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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