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 2017: Oct-Dec

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  The Guardian goes toxic...

Martin Kettle's column on porn provides a fine example of how the Guardian has descended into illiberal authoritarianism


Link Here 24th December 2017
martin kettlelThanks to Alan who ask:

Have you seen article by a twat called Martin Kettle in today's Grauniad?

What has happened to Britain’s “liberal” newspaper? Kettle is a toxic, know-nothing, sanctimonious authoritarian. I’m no Tory, but comparing him and Damian Green makes me question whether we should use “wanker” as a pejorative. It’s the anti-wankers like Kettle who seem like dickends.

I agree and noted particularly this intolerant nastiness from Kettle's column:

Green is to some degree a victim of the fact that online pornography is so easily available. People -- they are overwhelmingly men -- access porn because they can. MPs are not employees, so their offices are not even subject to employer-imposed controls. A digital revolution combined with a free-and-easy approach to online controls meant that porn went from being concealed in brown paper bags on top shelves in seedy shops that charged money for it to being a mass online product costing nothing at all and sent straight into your home, office or phone for anyone to see.Advertisement

The fact that men may like porn is not a justification for this ease of access. Porn demeans women. It is violent. It is socially undesirable. It is very bad for men too. To his credit, David Cameron grasped this. The upshot is the Digital Economy Act 2017, not yet in force but coming into operation in a few months. This requires internet service providers to impose an age verification requirement that will be a deterrent not just to children looking for freely available porn but also to adults such as Green (or someone), who will have to go through a process to gain access.

In time, shame and embarrassment may act as a deterrent not just to telling the truth but to porn itself. Society would be better off with as little access as possible, and ideally with no access at all. Controls matter. They should be stronger.

And I must admit to being somewhat angered by this example of intolerance from the Guardian.

15 years ago I was a keen Guardian reader myself, I found the newspaper to be most in tune with my own beliefs in a liberal and tolerant society, supporting universal equality. At the time the Daily Mail was the villain of the newspapers regularly calling for censorship as sort of panacea for all society's ills.

Now 15 years on the Guardian has become the voice of authoritarianism, censorship, injustice and selective equality. Whilst the Daily Mail, in a strange kind of way, has become the newspaper that gives a voice to the opinions of significant sections of the people who would be silenced if the Guardian had its way.

The Guardian and its political allies seem to have become the enemies of the very basics of civilised life: free speech, tolerance, equality and justice. Martin Kettle provides a fine example about the disregard for free speech and tolerance. Political correctness seems to have resulted in a system of justice more akin to witchfinding than anything else. The standard PC unit of 'justice' is for someone to lose their lifelong career, and it doesn't matter how trivial or unintentional the PC transgression is. And when a real and serious crime is being investigated, eg rape, the politically correct prove by their actions, that they are totally happy if innocent people are convicted, especially if it contributes to a feeling of wellbeing by those lucky enough to be favoured by the politically correct.

 

  Squashing rebellion...

Drinks censor bans can design for Cwtch Welsh Red Ale


Link Here 17th December 2017  full story: UK Drinks Censor...Portman Group play PC censor for drinks

cwtch red aleA complaint about the packaging of Cwtch Welsh Red Ale (330ml can) has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel for having a particular appeal to under-18s and indirectly encouraging immoderate consumption.

The complainant, a member of the public, believed that the product wasn't obviously alcoholic, due to the design, and also had a particular appeal to children.

When considering the image of the bear on the front of the can, and its positioning alongside the wording Tiny Rebel, the Panel agreed that the packaging indirectly encouraged immoderate consumption. The Panel also considered the prominence of the bear above the wording Tiny Rebel, in combination with the graffiti and swirling primary colours, caused the product to have a particular appeal to under-18s.

While considering the ruling, the Panel recognised Tiny Rebel's social responsibility work in their local community and highlighted that they had not deliberately sought to create product packaging which had an appeal to under-18s.

The Portman Group also acknowledged the positive way in which the producer has engaged with the Advisory Service throughout the complaint process and welcomed its early commitment to respect the Panel's ruling.

 

  Libel reform in Scotland...

Scottish Law Commission reports on defamation law and proposes a draft reform bill


Link Here 16th December 2017  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

scottish law commission logoThe Scottish Law Commission has published its Report on Defamation , which includes a draft defamation reform bill.

The SLC's draft bill includes:

  • a defence of publication on a matter of public interest
  • a serious harm test, meaning that claimants would be required to prove serious harm before a claim can proceed
  • a single publication rule, so that the time limit for bringing a defamation claim applies from the first publication of a statement and is not reset every time that statement is shared, for example by re-tweeting
  • ·a reduction of the time limit for bringing a claim from three years to one year
Stephanie Mathisen from the Libel Reform Campaign, and policy manager at Sense about Science , said:

The Libel Reform Campaign welcomes the Scottish Law Commission's Report on Defamation. In particular, we are pleased to see its recognition of the importance of protecting publication on matters of public interest and the requirement for claimants to prove that serious harm has been caused before a libel claim can proceed. We are delighted the SLC has published a draft bill, opening the way for the Scottish parliament to address Scotland's outdated libel laws. We know MSPs are anxious to bring the law into the 21st century and hope they will move quickly to debate and pass a bill early in the new year.

