31 August 2006

Britain Bans Violent Pornography

Awesome. Are you paying attention, Vic Toews? If not, I can send it again. Excellent news for those of us who value women's lives over the supposed rights of pornographers and masochists to exploit them.

Three years in prison for possession of violent pornography is now the law of the land.

The prosecutors in this case established a clear causal link between the murderer's possession & consumption of violent pornography and the murder, something which many have been arguing for a very long time now.

Trial jurors had been told of his obsession with strangulation and how he looked at internet sites connected with the fetish.
It is already a crime to make or publish such images but proposed legislation will outlaw possession of images such as "material featuring violence that is, or appears to be, life-threatening or is likely to result in serious and disabling injury".

This is a good day for women's desires to have their rights to be treated as equal human beings fulfilled. It's only a first step, and the need for a definition of "violent pornography" is still required, but it's much better than nothing.


Jason Bo Green said...

I didn't know such a thing was ever legal in the first place.....

RGM said...

Yeah it turns out that making and distributing was illegal, but possession was tabula rasa territory so they closed the loophole.

budgie said...

"Three years in prison for possession of violent pornography is now the law of the land."

Actually it is NOT the law of the land yet. It hasn't even been presented to Parliament for discussion yet.

Probably not worth getting into discussion with you regarding this matter, because you seem pretty set in your opinion that it is worth making criminals and sex offenders out of previously innocent people, just because they happen to have a picture on their computer, form their own personal viewing of their consensual kinky sex where all safety precuations have been taken.

And the justification? One young lady has tragically died over the past five years at the hands of someone who watched violent pornography. Even the Governement admits there is no hard evidence to link the viewing of violent pornography with violent criminal acts, but what the hell, the new law, if it is passed will please the moral majority and get them votes.

Over 4 million people in the UK practice BDSM as part of their private sex lives. A large percentage of these people will have images on their computer of consensual BDSM play which "appears" to be violent. These people are in danger of being labelled sex offenders and being imprisoned for up to 3 years. They are all someone's son or daughter, mother or father, or friend. This new law would probably adversely affect someone you love.

The problem is that the new law doesn't differentiate between images from violent pornographic websites and people's own personal memento's of their own consensual kinky sex which has been acted out with all safety precautions taken.

They are all tarred with the same brush and anyone owning such a picture will be subject to the same sort of sentence (3 yrs and a place on the sex offenders register) as someone who molests a child.

Oh, and making and distributing the type of image that these proposals target was and is NOT illegal, the defintions of material covered by the Obscene Publications Act and the current proposals are quite different.

RGM said...

Even less "worth getting into discussion" with you on this matter, seeing as you're someone who won't let a little thing like the DEATH OF A HUMAN BEING get in his way of his supposed right to masturbate and get off on the exploitation, degradation, and humiliation of women. Consider for a moment just how callous your statement regarding the "justification" for the government taking action (btw, way to haggle over a semantic in your intro) is. Your flippant dismissal of it as appeasement of the "moral majority" (btw why is that such an epithet among those who, by inference, would rather fall into the "immoral minority"?) is no less despicable; heaven forbid that the government take action that would make mothers feel more at ease about the safety of their daughters by protecting them from people that would do them harm.

That mass quantities of people are participating in violence against women and themselves does not make it right. Believe it or not, large numbers of people can be completely wrong on a subject (i.e. millions of people have bought Paris Hilton's CD thinking that it's good music). And again, you're inflating the value of that activity over human life. 4 million people involved in BDSM is obviously more important to you in your considerations on pornography than the life of even one woman.

Honest to goodness, I am truly not interested in the opinions of people like you, who obviously don't care one whit about the people who are involved and systemically harmed in the making of your masturbatory fantasies. You, as a defender of pornography, are the kind of person that absolutely sickens me because you revel in your ignorance and use it as an excuse to throw your hatred at people who have the audacity to tell you that what you're doing is wrong and perpetuates abuse against women.

npanth said...

The difficulty with the "Sexual Violence" clause of this law is that it can never be administered evenly. Texas had a similar law prohibiting sodomy which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court. the court ruled that the intrusion into personal lives violated privacy rights.

Pornography can only act as one influence among many to a sociopath. The research is clear that extreme personalities are created through a complex series of events, usually dating back to childhood, not simply through masterbation.
Drawing a causal link where only correlation exists is a bit of a stretch.

Each person that you meet in your life has his or her own sexual fantasy. Each is unique, and ranges from banal to the Edge and beyond. Outlawing the expression of fantasies leads to repression, which is one of the major influences on anti-social behavior. I would submit to you that this law, if inforced, could very well lead to more crimes, not less.

Law enforcement needs other tools to track sexual criminals. IMHO

Rudie said...

