2015: The Year to Vote for Freedom

An election year comment from Loz Kaye, Leader of Pirate Party UK

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For some time now, a nasty puritan streak has been growing in British public life, fed by prejudices both from the left and right. I don’t need to go through each instance: just search back through the history of this blog. Week after week we have seen moral outrage after outrage, crackdown after crackdown.

The absurdity of the AVMS video on demand regulations, or anti-facesitting laws if you prefer, seemed to sum up the sense of panic and how it is infringing peoples’ freedoms. At the heart of sexuality and how we use our bodies has to be consent. It is preposterous to outlaw images of an act that you can consent to. Worse still, in my view that undermines the very concept of consent itself, turning it in to something which is arbitrarily given and withheld by others, not yourself.

That is inherently political and no wonder that the following demonstration was at Westminster, however much MPs looked the other way.

This new puritanism is indeed politically motivated. The pressure on Internet Service Providers to move to default web filtering came directly from Cameron and the likes of Claire Perry pandering to tabloid scare headlines. What we learnt in 2014 was that, as so many of us warned, this led to censorship, including websites there to help victims of abuse or to support LGBT people.

The focus for so much of the moral panic has been the perceived “wild west” of the Internet. We in the Pirate Party have right from our outset opposed the use of web blocking as a state means of personal control.

Web censorship is not a tool for sexual health promotion. State censorship is not a tool for creating equality. Curtailing freedom of expression is not a tool for supporting victims of crime.

If 2014 saw us on the back foot, 2015 is the year to set the agenda. These are the key positive aims as I see it:

  • Change the direction of the Department of Culture Media and Sport pressure and work to remove default web filtering.

  • Work with advertising standards to make sure ISPs don’t misrepresent filters as foolproof parenting tools.

  • Stop the use of web filtering and blocking as a pretended social policy tool.

  • Reverse the ATVOD censorship moves.

  • DCMS should launch a review into the role of OFCOM and ATVOD in controlling freedom of expression.

  • Disband the “copyright cops” PIPCU to give programmes working with victims of abuse a £2 million boost over 3 years.

  • Embed removing of stigma about discussing sexuality frankly as a vital part of public health strategy.

I’m sure you can think of plenty more, let me know what they are and I’ll be happy to work for them.

The reason that politics has drifted so far in an authoritarian direction, particularly when it comes to sexual freedom, is that most politicians see it at best as a peripheral issue, at worst as a career ruining one, not to be touched with a barge pole. Of course ensuring the safety of sex workers, the well-being of LGBT people or removing stigma about discussing sexual health is not marginal, it’s literally a matter of life and death.

It is our job in 2015 to assert this not a peripheral issue, to destroy the myth that liking particular types of images means that you are unconcerned with the welfare of women or young people, and to support candidates who do have the guts to stand up.

At the risk of angering ATVOD, I would suggest that you can be a bit forceful in 2015. As it’s a general election year, it’s your opportunity to tell MPs and candidates what to do.

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It’s very simple. For the next few months tell candidates that you expect them to actively support sexual freedom of expression with the kind of policies that I outlined, or you won’t vote for them.

Let them know that you will tell as many other people as you can to join you in finding a pro-freedom candidate. And stick to that, despite all the scaremongering about wasted votes or two horse races you’ll hear. Don’t let your MP get away with claiming this is not something that concerns their constituents after May 7th.

I suspect that most people reading this blog will not be afraid to try something new. It may be that you should consider doing that in May.

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6 thoughts on “2015: The Year to Vote for Freedom”

  1. The whole attitude to choice and in particular freedom to consent is at the heart of sex work. Be it my choice in strippers or the choice of escorts or the choice of actors to perform “porn”. So long as they make a free choice then WTF is it with everyone jumping on board to say they are brain washed idiots who can’t consent? I believe in equality and in personal freedoms but the current brand of toxic radical feminism drives me nuts. #FreeTheNipple and No More Page 3 both are feminist stands and yet they appear to the normal observer to be diametrically opposed. At some point feminism needs to embrace the right for women to choose and stop trying to put labels on everything.

    The cry of what about the kiddies is a ruse to remove the rights of the individual. The state should not be expected to be part of the parenting options. Strip joints, sex shops and cinemas are all assaulted with claims that they will harm children but how? Are there dancers in the street performing lap dances? Are there adult videos being shown on big scene tvs outside the shops and cinemas? Of course not, so the issue is adults imposing their own issues on their children as an excuse.

    Finally a personal one for me is the term lap dancing, under current regulations no contact is allowed so how the hell can it be a lap dance? I understand the clubs like the mental image it creates for customers but at the same time the antis will use the image as a negative even though they know it is not a reality. Either let lap dancing be lap dancing or do away with the term.

  2. Paul, your comment is worth a response from me:

    As a producer i would have to say I couldn’t care less about the states interference in producing porn in as much as I am incensed by them imposing their will through laws on personal choice. I’m of the mind to blatantly flout these laws because I believe a judge would deem them fools if it was to go to court. Again, I had experience of this through my own 2 year trial in 1999

    People should be angry and demand this law be annulled , not because its ridiculous but because this is some strategy agencies of the government are using to bring in wider controls to regulate the internet.

    People should think what with Jimmy Saville, Wiki Leaks and Julian Assange and now the allegations made against Prince Andrew that the internet is seen as the new battle ground for freedom of speech in which to censor us with and aid in enforcing huge fines and sentences to silence of financially run people.

    Porn was the easiest target to get a foothold and all those who have a moral agendas are jumping on board to fight n opposition of those freedoms.

    I hear these people screaming all the time from mumsnet. OBJECT, porn harms and Gail Dines and many more of her ilk that are not solving the problems they are claiming to defend but exacerbating them

  3. It’s even got to the point where Amazon now force sellers of artistic erotic nude calendars to censor SOME online images. But amazingly, to date, this only applies to calendars produced and published in the UK and not to any other EU country (despite equality / supposed non-discrimination of trading laws). German suppliers, even those selling to UK customers through UK fulfilment centres, with UK offices and pricing in GBP, are NOT censored.

    See http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=bl_sr_officeproduct?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=BDFoto

    After weeks of being unfairly treated compared to German sellers, I finally got a message from a senior Amazon executive support representative, (ironically less than four hours after I phoned Amazon Seller Central and asked to speak to the MD, Graham North, by name).

    So it’s not just governments, it’s companies as well.

  4. This article is a breath of fresh air, particularly after the attention given to self-appointed expert Martin Daubney’s appalling ideas for state regulated porn, with all foreign sites becoming illegal. Though, if possible, this might appeal to some companies here by eliminating the competition.

    I just want the people of this country to have the same rights as Americans, Belgians, the French etc. etc. Why is there not the constant hysteria on the European mainland on the imperative to protect the young that there is here? A question that’s seldom asked.

    And is there any other country where all sexually explicit material has to be vetted by private companies appointed by the state to ensure that none of its citizens could possibly be depraved and corrupted?

    I think more needs to be done to stress how unique and absurd are the attitudes of British legislators and opinion formers to such matters.

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