Category Archives: News

ShirtGate: Fascism Cloaked as Liberalism

For those with a love of science, the story of the week was, of course, the landing of a robot – launched 10 and a half years ago – on a faraway comet. As someone who is still amazed that I can instantly publish an article from a computer in London, that can then be read globally, I lack the words to express my jaw-dropped amazement at this latest accomplishment of mankind.

The mastermind of the mission was Dr Matt Taylor. Like many ultra-intelligent people, Taylor clearly possesses an offbeat personality and quirky outlook on life. Conformity is for the dull of mind. It was hardly unexpected then, that Taylor chose not to wear a grey suit and tie, but instead appeared at a press conference in a bright shirt made for him by an artist friend – a woman. The shirt featured cartoon images of scantily-clad women brandishing guns.

If Taylor had been paying more attention to politics over the past decade, he’d have witnessed the final stages in the collapse of the progressive left, and its replacement with a new set of intolerant, dogmatic, anti-sex, pro-censorship attitudes. But he clearly had more important things to worry about, so he’d missed the rise of a clique of online bullies using feminist language to achieve a very non-feminist goal: the suppression of the idea that women can be sexual beings if they so choose.

During the attacks on Taylor – referred to online as ShirtGate – the online mob made use of a now-standard logical fallacy to attack the shirt: the idea that an image of any woman is an attack on the rights of all women, and thus, any woman who is offended by an image of another woman has the right to attack the image and call for it to be censored. It was also implied – equally ludicrously – that the shortage of female scientists might somehow be linked to such “sexist” shirts – suggesting that women are incredibly weak individuals (and ignoring the fact that anyway, sex isn’t sexist). The tendency for women to attack women-who-dare-to-be-sexual (brilliantly written about this week by a female journalist) is well known – only the language changes to keep up with the times.

To the rest of us who haven’t had to worry about landing a tiny probe on a small, fast comet, the wave of media bullying that Taylor experienced came as no surprise. Anti-sex feminists have been busy in recent years: closing down strip venues, working with religious fundamentalists to strip all rights from sex workers, advising governments to censor the Internet (because, you know, OBJECTIFICATION), and attacking proudly-sexual womanhood in every medium, from pornography to music videos. The left is guilty of attacks on sexuality that the religious right would once have been proud of.

Online witch-hunts by the new, conservative feminism have become popular in the past year or two: where once, “witch” or “communist” were slurs that meant the end of a career or a life, now “misogynist” and “rape apologist” are labels to avoid at all costs. I myself was labelled a “rape apologist” on Twitter for defending the free speech rights of a comedian this week; but I knew I was opening myself to such slurs when I started this campaign. To fight for free expression is to offend those who hate it.

And so we were treated to a sight that brought to my mind the struggle sessions of the Chinese cultural revolution: an intelligent, gentle man reduced to tears as he made a forced apology on TV (this time wearing a plain hoodie. Fascism hates bright colours).

Once a standard bearer for free expression and reason, the left is now increasingly the home of a rising anti-intellectualism, as well as the most puritanical anti-sex attitudes. The sight of a crying scientist confessing to crimes against the sacred purity of womanhood is symbolic of wider attacks on science from the new left, rather than the  right. This week also saw a scientist (this time, a women, Professor Kate Glover) sacked for simply stating a scientific fact: namely, that there is no evidence that genetically-modified organisms are harmful. Calls for her sacking were orchestrated by left MEPs, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. George Orwell, as ever, understood the nature of fascism better than anyone: “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. As if to illustrate the blur as to what “left” and “right” mean any more, a right-wing commentator mockingly compared the intolerant, puritanical attitudes of today’s left with the religious right’s most ludicrous character: When did the left turn into Rick Santorum?