Thank you for your most thought provoking blog Richard. Sadly I managed to close your piece on the pdf file before I had time to read it all and it doesn't seem to want to open for me again. Is there anywhere on the site that I can read it in full?

This is a very emotive subject for people. For me too. I am a woman who is 100% against the abuse of any individual, whether that be violent, mental or emotional abuse and that cuts right across the great gender divide and I also feel that you are 100% right when you say:

'the need for a definition of "violent pornography" is still required'

I'm not sure what the laws are doing in Canada, but you did post the BBC article so just to let you know, on this side of the pond they haven't even got so far as a first draft of the bill, never mind it having been passed as law. It is still to blossom and there is much to be refined. Sadly Censorship of this nature will do little to stop genuinely violent abuse from happening to women wherever they are in the world and this is indeed a global issue. It won't help because it is not really aimed at catching those people who are committing these abusive crimes. What we have here is something that will be wasted expenditure when there are better ways to use the resourses in helping vulnerable women take action to protect themselves, even if it's just being able to ask some one for help. As it stands this law will give the unscrupulous abusive pornographers even greater leverage to tell their victims that they've been involved in something illegal and that if they tell anyone they will be locked up too.

There are some pretty horrific images out there. I see them on satellite when I watch the news, CSI or a really spooky horror film. No, seriously though I would like to see the real abusers locked up. Sadly this proposed bill will do little to facilitate that.

The way this proposed bill is currently is laid out, it is a catch net that will imprison a disproportionate number of currently law-abiding citizens to each genuine abuser that is stopped. This is intolerable 'justice' in any civilised society. 'We locked him up because we thought he looked like he might just possibly commit a crime, yer Honour!’. You wouldn't get a conviction on that premise anywhere. The crime has to have been committed to get a conviction. Justice at the 'he looked like he might' level is so Kafkaesque it doesn't bear thinking about.

As a woman it pains me to say this is not a good day for women's desires to have their rights to be treated as equal human beings fulfilled. It is a day when I am being fobbed off with a placebo law that will not protect me from abusive violence along with some proposals that are patronising to say the very least.

Yes, we do need to define what abusive, violent pornography actually means, bin this proposal and act to prosecute the real criminals out there, wherever they are hiding in the world.

Regards .. Rudie x

RGM said...

Thanks to both of you for dropping by and commenting. Regarding the pdf file, best way to get it is to right-click the link and hit "Save Target As..." because for whatever reason the direct link doesn't always work.

Npanth, the only concern I have with your post is your classification of violent pornography as "the expression of fantasies." I could just be reading you wrong, but if that is your intention, it is a very dangerous position you put yourself in, as there are many ways to express one's fantasies that do not involve objectifying real women and looking at only their component parts instead of them as actual people. It's also possible that you're correct, and crimes will go up as a consequence of new laws and stringent enforcement. It almost goes without saying, as where there was once a void, there will now be punishments. The best way to avoid becoming one of those new statistics is to simply avoid dangerous and violent pornography and find less exploitative ways to "express your fantasies."

Rudie, you raise a very good point when you say that the proposed law doesn't go after the people who are actually committing the abuse. It does, however, target those who consume the abuse, and if the laws are strong enough it is possible that they may have a deterrent effect and cause men to think twice before downloading violent porn. Ultimately, the only way that porn will disappear is if men's demand for readily available "sex" on demand drastically decreases. The current estimates figure that the porn industry is a $12+ billion-a-year enterprise. That means that men are consuming porn by the truckload, and in order to keep pace with demand, pimps, pornographers, and other scum of the earth types are continually searching for new women to exploit and ever-more-dangerous ways to degrade and humiliate them. If you've got the time, check out Robert Jensen's 2004 article entitled "A Cruel Edge." It can be found here: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/pornography&cruelty.htm Not only is there more of it, but it's getting progressively worse.

I believe that the best means to end male usage and dependency on pornography is not censorship, but education. That's why I regard the actions of the British Government as but a step in the right direction. There's a recognition of a growing problem, they just need to develop a coherent and workable strategy to counter it. If more men (and women too, because they are in an excellent position to raise awareness and speak out against the great misogynist myth that "boys will be boys" and draw a hard line in the sand regarding the porn usage of their S.O.'s) were really aware of the violence that is involved not only in the porn itself, but the factors that lead to women being preyed upon to participate in their own exploitation and, by extension, that of all women, they will be able to rationalize that their consumption will only aid and abet those who would prey upon their sisters, daughters, and friends. That's why I speak out about it, and why there is a strong and vibrant community dedicated to raising further awareness (the Anti-Porn Activist Network being a leading force, as is a website like Genderberg).

Rudie said...

"It does, however, target those who consume the abuse, and if the laws are strong enough it is possible that they may have a deterrent effect and cause men to think twice before downloading violent porn. Ultimately, the only way that porn will disappear is if men's demand for readily available "sex" on demand drastically decreases."

