25 thoughts on “Bunch of bastards

  1. One of the things Blair learned at Thatcher’s teat was how to pick eye-catching, media-friendly policies with which No Right-Thinking Person could disagree, while ignoring the real issues of poverty, yadda yadda. This seems like a perfect example and, while I supported it on class hatred grounds, I suppose hunting was another.

  2. That’s a pretty intellectually weak position to take. If you knew that the hunting ban was just a bone thrown to a section of the public to distract them from more important matters, why did you support it? Class hatred isn’t a very satisfying explanation, although I suppose that it is nevertheless the reason for your position. Politics based on hatred generally aren’t great. Let the perverts have their porn, the toffs hunt foxes, the tatooed fuckwits have their pitbull terriers, the fat bearded loners shoot pistols at paper targets, and generally all the unfairly stereotyped unpopular people get on with doing whatever they like doing. God save us from "Right-Thinking People".

  3. If you knew that the hunting ban was just a bone thrown to a section of the public to distract them from more important matters, why did you support it?

    Wasn’t it more a case of a bone thrown to potentially unsupportive Labour MPs? The general impression I get is that most of the public couldn’t have cared less – they were vaguely opposed to it, but not enough to get seriously worked up about it.

  4. Let the perverts have their porn, the toffs hunt foxes, the tatooed fuckwits have their pitbull terriers, the fat bearded loners shoot pistols at paper targets, and generally all the unfairly stereotyped unpopular people get on with doing whatever they like doing.

    One of those is different to all the others (hint: it’s the only one that involves ripping a living creature to shreds for the enjoyment of human beings).

    I’m sorry to say that I’m one of those "few" who got ‘seriously worked up about’ fox-hunting. Torturing animals for fun is something that (in my rarely humble opinion) should be outlawed. To live in a society that sanctions torture as a sport and not oppose it reflects very badly upon a person.

    The argument that "being ripped to shreds by a pack of dogs" is a more humane way to die than "being left to starve to death in a trap over several days" doesn’t pass ethical muster in my book I’m afraid.

  5. One of those is different to all the others (hint: it’s the only one that involves ripping a living creature to shreds for the enjoyment of human beings).

    Surely "two of those", if the porn in question is that extreme?

    Which illustrates the problem I have with this proposed legislation – up to now, the law has drawn a very clear distinction between actual and simulated atrocities. For instance, you’re not banned from possessing images depicting child abuse if you can prove that it was 100% simulated – the law is only concerned with what amount to recordings of a crime. That’s why Adrian Lyne got away with filming Lolita – though he made damn sure that the shooting of every single contentious scene was covered from multiple angles in case he needed it in his defence later.

    But how do we define "violent pornography"? Is it something where people are actually brutalised, or does the definition also cover stuff that’s simulated? And if so, should the distributors of a film like Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible be worried? (Or, more hypothetically, will a future Irreversible get British distribution at all?)

  6. "The argument that "being ripped to shreds by a pack of dogs" is a more humane way to die than "being left to starve to death in a trap over several days" doesn’t pass ethical muster in my book I’m afraid"

    Maybe not ‘ethical muster’ (whatever THAT is), but surely passes the common sense test…?!

  7. I was part of the many who got worked up about hunting, only on the other side from Jim. But let’s leave it at that, as I’m sick to death of having the same circular argument. There are irreconciliable differences involved, this can’t really be solved by rational discussion alone.

    I don’t really see this ban on extreme porn going anywhere. Once the public school brigade in the judiciary realise that this means no more spanking, caning and bondage, they’ll water the text down to a thin, insipid gruel.

  8. Maybe not ‘ethical muster’ (whatever THAT is)

    JulianM… the phrase "pass muster" means "to meet the required standard". Therefore, although I threw the words together to form "to pass ethical muster" (i.e. it’s not a well-known phrase in it’s own right), I’m sure it’s fairly obvious what it means now that you know what "to pass muster" means.

    … but surely passes the common sense test…?!

    Well, as Einstein once remarked, "common sense is merely the set of prejudices acquired by the age of 18" so it’s not really something that can be objectively discussed. If, heaven forbid, I were forced to choose between those two ways of ending my life, I know that I’d prefer the less violent one (for a bunch of reasons that wouldn’t make any sense to a fox). That said, I’m not confident that I know which would seem less cruel / more humane to the fox… but far more importantly, I don’t see either of them as meeting the required ethical standards by which we should treat animals.

    Surely "two of those", if the porn in question is that extreme?

