Category Archives: Politics

Video: Wiley, Wokeness and Antisemitism

In this video, I look at the recent antisemitic social media meltdown by grime artist Wiley, and discuss the rise of racist black nationalism.

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On Black Lives, and Who Really Believes they Matter

This article was originally a post on my Facebook page, Sex & Censorship.

A few days ago, an illegal street rave was held in Harlesden, West London, attracting 500 people. The police turned up and were attacked. 11 officers were injured.

Following that rave, a Twitter war broke out between gangs from two neighbouring areas, Church End and Stonebridge (areas I know well – they were within the intake area for my school, and I have relatives living nearby).

Offended by a tweet, some Stonebridge people drove down the road and shot 4 people in Church End, apparently at random: two men, a woman, and her two year old child. One of the men who was shot is the relative of a friend of mine. The woman and toddler are seriously injured. The child was hit in the head, and is gravely ill. Black families in London are shattered, yet again.

Meanwhile, a movement calling itself Black Lives Matter is resurgent in London, following the killing of a black man, George Floyd, several thousand miles away. Although I know or follow many people who have posted endlessly about this killing, not one of them mentioned the Harlesden incident. Nor do they mention any of the other murders that regularly occur in black London communities.

The job of actually trying to save black lives is left to the Metropolitan Police. While the activists constantly show zero interest in the violent deaths of black Londoners, they’re ultra-quick to attack the people who are trying to find the killers, and put an end to this epidemic of violence.

And here you have the ultimate contradiction: the activists who claim to believe that black lives matter, and engage in constant virtue-signalling, yet show no discernable interest in the violence plaguing black communities; and the “institutionally racist” police, who have to face the reality of policing London’s most violent communities, and are accused of racism (by middle class left-wing activists from outside the area) whenever they try to take knives and guns off the streets.

The police have a Catch 22: ignore the violence in poor communities (and be accused of racist neglect when the murder rate rises) or monitor the gangs and their members (and be accused of racism for using stop and search against black youths).

When black lives really do begin to matter to the British middle classes, the student activists will talk as much about London gang violence as they do about policing. Until that happens, you can assume they neither understand the problems faced by London’s poorest communities, nor care.

Online Porn Debate at Cambridge Union

This Thursday 14th May, I was involved in a debate at Cambridge Union: This House Regrets Pornography. Of course, due to lockdown, it actually took place live online. There were three speakers on each side. I appeared along with US ex-pornstar and activist Ela Darling, and British performer Epiphany Jones.

The adult industry journal XBIZ carries a report of the debate, and the video itself can be seen at YouTube. The video starts with an 8 minute intro, then launches into the debate. My contribution begins about 36:44.

I take part in these debates because I passionately believe in individual freedom and am concerned about the erosion of civil liberties. If you’d like to support my work against censorship and repression, you can become a patron for $1 per month (and get goodies).

Book Burning Updates

Although Coronavirus is (rightly) taking up plenty of attention right now, the war on sexual freedom and free speech is trundling along in the background. Here are a few things that have happened in the past couple of weeks:

Woody Allen Cancelled

Mob-led censorship claimed a new victim last week when Film maker Woody Allen had the publication of his autobiography cancelled by his publisher Hachette, after staff walked out. Although Hachette had been planning to publish, it revoked the deal and returned the rights for the book to its author. Allen was accused of sexual abuse in the 1990s, but was investigated and cleared. The allegations came amidst a bitter campaign against him by his ex-partner, Mia Farrow. It appears that Allen has become the latest victim of the attack on due process that has arisen in the wake of the #MeToo campaign.

Anti-Kink Bill Returns to Parliament

The Labour MP (and vociferous campaigner against porn and prostitution) Harriet Harman is pushing the government to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill so that “rough sex” defences for injury and murder are outlawed. Although this may sound reasonable, in reality there is no “rough sex” defence: men are sent to prison for murder if there is evidence of murder, regardless of which defence they use. The amendment (which has been campaigned for by anti-sex radical feminist group We Can’t Consent To This, with help from the Guardian) is actually written to outlaw all rough / kinky sex, even for those who consent. (I wrote a more detailed explanation here). Small numbers of killings (for which men have been rightly sent to prison) are being used to create a moral panic that would make kinky sex illegal. This would particularly affect sex workers and people involved in the BDSM scene. The danger is (as so often happens with anti-sex laws) that MPs will vote for the law based on a mistaken belief it is designed to protect women from being killed.

