Censor Watch

2009: January

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31st January   

Update: Atheists vs Bus Bigots...

CD Universe

Atheist bus advert ban reported to Australia's Human Rights Commission
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

National President of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, David Nicholls, is going to have to seek legal help to try to get his atheist bus ads approved.

APN Outdoor, the company who is in charge of advertising on buses in Adelaide and other cities, would not accept ads for an atheist bus campaign. According to a report on The Independent Weekly, Nicholl’s said: …they wouldn’t accept any ad from atheists. I spoke with sales staff in Adelaide, then higher sales staff in Brisbane, and finally to a sales executive in Sydney. He said APN would have to seek legal advice but they rang back in less than a minute saying they were not going to take our ad, no matter how it was worded.

As a result, the atheist group has decided to take the case to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Nicholls said: The world-wide response demands we act decisively to release freedom of expression from the arbitrary control of bus company advertising executives. We therefore have no option but to seek legal means to that end.


31st January   

Update: Bussing in the Nutters...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh


Canadian Nutters that are all for free speech...BUT...
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

The Toronto-based Freethought Association of Canada has now won approval from the Toronto Transit Commission to place ads on buses and inside subway cars that read: There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, confirmed that staff have decided the ads do not violate any of the TTC's rules. But that decision could be reviewed if complaints arise: Disallowing the ad may be a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code and potentially a violation of the Charter ... so we have to look at it from a legal basis. We don't feel that there's any grounds to disallow the ad.

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his group has not decided whether it will formally complain about the ads once they appear.

On the surface, I'm all for free speech. ...HOWEVER... though, these are attack ads, McVety said in an interview: These ads are not saying what the atheists believe, they are attacking what other people believe. And if you look at the dictionary definition for ... bigot, that's exactly what it is, to be intolerant of someone else's belief system.


31st January   

Violent News...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe

Thai campaigners challenge TV companies over gruesome news footage
Link Here

Graphic television footage of violent and cruel acts should be banned, a group of angry Thai parents says. Members of the Network of Family Watch and Creative Media are demanding that television stations put a stop to repeated images of horror that they claim could harm children and instil violent tendencies.

Twenty members of the group submitted an open letter to Thai Broadcast Journalists Association president Korkhet Chanthalertlak urging his association to investigate what the group calls violence-condoning footage.

Campaigner Anya-orn Panichpuengrat said parents were concerned children watching the news would be disturbed by horrific scenes being played and re-played. She said footage aired in recent weeks showing people being beaten and even shot dead should not have been broadcast. Most of the offending footage was obtained from surveillance cameras. She said ugly scenes were broadcast repeatedly during news segments and it felt as though the violence was never ending.

The campaigners plan to visit television stations to inquire into their reasons for running such footage. Anya-orn said one case involved the shooting to death of a security guard and then a woman by her jealous boyfriend in Prachin Buri. Another showed a vocational student being gunned down during a fracas connected to inter-school rivalry near Kasetsart University. This week footage of a teenage boy being brutally beaten by a gang of teenagers in Ayutthaya was aired on television repeatedly.

Korkhet said the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association was aware of the potential for problems and would write to television stations to ask for their cooperation in being mindful of the content they broadcast. The association is drafting a code of ethics for broadcast journalists, he said.


31st January   

Update: Waltz with Censors...

Israeli films still banned in Lebanon
Link Here

Many in Lebanon may never see the movie Waltz With Bashir , which won a Golden Globe and has been nominated for an Oscar. Lebanon and Israel are still officially at war and all Israeli products are banned in the country

Monika Borgmann ignored a Lebanese ban to show an Oscar-nominated film made in Israel about the Jewish state's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

There is a real interest in this film, said the German-born Borgmann, who recently held a private screening of Waltz with Bashir for about 90 people at her southern Beirut production center.

The film centers on an Israeli army veteran who interviews fellow soldiers to restore his cloudy memory about the invasion and the massacre of hundreds of people in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla by Lebanese Christian militiamen allied with Israel. The war and subsequent 18-year occupation killed thousands of Lebanese civilians and evoked comparisons in Israel with America's ordeal in Vietnam.

The film's director, Ari Folman, said he was happy his work was shown in Beirut: The movie may have no effect on the decision makers, but 90 people saw it in Lebanon and that is wonderful .

Information Minister Tarek Mitri, who is a strong opponent of censorship, said it was officially illegal to show the movie in Lebanon but acknowledged people could still download it from the Internet.


31st January   

Siege of Kalima...

Police lay siege to new Tunisian radio station
Link Here
Full story: Siege of Kalima...Tunisia police harass and close radio station

Plainclothes police surrounded the offices of a newly launched satellite radio station and detained one of its journalists. Police are continuing their siege of the station.

The journalist, Dhafer Otay of Radio Kalima, said he was held for four hours and then released without charge. Officers prevented him and his colleagues from entering the Tunis offices of their independent satellite radio station, Radio Kalima . The station was started by the same team in charge of the locally blocked online magazine Kalima .

The Tunisian government should lift its siege of Radio Kalima immediately, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator: Public relations campaigns aimed at presenting the Tunisian government as tolerant cannot conceal the country's status as one of the Arab world's top enemies of independent journalism.


30th January   

Censorship For All...

Government see broadband for all in its Digital Britain Interim Report
Link Here

The Government have published its Digital Britain Interim Report. In terms of technology the Governments sees broadband for all:

We will develop plans for a digital Universal Service Commitment to be effective by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed and mobile, wired and wireless means. Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s.

The report refers to some of the actions initiated as a result of the Byron Report but the main section for new thoughts on the subject of censorship and control is:

5.3 Online Safeguards

There are many reasons why people choose not to engage with digital technology, but lack of confidence is often a significant factor. As in the case of crime off-line, perceptions and fear of the prevalence of fraud, identity theft and other online crime often run ahead of their actual incidence. Many people lack the knowledge to be sure what to do when something unexpected happens to them online. We need to ensure that UK internet users can operate with security and confidence. The route to achieving this will be through ensuring a partnership approach to strengthening security against online crime and building user confidence. This is important to online business as well – we want to make the UK the safest place to do business online.

A globally connected universal broadband world will bring into sharper focus the balance to be struck between freedom of expression and protection against harmful, offensive and illegal content and information.

We see four tiers of content and information around which policy analysis can be developed:

  • material which is acceptable and enjoyed by everybody
  • material that may be offensive to some people or groups
  • material potentially harmful to vulnerable groups
  • especially children
  • material breaching the law.

The internet is by nature global and content originates from millions of different people and organisations. This content is not capable of being successfully regulated in the same way as traditional, national broadcasting. A world of universal broadband will require a new approach to online safeguards.

Such an approach should combine effective enforcement of the law of the land (e.g. as with the Internet Watch Foundation and the work of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre in eradicating the sexual abuse of children), constructive use of technology (e.g. blocking or filtering by software on the user’s PC) and self-regulation (e.g. where content aggregators label content in accordance with industry codes of practice). There should be a clearer role for trusted brands that provide a guarantee of the nature of the content that may be accessed through their product (e.g. the approach Apple has taken to making available applications that run on iPhone). This framework, combined with media literacy initiatives, will support the greater parental and personal responsibility essential to realise safely and effectively the full potential of the online world.

We need a clear set of public policy principles supported by a set of supporting guidelines. The public need to know what they can reasonably expect and have confidence that it will be delivered. Our draft core principles and supporting guidelines are:


• protection for children;
• empowerment for parents; and
• informed consent for adults.

Supporting Guidelines

  •  safer online experience for children and families on which the UK Council on Child Internet Safety is leading
  • effective removal of illegal content
  • clear information on how personal data is collected, how it is used and where it is shared
  • clear and effective labelling to help people avoid material likely to be harmful or offensive
  • effective and readily available filters and other software that consumers can use easily to protect themselves and their families.

We will do further work, in conjunction with industry and others, to develop these principles and guidelines in ways proportionate to the challenge, and we will set out the conclusions of this work in the final Digital Britain Report later this year.


30th January   

Comment: The Dark Knight Aftermath...

Are the BBFC being cautious over 12A rated films?
Link Here

Just spotted some cuts to Frank Miller's The Spirit. According to the BBFC website:

This work was cut. The cut(s) were made at the request of the distributor to achieve a particular category. To obtain this category cuts of 0m 25s were required.

Distributor chose to make cuts to achieve a 12A classification, removing: focus on knives as a group of hoodlums surround and threaten a woman; sight of the hero mounting his foe on the ground and repeatedly punching him in the head; sight of a severed finger flying towards the camera; and part of a man's rib-cage embedded in the ground. A 15 certificate without cuts was available.

Does sound fairly over the line for a 12A; can't say I'm surprised it was cut.

On a related note, though, am I the only person who thinks that, ever since the row over The Dark Knight , the BBFC have gone a bit mad and started rating everything a 15? Oliver Stone's W and Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire are two recent examples of films that I think would have got a 12A if they'd come out this time last year; a look at other recent decisions shows that the upcoming Meryl Streep film Doubt has been rated 15 for theme of implied child sexual abuse! The thing is, if these films were 12As, they would be at the upper limit of the category, and maybe the BBFC thinks a strong 12A is more trouble than it's worth at the moment.

Slumdog Millionaire is a particularly interesting case because a lot of journalists have taken it to task for having an apparently shocking level of violence - the usually sensible Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian said it started off with the nastiest interrogation scene I've seen in a while , and considering it's his job to watch all the latest horror movies and the like, that's a very bold statement. So I went and tensed myself up, nervously waiting for something truly horrifying - and then, five seconds later, untensed myself and thought Oh. Is that it?

The torture scene in Slumdog is so close, in terms of what's shown and how long it lasts, to Robert Aldrich's 1950s thriller Kiss Me Deadly that I think Boyle might well have watched the older film in preparation for shooting his own film - but Aldrich's film has a 12 on video.

According to the BBFC website, there is a lot of untranslated strong language in the subtitled sections of the film - since I don't speak Hindi, I'm taking that on trust. But considering the discussions over the violence in The Dark Knight , I had to laugh at what they thought was the most extreme violent scene in Slumdog Millionaire ; a three-second shot of a man being set on fire. Yes, clearly if that man had been put out, then gone around for the rest of the film with half his face horrifically melted off, Boyle could have secured that child-friendly certificate...


30th January   

Update: Playing Delaying Games...

Michael Atkinson employs delaying tactics on R18+ for games
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has thrown a spanner in the works of proposed changes to the videogame classification system.

This time, as Jason Hill reports for The Age, it's come to light that Atkinson has failed to provide his final comments on the discussion paper originally announced in March last year.

Censorship ministers last March agreed in principle to canvass public opinion on the proposed introduction of an R18+ classification for games and to release a discussion paper on the issue. Atkinson is still yet to provide his final comments on the paper after earlier refusing to make it public unless changes were made.

The draft discussion paper, titled R18+ for computer games was sent to ministers last September and details the advantages and perils of introducing an adults-only rating for games. If it gets released, the paper will be available to the public via the internet and provided to interested parties such as industry groups and family associations to seek their views.

By our reckoning, he's been sitting on that paper for five months now, having known it was coming for another five months before that. While we don't doubt the minister is a busy man, one gets the impression he may be deliberately trying to stymie the public debate. I can't think why he might want to do that, can you?


30th January   

Diary: Comedy for the Godless...

See Leicester Comedy Festival squirm over title: Kill Your God
Link Here

Saturday 14th February
Bowies, Leicester

Kill Your God was named one of the Highlights of the 2008 Glasgow International Comedy Festival by The Scotsman, The Heresy Project’s mission is to eradicate all religious persecution once and for all, by the simple process of eradicating all religion….

makes Richard Dawkins look like the Archbishop of Canterbury. Scotsman

hard-hitting, no-holds-barred comedy…satirising both religion and militant atheism Edinburgh Evening News

God is a nonsense and you’re all wrong List

But the Leicester Comedy Festival was not impressed by the name and insisted on changes. The show title has officially been changed for the duration of the Leicester Festival to The Heresy Project: Comedy for the Godless.


30th January   

Sensitivitely Challenged...

Madeleine McCann art exhibit causes a stir
Link Here

Artists who added the face of Madeleine McCann to pornography as part of an exhibition have been accused of appalling insensitivity.

Staff at the Decima Gallery in Hackney, east London, said they pasted pictures of the four-year-old on to models in magazines in a bid to satirise her treatment at the hands of the media.

A spokesman for Maddie's distraught parents, Gerry and Kate, said the exhibition only hampered the hunt for their daughter.

A spokeswoman for the NSPCC said: This is appalling and completely insensitive to the family of Madeleine McCann. "Even allowing for artistic freedom there is no excuse for encouraging people to indulge in something as distasteful as this.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: This sort of thing is a complete distraction from the search for Madeleine and Gerry and Kate will simply not be dignifying it by commenting on it whatsoever.

Gallery co-founder David West said he was inspired by a news story about the American porn industry facing financial difficulty and decided to host a delightful afternoon of hardcore porn. One of the features advertised in a press release was an event called Make Your Own Maddy McCann Porn.

West said: They were decorating models with images of Madeleine McCann. They didn't see it in too bad taste. It was meant to be a way of showing how the tabloid press sensationalise the use of attractive females such as Kate McCann in news stories.

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, described the exhibition as sick and appalling. Hackney has a reputation as an artistic place with artists who do interesting and sometimes provocative work, but this sort of thing doesn't do the reputation of Hackney any good. This goes beyond the bounds of that and is just sick and I don't see how anyone could think anything else. It's unbelievable and if it's not a spoof, which would be bad enough, then it's just appalling.


30th January   

Updated: Too Blue Jean...

Supporting the hype for Calvin Klein Jeans
Link Here

Calvin Klein hasn’t produced a TV commercial for its Jeans line since the Eighties but the brand will soon be back on the airwaves with a commercial that was initially banned from even late-night cable TV.

Steven Meisel shot the new Jeans commercial, which has a grainy quality and looks like it was produced in an old basement, with male and female models — including Anna Selezneva, Anna Jagodzinska and Natasha Poly — who aren’t wearing much more than their Calvins and are writhing around all over each other.

Calvin Klein is working on an edited version of the commercial that will air on cable, while outside the U.S., countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Germany will show the uncensored version.


30th January   

Dragonball Pants...

Atari recall Dragonball Origins game from Australia
Link Here
Full story: Dragonball Origins...Atari recall Dragonball Origins game from Australia

Australia's well known for its iron-handed, dogmatic views on video game ratings, and it seems Dragon Ball: Origins on the Nintendo DS is the latest game to suffer.

All other Dragon Ball games have received a PG rating Down Under, but a shot of one of the character's pants in Origins is apparently enough to force a recall of the game so it can be given a more mature rating.

Atari has issued the recall notice, though how successful it'll be is anyone's guess. It's all good advertising, of course, and this sort of nonsense will undoubtedly help boost the original's resale value on eBay in years to come, so our advice to all those Aussie DS gamers is to hang onto it.


30th January   

Update: What's Blocked?...

Thailand adds to its extensive blocks list
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand has been adding more web pages to its extensive blocked list.

On December 4 2008’s official blocklist of 37 are online pharmacies selling morning after pills directed at Thai consumers in Thai.

It looks as if the fundamentalists at the IT ministry, MICT, are making themselves Thailand’s morality police.

January 14, 2009’s MICT blocklist comes as a result of the ministry’s application for court orders to block 408 separate web pages. All blocked pages are videos on video sharing sites.

Most notable is a new video hosted in the Czech Republic, Harry Nicolaides Is a Political Prisoner.

Content previously on YouTube as part of the StopLeseMajeste channel has been diversified to 65 public video-sharing websites, most hosting multiple blocked videos. The sites are located in at least 12 identifiable countries. 25 further YouTube videos have been blocked as well as 31 YouTube pages in 23 countries. A single page at Google Video is also blocked.


30th January   

Diary: The Power of the Imagination...

Amsterdam art exhibition of Turkish cartoons
Link Here
Full story: Insulting Turkishness...Insulting Turkishness law used to repress

30 January until 8 March
Press Museum, Amsterdam

In Turkey, prosecution for insulting the nation is almost an occupational hazard for journalists and cartoonists. A number of provocative Turkish cartoons are on display at an exhibition in the Netherlands. Afterwards the organisers hope an internet auction will raise money to cover the legal costs for these controversial court cases.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a poor sense of humour. In recent years, he has taken many a cartoonist to court. But the deluge of court cases has not stopped the illustrators from mocking the lack of press freedom in the country. In one cartoon, Sefer Selvi draws the prime minister, dressed in hunting gear, shooting at one of the newspapers he has taken to court. His dog tears up another copy.

There's a cartoon by Sefer Selvi in which Prime Minister Erdogan paints a circle around a dumbfounded journalist, saying: If you want to write news, then you have to keep inside the line.

Since 2004 Turkey has had media legislation guaranteeing freedom of the press, as part of the deal for Turkey's accession to the European Union. But press freedom has only improved on paper.


30th January   

Blocking Dissent...

Concerns about Kazakhstan's proposed internet censorship law
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Kazakhstan...New internet censorship law

Media activists in Kazakhstan have expressed concern over a draft law on the Internet being considered by parliament.

Seitkazy Mataev, chairman of the Union of Kazakh Journalists, told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that the law would introduce censorship to the Internet.

The law proposes stricter control over the Internet and allows the state to block websites.

Yuriy Mizinov, the chief editor of popular website zonakz.net, told RFE/RL that such legislation could be an attempt by the government to block the Live Journal website of Rakhat Aliev, the former son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who routinely posts embarrassing or compromising documents and audio about the Kazakh government on the Internet.


30th January   

Corrupt Justice...

Editor of Niger weekly in jail over corruption expose
Link Here

The editor of an independent newspaper in the West African Niger was jailed in connection with an investigative story alleging corruption in the finance ministry.

Boussada Ben Ali, managing editor of the weekly L'Action , was jailed at Niamey's main prison after a public prosecutor charged him with divulging information likely to undermine public order . The charge relates to a January 13 story alleging that the Economy and Finance Ministry awarded a medical supply contract without an open bidding process. The story cited documents that appeared to bear the signature of Economy and Finance Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.

The jailing of Boussada Ben Ali is part of a disturbing pattern of criminal defamation prosecutions to censor and intimidate investigative journalists, said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. Niger would do better to follow up on the allegations of corruption and wrongdoing unearthed by the press rather than imprison journalists performing a public service.

Police arrested Ben Ali in his office and interrogated him over his sources before taking him to court, according to local journalists. If convicted, Ben Ali could face up to two years in prison and a fine of 1 million CFA francs (US$2,000).

Six independent Nigerien journalists were sentenced to prison in 2008 for reporting on corruption or government mismanagement, according to CPJ research.


29th January   

Updated: Twisted Nutter Logic...

ASA to censure Christian Voice for dangerous and nonsense claims about HPV vaccine
Link Here

The Advertising Standards Authority has recommended that a Christian group be censured for predicting that Government initiatives on teenage sexuality, including the HPV vaccine, will increase infertility among the young.

Christian Voice's Advertorial in the New Statesman earlier this year, which was headlined VIOLENT CRIME - SOWING AND REAPING, will be found to breach ASA codes on principles, substantiation and truthfulness.

The text of the advertorial said: There is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It applies to nations as well as to individuals. What politicians sow, the people reap. When politicians sow evil, the people reap misery, and the poorest reap it the worst. The ad went on to describe the detrimental impact of government policies and legislation on society. It included the text Now we have the disaster of teenage infertility. Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it, but as all the targets revolve around pregnancy, no-one in power knows how many young people they are making sterile and nobody cares.

The officials demanded robust, scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine caused infertility in teenagers , missing the nutter view that it is the encouragement of promiscuity in Government teen sex initiatives which spreads the infections which do the damage, not the vaccine itself.

Their draft ruling says: the claim "Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it [teenage infertility]" was a statement of fact that was capable of substantiation. Christian Voice say requiring the substantiation of a future prediction in an opinion piece is preposterous and an infringement of freedom of speech.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today: It is a good job the Advertising Standards Authority was not around when the Old Testament was written, or we would be missing half the Christmas story. The ASA would have wanted Isaiah to substantiate his claim that 'a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son' (Isa 7:14). They would have demanded 'robust, scientific evidence' that virgins can conceive.

It is simple common sense to realise that with the HPV vaccine, girls will think they are covered against everything, especially if they are on the pill as well, so promiscuity will rise and there will be even more Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia cases and even more infertility.

It is preposterous for the ASA to think they can outlaw Christian freedom of speech and free expression of opinion. The ASA may not like the fact that sodomy is an abomination in holy scripture, but they cannot alter it. Nor can their officials change God's word that sex outside marriage brings judgment. The Free Presbyterian Church will not back down, and by God's grace neither shall we. We shall keep telling Government and the teen sex industry that they are betraying young people in this country and that only God's ways of chastity and fidelity will halt the rise in teenage pregnancies and infertility.

Update: ASA Censure Confirmed

29th January 2009. See article from asa.org.uk

An advertising feature in the New Statesman, on behalf of a religious group, had the headline VIOLENT CRIME - SOWING AND REAPING . Text underneath stated There is a Biblical principle that we reap what we sow. It applies to nations as well as to individuals. What politicians sow, the people reap. When politicians sow evil, the people reap misery, and the poorest reap it the worst.

The ad went on to describe what the advertisers considered to be the detrimental impact of government policies and various pieces of legislation on society. It included the text Now we have the disaster of teenage infertility. Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it, but as all the targets revolve around pregnancy, no-one in power knows how many young people they are making sterile and nobody cares. Text at the bottom of the ad stated: Christian Voice. Working for Godly government; praying for national repentance.

One complainant challenged whether the implied claim that the HPV vaccine would result in teenage infertility was misleading and could be substantiated.

ASA Decision

We considered that the claim Every government initiative, including the HPV vaccine, will increase it [teenage infertility] was a statement of fact that was a matter open to substantiation. We noted the webpage submitted by Christian Voice, but we did not consider that that webpage in itself was sufficient to support the claim. Because we had not seen robust, scientific evidence that the HPV vaccine caused infertility in teenagers, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Principles), 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Christian Voice not to repeat the implied claim that the HPV vaccine would result in teenage infertility.


29th January   

Freedom of Belief in Australia...

Church joins Atheist Foundation in saying that blasphemy should be lawful
Link Here

The church and the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) are among more than 150 organisations and individuals to make submissions to a freedom of religion and belief project, being run jointly with the Australian Multicultural Foundation, RMIT University and Monash University.

The Australian Human Rights Commission discussion paper sets out to examine the extent to which the right of freedom of religion and belief can be enjoyed in Australia.

The church's six-page submission said blasphemy should be made lawful.

Blasphemy is not a common law offence at a national level but a few federal laws, such as the Broadcasting and Television Act, still include it as an objectionable item'.

We look for a society where religious discourse is conducted in safety and security, and people are free to disagree without danger or social exclusion or harm to person or property,
the church said in its submission: These conditions will entail the freedom to engage in robust debate and disagreement about religious beliefs and practices. We support the abolition of the common law offence of blasphemy and the repeal of any laws creating the offence of blasphemy.

The AFA said in its submission it backed an end to blasphemy laws, adding there were sufficient laws in place to prevent vilification.

The AHRC have extended the deadline for submissions to its discussion paper to February 28. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma said the discussion paper had already generated a lot of interest, but more comment was being sought.


29th January   

Who Are You Doing After the Game?...