The draft bill isn't perfect, but it's a good start. With a draft bill to kick start proceedings, there's no excuse for the Scottish parliament not to debate the issue of defamation reform and finally bring Scotland's libel laws up to date.

 

  But not a word about politicians failing to look after the people...

Standards in Public Life call for the social media censorship of people slagging off politicians


Link Here 15th December 2017
intimidation in public life This is a disgraceful report showing that politicians think that they can escape criticism by censoring the likes of Facebook and Twitter. As far as I can see the entire report is a one sided affair trying to censor the storm of Twitter insults received by politicians, notably Dianne Abbot.

Not once does it mention that some of the criticism may be deserved. Perhaps if politicians want a more pleasant reception from the people, then perhaps that they should do such simple things as not fiddle expenses, answer people's questions, and not steer every single TV sentence into a chance to repeat inane political slogans. And then of course perhaps they should listen and respond to the people's concern about losing their jobs, housing, benefits and use of the NHS. And whilst they are at it get more houses built. Fuck 'em, they deserve to be slagged off.

Anyway they try to justify the censorship in their press release:

The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life today published its report on intimidation in public life.

The independent Committee, which advises the Prime Minister on standards of conduct across public life, has made a package of recommendations to address the threats and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates and others. The recommendations include:

  • Government should bring forward legislation to shift the liability of illegal content online towards social media companies.

  • Social media companies must ensure they are able to make decisions quickly and consistently on the takedown of intimidatory content online

  • Government should consult on the introduction of a new offence in electoral law of intimidating Parliamentary candidates and party campaigners.

  • The political parties must work together to develop a joint code of conduct on intimidatory behaviour during election campaigns by December 2018. The code should be jointly enforced by the political parties.

  • The National Police Chiefs Council should ensure that local police forces have sufficient training to enable them to effectively investigate offences committed through social media.

Lord Bew, Chair of the Committee, said:

This level of vile and threatening behaviour, albeit by a minority of people, against those standing for public office is unacceptable in a healthy democracy. We cannot get to a point where people are put off standing, retreat from debate, and even fear for their lives as a result of their engagement in politics. This is not about protecting elites or stifling debate, it is about ensuring we have a vigorous democracy in which participants engage in a responsible way which recognises others' rights to participate and to hold different points of view.

The increasing scale and intensity of this issue demands a serious response. We are not alone in believing that more must be done to combat online behaviour in particular and we have been persuaded that the time has come for the government to legislate to shift the liability for illegal content online towards social media companies, and to consult on the introduction of a new electoral offence.

We believe that the parties themselves must show greater leadership. They must call out members who engage in this appalling behaviour, and make sure appropriate sanctions are imposed swiftly and consistently. They have an important duty of care to their candidates, members and supporters. Intimidation takes place across the political spectrum, both in terms of those engaging in and those receiving intimidation. The leadership of political parties must recognise this.

We have heard evidence that intimidatory behaviour can stem from of our current political culture, with low levels of trust in politicians and a feeling of frustration and alienation by some people. Against that backdrop, it is down to all in public life to play their part in restoring and protecting our public political culture by setting a tone which respects the right of every individual to participate and does not, however inadvertently, open a door to intimidation.

Many of the recommendations we are making today are not limited solely to election periods but will have wider relevance across our public life.

Index rejects UK committee's recommendation to outsource censorship

15th December 2017 See  statement from indexoncensorship.org

Index on Censorship logoIndex on Censorship rejects many of the suggestions made in a report into intimidation of UK public officials by a committee tasked with examining standards in public life.

The report recommends 204 among other things 204 creating legislation to make social media companies liable for illegal content and increasing the use of automation to remove content that is not only illegal but intimidatory.

Like many such reports, the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life makes the mistake of lumping together illegal content, intimidatory content 204 which the committee itself admits is hard to define 204 and abusive content, said Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship.

While some content outlined in the report 204 such as threats of rape 204 can clearly be defined as harassing or intimidatory in nature, deciding whether content is illegal or not largely depends on understanding the context 204 and that is something that neither 'automated techniques' nor speedy removals can address.

We are deeply worried by the growing trend in which democratic governments devolve responsibility for making decisions that should be made by the police or the judiciary to unaccountable private bodies to censor speech.

In addition to a number of recommendations for social media companies to take action, the committee's report also recommends that press regulators should extend their codes of conduct to include intimidatory behaviour.