    Well, if the violent porn is depicting ‘real’ (i.e. unsimulated) acts that are themselves against the law, then that’s clearly a very different issue and those producing that material should obviously be tracked down and prosecuted for that.

    If it is depicting ‘real’ acts to which the participants consented, then it’s clearly not the same as hunting (unless one argues that the fox has consented) though it does – obviously – bring up it’s own ethical issues and legal grey-areas.

    [Aside: I find it curious that TV shows like Jackass and Dirty Sanchez which depict people causing injury to one another for entertainment / fun do not get shat upon by the same authorities that brought the case against the Spanner defendents... some of the things on those shows, though not as extreme, are definitely in the same ballpark as hardcore S&M... I guess our culture is changing pretty fast]

    I don’t think it’s a circular argument Pine Marten. I believe that killing animals for sport is unethical and unacceptable. You clearly don’t. No circularity involved, merely differing codes of ethics.

  9. Michael: As I understand it, the current legislation proposes that anything which can’t get a certificate in the UK as a film should also be illegal as an internet download. My guess would be that it’s more likely to result in a watering down of the film standards than anything else.

  10. Jim, the argument itself is not circular, but it is futile. You’re right, the way that this argument goes is that I say a lot of stuff about civil liberties, you say a lot of stuff about animal rights, and then we get stuck on the matter of how important you consider the fox’s life relative to people’s rights, because we’re not going to agree, it isn’t possible. It’s circular in the sense that the same argument will happen again and again with no hope of a breakthrough. Those who don’t care much one way or the other – the majority – can be swayed by either set of arguments, but I suspect that we’re too entrenched in our positions to be able to discuss the matter very constructively.

  11. The Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten urged the government to provide a "very clear and succinct definition" of what constitutes violent and abusive pornography.

    With examaples, and a website for public discussion!

    Why couldn’t you have voted them lot in office, when you had the chance?

  12. The current BBFC definitions seem as good a yardstick as any – at the moment, they say that the following are outside the bounds of even the R18 category:

    * any material which is in breach of the criminal law, including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
    * material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity (eg paedophilia, incest, rape) which may include adults role-playing as non-adults.
    * the portrayal of any sexual activity which involves lack of consent (whether real or simulated). Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent.
    * the infliction of pain or physical harm, real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for mild consensual activity. Penetration by any object likely to cause actual harm or associated with violence.
    * any sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which does not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game. Strong abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable.

  13. Interestingly (or not) Pine Marten, I’m far less concerned with animal rights than you may have assumed. And my primary objection to fox-hunting would be, I suspect, far less likely to sway the half-interested majority than the animal-rights argument (so I’m happy to let that do the job).

    Nonetheless, our disagreement would still be reduced to a fundamental difference in ethical / moral outlook. So any attempt to discuss the matter constructively would almost certainly be futile.

    On that we can certainly agree.

    Michael, the final three of those current BBFC definitions would seem on face value – without any context or further explanation – to make half of David Lynch’s (excellent) movies illegal, as well as a whole bunch of others that are considered by many to be classics.

  14. yep, and the idea is that these will be applied to internet material as well. My guess is that there is enough material out there on the internet to draw some form of WTO lawsuit which will end up leading to a material weakening of the BBFC guidelines themelves; this latest legal adventure looks to me to fall foul of the Bonaparte Principle ("if you set out to capture Vienna, capture Vienna!")

  15. I spent a day at Lewes Crown Court following the Longhurst case as part of my journalism course. It was one of the most disturbing days of my life, particularly when the expert forensic witness demonstrated with a platic bottle and a pair of tights, and with some gusto, how the woman had been murdered.

    As a follow-up, I emailed many of those MPs (including the aformentioned Salter) calling for a ban on the websites – that were said to have inspired Graham Coutts to commit his crime – to ask how such a ban should be enforced. Needless to say, those who deigned to reply had no idea. The technical, moral and societal implications hadn’t occurred to them in their kneejerk rush to ban a phenomenon they didn’t understand. They wanted a ban, everthing else was Someone Else’s Problem.

    Coutts was a freak whose background had contributed far more to his makeup than extreme websites. However, an eyecatching ban on said sites has been judged far much more edifying than trying to pin down the more complex environmental factors that produce murderers. Witness the fuss over the killers of Jamie Bulger when it was posited they had watched video nasties when really it was the fact that we live in a society that is sanguine about psychologically damaged children living in deprivation that should have had people up in arms.