The traditional sport of advert banning for the Super Bowl
Link Here

Thinking about cheating on your husband or wife? A new company wants to help you out: AshleyMadison.com, a matchmaking service for people in the market for extramarital affairs.

But you won't be seeing ads for it at the Super Bowl, as AshleyMadison.com ads were reportedly banned from the Official NFL Super Bowl Game Program, according to reports that were confirmed by AshleyMadison.com.

I find the rejection to be ridiculous given that a huge percentage of the NFL's marketing content is for products like alcohol, which they sell in their stadiums, promote on their air and have in the game program. That's a product that literally kills tens of thousands of people each year, said Noel Biderman, President of AshleyMadison.com.

We don't intend to let this pass. The NFL fan base is our core audience and we will find a way to let them know about the existence of this service and let them decide if it’s something for them, he added.


29th January   

Update: Nannies and Scaredy Cats...

Pictures of naked kids terrorising Australia
Link Here
Full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

The age of overzealous risk management and fear of upsetting the most sensitive of minds hit the West Australian arts community this week when an innocent photograph of two children without t-shirts was pulled from an exhibition.

Perth photographer Nicole Boenig-McGrade shot two young children pottering about on a typically Australian street for the exhibition entitled Kids in Suburbia . She captured an image of childish activity that takes place in most suburbs every day.

The library manager charged with overseeing the exhibition in the Subiaco Library deemed the image too controversial to be hung.

Prominent arts figures said the image was no different from that screened on countless nappy advertisements on television. Many questioned just what kind of a nanny state WA was becoming.

The decision was taken following the 'furore' artist Bill Henson ignited when he showed an image of a naked 13-year-old girl at a Sydney exhibition last year.

Perth artists and gallery owners today questioned whether an arts specialist, instead of a bureaucrat, should have made the decision to pull the photo. The black and white picture by Boenig-McGrade shows a boy and a girl, both wearing pants, playing with chalk and a bucket on a suburban footpath.

This morning the Subiaco Council reinstated the image in the exhibition. Deputy mayor Andrew McTaggart admitted the decision to pull the photograph was erring too far on the side of caution.

United Galleries director Robert Buratti said it was a gallery's responsibility to be mindful of upsetting audiences.


28th January   

Update: The Great Unwanted...

Stephen Conroy's mandatory internet filter not wanted by 79%
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

  Unwanted by 79% of
surveyed Australians

A survey on mandatory ISP filtering conducted by one of Australia’s major ISPs, Netspace, has received responses from nearly 10,000 customers. 

Asked whether they agree with the Federal Government’s policy to make ISP level filtering mandatory for all Australians, 62% of respondents strongly disagreed and 17% disagreed.

Over 70% of respondents also strongly disagreed with having to pay more or suffer reduced Internet speeds to facilitate mandatory ISP level filtering.

When asked if they agreed if it is reasonable for consumers to experience “innocent” websites being blocked from viewing in order to facilitate mandatory ISP level filtering, 70.1% of respondents strongly disagreed and 16.6% disagreed.

In response to whether customers would purchase a filtering service or “Clean Feed” from their ISP if it was available, 64.9% of respondents answered no.

Offsite: So Where does Conroy's support come from?

See article from crikey.com.au

Let's reflect on where the support comes from.

Senator Conroy tries to portray the filter-fighters as "extreme libertarians". But with GetUp!'s "Save The Net" campaign having already gathered 95,000 signatures and $50,000, it's starting to look pretty mainstream. That, plus a new survey by middle-rank ISP Netspace, starts to paint the supporters of compulsory filtering as the minority.


In 2006, Senator Conroy presented the key petition supporting the current policy, with 20,646 signatures, the bulk of which were gathered through churches.

The Christian Right continues to be Conroy's main supporter. Only last weekend the Fairfax news sites carried the Australian Christian Lobby's Jim Wallace's argument for compulsory filtering, which I have deconstructed elsewhere.

...Read full article


28th January   

Offsite: Treated Like Children...

Nutter politician opposes adults rating for computer games
Link Here
Full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

South Australian attorney general says he is not the only classification minister to oppose R18+ classification; lauds current system's ability to encourage modification.

For many Aussie gamers, Michael Atkinson is a deeply unpopular character. The South Australian attorney general has been a vocal critic of game violence, and he has blocked previous moves to introduce an R18+ classification for games down under. Without an R18+ classification, the highest game rating is MA 15+, which means that the Classification Board is forced to ban any game that doesn't meet that rating's standards.

Australia's Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG)--a board made up of all state, territory, and federal AGs--has the power to change this, but only if all members agree. Atkinson has been the most public voice of dissent among the group.

In a lengthy response to Gamespot's questions Michael Atkinson said:

I don't support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages.

The interactive nature of electronic games means that they have a much greater influence than viewing a movie does. People are participating and 'acting-out' violence and criminal behaviour when they are playing a video game. They are essentially rehearsing harmful behaviour. Children and vulnerable adults (such as those with a mental illness) can be harmed by playing video games with violence, sex, and criminal activity.

...Read full article


28th January   

Update: Dogged Protests...

Slumdog Millionaire offends the residents of Patna slums
Link Here
Full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

Armed police guard cinemas in eastern India after slum dwellers ransacked a picture house showing Slumdog Millionaire because they didn't like the use of the word "dog" in the title.

Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the eastern state of Bihar, and tore down posters advertising the film. They said the title was humiliating and vowed to continue their protests until it was changed.

The protest was organised by Tateshwar Vishwakarma, a social activist who filed a lawsuit over the title last week against four Indians involved in its production - a lead actor, the music director and two others.

Referring to people living in slums as dogs is a violation of human rights, said  Vishwakarma, who works for a group promoting the rights of slum dwellers. We will burn Danny Boyle [the film's British director] effigies in 56 slums here.

On Thursday, about 40 Mumbai slum dwellers, organised by another social activist, held up banners reading Poverty for Sale and I am not a dog outside the home of Anil Kapoor, one of the film's stars.


28th January   

Update: Licking Pumpkin...

PETA generate some PR for getting Veggie Love advert rejected
Link Here
Full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

You may not agree with all the tactics of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), but you gotta appreciate their online marketing.

The organization said it created the sexy Veggie Love ad to run during this weekend’s Super Bowl, only to have it rejected by NBC.

Obviously, the ad wasn’t really meant to air on TV, so it’s hoping for viral life online.

According to the PETA blog, the reasons NBC gave for not carrying the ad are more amusing than the ad itself, with the network requesting that shots of licking pumpkin and rubbing asparagus on breast be removed before NBC would reconsider.

Similar stunts have been pulled in the past, so will this combination of sex and censorship deliver a hit?


28th January   

Comment: Long live Jonathan Ross...

Watching the whingers whinge at Woss
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

Is it me or are watchdogs bored? Well, more bored. How many of them were sat by their radios and televisions over the weekend waiting for Jonathan Ross to be Jonathan Ross? He makes a comment about a woman who nobody knows (because nobody mentioned her name) and once again the papers are full of pictures of people nobody gives a flying fuck about. Some dithering old cow looking for a handout.

Once again the words FIRE, SACK, and DISCIPLINED are zipping around. How many of the listeners Saturday morning were listening just to hear what Ross would say? The fact of the matter is the BBC will never boot this man. Why? because they don't have anything else. He is quite simply the biggest one man ratings magnet. If they do get rid of him, he will simply go to a network who are liberal enough for his brand of comedy, and he'll take the listeners/viewers with him.

Prince Phillip twice publicly called blue collar factory workers 'niggers' and 'Pakis', but for some reason neither him nor his wife, the queen, were asked to advocate the throne. Jonathan Ross makes a passing comment and theirs uproar.

All of this started because of an incident of truth. Russell Brand DID sleep with Andrew Sachs granddaughter (who by the way watchdogs, is a stripper). So where's the problem? Oh and Andrew Sachs, he's a white guy famous for playing a racially stereotypical Spaniard waiter.. In a BBC comedy!!! Bit one sided this isn't it?

Jonathan Ross is a fantastic presenter/interviewer, and the BBC know this. If they think they had complaints over the Andrew Sachs incident, get rid of Ross, and you'll have truck loads. It'll make the Sachs complaints look like fan mail.


28th January   

Update: Vague Censorship...

New UAE press law replaces jail by sever financial penalties
Link Here

The UAE Government plans to clarify its new media law, which some observers have said is too vague.

The draft law was passed by the Federal National Council (FNC), although it must still be approved by the Cabinet and the President to take effect.

The first draft of the 45-article piece of legislation was written by the National Media Council, a government body that oversees journalists. An FNC committee then reworked the draft, making changes to at least 60% of its provisions.

Ibrahim al Abed, the NMC’s director general, said the Government would release an appendix to the law within eight weeks that should clear up what critics have termed vague provisions.

The appendix could include more details about who would be held liable in a media case, whether it will be the individual journalist, the editor-in-chief, or the news organisation as a whole.

According to the draft law, the responsibility is to be shared by the editor-in-chief and the journalist, although media organisations could be fined.

Mr al Abed defended the fines, which start at Dh10,000 (US$2,720) and rise to Dh5 million for insulting the President, the Vice President, the Rulers, and the Crown Princes and their deputies.

Under the proposed legislation, journalists are protected against being imprisoned for what they write, but can face hefty fines for publishing or broadcasting material that harms national interests or the economy.

Mohammed Yousef, the director of the UAE Journalists Association, said last week that he would continue to lobby for changes to the law before it was passed. Yousef said the FNC committee had integrated almost none of his association’s recommendations.


28th January   

Update: Respecting Freedom BUT...

Pakistan muslims ask for UN protection for islam
Link Here
Full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

Speakers at a seminar in Pakistan urged the UN to take stringent measures to force respect of every religion and formulate laws to stop blasphemy against Islam.

The West needs to change its view of Muslims, they said at the seminar titled World Situation, Peace and Religious Leaders organised by Mir Khalilur Rahman Memorial Society (MKRMS) in collaboration with Jamiat Ulema-e-Ahle Hadith.

Dr Babar Awan said Muslims belief was incomplete without belief in all messengers of Allah and respect of all heavenly books. He said Muslims respected West’s freedom of expression ...BUT... were deeply grieved and angered on the blasphemy of their Prophet and the Quran committed with blatant callousness by the western leaders in the name of freedom of expression. He said freedom of expression had its limits in the West and it must never damage religious feelings of any human being, adding that Muslims would never tolerate the blasphemy of the prophet and other sacred personalities.

He said that the world needed to change its view of Muslims, and to search for the reasons which led to the present day confrontation. He asked the UN to legislate to stop blasphemy and disrespect of religions which, he stressed, was essential for world peace.

Bishop Samuel Azriah said the need of the hour was to promote the message of love, peace and humanity since all religions called for respect and honour of other religions and to protect lives of those practicing other faiths. He said it was the collective responsibility of the entire world especially religious leaders. He warned that dangers of extremism were lurking and the world should try to understand the extremists and attempt to win over them.

Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh said Islam strictly forbids killing of innocent people and exploitation of others. He expressed sorrow that Islam was being tarnished by demolishing schools and suicide attacks. He criticised the present policies of the government as ‘faulty’, saying suicide bombers could not be stopped by force but negotiations and other peaceful methods must be used.


28th January   

Update: Bonfire Party...

The Emir of Kano glories in the state's fight against porn
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero has destroyed pornographic films, posters and TV games worth millions of naira.

The emir performed the destruction of the films during a ceremony held at the Magistrate Court.

Addressing the gathering, the Emir commended the effort of the state government to fight against indecency, saying that the destruction of the pornographic films and its related items would assist greatly toward the eradication of deviance among the people , particularly the youth who he described as the leaders of tomorrow.

He assured that Kano Emirate will continue to support and cooperate with the state government to fight every corrupt practices with a view to sanitising the society, and urged the youth in the state to desist from participating in activities that would tarnish the image of their religion and culture.


27th January   

Update: Propaganda Street...

Beat: Life on the Street TV programme confirmed as government propaganda
Link Here
Full story: Propaganda TV...Home Office sponsor TV without making this clear

Beat: Life on the Street
ITV1, Series 1: 29 October - 3 December 2006, 18:00.
Series 2: 27 January - 2 March 2008, 18:00

Beat: Life on the Street is an observational documentary series about the work of Police Community Support Officers (“PCSOs”) in Oxford and Lancashire.

The series was fully funded by the Home Office.

Two complainants, who became aware of the Home Office’s involvement with the series following press reports, objected that the programmes were essentially government “propaganda” and the Home Office’s relationship with the series should have been made clear to viewers.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 9.4 – a sponsor must not influence the content and/or scheduling of a programme in such a way as to impair the responsibility and editorial independence of the broadcaster.
  • Rule 9.5 – there must be no promotional reference to the sponsor, its name, trademark, image, activities, services or products or to any of its other direct or indirect interests. There must be no promotional generic references. Nonpromotional references are permitted only where they are editorially justified and incidental.
  • Rule 9.7 - The relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored programme must be transparent.

Channel Television (“Channel TV”), which complied the programmes on behalf of ITV
Network, confirmed that the Home Office fully funded the series. The sponsorship
was arranged through the Central Office of Information (“COI”). The programmes
were made by an independent production company, TwoFour Productions.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 9.5 and 9.7

A sponsored programme is a programme that has had some or all of its costs met by the sponsor with a view to promoting its own or another’s name, trademark, image, activities, services, products or any other direct or indirect interest.

There is no evidence to suggest that the sponsor influenced the content of the programme so as to undermine the independence of the broadcaster and, as such, we do not find the series in breach of Rule 9.4.

Ofcom judged that overall the series portrayed the PCSOs and the contribution they made to communities in a positive light. There were several elements in the programmes that contributed to this overall positive tone, including interviews with serving officers, who talked in detail about why they enjoyed their role.

Ofcom considered that the overriding tone of the programmes was supportive and likely to leave viewers with a favourable impression of the PCSO service. Taking into account the fact that the Home Office sponsored these series, and that the PCSO service is at least an indirect interest of the Home Office, Ofcom therefore considered that these references within the programmes were promotional, in breach of Rule 9.5.

Ofcom noted that the message displayed on screen during the credits immediately preceding the programme contained the text: Let’s Keep Crime Down, and the strapline Keep It Safe, Keep it Hidden - In Association with Beat: Life on the Street. We considered these credits, broadcast at the start and end of each programme would have notified viewers that the programmes were sponsored. However, the text did not tell viewers who the sponsor was.

Ofcom judged that the Home Office’s role and relationship with the series, as its sponsor, was not made sufficiently clear. While a small, inconspicuous Home Office logo was displayed in the top right hand corner of the screen for a very brief period at the end of the sponsor credits, Ofcom considered that the sponsorship arrangement was not made transparent since the size of its text and the brevity of the logo’s appearance on screen meant it was likely to have been missed by viewers.

In Ofcom’s view, the relationship between the sponsored programme and the Home Office’s role as its sponsor was therefore not made transparent to the audience, in breach of Rule 9.7.


27th January   

Rapper Unrapped...

Ofcom finds background Qur'anic verses to be not in breach
Link Here

Steve Sutherland
Galaxy Birmingham, 29 November 2008, 21:55

Ofcom received 229 complaints concerning a track by the rap artist, Busta Rhymes, included in the Steve Sutherland programme.

The track, Arab Money , included the repeated recitation of a segment from the Qur’an. The complainants considered the inclusion of the Qur’anic verses to be offensive and blasphemous. There was evidence that some of the complaints were part of an orchestrated campaign.

Ofcom noted that within the track the following words were heard (in Arabic) on a number of occasions. This was a quotation from the opening verses of the Qur’an: In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: All Praise is due to God, Lord of the Universe .

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision

The Code does not make a judgement as to whether content might be blasphemous in the eyes of followers of particular religions. Broadcasters are free to include treatments, in whatever form, of aspects of any religion, as long as they comply with the Code.

However, Ofcom must judge whether a broadcaster applied generally accepted standards by ensuring that members of the public were given adequate protection from offensive material.

Ofcom acknowledged that this material may have been challenging and upsetting to certain members of the Muslim community. Ofcom noted the immediate and extensive steps taken by the broadcaster to apologise for any unintentional offence caused by the broadcasting of the material in this case.

However, when reaching a decision as to whether this material breached the Code, Ofcom must take into account the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.

The Code places no restrictions on the subjects covered by broadcasters, or the manner in which such subjects are treated, so long as offensive material that is broadcast is justified by the context. In this case, a quotation from a sacred text was added as a backdrop to a song by a well-known rap artist, who, it is reported, is a follower of Islam.

The track was being played on a station specialising in contemporary black music, and Ofcom noted that the practice of sampling content from a diverse range of sources is common in this genre of music. Furthermore, the Qur’anic quotation in this case, was not directly referred to or commented upon in the other lyrics of the song.

The inclusion of these words could be classed as a cultural reference within the song, rather than being included for theological reasons. Just because a quotation from a sacred text is included within a song does not in itself constitute a breach of generally accepted standards.

Ofcom considered that the large majority of the audience would, in general, have not considered the material to be beyond what would normally be expected in a programme of this type, on this particular station.

Given this, the time of broadcast, and the likelihood that the degree of offence from these comments to the audience overall would be limited, Ofcom considered that the broadcast of this offensive material was, on balance, justified by the context.

Therefore, the programme was not in breach of Rule 2.3.


27th January   

Update: Majority are Easily Offended...

Panorama's Have I Got Bad Language for You?
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

Over half of people think that there is currently too much strong language on TV and radio, a poll commissioned for the BBC's Panorama programme suggests.

55% of those polled said swearing is at an unacceptable level.

68% of those questioned said that swearing on programmes had increased in the last five years.

The poll was conducted for Panorama's Have I Got Bad Language for You? in which comedian Frank Skinner looked at taste and decency in UK broadcasting.

The programme predictably comes in the wake of a row over calls made by presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on Brand's BBC Radio 2 show. Skinner, who has experimented with dropping swearing from his stand up comedy routine, spoke to both broadcasters and performers for the episode of Panorama.

Comedienne Joan Rivers expressed concern over censorship saying: It pulls you back so much, it makes you so fearful that you're scared to do a step in any direction that ordinarily I would have done to be funnier.

As part of its research for the programme Panorama commissioned a poll asking questions about people's attitudes to bad language on terrestrial television and on radio.

A total of 1001 people over the age of 16 were questioned in the telephone poll, carried out by GfK NOP between 16-18 January.

Of those polled, 58% said that broadcasters do not take enough notice of audience views in the amount of swearing on TV and radio, as opposed to 39% who said that they do.

However, 55% of those questioned, said that they thought the 9pm watershed, after which more adult content can be shown on television, is being effectively enforced by broadcasters.


27th January   

Update: Digital Censored Britain...

Government internet report due with remit including: promoting content standards
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Communications Minister Lord Carter was expected to publish interim findings on the UK's digital economy on 24 January.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said the report would now appear before the end of the month.

The Digital Britain report examines a range of issues affecting internet users such as security and and safety and promoting content standards. The report is also expected to examine illegal file-sharing of movies, music and TV and appraise ways of tackling it.

The full report and action plan will be unveiled in late spring 2009.


27th January   

Update: Safety First...

Another issue of The Economist withdrawn from Thailand
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Another edition of UK-based current affairs magazine The Economist has been withdrawn in Thailand, amid local fears over its coverage of the royal family.

The Economist's Thai distributor held back Friday's issue - which contains an article about an Australian writer who was jailed for allegedly slandering the monarchy.

Last month another edition was banned because of an article questioning the Thai king's role in public life.

The Economist sent an e-mail to its Asia subscribers stating: This week our distributors in Thailand have decided not to deliver the Economist in light of our coverage relating to the Thai monarchy.


27th January   

Would You Credit It...

Nutters send hate mail to David Attenborough over a lack of credit to a god
Link Here

Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries.

In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance.

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give credit to God, Attenborough added: They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.

Attenborough went further in his opposition to creationism, saying it was terrible when it was taught alongside evolution as an alternative perspective. It's like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five ... Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact, every bit as much as the historical fact that William the Conqueror landed in 1066.


27th January   

Letter: Channel 4 Ross Dross...

Channel 4 now have policy to bleep the word 'cunt'
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

Letter from Anthony to Channel 4

Are there voting nomination telephone lines for the Republic of Ireland for Celebrity Big Brother ? The C4/BB website does not list any, unlike last year's Big Brother 2008 , when they had 2 sets of numbers listed for the UK and RoI. Is this a sign that next year's BB will not have telephone numbers for the Republic?

Secondly, the censorship of the celebrities is extreme this year. Tina was bleeped during Diary Room Uncut broadcast starting at 10.40pm, well after the watershed, when she said the words He's a selfish cunt in reference to Coolio. She wasn't bleeped in the same episode saying " fuck " or " fucker ". Was this a C4 editorial decision or was it insisted on by Ofcom? Adult TV should be just that, adult TV.

Aside from that, political conversations between Tommy and Terry are being cut. Why?

I'm aware of the standard reply (libel, taste & decency prior to the watershed, privacy of third parties) but these things are subjective and I think your editors/lawyers are being over zealous and ruining the programme.

Reply from Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries

Channel 4 logo Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries regarding Celebrity Big Brother .

Due to issues experienced with the phone voting lines in the Republic of Ireland last year we have decided not to make voting available for this series of Celebrity Big Brother . It is unfortunate, but as we are not confident that these problems will not occur again we cannot, in all fairness, make this service available at this time.

Channel 4 has taken the Editorial Decision to bleep certain words that we deem too strong to broadcast. In the instance that you have quoted, Tina used a word which is widely offensive which the Production Company decided not to broadcast.

Big Brother is subject to very tight guidelines as set by Ofcom and certain conversation topics cannot be broadcast and the political conversations that Tommy and Terry have had cannot be broadcast for that reason.

Your comments are important to us and these have been logged. Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.


27th January   


Bollywood film banned in Nepal over birthplace of Buddha
Link Here
Full story: Banned in Nepal...Bollywood film banned in Nepal

The Bollywood film Chandni Chowk to China has been banned in Nepal because of a scene suggesting the Buddha was born in India, officials say.

Siddartha Gautama, who became the Buddha around 2,500 years ago, was born in what is now south-western Nepal.

Many Nepalis revere the Buddha and have been upset by the film. Protesters have burned tyres in the capital, Kathmandu.

The ban comes even though the offending scene has been cut from the film in Nepal at the request of the censor.

We've banned the screening of the movie in theatres across the country considering the growing public protests over controversial remarks in the film, home ministry spokesman Nabin Ghimire told AFP.

The film is a Bollywood co-production with the US studio, Warner Brothers. It tells of a lowly Indian chef who is mistaken for the reincarnation of a fabled Chinese warrior. Its official website says that it is the first ever Bollywood kung-fu comedy.

A spokesman for the ministry of information told AFP that while the offending scene had been deleted, it could not be removed from pirated DVDs and videos that are smuggled into the country. The spokesman said that the foreign ministry had also been asked to take immediate steps to stop any unedited screening of the film in other countries.


27th January   

The Opposite of Free Speech...

Major opposition website blocked in Morocco
Link Here

Four websites of the Jama’a Al Adl wa Al Ihsan (Justice and Spirituality), Morocco’s largest Islamic movement (officially illegal), have been blocked in Morocco this week.

The main website of the organization, the website of Abdul Salam Yassine, the 76-year-old founder and leader of the movement, the website of his daughter, and spokesperson of the movement, Nadia Yassine, and the website of the movement’s women have all been blocked for visitors in Morocco.


26th January   

Political Heavyweight...