The only silver lining in this is that Dr Taylor, unlike previous victims of the combined feminist-fundamentalist mob, has attracted great sympathy and support from many women and men. Perhaps this time, the “objectification” bullies have overreached themselves. One of the reactions has been a crowd-funding campaign to buy Matt Taylor a gift: click here to donate, and help demonstrate that most people are not nearly as stupid or hateful as ShirtGate might have implied.

Those of us who consider ourselves liberals in the true sense – pro-liberty, free expression and science – must realise that the political spectrum as we knew it has become meaningless. A new, pro-liberty, pro-reason left needs to be built if we are to stop the slide into intolerance, censorship and authoritarianism being pursued with equal vigour by both left and right.

Subscribe

* indicates required

News Roundup: 2014-11-10

Malmaison, Manchester covers up…

Malmaison gave in and covered their ‘soft-porn babes’ hoarding after pressure from the BBC, Daily Mail and Jeanette Winterson, a University of Manchester lecturer and author.

The ‘Mal’ held strong until the BBC and Construction Industry Training Board cried “sexism” and have now strewn a banner stating ‘we were asked to cover these up while we were changing’.

I walk past the Malmaison on the way home and I admit I was a little more than sad when I saw they had buckled to what amounted to very little pressure at all.

The Turkish Army has banned Game of Thrones and forces Officers to take course on Islam

The Turkish Army has outlawed Game of Thrones as part of its new “protection of students” regulations and require that Officers take lessons on Islam instead.

The Jerusalem Post reports;

The military has been instructed to cease watching the show as part of its new “protection of students” regulations that ban “sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment, and all negative behaviour.”

According to the report, Turkish army officers were kicked out of a military academy in Istanbul in 2012 for permitting cadets to watch Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones’ third season (2013) was named the most illegally downloaded TV programme internationally, accounting for a quarter of all pirated downloads from 100 torrent sites. The programme was downloaded over 1.4 million times between January and February this year – nearly 50 per cent more than its nearest rival The Walking Dead.

An advert that may have passed unnoticed…

Well. It seems the BBC and all mainstream outlets have been out in force to demonstrate the power of the Streisand effect.

The first ever advert featuring an e-cig may well have passed unnoticed had the mainstream media not played the drums of outrage and indignation.

The BBC reports that experts are concerned that the ad appearing on TV could lead to “a normalisation of smoking”. Maybe e-cigs could promote a freedom to choose what an individual would like to do with his or her mouth…

ITV chose to air the ad after 21:00 after the video was ruled ‘too sexual’ for broadcast before the watershed.

UK web sites to be forced to verify age under new laws!

New laws and legislation have been drawn up to compel British-based web sites to verify the age of their visitors before presenting age-restricted content after dubious statistics have emerged stating one in twenty visitors to adult web sites were ‘children.’

Whilst PornHub.com, who recently displayed an advert in Times Square, and YouPorn.com can provide access to their vast collections of free hardcore pornography to anyone in the World, including British visitors. UK based web sites will however be unable to serve their content as they always have.

pornhub-unaffected-by-age-verification-laws-uk

They failed with the ISP filters and ATVOD has largely fallen flat with over five years supposedly regulating the video on demand sector and showing little progress for it.

The Top 100 web sites visited from the UK feature a number of adult tube sites all of which are outside of the UK and will avoid such legal action by the UK government and ATVOD. With piracy and free porn what it is today, all ATVOD and the Government will do by introducing this new legislation and not tackling International distribution is shut down responsible webmasters who would be happy to come to the discussion table if they were invited and only increase the flow of traffic to the typically more extreme and harder content available on the free sites.

I take issue with the statistics and believe them to be deliberately misleading, ATVOD’s language is all about access to children, in their annual reports they claim we prevented xxx number of children accessing adult content based. The simple fact is they do not know, they treat every debit card transaction that either fails verification or is processed without verifying the customer’s age as a child.