  16. Michael, the final three of those current BBFC definitions would seem on face value – without any context or further explanation – to make half of David Lynch’s (excellent) movies illegal, as well as a whole bunch of others that are considered by many to be classics.

    I think the assumption is that if a film is being considered for the R18 category in the first place, then it’s already effectively been judged to be primarily pornographic – which is why Lynch’s films (and Gaspar Noe’s, and Takashi Miike’s) wouldn’t need to be run past those guidelines.

    That said, Miike’s Ichi the Killer was severely cut for sexual violence, and eyebrows were raised in several quarters when Noe’s Irreversible got through unscathed. But I don’t think it’s currently illegal to own a copy of the uncut Ichi – though whether this will remain the case indefinitely is a moot point. (I don’t, for what it’s worth – the only Miike film I’ve seen, Audition, was quite enough for my taste!)

  17. Audition, hmm, half a dozen people left the cinema swooning when I watched it in ard as fuck Glasgow. Good though; more Don’t Look Now than extreme cinema standard, and from me that’s high praise indeed.

  18. TMPM: Although I suspect our politics are fairly different, and I’m puzzled by your reference to a fictional deity, I agree with you about "Right Thinking People". Yet the fact is that notions of public decency, morality, basic standards, whatever you want to call it, are used all the time to garner support for all sorts of legislation – good, bad and indifferent.

    I maybe overstated my position on foxhunting – in so far as I could give a shit, I responded on that instinctual, class basis to the anti-hunting argument because I saw – and still see – a diverse, but sinister, rightwing lobby which will never be reconciled to a three-term Labour Government – even one as disgusting, immoral, rightwing as this one. And it was good to see them have to suck cock for once in their lives, metaphorically speaking.

  19. Ah, what with a clamp-down on underage drinking, curfews, ASBOs and this, the government’s plan to make every 15-year old boy in the country a criminal seems to be going swimmingly.

  20. HIOP: It all started out as a nice little chat about the futility or arguing about foxhunting, and suddenly, we’re onto the existence or non-existence of God! Still, I’m not scared. Although maybe we should take this elsewhere.

    As for how similar or different our politics may be, don’t assume that because I support hunting I follow the standard Countryside Alliance/Daily Mail agenda. The Countryside Alliance isn’t a sinister rightwing lobby. It’s a comedically useless lobby. The people who run it are by and large arrogant talentless cretins who misrepresent the very people that they’re supposed to defend. Still, they’ve taken their sweet f***ing time about it, but they’ve finally appointed someone genuinely good to run them: Kate Hoey, anti-Blairite-illiberalism freedom fighter.

  21. I think you’ve made a small mistake there; "publicity-seeking gobshite" isn’t spelt "anti-Blairite-illiberalism freedom fighter".

  22. Well OK, that phrase was a little over the top. However I like Kate Hoey. Kate Hoey has systematically opposed the Blair government’s attempt to ban stuff left, right and centre at the drop of a tabloid reader’s hat. At least she has some backbone.

  23. "For instance, you’re not banned from possessing images depicting child abuse if you can prove that it was 100% simulated – the law is only concerned with what amount to recordings of a crime."

    This isn’t true. The obvious refutation is that it isn’t a crime for a 16-17 year old to have sex, but making/possessing a photograph of such an event is (unless they are your husband/wife).

    "Pseudo-photographs" have also been established to be illegal (this gets strange, you can posses a photograph of your 16-17 year old husband/wife, but possessing a pseudo-photograph of a non-existant 16-17 year old person is a crime). The law is based on a depiction of someone who appears to be under 18 (not their actual age, to avoid having to prove the age of an unknown person in court).

    This is one of those cases where everyone would agree with the aim and intent of the law, but the actual legislation is totally daft.

  24. There seems to be some confusion about top-end BBFC ratings in this thread.

    The films that have been mentioned as possibilities for censorship under the new law above, ‘Ichi The Killer’ and ‘Irreversible’, both containing long and harrowing scenes of sexual assault. The BBFC will automatically refuse to consider any film containing a scene of this nature for R18 certificate, since R18 is for erotic works only, to be sold in licensed sex shops, and they are obviously concerned with not allowing rape to be seen as erotic.

    Since the new law is only aimed at pornography, and these works are not considered pornograhic, they are very unlikely to fall foul of the censors scissors. The area of pornography where the problem lies is in the BDSM area, where non-consensual acts are depicted, although consensually made. The Melonfarmers have more.

    Oh, and for the record, yes, this law is hateful and illiberal.

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