This report uses language that would not be out of place in any dictator's handbook, said Ginsberg. The idea that the press should include in their code of conduct an element that addresses whether content could 'unduly undermine public trust in the political system' sounds like a gift to any politician wanting to challenge reports with which they disagree. Rather than enhance democracy and freedoms, as this report claims to want to do, this risks damaging it further.

Index welcomes the fact that the committee deemed new criminal offences specific to social media unnecessary, but cautions that devolving power to social media companies to police content could have significant risks in scooping up legitimate as well as illegal content because of the sheer volume of material being posted online every second.

Index would also strongly caution against any engagement with other governments at the international level on what constitutes hate crime and intimidation online that could result in a race to the bottom that adds further global restrictions on speech.

 

 Offsite Article A score settler's charter...


Link Here 7th December 2017
police nottinghamshire logo Nottingham Police in conjunction with feminist extremists propose making perceived sexism an aggravating factor for consideration in court punishments, without even running it past parliament

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Comments: Funding Censorship...

Spiked and The Daily Mail take issue with a campaign group who is trying to censor opinions about immigration, christianity, islam and gender politics


Link Here 25th November 2017
stop funding hate logoThe Daily Mail has lost an advertiser after a social 'juctice' campaign got to work on the High street retailer, Paperchase for advertising in the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail explains:

Last weekend, a few hundred self-appointed activists ho joined a campaign to silence Britain's free Press, which is enjoyed by millions, and force it to promote their views.

Together, they persuaded the High Street retailer Paperchase to apologise for offering free wrapping paper to Daily Mail readers.

This group's campaign was organised by Stop Funding Hate, a small lobby group seeking to censor popular newspapers whose editorial lines it disagrees with.

On a daily basis, it urges people to use Twitter and Facebook to send complaints against any company which advertises in the Daily Mail, Sun and Express newspapers.

The aim is to persuade firms to withdraw advertising. Stop Funding Hate's founder declares: The end point for us is a media that does the job we all want it to.

In other words, a handful of zealots want newspapers to reflect only their values, which, of course, may very well be unpalatable to the values of the millions who chose to read them.

Stop Funding Hate seems particularly concerned that the Press discusses subjects such as immigration and gender politics.

The Daily Mail continues its criticism in a very aggressive article about the censorship campaign, Stop Funding Hate. See article from dailymail.co.uk

And Spiked agrees with the broad thrust of the Daily Mail's criticism. Spiked notes:

Spiked logoStop Funding Hate, founded by Richard Wilson (a former corporate fundraising officer at Amnesty International), claims to believe in free speech -- and to be politically neutral. And yet, these are the things it labels as hate speech: speaking out in support of Brexit; tougher immigration policies; opposition to Islamism; and support for Christian values on marriage and gender. Everything Stop Funding Hate does is aimed at closing down the freedom of speech and the economic viability of the tabloids it despises for expressing political views it opposes.

Read the Spiked comments in an article from spiked-online.com

 

 Obituary: Jeremy Hutchinson...

Barrister who notably defended Lady Chatterley's Love in precedent setting obscenity trial


Link Here 14th November 2017
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" Trial: Regina Versus Penguin Books, Ltd. For a quarter of a century, from 1960 until 1985, Jeremy Hutchinson, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, who has died aged 102, was the finest silk in practice at the criminal bar. He defended Lady Chatterley , Fanny Hill and Christine Keeler (Keeler in the flesh), the atom spy George Blake, and then Brian Roberts, the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and later the journalist Duncan Campbell in two cases that led to reform of the Official Secrets Act.

He added a service to the arts by ending the cultural vandalism of Mary Whitehouse, whose attempt in 1982 to prosecute the National Theatre for staging Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain collapsed after his (and the Old Bailey's) most remarkable cross-examination.

... see an excellent article from theguardian.com outlining some of Hutchinson major successes.

 

  Political fare...

TfL orders the removal of 'Free Balochistan' adverts from London cabs


Link Here 7th November 2017  full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship
free balochistan taxiTransport for London (TfL) has removed Free Balochistan adverts from London black cabs after pressure from the Pakistani government

The World Baloch Organisation , which advocates for rights of the ethnic Balochs who live in the Balochistan regions straddling Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, launched its campaign on London's black cabs to highlight the war crimes and human rights abuses of the Islamabad government.

The #FreeBalochistan adverts carry slogans saying Stop enforced disappearances and Save the Baloch people

The British High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned to appear before the Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua, on Friday over the adverts which they said directly attack its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

 

  You can't say that!...

Lines idolising Myra Hindley cut from new stage production of Derek Jarman's Jubilee


Link Here 3rd November 2017
jubilee 2017A new stage play in Manchester has cut lines about Myra Hindley being a true artist and a hero for fear of offending the audience.