Gordon Brown whinges at overweight newspaper cartoons
Link Here

  Just one more waffer thin
slice off interest rates monsieur?

He considers himself to be a political heavyweight, but it appears that Gordon Brown doesn't like being drawn as one. It has emerged this weekend that he has complained to newspaper cartoonists that they draw him on the rather large side – "fat" was the word the PM used.

Brown is known to have brought the subject up with at least two national newspaper artists, including The Independent's Dave Brown, pulling them up on their portrayal of him and insisting: I'm not that fat. A touch vain? Perhaps.


26th January   


Australia nutter whinges at internet viral ad for TV series Underbelly
Link Here

A 37 second Internet video campaign is said to be shocking and crude, cut together to showcase the most violent and sex-charged scenes of the new TV series Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities.

The clip has already sparked outrage from Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile, who labelled the video pornographic and will concern family groups. I think it’s disgusting and shocking.

Even for a viral campaign there are standards and this would come into the category of pornography. The worst part about it is that it’s making the criminals heroes when that’s a black page on the history of Sydney. There is nothing proud about it.

Reverend Nile said the Christian Democratic Party would hold protests, the same held when the original Underbelly screened early last year and call for advertisers to boycott the program, when the show premieres on Channel 9 in February.


26th January   

Update: Ross Dross...

Daily Mail digs up the easily offended
Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

The family of an 86-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer condemned Jonathan Ross after he cracked a joke about having sex with her.

The broadcaster marked his return to his BBC Radio 2 show with the gag which was immediately pounced on by those gunning for him to be sacked.

Elderly Francisca Guzman's son expressed deep hurt that his frail mother, who has had dementia for three years, was the butt of Ross's joke.

Jose Maria Moreno said: It is offensive. My mother's mental health should not be a subject for comedy and Ross should be sacked. What he said is unforgivable and offensive. I don't understand how he can continue working for an organisation like the BBC.

Ross and his producer Andy Davies were discussing how they had spent their time during the suspension. Davies said he had done some bricklaying in the garden of his villa in Spain but kept getting grabbed by a frisky 80-year-old woman.

Ross declared: Eighty, oh God! I think you should, just for charity. Give her one last night, will you? One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?

Although Mrs Guzman was not named, she is well known in the Andalusian village of Conchar, near Granada, where Davies has his villa.
Jonathan Ross

Last night there were new calls for Ross to be sacked. Tory MP David Davies said: There is a place for humour but it has to be appropriate to the time of the day. And that clearly wasn't.

Mediawatch director John Beyer said: Jokes like this are not on. He should have gone months ago.

Ross told the News of the World yesterday: Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended. It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast. As far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes.

The BBC said it had received 25 complaints.


26th January   

Update: Pardon Harry...

Australia asks Thailand to pardon Harry Nicolaides
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Australia asked Thailand to pardon a writer from Melbourne who received three years in prison for insulting the royal family in three sentences of a novel that sold seven copies.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith made the request in a letter to his Thai counterpart after Harry Nicolaides pleaded guilty this week to defaming the head of state, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his son.

Now that the legal processes before Thailand’s courts have concluded, Australian officials have advised Thai officials that the Australian government strongly supports Mr. Nicolaides’s pardon application, Smith said in a statement.

The government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which took power last month after backing a royalist protest group, is cracking down on Web sites that insult the king, a crime punishable by as many as 15 years in prison.

Thailand has received the pardon request from Australia’s government and will process it in a timely manner, Tharit Charungvat, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.


26th January   

Update: The Voice of Gratitude...

Stephen Green whinges at the ASA
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of newly-launched bus advertisement which claims there is There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Surely religions should be breathing a sigh of relief that they don't have justify religious claims before being able to erect posters and beg money etc.

But Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice claims in a press release that the advertisements broke the ASA's codes on substantiation and truthfulness:

The ASA website says: Advertisements are not allowed to mislead consumers. This means that advertisers must hold evidence to prove the claims they make about their products or services before an ad appears.

But in a ruling today, the ASA says the claim that there is probably no God is not capable of objective substantiation. It says further that the complaints were not 'serious' or 'widespread' enough.

Stephen Green said:

If the ASA had thought the humanists could provide evidence for their claim, they would have asked them for it. As they know there is no evidence for the proposition that 'there is probably no God', they have let their secularist friends off the hook.

The ASA have finessed Code 7.1, which says a ad should not mislead or be likely to mislead, ruling it would not be likely to mislead, so avoiding the thornier question of whether it actually does mislead. Which it does.

On 'taste and decency', the ASA have simply taken a subjective decision to dismiss the complaints of offensiveness. On planet ASA, complaints from people of faith are not given the same weight as those from secularists. But what do you expect when the ASA Council is appointed and run by a campaigning homosexual, Chris, Lord, Smith of Finsbury?

We always knew the ASA was just another tool of the politically-correct secularist establishment, but here's the proof. Their ruling is a good example of how the deck is stacked against Christians today, and the Church needs to wake up to the anti-Christian agenda right now. The good news is we now know that when the secularists decided to say: "There is probably no God", they had no reason for making that absurd claim, and time has not helped them come up with one. The bad news is that if Christians don't start standing up for their Faith and their Saviour soon, we shall see religious liberties trampled on, and the secularists will take us further down the road to their hell on earth.


26th January   

Extreme in Scotland...

The current status of extreme porn in Scotland
Link Here

The Scottish government has outlined plans to extend their version of a Dangerous Pictures Pictures Bill to be published in Spring 2009. It will additionally include images of non-violent rape.

We have decided to introduce a new offence for the possession of extreme pornographic material. We propose that this offence will criminalise the possession of pornographic images which realistically depict:

  • Life-threatening acts and violence that would appear likely to cause severe injury;
  • Rape and other non- consensual penetrative sexual activity, whether violent or otherwise; and
  • Bestiality or necrophilia.

The maximum penalty for the proposed new offence will be 3 years imprisonment.

We intend that the new offence will be similar to that at section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which will apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish offence will go further than that offence, however, in that it will cover all images of rape and non-consensual penetrative sexual activity, whereas the English offence only covers violent rape.

Under section 51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, it is already illegal to publish, sell or distribute or to possess with a view to selling or distributing the material that would be covered by this new offence. We propose to increase the maximum penalty under section 51 of the 1982 Act in respect of extreme pornographic material from 3 to 5 years.

The Scottish Government is currently inviting comments on its proposals .

Although not a formal consultation, should you wish to offer any views on the proposals contained within this document, please use the following contact details:

By email (preferred): Criminaljusticeandlicensingbill@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

By post:

Jim Wilson
Scottish Government
Criminal Law and Licensing Division
Room GW.15
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

By phone: 0131 244 7050


26th January   

Update: Bollyban...

Court case starts to restore Pakistan ban on Indian films
Link Here
Full story: Bollywood Banned...India films banned in Pakistan and Bangladesh

The Lahore High Court has issued notices to the chairman of Pakistan Central Board of Film Censors (PCBFC) and a Deputy Attorney General in a case regarding exhibition of Indian films.

The applicants requested the court to declare the exhibition of Indian films in Pakistan by PCBFC as illegal.

Applicants prayed to the court to cancel the censor certificates issued by the board and restrain it from issuing further certificates.

In this case, PCBFC secretary had already filed a reply saying that it changed rules through which a film produced by foreign countries other than India despite having Indian cast could be exhibited in the country to facilitate film importers and to revive cinema industry. In order to revive Pakistan's cinema industry, which was declining day by day, the federal government made an amendment in the Rule 10 under which films produced by other countries containing Indian or Pakistani Artists could also be brought into the country, he said.


25th January   

Update: In the Spotlight...

Jonathan Ross censored for his return in the press spotlight
Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Jonathan Ross was heavily censored when his chat show was aired on Friday night.

Despite swearing several times and making a series of crude remarks during the pre-recording of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on Thursday morning, Friday's broadcast of his chat show was radically toned down, with all of Ross's bad language and sexually suggestive remarks cut from the final version of the programme.

Ross twice directed 'fuck' at Tom Cruise, one of the guests on the show, during the pre-record.

He also swore at the comedian Lee Evans, another guest of the show, who used the word 'shit' shortly after he came on. In response, Ross said: Don't come on here with your 'fucking' foul mouth. This is a brave new world.

All of Ross's swear words were cut from the programme when it was aired on Friday night.

During the pre-record, Ross also asked Cruise to feel his right biceps, before claiming that his right bicep is better toned thanks to what he does with that hand. This was also cut from the final version of the show.

Ross also made several joking references to Russell Brand, all of which were cut from Friday's broadcast.

John Beyer, the director of the pressure group Media-Watch UK, said: The BBC would have been very foolish to continue giving a completely free rein to Jonathan Ross. Let's hope this brings a more sensible approach to this sort of programme and that viewers' trust in broadcasting is restored.

Ross returns to radio with some old jokes

Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

The Daily Mail  enjoyed the return of Jonathan Ross to Radio 2 and his remarks about sleeping with an 80-year-old woman.

Ten minutes after the live show began, Ross and his co-presenter Andy Davies talked about how they had spent the past three months, when Ross was suspended from the BBC.

Davies said that he had been doing some DIY at his house in Spain, and referred to an ‘older woman’ who lives nearby who keeps trying to kiss me...she must be about 80, I reckon.

Ross replied: Oh God. I think you should, just for charity. Give her one last night, will you? One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?

A BBC spokesman said it had received 18 complaints about the show.


25th January   

Update: Pegging for PEGI...

MEP compiles reporting backing PEGI for all member states
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

A report by a member of the European Parliament has backed the self-regulatory Pan European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system that is used by the video game industry in Europe.

Dutch politician Toine Manders, who also sits on the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, compiled the report with recent trends towards online gaming in mind.

As well as acknowledging the fact that video games are largely non-violent and can be valuable educational tools, Manders also suggested that parents need to be better educated about video game content.

The report goes on to state the importance of an age-verification system that pays particular attention to online games and downloadable content, claiming that European member states should all back the PEGI system.


25th January   

Defacing Free Speech...

Australia bans graffiti magazine
Link Here

Issue eight of the Aussie graffiti magazine Dirty Deeds has just been banned by the censors. The applicant in this case was Dirty Deeds Streetwear.

In the 2005-06 annual report of the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (Censorship) it was mentioned that the South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson wanted to change the censorship rules to make it even easier to ban films, games, and books that feature graffiti. However this was opposed by the other ministers and the issue was dropped from the agenda by the time of the next annual report.

This has not prevented the censors from going ahead and banning items with graffiti themes anyway.

The banned magazine is for sale on eBay.


25th January   

Update: An Education...

Thailand to launch PR campaign to 'educate' foreigners about its lese majeste law
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand's Senate has resolved to set up an extraordinary committee to strictly enforce laws in the name of protection of the monarchy following an increasing number of websites found to be offensive to the royal institution.

The Senate voted 90 to 17 to set up an extraordinary panel to follow up on the enforcement of laws and articles relating to the protection of the monarchy is to be headed by national police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan.

Currently, there are over 10,000 websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. The Information and Communication (ICT) Ministry has been able to block only 2,000 sites.

The Justice Ministry will coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to launch a campaign among foreigners to educate them about lese majeste laws.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said he would coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to instruct all Thai embassies abroad to launch public relations campaigns about lese majeste laws which impose harsh punishments on those who insult the Thai monarchy.


25th January   

Unreal Claims...

Catholics rant against unreal relationships on Facebook guided by their unreal relationship with a god
Link Here

The Roman Catholic Church has once again revealed how in touch it is with modern times by calling for a ban on Facebook-like social notworking sites.

Archbishop Pompili of Cei (Italian Episcopal Conference) slammed social networks about what he called networked individualism which he said creates people who terminate links with the surrounding area .

He warned that relationships formed online were not real. Well, not as real in the same way as such important things like an invisible gods, angels, virgin births and Papal infallibility.

Facebook and its ilk create an online egocentrism and are responsible for drying up of real relationships, he said.

The chairman of the Cei, Bishop Mariano Crociata said that the Internet varies between elation and mistrust and it is time to find a middle way.


25th January   

Repression Practitioners...

Botswana imposes state licensing of journalists
Link Here

Botswana has hurriedly passed a controversial media law that journalists fear will restrict their work, say the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).

The Media Practitioners Act was passed last year, but parliamentarians had asked for amendments and had expected to discuss them at parliamentary committees for fine-tuning this year.

Instead, the government published the act in the official gazette over the holidays, making it law.

Under the act, journalists are required to get the consent of a new Media Council before they can work. The council is a government-appointed body that has the power to impose fines and jail time on journalists it determines have violated standards - including failing to register.

MISA says the act amounts to direct, political interference in the media - more so as Botswana has a general election this year - and will lead to self-censorship by media fearing retributive measures by the council.

According to news reports, the law as it appeared in the official gazette included a passage saying it was designed, among other things, to monitor the activities of the media and to create a body to receive any complaints directed against media practitioners.


24th January   

Update: A Victory for the Muslim Community...

Fitna banned from the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

APP reports that a scheduled screening of Geert Wilders’ film Fitna in the House of Lords has been cancelled. It was due to be shown on Jan 29th.

The decision was taken after a meeting between Lord Nazir Ahmed, Government Chief Whip of the House of Lords and Leader of the House of Lords, and representatives from the Muslim Council of Britain, the British Muslim Forum and others.

Protests and demonstrations have been cancelled,

Lord Ahmed called the decision a victory for the Muslim community


24th January   

Flem Flam...

Belgium intends to impose state internet blocking
Link Here

Belgium declared last week that it intends to join the ranks of European nations operating a hidden list of blocked websites.

The move is controversial, as it would build on existing powers to block websites – but essentially hand jurisdiction over what gets blocked on a day to day basis to the police.

In all likelihood, that means federal police special division Federal Computer Crime Unit (FCCU). They would get the authority to compose the blacklists of to be blocked websites, without any legal safeguards or external oversight mechanisms. The fact that the FCCU has already suggested that this practice should also be applicable in other cases has raised concerns amongst those concerned with uncontrolled and over-zealous censorship of the internet.

The Flemish League for Human Rights has criticised the proposal, saying: The decision to block websites must remain under exclusive authority of the judicial branch. It is unacceptable that the police gets a wild card to block certain websites at will.

The Belgian proposal has the backing of Minister of Enterprise and Administrative Reform, Vincent Van Quickenborne. He is looking to ban child pornography on the internet through a protocol between ISPs and the Government. However, it has also been suggested that the protocol might extend to other illegal sites, such as hate and racism websites or internet fraud.


24th January   

Update: Healthy Decision...

Indian court stubs out smoking censorship
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

In a setback to Health Minister A Ramadoss' anti-tobacco campaign, the Delhi High Court today quashed the Centre's ban on smoking scenes in films saying it is a reality of life and any censorship on its depiction would violate creative artistes' fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who passed the order as an umpire judge after a division bench had given a split verdict on the issue, struck down the Centre's October 2006 rules banning smoking scenes in films and TV programmes A cinematographic film must reflect the realities of life. Smoking is a reality of life. It may be undesirable but it exists. It is not banned by any law, Justice Kaul said in his 50-page judgement passed on the petition of film director Mahesh Bhatt challenging the Centre's notification.

Any form of censorship is an inroad on the freedom of expression apart from the fact that censorship is highly subjective and can be essentially mindless, the court said adding: To per se depict such an act without glamourising it or promoting any particular product cannot be prohibited as it would bar a representation of how life is." The court said that restrictions imposed by the government would hamper artistes who indulge in creative acts such as film-making.


24th January   


Beatles anniversary concert banned by jobsworths
Link Here

Friday January 30th is the 40th anniversary of the Beatles playing their last ever live performance, on the roof of 3 Saville Row in London.

Beatles tribute band The Bootleg Beatles were due to re-create the concert on the very same roof, but the local council and police have stopped them from doing it.

The original event was to be organised by Express Newspapers and OK magazine. The Bootleg Beatles were due to play on the roof of 3 Saville Row 40 years to the minute since the Beatles. Tony Bramwell of Apple was due to attend. However, it was cancelled on health and safety grounds, by the local jobsworths and police.

Richard Porter, of the British Beatles Fan Club, and The Beatles In London Tours, was surprised by the cancellation of the rooftop event. It's a real shame, and rather surprising. I find it rather strange as the Bootleg Beatles were played on the very same roof on the 30th anniversary!


24th January   

Update: The Dark Knight to Take the Rap?...

Crazed knife attacker styled on The Joker kills babies in a creche
Link Here
Full story: Knife Blame...Media predictably blamed for increased knife crime

A man resembling the Batman villain The Joker killed two children and a child care worker during a knife attack on a creche in the Belgian town of Dendermonde on Friday.

The 20-year-old assailant had a painted white face, eye shadow and ginger hair, and was wearing a bullet proof vest, witnesses said.

He tricked his way into the Fabeltjesland day care centre at 10am by claiming to have a meeting with one of the members of staff. He then drew a 12in knife and began to slash at children aged between a few months and two years old.

There were 21 infants in the creche and six supervisors. All of the victims were stabbed in the throat or head. Parents gathered in the Dendermonde town hall and, with psychologists in support, identified the victims using photographs.

Nine children escaped unharmed. Three of the creche's child care workers were injured as they tried to fend off the attacker.

Theo Janssens, Dendermonde's deputy mayor, said that the man just went crazy.

The knifeman was pursued by a police helicopter and arrested in a nearby supermarket still in possession of the weapon used in the attack. Alphonso De Baaker, a retired teacher, said the attacker had a history of mental illness.


24th January   

Update: What's Hot and What's Not...

Australia tested to see what website content it will block
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

In response to a complaint about an anti-abortion web page showing photographs of what appears to be aborted fetuses, ACMA has declared the page prohibited or potential prohibited content. The Whirlpool member who made the complaint, presumably to gauge ACMA’s response to such content, has published the department’s email:

Following investigation of your complaint, ACMA is satisfied that the internet content is hosted outside Australia, and that the content is prohibited or potential prohibited content.

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has a code of practice for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which, among other things, set out arrangements for dealing with such content. In accordance with the code, ACMA has notified the above content to the makers of IIA approved filters, for their attention and appropriate action. The code requires ISPs to make available to customers an IIA approved filter.

Thank you for bringing this matter to ACMA’s attention.

Perhaps someone should complain about a vanilla hardcore porn website and tie down whether the Government will set their filters to block it or not. After all, this is the question everybody wants to know.


24th January   

Facing Down Communist Censorship...

China censors Obama's inauguration speech
Link Here

China censored parts of the new US president's inauguration speech that have appeared on a number of websites.

Live footage of the event on state television also cut away from Barack Obama when communism was mentioned.

China's leaders appear to have been upset by references to facing down communism and silencing dissent.

English-language versions of the speech have been allowed on the internet, but many of the Chinese translations have omitted sensitive sections.

In his inauguration address, President Obama said: Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

That entire passage was retained for an English-language version of the speech that appeared on the website of state-run Xinhua news agency. But in the Chinese-language version, the words "and communism" was taken out.

President Obama's comments addressed to world leaders who blame their society's ills on the West, also fell foul of the censor's red pen. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, the president said.

Once again, Xinhua included the passage in full in its English version, but the sentence was taken out of the Chinese translation.

Similar changes were made to versions of the speech that appeared on other websites based in China.


24th January   

Blocked Human Rights...

Bahrain blocks scores of websites
Link Here

Scores of websites have been blocked in Bahrain, following a new crackdown by the Ministry of Information. The latest sweep makes sites ranging from proxy tools such as Google Translate to those of social, religious, human rights and political groups inaccessible to people in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Human Rights Society, whose site is also blocked in Bahrain, provides a list of banned websites.


23rd January   

Gloomy Censorship...

South Korea blogger jailed for doom and gloom financial news
Link Here

A South Korean blogger is being prosecuted after using his website to warn of financial doom for his country. He is currently in jail and has been refused bail. 

Supporters of Park Dae-sung say he is the victim of censorship by a government upset of his gloomy forecasts.

Park, using the online pseudonym Minerva, has become a household name in the country for his predictions of sharp stock market falls.

Prosecutors accuse him of damaging the local currency by posting incorrect information online. In particular they reckoned he’d gone too far when he said the government, had banned major financial institutions and trade businesses from purchasing U.S. dollars in an apparent move to shore up the local currency, calling it inaccurate information that disrupted the foreign exchange market, says the Associated Press.

An official at the prosecutors' office said: The suspect in this case was indicted on charges of false information on two occasions.

As South Korean markets tumbled late last year amid the global downturn, the main financial regulator warned it would crack down on what it considered malicious rumours.

Some economic analysts say they have come under pressure from authorities not to voice negative views on the economy.

Park, an unemployed 30-year-old man who faces up to five years in prison if he is found guilty of breaking communications laws.

Update: Not a Crime

2nd February 2009. See article from prachatai.com

A South Korean blogger in custody since January 7, charged with spreading false information online, should be set free, the Committee to Protect Journalists have said.

The use of communication laws to imprison Park Dae-sung is a troubling step backward for democracy in South Korea. He should be released immediately, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney: Expressing opinions about the economy online is not a crime.


23rd January   

Petition: In Defence of Geert Wilders...

A petition pledging a boycott of Dutch products should they prosecute critic of islam
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

To: The Dutch Government

WHEREAS Geert Wilders has exercised his fundamental human right of freedom of expression and spoken out, with facts and evidence, of the threat posed by radical Islam; 

WHEREAS certain elements within Islamic communities have threatened a boycott of Dutch goods if Geert Wilders is not punished by the Dutch government for exercising his freedom of expression; and

WHEREAS certain elements in Dutch industry and the Dutch government are suggesting that Geert Wilders be prosecuted civilly or criminally, in order to prevent such a boycott;

IT IS RESOLVED that, in the event that the Dutch government attempts, in any way, to punish or prosecute Geert Wilders, civilly or criminally, for exercising his freedom of expression, the undersigned will initiate a boycott of any and all Dutch goods.


The Undersigned

...Sign the petition


23rd January   

Update: An Insult to Western Values and Freedom...

Call to ban Rihanna from performing in Malaysia
Link Here
Full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is demanding that authorities ban R&B star Rihanna’s concert to be held in Kuala Lumpur on 13 February.

PAS alleges that her revealing outfits and suggestive dance moves are an insult to Asian values and outrage local cultural mores. 

According to Kamaruzaman Mohammad, a leader of the youth wing of PAS claimed that attending the concert is a form of support for Israel: Whether Rihanna realises it or not, we know that the taxes she paid also contributed to the war in Gaza .


23rd January   

Obscene Controls...

Hong Kong consults over internet censorship
Link Here

Hong Kong government is completing its first round of consultation on the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) at the end of January, 2009. 

The most debatable section is on the control over online new media as the existing practice of indecent and obscene censorship is very arbitrary and the extension of the ordinance to the internet may violate freedom of speech and expression.

Moreover, the anti-porn campaign in China has become a pretext for political censorship, internet users in Hong Kong also worries that ISP level filtering will give an infrastructure for political censorship in the future. 

At present, the Hong Kong government adopts a complaint-driven approach to deal with obscene or indecent Internet content. The administrative body, Television and entertainment License Authority (TELA), would issue warning to local ISPs for adding warning message or taking down indecent materials, while for obscene articles, it would hand over the case to the police.

In the government’s consultation paper, suggestions include:

  • Making it a legislative requirement for ISPs to provide filtering software
  • Tightening statutory controls, for example, web users are required to input their credit card data before getting access to webpage containing indecent materials to ensure that they have attained the age of 18
  • Regulating P2P communication.

