Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Entering the Twilight Zone

I seem to have entered a parallel universe today, in which everything I know is wrong. UK Healthcare is among the best in the world, despite being a quasi-Stalinist organisation. And the UK government has decided not to extend the term of music copyright, despite opposition objections.

Lordy. I need a lie down.

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Smoking Kills!

So, we have possibly the first casualty in the War On Smoking. A man was shot after annoying some smokers in a bar. Now I don't condone shooting people who annoy you. We're not Americans after all. But it's just another, predictable, consequential effect of legislation. If you put in annoying laws, people are going to get annoyed. And occasionally people will get hurt.

Now I see that Friends of the Earth is recommending that patio heaters be banned. This means that all those annoyed smokers won't even be able to sit in a pub garden without freezing. So more people are going to get hurt when they come back inside. It's not even as though there's a clearcut link between passive smoking and health, according to this study.

Slow handclap for the totalitarians. Again.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Which Tarot Card Am I?

I like the Tarot, and can do passable readings. This may sound odd, considering I'm a thorough-going rational materialist, but I find the images fascinating, and in a Jungian sense I think they are visual representations of Archetypes. Anyway, I couldn't resist the chance to see what card I was:

You are The Hermit

Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.

The Hermit points to all things hidden, such as knowledge and inspiration,hidden enemies. The illumination is from within, and retirement from participation in current events.

The Hermit is a card of introspection, analysis and, well, virginity. You do not desire to socialize; the card indicates, instead, a desire for peace and solitude. You prefer to take the time to think, organize, ruminate, take stock. There may be feelings of frustration and discontent but these feelings eventually lead to enlightenment, illumination, clarity.

The Hermit represents a wise, inspirational person, friend, teacher, therapist. This a person who can shine a light on things that were previously mysterious and confusing.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

H/T to DK. I think I shall just crawl back into my cave now.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fisking the Extreme Porn Bill

This really follows on from my last post, but it was getting a tad unwieldy so I thought I'd split it. Plus writing sensibly was beginning to annoy me. These are the government's supposed reasons for bringing in the new law. Let us now peel back the foreskin of ignorance, and apply the wire brush of vitriol to their proposals.

Extreme Pornographic Images

802. The Government believes that these clauses constitute an interference with Convention rights under Articles 8 and 10 but that for the reasons set out below this is justified as being in accordance with the law, and necessary in a democratic society for the prevention of crime, for the protection of morals and for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

This is bollocks. The government admits that it is a breach of human rights, but hopes to get away with it. On moral grounds. God I loathe people who believe that they have a right to impose their tired old morals on others. The grounds for banning something should be demonstrable harm. Not just because its objectionable. Which leads us to:

803. The material to be covered by this new offence is at the most extreme end of the spectrum of pornographic material which is likely to be thought abhorrent by most people.

So fucking what? All sorts of things are abhorrent to each and every one of us, but that's no grounds to make pictures of them illegal. Unless you're a moralising cunt like John Beyer.

It is not possible at law to give consent to the type of activity covered by the offence,

Oh yes it is! under the Sexual Offences act 2003 you are allowed to give oral sex to an animal, you are allowed to fist your wife, or give your lovers breasts or genitals a good thrashing. Distasteful? maybe. But not illegal. Fucking liars.

so it is therefore likely that a criminal offence is being committed where the activity which appears to be taking place is actually taking place.

This is nonsense. Given that the bill includes the idea that images that are acted or fake are prosecutable, it is entirely likely that no criminal offence is occurring in a majority of cases.

The House of Lords upheld convictions for offences of causing actual and grievous bodily harm in the case of Brown [1994] 1 AC 212 which involved a group of sado-masochists who had engaged in consensual torture. The threshold that the clauses have set is very high, so while those taking part might argue that they had consented to it, such consent is not valid at law.

This was a truly disgusting piece of legislation, in which a group of gay men were engaged in a bit of consensual BDSM, and were jailed for it. One of them died in jail. Gay clubs were raided for years, and the BDSM scene is harassed because of it to this day. For the government to regard this as a good thing shows what a bunch of moralising bastards they really are.

804. In the case of images of staged activity , the Government believes that banning possession is justified in order to meet the legitimate aim of protecting the individuals involved from participating in degrading activities. This is also the case with images of bestiality, which while involving harm to animals can also involve the non-consensual participation of humans who are harmed in the process of making the images.

Ah, here we come to the actual reason. The government regards these paraphilias as "degrading". No wait. They believe that acting in a production depicting these acts is degrading, whilst in most cases actually doing them is not. Ludicrous inconsistent fuckwits.

