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2006: April-June

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30th June   Pump Room Censors

From Leamington Spa Today
See also Leamington Studio Artists

Carryover by Neil MooreLeamington artist Neil Moore has accused the Pump Room gallery and museum of "blatant censorship" after it decided not to go ahead with a planned exhibition of his work.

Moore has lived in the town for 30 years and had his paintings displayed to critical acclaim across the UK and in Europe and America. The part-time lecturer at Warwickshire College is regarded as one of the district's more influential artists and teachers.

But his explicit figurative pieces, which he admits often possess a "ambiguity" and deal with "gender issues and issues of physical idealisation", were deemed inappropriate by Pump Room gallery managers.
A forthcoming exhibition, which Moore says was agreed with a previous curator, was pulled.

Accusing the gallery of nanny state-ism Moore said: I am perplexed by their decision as my work has often been exhibited in the gallery in group shows. The unelected guardians of public taste at the Pump Rooms, the manager Jeff Watkin and curator Chloe Johnson, are worried it may offend the delicate sensibilities of the people of Leamington.

The imagery, as you would expect from an artist, is sometimes challenging - but they were aware of this when I was encouraged to apply. Their patronising attitude amounts to blatant censorship and doesn't allow people of the district to make up their own minds.

I realise such decisions go through a hierarchy, but this is a recipe for asinine exhibitions in the future - and a battle I thought had been won at least half a century ago.

County council heritage and arts manager Watkin claimed the artist was never formally offered the showing - and that it was the age of some of the naked forms which prompted the decision:
He met us and we had concerns about some of the images of young naked bodies. It's the kind of thing a commercial gallery would show, but we aim at a more family audience and suggested he need to think about providing fairly strong interpretation with the pieces to avoid it being inflammatory to our specific audience. These things are of course subjective.

Update : November 2006:  Challenge accepted by Nomi Art Gallery, Coventry

Sarah Holt who owns Nomi Art Gallery in Regent Street, Coventry, has decided to take up the challenge of staging an exhibition of  Moore's work.

She said:
I think we should let the public decide if they like them or not. My main aim as an art gallery owner and artist is to promote art that is challenging, thought-provoking and will stimulate lively debate.


11th June  Help!, We're All Being Harassed by Loonies of the Equal Opportunities Commission

F rom Post Chronicle

Equal Opportunities Commission logoBritish employees who e-mail or text message lewd jokes around the office could cost their companies large sums in compensation for sexual harassment. The Equal Opportunities Commission has concluded that circulating offensive e-mail can constitute harassment, even if it is not sent directly to a colleague, but only sent to others in the workplace,

Looking at pornography on a computer screen next to a colleague who finds it offensive can also constitute harassment. Commission chairloon Jenny Watson said electronic sexual harassment is a "significant new issue" for employers: At every stage, as technology has the potential to improve lives, it has the potential to have a negative impact in other ways. It would be quite possible for an offensive e-mail to be part of an environment that constituted sexual harassment.

Watson said it is difficult to detect sexual harassment by e-mail because it is silent, immediate and almost indistinguishable from proper work:
Today's world makes it harder for employers to guard against sexual harassment because it could be conducted below their radar. You can't always tell what people are sending on their computers.


26th May   One Day Iraq will Invade the UK to Free us from Dictatorship and Heavy Handed Policing

From The Telegraph

Brian Haw demoA total of 78 police officers were used, at a cost of £7,200, in the night-time operation to crack down on the lone anti-war protester Brian Haw in Parliament Square.

The raid ran up a bill of £3,000 in overtime and £4,200 for transport, catering and erection of road barriers , said Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner.

The manpower involved in reducing Haw's permitted protesting space to a 10ft "cube" outside Parliament is almost four times the 20 suggested after the raid in the early hours on Tuesday. However, Scotland Yard said 24 of the 78 officers were "kept in reserve".

Sir Ian defended the scale of the operation after fierce criticism by some members of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which oversees his force. The Met was accused of "overkill" and of creating the impression around the world that police were being used to suppress anti-war dissent.

Haw, a carpenter from Worcestershire who has dedicated five years to often very loud protest, is being prosecuted for allegedly failing to abide by conditions set down for his demonstration.

The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Tope, an MPA member, said: Some may well find Brian Haw and his activities irritating, but being an irritant is a pretty fundamental part of our democracy. The right to protest. . . the right to irritate some of those sitting in Parliament feeling self-important. I do think it brings the Met into a bit of disrepute - 78 police officers arriving in the middle of the night to clear placards and chase mice. I really do think that it was huge overkill.