ATVOD and anti-porn media use loaded words to ensure their statistics are the ones that people are absorbing. The Daily Mail reports that ‘some 5 per cent of visitors to adult sites were under 18.’ Despite the legal definition of an adult being what it is, those figures would not be half as shocking if people over the age of 16, the UK legal age of consent, were excluded.

Interestingly you will see that Women are always nearly forgotten about when it comes to quoting porn statistics. There are a number of reasons for this but two fundamental factors are the stigma attached to porn consumption by a female audience. The Daily Mail hates them and it does nothing to help the ‘journalist’ and anti-porners use the stats to their own end.

The Daily Mail also reports that ‘one website alone, Pornhub, was visited by 112,000 boys in the UK aged between 12 and 17.’ Pornhub is by far the biggest web site for UK visitors, if you are not familiar with this site – it’s a tube site, a youtube of porn if you like, their is no subscription or payment necessary – that is to say that it is completely FREE – to view its vast library of clips – some full length and others between four and fifteen minutes. Yet as I say is being left alone, this site will not face any kind of restriction under the UK’s AV laws that are expected this November.

pornhub-billboard-2-1024x682

If the regulators and officials dabbling with regulation of the content available over the internet had any idea of they were doing, ATVOD and others should really be paying more focused attention to the tubes but specifically PornHub as this particular site enjoys a healthy mainstream reputation and in addition to the big-budget marketing campaign it recently launched it is often featured in TV shows and films such as Californication and the site have now launched its own record label.

What does the Daily Mail, the DCMS or ATVOD for that matter think is going to happen to the 112,000 ‘boys’ that visited Pornhub? They should be acting as Pornhub’s marketing team, if they enforce stricter policies on UK sites to verify age the ones that can’t or are unwilling to do so will move to a venue that doesn’t ask for the verification.

Interestingly with this move the government will inadvertently be pushing young porn consumers to the tubes, the torrents and be ultimately responsible for stimulating a renewed piracy market for the adult industry.

The focus tends to be around porn web sites but I would be interested to find out exactly what other sites will be affected by these laws. The Sunday Times reported ‘It would cover pornography sites, as well as those selling guns and other age-restricted material.’

Is Netflix, Amazon, LoveFilm etc etc… be caught by the UK AV legislation? No of course not, for one they are not UK based but it is also unclear whether the ‘age restricted content’ description will just apply to R18 equivalent video which ATVOD stole from the BBFC in order to provide a standard for what constituted adult content which in turn required a secure pay wall with either credit card only payments or debit card payments with additional steps in place to verify the age of the account holder.

Twitter too, twitter will not be caught and anyone who has a twitter can find access to an increasing amount of porn for free through the social media service. There is no filter or age verification step to ‘protect’ twitter uses from embedded media content sent through potentially millions of active Twitter accounts.

Tiger Porn: “Extreme Porn” Law to be Challenged

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the dangerous proliferation of content possession laws that have sprung up in the UK. These have resulted in a series of draconian rulings, including one that decided a teenage girl was a sex offender for taking a photograph of herself naked. This conviction was made under a law designed to prevent child abuse. Such badly drafted laws surely do nothing to achieve this, and plenty to tie up police resources that could be better directed elsewhere.

Content possession laws are dangerous, regardless of what they criminalise, because content possession is such a vague idea. How many people realise that receiving a photograph by email or WhatsApp constitutes possession, whether or not you even look at it? Or that browsing to a web page containing a banned image will store that image in the web browser cache, making the user a criminal? And most important, how can members of the public know what images might or might not be considered “extreme” by the prurient British state?

 The “extreme porn” law, introduced by the last Labour government in 2008, is perhaps the most dangerous of them all, criminalising a vast array of content, from bestiality to acts that might “result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals” – this would cover consensual and legal acts like fisting or the use of a large sex toy.

One of the most ludicrous prosecutions to arise from this law was the infamous “tiger porn” case, in which Andrew Holland was prosecuted for possessing a video of – it was claimed – a woman having sex with a tiger. This would certainly represent a dangerous sex act!