Oh please Richard, don't buy into that old chestnut.

The British government also said:

“Accessing extreme pornographic images, particularly on paid-for sites, fuels the demand/supply/demand cycle. We believe that an offence of possession of a limited category of extreme adult material, may help to break this cycle.”

The above statements are chopped logic and I’m afraid, have no basis in fact.

Supply is governed by demand. Demand is not governed by supply. What is governed by supply is price.

Let us take a leaf out of Cecil Rhodes book and the De Beers Central Selling Organisation which maintained high prices for its’ diamonds by limiting supplies through that market. Did fewer diamonds make people want them less?

If the price is falsely inflated due to scarcity value it will make the production of extreme pornography an attractive proposition for the unscrupulous, those who have no concern with legality and who will hold little or no regard for the well being of the women appearing in their pornographic productions.

Thank you for pointing me to Robert Jensen’s work. I have read some of his stuff before and find it fascinating that he said:

If the question about the connection between pornography and violence is constructed simplistically -- "Does pornography cause rape?" -- the answer is clearly no. Since some men who use pornography don't rape, and some men who rape don't use pornography, pornography is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for rape. There is no way to make a convincing claim that pornography is, as the lawyers say, an "if not but for" cause -- "if not but for the use of pornography, this man would not have raped."

This Legislation purports to stop such crimes through censorship. Obviously the images in question do not cause men to rape. Therefore censorship of this nature is a useless step to take and is a way of fobbing off the British public with a lie to say that it will reduce violent crimes against women, instead of doing something real to protect us.

"The current estimates figure that the porn industry is a $12+ billion-a-year enterprise. That means that men are consuming porn by the truckload"

Do you really see the consumption of pornography as the sole domain of men? I understand that it is actually becoming a popular medium amongst women too.

"and in order to keep pace with demand, pimps, pornographers, and other scum of the earth types are continually searching for new women to exploit and ever-more-dangerous ways to degrade and humiliate them."

Abuse within the industry is a different matter altogether and as you have already agreed, this proposed legislation does not and cannot tackle such issues when you also take into account that prohibition merely raises the price of a product.

When we start making a crime of looking at something, where does it stop? What will be next? Banned booklists because some one in power does not like what they have to say? Now that is a scary thought!

This proposed bill as it stands, is a waste of the taxpayer’s money. My money. It will do nothing to protect me, nor any of my friends and should be scrapped in favour of an entirely different approach to stamping out violent abuse.

Regards .. Rudie x

RGM said...

I'm having a problem with something you said in response to what I said.

"Supply is governed by demand. Demand is not governed by supply."

How exactly is that different from my saying "the only way that porn will disappear is if men's demand for readily available "sex" on demand drastically decreases." I'm quite clearly saying that if men's (and it is still the primary consumption of men; why do you think women are buying into it now? To appease the porn-lover in their lives. They've been worn down by the Hefner argument that it's "empowering" to like porn or even make it too. Which is total bullshit. Just because women are participating in their own exploitation doesn't make it any less repugnant) demand for porn goes down, so too will supply. There's no inconsistency there and there's no "old chestnut" that I'm buying. You're completely twisting my argument to fit your views, and that's intellectually dishonest. Either that, or you just read me wrong. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt and opt for the latter. Still, I am concerned by the lengths you're going to in order to avoid condemning the porn industry.

I also find your "slippery slope" argument to be weak and invalid, based on a hypothetical fear and ignoring the actual reality. I wil reiterate something I've said many times, including my previous comment: this is not a debate about censorship, it is about men's systemic cruelty to women and the failure to treat them as equal human beings. The women who are now consuming porn are contributing to that, and no less deserving of opprobrium for their ignorant actions that allow people such as yourself and porn defenders to say, "Hey women are doing it too." Of course they tend to add, "Don't be an uptight prude, it's cool, it's not just for men anymore!"

I don't know about over there, but here in Canada, the mere possession of child pornography is deemed harmful to children and has been held up by the Supreme Court of Canada as sufficient grounds to maintain a ban on child pornography, using section 1 of the Charter of Rights to trump pornographers’ supposed “rights” under section 2(b). There is no slippery slope going on; potential pedophiles are not imprisoned for having thoughts about raping a child and there are still copious amounts of child porn available, but those who progress to the logical next step of child pornography possession and rape a child are dealt with by the legal system. My question is that while we are absolutely correct to protect the most vulnerable in our society, why do we stop protecting them the minute they turn 18?

The Jensen article is but one argument in a sea of them. Dr. Diana Russell's research has found that the causal link between excessive porn usage and rape to be stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer. Remember, not every smoker gets lung cancer, and not all lung cancer victims are smokers. I don't know what the numbers are, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority of rapists have seen at least a few porn movies that pumped up their sense of entitlement that they can do the same.