The consultation has stirred up strong reactions from ISPs and internet users. ISPs pointed out that mandatory filtering service would increase the cost of ISPs service and suggested client’s end filtering software instead. Moreover, the enforcement of the COIAO may open the path for application of more regulations on the Internet, such as Association Ordinance and Public Order Ordinance and the future National Security related set of law.

The P2P monitor will also violate internet users’ privacy, as there is no way for the the users to check how their data would be used (similar to the case of the private data detention of the TOM skype in mainland China).

The moral debate within the society is very tense. Conservative Christians consider any form of nudity and sexual intimacy be classified as indecent (require warning messages and for 18 or above only) as it would induce sinful thought to youth and insist the exposure of sexual organ, explicit sex and non-heterosexual sexual behavior are obscene and have to be banned for distribution to all.

They have launched campaign to push the government for imposing mandatory filtering service at ISPs level and banning the distribution of indecent articles to youth (under 18) and obscene article (to all, including adult). They mobilize responses via weekly sermon, Christian schools, social service organizations, etc.

On the other hand, the liberal sector of the population call for a more open-minded attitude towards sex-related content and tolerance towards sexual minorities. Moreover, human rights, media and progressive civic sector suggest to add human rights and free expression principle to the classification system, giving exemption to arts, literature, religion, science and public concern matter in the classification guideline.

After this round of consultation, the government will come up with a concrete proposal for reforming the COIAO and regulating the new media later this year.


23rd January   

Offsite: An Offensive Message...

Shadow minister lays into Conroy's mandatory internet filtering plan
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Underlying the Rudd Government's plan to screen the internet is an offensive message: that parents cannot be trusted to mind their children online.

Adult supervision should be front and centre of the effort to improve online safety, a responsibility accepted by most parents, grandparents, teachers and carers. But the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, seems to think differently: filtering content at internet service provider level is "central to the Government's plan to make the internet a safer place for children".

There is no technological substitute for adult supervision and it's irresponsible and misleading to infer otherwise. Mandating a so-called "clean feed" has the potential to create a dangerous false sense of security, leading parents to believe ongoing supervision and vigilance is no longer needed.

The minister must start listening to the experts.

...Read full article


22nd January   

Update: Nutters Must think There's No God...

Advertising censor wisely finds in favour of atheist bus adverts
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

Atheist bus adverts have wisely been given the green light by the advertising censor, Advertising Standards Agency.

So far, 326 people have objected to the posters that have been placed on 800 buses around the country, which state: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Some claimed the adverts were offensive while others said that their central claim about God's existence could not be substantiated.

The ASA has admitted that the adverts go against the beliefs of many people. But it has decided that they do not breach any part of its code and is not launching an investigation.

The decision is a victory for the British Humanist Association, which organised the campaign, as it had insisted the posters were only intended to reassure non-believers and not mock the religious. The slogan was created by Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer, as an antidote to posters placed on public transport by Christian groups that threaten eternal damnation to passengers.
The ASA said in a statement:

The Advertising Standards Authority has concluded that the 'There's probably no God' bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association is not in breach of the advertising code. The ASA will therefore not launch an investigation and the case is now closed.

The ASA carefully assessed the 326 complaints it received. Some complained that the ad was offensive and denigratory to people of faith. Others challenged whether the ad was misleading because the advertiser would not be able to substantiate its claim that God 'probably' does not exist.

The ASA Council concluded that the ad was an expression of the advertiser's opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation.

Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.


22nd January   

Update: Fit for Trial...

Geert Wilders to be tried for comparing the Koran with Mein Kampf
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

The Far-right Dutch politician who produced a film, Fitna , claiming links between the Koran and terrorism is to be put on trial for his public statements against Islam.

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), said he was surprised that the Amsterdam Appeals Court is to allow his criminal prosecution for inciting hatred and of discriminating against Muslims by comparing their religion to Nazism.

Mr Wilders' views constitute a criminal offence. [He] has insulted Islamic worshippers by attacking the symbols of the Islamic faith, the court stated, referring to his comparison of the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf .

Wilders said he was stunned by the judgment: This was the last thing I expected. The fact that I can no longer speak openly but have to go before the court makes this a very black day, not just for me but for freedom of expression in this country . What I do is to express my opinion on behalf of half a million people who voted for me and who think it should be possible to criticise Islam. We are fed up with the 'Islamisation' of the Netherlands.

The decision by the Amsterdam Appeals Court, the second-highest legal authority in the country, overturns an earlier ruling by the Dutch Prosecution Service, which last June dismissed hundreds of complaints against Wilders on the grounds that his utterances had been made in the context of public debate , a position that was endorsed by the Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, a Christian Democrat.


22nd January   

Update: COPA Cops It...

US Supreme Court kills COPA law which tried to restrict free speech in the name of child protection
Link Here
Full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

The US Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that a law designed to shield children from pornography on the Internet violated the constitutional right to free speech.

The move by the highest court, which let the ruling stand without comment, would appear to mean the end of the road for the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was passed by Congress in 1998 but never enforced.

Rights groups welcomed the Supreme Court decision not to hear the Bush administration's appeal of the ban on COPA, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describing it as a clear victory for free speech.

The court's decision not to review COPA for a third time affirms what we have been saying all along -- the government has no right to censor protected speech on the Internet, and it cannot reduce adults to hearing and seeing only speech that the government considers suitable for children, added ACLU legal director Steven Shapiro.


22nd January   

Update: Religious Feelings...

Christian parties want to maintain Dutch blasphemy law
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in the Netherlands...Netherlands considersl blasphemy laws

The parties in the governing coalition are divided on whether legislation forbidding blasphemy should be repealed. A majority of MPs are in favour of scrapping the law. This makes it unclear how the question can be resolved as MPs cannot force the issue without causing a government crisis.

A motion to scrap the blasphemy law was tabled by the democrat party, D66, and supported by the coalition partner, Labour, and all opposition parties except for the small right-wing religious party, the SGP. However, the Christian Democrats and the Christian Union, both members of the coalition, voted with the SGP to keep the law on the statute book.

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has already said he is in favour of repealing the blasphemy legislation. He wants to include religious groups in legislation designed to protect people from discrimination. However, it looks unlikely that such a change would get the backing of a majority in parliament.


22nd January   

Update: Small Minded...

Whingers hyped up by Celebrity Big Brother nonsense
Link Here
Full story: Big Brother...Whinging about Channel 4's Big Brother

Celebrity Big Brother star Verne Troyer has stirred up a few nutters.

A very late night showing on Tuesday night’s C4 highlights show featured him and the other celebrities making a movie of their favourite moments in the BB house as part of a task.

Verne decided to re-enact his antics from last week when he got drunk on champagne and flirted with all the girls.

He grabbed a toy doll and pretended it was former housemate Mutya Buena.

Egged on by rapper Coolio, he snogged the baby doll on the lips for several seconds, gasping: Oooh Mutya. Oooh Mutya. Verne then drew away, stuck out his long tongue, wiggled it around and went back in for another smacker.

Last night a spokeswoman for anti-child sex abuse charity Kidscape blasted: It seems there are no moral guidelines on this show. The fact this was broadcast suggests that it’s okay to be indecent. It’s misusing a symbol of childhood. The fact that people will see a celebrity doing something like this almost gives credence to it.”

An Ofcom spokesman said: We have received complaints. We shall be investigating them to see if any codes or guidelines have been breached.

John Beyer, of nutter group Mediawatch, said: It seems they have broadcast this to create controversy to try to boost their ratings.


22nd January   

Update: Nutters Own the Airwaves...

Parents TV Council whinges at Britney Spears song
Link Here
Full story: If You Seek Amy...Britney Spears winds up the nutters

Nutters of the Parents Television Council (PTC) have issued a statement, warning parents and radio stations to ban Britney Spears' song If U Seek Amy. The organization believes that it would violate the broadcast indecency law if the track, which carries phrase If U Seek Amy sounding like F U C K Me when sung quickly, is played between 6 A.M. and 10 P.M.

There is no misinterpreting the lyrics to this song, and it's certainly not about a girl named Amy, PTC president Tim Winter comments on Britney's song. It's one thing for a song with these lyrics to be included on a CD so that fans who wish to hear it can do so, but it's an entirely different matter when this song is played over the publicly-owned airwaves, especially at a time when children are likely to be in the listening audience.


22nd January   

Extremely Incomprehensible...

Government vagueness about potentially dangerous pictures
Link Here

It's official: the government believes it is entitled to pass law which is incomprehensible.

Thank you for your further email of 7 December concerning the information note [pdf] , published by the Ministry of Justice on 26 November, which covers sections 63-67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

In your email you suggest that the information provided by the Ministry of Justice is not sufficiently clear to enable individuals to consider whether or not they possess potentially illegal material. You have also raised a number of points about the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA) and about the definition of an extreme image.

Taking first the general point which you have made about clarity, while we fully understand what prompts your concern, ultimately a decision in any particular case would be a matter for the courts. It is not for the Ministry of Justice to be prescriptive about whether certain scenarios are legal or illegal. The examples which were offered in the information note were indicative of the type of material which could fall foul of the new offence, if all the elements of the offence were met. Both in the structure of the offence and the further explanation which has been given, we consider that we have provided as much clarity as is possible.

There is a limit to the extent to which language can encapsulate images and it may not be possible for an individual to have absolute certainty about which side of the line an image may fall. On this issue, it has been held by the Court of Appeal that “it is not necessary for an individual to be able to be sure in advance whether his conduct will be characterised by a jury as a crime” (R v O’Carroll 2003 EWCA Crim 2338). This was in relation to an argument that the term “indecent” (in the context of images of children) was too imprecise to enable the applicant to know in advance whether this conduct was criminal.

A similar argument about definitions was made in the case of R v Stephane Laurent Perrin 2002 EWCA Crim 747 in respect of the term “obscene” as it appears in the OPA. Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights, in Muller v Switzerland 2001 13 EHRR 212, rejected the submission that the word “obscene” in the Swiss Criminal Code was too vague to enable the individual to regulate his conduct.

We consider that the offence set out in section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 is as clear as possible, and that we have done what we can to ensure that the offence is “in accordance with the law” because in addition to providing that the material must be 1) pornographic and 2) grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character, it also sets out a list of the extreme, explicit and realistic images which are caught.

Turning to the points you have raised about the OPA 1959, and about the “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” element of the offence, as the Government has previously said, it is not the intention to criminalise possession of material which it would be legal to publish. However, we chose not to build upon or draw from the 1959 Act directly, as the language of that Act is structured around the wider concept of publication and does not translate easily to the context of possession. It also covers a much broader range of material than is covered by the new possession offence.

On your question about useful precedents, there is no central list of material which has been found to be obscene under the OPA and no list of precedent cases but information is available on the Crown Prosecution Service website about the sort of material they would consider for prosecution. The associated question which you have posed about reassurance in these circumstances that the new offence will not catch material which is legal to publish was raised during the parliamentary stages of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. The addition of the “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” test was intended to meet those concerns.

You have queried the explanation of the test in the information note. It draws upon the ordinary dictionary definition of ‘obscene’ rather than the technical definition which is contained within the OPA and which is geared around the concept of publication. The terms “grossly offensive” and “disgusting” are there as examples of “obscene character”, neither to be ignored nor taken in isolation. We are of the view that the practical effect of including this test – in conjunction with the other elements of the offence – will be to ensure that this offence only catches material which would be caught by the OPA were it to be published in this country.


22nd January   

For What He's Worth...

Magazine banned in Tunisia for article about president's income
Link Here

Distribution of the latest issue of Chebab ’Ashrin , a monthly published in the United Arab Emirates, was banned by the Tunisian authorities on 14 January.

No official explanation was given but the issue contained an article about the income of the main Arab leaders including Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the fact that it has become standard practice in Tunisia to censor any subject that is politically sensitive or embarrassing for the country’s leaders.


21st January   

Updated: Toilet Humour...

Bulgarians whinge at Czech artwork
Link Here

A Czech artist has unveiled a humorous sculpture of the 27 European Union nations that has caused a diplomatic row

David Cerny told The Times tonight that it is to test whether the EU had a sense of humour.

He admitted that he had misled his own government, which commissioned him to make the 10 million Crown (ฃ350,000) artwork as a showpiece of its presidency of the EU, by making it with his friends instead of artists from the 27 countries.

Cerny added that he apologised to Bulgaria after its ambassador formally complained about its depiction as a map of toilets and he also strongly denied that Germany’s interlinked autobahns were made to look like a swastika, as some observers have unconvincingly suggested.

The artist, who has a long history of controversial projects, said that he planned to travel to Brussels for the official launch in the atrium of the European Council after senior Czech officials agreed to go ahead despite the double embarrassment of Cerny’s hoax and the complaints from other governments.

But Betina Joteva, first secretary for the Bulgarian government office to the EU, insisted that the image of her country was removed. “I cannot accept to see a toilet on the map of my country. This is not the face of Bulgaria,” she said.

Slovakia was also understood to have complained about its depiction as a body tied up with rope said to represent Hungary, its neighbour and rival. British diplomats were said to be relaxed about the empty space on the giant sculpture intended to signify that the UK was absent from the EU.

I am seriously very pro-European, Cerny told The Times: It would be a great pity if Europe would not be able to take this as a bit of satire and irony. If we are strong as Europe it should be OK for one nation to make fun of other nations.

Update: Toilet Cover

16th January 2009

The Czech ambassador sent us a letter telling us that they will either remove or cover up the offending item, Betina Joteva, first secretary for the Bulgarian EU embassy, told AFP.

Earlier Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra, officially opening the exhibit said: I apologise to Bulgaria and its government if it feels offended, and I think we are certainly ready to engage in a dialogue.

If you stand by your request to remove it, of course we will certainly do that, he added, addressing a Bulgarian diplomat attending the ceremony.

Update: Down the Pan

17th January 2009. See article from telegraph.co.uk

The controversial representation of Bulgaria as a "Turkish" lavatory is to be removed from an art installation in a European Union building on Monday.

The decision to take down the exhibit was confirmed on Friday evening by David Cerny, the controversial Czech artist whose creation has generated a furious debate over free speech at the heart of the EU. We are going to put Bulgaria into storage on Monday, he told The Daily Telegraph: Its removal will become a symbolic part of the object itself and part of the mirror the installation holds up to Europe.

Italy on Friday became the latest country to use Brussels diplomatic channels to raise objections to the art work.

Italian diplomats are upset by Italy's depiction as a soccer pitch on which mechanical football players, wearing the national team colours, appear to be animatedly performing a sex act with footballs to enthusiastic crowd sounds.

They are not happy at all, said a Brussels diplomat. Other sources confirmed that Italy regards the art work as bad taste but said that the Italians would hold off from an official protest until after consultations with Rome and other countries.

Update: Cover Up

21st January. See article from news.bbc.co.uk

Part of a work of art that depicts Bulgaria as a toilet has been covered up, following the country's protest.

The Bulgarian entry was shrouded by a black sheet on Tuesday.

A Czech government spokeswoman told BBC News that the shroud had been put in place by the Czech side.

We proceeded to a technical solution, which we found together in intensive talks with the Bulgarian side over a few days, Michaela Jelinkova said.


21st January   

Update: 10,000 Websites...

Ever more claims of l่se majest้
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand's Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said on 19 January that websites containing information considered as lese majeste are increasing, media reports said.

The "Bangkok Post" quoted Pirapan as saying that more than 10,000 such websites have contents that allegedly insult the Thai royal family.

Based on article from bangkokpost.com

Thai police have charged an outspoken academic with insulting the royal family in a book, the accused professor said.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor, said he was formally charged under the kingdom's harsh lese majeste laws protecting the monarchy from defamation.

The academic told AFP he was was charged over the content of my anti-military coup book, A Coup for the Rich. The charges seem to have arisen out of a complaint made by the Chulalongkorn University book shop to the police, said Giles, a Thai national who teaches there.

He has 20 days to make a statement to the police, who will then decide whether to forward the case to the courts for trial.


21st January   

Too Family Friendly...

Australian author under duress for sidestepping book censors
Link Here
Full story: Book Censorship in Australia...Australian book censor bans incest novels

A self-published author faces legal action if he keeps distributing graphic books on incest before the federal classification board reviews them. But he may escape prosecution for mailing the books to the 500 libraries throughout Australia.

Charles Kevin, 82, bypassed classification laws to distribute Sibling Love and Bet and Zak . The books contain graphic descriptions of sex between brothers and sisters and a mother and her son.

More than a dozen public libraries which had the books in general circulation, have since pulled them off their shelves.

Kevin, also known as Charles or Zoltan Kovacs, sees nothing shameful in incest and sought as wide an audience as possible for works he admitted were perverted. He welcomed efforts to ban the books, saying it was would only lift his profile.

Federal authorities now want Kevin and his home publishing business Anthos, to submit copies of the book to the classification board. Kevin's failure to do so, and any subsequent distribution of the books, could result in fines and jail. But the State Government, which enforces classification violations, said he would not face prosecution for the previous distribution of the books or for failing to submit them for classification.


20th January   

Even More Extreme Injustice...

Scotland to introduce an extended Dangerous Pictures Bill
Link Here

Downloading images of rape and possessing other forms of extreme pornography will be punishable by up to three years in prison under new laws to be unveiled next month.

Kenny MacAskill, the injustice secretary, has  revealed details of his proposed nasty law on owning hardcore pornography that he claims is sexually and physically abusive and degrading to women.

The move will be included in a new Criminal Injustice and Licensing Bill to be published in the coming weeks.

Currently the law in Scotland only prohibits the importing and supply of extreme pornography and possession with the intention to sell.

The new ban will be tougher than similar legislation being introduced south of the Border next week.

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 comes into force next Monday and makes owning offending pictures a criminal offence. Under the English law, an image is deemed to be extreme if it "is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" and portrays in any way an act which threatens a person's life, or which results or appears likely to result in serious injury to someone's genitals or breasts.

MacAskill told The Scotsman that the proposed Scottish legislation will go further, making it clear that the possession of images of rape – regardless of whether the act could physically injure the victim – will be outlawed.

But precisely how and where ministers draw the line between mainstream and "extreme" pornography is likely to spark a furious civil liberties debate, amid fears unprecedented powers to police people's bedrooms are being created.

MacAskill said people who mistakenly access extreme pornography, for example by clicking on the wrong computer button, would not be pursued. Equally, it is likely that convictions under the new law will require people actually to download images of extreme pornography, rather than by viewing websites alone.

The legislation will cover some of what is available on the internet, which is frankly horrific and involves criminal offences such as rape, MacAskill said: There are people who participate in this and we need to do something about it. These are not crime-free and cost-free matters. Somebody is suffering, and those who view are encouraging and assisting with the exploitation of these people.

The former lawyer said the maximum penalty for publishing and selling extreme pornography would increase from three to five years: We are intending to send out the message that this is frankly totally abhorrent. This is far from a victimless crime. Previously you could close down bookshops; now everybody has access to the internet. What is being portrayed in a number of these sites and DVDs is not erotic art – it's fundamental abuse of an individual and to consort with it is to support it.

Conservative Opposition

 Based on article from thescotsman.scotsman.com

A crackdown on extreme pornography by the Scottish Government will be difficult to enforce and could end up banning art, critics said.

Conservative MSP Bill Aitken, the convener of the Justice Committee, which will have to scrutinise the proposed Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, said he had grave concerns over how a new law might work, especially as the new laws on downloading images of rape and serious assault could include simulations between consenting adults.

The proposal has raised the prospect of films such as Clockwork Orange or American Psycho being made illegal if they are downloaded from the internet, but not if they are bought on a DVD.

Aitken said: Any site showing the actual rape or serious injury being imposed upon a victim is utterly unacceptable and must be acted upon. But we do have to recognise that simulated acts do sometimes occur in dramatic productions.

He suggested the law could mean banning drama, including works by Shakespeare, in which simulated violent and sexual scenes form part of the storyline.

While I would prefer that they were not too explicit, any proposal to make the watching of such scenes illegal could be seen as an attack on artistic freedom and an illiberal move, he said. He added that questions had to be addressed over how the law could be policed: You have to question how it is going to be policed with the availability of material on the worldwide web and the fact that the police will have to obtain warrants for people's home computers .


20th January   

Die Harder...

BBFC do indeed pass Die Hard with a Vengeance uncut
Link Here

Die Hard with a Vengeance is a 1995 US film by John McTiernan (Buena Vista)

The latest video submission to the BBFC in October 2008 is confirmed by the BBFC as passed 15 uncut, with all previous cinema cuts restored.

Haven't spotted an actual release date though.

Previously the same cuts apply to both the cinema release of 1995 and the subsequent video & DVD releases up to and including the 2004 DVD.

See also extensive cuts to 'tone down' violence and strong language as detailed by Gav Salkeld


20th January   

Updated: Good and Bad News...

Italian atheists wind up Genoa's church bigwigs with bus adverts
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

Atheists of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) have just announced a plan to begin a bus advertising campaign denying the existence of God.

The launch, according to this report, is set for the northern Italian city of Genoa on February 4, and the Italian atheists are certainly not mincing their words. Their campaign slogan is:

The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that we do not need him.

The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Genoa is furious. Father Gianfranco Calabrese, who is responsible for the diocese’s catechism: There are some methods which promote dialogue and others which feed intolerance. Head-on opposition always demonstrates intolerance.

Wow! Talk about pots and kettles.

Update: The Bad News

20th January 2008. See article from telegraph.co.uk

Genoa was chosen for the atheist bus campaign because it is home to the head of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

Cardinal Bagnasco was said to be furious about the proposal and told his officials write to the bus company and advertising firm in charge of the campaign to express their opposition.

The is said to have been delighted when he was then given the news that at the last minute the campaign had been cancelled.

A spokesman for the Italian Union of Atheists and Rationalist Agnostics, which organised the campaign, said yesterday: It appears that buses can carry campaigns for underwear and holidays with no problem but if you ask for space to say God doesn't exist then you are denied.'


20th January   

Updated: If You Seek Amy...

Britney Spears asks to be fucked by radio censors
Link Here
Full story: If You Seek Amy...Britney Spears winds up the nutters

Britney Spears forthcoming single could be banned by some US radio stations over fears that listeners might mishear the song's lyrics.

Programmers are concerned about the meaning behind the song, If You Seek Amy, which when sung by Spears sounds like F U C K me.

Spears' song could technically avoid censorship because it doesn't contain offensive language.

Patti Marshall, program director at Cincinnati's Q102, told MTV: It's OK to put in on an album, have fun with it, but we're publicly owned, you know? We have a responsibility to the public ... you put this ... out and act like we're all fuddy-duddies, like we're trying to make moral judgements. It's not about us. It's about the mom in the minivan with her 8-year-old.

In the song, Spears sings the line: All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy, which sounds like: All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to F U C K me.

Another programmer told the broadcaster that it would have to run the song past a legal team before it could be aired.

Update: If You See Amy

20th January 2008. See article from earsucker.com

Britney Spears has reportedly been forced to re-record her song, If You Seek Amy due to the threat of radio stations worrying about that mom in the minivan with her eight-year-old . Good grief, will this ever end?

She is editing the track, which includes the lyrics, All of the boys and all the girls are beggin’ to If You Seek Amy, to If You See Amy.

The uncensored version is going to do well in the dance clubs, though.


20th January   

Poolish Prudes...

Poole nutters wound up by bus advert
Link Here

An advert on the back of a bus is raising nutter eyebrows in Poole. It features a bikini-clad babe, along with the catch line It’s the ride of your life! and a mock disclaimer – If this advert affects your driving then get off the road and jump on the Rossmore Flyer.

