Thought Crimes AKA Violent Porn legislation

By Denny on Mon 9 Oct 2006 at 20:35

So today is 'blogging for Backlash' day*. Backlash are the campaigning organisation trying to inject some sanity into the debate about the proposed violent porn legislation. The proposed legislation is objectionable on three main grounds, as far as I can see...

Firstly, it's legislating about consensual activities between adults. That's something I generally object to whether it's to do with kinky sex, euthanasia and suicide legislation, drugs, or any number of other things where the state is trying to protect people from themselves, rather than from other people.

Secondly, the legislation is phrased in that horribly vague opinion-based way that makes anyone experienced with campaigning for civil rights cringe as soon as they see it. If a law is not absolutely 100% clearly defined, then it will at some point be open to being mis-interpreted and re-interpeted by whoever has the best lawyer... and once that's happened, the way English law works means that it will be much harder for the next person to get a fair hearing. Take this phrase for example - the legislation aims 'only' to cover images of activities that 'appear to be life threatening or are likely to result in serious, disabling injury'. In whose opinion? Will the people being asked to decide this have any practical experience of BDSM? Particularly, of BDSM that has gone right? Or will they be the police and doctors who almost invariably are only aware of BDSM when it goes quite seriously wrong? These people's opinions, their honest misunderstanding, could put someone in jail for quite a few years, just for taking pictures of their boyfriend hogtied and gagged ('He could have choked to death'), or something equally stupid.

Thirdly, the law as currently proposed does not care about consent or authenticity for most of the activities it wants to ban images of. This means that if a bunch of actors and make-up artists convincingly fake up some necrophilia porn - rather than going out and digging up poor old Aunty May and getting the digicam out - it makes no difference... the person who downloads the image (and remember, viewing a webpage the image is on counts as 'downloading it' under UK law) could go to jail for a significant amount of time.

Finally, the aim of this legislation is not to stop the activities happening. As far as I'm aware, there is existing legislation to deal with anyone commiting any of the activities which they plan to ban images of. That's not what they need this legislation for, and it's not what this legislation addresses. This legislation is intended to put people in jail for looking at pictures. That doesn't seem much short of a Thought Crime to me.

"It is not for the State to tell people that they cannot choose a different lifestyle, for example in issues to do with sexuality." -- Tony Blair, September 2006

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