I hope that our differences here are not philosophical and we're merely disagreeing on the best method of eradicating this problem. I get the strong sense that you want real action taken to protect you and countless other women, so why are you raising objections to what is, as I have said all along, but a step in the right direction? Acknowledging the problem is a first step, and the British government's plan is probably not optimal, but if it gets abandoned it's back to square one again, as opposed to having a foot in the door.

Rudie said...

Let's be clear about this Richard, I condemn exploitation and abuse whether it's in the pornography industry or elsewhere in our global society. The abuse of children is abhorrent and reprehensible. Children are by definition unable consent to acts or photographs of a sexual nature and I applaud the prosecution of any who would exploit them in such a way.

You've said:
"I'm having a problem with something you said in response to what I said. - Supply is governed by demand. Demand is not governed by supply."

I see the misunderstanding about supply and demand. Look closely, it's the old shell and pea trick problem, when you think you can see it, it slips off in another direction. Even the advocators of these proposals have missed it. It comes down to simple economics at the end of the day.

The De Beers analogy still holds true, but let’s look at it in simplified terms.

· Create law which acts as a deterrent to the mainly law abiding in our society. Those who just like to look sometimes.

· The number of paying customers goes down, but the obsessives and die hards remain.

· The market goes underground and the price goes up accordingly to make up the shortfall

· True, there are fewer customers but they are each paying more for the material they consume

· Ergo the 'market' is not in fact damaged and the cycle goes on.

I know you have your heart set on this legislation as the answer Richard, but anyone with half a brain can see that these proposals as they stand will not tackle the problem of exploitation and abuse. It is a con to shut the anti porn lobby up and all it will do is be a further drain on an already stretched public purse with little or no effect on those who would exploit and commit violent abuse upon women.

Whatever my feelings are about pornography, we must be realistic. The British government are not going to ban the pornography industry. They have too much in lost revenue at stake. With the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) making around a thousand pounds for each R18 film they certificate and with 15 having been passed since 04/09/06, that is around fifteen thousand pounds in just one week. Let's also not forget the hundreds of thousands in revenue from sex shop licences and taxation from these legitimised businesses.

You want to talk about intellectual dishonesty? They tell us that it is shameful whilst all the time they are raking it in from this industry.

I for one will not be conned nor shut up. These proposals do not offer "a foot in the door". They are an expensive placebo to make us think that the Government are doing something, when in actual fact they will do nothing to curb abusive violence. I do not condone such a waste of money when it could be used in much more effective ways and anyone with an ounce of common sense will continue to seek its rejection in favour of legislation that will tackle the real problem.

Rgards .. Rudie x

RGM said...

No, I do not have my heart set on this legislation as the answer, and that you would say that and then pick up on my "foot in the door" comment just leaves me baffled. Foot in the door does not equal answer. It's a start, nothing more. Remember, I'm on the other side of the Atlantic, so I don't have any stake in the legislation other than highlighting that it is a good thing that governments are taking notice of this problem and trying to deal with it. It's not perfect, there's no such thing as a perfect law, but to categorize it as merely a placebo undermines their efforts. Why not speak to *them* in a constructive fashion about the issue instead of slagging a Canadian blogger who cares about women's rights and security?

People who "look sometimes" are on the same plane as those who "look all the time"; they're just as responsible for creating demand because even though they may be consuming fewer exploited women they're still consuming exploited women.

I'm also willing to wager that the mother of the young woman who was murdered by her rapist sees this as far more than just a placebo. It also goes to show that individuals can make a difference in the world around them. Instead of haggling over details, she's out doing something to positively affect the world around her so that other mothers don't have to suffer the trauma of losing their daughters, as she did. That's not a con, that's not a placebo, that's real action.

npanth said...

I think my girlfriend might disagree with you concerning objectifying women when we do something that might be considered illegal under this law.

I can't describe it in a way that might convince you, though, because, the description must have the same restriction that the photo might. We’re both rather camera shy, so there’s no proof anyway ;). The slippery slope comes in the implied restrictions those laws like this one present. I think open and frank discussion of sexual fantasies is a hallmark of a successful relationship. Banning violent pornography won’t change the formative events that make these acts part of a person’s sexuality. The ban will exacerbate the taboo about discussing fantasies. That discussion implies resolving long held and dearly repressed emotions, because each fantasy represents an event or state of mind that can only be expressed in that fashion.
Otherwise, it is expressed in public as anti social behavior. Think about the influences that keep that jerk glued to your rear bumper, no matter how fast you go.

The conscientious person discerns between fantasy and reality. Consensual sexual acts can’t objectify the woman… the man for that matter ;)