within, or to bring into the UK, but with no further funds available as an independent film-maker, I ask one simple question.

How can I sell my film in the UK, legally?

The sword of Damocles in the shape of the horribly outdated Video Recordings Act 1984 and the massively high (for independents such as myself) charges for BBFC certification are effectively censoring, or killing dead, films and film-makers such as myself. I cannot, and will not, ever be able to afford the approximate cost of £1000 to have Mancattan rated. So how can I sell my film if I can't afford the rating? I believe Lord McIntosh most recently summarised the act as follows; The Video Recordings Act was nasty; it was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Lord Nugent of Guildford. In effect, it applied the rules of a public cinema or public display to people's video recordings in their own homes. In other words, it created censorship in individuals' homes where no censorship had existed before, and it made a difference between what you have on your video recording machine and what is on your bookshelves. Douglas Houghton, Hugh Jenkins, and I thought that that was deplorable and I still think that it is utterly deplorable.

Some MPs when asked this question have suggested that there are completion funds, competitions, bursaries and other sources of funding which must be fought or found in order to accomplish the raising of the capitol for this purpose. This is not realistic or of assistance to the New Wave of self-made digital British film-makers such as myself. Bodies such as the UK Film Council are not in existence to help independents; their funds and schemes are in no position, and never have been, to help a film-maker such as myself.

Any other art or creative medium does not have these rules of censorship in place. Imagine the Orwellian state we would live in if every painting, piece of poetry, song, music performance and text put to paper had to be certified. We would describe such a world as dystopian and unrealistic, yet that is the creative state a British film-maker lives in. On some level, despite the assertion of Lord Davies of Oldham who makes the opposite statement without evidence or backup, the censorship on film contravenes the European Convention On Human Rights.

So, even though we know the answer, I'll re-phrase my question bearing all of this in mind.

Why can't I sell my film legally in the UK directly to consenting adults only, directly to our (over 18) customers via credit card, therefore staying out of larger retail stores and the public domain outside of our own websites. The BBFC can still do it's job, and UK film-makers can feel welcome, encouraged and free to create ideas, and business, at home. We would have a viable, profit making independent UK film scene, which develops and grows talent in the UK, allows film-makers to pay their crews, actors and contributors via profit shares, and leaves unthreatened the larger real film industry currently dominated by foreign films (American films do count as foreign films remember) in our UK screens which currently offer no protected ring-fencing for British films.

In other words, an Independent Film Scene in Britain would not pose a threat to the established British Film Industry and would instead create an internationally respected and culturally invaluable Industry Of British Films. Independent film-makers may not necessarily or realistically want an audience of millions, or even thousands, where a few hundred would suffice; if we sold even one hundred of our DVDs to our fans at £10 each, many of us could cover the budgets for our entire film. Ironically, that £1000 could then be spent on a BBFC rating. We need something to break this chicken-egg, carrot-stick deadlock. Could, or should, the BBFC offer low/no-budget film-makers a rate now, pay us back later scheme, perhaps at a higher rate. So the first one hundred DVD's sold cover the BBFC granting a rating in lieu, any funds after that then go to the film-maker. The BBFC is not helping us in any way, and worryingly, have the monopoly on certification; where else can we go? Could an alternative to the BBFC and voluntarily ran body for independent film-makers be created, who have Government trust and backing, but who rate films at significantly lower costs for direct-sale only? There are many options, and we want to pursue any ideas until something works.

We know the VRA and BBFC are there to protect us, and younger people on the whole, from obscene content; and this where the crux of the change since 1984 occurs. Back then, the majority of indie film-makers may have been purveyors of dodgy horror, porn and other bad things. In 2010, you are tarnishing every potential film and film-maker with the same brush. The VRA assumes my content is of a dubious and obscene nature, and surely is overkill when the obscene publications act would protect the public and any bad film-makers taking advantage of the independent film scene and new rules that we would like to see come into place. I find it offensive that we are all presumed to be working and making films in the world of violence and pornography, and cast out of being able to express ourselves via the medium of film just in case.

Mancattan isn't a horror film, or porn movie. It is a 90 minute rom-com, part of which was filmed in New York. I would love to sell you a copy to show you it is harmless, but I can't. I could sell it in the United States.