It can be seen on the back of the number 8 bus, or Rossmore Flyer.

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, portfolio holder for health, housing, wellbeing and the easily offended at Poole council, said: It’s just so sexist – you’d expect to see it outside a pole dancing club or a sex shop. I’m absolutely stunned and I’m offended and I don’t think I’m sensitive.

Alderney ward councillor Lindsay Wilson was so 'shocked' she complained to transportation services: I think it’s totally inappropriate and I don’t really want it driving around the community. I think it’s seedy and tasteless. “There is a time and place for this sort of thing – and this isn’t it.

But fellow ward councillor Tony Trent described it as a little bit cheeky but still on the tasteful side.

Mark Self, managing director for Roadliner Passenger Transport said he wanted to design something off the wall and unusual which would raise eyebrows and raise awareness of our company.

He said the poster campaign had been such a success he was planning to follow the Women’s Institute “calendar girls” with his own version featuring Roadliner staff.


19th January   

Update: Suicide Loophole...

Websites encouraging suicide made illegal under the Justice Coronary Bill
Link Here
Full story: Suicide Censorship...UK government proposes to ban suicide information

The Government have included a clause in the Coroners And Justice Bill to extend the crime of encouraging suicide to websites and internet messaging services etc.

Part 2- Criminal Offences
Clause 46: Encouraging or assisting suicide: England and Wales

It provides that a person will commit an offence if he or she does an act which is capable of encouraging or assisting another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide, and if he or she intends the act to encourage another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide.

The person committing the offence need not know, or even be able to identify, the other person. So, for example, the author of a website promoting suicide who intends that one or more of his or her readers will commit or attempt to commit suicide is guilty of an offence, even though he or she may never know the identity of those who access the website.

Clause 48 and Schedule 10: Encouraging or assisting suicide: providers of information society services

Ensures that providers of information society services who are established in England, Wales or Northern Ireland are covered by the offence of encouraging or assisting suicide even when they are operating in other European Economic Area states.

Paragraphs 4 to 6 of the Schedule provide exemptions for internet service providers from the offence in limited circumstances, such as where they are acting as mere conduits for information that is capable, and provided with the intention, of encouraging or assisting suicide or are storing it as caches or hosts.

The Coroners And Justice Bill also reinforces the general internet position that laws apply to a person or company that is established within the jurisdiction of the law even if the website or service is operated from elsewhere. Eg if British residents use foreign internet services or web hosting they are still liable to UK law.


19th January   

Update: 5 Months Per Reader...

Australian author jailed for 3 years for l่se majest้
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

A court in Thailand has sentenced an Australian author to three years in jail after finding him guilty of insulting the country's royal family.

Appearing in a Bangkok court, Harry Nicolaides, had pleaded guilty to the charges, related to a 2005 novel he authored which reportedly sold just seven copies.

He was convicted under Thailand's lese majeste laws, designed to protect the royal family but which activists say are outdated and stifle free speech.

Passing the court's verdict, the judge initially sentenced Nicolaides to six years in jail, but reduced the sentence to three years because of his guilty plea.

Speaking in court earlier, Nicolaides, who was shackled at the ankles and wore a prison uniform, said he had endured unspeakable suffering since his arrest five months ago and that the case had taken a toll on his health and family.

The case comes as Thai authorities step up prosecutions under the country's controversial laws on lese majeste or insulting the monarchy, which mandates a severe sentence for whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent.

Nicolaides, who lived in Thailand from 2003-2005 and taught in the northern city of Chiang Rai, was arrested in August at Bangkok's international airport as he was about to board a flight home to Melbourne. The author was unaware of a warrant issued in March for his arrest in connection with his novel, Verisimilitude , rights group Reporters Without Borders said.

On the day of his conviction he said, from behind bars : This is an Alice in Wonderland experience. I really believe that I am going to wake up and all of you will be gone,
This can’t be real. It feels like a bad dream, he went on, choking back tears. I respect the king of Thailand. I was aware there were obscure laws but I didn’t think they would apply to me.” During his time in jail he had endured “unspeakable suffering, he said, but would not elaborate.


19th January   

Update: Block Wars...

Thailand claims another 1500 websites to block
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thai police said that they have found another 1,500 web sites that allegedly insult the country's monarchy and have ordered them to be blocked amid an intensifying crackdown.

The announcement comes just days after the government said it had already prevented access to around 2,300 websites under repressive lese majeste laws which protect King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family.

The laws have been criticised by rights groups and media organisations in recent months, while critics have accused the government of using them to suppress dissenting voices on the Internet.

Police have found up to 1,500 websites containing content that is insulting to the royal family, Lieutenant General Suchart Mueankaoe, commander of Bangkok Metropolitan Police, told reporters.

Lt Gen Suchart said his force was responsible for prosecuting cases of defaming the monarchy no matter where the case originated. Currently there are 17 cases active, out of these eight are still being investigated.


19th January   

Surveillance Games...

China to register all online games players
Link Here

According to a report in People's Daily Online, China's notoriously Internet-repressive government will begin requiring online gamers to register using their real names.

A government official, Zhang Yijun, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication's Technology and Digital Publication Department. also indicated that the operations of four online game companies have been suspended after Chinese government inspectors discovered that their software did not contain the required anti-addiction system.

The real name registration system does not mean that gamers cannot use screen-names, but rather that their online gaming accounts must be linked to their real world identification number, which is issued by the government.

A Chinese gamer went on to explain that linking a gamer's online account to their ID number means the government can keep track of how long underage gamers are playing. Minors are limited to playing for three hours per day...


19th January   

Offsite: Vodamoan...

Vodafone's internet filter blocks innocent Czech tech blogs
Link Here

Last summer, the British cell phone carrier Vodafone announced it would be offering a new filtering service for its Czech customers. Child pornography and promotion of racism [are] such socially dangerous content that we have access to it automatically blocked for all of our customers, said Philip Premysl, senior manager of corporate social responsibility of Vodafone in the press release.

But six months later, that filter also blocked pages on tech blogs, a chat server and a transportation site all based in the Czech Republic. Tech bloggers Radim Hasalik and David Biksadsky started a Facebook group called Stop Internet Censorship (in the Czech language) to protest the poor filtering by the cell carrier.

Vodafone spokesman Miroslav Cepicky told me the carrier offers two tiers of filtering on its mobile Net services: one is the default filtering of child porn sites; the other allows parents to put on a "child profile" that blocks sites related to erotica, violence, drugs and alcohol, gambling, and weapons.

Few would argue that illegal child pornography sites shouldn't be blocked, but how does Vodafone decide on the blacklist? That list comes from the Internet Watch Foundation, an independent group funded by the European Union and the online industry, including telecommunication companies, internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile providers. About 95% of of UK Internet traffic is filtered via IWF blacklists, and many ISPs depend on IWF to decide which sites should be filtered rather than making the decisions themselves.

...Read full article


18th January   

Updated: More Bloody...

Special Edition of My Bloody Valentine now reported as nearly uncut
Link Here

My Bloody Valentine is a 1981 Canada horror by George Mihalka (Paramount)

Liongate's initial announcement suggested that deleted scenes were going to be included only as a DVD extra

ShockTillYouDrop.com has learned, however, that yes an uncut version of My Bloody Valentine is coming your way and the producers of the disc are working diligently to put the footage back into the film. And it looks great, says our sources.

As confirmation adverts for the release say: Watch the deleted scenes separately, or as part of the film!

Update: Lost Footage

18th January 2009. See article from shocktillyoudrop.com
The definitive 2009 Special Edition region 1 DVD is available at US Amazon for release on 13th Jan 2009

Fans may balk that the new disc is not definitively uncut as it still lacks a few oft-rumored shots. Sadly, those choice bits have indeed been declared MIA as director George Mihalka discovered when he was asked to do a director's cut roughly six years ago. We went through the vaults and found out all of that negative has corroded or disappeared. What the DVD, furthermore the new print of the film, contains is the remaining salvaged footage found in producer John Dunning's storage space.

There was a scene with the two kids in the mine and they're joined together forever, Mihalka chuckles citing one still excised sequence. There was a whole set up scene to that. They're just necking and Tom's lying on top of [Harriet] and the miner comes in and puts the [drill bit] through him. She's got her eyes closed and thinks he's just being a little frisky. She opens her mouth and her eyes just as he bleeds into her mouth. Then the miner goes whoomp! And [skewers] them both . That scene had to be taken out totally. It has disappeared and we'll never see it.

Previously Cut

Previously the R rated version was cut as follows:

From cuts details on IMDb

  • Gore was cut from the pre-credits sequence where the woman is pushed backwards onto a pickaxe.
  • Mabel's mutilated body was originally on screen for much longer.
  • The scene where the bartender is playing peek-a-boo with the Harry Warden dummy was edited so that no blood is shown. He was pickaxed up his chin and out his left eye, then dragged along the ground with his eyeball hanging out.
  • The face-boiling of Dave was shortened so you don't see the after-effects while he is dying.
  • Graphic head-on shots of Sylvia's shower impalement were deleted.
  • A stock footage close-up of the miner's light being shown at the camera replaces the bulk of a shot of Hollis' bleeding face after he has been nail-gunned. In the widely-seen release, the scene picks up after Hollis has mostly turned away.
  • Howard's hanging is shortened. In the original print, he was decapitated. The decapitation was cut out, so it looks like his body just falls, stops short when the end of the wire is reached, sprays blood all over Patty and Sarah, and then resumes falling. Not only do the cuts imposed render the scene senseless, but they also make it so there's no payoff to Hollis' earlier comment that Howard would lose his head if it weren't attached.
  • Axel's left arm gets trapped under rocks in the cave-in at the end. He rips it off to get away, leaving his limb behind to horrify everybody else. But since the key footage of the arm removal all had to be removed itself, it is hard to see exactly what happened.


18th January   

Slaves Freed by the BBFC...

Slaves previously abused by the 1977 censor
Link Here

Black Snake is a 1973 US adventure by Russ Meyer (Freemantlemedia Enterprise)

The cinema cuts were waived by the BBFC when the DVD was submitted in 2005.

Previously the cinema release of 1977, titled Slaves , was cut as follows:

  • Reel 1 - Remove lashing by Susan of slave tied face down.
  • Reel 3 - Remove close shots of nails being driven into palms of Joshua in crucifixion sequence.
  • Reel 3 - Reduce lashing of dead body of Joshua on the cross.
  • Reel4 - Reduce the repeated lashing of Joxer when he is tied to a gate.
  • Reel4 - Reduce close up of Joxer's agonised face with blood dripping from mouth after machete has been stabbed into his stomach.


18th January   

Update: Apple's New Book Burning Application...

Book censored to appease Apple's censor
Link Here
Full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

An e-book submitted to Apple's App Store has been approved after the author removed language that apparently offended Apple.

CNET's David Carnoy wrote a book called Knife Music last year, and attempted to submit it to the App Store as an e-book. Apple rejected his application for containing "objectionable content," which appeared to be a couple of uses of 'fuck'

But Carnoy decided to remove that type of language from the book, which he said didn't amount to all that many words in the first place. Upon resubmitting the application, it was approved, and can now be found on the App Store.

I decided to censor because it wasn't that big a deal. I changed it very little. It's more important to have people check the book out--along with the whole concept of ebooks on the iPhone. It's kind of virgin territory now, but it's going to be really big soon, Carnoy said in an e-mail.


18th January   

Update: Forgive and Forget...

But Beyer continues his prolonged rant against Jonathan Ross
Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

  Forgive them their trespasses...
Unless they trespass against YOU 

Jonathan Ross will return to BBC work as the Baftas host after the end of his suspension.

And in a cheeky move that nutters say shows a total lack of humility, Ross has asked for fans to email him 'improbable words' he can slip into his speech.

He wrote on his blog: Here is a game you'll like. Suggest an improbable word that I have to slip into the Baftas when I host them in February. Ready, set, go.

The prestigious role, and Ross's comments on his blog, attracted predictable nutter 'outrage'.

Conservative MP Philip Davies said: The BBC should have fired him. Ross clearly does not realise how angry people were - and still are. He should come back and show that he has taken that - and his suspension - on board, but the evidence from his blog is that he hasn't learnt anything.

John Beyer of Mediawatch UK, said the BBC should be more circumspect. He added: BBC1 controller Jay Hunt has said that Ross needs to regain viewers' trust. He needs to prove himself and I don't think being handed this highprofile, prestigious role just two weeks after the end of the suspension is the right decision.

Ross's Friday night chat show will return on January 23. The Bafta ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London will be broadcast on February 8 on BBC1, BBC2 and BBC3.


18th January   

Update: Government by Proxy...

Turkish PM uses proxy to beat his own government censorship
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Two months ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, stunned the public by admitting that he has joined hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens in doing something that the country’s courts say is forbidden: watch clips on the internet video portal YouTube.

Commenting on an unrelated political issue, Erdogan told reporters that they should get on YouTube. When a reporter remarked that access to YouTube is blocked in Turkey,  Erdogan replied: I get in, you can do so as well.

Access to YouTube in Turkey was blocked in May, following a decision of a court in Ankara that reacted to a clip allegedly insulting Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Comments like the one by Mr Erdogan show that the ban is very unpopular and widely ignored, but observers say the blockage is unlikely to be lifted as long as the law behind it is still on the books.

The law was a mistake and the implementation is flawed, said Ibrahim Sarioglu, general secretary of the All Internet Association, or TID, an internet lobby group that has several leading telecommunications companies among its members.

Sarioglu said the law, officially known as the Law Concerning the Regulation of Internet Broadcasts and the Fight against Crimes Committed via these Broadcasts, which came into effect in late 2007, has put Turkey on the list of countries that practise censorship.

YouTube is not the only popular website that has been a victim of a ban in Turkey: Wordpress, Geocities and the Turkish Google Groups were also hit with temporary bans in the past, triggering fears Turkey’s image abroad may be damaged.

I do not want to see Turkey among those countries in the world that ban YouTube, Abdullah Gul, the president, said in a recent television interview.

Sarioglu said the internet law made it difficult to get rid of bans as courts in Turkey can without a hearing close down access to a website if the website or it content is deemed to cause offence. To get access re-established, the owner of the website or a Turkish citizen who argues that the ban causes him harm can apply to the judiciary. In the case of YouTube, no one has filed a case yet to get access cleared, Sarioglu said. This is Turkey. People are afraid of the state.

The TID has applied to the Danistay, the top administrative court in Turkey, to get the law revoked. The Danistay could also decide to ask the constitutional court to declare the law null and void, Sarioglu said. But the legal battle will take time. It may take two years or even longer for the Danistay to reach a decision in the TID’s case.

The transport minister, Binali Yildirim, whose responsibilities include telecommunications, admitted last month the application of the law was causing trouble. “There are mistakes stemming from the interpretation of the law, Yildirim said, referring to the frequent court decisions to ban websites: Unfortunately, the YouTube matter has reached a point beyond the original aim of the ban.

Erdogan’s comments, however, showed that many Turks have found ways to get around the bans. Following the prime minister’s advice to the reporters on board his plane to India, several Turkish media provided tips on how to beat the YouTube ban. The website is believed to be the 9th most popular in Turkey and the television news channel CNN-Turk estimated last year that about 1.5 million access it every day.


17th January   

Update: MadTeenWorld...

MadWorld passed MA 15+ in Australia
Link Here

Just a day after the game was given an 18 rating by the BBFC, Sega has revealed that MadWorld has also received a rating in Australia. Surprisingly, it appears as if the violent Wii title was given a MA 15+ rating by the Australian Classification Board without any cuts made to the content.

Because the highest rating the OFLC has is MA 15+, a number of high profile mature titles have been recently banned and only reinstated after edits. However, in spite of what the BBFC describes as very strong, stylized, bloody violence, Mad World was given a pass.


17th January   

Update: Beyer Will be Disappointed Again...

Brits not so easily offended by strong language
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

It may come as a shock to Daily Mail readers to discover that nine in ten Britons are not offended by bad language. In fact they swear every day.

The average Briton utters 14 expletives a day, according to a nationwide survey just published.

It found that 87% of Britons swear on a daily basis.

Just 8% were offended by swearing in an adult context, such as an 18-certificate film or a child-free workplace.

And in a sign that the younger generation takes cursing less seriously, 21% of those aged 50 to 60 said bad language was an issue, but just 6% of 18 to 30-year-olds agreed.

Men admitted to being the more foulmouthed gender, with 90% of them swearing on a daily basis, compared with 83% of women. 98% admitted to having sworn while angry.

The report was compiled by William Findlay of Australian company Nulon UK, which produces the 'Start Ya Bastard' instant engine starter.


17th January   

Update Million Dollar Question...

Slumdog Millionaire at the Indian censor
Link Here
Full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

India's release of Slumdog Millionaire' s English and Hindi version have been given separate certificates by the Censor Board.

The film's English version Slumdog Millionaire bagged an A certificate and its Hindi dubbed version, Slumdog Crorepati , bagged a U/A certificate [Children allowed if accompanied by adult].

A source informs, There is heavy use of swear words in the film, hence its English version received an A certificate. But when the distributors brought the Hindi dubbed version for censorship, they had already muted the Hindi swear words and so it managed to get a U/A certificate.

So while the English version of the film will have a restricted audience due to the explicit use of swear words, its Hindi version will have a scope for a wider reach.

The film is releasing on 23 January in India with approximately 200 prints.


17th January   

Lady Chatterley's Defender...

Sir John Mortimer dies aged 85
Link Here

Author and barrister Sir John Mortimer, who created the famous character Rumpole of the Bailey , has died aged 85.

For several decades, he combined both careers and notably appeared for the defence in the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial in the 1960s.

Other famous court appearances included the Oz censorship trial, the Linda Lovelace so-called Deep Throat case and numerous others involving alleged pornography.

He said the law gave him great insights. People will go to endless trouble to divorce one person and then marry someone who is exactly the same, except probably a bit poorer and a bit nastier. I don't think anybody learns anything.

Rumpole, his most famous character, was created in the mid-1970s and was generally believed to have been based on his stern father. A TV programme and series of books followed and Rumpole went on to become one of the great comic fictional characters of his generation.

Sir John famously had a malicious contempt for political correctness, feminism and the constant desire for equality in everything. On feminism, he once said: It has become discriminatory. All these things start out by wanting to be equal and end up by wanting to be on top.

Despite his commitment to socialism, Mortimer was often highly critical of Tony Blair's Labour Government, often targeting the prime minister himself with damaging barbs.

Once he said: Blair is a not very impressive politician, playing at being a statesmen. Tell him to stop pretending to be a mini-Churchill and to calm down.

He was also pro-fox-hunting, in favour of the Royal family, but 'against' religion. He always said he 'loved' foreigners and was 'all for' homosexuality.


17th January   

Update: There's Probably No God...

But there's plenty of nutters
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming There's probably no God.

Ron Heather from Southampton responded with shock and horror at the message and walked out of his shift in protest.

First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Heather does not have to drive the buses.

Heather told BBC Radio Solent: I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock horror. I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven't got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did. I think it was the starkness of this advert which implied there was no God.

The advertisements run on 200 bendy buses in London and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.

Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

MPs haven't been taking the wise advice and are getting wound up worrying about life.

Gregory Campbell has proposed Early Day Motion 424 : No God Advertising

That this House notes the recent advertising campaign based on London buses, There's Probably No God, the brainchild of the British Humanist Association; also notes the fact that the rationale behind it is that people can be less careful about their lifestyle choices and general approach to life's consequences by discounting the likelihood of a Creator and an afterlife; and recommends to Christian groups considering alternative advertising approaches to There's Probably No God to counter it with the simple addition of But What If There Is?

This has been signed by Nicholas Winterton, Bob Spink, Lee Scott, David Simpson and Ann Winterton.

Bob Spink has proposed Early Day Motion 403 : Offensive Advertisements On Public Transport

That this House notes that posters with the slogan `There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life', appear on 800 buses in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as on the London Underground; notes that this causes concern to Christian and Muslim people, many of whom feel embarrassed and uncomfortable travelling on public transport displaying such advertisements and would not wish to endorse the advertisements by using that public transport; regrets that the British Humanist Association backs the campaign; and calls on Ministers responsible for public transport and advertising media to investigate this matter and to seek to remove these religiously offensive and morally unhelpful advertisements.

This has been signed by Jim Dobbin, Gregory Campbell, David Drew, David Simpson, Ann Cryer and Marsha Singh.


17th January   

Updated: The Demon is in the Implementation...

A few censored pages cause the total loss of an internet archive
Link Here

Following complaints that its child-porn blacklist has led multiple British ISPs to censor innocuous content on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine , the internet censor, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), has confirmed the blacklist contains images housed by the 85-billion-page web history database.

But this fails to explain why Demon Internet and other ISPs are preventing some users from accessing the entire archive.

The IWF can confirm it has taken action in relation to content on www.archive.org involving indecent images of children which contravenes UK law (Protection of Children Act 1978). The URL(s) in question were added to our URL list according to IWF procedures, an IWF spokeswoman told The Reg.

According to IWF guidelines, blacklisted URLs are precise web pages chosen so that the risk of over blocking or collateral damage is minimised. But multiple Demon Internet customers say they're unable to view any sites stored by the Wayback Machine. And in response to our original story on this blacklist snafu, customers of additional ISPs - including Be Unlimited and Virgin - say they're experiencing much the same thing. That said, other customers say they're not experiencing problems. And still others say that access is blocked only intermittently.

The telco that owns Demon Internet, Thus, has not responded to requests for comment. Nor have Be Unlimited and Virgin Media.

Update: A Problem Cached is a Problem Solved

17th January 2008. See article from theregister.co.uk

British ISP Demon Internet is no longer blocking access to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, after working in tandem with the IA to correct a technical issue with its child-pornography filter.

The IWF confirmed that its blacklist contains at least one image hosted by the Wayback Machine. But although IWF filters are typically designed to block individual pages, Demon's filter seemed to be blocking the entire archive.

A senior engineer with the company has provided an explanation on a newsgroup where users have discussed the blocking. According to this post, Demon customers were unable to access large parts of the Wayback Machine because of the way Demon's IWF filter interacted with the web page cache used by the IA to speed access.

Because at least one Internet Archive page is blacklisted by the IWF, Demon uses a proxy server each time a user requests info from the IA's servers. The caching mechanism wasn't working for pages accessed via this proxy. It also screwed up the cached page for other users accessing via the same proxy. Which explains why some Be Unlimited and Virgin Media customers were having problems with the Wayback Machine.


17th January   


Severin to release uncut video nasty in the US
Link Here

Expose is a 1975 UK video by James Kenelm Clarke and is also known as House On Straw Hill .

Filmmaker/DVD producer David Gregory, gave Fangoria the scoop on a new disc he’s working on for Severin Films: We’ve picked up the rights to EXPOSษ, a.k.a. HOUSE ON STRAW HILL, with Udo Kier and Linda Hayden .

The 1976 chiller, written and directed by James Kenelm Clarke, stars Fango fave Kier as a writer who retreats to a remote house in the British countryside to work on his new novel, accompanied by a secretary (Hayden) who turns out to have a dark side.

We will most likely release the DVD under the U.S. HOUSE title, Gregory says: though it’s better known to me and my UK-based Severin partner Carl Daft as EXPOSษ, the title under which it was banned in England. We have a soft, nostalgic spot for any film that was tagged as a ‘Video Nasty’ in England in the ’80s. HOUSE was always one of the rarest, sleaziest and, well, nastiest of the bunch.

