Blog : Posts tagged with 'violent porn'

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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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Permissive Society

In which the government wants to ban things


I know it’s only a few days since we last had a “the government are taking away your rights!” post on here, but I’m afraid it’s time for another one.* This time it’s not just about politics, though, it’s about sex too.

Over the past few months, the Home Office has been running a consultation exercise on what it calls “extreme pornography”, with the intention of trying to ban it. They were pushed into it by a single-issue campaign group called The Jane Longhurst Trust, who mistakenly believe that criminalising violent sexual images will make people less violent.

It would be nice if this were true, but it’s very clear that when you’re dealing with sexual fantasies and gratification, pushing things under the carpet doesn’t help. For years homosexuality, for example, was barely represented in the mainstream media, but that didn’t stop people being gay. Banning images of violent fantasies won’t prevent people having those fantasies and wanting to act them out. If the Jane Longhurst Trust’s members actually want to do some good, they would have to go out and educate the people with the violent fantasies, instead of pretending that if you can’t see the pictures, they don’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind, just doesn’t work.

Anyway, many many people have written in to the Home Office trying to point this out; and the summary of the results is due to be published. Whether they will be promoting it very heavily probably depends on whether or not they’re minded to go ahead with the proposed law very strongly, or if it will be quietly allowed to run out of parliamentary time. Whatever the government’s publicity machine does, there’s one group of people who will be publicising it heavily: the group set up to campaign against the new law. They’re called the Backlash, and if you want to learn more about what the government is trying to propose, and why it is a bad idea, they have written about it in far more depth than I have room to here. If you want the freedom to do what you like in the bedroom,** go and support them.

* Why? Because I promised someone I’d write about it.

** subject to what your partner tells you to do, of course

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Drawing lines

In which we discuss pornography, consent, and legal proposals


Today’s Top News Story: the government is planning to ban extreme pornography.

Now, as this idea goes: where’s the downside? It’s going to be a vote-winner, and the Opposition are bound to take the “well, we would have done this years ago!” line. But it does open up a rather nasty can of worms which, being your stereotypical Woolly-Minded Liberal,* I have no idea what to do about. The question is: what is porn? More importantly, what is extreme?

There’s no doubt that an awful lot of the stuff out there on the internet is only going to be attractive to a tiny minority of people. If you think you’re the only person out there with your particular fetish, then you’re wrong: someone somewhere will probably already have created a website devoted to it. The problem with that, of course, is that some people’s fetishes really are not things that anyone else is going to approve of. Now, I personally have no problem with what anybody wants to do in private, but the keyword there is consensuality. Where fetishes involve doing things without the other person’s consent, it’s not acceptable to me.

The can of worms comes into it, though, when you consider that the proposed law would outlaw pornography that shows illegal acts. The problem is that in British law, the legality of a lot of S&M sex is a very grey area. Even if you want your partner to do certain things to you, it might not be legal.** The second can of worms is that, looking at downloaded graphics, it can be impossible to tell if consent was given at the time. Indeed, some writers and campaigners would claim that no porn is consensual at all, because of the cultural context surrounding it.

There’s a lot of stuff out there, and a lot of it makes me sick to the stomach. But, even so, I’m fully expecting that this law – and it will become law – will go too far, and that we will see people being prosecuted for downloading images that, to my mind, are entirely harmless.

* I’m even a Guardian reader.

** The most famous legal case in BDSM circles is the Spanner Trial, in which a group of gay men were convicted and imprisoned for actual bodily harm even though the “victims” had consented; it is not the only one, though.

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