The police and prosecutors decided there was a case, and proceeded. When the case finally reached court, the judge requested that the video be played with sound – something the police hadn’t thought of doing. During the scene, the “tiger” turned to the camera and said “that’s grrrrreat!”, in the style of Tony, the Frosties tiger. It’s clear that police and CPS training doesn’t include the skills to distinguish between a real tiger and a pretend one. Holland was acquitted.

But during the legal process, he had been branded a sex offender, experienced vigilante attacks, and been prevented from seeing his daughter for a year. He suffered a heart attack during this time.

The obscenity law specialist Myles Jackman announced yesterday that Holland would be launching a judicial review against the extreme porn law.

This is good news indeed; besides potentially overturning an atrocious piece of legislation, it may also help disrupt yet another bad law, the impending “rape porn” legislation, which, rather than criminalising porn featuring rape (as it sounds), will leave police and a judge to decide whether a sex act looks like it might be non-consensual, and would thus criminalise bondage and other non-standard – but consenting – sex acts.

In the mean time, millions of people risk being branded sex offenders simply for receiving a message from a friend (or enemy) or browsing the web. They can, to some extent, protect themselves by using private browser settings, and asking their friends not to share any kind of sexual imagery. But it is ludicrous that they should have to.

Religious people more likely to claim porn addiction

A new study has revealed Religious people are less likely than non-religious people to report using pornography, but tellingly those who do use it are more likely to claim they are addicted to it.

This may not be an especially new idea but it is the first study I have come across, specifically in recent years where there has been consistent and what seems to be increasingly anti-porn pressure coming from religion-based groups or individuals.

Porn addiction is, and has always been, notoriously poorly defined, and has no official diagnosis. Even porn itself is hard to define, with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart saying “I’ll know it when I see it” during the 1964 trial – Jacobellis v. Ohio. As reported here last year, the very existence of porn addiction is viewed with skepticism by psychologists.

“There are a lot of people out there [who] identify themselves as porn addicts,” Joshua Grubbs, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Grubbs and his colleagues performed two studies to investigate whether being religious is related to perceptions of porn addiction.

The first study involved young college students from three different U.S. universities, and the second study involved older adults. The researchers asked participants whether they watched porn and, if they did, whether they considered themselves to be addicted to it.

They also measured how religious the participants were, the extent to which they could control their use of porn, to what lengths they would go to access pornography and whether they disapprove of porn morally.

In both studies, they found that religious individuals were less likely than nonreligious individuals to report using porn. Religious people who do use porn, however, are exposed to about the same amount as nonreligious people are, the researchers said.

Religious people were more likely than nonreligious people to disapprove of porn on moral grounds, and were also more likely to perceive their use as an addiction.

“Despite the fact that religious people feel more addicted to porn, they’re not using it more,” Grubbs said. They probably just feel more addicted because they disapprove of it, he said.

In fact they may be using it far less than non-religious people but because those instances where they turn to porn are at such odds with years and years of religious and moral teachings about a specific view of what is acceptable they may well feel an overwhelming sense of shame or guilt.

Religious people could be using the term addiction as a get out of jail for free card and an excuse that helps shield them from judgment in their community.

News Site “UK Column” Removes All Videos After Brush with ATVOD

Few people in the UK are yet aware that for the past few years, the huge media regulator (and censor) Ofcom has had the power to regulate online video services. The EU’s Audio Visual Media Services Directive (AVMS) was intended to extend broadcast regulation to online TV catch-up services. In this country, Ofcom was tasked with implementing the directive, and promptly outsourced the job to a private organisation, ATVOD.

The regulations were originally expected to apply only to services such as 4oD and the BBC’s iPlayer; but ATVOD had different ideas, taking a far broader view of what constituted a “TV-like” service. ATVOD’s first move was to effectively wipe out the UK porn industry overnight by insisting British porn sites verify the age of all visitors before allowing them to see any naughty bits: a requirement so onerous that no site could possibly hope to implement it and stay in business (ATVOD claims the support of the “responsible” adult industry, but this in fact consists of TV and DVD companies who are delighted to see their online competitors closed down).