We’re delighted to be putting it out with a new transfer from the original, uncut negative, and a featurette and commentary are already in the can. The featurette includes the delightful Linda Hayden, who has, up until this point, been curiously silent about her participation in this notorious film.

All UK video versions from 1997 to the Village Entertainment version of 2006 have suffered the same 51s of BBFC cuts.

  • Two country boys threaten Linda Hayden with a shotgun and force her to have sex with each of them. The scene goes on for a long time and the guys are shown to be clearly enjoying it whilst the woman rubs her hand up and down the shotgun in a very suggestive manner. The fact that she manages to shoot them both didn't appease the BBFC who cut almost the entire scene.
  • Also a scene showing Fiona Richmond getting murdered in the shower has been reduced to eliminate blood on the breasts.


17th January   

Update: Watching Thailand...

Another internet user arrested over L่se Majest้
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Reporters Without Borders deplores today's arrest of Internet user Suwicha Thakhor on a charge of insulting the monarchy (lese majeste), just one day after Thai Netizen Network, a group that defends online freedom of expression, met with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and suggested ways to reach a compromise on Internet regulation, including the issue of lese majeste.

This arrest gives the government the opportunity to demonstrate its readiness to maintain a real dialogue by keeping a close watch on the conduct of the investigation, Reporters Without Borders said. We urge the government to do everything possible to ensure that Thakhor is released as soon as the authorities establish that he has not done anything that violates democratic norms.

The Department of Special Investigations said Thakhor was arrested because his computer's Internet address matched the address from which comments about the king and his aides had been sent. He was picked up by the police while visiting friends in the provinces. The authorities say they suspect he knew the police were after him and that he left the capital for this reason.

Thakhor, who is being held at Department of Special Investigations headquarters in Bangkok, has denied the charges.


17th January   

Scaring Online Journalists...

Cambodia moves to silence multimedia criticism
Link Here

Cambodian journalists have accused the government of trying to censor the internet with new legislation they say aims at silencing public criticism. The new laws are due to be passed later this year.

Sam Rithy Doung Hak, a monitor for the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ), said proposed laws to regulate audiovisual content on the internet could jeopardize Cambodia's relatively liberal media environment: These audiovisual laws will cover sound and pictures published on the internet, which I am convinced is driven by the government's intention to censor the internet .

Sam Rithy Doung Hak said popular anti-government websites and political cartoons criticizing could be easily censored if the laws were introduced: We cannot say clearly how this is going to affect journalists' work since we have not seen the details of this law, but it is our intention to show the international community that it could be used as some sort of government tool to permanently scare online journalists so they don't go too far in criticizing the government .


17th January   

Cartoon Censors...

Romanian TV censor gets wound up by nudity in daytime cartoon
Link Here

Romania's TV censor has issued a warning to a children's channel for broadcasting cartoons which contained nudity.

The National Audio-Visual Council asked Minimax television to stop airing indecent episodes of the Hungarian Folk Tales series.

In one episode, a princess strips naked to negotiate with a farmer for some dancing piglets. The princess ends up in bed with two men to decide which one she will marry. In another episode, a girl shows her naked body as a gift for the emperor.

The cartoon series is broadcast every day at noon in Romania and is watched by young children.

Romanian authorities cannot fine Minimax, which is licensed in the Czech Republic, but says the channel will be blocked if the cartoons are shown again before the watershed.


16th January   

Update: MadBeyerWorld...

Beyer disappointed at MadWorld game being passed by the BBFC
Link Here

John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK, has told SPOnG that he is disappointed by the BBFC's decision to give SEGA's violent Wii title, MadWorld , an 18 rating.

I'm disappointed but not surprised , Beyer told SPOnG: I think my view is pretty well known. It's what I expected.

The 18 rating was granted by the BBFC, with no cuts made. The consumer advice reads: Contains very strong, stylised, bloody violence.


16th January   

Thin End Filter...

Germany to adopt a Clean Feed mandatory internet filter
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany has announced that it will introduce compulsory Internet censorship starting in March.

The censorship scheme will block access to child pornography, and will follow a similar model to Norway, where the Government decrees a list of child pornography sites to be blocked by ISP’s.

Germany Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen addressed concerns that the censorship regime could exclude other content by confirming that it may be extended: We must not dilute the issue. Child pornography is a problem issue and clearly identifiable. [However] you can not exclude what the federal government may wish to block in the future.


16th January   

Goddam Nutters...

US state senator proposes bill to outlaw all public and published profanity
Link Here

South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford has introduced a bill that, essentially, seeks to outlaw profanity.

S.56 would prohibit the public utterance or publication of printed material containing profanity. It would also make it illegal to exhibit or otherwise make available material containing words, language, or actions of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature.

Games, movies, books, websites, magazines, music and cable TV, of course, would also be threatened.

The proposal would make the dissemination of such profanity a felony, punishable by five years in jail or a $5,000 fine. Or both.


16th January   

Rated as a Small Improvement...

Chinese censors suggest a two ratings system
Link Here

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has submitted the final version of its Film Promotion Law to the State Council and a film rating system may be implemented, according to sources from the ongoing 10th Seminar for Film Directors from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The system, which will have a comparatively simple "two ratings", may offer some films that fail to meet mainland censorship requirements access to the Chinese mainland audience.

The current system has a single rating and that has to be suitable for children of all ages

A total of 150 directors took part in the seminar.

Update: Low Expectations

9th February 2009. See article from chinadaily.com.cn

A film rating system is very essential in China, Tong Gang, director of Motion Picture Bureau with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) was quoted as saying by a report on website of the Ministry of Culture.

A movie rating system in China has been discussed for years since the people have begun to enjoy an increasing number imported films and a booming domestic film market.

The director said the draft of the law had recently been finished and was submitted by the SARFT to the State Council, China's cabinet. He did not reveal that whether the NPC's annual session this year would review or approve the draft law.

Tong said he had supported a movie rating system in China when he was interviewed by a TV program in Singapore and he expressed a will to take Hong Kong's rating system as a reference during a visit to the SAR: However, my utterance has been overexplained and even distorted by some media reports. A rating system in China will not mean that we will allow depictions of porn or violence in the movies for sales and screen.


16th January   

Update: Not So Cool...

Ofcom to consider Celebrity Big Brother Complaints (or hype?)
Link Here
Full story: Big Brother...Whinging about Channel 4's Big Brother

Furious fans have accused Celebrity Big Brother bosses of double standards for not giving bullying Coolio the boot.

TV censor Ofcom launched an official investigation after viewers complained about the rapper’s relentless intimidation of housemates.

They are furious the American star has not been kicked out over claims of verbal attacks and threats of violence – after the Daily Star revealed the true extent of his aggressive behaviour in a shock report.

Last night a spokesman for Ofcom said: I can confirm we have had complaints about Wednesday night’s show over issues concerning Coolio. We will be investigating.


15th January   

BBC Porn Propaganda...

Nutters take aim at mainstream online porn
Link Here

I think everyone should listen to this rubbish on Radio4. It doesn't seem very balanced to me

I'm going to complain about this to Ofcom - I think others should do the same.

From the BBC description:

Penny Marshall examines the effects of the rapid expansion of online pornography on UK society. She talks to those who use online porn, including couples trying to repair the trust and intimacy dented by the persistent and secretive use of porn sites. She also hears from psychologists who are concerned that young people are in danger of having their understanding of sexual relationships permanently damaged by what they see online.


15th January   

Update: Breaking the Silence...

Atari comments on its cuts to the game Silent Hill
Link Here
Full story: Silent Hill Homecoming...Adding to long list of banned games

Atari, the publisher of the game Silent Hill has commented about what they censored from the game to achieve an Australian MA 15+ rating.

A spokesperson for Atari states:

The major changes to the Australian release of Silent Hill Homecoming will be made to its cut scenes, where new camera angles and techniques will be used to reduce the impact of the unclassifiable material.

The company notes changes have only been made to some scenes, while the original storyline remains unchanged.


15th January   

A Ticket to Censor...

Police censor criticism of traffic warden
Link Here

Police shut down a Facebook page after angry drivers post comments about 'Terminator' traffic warden

The Terminator: John Woodgate's zero tolerance to traffic offences is disliked by many drivers. He arrived with the determination to clean up this town and earned a tough reputation for his pursuit of parking offenders. But the heavy-handed manner of traffic warden John Woodgate has not gone down well with the residents of Sudbury in Suffolk.

So much so that they set up a website as a forum to vent their fury about the man nicknamed 'The Terminator'. Soon, nearly 1,000 motorists had signed up to the page on Facebook, making comments such as you jobsworth ****, and the man is just a bully in a uniform.

But Suffolk police have demanded it be shut down because it supposedly contained hateful, threatening or obscene material.

Facebook said: Our policy is to remove groups that attack an individual or group.


15th January   

Offsite: Praise Where Praise is Due...

Parliamentarians receive their Erotic Awards
Link Here

Congratulations to Lord Faulkner of Worcester, John McDonnell, MP, and Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, recipients of the prestigious flying penis prize at yesterday’s Erotic Awards.

The Grand Jury of Conspicuous Sensuality honoured the politicians at a Westminster ceremony for their campaigns on behalf of sex workers.

The awards are backed by the Consenting Adult Action Network and, perhaps inevitably, will be screened by Channel 4.


15th January   

Emergency Censorship...

Indian government proposes complete media control during times of emergency
Link Here

The proposed changes in the Cable Television Network Regulations Act, currently under the consideration by the Indian government, have been put on hold after the broadcasters rose up in arms against the move.

The broadcasters have been assured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that any changes in the Act would be taken up for finalisation only after the widest possible consultation with all the stakeholders.

The broadcasters have termed the proposed changes as a move by the government to bring back media censorship like during the period of the Emergency.

The Editors Guild, a body comprising top editors of broadcasting and the print media, has opined that the move should be resisted, as the editorial content of a broadcaster should be the sole prerogative of the editor concerned..

Various political parties, including the BJP, CPM and Samajwadi Party, have thrown their weight behind the broadcasters: It is imperative that TV channels evolve a code of self-regulation which ensures that anti-national elements would not able to take advantage of the freedom of media in the country.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has recommended changes in the law to allow government to dictate television coverage during contingency situations. The proposal would make it mandatory for channels to carry only authorised video footage.


15th January   

A Tempter?...

A new release of De Martino's The Antichrist
Link Here

The Antichrist is a 1974 Italian horror by Alberto De Martino (Optimum Releasing)

The Optimum DVD submitted in 2008 is said to be uncut but runs somewhat shorter than the 112 mins (108 mins after PAL speed up) for the cinema version and US DVD.

Previously, The Tempter was an abridged version of The Antichrist and the VPM video was passed 18 with an additional 13s of BBFC cuts in 1987.

The 1976 cinema release was also cut by the BBFC.

Review from US Amazon : Flawed but Good

"The Antichrist", also known as "The Tempter", is a flawed but surprisingly good little Italian horror film. No doubt, a fair portion of the film (the latter part) is an "Exorcist" wannabe, but everything that leads up to the big exorcism is really quite different and interesting. And, yes, there's a big orgy scene during a Satanic ceremony at one point, and yes, it does involve Ippolita tasting the business end of a goat, but that part is more implied than anything.

Now, as for the "rip-off" exorcism aspect (though I don't see why we should only have one film involving an exorcism and call all others "rip-offs"), yeah, some of the effects are laughable and it doesn't have the scares of the classic Linda Blair film (and Carla Gravina is no hottie-hot-hottie Linda Blair), but it still works for the story being presented and has its own, lighter brand of creepiness.

I did find it rather amusing how the characters of the film constantly sent mixed messages about what they believed in, in regards to supernatural vs. science, as well as claiming things like psychic phenomenon to be established scientific facts, but on the whole this movie is successful as what it should be, a piece of entertainment. It is entertaining throughout, and the story is engaging.


15th January   

Diary: G๖teborg International Film Festival 2009...

With Magic Bullet featuring 55 hours of Swedish censor cuts
Link Here
Full story: Magic Bullet...Film festival entry shows the futility of film censorship

G๖teborg International Film Festival 2009
G๖teborg, Sweden
23rd Jan - 2nd Feb

Up until the mid-1990s, things were quite different. Censorship in Sweden was extremely tough and most movies featuring violence were trimmed, martial arts- and splatter movies were usually banned. In the 1980s, a movie like RoboCop was cut to shreds, and before that even James Bond movies were censored!

On the other hand, Sweden has never been squeamish about language, sex and nudity, meaning that films that got into trouble abroad - in countries like the U.S.A. and England - passed without any cuts at all in Sweden.

Sometimes, they even got - and still get - lower ratings than in the rest of the world. A recent example is Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make A Porno , a foul-mouthed comedy about pornography. This one was rated "11" in Sweden, meaning you can get in if your eleven - or together with and adult if you're younger. Smith's film is considered harmless.

Also, art-house movies have never gotten into trouble in Sweden, especially not the ones directed by famous, respected directors. This means that Pasoloni's infamous Sal๒ played theaters without any cuts and was regarded an important movie about fascism.

The Gothenburg Film Festival; Scandinavia's largest film festival, starts on January 23. During the festival, artist Markus ึhrn's movie Magic Bullet will be screened. ึhrn has taken every cut made by the Board from 1934 until 2002 and edited them together to a 55 hour long odyssey of upsetting and offensive images. 55 hours!

I don't know if it really is every single cut made, but that's what ึhrn claims on the movie's homepage. Since his movie - or piece of art? - spans several decades, we'll see what was considered offensive during certain time periods. Magic Bullet is supposed to contain everything from violence in cartoons (Donald Duck with a machine gun), ultra-violence from horror and action movies, violent hardcore porn, and rather innocent scenes of nudity.

During the festival, there will also be several seminars and discussions about movie censorship.


15th January   

Paying for Censorship...

Romania blocks porn sites for not being pay per view
Link Here

The Romanian Authority for Communication (ANC) requested ISPs last week to block the access to 40 websites hosted in Romania, considering they don't meet the criteria imposed by article 7 of Law no.196/2003 on preventing and fighting pornography.

Article 7 of the law states that the natural and legal persons creating pornographic sites are obliged to password them, and the access to these will be allowed only after paying a fee per using minute, established by the creator of the site and declared at the fiscal bodies.

ANC President Liviu Nistoran declared that the list would not be made public, to avoid encouraging their accessing in the following period; however, we will ensure that the access to such websites is blocked. Internet providers are obliged to block users' access to the respective websites within 48 hours. Failure to block users' access is punishable by fines applied by the Police ranging from 10 000 to 50 000 RON (approx. 2500 - 12500 Euro).

As revealed by online newspaper Hotnews, the list was copied from a complaint submitted by a person on 28 November that contained 46 websites. Until 2008 only nine complaints were received on this law and just one website was blocked for a short period in 2005.

A scanned version list sent to the ISPs became available online at the end of last week on several blogs. The list contained a well-known User Generated video-sharing website (220.ro) , another domain name was just a redirect to a .com website and a lot of websites hosted on some free hosting accounts based in Romania.

But the blocking system caused other legal websites to be blocked as well, with no official information on why this was happening. It is clear that only part of the over 1000 ISPs in the country implemented the measure requested by ANC, according the various reports from users from all over the country.

The measure to block access to websites via the ISPs was characterised by EDRi-member APTI Romania and other national civil liberties groups and ISP associations as a very dangerous measure and a direct attack to the freedom of expression. They have asked in a public letter to ANC the immediate revocation of the list, as an illegal and useless measure. They concluded that the present measure is just a censorship act, without providing any benefits to the a Safer Internet for children.


15th January   

UNFree Magazine Covers...

Burma magazine censors offended by UN Secretary General
Link Here

The Myanmar Thit monthly magazine's latest issue has been delayed as it was forced to submit another cover design after the Burmese censor board rejected the earlier design featuring the portrait of former UN Secretary General U Thant.

The said magazine's issue was planned to commemorate the birth centenary of U Thant. However, despite the publisher's compliance
with the Press Scrutiny Board's demand that the late Burmese statesman's portrait be replaced, the new cover design is yet to be approved even though it had been submitted a week ago.

In the new cover design, the magazine replaced U Thant's portrait with his quotation, Regardless of how much differences exist among the uncivilized citizens, a civilized Asian has no differences and inequalities with any civilized European and American, and the UN logo.

The censor board also rejected two articles written by U Thant and a speech delivered by Mahatma Gandhi on the late Burmese statesman. Only six out of a total of 15 poems submitted for this issue were approved for publication.


15th January   

Update: Crisis in Kano...

On Jos Crisis film banned in Nigeria's Kano state
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

Following a directive by the Kano State government, the state censorship board has banned the sale of an ethnic Hausa film, titled On Jos Crisis, circulating in the state on the recent religious crisis in Plateau State.

The Director-General of the Kano State Film Censorship Board, Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim explained that the state government had decided to take the decision claiming that the film may create tension and degenerate into crisis in the state. He said: the contents of the film are false and capable of creating tension in the state.

Meanwhile, the mobile court on regulating of film activities in the state has passed various sentences on seven individuals for violating film regulations.

Two months imprisonment and a fine were passed for 2 men downloading a banned Hausa song called Mamar in a film named A loko . Others were also sentenced for operating viewing centres near a mosque where they used to admit underage children into the centres. They were further sentenced to two months with an option of fine each.


14th January   

Poverty Porn...

Supporting the hype for Slumdog Millionaire
Link Here
Full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

Slumdog Millionaire and the BBFC are taking a bit of stick in the Times in an article by Alice Miles. She writes:

There are many reasons why you might want to see Slumdog Millionaire - it is directed by the brilliant Danny Boyle, it is set in the sensual feast that is Mumbai and it has won awards for music, directing and acting. And then there is the fact that critics and its own publicity have branded it a feel-good movie. Call me shallow, but that ultimately swung it for me.

A few hours later I was wincing in my seat. The film opens with a scene of horrible violence: a man hanging from the ceiling of a police station, being tortured to unconsciousness, a trickle of blood running from his mouth. It moves swiftly into scenes of utter misery and depravity, in which small starving children are beaten, mutilated and perverted.

Mothers die horribly in front of their sons, small girls are turned into prostitutes, small boys into beggars. I hope it won't spoil the feel-good surprise if I tell you that one particularly sadistic scene shows a young boy having his eyes burnt out with acid to maximise the profits of street begging. Charities working with street children in India seem unaware of any instances of this, although Save the Children emphasises that similar violence against children by beggar mafia is well documented.

The film is brilliant, horrifying, compelling and awful, the relentless violence leavened only by an occasional clip of someone working his way through the questions on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. You might want to look away, but you can't and, despite the banal storyline, I can see why it is pulling in the awards.

Yet the film is vile. Unlike other Boyle films such as Trainspotting or Shallow Grave , which also revel in a fantastical comic violence, Slumdog Millionaire is about children. And it is set not in the West but in the slums of the Third World. As the film revels in the violence, degradation and horror, it invites you, the Westerner, to enjoy it, too. Will they find it such fun in Mumbai?

Here is the BBFC summary of the film.

Slumdog Millionaire is a drama about a young street lad who wins the Mumbai version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'. It has been classified '15' for strong language and violence. (I would add another ten to that)

The film is in a mixture of English, and subtitled Hindi. Together with several uses of strong language in English, there are also a number of untranslated uses of strong Hindi terms - all of which were considered acceptable under the BBFC Guidelines at '15', which permit 'frequent use of strong language (eg 'fuck').

Strong violence is seen in a scene where a group of Muslims are attacked and killed i the street - together with general chaos and beatings, there are some stronger and more explicit moments, such as the deliberate setting of a man on fire, that go beyond the BBFC Guidelines at '12A', which direct 'Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood'. We also later see strong violence that includes a knife held to a woman's throat as she's forcibly snatched off the street, an impressionistic blinding of a young beggar boy, and torture by electricity in a police station.

Comedy? So maybe that's it: I just didn't get the joke.


14th January   

Update: Insulting Law...

Academic calls for abolition of L่se Majest้ law
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

A Thai academic who is facing charges of insulting the monarchy called for a campaign to abolish the law under which he could be jailed for 15 years.

Ji Ungpakorn, a prominent activist and political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said police have asked to question him over a book he wrote about Thailand's 2006 military coup.

His case is the latest sign of ideological struggle over the role of the monarchy, a subject that was once taboo. There has been a recent spate of complaints and prosecutions for lese majeste — as the charge is called — and increased censorship of Web sites allegedly critical of the institution.

Ji said at a news conference that the lese majeste law, which mandates a jail term of three to 15 years for defaming the king, the queen or the heir to the throne, restricts freedom of speech and expression and does not allow for public accountability and transparency of the institution of the monarchy.

He charged that it is used as a tool by the military, and other authoritarian elites, in order to protect their own interests. He claimed he was being targeted for political reasons because he criticized the military and its coup.

Newly elected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised to take all measures to prevent people from defaming the monarchy.


14th January   

Update: Private Vices, Public Concerns...

Christopher Meyer warns of privacy rights threat to press freedom
Link Here

Sir Christopher Meyer, the outgoing chairman of the Press Complaints Commission has warned that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg may be a greater threat to the self-regulation of the British press than is generally recognised.

Speaking at a Media Society event, Meyer pointed out that many of the judges who sit in the Strasbourg-based court came from countries with very different traditions of press and magazine freedoms from the UK: They may see the role of the press to inform, not to entertain. To defend the reputation of public figures.

Max Mosley, the president of formula 1 who won ฃ60,000 damages from the News of the World in the UK courts last autumn for breach of privacy, has appealed to the European court for a ruling that news media should be required to give advance notification before publishing a story.

The newspaper industry is alarmed by what it views as a creeping attempt to create a privacy law through a series of judicial judgements.

Meyer said the Human Rights Act may need to be amended to protect the UK's self-regulatory system of press regulation. He added that section 12 of the act, which requires judges to take account of the PCC code of practice, was an issue. When the act was crafted, the then home secretary, Jack Straw, had intended this to be as a buttress to press freedom. But instead lawyers and judges were increasingly seeking to interpret the code on their terms, he said.


14th January   

Update: Sex and Digital Liberty...

A wide range of organisations fight against Australian internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

The newly-formed Australian Sex Party has come out and blasted the idea of Internet filtering, putting itself on the same side as the entire tech industry — from networking vendors to ISPs.

Sex Party leader Fiona Patten believes the government is already backing down on its original promises and is shifting the focus of what type of content will be filtered — a significant concern for all who are seeking more transparency.

In meetings I had with Senator Conroy last year he indicated that they had no intention of banning non-violent erotica or X-rated material, Patten said: But that is not the case — the ACMA Web site lists the types of material that will 'qualify' for the blacklist. This includes material that would be rated X (18+).

According to the Sex Party, there is a clear distinction between X-rated (18+) content, which can be legally traded on DVDs, and child pornography and sexual violence, and the government should not attempt to lump them together in one blacklist.

They also state that the blacklist will only contain 10,000 sites. One wonders how they will choose from the millions of sexually explicit sites out there, Patten said.

So great is the opposition to the idea of content filtering that organised street protests have already popped up around the country, uniting unlikely groups of people for a common cause. The initial Sydney protest attracted a wide range of people , including those from the gay and lesbian community, the Scarlet Alliance (the national sex worker alliance) and organisations like the EFA.A number of political organisations were also involved — including the Greens, the Democrats and the Liberty and Democracy Party.