Police are Investigating Thousands of Teenagers for Sexting

Way back in 2014, I wrote about the criminalisation of teenagers for sharing naked images of themselves. Recently published statistics have revealed the extent of police interference in teenage sexuality. Over 6,000 children under 14 have been investigated by police for “sexting”. No doubt aware that they are under surveillance, teens have adapted their language to prevent The (Dirty Old) Man spying on their sex chat. It seems that teens are sensibly using code words: for example, girls use “peri-peri” to refer to a well-hung male, and “coleslaw” to mean a bit on the the side. The story also revealed that girls talk about sex more than boys, overturning long-held stereotypes about sexuality.

Professor Fired After Online Misinformation Campaign

Bo Winegard, a professor at a small US college, was fired after being targeted by left-wing websites and students. There appeared to be little solid basis for the action, but he had been accused – with no apparent basis – of advocating “pseudoscience employed by eugenicists”. As in Woody Allen’s case, the facts appear to matter less than the power of the mob. Winegard’s account of events can be read at Quillette.

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The Porn Block Failed. Now the Next Ofcom Censorship Bandwagon Begins

This week, we learned that Ofcom is to be given censorship powers over social media and other web sites. This is merely the latest attempt by the regulator/censor to take control of online content.

For some years, this blog has covered attempts by the British state to censor the Internet. The original cover story for implementing this was an age verification system to ‘protect children from porn’. While this sounded reasonable on the surface, this idea required the state to be given the power to block websites that did not comply to the rules. And this required the creation of a state Internet censor with broad powers to block content. After spending more than a decade pursuing this goal, the government pulled the plug on the whole scheme last October; I explained the decision and the background here. In a later twist, the age verification industry announced last month that it is suing the government for cancelling the plans.

Behind the scenes, Ofcom has been lobbying hard. While Ofcom combines many roles and powers over the media and communications, of greatest concern (to me, at least) is its role as television censor. Not only does the regulator enforce tight controls over content broadcast in the UK, but it actually writes its own censorship rules. This effectively gives Ofcom the power to write British law without consulting Parliament, which is an astonishing amount of power for an unelected body to hold. And not only does Ofcom get to decide what is ‘illegal’, but it can issue huge fines to anyone who breaches its ‘laws’. Ofcom is thus judge, jury and executioner.

Broadcasters can be fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for breaching the Ofcom censorship code. Naturally, the end result is that British broadcasters self-censor in order to avoid the risk of being fined. The regime disproportionately affects smaller broadcasters, many of whom could barely afford a fine at this level.

Unsurprisingly, Ofcom’s censorship power is seen by many as a threat to civil liberties. Even David Cameron, in 2009 before he became Prime Minister, promised to cut Ofcom’s powers, and in particular to remove its undemocratic ability to write policy. Once he had been elected, however, his plans sank without trace.

The new announcement, in which Ofcom was officially put in charge of regulating the Internet, was widely expected. Few anti-censorship campaigners had believed that October’s announcement was a full-scale victory for free speech. The regulator will be given the power to fine sites that fail to deal adequately with two types of content: illegal and “harmful”. In the case of illegal content, Ofcom will check that sites act quickly to take down content which is criminalised, from terrorist propaganda to child abuse imagery.

Harmful content is harder to define, because it refers to content that is legal to publish, but might breach sites’ own standards. There is a long list of content categories potentially considered harmful, including sexual, nude or erotic content, violent content, information related to self-harm or suicide, and of course, the ethereal and ever-expanding category of “hate speech”.

Deciding what is harmful is very much a subjective decision, and will vary from site to site. Readers might remember the hilarity that ensued when – encouraged by the government – many ISPs rolled out parental control filters in 2013. The filters blocked all sorts of sites that did not appear to be in any way harmful, from the Liberal Democrats’ LGBT site to this blog. I still often receive messages complaining that Sex & Censorship is inaccessible from some places. This eventually mattered little, as most broadband customers simply switched their filters off anyway.

While Facebook may have the resources to police its user-generated content, most sites do not. Any site that accepts comments (for example, this one, as well as most news services), or hosts a forum, will likely be covered by the legislation. It is unclear, in any detail, who might be affected, and how. But one things is certain: Ofcom censorship of the Internet is set to become a reality.

Just as with the now-defunct Porn Block, we are at risk of being bounced into disproportionate and draconian action based on poorly-defined ‘harms’ and moral panics. Although it is easy to be swept up by carefully-orchestrated panics over hate speech, self-harm, bullying and other important issues, it is important that we do not allow the state to use these concerns to encroach on free speech.

Antisemitism and Black Nationalism

Recently, there has been a disturbing rise in antisemitic incidents emanating from certain black nationalist groups, especially the Black Hebrew Israelites. These have included assaults in London, and the shooting of three people at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey. My latest article, at Areo Magazine, looks at the history of these movements, and wonders whether the anti-racist left is capable of challenging such ideologies.