Please, if any constructive, positive and genuinely empowering options for all the other Mancattans out there can be found, then please help us. I am not the first self-made UK feature film maker stuck in this position, and I won't be the last. There are hundreds of good, safe-for-viewing and quality films sat on the shelf that have been made with blood sweat and tears. There are hundreds more following in their wake.

A film, today? A camera, a computer and an idea. A new Industry Of British Films? A few cameras, a few computers, and a few ideas... and some much needed help from YOU.

Many thanks for your time, I welcome your thoughts, replies and ideas. Sincerely

Colin Warhurst (A would-be British Film-maker)

info@reformthevra.co.uk
www.mancattan.co.uk

 

4th March   

Offsite: Michael Foot...

Free speech campaigner and politician dies aged 96
Link Here

Michael Foot Kenneth O Morgan Michael Foot was not only a principled politician, writes Paul Anderson. The former Labour party leader was a passionate journalist and a lifelong defender of free expression

Michael Foot, who has died at the age of 96, is best remembered these days as a politician — and a very important one he was too. He was the leader of the left in the Labour Party from the late 1950s until he took a government job in the 1974 Labour government, and then was Labour leader from 1980 to 1983.

But before that — and after that — he was primarily a journalist, and probably the most consistently active campaigner in Britain for freedom of speech in general and journalistic liberties in particular during the 1940s and 1950s.

...Read full article

 

1st March   

Update: Po-faced Thought Police...

Race relations watchdog unimpressed by police over-reaction to Anyone But England football shirts
Link Here  full story: Anyone but England...Police investigate football shirt banter

Anyone But England T-Shirt The race relations watchdog has dismissed police concerns over Anyone But England World Cup T-shirts being sold in Scotland, describing the garments as harmless fun.

Trevor Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that the slogan was good natured banter that was unlikely to cause offence .

His comments come after Grampian Police asked Slanj, an Aberdeen-based kilt-maker, to consider removing a window display of T-shirts because of its potential to cause disturbance .

Phillips said the commission would react swiftly to any serious evidence of racism, but over-reacting to jokes risked making it appear like po-faced thought police .

 

27th February   

The Devils...

Warner Brothers are sitting on the Director's Cut of The Devils
Link Here

Devils Special Restored Vanessa Redgrave Mark Kermode points out that, despite being finished and waiting on the shelf for five years, the director's cut of The Devils has still not been released by Warner Brothers.

Mr. Kermode also says in his video blog Kermode Uncut - film school 101:deadpossessfilm school 101   that film fans should try and do something to remedy such apparent inactivity.

Thus, I thought it appropriate to forward this suggestion so any fans can participate in the debate should they wish to.

 

27th February   

Update: Dangerous Books...

Salman Rushdie to tell his story about life under threat of death
Link Here  full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world

Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie is to write a book about the decade he spent in hiding while living under a fatwa issued by the then-Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Khomeini.

Rushdie said: It's my story, and at some point it needs to be told. That point is getting closer, I think, added Rushdie.

Rushdie was forced into hiding in 1989 when Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill the author, claiming that his book The Satanic Verses insulted Islam.

At one point the bounty on Rushdie's head rose to £1.8m. The Japanese translator of the work was killed, the Norwegian and Italian translators barely survived assassination attempts, and an attempt on the life of the Turkish translator in 1993 resulted in a riot causing the deaths of 37 intellectuals who had gathered in Sivas, Turkey, for a cultural festival.

D'Souza doubts that the book will be a straight diary . There are a huge number of incidents that people may not be aware of, she said. There were times when he was absolutely under threat. But he will make it into a novel of a kind.

 

26th February   

Updated: Shrink Me Windows...

Odeon cinemas refuse to show Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Link Here

Alice Wonderland Blu ray Johnny Depp Tim Burton's new film version of Alice in Wonderland will not be screened at Odeon cinemas in the UK, Irish Republic and Italy, the cinema chain says.

The move is in response to the Disney studio's plan to reduce the period in which it can be shown only in cinemas from the standard 17 weeks.

Odeon said it would set a new benchmark, leading to a 12-week window becoming rapidly standard .

Odeon's decision will not affect the film's Royal premiere on Thursday, which is coincidentally set to take place at the Odeon Leicester Square in central London. Nor will it affect its plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria - territories where Disney intends to observe the normal DVD release window.

The Odeon & UCI Cinema Group is Britain's largest cinema chain with more than 100 sites nationwide.

