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Pressure group

In which the government panders to the moral minority


“Violent” pornography is back in the news again, as it has been on and off for the past year. Now, the government has announced that it is going to ban the stuff, however impossible it is to define, thanks to a single-issue campaign group who are already crowing about their success. If it’s that easy to get the government to do what you want, I think I should start up my own single-issue campaign group. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to campaign for, but I know I’ll think of something. On the other hand, the government doesn’t exactly listen to what most people say. They carried out consultation on the “violent” porn law, and found that over 70% of responses were against introducing it; but they’re going ahead with it anyway. It was pushed for by people who believe that porn on the internet can induce people to carry out fantasies they wouldn’t have tried otherwise, even though there’s no evidence at all that that happens. In essence, this is faith-based legislation.

As I said a few days ago, there’s an easy solution to the problem of people with dangerous fantasies. It’s education, helping them find safe releases. If you ban “dangerous” pornography – leading aside the question of whether it is truly dangerous or not – you don’t do anything to dissipate people’s fantasies, the fantasies that make them look for the stuff to start with. The solution is to make it easy for people with unusual fantasies to discover that there’s a huge crowd of Sensible Pervs out there, who will help them learn how to carry their fantasies out safely.

All that, though, is besides the main problem with the bill: that it will be impossible to tell whether or not something is pornographic, or dangerous, just by looking. On the first point: look at people with a “splosh” fetish.* Internet sites for that sort of thing regularly feature clips from children’s telly, or entertainment telly, where people get covered in gunge. Is that pornography, just because some people get off on it? Is it dangerous, given that you could drown in the stuff? You could easily take a photo of a couple in a lovely, romantic-looking pose, one person holding their partner’s head in both hands. There’s a specific pose I have in mind that could look fine on a photo, but would cause the partner to faint if held for more than about 10 seconds, and die if held for longer still.** Would you be able to recognise it on a photo? It doesn’t look dangerous to most people.

Sensible Pervs are still campaigning hard against the violent porn bill. There’s still a good chance it will never appear, given the constraints of the parliamentary timetable. It looks, though, that in a couple of years’ time there might be another ill-thought-out, hard-to-enforce law on the statute books.

* getting turned on by getting covered in messy, gooey stuff.

** no, I’m not telling you what it is.

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