In the interest of full disclosure, mine was one of many businesses affected, and I closed my company in 2012. Playboy moved its core operations from London to Canada (losing UK jobs and tax revenues), and many smaller sites were simply forced to shut down. But the new regulation poses a threat far beyond the right to operate a porn site. All websites deemed TV-like by ATVOD are forced to pay the regulator a fee, and then become liable for implementing rules designed for large broadcast corporations. Breaching these complex rules can mean the site’s operator receives a penalty of up to £250,000.

Suddenly, individuals running video websites, or even YouTube channels, must conform to the same rules as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky. The corrosive effect on free speech is potentially catastrophic. And this week, the threat proved to be more than theoretical.

The campaigning website UK Column, which reports on corruption within the British establishment, decided to remove all of its video content after being deemed an “on-demand programme service” by ATVOD. The site’s co-editor Brian Gerrish said: “This represents an immediate and dangerous attack on free speech on the internet and should be of massive concern to all Youtube users, as the government seems to be moving to censor individuals directly, putting them on the same regulatory footing as global corporations like the BBC and CNN. As a government agency, ATVOD’s clearly flawed working practices and their alignment to the corporate media pose a direct threat to our personal liberty and freedoms.”

For 20 years, the Internet has threatened the power of the state and corporations to set the message. Ordinary citizens have become publishers of blogs, podcasts and videos. In Britain, this era of unprecedented free speech has now come to an abrupt end. The British state has signalled its intolerance for citizen broadcasters.

Pornography is the canary in the coalmine: it is the playing field upon which censors can hone their methods before turning their gaze elsewhere. The British press, from the Guardian to the Mail, and the political class from Labour to Conservative, has almost universally allowed the Porn Panic to proceed without question. And yet censorship powers developed for one reason can easily be reused elsewhere. This week’s events are a wake-up call to those who had not yet noticed that British democracy is in an increasingly weakened state. Free speech is in undeniable decline. This is no longer about the right to watch pornography: it is about whether Britain is losing the freedoms that are so fundamental a part of this country’s history.

Sexual Freedom Under Increasing Assault

First the the government banned ‘rape’ porn without properly defining it, meaning that people who are engaged in consensual acts can now be prosecuted, now there are concerted attacks by councils on sex clubs.

Fantasy Video, a cinema showing pornographic films to its clientele was closed down by Islington last year. A new business, Mr B’s, a private members film club that also shows adult films, opened in the same premises and is now on Islington’s hit list. Also in their sights are Oscar’s, a cinema catering to the gay community, and Abcat, a cinema in King’s Cross.

A central complaint appears to be that whilst on a visit to assess how compliant the Abcat cinema was with its licensing conditions, a pass was made at the inspector. Gosh, how awful! If this is a reason to close a sex cinema, then we must surely also close all of restaurants, pubs and bars in the borough – after all, people have passes made at them every night in these.

It’s worth noting here that Islington first granted licences to sex cinemas after eleven men died in a fire at an adult cinema in 1994, when the council’s original policy of not granting licences drove premises to operate underground. A disgruntled man who was not allowed in set fire to the premises. Because there was no licence, and no method of obtaining one, no one had enforced clear exits or other fire prevention measures.

Whatever one’s views on adult films, we should ask ourselves whether it is right for a council to try and enforce some sort of moral code even if it means that they will knowingly revert to a policy that the council itself has acknowledged played a part in people’s deaths.

