Censors and moralisers continually succeed not just because politicians of all stripes are by nature morally conservative and stiff-lipped, and because the media is full of people who love to whip up moral panics to increase sales. By David Flint
There are campaigns calling for bans on gambling adverts, alcohol adverts, most food adverts, and now beauty services
and products. It won't be long before someone realises that cars are hardy good for the world's ecological health, and then we'll be left with just washing powder adverts to fill the 5 minute slots.
In recent weeks, ITV has come under fire from both the NHS and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons for adverts paced during Love Island. The campaigners claim that body image issues could impact the mental health of
Now 'research' from feminist campaign group Level Up finds that 40% of women who watch the show feel more self-conscious about their body image afterwards. Level up claims that, after watching the show, 30% of millennial women have considered
going on a diet to lose weight, while 11% have thought about getting lip fillers.
The campaigners questioned over 4,000 adults about their response to Love Island. 250 were female viewers aged 18 to 34. 8% of this demographic said watching the show had made them think about getting breast enhancement surgery, while 7% had
considered getting botox for cosmetic purposes.
Carys Afoko, executive director of Level Up said:
ITV's decision to sell ad space to cosmetic surgery and diet companies is downright irresponsible. There is nothing wrong with going on a diet or getting a boob job, but given the narrow standard of beauty promoted by Love Island these ads have
crossed a line.
Love Island is a big money spinner for ITV, brands like Superdrug and Missguided are queueing up to sponsor the show. Level Up's research shows women who watch Love Island find the show has a negative effect on their body
image. It's time ITV execs put viewers mental health above the bottom line and dropped cosmetic surgery and diet ads from next year's show.
The NHS is set to meet with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to discuss whether broadcasters should face more restrictions particularly with regard to young viewers. NHS England's mental health director, Claire Murdoch wrote to ASA chief
executive Guy Parker expressing concern that the promotions served around shows like Love Island could be fueling body insecurities among teens.
Anti-gun campaigners are highlighting a school-shooting simulator video game available on Steam. According to its listing on the Steam, the game lets players slaughter as many civilians as possible in a school environment.
InferTrust called on Valve, the company behind the Steam games store - to take the title down before it goes on sale, on 6 June.
The BBC report omits the name of the game but in fact it is titled Active Shooter .
The school-shooting game is described as realistic and impressive. And the developer has suggested it will include 3D models of children to shoot at. However, the creator also says: Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only
meant to be the simulation and nothing else.
A spokeswoman for InferTrust said:
It's in very bad taste. There have been 22 school shootings in the US since the beginning of this year. It is horrendous. Why would anybody think it's a good idea to market something violent like that, and be completely insensitive to the deaths
of so many children? We're appalled that the game is being marketed.
Active Shooter comes out June 6 and calls itself a dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator where the player can be either a S.W.A.T. team member or the shooter. Developer Revived Games also plans to release a civilian survival mode where the player takes on
the role of a civilian during a shooting.
Revived Games, the developer of Active Shooter have responded to the controversy.
Due to the high amount of criticism the game's received, Revived Games added it will likely remove the shooter's role from the game before launch unless it can be kept as it is right now.
Active Shooter has been banned from Steam's online store ahead of release.
The title had been criticised by parents of real-life school shooting victims, and an online petition opposing its launch had reached about 180,000 signatures.
The PC game's publisher had tried to distance itself from the controversy ahead of Valve's intervention. Although the original listing had explicitly described the title as being a school shooting simulation, the reference was dropped. In
addition, a promise that gamers could slaughter as many civilians as possible if they chose to control the attacker rather than a police officer, was also removed.
Mental health campaigners have criticised the return of the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why , expressing concern that the second series of the drama about a teenager's suicide is due for release as summer exam stress peaks. The story of
17-year-old Hannah Baker's life and death continues on Friday 18 May.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists described the timing as callous, noting that suicide rates among young people typically rise during exam season and warning that the Netflix drama could trigger a further increase. Dr Helen Rayner, of the Royal
College of Psychiatrists, said:
I feel extremely disappointed and angry. This glamourises suicide and makes it seductive. It also makes it a possibility for young people -- it puts the thought in their mind that this is something that's possible. It's a bad programme that
should not be out there, and it's the timing.
The US-based series was a big hit for Netflix despite -- or perhaps because of -- the controversy surrounding the suicide storyline. The first series of 13 episodes depicted Hannah's friends listening to tapes she had made for each of them
explaining the difficulties she faced that had prompted her to kill herself.
Supporters of the first series said it was an accurate portrayal of high school life that would spark conversations between parents and their children and encourage viewers to seek information on depression, suicide, bullying and sexual assault.
It has become a little rare these days for moralist campaign groups to whinge about computer games but child campaigners from the NSPCC
have moved to fill the void.