Damien Hockney, from One London Group, said: This has been interpreted around the world that Britain is suppressing dissent by people opposed to the Iraq war. That is the way it is being put across - policemen being sent in overnight to knock somebody down. From a PR point of view, that is a very dangerous thing to have done.

The court said Haw would have to apply to the police for authorisation to continue. He is due to appear in a magistrates' court for an alleged breach of the Act in failing to comply with conditions.


26th May   Lead us Not Into Temptation

I bet the Home Office are slobbering to extend this tool to 'extreme pornography'

From Linx Public Affairs

The 24th May edition of the BBC programme Daily Politics covered the issue of network-level content blocking for images of child abuse, giving NSPCC campaigner Lesley Garrett an unchallenged platform to call for legislation to force ISPs to implement a blocking system “today”.

Garrett asserted (incorrectly) that the availability of such a technology meant we can stop anyone being able to see these images . This is untrue: existing network content blocking is only able to prevent accidental access to web sites, and is not designed or capable of preventing access to such material by those actively seeking it. Her remarks went unchallenged by the presenter, who described it as a very, very compelling case.


25th May   Computer Games Only Make Campaigners Aggressive

From The Guardian

Playing computer games may actually be good for children, according to a government study that found no proof that even violent games triggered aggressive behaviour.

The games can improve children's decision-making and instil 'positive learning traits', some research suggests. At least one study argues that make-believe violence helps children 'conquer fears and develop a sense of identity', as gruesome fairytales once did.

The review was ordered by ministers over concerns about possible links between bloodthirsty games and real-life violence. The fatal stabbing of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah, whose attacker was said to have been obsessed with a game called Manhunt , prompted a campaign by his mother to have violent titles banned.

The review concluded fears about violent games reflected deeper social concerns about 'the changing nature of childhood in a modern world'. Most research suggesting a link came from America and did not take into account the context in which children played.

Ministers have discussed age-labelling of games and are understood to be planning talks with the industry about helping parents choose titles.


19th May
updated to
25th June
  Arrested for Flying Low

From Fox News

Naked Rambler at John O'GroatsThe "naked rambler," who has had numerous brushes with the law for nudity on land, was arrested again after shedding his clothes aboard an aircraft.

Stephen Gough was on his way to Edinburgh for a hearing at the Appeal Court, where he was challenging four contempt of court citations for nudity in Scotland.

Police arrested Gough at Edinburgh Airport.

At the Appeal Court, three justices decided that Gough's case merited a full hearing, on a date to be set. Lord Johnston urged Gough's lawyers to persuade their client that he was "doing himself no good" by continuing to go naked.

There is no law saying 'Thou shalt not go naked, ' Gough said at one of his court appearances in 2004.

25th June   Update: Naked Injustice

From the BBC

Naked Rambler at John O'GroatsNaked rambler Stephen Gough has been jailed for four months after stripping off on a passenger plane.
He was found guilty of charges of breach of the peace and public indecency on a flight from Southampton to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how the ex-marine spent 20 minutes in the plane's toilet before emerging with only his socks and hiking boots on.

Gough, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, had denied the charges. He had been travelling to an appeal court appearance to challenge a contempt of court ruling.

Senior cabin crew member, Karen Hopewell, 24, said she had become a little concerned when he had been in the toilet for about 20 minutes. Initially, she had not noticed his state of undress but as he walked down the aisle to his seat, she saw his naked bottom and that he was only wearing socks and hiking boots.

Hopewell said she twice asked the man, she identified as Gough, to put on his clothes, but he refused. She said some of the passengers were smiling and giggling.

The cabin crew admitted no-one had appeared alarmed or fearful.

Gough was arrested at Edinburgh Airport and led from the aircraft in handcuffs. He refused requests by police officers to dress.


18th May   Mandatory UK Internet Censorship

From Linx , thanks to Shaun

Home OfficeIn a Parliamentary written answer the new Home Office Minister Vernon Croaker set a deadline of the end of 2007 for all ISPs to implement a Cleanfeed-style network level content blocking platform. New ISPs will be required to implement such a blocking platform within nine months of starting operations.

Croaker said: Recently, it has become technically feasible for ISPs to block home users' access to websites irrespective of where in the world they are hosted. It is clear from the various meetings that Ministers have had with the ISPs, that the industry has the will to implement solutions to block these websites. Currently, all the 3G mobile network operators block their mobile customers from accessing these sites and the biggest ISPs are either currently blocking or have plans to by the end of 2006.