It is also interesting to note that the attack on these establishments is being led by Labour councillor, Paul Converey, who also opposed the renewal of a licence for the Flying Scotsman pub in King’s Cross because, amongst other things, he ‘regularly spotted exotic dancers outside on the street smoking with very slight clothing barely covered by overcoats or other coverings’. This of course could be rephrased as, some strippers wearing overcoats and other clothes were outside having a smoke. That doesn’t sound as salacious. Let’s consider the further implications of this statement. He wants to close down a strip club because in part he thinks that the women – when not stripping – are not wearing enough clothes. Again, perhaps he should visit one of the pubs in Islington this summer. I am sure he will find much ammunition to have them all closed down on that premise. In any case, his comments are not far off those of the Canadian police officer who prompted the slut walks a few years back. Why should a councillor be able to proscribe how a woman dresses?

Councillor Converey claims that closing the sex cinemas down is common sense. Put another way, endangering the lives of people who are causing no harm is common sense. Perhaps we should do away with Health and Safety all together? Would that be common sense?

His other claims are:

  • Strip clubs have an ‘adverse effect on community safety’. Really? How so? He cites no evidence. Perhaps that is because there really isn’t any?

  • It is unacceptable to have such clubs near schools? This is, of course, a nonsense. For a start most do not operate during school hours, then there is the fact that people under 18 years of age are not allowed in, and finally there is no evidence to suggest that having a strip club or an adult cinema near a school or church has any impact on the lives of local schoolchildren. This is nothing but a rather pathetic attempt to conflate sexual freedom with paedophilia. This sort of false association seeks to polarise moderate people who, rightly, abhor anything that may corrupt those who are under the age of consent. It is not akin to paedophilia, however, and to suggest that it is is itself morally bankrupt.

  • That he is taking the actions he is taking in support of Christian and Islamic voters in his area – to me that is appalling, as it either implies that those who do not subscribe to an Abrahamic religion have fewer morals and fewer rights or that subscribers to Abrahamic religions are a significant vote and should, therefore, be pandered to (much the same thing, really).

Lest anyone be in any doubt about Islington’s policy, he states it clearly in his letter: ‘It is the policy of LB Islington to reduce to zero the number of establishments licensed for sex.’ Note, he does not identify a single type of venue. As we have seen, the targets are sex cinemas and strip clubs so far, but that is just the beginning. We can expect swingers clubs and fetish venues to be next on the list.

Mr Convery further claims that ‘The simple fact is that, over the last few years, Kings Cross has changed considerably – and for the

better. Scores of new businesses and hundreds of new jobs have arrived in the area.’ This, he cites as a reason to close down legitimate businesses that already operate in the area, but those new businesses that he cites have not been deterred from moving in to the area in spite of there being sex cinemas, strip clubs, and other sex entertainment venues there. That in itself rather puts the lie to his claim.

So far this article has concentrated on Islington, but there is more. Spelthorne Borough Council has ordered the closure of Kestral Hydro, a nudist club in Stanwell Moor, near Heathrow, saying that a nudist club is not appropriate use of green belt land as it urbanises it. Does this mean that people can only strip in the city? Oh, no, Islington have decided that’s not allowed. Not all Spethorne councillors agree with the main policy. Stanwell North councillor Spencer Taylor has said: ‘There have been no objections from residents and green belt can also be used for recreational purposes.’ Given this, it seems odd that the council should try to close a club that is not harming any one and about which there have been no complaints in the ten years it has been operating.

So, what can you do?

  • On 2 June 2014, an appeal will be heard at the Highbury Magistrates Court for Oscar’s cinema. Simply showing up and sitting on the side in support of the plaintiff (the cinema owner, Goerge Papworth) will, if nothing else, send a message to Islington and the court that closing down all sex based establishments is not supported by all.

  • Write to councillor Convery at paul@convery.org.uk and tell him that you do not support his actions.

  • Sign the petition to save the naturist resort Kestral Hydro near Heathrow. The petition can be found here.

Note, the author of this post is aware of other moves to shut down swinger’s clubs, fetish clubs, gay bars, and sex cinemas. Can it be long before hard won freedoms are also under threats, such as the right for men and women to enjoy anal sex and the right for same-sex couples to be treated as equals?