The NSPCC claims that the immensely popular Battle Royal online fighting game could be used to endanger children and show them violence and other damaging things.
The game, along with similar titles like PUBG, have grown rapidly in popularity in recent months, leading to awareness by 'concerned' parents. The NSPCC warning is one of several on the subject.
The NSPCC says that the voice chat tools within Fortnite could be used to contact children. The way the game works means that anyone can get in touch with anyone else playing the game, and the feature cannot be fully disabled.
The NSPCC also warns that Fortnite features cartoon violence, where players can use a variety of weapons, such as guns and axes, to kill other players, despite the fact it has been rated suitable for children to play. The group also commentes that
the game draws attention to the fact that it is offered for free but features extensive in-app purchases. Those can become expensive, the NSPCC notes, and there have been reports of children spending large amounts of money without their parents
Feminist campaigners have been granted a judicial review against Sheffield's strip club licensing
The review has been brought by a Sheffield resident referred to as Irene. Activists backing her case launched a CrowdJustice crowdfunding campaign on Thursday to cover the legal costs.
A Judicial Review examines whether official bodies followed correct and legal procedures eg when making licensing decisions.
It seems that moralist campaigners feel that the council should consider wider impact on women and gender equality, rather than just the wellbeing of those specifically affected by the Sheffield club.
The outcome could of course affect clubs and councils nationwide.
In a statement accusing the council of ignoring important evidence, the Time's Up For Strip Clubs Coalition claims:
Sheffield have said they only have to consider the impact on women working in the club, women customers or 'vulnerable people' in the local area. In fact, the council has a legal duty to consider the negative impact on all women when deciding on
a policy like this.
Spearmint Rhino, which has been open for 16 years and is the only strip club in Sheffield, is an interested party in the judicial review and so get a chance to air their views in the case.
Here's a thought for the 'progressive' politically correct left. Perhaps it was their tactic of yelling 'racist' at anyone who dares criticise immigration, that caused Brexit. The left's censorship effectively pushed commonly held views on
immigration under the carpet. Now if these views had been allowed to be aired, then perhaps David Cameron would have realised that the referendum was not such a good idea, and not called it in the first place.
Perhaps censors everywhere should be reminded that censorship may block the airing of views but it doesn't stop people from holding those views.
The New Statesmen is reporting about a campaign group called Hope Not Hate, that seems to hate free speech.
The group has spent a couple of weeks seeking out examples of texts denying the Holocaust sold on the Waterstones, Foyles, WHSmith and Amazon websites. The group has published its findings in a paper called Turning the Page on Hate , and is
urging the retailers to remove these texts, which range from what are deemed dangerous to Holocaust denials to far right books.
Since the campaign began, Foyles appears to have removed numerous works from its website. However, its chief executive Paul Currie said:
This is a difficult scenario for all booksellers given the width and scale of publishing and the perennial issue of censoring from all aspects of life what people can read.
WHSmith also appears to have removed some books from its website since the campaign launched.
At the time of writing, Waterstones retains the works Hope Not Hate listed. Waterstones' owner James Daunt told Hope Not Hate, What should we censor? he asked rhetorically, refusing to remove the titles:
It is not our position to censor this listing beyond the existing measures we take to exclude self-published books that may potentially be offensive.
Index on Censorship's chief executive Jodie Ginsberg. Encouraging bookshops not to stock certain content because it's considered hateful I think is problematic, she explains:
When you're suggesting [the removal of books from] some of the largest bookshops in the country, which are the ones most people can access, then you are limiting people's access to information... Anything that limits people's ability to find out
information is a threat to freedom of expression.
Women should be able to report wolf-whistling, catcalling and unwanted attention on public transport to the police as
hate crimes, according to Grimsby's MP, Melanie Onn.
The Labour front-bench politician has secured a debate in Parliament on Wednesday, March 7, to call for misogyny to be made a hate crime. The town's MP said women should not have to put up with unwanted behaviour in public and claims that a law
change would make women more confident in reporting such behaviours.
Surely in tetchy and angry times, when so many are so 'easily offended, surely we don't want people to be given the power to cause so much harm to others for trivial reasons. EVeryone will just end up hating everyone else even more.
Plans to film an episode of Antiques Roadshow from Buckfast Abbey have been criticised over fears it will
promote Buckfast Tonic Wine.
Alex Neil claims the location is inappropriate due to concerns over the drink, including its link to 43% of offences committed by Scottish prisoners. Now he has called on the BBC to cancel their visit to avoid publicising the monks' tonic wine.
Neil, SNP MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, said:
Buckfast has been the scourge of my constituency in Lanarkshire and elsewhere in central Scotland for a great number of years now, so I have grave concerns about the BBC giving its makers the glare of positive publicity.