Disney told the BBC that one of the main reasons for the decision was to bring the film to customers more quickly, thereby helping to beat piracy. It said if a cinema stopped showing a film before the 17 week exclusivity period, the audience did not have a legitimate way to see the movie - potentially leading to piracy.

Update: Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

26th February 2010. Based on article from homemediamagazine.com

In another win for packaged media and The Walt Disney Co, Great Britain's Odeon Cinema Group said it has agreed to shorten the theatrical window for the March 5 2D/3D release of Alice in Wonderland to 12 weeks from the typical 17-week run.

Odeon also reported it will show Alice in Wonderland in its cinemas in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria. The largest theatrical chain in the United Kingdom, with 834 screens, earlier this week threatened to boycott the fantasy adventure film staring Johnny Depp after Disney asked European theater operators to scale back the release window so it could expedite the title's retail availability on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

 

25th February   

Anyone But England...

Police have a word with Scottish T-Shirt company
Link Here  full story: Anyone but England...Police investigate football shirt banter

Anyone But England T-Shirt A Scottish clothing company has been warned by police over t-shirts expressing the hope that Anyone but England wins this summer's World Cup. World Cup Anyone but England t-shirt.

Police have warned proprietors of the Slanj clothing store in Aberdeen that the garment could cause offence.

An impromptu visit from an officer raising concerns over the shirt's sentiments left staff at the shop flabbergasted .

The visit was not in response to a complaint, and no action has been taken against the company.

However, Grampian Police claim that they would be neglecting their duty if the matter was not addressed.

PC Kirk Hemmings said: The primary role of any police force is to preserve the peace and we would be failing in our duty if we did not make people aware of the potential for disturbance such a window display could cause. The Grampian area, in common with the rest of the country, has recorded incidents relating to nationality and we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that incidents of this nature are kept to a minimum.

Ross Lyle of Slanj said: To be honest we're absolutely flabbergasted: We have been selling this T-shirt for the past three months and we've had a great response. Even the English people who come into the store think it's a laugh and just a bit of tongue-in-cheek football banter.

The t-shirt is described on Slanj's website as A light hearted dig at our English neighbours and their prospects in the forthcoming World Cup, not that we're bitter or anything, just because we didnae qualify!

 

24th February   

Update: Fighting Back Quacks...

Simon Singh has his day in the Court of Appeal
Link Here  full story: Simon Singh vs Chiropractors...Chiropractors take science sceptic to libel court

Pen protest at courtSimon Singh's libel case v the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was heard at the Court of Appeal in front of three of the most senior judges in England and Wales: Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Sedley.

They heard arguments from both barristers on the meaning of Simon's article and on whether it was fact or comment and their judgment is expected in 6 - 8 weeks. A crowd of supporters greeted Simon as he arrived at the court.

Simon said after the hearing: First of all, thanks to everyone who came to the Court of Appeal today, and everyone who has been so supportive over the last two years. Without your goodwill, I probably would have caved in a long time ago.

I am delighted the Court of Appeal has decided to reconsider the meaning of my article about chiropractic, and I am particularly glad that three such eminent judges will make the ruling. They grilled both sides on all aspects of the appeal. However I should stress that whatever the outcome there is still a long way to go in this libel case. It has been almost two years since the article was published, and yet we are still at a preliminary stage of identifying the meaning of my article. It could easily take another two years before the case is resolved.

More important than my particular case is the case for libel reform and I know that you share my concern on this matter. My greatest desire is that journalists in future should not have to endure such an arduous and expensive libel process, which has already affected the careers of health journalists such as Ben Goldacre, and which is currently bearing down on the eminent cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst. If Peter loses his case then he will be bankrupted. Please continue to spread the word about libel reform.

Simon's solicitor Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave LLP said: It was encouraging to see three such senior judges taking such an interest in the appeal, and the BCA's counsel was given a thorough grilling by the court. What was significant was that the Lord Chief Justice said he was surprised that the BCA had not taken the opportunity offered them back in 2008 to publish their side of the story in the Guardian, rather than insisting Simon apologise and beginning proceedings. He also said it was a waste of both parties' time and effort. I hope that this is borne in mind by MPs when they grapple with the need for libel reform.

 

16th February   

Operation Ore Appeal...

Hearing set for the High Court
Link Here

Old BaileyThe Operation Ore appeal is listed for hearing in the High Court in London on 27 and 28 April 2010.

