Blog : Posts tagged with 'legal'

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Private life

In which we spare a thought for Mrs Max Mosley


In the news today: the Max Mosley trial continues. Note for readers from the future: he enjoyed a BDSM session with a group of women, who have been described widely as “prostitutes” by the media. He had these regularly, and so wasn’t expecting that one day in spring, one of them would pop a video camera down her cleavage and sell the footage to the News Of The World. Oops. So he’s suing for exemplary damages – in other words, he doesn’t just want recompense, he wants retribution.

I have to say, though, that I don’t think he deserved much sympathy. Not because he’s rich and powerful. Not because of who his father was, or because he has his own murky right-wing past. I don’t think his sex life deserves to be exposed because he has a prominent job: what he gets up to in the bedroom should have no effect on how well he can carry out his job. What does give me a moral twinge, though, is that he’s apparently been hiding his sex life from his wife for almost their entire marriage. According to his statements in court: he’s been involved in the BDSM scene, safely and without exposure, for 45 years – in other words, since his early 20s, when he was a law student active in far-right politics. However, at the same time, he said, his wife had no idea of his kinky inclination until the NotW revealed all. Mosley married in 1960, around the age of 20; from what he’s said, he must have been getting his kicks from the BDSM scene since the early years of his marriage, going behind his wife’s back for decades.

Mrs Mosley is, apparently, devastated by Max’s exposure in the press. I can imagine. It’s a lot to take in. I can’t think to imagine how she feels.

Everyone’s entitled to keep their life private from the general public – but I’m not so sure that they’re entitled to keep it private from their partner quite to that extent. It’s common, though – especially online – for men to approach the BDSM scene with an “I have these urges but I can’t tell my wife” attitude. In the general scene – what you might call the non-professional side – they usually get advised not to go behind their partner’s back; but I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the money in the pro-dominatrix market comes from this sort of chap.* Mosley is, on the one hand, a sign that such men can get along happily for years** so long as the press isn’t likely to be interested in them. The BDSM community might frown on you if you want to go behind your wife’s back, but they will generally consider it to be your own business if you do. On the other hand: he’s also a sign that you can’t necessarily keep something quiet forever. When your partner does find out, you only have yourself to blame.

* For one thing: although the pro-dominatrix market is saturated, prices are still rather high, partly because although there are endless swarms of pro-dominatrixes around very few of them are very good at what they do, and partly because being a good pro-dominatrix can be pricy, just to stay stocked up with all the silly PVC clothes that the customers are paying to drool over. It’s only the well-off men who can afford to hire one regularly, and they’re more likely than average to be settled with a partner.

** assuming they can afford it. A Mosley-ish session would probably have cost him somewhere between one and two thousand quid a time, at a rough guess.

Update, July 9th: my rough guess there was somewhat on the low side. According to the report in today’s Guardian, Mosley was paying £500 to each participant. That’s about £100 per hour, or £2500 for the whole session. He also paid the rent on the flat where it took place.

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Lawyers

In which we wonder about fancraft


The BBC has a history of having heavy-handed lawyers on the payroll, so it wasn’t surprising when they threatened to sue a website featuring Doctor Who knitting patterns. I’m old enough to remember the Teletubbies,* and the way the BBC responded to websites that poked fun at them: send in the lawyers. What’s the most important thing about Doctor Who, after all? Inspiring kids to be amazed at things, and look at the world in a different way? Hiding behind the sofa? No, silly, the important thing is to generate lots and lots of merchandising money for BBC Commercial. Where would we be if everyone started knitting things for their children instead of going down the shops? If you start spending time and care on things like that, when are you going to find the time to watch more TV? What’s going to happen to all those traditional Chinese peasant plastic-mould farms? And never mind that, what on earth do you think you’re doing to the economy, going out and making things instead of buying them? Where do you think you are, Cuba?

Seriously: I’m sometimes in two minds about fan-created stuff, largely because of the effect fan fiction has on me. It makes me want to run away and scream, partly because of the smug little disclaimers that fanfic writers always seem to put at the top of their stories. “These characters aren’t mine, I’m only borrowing them.” Did you ask, first?

Fan art, though – which includes fan crafting, in this case – is a different matter. It does, to my mind, at least, imply a lot more creativity than most fanfic. But I can’t draw a rational line between the two, or explain why one seems acceptable to me when the other doesn’t. Maybe that in most cases fan art seems to add something to a world, where fan fiction seems to take it away. That, though, isn’t something you can exactly quantify. And it’s not an excuse that would go down well with a lawyer, either.

* I was just the right age to appreciate them when they appeared – about 19 or so.

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Dirty Books

In which we consider the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act


The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act gets its Royal Assent today. And it might have banned extreme porn. It might have banned some quite ordinary books, too. Nobody knows. Lord Hunt, who pushed the bill through the Lords and defeated opposition amendments, stated in the form letter he sent out to correspondants that he didn’t know what pictures would or wouldn’t be banned by the bill he was promoting; that would be up to the courts. The government defeated an opposition amendment which would have explicitly said the bill would only cover material also covered by the Obscene Publications Act. However, at the same time, the Ministry of Justice says that it does only cover this material, in any case, even though the government refused to say this in the text of the bill. Campaigners are celebrating their “fight” to criminalise Things They Don’t Approve Of; but at the same time, The Register is reporting that the law hasn’t yet taken effect, and – when they wrote that, at least – nobody had decided when it would. So, in other words, nothing is certain and nobody knows what is happening. The government hastily inserted a clause to state that it does not cover photos of events you participated in,* but nobody knows exactly what counts as “participation”. There may be more debates on what the bill actually should and should not do, or a select committee. There may, indeed, be jam tomorrow – it would certainly fit in with the general tone.

Meanwhile, people are still hard at work campaigning to get the thing dropped, or, at least, to raise enough of a stink that its unworkability becomes obvious. It’s good to see, too, the effect all this has had on kinky people around the country, too. The public face of BDSM in the UK isn’t a very good-looking one; but with this legislation on the way, lots of sane and ordinary people** put their heads out, went to the press, and said: I’m your ordinary man or woman in the street. There’s nothing wrong with being kinky, or with liking the things I like, and I don’t do anything illegal, so why are you making it illegal to own photos of the things I do?

* assuming that everything is consensual and above-board, everyone else taking part was happy and smiling and so on, of course.

** part of the reason the public face of BDSM is so ugly is that the people who stand out aren’t the sane, ordinary people; they are the ones who shout loudly because they’re in it for the money and their ego. For more on how the UK BDSM “scene” is broken, I suggest reading Bitchy Jones, when you’re not at work of course.

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