Another organization that has been invigorated by the Clean Feed project is the national Digital Liberty Coalition. Whether or not the filter goes ahead, the DLC will be looking to use its groundswell of support to push for a specific Bill of Rights in Australia.

DLC executive Jeremiah Hutchinson said having explicit freedoms, as opposed to simply implied ones Australians currently have, is the only way to stop politicians continuously returning to the absurd notion that censorship is wise course of action.

In terms of uniting disparate groups, Hutchinson said nationalists turned up at the Melbourne protest and were happily protesting alongside socialists: The issue of Internet censorship is one that effects every person in the country, so it isn't surprising to see people come together on this issue, despite political or historical differences.


14th January   

Update: Net Alert Over...

Australian government quietly cancels free home filter software
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

The Australian Government has closed the programme established by the previous Coalition Government which gave all Australian families access to a free PC-based Internet content filter under its NetAlert initiative.

The filters were available through the NetAlert web site. The site now says simply that The free availability of internet content filters from this website under the National Filter Scheme ended on 31 December 2008.

Shadow minister, Nick Minchin claimed that the Rudd Government had quietly closed the programme...under the cover of the festive season on 31 December. However, a spokesman for communications minister, Stephen Conroy, told iTWire that plans to close the scheme had been revealed in the May 2008 budget. He said that free filters were now widely available from ISPs so provision by the Government was unnecessary.

The free filter scheme was announced with great fanfare by the Coalition's communications minister, Helen Coonan, in June 2006 as part of a $116.6 million comprehensive package of measures to crack down on the scourge of Internet pornography.


14th January   

An Illusion of Nudity...

Indian censors in a lather about Raaz 2
Link Here

What is the point of giving a film an adults only ‘A’ certificate if a scene has been censored, asks Mukesh Bhatt, the producer Raaz — The Mystery Continues , to release on January 23. He plans to approach the revising committee of the censor board for a rethink.

In the offending scene , Kangana Ranaut is having a bath in her tub, the ghost spooks her, she jumps out, covered in soap suds. What is wrong with the scene? You don’t have a bath with your clothes on! exclaims Bhatt. Kangana is not even nude, she is wearing a bodysuit. But the censor board says that the bodysuit is not enough, because it creates the illusion of nudity.

The actress declined to comment but a source close to her says that Kangana is surprised at this furore, because she feels it gives the impression that the scene is being used as a publicity stunt: She is surprised, because the scene only shows her bathing and she gets scared and hops out of the bathtub. There is nothing obscene.

Bhatt feels that either the board should retain the scene and give it an ‘A’ certificate or chop it and give a ‘UA’ certificate. What is the use of an ‘A’ certificate after chopping a scene? They want to give it an ‘A’ certificate because there is horror content, but I feel that an adult has certain sensibilities.


14th January   

Update: Who's to Judge...

Hong Kong considers splitting film censorship from the judiciary
Link Here

Hong Kong Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang wants a jury system to replace the use of adjudicators on the Obscene Articles Tribunal.

Li said it is inappropriate and unsatisfactory for the tribunal to perform both administrative classification and judicial functions.

The chief justice said the tribunal is in effect operating as two different bodies with different powers and subject to different procedures and rules of evidence.

Li said the Judiciary has proposed that the present system of using tribunal adjudicators be replaced by a jury system.

The first round of public consultation on the reform proposals will be completed at the end of this month. In its proposal in October, the government recommended that an independent classification board be set up to improve the regulation of obscene and indecent articles.

The proposed reform came after the sex photos scandal involving teenage icon Edison Chen Koon- hei and his celebrity partners early last year. The proposals include revamping the tribunal. Among the options being considered is a two- tier system under which an independent classification board would make interim classifications of material.

The existing Obscene Articles Tribunal would remain a judicial body responsible for considering appeals against the board's decisions and dealing with articles referred by courts.


13th January   

Schizo at the BBFC...

BBFC waives the previous cuts to Schizo
Link Here

Schizo is a 1977 UK horror film by by Pete Walker (Redemption Films)

The BBFC waived its cuts when resubmitted on DVD in 2008

The 1987 Warner Home Video version suffered BBFC cuts of 1:03s as follows:
  • At 0 min - During opening voice-over, suggestion that schizophrenia makes its victims violent was removed. This was achieved by removing the words "violent and" :

    "Schizophrenia, a mental disorder sometime know as multiple or split personality, characterised by loss of touch with environment and alternation between violent and contrasting behaviour patterns."

    So that the text should now read -

    "...and alternation between contrasting behaviour patterns."
  • At 12 mins - In flashback of man on train, sight of knife slashing stomach of bare-breasted woman after she leans back on bed screaming.
  • At 74.5 mins - When mallet hits woman's head as she waits for bus, two shots of her face covered in blood were removed (offscreen blows remained). After second blow with mallet in vision, four more shots of bloody face before she sinks to the ground were removed.
  • At 83.5 mins - Sight of needle emerging from head next to woman's eyes was removed (needle entering back of head and initial turn of head remained).
  • At 84.5 mins - close up of needle sticking out of side of dead woman's eye was removed (MS as camera pulls away may remained).
  • At 95 mins - When woman has flashback of mother copulating, all sight of her bottom being slapped during sex and also of her in suspender belt with legs wrapped around man (before child watches from door) were removed.
  • At 96 mins - Attack on woman's bare stomach was reduced to minimum establishment only, removing knife slashes and stabbing of stomach and all prodding and slashing of blood-stained torso, resuming on child hitting offscreen.

The 1976 cinema release was cut by the BBFC as follows:

  • Reel 5 - Shots of knife slashing across naked woman's stomach in flashback killing of mother by her daughter were considerably reduced.

Review from IMDb : Psychological Terror Twists

Pete Walker and his loyal scriptwriter David McGillivray were pretty much England's most controversial duo of filmmakers back in the glorious seventies. Opposite to Hammer's and Amicus' successful but politically correct horror movies, these two provided the British (and other) genre fans with provocative and violent films, stuffed with social criticism and obscene undertones.

Their movies ("Frightmare", "House of Whipcord"...) aren't genius, but at least they always have originality and a handful of effective shock-moments. Same goes for this "Schizo", which remarkably blends an innovating slasher premise with some of the genre's oldest and most delightful clich้s.

"Schizo" basically is a simplistic horror movie (up till a certain point, at least), but it's praiseworthy how Walker & McGillivray make efforts to throw in psychological terror twists. The extended fright-scenes are well mounted and the make up effects are quite nasty despite the low budget production values. As usual in Pete Walker's movies, there's a twisted and very ingenious shock ending that marvellously illustrates the director's aversion to political correctness.

Highly recommended!


13th January   

Casualty Impaled by the TV Censor...

Hospital drama too traumatic for pre-watershed transmission
Link Here

BBC1, 13 September 2008, 20:20 to 21:10; and
14 September 2008, 20:00 to 21:00

Casualty is a long-running hospital drama set in the fictional city of Holby.

Five viewers complained to Ofcom that the first episode in the new series transmitted on Saturday 13 September 2008 contained images of a disturbing , violent , extremely graphic , shocking and disgusting nature that were unsuitable for the time of transmission. These included scenes of extreme injury and trauma where a nurse was impaled on a stake and a young woman hit by an ambulance and flung violently into the windscreen of an oncoming car.

13 September 2008, 20:20 to 21:10, Farmead Menace – Part One

In the last fifteen minutes or so of this episode, whilst pursuing an injured patient on a building site, a nurse, who is an established character in the series, falls over and becomes impaled on a spike. She remains conscious and in great distress in several scenes which follow showing her terrible situation: the spike has passed through her back and emerged through her abdomen. She is shown clutching the spike with her hands on her stomach while blood oozes from the wound. The patient, a young woman, who witnessed the accident, cold-heartedly uses the nurse’s mobile phone to film her suffering rather than call an ambulance. The patient then runs from the scene and is hit by an ambulance travelling at high speed. In a computer generated special effect, the viewer sees the girl flung through the air and smash into the windscreen of an oncoming car. She is then shown lying badly injured on the road.

14 September 2008, 20:00 to 21:00, Farmead Menace - Part Two

When this programme started at 20:00 it showed, pre-titles, a ‘teaser’ of the previous night’s programme which included brief clips of the nurse impaled on the stake and the accident involving the young woman. The programme itself featured riot scenes on a local estate where a group of young people aggressively taunted police and attacked cars and ambulances.

Ofcom considered Rules:

  • 1.3 (appropriate scheduling)
  • 1.4 (television broadcasters must observe the watershed)
  • 2.3 (in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom was concerned by the graphic nature of the repeated scenes of the nurse impaled on the stake who was obviously in great distress, and by the aggressive impact of the accident scene filmed from the perspective of the inside of the car that the young woman was flung into at high speed. Taken together, these two incidents occurred in the last ten minutes of the drama resulting in a sustained and concentrated run of distressing and shocking scenes.

Ofcom noted, and would expect that, children would be watching the television as part of a family group at this time on a Saturday evening. Audience data indicates that 397,000 children1 were watching this broadcast. Whilst the BBC has stated that it is inevitable that violence and trauma will feature significantly in Casualty and that it reviewed this material for pre-watershed transmission, two of the complainants stated that their children were distressed by what they saw on screen. In Ofcom’s view the explicit images of extreme trauma, distress and injury of the impaled nurse, and the computer generated images of the ambulance accident went beyond audience expectations regarding children in the audience who were not sufficiently protected from this material.

Ofcom noted that this broadcast straddled the 21:00 watershed, ending at 21:10. In these circumstances, and irrespective of the climactic effect broadcaster’s are trying to build up to, broadcasters must consider the need to protect adequately children who start watching such programmes before the watershed. This is because children and their parents may be unprepared for significantly stronger material at the end of a programme they had started to watch together as a family some time before 21:00.

In addition, Rule 2.3 requires that in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context. Ofcom considered that important aspects of the programme’s potentially traumatic and ongoing distressing content were not adequately conveyed to the audience in the information provided before the programme i.e. An explosive two-parter to kick-off the new series now on BBC1. Unbreakable, un-missable, this is Casualty . The audience was therefore not appropriately informed of what to expect in a programme whose transmission began 40 minutes before the watershed. Taking all the relevant contextual factors into account the broadcast of this material was not in Ofcom’ s view justified by the context. It was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

Ofcom concluded that this edition of the programme was in breach of Rules 1.3, 1.4,
and 2.3 of the Code.

Ofcom was concerned that the two images that were particularly strong in the previous night’s episode of Casualty (the nurse impaled on the spike and the computer generated image of the patient hit by the ambulance) were repeated in a pre-titles ‘teaser’ at the beginning of the second episode, albeit in the form of very brief clips. In addition, audience research indicated that 367,000 children were watching at this time. This is of concern to Ofcom given the programme’s start time one hour before the watershed.

Ofcom considered that this pre-titles ‘teaser’ was inappropriately scheduled at 20:00 having regard to the likely expectations of a family audience for BBC1 on a Sunday night. It was therefore in breach of Rule 1.3 and 1.4 of the Code.


13th January   

Update: End of an Amnesty...

Chinese censors restore block on Amnesty International's website
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Amnesty International have said that their Internet website had once again been blocked in China and urged Beijing to re-establish the site immediately.

In the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the London-based human rights group's website was unblocked by the Chinese authorities,

China had rolled back a few high-profile planks of its web censorship in an apparent effort to defuse an embarrassing dispute over media freedom ahead of the August Games.

We fear the re-blocking of Amnesty International's website indicates a widening crackdown, particularly as 2009 will see a number of important commemorations, said Roseann Rife, deputy director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific program.

This year sees the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing, the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Democracy Wall movement and the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.


13th January   

First Nude of Indian Mainstream Cinema...

Supporting the hype for Rang Rasiya
Link Here

Nandana Sen’s nude scenes in the much anticipated Rang Rasiya (Colours of Passion), directed by Ketan Mehta. In the west, they would scarcely draw comment. But as far as mainstream Indian cinema is concerned, Nandana has been brave enough to boldly go where no Indian actress has gone before.

In order to play the painter Raja Ravi Varma’s muse, Sugandha, opposite Randeep Hooda, she knew from the start that quite a bit of nudity was essential if the film was to work artistically. The nudity, Nandana insists, is more than appropriate. It is the heart of the movie. The emotional drama of the film, as well as the political, focuses around it. She has no doubt it’s a first for Indian cinema.

The film has a very strong story to tell and a very important point to make, both of which rely on those scenes entirely, argues Nandana. What’s even more remarkable is that it is the first time that the Indian censor has passed those scenes without asking for a single cut.


13th January   

Update: Smoked Out...

India starts giving adult ratings for films with smoking scenes
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Indian Regional Censor Board officials are tightening the screws on smoking scenes in Tamil cinema.

Ever since Dr Anbumani Ramadoss assumed office as the Union Minister for Health, he was urging actors not to feature in screen smoking. Moreover, a public ban on smoking was implemented.

Going a step further now, the Censor officials have been instructed to hand over adult certificates even if there are a couple of smoking scenes in a film.

According to director Rajesh who is directing Siva Manasula Sakthi : my film has been certified UA despite it being a breezy family entertainer. There are four instances when characters smoke in the film. The officials at the censor board said they have been instructed to do so.


12th January   

Blown Out of All Proportion...

Ann Summers sale advert amuses Watford
Link Here

Adult retailer Ann Summers has apologised for offending a shopper with one of its saucy shop fronts. But it did not say it would remove the window display’s suggestive sale sign despite a letter from the council asking them to tone it down.

Harrow council wrote to the sex toy and lingerie chain over the sign in which an elongated letter ‘l’ in 'sale' is depicted in an apparent sex act below the catchline get excited.
Ann Summers

Kevin Gooch was shocked to be confronted by the image when he was out shopping with his young son in the Harlequin shopping centre in Watford. In a letter to the Harrow Times, which prompted the council to take action, he said: I was surprised and somewhat shocked to see Ann Summers displaying a pair of open lips with a five foot erect penis just about to enter into them. I feel this sends out a very strong message. I do not want my young children to be subjected to this kind of subliminal messaging when going shopping.

Harrow council’s deputy leader Susan Hall wrote to retail boss Jacqueline Gold to ask her to consider changing the display. The lips image is an obviously suggestive one, and not even Mary Poppins would think it doesn’t refer to a sex act.

An Ann Summers spokeswoman said it had not yet received the council’s letter but the sale signs had been used for the past three and a half years.

She said: We aim to have fun in what we do without offending. However, we do take our role seriously and apologise if we have offended the customer in question and what he has interpreted from our window.


12th January   

Audio Down the U Tube...

YouTube removing audio of videos suspected of breach of copyright
Link Here

It seems that YouTube are now censoring music videos by removing the audio if they think there's been a breach of copyright.

All well and good but they've even been censoring things like top ten countdowns from old episodes of The Chart Show just because it showed 3s of a particular music video (in this case, the user had already removed all the full length music videos from the countdown as it had been taken down once before following objections)

One person compiled a video to look like the intro to US show Cops but using clips taken from UK police shows. But because it used the original theme music from Inner Circle, they censored the audio for alleged copyright infringement.

Yet, the original music video, the original intro and other homages continue to pop-up elsewhere on their site.


11th January   

Inappropriate for Nutters...

Beyer recycles old tat for whinges about Above Suspicion
Link Here

The ITV is under investigation by TV censor Ofcom for screening a drama in which an unconscious woman was raped before having her tongue bitten off. After receiving a few complaints, Ofcom has launched a preliminary assessment to see if the drama breached the Broadcasting Code.

Above Suspicion, written by thriller veteran Lynda La Plante was made into a two-part drama about a hunt for a serial killer was screened on successive nights last week, with each episode attracting about seven million viewers. It was shown after the 9pm watershed

In the complained about scene, a woman in her 20s was knocked unconscious by having her head banged against a car window, before being carried to a piece of waste ground and raped. When she regained consciousness, during the attack, her assailant bit off part of her tongue before continuing to rape and eventually kill her. The programme also
showed images of nudity and one of drug-taking.

John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, said: Graphic brutality of this nature is not appropriate for television audiences. While we understand that Lynda La Plante has a reputation for writing graphic scenes, showing this sort of gratuitous brutality against a defenceless woman is unacceptable. If it didn’t breach the Broadcasting Code, the code obviously needs addressing.

Beyer also pointed out that screening this type of programme highlighted the dangers of free internet video services, which allow users to watch TV shows at a time of their choosing.

Beyer said: The Government must address the situation urgently. We know the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is concerned but the ground rules should have been set before technological innovations like the ITV Player were introduced.

Tory MP Philip Davies, who sits on the Commons Culture Select Committee, said: Watching adult, graphic material on TV is a matter of personal taste. As for this sort of material being available on the internet, it is up to parents to monitor what their children are watching. But this type of programme being on an internet video service is a huge moral dilemma for all broadcasters.

A spokesman for ITV said: Above Suspicion is a gritty police drama that was broadcast post-watershed. Both episodes were preceded by a warning about the content. We are sorry if viewers missed the warning. We have received many positive comments in praise of this drama.’


11th January   

Unethical BBC Ethics Department...

Anti religious interview edited to support religion
Link Here

The BBC has been forced to apologise to an acclaimed psychologist and writer after editing her derogatory comments about religion so that a radio programme broadcast the opposite of what she had said.

Dorothy Rowe complained to the corporation that her interview on the Radio 2 programme What Do You Believe? had been edited so that the final version misrepresented her views. During a 50-minute recorded interview, Rowe had attempted to comment on the subject proposed by the programme's producer: Why so many people want to believe in God and search for faith. But she was aghast to hear how her words were eventually used.

In an email to the corporation Rowe stated: My words were edited to make it sound that I held a favourable opinion of religion in that it gave a structure to a person's life. What was not broadcast was what I had said about how such structures can be damaging to people. Being misquoted in this way concerned me greatly.

She said the interview sounds like I am giving unqualified praise to religious belief. There is no mention of what I talked... about at length, that religious belief can cause immense misery. I often summarise this with: 'The church keeps me in business'.

The row has provided ammunition for secular critics who accuse the BBC of using its programmes to promote religion. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, who was interviewed for the same programme as Rowe, said: I gave a long interview, but when I listened to the finished product it contained just a couple of very brief soundbites from me which were not representative of the thoughts I had expressed... This programme was the most blatant piece of religious propaganda I have heard for a long time.

A spokeswoman for the corporation said: The BBC's religion and ethics department acknowledged that extracts from an interview with Dorothy Rowe - broadcast in the programme What Do You Believe? - misrepresented her views on religion and has apologised to her.


11th January   

Update: Killing Comments...

Public comments about Gaza killings are too strong to publish
Link Here
Full story: Gaza Onslaught Censored...Censorship of Israel's onslaught of gaza

Several French online media organizations have decided to stop letting their readers comment on articles dealing with the Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza. These news sites include Liberation.fr, LCI.fr and 20minutes.fr.

A spokesman for Lib้ration said: Many of the reactions were outbursts of hatred, endless insults. We do not want the comments section to become a forum for racists and anti-Semites.

The BBC erases more than half of the reactions posted to one section of its site

Most major international sites, including CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera (as well as FRANCE 24), however, have decided to continue publishing reader comments - but they do check the contents before the comments go online.

On most subjects, the BBC has usually allowed most user-comments to pass freely, but they have found that is not the case where reactions to the Israel – Gaza conflict are concerned. In the Have your say section of the BBC website, a moderator explains: We’ve got two debates on the blog at the moment (on Gaza and on homosexuality) that are leading us to delete well over half of the comments you’re posting. So, to save your time and ours a little reminder of our blog rules…….

Robust debate is welcome. Comments that are too long, stray off the topic, are racist or homophobic will not be published. It also comes down to tone. If it sounds like you are being threatening, or launching personal attacks it won’t be published.

French website Rue89.com has chosen to maintain automatic publication of responses and to filter them after they have been posted. Site editor Pierre Haski explains: It is a sign of defeat to close the opportunity to comment while the events are happening. We may as well close the site down. It is true that the comments about Gaza are numerous – between 500 and 1,000 per article. I spend at least three hours moderating the site after an article is posted. We find that we have to remove between 25 and 30% of comments, against 2% for other stories.

Internet users of FRANCE24.com are often surprised that not all their comments are published. For example, “Ch้rif”, a resident of France, complained: FRANCE 24 is politicized. It’s too bad. My posts do not pass.

FRANCE24.com explained their stance: Because of the high number of user reactions to the Gaza conflict, we are posting only a selection on the site. Please keep your reactions short, relevant and civil. (See our Rules of conduct.). We select reactions that contribute to a respectful, constructive debate. Like other news sites, we receive many reactions that contain racist or aggressive language that violate our rules of conduct. We do not publish those.

But we want to know what you think. When news sites filter user reactions, are they providing a service to their users and the broader community, or is it censorship?


11th January   

Update: Censorship Drag...

Liverpool council to decide on awarding 18 certificates to cinema films featuring smoking
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Don't smoke pups...
It addles the brain, you may turn
into a Liverpuddlian health nut

Liverpool health bosses are calling for an 18 certificate to be given to any film which glamorises smoking.

The city would become the first in Britain to bring in the ruling if council chiefs agree next week.

Health leaders want all movies where a character smokes without a good reason to be given an adults only classification in a bid to stop children taking up the habit.

Although cinema films are given their ratings by the BBFC, local authorities have had the power to override the decision.

The call by Liverpool Primary Care Trust is also being backed by the city council’s Public Protection Service. They say across the UK more than 150,000 children start smoking each year. In Liverpool the figure is 3,300, almost three times the expected level for the population size.

Andy Hull, of Liverpool PCT, who led the SmokeFree Liverpool campaign, said: When you’re in the worst position in the whole country for something you’ve got to be radical.

Health leaders say there should be only two exceptions to the 18 certificate – portrayal of a real historical figure who actually smoked, or where the film shows a clear and unambiguous portrayal of the dangers of smoking, other tobacco use, or secondhand smoke. But they say the new classifications would only be given to future films and not those already on release.

Council chiefs will consider the request at a meeting of the licensing and gambling committee next week. Any move to bring in the restrictions would need the agreement of the full council.


11th January   

Offsite: Rated as Inept...

Andy Burnham takes a pounding on fellow MP's website
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Tom Watson is a blogging MP who posed the following question of his readers:

I’ve just read this story that says that Internet sites might be given “cinema-style age ratings”. I’d be very interested to know your views - supportive or not. Internet regulation is not in my policy area but I promise you I will forward your views to Andy Burnham and Lord Carter.

Needless to stay that the vast majority of the 200 responses was hardly supportive and they make for interesting reading

...Read full article


11th January   

Offsite: Lack of Transparency...

Brooklyn Law School embarrass Australia's web filtering proposal
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

The rest of the world has been smirking at Stephen Conroy's ill-conceived plan to censor Australia's Internet for a while now, but a new study published by Brooklyn Law School entitled Filtering in Oz: Australia's Foray Into Internet Censorship is a serious embarrassment.

This report is important. Not only is it authored by a reputable and neutral foreign observer but it also focuses more on the legitimacy of the scheme than the technical concerns, and it finds some serious problems.

The study's author applies a process-based methodology to determining censorship’s legitimacy by asking four questions. Is the country open about its censorship plans and the reason behind them? Is it transparent about what is to be restricted? How narrow is the filtering? And finally, are the processes and decision makers behind the scheme accountable? While the Government earns praise for openness (Internet filtering was a central campaign promise), serious issues are highlighted in the other three areas.