 

15th February   

Offsite: A Legal Reminder...

Server location is ruled irrelevant to the internet posting of racially inflammatory material
Link Here

Old BaileyThe law of England and Wales applies to material published online, even if it is hosted on a server in another country, the Court of Appeal has ruled. As long as a substantial measure of the activities takes place in England, its law will apply, it said.

Two men's appeals against convictions for publishing racially inflammatory material were based on their claim that the law of England and Wales should not apply because the material in question was hosted on a server in California in the US.

The Court of Appeal rejected that claim, saying that according to a precedent set in a previous case domestic law will apply so long as much of the activity in question took place in the UK.

Lawyers for the two men also argued that there was no actual publication of the material because there was no actual proof that anybody had read it. The Court of Appeals dismissed this claim.

Lord Justice Scott Baker said: The point that there cannot be publication without a publishee is in our judgment fundamentally misconceived, he said. It is based on an irrelevant comparison with the law of libel. Libel is a tort or civil wrong where it is necessary for the claimant to prove that the words complained of were published of him and were defamatory of him … the offences of displaying, distributing or publishing racially inflammatory written material do not require proof that anybody actually read or heard the material.

...Read the full article

 

14th February   

Offsite: Dave Blame...

Demonising Films is Child's Play
Link Here

Child's Play DVD For people of a certain age the recent conviction of two brothers from Edlington, aged ten and eleven, for the torture and near killing of two other children of a similar age will, no doubt, bring back memories of the abduction and murder of Liverpool toddler James Bulger and, somewhat inevitably, the spectre of the video nasty.

…of course, blaming videos is not as popular as it used to be and even the Tories are reduced to making half-hearted links: On each occasion, are we just going to say this is an individual case? That there aren't any links to what is going wrong in our wider society, in terms of family breakdown, in terms of drug and alcohol abuse, in terms of violent videos, in terms of many of the things that were going wrong in that particular family? was the strongest tone David call me Dave Cameron was willing take but, although it was not exactly the ban this filth stance that his ancestors took, the same old line was being trotted out. When looking for scapegoats film is still one of the easiest targets.

...Read full article

 

7th February   

Sounds a Bit Extreme...

Police called to examine Wales Audit Office porn
Link Here

Wales Audit Office logoSouth Wales Police are investigating the former Auditor General for Wales, at the request of his employers.

Jeremy Colman head of the public spending watchdog the Wales Audit Office (WAO) since 2005, resigned with immediate effect.

It is understood there was an internal review after pornographic material was discovered on his work laptop computer.

South Wales Police said it was investigating an allegation regarding computer material but it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage .

The WAO said: Following an internal review at the Wales Audit Office, matters regarding Jeremy Colman's personal conduct were referred to the police.

Update: Arrested

9th February 2010. See article from news.bbc.co.uk

The former Auditor General of Wales has been arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images.

 

2nd February   

Update: Glorified Censors...

UK police set up national internet terrorism unit
Link Here

Ragged Union JackTerrorist websites will be targeted by a new national police unit.

Government officials and senior police officers hope the small team will better co-ordinate work to silence online extremists. They want to replicate the success of police in hunting down paedophiles.

The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) will handle tip-offs from members of the public about suspect sites.

Investigators will work with internet service providers to remove illegal content or alert authorities overseas.

The move came after it emerged that the government has never used powers granted under the Terrorism Act 2006 to close down a website.

Speaking in the House of Lords last November, security minister Lord West said police forces preferred to use informal channels to shut sites.

CTIRU, comprising five detectives and civilian employees from forces across England and Wales. They will remove sites containing information about weapons and targets that could help terrorists strike, as well as those promoting extremist groups.

 

1st February   

Update: Little Hitlers at eBay...

Dad's Army game banned at eBay
Link Here  full story: eBay Censors...Arbitrary censorship of what is sold on eBay

Dad's Army gameAuction site eBay has backed down after banning the sale of a rare Dad's Army board game for promoting hatred and racial intolerance .

The game, originally released in the mid-70s at the height of the much-loved TV series' popularity, was deemed offensive because it contains a picture of a swastika.

Just like the opening title sequence of the show, the board game box depicts arrows bearing swastikas and Union Jack flags moving across a map of Europe.

