Look out, here comes the thin edge of the wedge.

So, it would appear that the “ick” factor is about to become legislatable, and images showing extreme acts are to become illegal.

What bothers me most about this (and trust me, I could bang on for hours about all the things that bother me about this rushed, shoddy legislation) is that the catch-all phrase “appears to” has made it unscathed through all the readings.

Let’s review the basic points of the addendums to the Criminal Justice Bill…

An act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life

An act which results in or appears to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals

An act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse

A person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal

Anyone else see the problems? How many films or TV shows have you seen lately that show life-threatening situations?

Yes, alright, this is supposed to be used within the context of a pornographic film/image/soundfile/tapestry. But the fact that the artist, performers and crew can, and for the most part do create these images/films/cartoons/flickerbooks entirely consensually, and for an audience that consumes them safely, and responsibly doesn’t seem to matter. Let’s not forget that the definition of pornography used for the bill remains the Obscene Publications Act, which still uses the over-loose phrase “liable to deprave or corrupt”.

Which is one reason that I refuse to watch Big Brother. I feel dirty just skipping past it on the remote.

So, what we have here is a loosely-defined bill that’s pretty much open to any interpretation that a judge or barrister feels they can get away with. Under this bill, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer, who already has to work under the auspices of the Obscene Publications Act, to the consumer.

Criminalising thousands of perfectly innocent couples who use extreme imagery as part of their consensual sexual relationships.

The particularly telling quote to my mind comes from Liz Longhurst, mother of murdered teacher Jane Longhurst, whose killer was found to have regularly surfed violent porn websites. It was her campaigning that led to the ammendments to the new Bill. When asked how she felt about the charges of criminalising innocent people who happened to have a kink, she replied,

“Hard luck. There is no reason for this stuff. I can’t see why people need to see it.”

Hmm. Ok then. Tell that to the flourishing and affluent BDSM community.

There’s an element of rebellion in the House, I’m very glad to say, with amendments to the amendments allowing people to hold images of themselves involved in consensual acts (I bet the Spanner Group are besides themselves about that one) and significant amounts of disquiet over a Bill that even Lord Hunt, the man in charge, has admitted is being rushed through to meet a deadline. It will, he claims, only affect images that are “grossly offensive and disgusting.”

Ahhhh, the ick factor. I find this distasteful, therefore I will legislate it out of existence. This is different, therefore wrong, therefore illegal. And that’s the kind of attitude that underpins the increase in incidents of abuse directed against anyone that looks a bit strange. In extreme examples, that can lead to horrible events like the nasty, pointless death of Sophie Lancaster, stamped to death for being a goth.

That’s grossly offensive and disgusting, as far as I’m concerned.

Backlash are still fighting the good fight, although time’s running out. Support the weird and keep the government out of the bedroom!

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Rob

Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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