We recognise the progress that has been made as a result of the industry's commitment and investment so far. However, 90% of connections is not enough and we are setting a target that by the end of 2007, all ISPs offering broadband internet connectivity to the UK general public put in place technical measures that prevent their customers accessing websites containing illegal images of child abuse identified by the IWF. For new ISPs or services, we would expect them to put in place measures within nine months of offering the service to the public.

Croaker went on to imply, but not directly threaten, future legislative compulsion, saying: If it appears that we are not going to meet our target through co-operation, we will review the options for stopping UK residents accessing websites on the IWF list.

Currently, the only web sites ISPs are expected to block access to are sites the Internet Watch Foundation has identified as containing images of child abuse. However such a platform is capable of blocking access to any web site added to the list (at least, to the extent that the implementation is effective), making it a simple matter to change this policy in future.

The Home Office has previously indicated that it has considered requiring ISPs to block access to articles on the web deemed to be glorifying terrorism, within the meaning of the new Terrorism Act 2006. Writing in the context of enquiries as to whether the Terrorism Act required network-level content blocking of the material it prohibits, Home Office officials have said:

At present, the government does not propose to require UK ISPs to block content and our policy is to pursue a self-regulatory approach wherever possible. However, our legislation as drafted provides the flexibility to accommodate a change in Government policy should the need ever arise.


12th April
Updated to
28th April
  eBay Bid for the Most Arbitrary Censorship Award

Several copies are up for auction at the moment along with all of the constituent films.

Thanks to David

Box of the Banned 1I was bidding on a DVD box set via eBay only to find that when I woke up the following day the item had been removed. I had also received an e-mail from eBay informing me the listing had been removed by eBay for not being within their criteria of what can and cannot be sold on eBay.

The box set in question: Box of the Banned by Anchor Bay which features 18 certificate versions of: The Evil Dead, Last House on the Left, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, Driller Killer, I Spit on Your Grave, Zombie Flesh Eaters + two documentaries Ban the Sadist Videos & Fear, Panic & Censorship which are generally about the censorship of video nasties in the UK.

This box set is available in Virgin, HMV etc…as well as on Amazon and almost every other DVD retailer on the web but seemingly eBay are having none of it.

I mailed eBay asking to explain why it had been removed and received the response below.

Why did you stop this auction? This set of DVDs is sold in HMV, Virgin etc etc... I am curious to know your justification in removing this item. Every film included in this set has been classified certificate 18 by the British Board of Film Classification. Your rules are becoming very hostile and rather petulant to say the least! Please explain.

EBay’s response:

Even if an item is given a rating for general sale in the UK by the BBFC, this does not exempt such an item from eBay policy.

Under our policy, eBay does not allow items or descriptions that graphically portray violence or victims of violence, and lacks substantial social, artistic or political value. For example, eBay will disallow sales of explicit crime scene or morgue photos and videos, the type often found in this series.

Joseph Mulryan
eBay Community Watch Team

20th April

  Opinion: Strong Case for the Most Arbitrary Censorship Award

From Jon

Box of the Banned 1I just read your 12th April news item, about the tossers at e-Bay banning the sale of the UK Box Of The Banned DVD box set, and Joseph Mulryan's response about the films, because: Under our policy, eBay does not allow items or descriptions that graphically portray violence or victims of violence, and lacks substantial social, artistic or political value. For example, eBay will disallow sales of explicit crime scene or morgue photos and videos, the type often found in this series.

If that is the case, how come on e-Bay today (18th April), I can bid on any
of the following:

1 - DVD releases of "Men Behind The Sun" and its offspring
2 - DVD of shockumentary footage
3 - Other Box Of The Banned DVD's
4 - A DVD pirate-copy of the uncut Dutch VHS version of Anthropophagus: The Grim-Reaper

I feel that e-Bay seems to not have a single bloody clue about what it allows and doesn't allow. Oh, and did we forget to mention the numerous amount of pirated DVD's of mainstream films, and CD's, not forgetting brand-name shoes, clothing, etc, that e-Bay also seems to not notice?!

26th April   Opinion: Don't Mention It

From Andy

Night of the CreepsI thought you may be interested in this, eBay are making some truly fucked up decisions, and this is another prime example of this:

I listed over the weekend the classic Fred Dekker film, Night of the Creeps , due to the upcoming film Slither being a lot like this movie.  I mentioned Slither in my description.