Seller Dave Davidson, who bought the game at a car boot sale, was amazed when eBay removed his item from the site. He told the Worcester News: I want to expose eBay for what they are - a laughing stock. They allow coins and stamps with swastikas and there are hundreds of novels which are war stories that have them. It's ridiculous that they can't use any common sense. Dad's Army is the most harmless TV programme in the world.

Davidson discovered his item had been removed from the site when he received an e-mail from eBay.

He told the paper it explained that his listing breached the company's offensive material policy. It said: We don't allow sellers on eBay to list items that promote violence, hatred, racial or religious intolerance, or items from organisations that promote these views. We don't allow items or memorabilia associated with the Nazi Party.

However, the site has now said it will allow him to sell the game but Davidson has decided to hang on to it: I think I'll keep it as a souvenir to political correctness gone mad.

 

1st February   

Offsite: Superinjunctivitus...

Could Trafigura and Terry signal the demise of the superinjunction?
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Libel Reform Campaign logo It is a measure of how deeply the Trafigura fiasco affected the public psyche that much of the anger (and humour) directed at footballer John Terry online on Twitter and other social networks concerned his legal representatives Schillings' use of a superinjunction, rather than his alleged extra-curricular activities.

...Read full article

 

1st February   

Equality of Inbrededness...

Cornishness not protected by equality law
Link Here

EHRC logoCalling Cornish people inbred is acceptable in law because they are not a distinct racial group, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has ruled.

The Kernow branch of the Celtic League complained to the EHRC about the use of the term and other mockery of the people of Cornwall in the media.

But the commission said it was powerless to prosecute anyone because under the Race Relations Act, the Cornish did not exist as a separate nationality from the English.

In this reply to the Celtic League, Qaiser Razzak, the South West regional manager of the EHRC, said that in order for any remedy to be available in domestic (UK) legal proceedings, the Cornish would need to be defined as a racial group under the Race Relations Act, which had not yet been done.

To date, case law has not established the Cornish as a 'racial group', for the purposes of the Race Relations Act, so currently, it is not clear whether any claim of racial discrimination against Cornish people would be successful.

He added that a European treaty, which the UK was bound to follow, set down protection for national minorities . However, although binding on the UK Government, it has not been implemented into domestic law and does not therefore provide a right to bring any legal proceedings, he said.

Last month, the Kernow branch of the Celtic League said it utterly condemned repeated descriptions of Cornish nationals as inbred , and other insulting phrases, in newspapers and on the Internet.

 

31st January   

Toadying to Political Correctness...

Oona King wants more diversity in the media
Link Here

Princess Frog Single Disc Widescreen Disney has been praised for breaking down barriers by featuring its first black princess in the film The Princess and The Frog . Oona King, who was Gordon Brown's senior policy adviser on equalities and diversity, is not satisfied, however.

You never see disabled people, the former Labour MP complained to Mandrake at a screening at the Mayfair Hotel in London. When are you going to see a Disney film with a disabled character in the lead role? Tell me that.

King is clearly on a mission in her new role as Channel 4's head of diversity. I think all of the media has a problem, she said: If you look at the members of the media's cultural network, all British broadcasters, none of us do well in terms of diversity. The people making film and TV have to really get their act together.

 

31st January   

Bad Taste...

Campaign against Dead Bay Jokes group on Facebook
Link Here

Facebook logoA mother in Wrexham says she has been subjected to online abuse after campaigning against Dead Baby Jokes, a group which is putting jokes about dead babies on a social networking site.

Vicki Archer, who lost a baby through a miscarriage five years ago, was so sickened she set up her own protest Facebook group, Ban the group "DEAD BABY JOKES", which attracted 600 members.

But now her group has itself been inundated with dead baby jokes and pictures. She told the Leader: I was removed as administrator and now the group has been over-run by dead baby jokes. It's made me ill and I really wish something could be done. I'm even getting horrible inbox messages on Facebook off these sick people. I'm at the end of my tether and really don't know where to turn for help.

The online version of the Leader's story about Vicki has attracted a large number of comments from readers. But while many are against the group, a significant number say its removal would amount to a breach of free speech. And our question Should Facebook remove the dead baby jokes group? has so far seen a majority saying no .

Last week, North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham branded the group as sick and disgusting and pledged to raise the matter directly with Ofcom, the communications industry watchdog. She has now done this but said: I spoke to Rhodri Williams of Ofcom. It's his firm opinion that this is a matter for Facebook and that they should be contacted and told about the group.