It’s hard to stand up and be counted because – even in this day-and-age – you can lose your job for being open about your sexuality, but if people do feel that they can be object then please do take one of the above actions.

Wired Tears Down ATVOD’s Most Recent Report

In an article published over at Wired.co.uk, ATVOD’s latest statistics are torn to shreds as Liat Clark takes a look at ‘why we’re afraid of Internet porn‘.

Clark reminds us all that hardcore pornography is banned on TV and surmises that its no surprise we turn to the internet for our hardcore fix.

the figure that is meant to surprise you: “At least 44,000 primary school children accessed an adult website in one month alone,” screamed Atvod

Clark explains that the 44,000 figure is being used by ATVOD as a means to justify charging content providers a fee, forcing them into compliance or banning their service from operating entirely.

What Atvod didn’t tell you is that the survey it based this argument on classed Ann Summers as “adult content” and came with this caveat from Nielsen, the marketing agency behind it: “The sample size for 6-11 year-olds on the panel is very low. Figures for this age range are still reported, but they are always issued with a ‘health warning’ as being potentially too unstable to accurately project audience size.”

Clark hits on an important point that has been played down significantly in the recent mainstream news coverage by all the major news outlets.

ATVOD was able to achieve headline exposure over the last couple of weeks due to the distortion their press release created. Sure ATVOD’s report carries caveats in relation to the data but their press releases and subsequent news appearances did not.

To my mind this is blatant misrepresentation of their facts. Naturally I don’t dispute that children access online pornography and I don’t dispute that in some cases it’s easily accessed by them.

However I fundamentally believe we are heading in the wrong direction, Government regulation is not the answer.  How can the Government or ATVOD for that matter regulate an industry and technology they don’t understand? Instead of legislating against us they should be talking to us and seeking to learn from us on how better to ensure children or vulnerable people are not exposed to adult content online.

why, when we can watch Rihanna simulate sex with the floor wearing a thong and nipple tassels (it’s a skill), and visceral amputations in game trailers, do we consider real sex to be the most harmful thing on the internet today that is not illegal.

The Wired article continues to ask similar questions to those that I put to the ATVOD CEO, Pete Johnson, in June 2013.

Good Cop s1 Cast 002

I asked Johnson why does he consider sexual imagery more likely to morally deprave a child than the violence shown on TV (The Good Cop was my example at the time which featured the graphic beating of a Police Officer) and video games such as GTA.

His response was simply that he believes there is “something inherently damaging to a child in sexual material.” Needless to say he didn’t share my view and it was clear that regardless of whether ATVOD’s remit is to drive porn out of the UK or not, their CEO is firmly against it. It makes me believe that any kind of communication with ATVOD is likely to only be one way.

You may recall that literally the following day after episode one of the Good Cop aired with the graphic murder of a Police Officer, In Manchester two Police Women were called out to a house, it became clear they were being lured into a trip where the were shot and killed in a grenade attack.

There was not a single shot of sex in the entire series just an episode after episode of bloody violence. The Good Cop aired at 9PM on terrestrial TV.

Clark points out that Johnson himself says evidence for harm will always be inconclusive given the ethical and moral obstacles to collecting it – ie having to expose minors to prolonged periods of adult content for research purposes. Which rightly is a route completely closed off.

“reasonable people must make reasonable judgements based on the balance of probabilities and cannot rely on conclusive proof”

My point would be, given my meetings and e-mail communication with ATVOD they are not able to be reasonable. Johnson is against the availability of pornography which I, and others, consider is an unreasonable starting point.

The recent clampdown seems to be triggered by recent murders, abductions and rapes that have been heavily reported in the media with further pressure being applied to the Government from the Parents of victims such as Paul Jones, April Jones’s father, who has taken to campaigning for what seems to be the complete eradication of adult entertainment.