Anyway I received an e-mail tonight saying the item had been removed because of 'keyword spamming', there reason for this is as follows: Keyword spamming is not permitted on eBay. This occurs when members place brand names or other inappropriate keywords in a title or description for the purpose of gaining attention or diverting members to a listing. The inclusion of any brand names or company logos in listings other than the specific brand name used by the company that manufactured or produced the item is not permitted.

So it's OK to list thousands upon thousands of pirate DVDs on eBay but it's a total no no to list a perfectly legal, original VHS tape and mention another film in the title description!!

I have sent an email contesting the decision and for some justification of this ludicrous decision and will provide me info if and when I get it.

28th April   Opinion: Law unto Themselves

From Andy

Night of the CreepsHere is the reply from ebay, I wish they would get there act together themselves and paypal really are a law to themselves, it's about time they were bought down a peg or two! anyway here is there response:

I will be happy to address your concerns regarding why your listings were removed.

I have reviewed your account and have found the appropriate action has been taken. Your listing title contained the information: "Like Slither"

This is a violation of our guidelines which state "sellers are not permitted to make comparisons between items in a listing title." The policy further states "Avoid using comparison words such as "like," "style," and "not" in the title of your listing." This also extends to the use of words such as "inspired", "similar", etc.

Please note that it is permitted to use *one* brand name as a comparison within the item description of the auction listing, not the title.


11th April   Police Wilfully Obstructing Liberty

From the Press Gazette

A freelance photographer has been arrested and charged with obstructing the police after taking pictures of armed officers in central Nottingham.

Alan Lodge had his mobile phone and camera confiscated. He says the police action flies in the face of a protocol on dealing with the press which was agreed with the force just a month ago. One of these guidelines sates:
Police officers do not have the authority to prevent a person taking a photograph or to confiscate cameras or film, and such conduct could result in criminal, civil or disciplinary action.

The guidelines continue: The media has a legitimate role to play in informing the public and they will attend the scene of incidents. The presence of a photographer or reporter at an incident does not of itself constitute any unlawful obstruction or interference.

According to the Nottingham NUJ branch, he was in the St Ann's area of Nottingham when he saw armed police on an operation and started to photograph them. They approached him and asked him to stop taking photos. He said no, I'm in a public place and I'm not breaking the law.

Lodge was then arrested and charged with "wilfully obstructing a police officer". He appeared in court last week and was released on bail to appear again on 2 May.

Update: Delayed

October 2006

Alan Lodge, again appeared at Nottingham Magistrates Court today only to be told the trial will be put back to 5 March 2007.

But in a major step forward, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), having failed to pass on digital copies of the photographs on Alan’s data card, were given 21 days in which to do so or provide a very good reason why they shouldn’t.

The NUJ’s legal team has been pressing hard for the card to be surrendered as the union believes it is important in being able to make a case in defence of Alan. The CPS admitted that several written and verbal requests had been made.


9th April   Slagging Off Teachers

Strange times indeed when mere communication is deemed so dangerous

From The Telegraph ,

Schools across the country are banning pupils from accessing a popular social networking website.

Schools have become so concerned about the site that they are also warning parents to monitor closely their children's internet use when they are at home.

Up to 4.5 million people in Britain have signed up to the site since its launch last summer. It is at the heart of a growing on-line social networking craze among youngsters. The site is aimed at people between the ages of 13 and 30, but has proved particularly popular with school students, and even primary school pupils. It allows members to create mini-homepages with pictures and personal profiles. They can also share pictures and messages with other users.

One school to have banned the site is Kent College, an independent girls boarding school near Tunbridge Wells. Bill Burles, the school's director of information and communication technology (ICT), said: When we found the site, about 170 of our pupils had signed up to it. There was stuff on there slagging off teachers, there was bad language, bullying and inappropriate images. We held a parents information evening about it, and there was a lot of jaw dropping from parents when we told them what was going on. Burles added: The girls don't realise this stuff is available to everyone. They think it is only accessible for their friends. They don't realise the whole world can view it.

In Norfolk, the website has been blocked in all 453 schools and parents have now been warned about their children logging on at home. It is understood to be the first education authority to impose a blanket ban, although others are now thought to be following suit.

Jim Scheinman, Bebo's vice president, described the decision to ban the site from schools as "censorship".

He said:
We take privacy and security very seriously. The internet and social networking have not created bullying. When bullying occurs on-line, just like off line, this creates a teachable moment for educators, parents and students. Engaging the students in these teachable moments seems more sensible than censorship.

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