 

27th January   

Vulgarian...

Billy Connolly speaks of the censorship of comedians
Link Here

Billy Connolly Live Greatest Hits Billy Connolly has spoken out against censorship, complaining that comedians who swear on stage are unfairly branded vulgarian and foul mouthed .

The star, who is currently performing a string of stand-up dates at London's Hammersmith Apollo, said comedy was not about causing offence to people: I don't offend, that's not my job. My job is to make people laugh . There's a lot of deep and desperate unfairness been going on.

Speaking at Tuesday's South Bank Awards, he said: I think it was (US comedian) George Carlin who said, 'the job of a comedian is to know where the line is and to step over it'.

We will dictate where that line is and where it should be. If you swear in a book, you're some kind of clever guy, if you swear in a poem, oh how dangerous he is, you swear in a song - oh my God, what a groundbreaker!

You swear as a comedian, and you're a vulgarian and foul mouthed.

When did this happen? Who's doing the judging?

 

24th January   

Comment: eBay Censors...

The arbitrary vision of censorship on eBay
Link Here  full story: eBay Censors...Arbitrary censorship of what is sold on eBay

Baise Moi DVD Region US NTSC I recently listed a DVD on ebay, which is readily available at on amazon, play.com, etc and my local HMV has it on the shelves. eBay have deemed this DVD unsuitable for sale, and have pulled my listing. The DVD in question was Baise Moi.

To quote eBay: Sexually orientated adult material is meant for people who are 18 years and older. Materials adult in nature are not permitted on eBay, as they breach laws in the United Kingdom and many other countries. Some items, though legal to sell to adults outside of eBay, are still restricted on the site.

So eBay, consider an 18 film to be illegal. A very dangerous precedent. What I do find strange is they allow DVDs of Lady Chatterley's Lover and copies of the Emmanuelle books to be listed. Again to quote eBay: Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader are prohibited. I thought both of the above were designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader. Maybe I am wrong.

Comment: eBay Censors Follow-up

21st January 2010. Thanks to Paul

Ken Park I concur with Trog having come-up against this a few times, most recently trying to sell Larry Clark's Ken Park DVD, being told it was banned in Australia and therefore my listing needed changing so Australian's couldn't bid on it (I live in the UK) plus it contained the dreaded Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader ! Crazy, considering films such as Caligula, 9 Songs , etc. etc. can be cheerfully traded on the site despite having similar levels of sexual activity.

A few years ago I tried to sell a copy of Puppetry of the Penis . Despite being rated only 15, eBay deemed this too strong and asked me to withdraw the DVD...

As an aside whilst shopping in Sainsbury's recently we used the self-scan facility. Scanning a bleach based product went through without a hitch, however we couldn't proceed with a 12 rated DVD without the intervention of an assistant to confirm we weren't children! Apparently it even requires intervention on PG rated DVDs too - despite being discretionary.

Comment: Re eBay Censors

22nd January 2010. Thanks to DarkAngel

I Spit on your Grave DVD cover I've had similar run-ins with Ebay myself, it seems they have a very strict policy against "strong adult content" which goes beyond pornography, however no one who works for them seems to know why this is.

I had a listing for I Spit on Your Grave pulled, I duly complained stating that it was a legimate release, not a bootleg, and that it was the toned down UK version which had been censored and rated 18 by the BBFC and was freely available from Amazon and ordinary high street stores like HMV and even WHSmiths and Woolworths (they were still going at the time).

They responded that the UK release still fell foul of their policies on strong adult material and the fact that it was available elsewhere made no difference to whether they were going to allow it.

I asked why they felt the need to prohibit this material, they said because they regarded it as being unsuitable to be sold by them. I pressed them as to why they regarded it as unsuitable, they said because their legal team had a list of films they considered in breach of this policy. So I asked why they felt the need to have such a policy, they said because they consider certain films unsuitable and round and round the answers went (in a scene rather reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch) until they eventually stopped replying to me.

It was just one circular reason after another, you couldn't pin them down as to why, so I could only conclude that they didn't know and the decision was down to someone higher up.