Derek Jarman's 1978 punk film Jubilee has been adapted for the Royal Exchange theatre.

In the film, a character named Amyl Nitrate used her opening speech to say Hindley instantly became my hero when she was 15.  She also said Hindley was a true artist because she knew how to make her desires a reality, and dismissed those who said her crimes were unimaginable because that showed the poverty of your imagination.

Director Chris Goode, who has adapted the script for its stage premiere, said the lines were in the original film to show how punks deliberately wanted to shock society and smash taboos.

He initially resisted requests to take out the reference to Hindley but was 'convinced' to do so by a member of the senior artistic leadership of the Royal Exchange on Saturday.

It seemed to me that if Derek [Jarman] could do that in 1977 that we must be able to do it 40 years on, he told BBC News. But after being 'convinced' he added:

I hadn't fully understood the way in which Myra Hindley as an icon and an idea has sort of become hotter over the intervening 40 years. That surprised me a little bit.

It's possible we could make a different decision about this if we were doing this run in London.  And there will be a run in London, and I expect we'll have the conversation again. But for now in Manchester it feels like there's a sensitivity there.

 

  Tom Watson attacks witty adverts for Russian propaganda channel RT...

Politicians need to face up to their own failure to look after the jobs and prospects of people and not blame their unpopularity on silly distractions like Russian propaganda


Link Here 20th October 2017
rtt question moreAdverts for the Russian propagander channel RT that tell London commuters to watch to find out who we are planning to hack next show it is the Russian government's mouthpiece, Labour has said.

Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson called on TV censor Ofcom to investigate RT, formerly known as Russia Today, over the advert running on the bus and Tube network, saying it is not funny and caused significant alarm. Watson wrote in a letter to Ofcom chief executive Sharon White:

This has caused significant alarm in light of the fact the Russian state has been linked to a series of cyberattacks across the world. I appreciate the RT advert in question may have been intended as ironic or humorous but it isn't funny.

At a time when there are grave international and domestic concerns following hacking by the Russian state, this provocative advert is a tacit admission that RT is the mouthpiece of that state.

Watson's intervention comes after Boris Johnson condemned Labour MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn, for appearing on the channel for interview, despite the fact many Tories, including his own father, had done the same.

The hacking advert is one of a series of provocative ads running on London buses and on the Tube, in which the channel mocks accusations of bias and cites them as a reason to watch it. Another advert ironically notes:

Missed the Train?
Lost a vote?
Blame it on us!

An Ofcom spokesman said: We have received Mr Watson's letter and we'll respond shortly.

The Advertising Standards Agency told HuffPost it had received a complaint, which accused the advert of being offensive as it likely to cause fear or distress (by suggesting a foreign power can disrupt a democratic system). A spokesman added it was still being assessed to see whether there was grounds for an investigation.

 

 Update: Bareback banned in London...

The latest example of puerile censorship from Sadiq Khan and TfL


Link Here 14th October 2017  full story: Transport for London Censors...Advert censorship
heist tightsBack in 2016, after a bit of a hoo-hah about a 'beach body ready' advert, London Mayor Sadiq Khan pressurised Transport For London (TfL) into introducing a PC ban for all adverts which didn't adhere to the notion of 'body positivity'.

And in the latest example of extreme PC censorship, Heist, a company which sells up-market tights, recently revealed that TfL forced it to cover-up a woman's naked back with a bandeau top in one of its adverts on the tube.

A representative from Exterion Media, the company which works on behalf of TfL and enforces its policy, told Heist:

Whilst I know this is only showing a bare back, it still depicts a 'topless model. If we could add a boob tube around the back I think this would be passed.'

It also looks as if the tights were photoshopped to darken them a little to hide a rather sharply outlined bottom.

... Read the critical comment in article from blogs.spectator.co.uk by Ella Whelan.

 

  Score to settle? Give us a call...we'll send the boys round...

An online hate crime reporting centre is being set up so that easily offended people can order police action against their critics and mockers


Link Here 10th October 2017

police npcc logoHome Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national hub to tackle online hate crime.

It will be run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) with the aim of ensuring that online cases are managed effectively and efficiently.

The hub will receive complaints through Truevision, the police website for reporting hate crime, following which they will be assessed and assigned to the local force for investigation. Specialist officers will provide case management and support and advice to victims of online hate crime.

Its functions will include combining duplicate reports, trying to identify perpetrators, referring appropriate cases to online platforms hosting relevant content, providing evidence for local recording and response, and updating the complainant on progress. It will also provide intelligence to the National Intelligence Model, the police database that gathers intelligence on a range of crimes.

The Home Office said the hub will ensure all online cases are properly investigated and will help to increase prosecutions for online hate crimes. It should also simplify processes and help to prevent any duplication in investigations.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected.

The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse. With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished.

The hub is expected to be operational before the end of the year.

 

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