They must give a commitment that it is not going to give this dangerous drink a free advert.
A 75cl bottle has an alcohol content of 15 per cent and the caffeine equivalent of four cups of coffee.
A spokeswoman for Buckfast Abbey said: We are looking forward to welcoming Antiques Roadshow in September.
Peter Rabbit is a 2018 UK / Australia / USA family animation comedy by Will Gluck.
Starring Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki.
Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.
Filmmakers behind a new adaptation of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit have been forced to apologise after facing calls for it to be banned from cinemas over a scene in which the protagonist and his furry friends deliberately pelt an allergic man
Allergy UK claimed the film mocks allergy sufferers and trivialises a life-threatening condition. Carla Jones, the charity's chief executive, said:
Anaphylaxis can and does kill. To include a scene in a children's film that includes a serious allergic reaction and not to do it responsibly is unacceptable. Mocking allergic disease shows a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of
allergy and trivialises the challenges faced by those with this condition. We will be communicating with the production company about the film's withdrawal.
Sony Pictures on Sunday night admitted it should not have made light of Mr McGregor being allergic to blackberries and said it regretted not being more aware and sensitive of the issue.
Peter Rabbit will be show in cinemas in March. It is PG rated for mild threat, comic violence.
An anti-porn campaigner has criticised plans to introduce financial incentives for watching online porn.
Mary Sharpe, from the Reward Foundation, claims plans by an American company to offer virtual mone for discount on premium content, is damaging. Sharpe, who runs porn awareness classes at George Heriot's School claimed:
A payment incentive threatens to accelerate the rates of compulsive sexual behaviour in the population, and the resultant health harms and sex crime.
Stuart Duncan, from Vice Industry Token, the firm behind the reward scheme, said:
Results on whether pornography proves addictive or leads to illegal acts still remain inconclusive.
Political campaigners at the NSPCC have called for the establishment of an internet censor who can fine social media sites that break censorship rules. This is included in an NSPCC report highlighting unimplemented recommendations from Tanya
Byron's government report on child safety launched 10 years ago.
Tanya Byron writes in the foreword:
Ten years ago I was asked by Government to produce a report on child safety online, and consider what action should be taken to make the digital world a safe place for children.
Much has changed over the last decade, but one thing has not: Government is failing to do enough to protect children online. I made 38 strong recommendations for action that urgently needed addressing to keep children safe. In four areas the
landscape has changed so much that the recommendations are no longer applicable. But 53 percent of the remaining recommendations have either been ignored by Government or have only been partially followed through.
What are the implications of this? We know that by age four 53 percent of children use the internet, and by the age of 10 almost half have their own smartphone. Yet online safety has not been made mandatory on the school curriculum and social
networks are left to make up their own rules, without regulation from Government. Meanwhile the responsibility for keeping children safe online falls heavily on parents -- who might struggle to keep up to date with the latest trends, or worse --
on children themselves, who might feel peer pressure to prioritise online popularity over online safety.
Last year the Government pledged to make the UK the safest place to be online, and some progress has been made -- albeit in a fragmented way. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's forthcoming Internet Safety Strategy will create
a code of practice for social networks. But after ten years of social networks marking their own homework, that code is expected to be voluntary and will not include anti-grooming measures as part of its remit and under the new Data Protection
laws the Information Commissioner's Office is due to draw up rules that will give children extra protections online. This is an important step, but these rules will not be directly enforceable.
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was created as a result of my recommendations; but it will soon remove 'child' from its title and focus on general internet safety. Age verification will soon be introduced for pornography, but there are
still no age checks for online gaming. That means children are protected from buying 18-rated games in shops, but can still download them easily online.
We all have a part to play in keeping children safe. But that responsibility must absolutely start with Government and industry. I urge Government to take heed of this report. The online world moves too fast for Government to drag its feet for
another decade. Tanya Byron
MTV's Geordie Shore is to be reported to Ofcom by health campaigners who claim it is one long advert for drinking.
A new study from the universities of Bath and Nottingham found nearly 80% of all scenes in the hit reality TV show contained alcohol.
The authors of the paper have now called for clearer alcohol warnings at the start of the MTV programme and the removal of all branding from it.
They examined seven hours of footage over 10 episodes of season 11 and found 78% of scenes contained alcohol content, 30% of scenes contained actual alcohol use and 72% contained inferred alcohol use.
The study says almost a quarter of scenes featured alcohol brands, with vodka label Smirnoff appearing most frequently. Professor John Britton, from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, whinged:
From a health perspective, this series of programmes represent one long advert for drinking in general, and for Smirnoff, Grey Goose and Corona in particular, for a teenage and young adult audience.
MTV says the show is not aimed at young people and is broadcast after 10pm.