It does seem, judging by their arbitrary decision making, that the people who make up these lists of films to block don't really know which ones do and don't breach their policies as they are blissfully unaware of the many films with similar content that continue to be happily traded, until someone tips them off about it (I bought and sold numerous different uncut VHS and DVD versions of I Spit on Your Grave back when Ebay were still relatively new on the scene).

Also, they have been known to pull auctions solely based on a films title. A colleague of mine listed some films that had been released by the company "X-rated" (they're a German/Austrian cult movie label). Of course Ebay saw the words X rated in the description and duly pulled the lot thinking X rated referred to the content, as opposed to the name of the distributors.

I've said this before but back in the early days, Ebay were quite liberal with the sort of stuff you could sell on their site, as long as it wasn't porn. Now that they've cornered the market and wiped out the competition, they seem to be trying to impose their moral views on what can and cant pass through their site, which is probably why, according to the news this morning, more and more people are defecting to Amazon marketplace.

Comment: Ebay double-standards

24th January 2010. Thanks to Jon

Amateur Porn Star Killer Shane Have just read your articles on eBay's double- standards over adult/extreme horror DVD's. It was interesting to here that eBay claim such titles like the BBFC-approved and heavily-censored edition of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE aren't allowed to be sold, and yet I found lots of copies, as below...

Search eBay for I Spit on Your Grave

Also, if you type in the words Porn DVD , you get plenty of more dubious materials, such as Amateur Porn Star Killer .

EBay really do need to get their act together, and either ban everyone selling specific titles, or allow anything that is legal in the seller's/purchaser's own country.

 

22nd January   

Blame Alert...

Tortuous brothers shown 'extreme' horror movies
Link Here

Shock Horror Two brothers who brutally attacked two young boys witnessed serious domestic violence against their mother and had a toxic home life , a court has heard.

The brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, attacked their victims in Edlington, South Yorkshire, last April.

Peter Kelson QC, representing the older brother said his client had been shown horror films at his home when he was as young as 10. He said the films were extremely violent and gruesome movies in the extreme .

The barrister said the boy also had access to his father's pornographic DVDs.

See article from dailymail.co.uk

One of the boys regularly watched his father's porn films before he was even ten. His other favourites included gory DVDs of the Saw series and the Chucky films, all of which feature grotesque and gratuitous violence.

 

22nd January   

Comment: eBay Censors...

The arbitrary vision of censorship on eBay
Link Here

Baise Moi DVD Region US NTSC I recently listed a DVD on ebay, which is readily available at on amazon, play.com, etc and my local HMV has it on the shelves. eBay have deemed this DVD unsuitable for sale, and have pulled my listing. The DVD in question was Baise Moi.

To quote eBay: Sexually orientated adult material is meant for people who are 18 years and older. Materials adult in nature are not permitted on eBay, as they breach laws in the United Kingdom and many other countries. Some items, though legal to sell to adults outside of eBay, are still restricted on the site.

So eBay, consider an 18 film to be illegal. A very dangerous precedent. What I do find strange is they allow DVDs of Lady Chatterley's Lover and copies of the Emmanuelle books to be listed. Again to quote eBay: Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader are prohibited. I thought both of the above were designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader. Maybe I am wrong.

Comment: eBay Censors Follow-up

21st January 2010. Thanks to Paul

Ken Park I concur with Trog having come-up against this a few times, most recently trying to sell Larry Clark's Ken Park DVD, being told it was banned in Australia and therefore my listing needed changing so Australian's couldn't bid on it (I live in the UK) plus it contained the dreaded Any materials clearly designed to sexually arouse the viewer/reader ! Crazy, considering films such as Caligula, 9 Songs , etc. etc. can be cheerfully traded on the site despite having similar levels of sexual activity.

A few years ago I tried to sell a copy of Puppetry of the Penis . Despite being rated only 15, eBay deemed this too strong and asked me to withdraw the DVD...

As an aside whilst shopping in Sainsbury's recently we used the self-scan facility. Scanning a bleach based product went through without a hitch, however we couldn't proceed with a 12 rated DVD without the intervention of an assistant to confirm we weren't children! Apparently it even requires intervention on PG rated DVDs too - despite being discretionary.

Comment: Re eBay Censors

22nd January 2010. Thanks to DarkAngel

I Spit on your Grave DVD cover I've had similar run-ins with Ebay myself, it seems they have a very strict policy against "strong adult content" which goes beyond pornography, however no one who works for them seems to know why this is.