Mark Bridger, one of the men convicted of the abduction and murder of April Jones, a five-year-old girl, was also found to have been in possession of images of child abuse. The media seem to associate images of child abuse as adult content and pornography – they are not, they are illegal images depicting child abuse and have no place in the adult entertainment industry.

Such images also very clearly appeal to a different and much smaller audience so it is a mus-representation to present them as anything but images depicting child abuse. If anything calling it child porn only serves to soften what they actually are.

It seems to be that finding sexual images of children or in fact any kind of adult content – legal or otherwise –  on an individual’s computer, even during a search for a minor offense (on your phone for example) is enough for the person in possession to be deemed a monster in the eyes of the media and then society but also, much more worryingly, such a discovery can be allowed to be accepted as an indictment of an entire industry.

We never hear the reports of how many million of people who regularly consume pornography yet somehow don’t turn into this raging, foaming at the mouth, sex crazed monster like something out of a sexploitation film in the 80’s.

The wired article is worth checking out, there is a lot of info in there including ‘a history of fear’ and a summary of our ‘cultural relationship’ with pornography.

UK Censors Approve Unrealistic Rape Porn

David Austin, assistant director of the British Board of Film Classification and one Britain’s most senior censors, has suggested that scenes of sexual imagery that bear no relation to reality will not be blocked under Clause 16 of the new Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is currently passing through parliament.

Austin told a Parliamentary Bill Committee: “There are examples of sexually violent material that are not caught by the Bill. There are a number of areas of violent and abusive pornography that are not caught.

“Clause 16 clearly talks in terms of realistic and explicit depiction of rape in pornography. We deal with quite a large number of pornographic works every year and have done for many years. Some of these feature clearly fictional depictions of rape and other sexual violence in which participants are clearly actors, acting to a script.

“These works may include scenes of relentless aggressive abuse, threats of physical violence with weapons and forced acts of sex.”

However Austin did reveal that the Government may amend some of the explanatory notes defining their view on what realism’ is in the context of Clause 16.

cameron-in-parliament

If the bill is enacted, Clause 16 will amend the extreme pornography offence currently contained within the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act of 2008, to cover the possession of scenes of “non-consensual sexual penetration”.

Meaning a prison sentence of up to three years and/or a fine for anyone caught with such images or video in their possession.

Sainsburys Forced To Notify with ATVOD as a Service Provider!

Sainsbury’s, the UK supermarket chain, has been forced into compliance with ATVOD rules and regulations in relation to Video On Demand content.

In a determination notice (PDF) published on ATVOD’s web site, ATVOD claim that Sainsbury’s entertainment pages satisfies the criteria by which ATVOD define an on demand provider service or ODPS.

Having applied the statutory criteria to the Service, we wrote to the Service Provider on 10thDecember 2013 stating that we had come to a preliminary view that the Service was an ODPS in respect of which a notification has not been given and in respect of which a fee has not been paid, and that our preliminary view was that the Service Provider was in contravention of sections 368BA (Requirement to notify an ODPS) and 368D(3)(za) (Requirement to pay a fee) of the Act. Video capture evidence of the service at the time of ATVOD’s initial investigation is set out in ANNEX 1.

Sainsbury’s initially appealed ATVOD’s preliminary view.

As discussed our view is still that we are not a “TV-like” service and therefore we do not need an ATVOD licence. We are a retailer that operates a transactional a la carte service that allows customers to browse for and then either buy or rent a
digital copy of a movie.

However eventually, Sainsbury’s were forced to concede, pay up and notify.

ATVOD acknowledges that the Service has been notified to ATVOD following the issue of ATVOD’s Preliminary View on 10 December 2013 and that this brought the service into compliance with Rule 1 on 13 January 2014. However, the action taken by the Service Provider following receipt of ATVOD’s preliminary view does not alter the facts relating to the Service as it existed on 2 December 2013.