805. The Government considers that the new offence is a proportionate measure with the legitimate aim of breaking the demand and supply cycle of this material, which may be harmful to those who view it.

This entire paragraph is hearsay, with no scientific backing from any source. It will not break the supply and demand cycle, since the rest of the western world will go on supplying and demanding it. This material may be harmful, they say except that evidence shows exactly the opposite. Banning this material will be harmful, as it will increase the rate of sex crimes. How many women need to be raped or murdered before the government bothers to read the studies? Lazy, ignorant, stupid mendacious cunts.

Irrespective of how these images were made, banning their possession can be justified as sending a signal that such behaviour is not considered acceptable. Viewing such images voluntarily can desensitise the viewer to such degrading acts, and can reinforce the message that such behaviour is acceptable.

There is absolutely no evidence that support these statements. However, contrary to my previous statements the government is not being inconsistent. They really do hate BDSM, fisting and all the rest. I'd just like to know what fucking business it is of theirs what people get up to in their own homes. The BDSM movements motto is "Safe, Sane, Consensual". I wish it was the governments motto.

806. The Government considers that the restrictions on this material also achieve the aim of protecting others, particularly children and vulnerable adults, from inadvertently coming into possession of this material, which is widespread on the internet.

Don't be so fucking stupid. England is the only country enacting this legislation. They may not even have it in Scotland. It'll all be up there, just the same. Unless, of course you want to use this as an excuse to start censoring the internet. Just like Saudi Arabia, China and all those other models of democratic freedom. You authoritarian fuckpigs.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Even More Extreme Pornography

So, the UK government has released the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 with the promised legislation on Extreme Pornography in sections 64-67. I've blogged on this before here and here. I know it came out a while ago, but I haven't had a chance to study it in detail until now. And guess what? It's even worse than they suggested in the consultation.

As always the legislation itself is boring to read and hedged about with legalese, but the notes are rather easier to read. The nub of it is as follows:

If you have pictures that the government doesn't like, of perfectly legal acts between consenting adults, you may be sent to prison for up to 3 years, and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life. You can be branded a nonce and locked up with all the other paedophiles, rapists and murderers, just for the sake of a few harmless pictures of legal acts.

So what sort of pictures doesn't the government like now?

Well, firstly they have to be pornographic. An image is “pornographic” if it appears to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

Secondly they have to be “extreme”. An image is “extreme” if it depicts:

(a) an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life,
(b) an act which results in or appears to result (or be likely to result) in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse,
(d) a person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal, where (in each case) any such act, person or animal depicted in the image is or appears to be real.

The first thing to notice, is that in all cases these images only have to "appear to be real". In other words, it doesn't matter if it's just acting, or completely fake. The second thing is that many of these acts are actually perfectly legal to perform (including giving an animal a blowjob, curiously enough).

Images the government wants to criminalise:

Rape (a)
Torture (b)
Necrophilia (c)
Bestiality (d)

In actuality, images that are likely to be criminalised include:

Breath play (a)
Fisting (b)
Anal intercourse (b)
BDSM involving the parts listed in (b)
Sleepy sex (c)

There are probably a lot more. Perhaps interested readers will suggest a few and I'll list them.

As I've said before, you personally may not be into any of the above things. But a lot of people are. Around 5% of the population are into BDSM, and about 25% of the gay population. In England that's around 2m people. Around 10% of the population like a regular bit of back-door action. That's another 4m potential criminals. Even if not many are photography enthusiasts, that's still an awful lot of people.

And there's simply no point to this. The government themselves admitted that there was no causal link between Extreme Porn images and criminal activity. No other western democracy wants to ban images of this sort, and numerous studies have shown that the free availability of porn actually reduces sex crimes.

This legislation will, by the governments own admission protect no-one, criminalise many law-abiding people, and increase the number of sex crimes in England. It will also encourage the Police to burst into peoples houses at dawn to confiscate their computers, and provoke more censorship of the Internet. Still think that it has nothing to do with you?

There are other articles worth reading on the subject here and here.

The governments offical line on this is here, and this debate is pretty representative of the lack of understanding of this issue by the powers that be. References can be found in my response to the initial consultation.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature

Here's an article from Psychology Today which I rather enjoyed. It looks at a number of social phenomena from an evolutionary psychology basis, and although the evidence offered is a bit sketchy in some places, it's worth a read. Evolutionary psychology is one of those things which is so obviously right that it's a no-brainer (pun intended), but almost no-one believes in because it de-mystifies our behaviour and makes us feel less like free agents, and more like the semi-conscious automata that we really are.