I had a listing for I Spit on Your Grave pulled, I duly complained stating that it was a legimate release, not a bootleg, and that it was the toned down UK version which had been censored and rated 18 by the BBFC and was freely available from Amazon and ordinary high street stores like HMV and even WHSmiths and Woolworths (they were still going at the time).

They responded that the UK release still fell foul of their policies on strong adult material and the fact that it was available elsewhere made no difference to whether they were going to allow it.

I asked why they felt the need to prohibit this material, they said because they regarded it as being unsuitable to be sold by them. I pressed them as to why they regarded it as unsuitable, they said because their legal team had a list of films they considered in breach of this policy. So I asked why they felt the need to have such a policy, they said because they consider certain films unsuitable and round and round the answers went (in a scene rather reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch) until they eventually stopped replying to me.

It was just one circular reason after another, you couldn't pin them down as to why, so I could only conclude that they didn't know and the decision was down to someone higher up.

It does seem, judging by their arbitrary decision making, that the people who make up these lists of films to block don't really know which ones do and don't breach their policies as they are blissfully unaware of the many films with similar content that continue to be happily traded, until someone tips them off about it (I bought and sold numerous different uncut VHS and DVD versions of I Spit on Your Grave back when Ebay were still relatively new on the scene).

Also, they have been known to pull auctions solely based on a films title. A colleague of mine listed some films that had been released by the company "X-rated" (they're a German/Austrian cult movie label). Of course Ebay saw the words X rated in the description and duly pulled the lot thinking X rated referred to the content, as opposed to the name of the distributors.

I've said this before but back in the early days, Ebay were quite liberal with the sort of stuff you could sell on their site, as long as it wasn't porn. Now that they've cornered the market and wiped out the competition, they seem to be trying to impose their moral views on what can and cant pass through their site, which is probably why, according to the news this morning, more and more people are defecting to Amazon marketplace.

 

6th January   

Update: Manic Whingers...

Manic Street Preachers album cover praised by fans
Link Here  full story: Manic Street Preachers...Whinging at Manic Street Preachers album cover

Journal for Plague Lovers CD The controversial sleeve to the Manic Street Preachers' latest album has come second in a best cover art poll.

Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's all ordered the sleeve off their shelves in May amidst supposed concerns the image on Journal for Plague Lovers showed a beaten-up girl with a blood-spattered face.

Cambridge-born artist Jenny Saville's painting actually depicts a child with a port-wine stain birthmark.

Now, in a national poll of 4,000 people, fans decided only Muse's The Resistance had better artwork. The poll was conducted by sleeve framing company Art Vinyl.

Director Andrew Heeps said: It's interesting they (the supermarkets) put emphasis on shielding the image. I'm sure in many independent record stores where it was on display it did not cause any controversy whatsoever.

Peter Black, AM and Wales Liberal Democrat health spokesman, condemned the supermarkets for their decision at the time: The award is well deserved because the cover is excellent and also portrays a very important message that people with facial disfigurement are normal human beings who should not be treated as different. It shows that the supermarkets who opted to ban this cover from their shelves were wrong.

 

5th January   

Offsite: Fear and Censorship...

Commenting on Index on Censorship on Danish Mohammed cartoons book
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Index on Censorship logoIndex on Censorship has refused to publish the cartoons of Muhammed in a discussion of their earlier censorship. This betrays its ideals.

Last summer Yale University Press struck a blow for censorship-by-prediction-of-violence when it decided to withdraw illustrations from the academic Jytte Klausen's book about the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. YUP removed not only the cartoons that are the subject of the book, but also all other purported images of Mohammed. This move was fraught with irony given that the cartoon affair itself revolved around predictions of violence, and self-censorship because of fears of violence, and predicted violence eventually, after much effort and encouragement, morphing into actual violence.

Yale consulted with diplomats and security experts before deciding to withdraw the cartoons and the other images of Mohammed (none of which were literally pictures of Mohammed, of course, but artists imaginations of what Mohammed may have looked like), but Jytte Klausen points out that the experts consulted are in fields that predispose them to focus on risks or to prefer peace and silence to disagreement. Diplomats cherish harmony more than free speech, security experts value security over other goods.

But the people at Index on Censorship have other priorities, surely. They at least know the value of free expression, and would not let purely notional imaginary projected risks cause them to censor themselves.

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