Commentators, industry groups like Electronic Frontiers Australia and opposition political parties have consistently called for clarity on both the aims of the censorship scheme and the range of material to be targeted. Yet phrases like other unwanted material still represent the best information we have received from the Government. Whether or not this is a deliberate attempt to hobble debate we cannot say, but the situation was not lost on Bambauer:

To date, Australia’s transparency regarding its filtering has been poor. The country has vacillated on what material it will target for blocking. This uncertainty makes it difficult for citizens to assess whether the scope of material blocked is appropriate, and whether the set of targeted sites comports with the underlying rationales for censorship. The Labor government is opaque about the types of sites that will be blocked, how a site will be evaluated for filtering, and how those decisions map to larger social and political goals.

...Read full article


11th January   

Offsite: L่se Majest้...

Thai society passes harsh judgement
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

At the dawn of 2009, many sighed with relief that, for whatever reason, a big political hurdle has been overcome. The new Administration led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, however, has pledged to prioritize suppression of any offence related to defamation of the monarch.

Many political dissidents have been entangled in l่se majest้ litigation in the past year. Some have been granted bail, including Sondhi Limthongkul, Sulak Sivaraksa, and Veera Musikpong, while others ran away, including Chucheep Cheevasuth, and Suchart Nagabangsai. This dubious charge was also laid against persons such as Jitra Kotchadet, a union leader, and Chotisak On-soong, a student. A charge against Jonathan Head, BBC correspondent, also raised many eyebrows, whereas others were arrested and quietly held in custody including Phraya Pichai and Thonchan , the two infamous web bloggers.

But some have already spent part of their lives behind bars including Ms. Daranee Chancherngsilpakul, aka Dar Torpedo, serving 6 years in jail, and Ms. Boonyuen Prasertying, two stars at the Sanam Luang political rallies.

This does not yet include Harry Nicolaides, an Aussie writer. Pending trial, these three alleged offenders have been languishing in jail for months. None of the Thai media has paid the slightest attention to their plight. Unlike many others, they have been denied bail. It could be said that their cases have already been decided by society.

...Read full article


10th January   

Skittle Alley...

Israel easily offended by Pope's remark about Gaza
Link Here
Full story: Gaza Onslaught Censored...Censorship of Israel's onslaught of gaza

A diplomatic row between Israel and the Vatican cast doubt over Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to the Holy Land, after a prominent cardinal said that Gazans were living in a big concentration camp.

In his annual speech to diplomats in the Vatican the Pope sought to damp down the dispute. He said that the war was provoking immense damage and suffering for the civilian populations in Gaza and Israel. He urged the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms and added: Violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. The military solution is never an option .

His remarks came amid outrage from Israelis over a statement by Cardinal Renato Martino, the head of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace and a former Holy See envoy to the United Nations, who compared Gaza to a concentration camp. The cardinal criticised Israel for killing civilians who had taken shelter at a UN run school in Gaza.

Israeli officials said that they were deeply shocked that a man of religion is using the vocabulary of Hamas propaganda. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors antiSemitism and hunts down Nazi war criminals, said that Cardinal Martino had used the language of a Holocaust denier.

Israeli Media Propaganda

Based on article from indexoncensorship.org by Dimi Reider

When I was in journalism school, we were taught that truth was the first casualty of any war. But in the current seismic violence in the Gaza Strip, truth was joined by three more casualties — decency, compassion and shame.

True, censorship is there. Not only are there no Israeli journalists in Gaza, but Israel is also preventing all foreign media from reaching the Strip, with even the circumspect decision by an embattled Supreme Court to let in a pool of eight journalists (foreign and Israeli) not being carried out. Foreign journalists have been detained, and online forums have been contacted and requested to remove threads which the IDF considered dangerous either to security or morale . The parliament has happily joined the bandwagon, with one prominent MK suggesting to block al Jazeera and al Arabiya due to the demoralising effect it has on our Arab population.

The media itself rushes to assist them with bucketfuls of self-censorship. But all this pales before the unabashedly jingoistic tone struck by the media.

News sections in newspapers are entirely devoted to drums of war from day one, when all media lauded the brilliant thinking of the surprise effect.  IDF statements are given as news items and the most extravagant quotes by the Israeli politicians are reported as they are. (The prize-holder for these is, undoubtedly, Tzipi Livni, with such profound statements as a ceasefire would damage negotiations and the war is necessary to promote peace.

Censorship Bombshell

Based on article from cpj.org

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Israeli military's bombing today of a Gaza City building that houses the offices of a number of international news organizations.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked the rooftop of Al-Johara Tower, an eight-story building located in Al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, which houses more than 20 international news organizations.

Al-Jazeera reported that at least one journalist was injured while filing a report from the roof of the building. Satellite transmission equipment on the roof of the building was also damaged in the attack.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, defended the strike in an interview with Al-Jazeera, saying that communications equipment in the building could have been used by Hamas.

The Israeli military knows the location of TV facilities houses and news bureaus in Gaza. It is simply unacceptable that working journalists and their offices should come under fire in this way," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. Journalists enjoy protections under international law in military campaigns such as the one in Gaza. Israel must cease its attacks on the media immediately.


10th January   

Update: Ban Banned...

Maharashtra state ban on film Deshdrohi rescinded in court
Link Here

Bollywood may not have been very hot on Kamal Khan's Deshdrohi , but the industry certainly is very happy with the court's verdict that prevents the Maharashtra state from curbing a film-maker's freedom of expression.

Kamal Khan, the producer-actor of the film, said, I am happy that the court has rapped the state by calling the ban illegal and said freedom of expression of a film-maker should not be curbed as the censor board has cleared the movie and given it a `U' certificate. The court has also said the government misused Section 651 under the pretext that the film would cause law and order problem. He now plans to start the publicity for the film, which will be release on January 23.

Vinayak Azad, regional officer, censor board, said, The film was cleared with a `U' certificate by the appellate tribunal. The state had imposed the ban and it's got nothing to do with us.

Deshdrohi is a film based on north Indians migrating to Mumbai which had created a controversy in the state. The Maharashtra government had imposed a two-month ban on the film fearing backlash from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and others if it was allowed to be released in the present format.


10th January   


Teacher reprimanded by morality council over off duty porn
Link Here

A teacher in the UK who was a part time porn-star has been found guilty of unacceptable professional misconduct.

Andrew Beasley - who worked at a school in east London - appeared in TV programmes and films described as having a sexual nature, but did not earn any money from the movies.

Britain's General Teaching Council says what he did was a breach of the standards of the profession.


10th January   

Update: Censorship Bull...

Chinese censors close blog site for harmful news comment
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China expanded an Internet cleanup campaign, shutting down a blog hosting site www.bullog.cn for apparently carrying harmful comments on current affairs.

The founder of bullog.cn, Luo Yonghao, told The Associated Press: I got an e-mail from the Beijing Communications Administration this afternoon, saying the Web site contained harmful comments on current affairs and therefore will be closed .

It was not known whether the shutdown of bullog.cn was permanent. The site, home to some outspoken social and political commentary, was closed temporarily last year during a key Communist Party congress after criticism of the meeting was posted.

Update: 91

12th January 2008

91 websites have now been added to China's block list in the last few days

Update: 277

16th January 2008

277 websites have now been added to China's block list in the last few days


10th January   

Update: The Moral Monopoly...

BBC responds to requests for opening up Thought For the Day
Link Here

The controller of Radio 4, Mark Damazer defends keeping Thought for the Day reserved for religious believers:

I regard this as a genuinely difficult question. There may be a case for widening the pool of contributors on Thought for The Day by having someone with an avowedly non-religious perspective. However on balance the BBC's position is that it is reasonable to sustain the slot with believers. Let me now set out the reasoning.

Thought for the Day is a unique slot in which speakers from a wide range of religious faiths reflect on an issue of the day from their faith perspective. In the midst of the three hour Today programme devoted to overwhelmingly secular concerns - national and international news and features, searching interviews etc - the slot offers a brief, uninterrupted interlude of spiritual reflection. We believe that broadening the brief would detract from the distinctiveness of the slot.

Within Thought for the Day a careful balance is maintained of voices from different Christian denominations and other religions with significant membership in the UK. We are broadcasting to the general Radio 4 audience which regularly engages with the comments and ideas expressed by our contributors from the world's major faiths - whether they are believers or not.

Outside Thought for the Day the BBC's religious output contains both religious and non-religious voices in programmes such as Sunday, Beyond Belief, Moral Maze. In these programmes atheists, humanists and secularists are regularly heard, the religious world is scrutinised, its leaders and proponents are questioned.

Non-religious voices are also heard extensively across the general output in news, current affairs, documentaries, talks, science, history. These programmes approach the world from perspectives which are not religious. As, of course, do the other 2 hours 57 minutes of Today.


10th January   

Naked Criticism...

Indian newspaper publishers jailed over religious tensions
Link Here

B.V. Seetaram and his wife, Rohini, who head the media group Chithra Publications in Karnataka state, southern India, have been in judicial custody since Sunday in connection with two-year old criminal charges relating to their newspapers.

Police told Seetaram the arrest was in connection with criminal charges lodged against them in 2007 for offending the sensibilities of a religious group in articles published by two of Chithra's Kannada-language dailies, Karavali Ale and Kannada Janantaranga .

We are concerned that the arrest of these media owners, which coincides with attacks against one of their newspapers, is part of a campaign of harassment because they have dared to take on a sensitive religious issue, said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia Program Coordinator: We call on authorities to drop these criminal charges and ensure the safety of our colleagues.

The original complaint was filed in March 2007 by a practitioner of the religion Jainism, shortly after the newspapers published articles questioning the right of Jain leaders to appear naked in public, according to national English-language daily The Statesman. The couple spent a total of 10 days in jail in 2007 before being freed on bail. Seetaram characterized those arrests as harassment, and said that Karavali Ale had exposed links between the Jain community, a bus company allegedly carrying out illegal activities, and local police.

Tensions between religious groups run high in Mangalore, and newspapers are often accused of contributing to communal disharmony with provocative or one-sided coverage, according to the popular current affairs blog Churumuri.


10th January   

Wake up and Smell the Coffee...

Colombian coffee growers to sue US cartoonist
Link Here

Colombian coffee growers are planning to sue a US cartoonist for millions of dollars over a cartoon they say damages the reputation of Colombian coffee.

The cartoon is by Mike Peters, whose work is published in the US and abroad. In it, one character refers to crime in Colombia and then to Juan Valdez, the fictional coffee grower used for years to advertise Colombian coffee.

The cartoon strip which appeared on 2 January is part of the Mother Goose and Grimm series that Mr Peters draws. In it, Mother Goose is sighing over a cup of fresh Colombian coffee. Another character comments: Y'know, there's a big crime syndicate in Colombia. So when they say there's a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can, maybe they're not kidding. The comic strip finishes with Mother Goose drinking tea.

Colombia's National Coffee Growers' Federation, Fedecafe, said they had instructed their lawyers in the US to begin proceedings against Peters and the agency which distributes his work, for damage and harm, detriment to intellectual property and defamation.

In a statement, Fedecafe said the cartoon associated organised crime and the atrocities committed by violent groups with the hard, delicate and honest work of more than 500,000 coffee growers and their families.

Peters said: I thought this was a humorous subject and all my Mother Goose and Grimm cartoons are meant to make people laugh. I truly intended no insult."


9th January   

Update: There's Probably No God...

Advert censor ponders the unlikely existence of a god
Link Here
Full story: Atheist Buses...Atheists fund adverts about enjoying life

The advertising censor is being called upon to rule on the likelihood of God's existence after complaints were made about the atheist bus advert campaign.

Censors at the Advertising Standards Authority are now considering whether to tackle the question that has taxed the minds of the world's greatest thinkers for centuries.

It has recorded 48 complaints since Tuesday when buses first hit the streets emblazoned with the message: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. At least 40 more people were understood to have made objections by last night.

Most of those who have contacted the ASA consider the adverts offensive and say they break guidelines on taste and decency.

Stephen Green, the nutter behind Christian Voice is claiming they should be taken down because the statement in the adverts cannot be substantiated: If you're going to put out what appears to be a factual statement then you have to be able to back it up. They've got to substantiate this proposition that in all probability, God doesn't exist.

The ASA is now considering whether to investigate his complaint, which could lead to it reaching a deep ontological conclusion about a supreme being. If it ruled that the wording in the posters was unsubstantiated, it would be interpreted as effectively saying that in all probability God does exist. Ruling that the words were justified could be taken as an agreement that God probably does not exist.

Members of the public donated ฃ140,000 to the Atheist Bus Campaign after its founder, the writer Ariane Sherine, suggested there should be an antidote to religious posters on public transport that threaten eternal damnation to non-believers.

Some supporters of the movement had wanted a stronger slogan that denied God's existence categorically. But the word "probably" was included in order to meet ASA rules.

The British Humanist Association, which is co-ordinating the campaign, said it was confident the chosen wording will not be banned by the censor.

The ASA said: We are assessing these complaints to see whether there are grounds for an investigation.

There's Probably No God in Spain Either

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Meanwhile the posting of atheist advertising on Barcelona's buses has been branded an attack on all religions.

Next week, Barcelona will become the first city in Spain to copy the UK campaign when its buses use a direct translation of the slogan adopted in Britain. Madrid, Valencia and other cities are being targeted to run similar campaigns.

Probablemente Dios no existe. Deja de preocuparte y goza de la vida, it reads, translating as There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.

The campaign has provoked a reaction from the Catholic archbishopric of Barcelona. Faith in God is not a source of worry, nor is it an obstacle for enjoying life, it said in a statement.

It is an attack on all religions, said Javier Maria Perez-Roldan of the church's Tomas Moro centre, blaming the socialist government for the privately funded campaign: The government has created an atmosphere of belligerence.


9th January   

Financial Censorship...

Scottish Daily Newspaper Society oppose D-Notices for financial news
Link Here

The Scottish Daily Newspaper Society has added its voice to the chorus of disapproval that the media might be restricted in the way it reports financial crises.

In the wake of the recent banking collapses, the Treasury Select Committee at Westminster is holding an inquiry. So-called D-Notices are used to restrict the reporting of stories that may jeopardise the national security, leading to concerns that something similar might be applied to financial journalism.

Says SDNS director Jim Raeburn: This is a classic case of ‘shoot the messenger’. Quite apart from the practicalities of any such proposition, this would amount to blatant censorship in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to freedom of expression. It should also be said that financial journalists are already subject to statutory and self-regulatory controls, the latter under the Editors’ Code of Practice administered by the Press Complaints Commission and its Financial Journalism Best Practice Note published in 2005.

The SDNS totally and utterly rejects any notion that readers should be deprived of information on financial matters which might assist them in making perfectly rational decisions to secure their investments.


9th January   

Comment: Dangerous Hypocrisy...

Denis MacShane in the Private Eye spotlight
Link Here
Full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

The new Private Eye has also got an interesting item, with Denis MacShane MP sounding off about "libel tourism", with foreign crooks sueing in England to take advantage of English libel laws in respect of articles published overseas.

MacShane is also a keen supporter of the Dangerous Pictures Act, which will put British people in jail for just looking at material produced quite legally in more enlightened countries.

An early entry for the Caiaphas Prize for Hypocrisy 2009?


9th January   

Update: Naked Rage...

Ghajini movie winds up Indian nutters
Link Here

It's arguably the biggest box office hit of 2008 but the recent movie Ghajini is kicking up quite a storm. A storm that has ended it up in the Bombay High Court.

According to the petitioner Pratibha Nathani, the Aamir Khan starrer is sending out a wrong message. She says scenes of naked rage could have a destructive effect on impressionable young minds.

Hence Nathani has urged the court to change the film's rating from "U/A" to the adults only rating "A".

It is not only violent but the kind of violence that is shown against a woman is quite explicit. She is shown in the pool of blood after her head is hit, it is very objectionable. There are incidents in the film, which hurt you, said Pratibha Nathani, Petitioner, nutter and social activist.

After reviewing Ghajini , the censor board did delete some scenes that were part of the original Tamil film. It was only then it was given the U/A certificate. The censor board still maintains that the film can be watched under parental guidance.

We felt that the violence in this film was normal the way you find in other Hindi films, where a hero goes on to smash 50-60 people alone. So it was granted U/A certificate. It wasn't that explicit or gruesome. Two of three scenes which we found gruesome have already been deleted, said Vinayak Azad, Regional Officer, Central Board of Film Certification.

The film is based on the Hollywood psychological thriller Memento .

Update: Court Challenge

18th January 2009. See article from topnews.in

The Bombay High Court has adjourned by a week the hearing of an appeal in response to public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Censor Board's decision seeking an ‘A’ certification for Ghajini.

The petition, filed by Pratibha Nathani, a social activist and a professor of Political Science professor at St Xavier’s College, said that the film is sending out a wrong message as the gruesome aggression portrayed in the scenes could have a negative impact on children.

Hence Pratibha urged Bombay High Court to change the movie’s rating from ‘U/A’ to ‘Adult.’

Padikkathavan passed UA with cuts

Based on article from sify.com

The Indian Regional Censor Board in Chennai has censored the new movie Padikkathavan .

The film has been passed with an 'UA' certificate with some cuts in the climax fight scene.

The film is now slated for release on January 14.


9th January   

Offsite: Comedy Killjoys...

Giving professional whingers a kick up the Archibalds
Link Here

The armchair humour police are rampant right now. The Advertising Standards Authority has just received 115 complaints about a Matrix-type fight in a VW Golf advert and five viewers rang the BBC to vent their spleen about a goldfish being killed in Casualty (even though it was a prop).

An outraged Peter Tatchell is demanding DJ Spoony is suspended after a tongue-in-cheek suggestion on BBC3's Most Annoying People Of 2008 that "fit" women should be saved for straight men.

Encouraged by Jonathan Ross's humiliation, this self-proclaimed moral majority believe they've got the whiphand now and want to drag us all into an age of humour prohibition.

...Read full article


9th January   

Offsite: Bombing Schools...

Is it right to use the horror to convey the truth?
Link Here

Three tiny children lie dead beside each other on a hospital floor, victims of the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Their father collapses in grief. As an image of war, it is as shocking as they come. But should it be published?

That has been the dilemma for newspaper and television executives across the world as they assess what is acceptable for public consumption. Is it enough simply to count the growing death toll on both sides, or should the horror of war be given a human face – even if that human face is one that is dead?

Yesterday, The Scotsman published on our front page another horrific image – one of the bloodied but lucky pupils to escape death when shells exploded next to their school. Today we reproduce the hospital image, but not without careful consideration.

Mike Gilson, the editor of The Scotsman, said: When I looked at the pictures of dead children from Gaza they were shocking, but they also hit me hard and brought home more than any pictures of grief could do what horror was unfolding. However, I then decided not to give our readers that experience which was troubling.

In the end I think it is about balance. Perhaps they were not right for the front page of The Scotsman. However, within articles like this and within spreads giving objective analysis and commentary, I think occasionally they can serve to powerfully remind us of a terrible truth of war.

...Read full article


8th January   

Update: Longer Lasting Censorship...

Limp advert censor demands take down of Longer Lasting Sex ad
Link Here

The company behind a Want Longer Lasting Sex? ad campaign for a nasal spray is defying an order to take down its posters by the advertising censor.

The Advanced Medical Institute said it would not take down the posters for the prescription nasal spray, arguing that men have a right to know how to perform better in bed.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against the advert after receiving 458 complaints and sent AMI a letter ordering the company to remove the campaign. The posters, which promote a nasal delivery technology , have been running on 196 billboard sites across the country.

Whingers have complained to the ASA that the AMI campaign is offensive and causes widespread offence. The ASA is to launch an official investigation into the campaign, but has invoked its power to demand the removal of the posters before this process begins.

Today the watchdog said it had asked AMI to remove the billboards because they advertise a prescription-only medicine. Under the advertising code, which reflects UK law, prescription-only medicine is not allowed to be advertised directly to the general public.

However, AMI responded that it would not take down the ads. We are happy to co-operate with the ASA's investigation process, but it's important for all parties concerned that it [the campaign] is able to run its course, said the AMI Europe medical director, Michael Spira: We must not overreact: this isn't the first time sex has been used in an advertising campaign. Even as we speak posters for [the film] Sex Drive are appearing all over London.

The ASA said that if AMI refused to co-operate it would take action to remove the ads. This could include discussing the issue with billboard site owners or with the media buying and creative advertising agencies involved with the campaign.


8th January   

Updated: Batman Returns Uncut...

BBFC waives the previous cuts to Batman Returns
Link Here

Batman Returns is a 1992 US film by Tim Burton (Warner Home Video)

All previous BBFC cuts were waived when the Blu-ray version was resubmitted in 2009.

Previously the 2005 video version was cut with the following BBFC comment: Compulsory cut required to remove a potentially dangerous imitable technique.

In particular:

  • Catwoman places an aerosol in a microwave but not in the UK version as we may be stupid enough to copy this idea.

And further back in history, the 1992-94 cinema and video versions were the same cut version rated 12 for cinema and 15 for video

  • Catwoman placing an aerosol in a microwave was cut
  • A clown swinging on chainsticks during in attack on Batman has also suffered. The BBFC refused at the time to allow the sight of chainsticks regardless of their usage.

Update: Blu-ray

8th January. Thanks to Byron

With regards Batman Returns being passed uncut. At the moment it only applies to the UK Blu-ray. To save money film studios like to release the same disc worldwide on Blu-ray. It must have been cheaper to resubmit the film than create a cut HD disc. Unless the DVD is re-released it will still be cut.


8th January   

Update: War Against the Internet...

Thailand sets up war room for internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand has blocked 2,300 Web sites and is establishing a war room for future crackdowns, which critics say threaten free speech.

Authorities are seeking a court order to shut 400 more sites and will spend 45 million baht ($1.3 million) to create a 24-hour center to police Internet material, Information and Communications Technology Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee said in a statement posted on the ICT’s Web site.

The ministry is investing a lot of money to buy expensive software to block Web sites, but actually it’s very contrary to international standards, said lawyer Paiboon Amonpinyokeat: The government has to understand the nature of the Internet and the concept of freedom of speech.

Under the 2007 law passed after the military seized power in a coup, authorities can’t block Web sites without a court order. The law was designed to prevent abuse of power by giving judges the final say on whether to shut down an Internet site, Paiboon said.

The ministry plans to introduce heavier fines and prison terms for anyone who supposedly insults the king via the Internet, Ranongrak said in the statement. She also plans to target inappropriate online games and casinos. And of course there are plenty of porn sites on the censored list.


8th January   

Under Siege...

Indian TV to be banned from unauthorised coverage of law and order emergencies
Link Here

In the wake of a controversy over real time coverage of the 60-hour Mumbai siege, the Indian government has proposed a slew of restrictions aimed at preventing news broadcasters from showing any live telecast other than an authorized feed in the event of a law and order emergency.

The information & broadcasting ministry has obtained the law ministry's clearance for a draft notification extensively amending the cable television network rules 1994. The amendments, which are due to be notified after receiving feedback from other ministries, include drastic curbs on live coverage of events to be imposed at the discretion of an authorized officer. All that the channels will be permitted to show in such situations is delayed carriage of live feed.

The law will ban any unauthorised broadcast which

  • Contains live coverage of war, violent law and order situation or operations where security forces have to overcome terrorists or other hostile groups.
  • Contains details of identity, number and status of hostages or information regarding the number of security personnel involved or the methods employed by them in a hostage situation.
  • Contains live-contact including live phone-in calls and interviews with victims or security personnel or other technical personnel involved or the perpetrators of crime, arson, violence while the violence or the criminal activity is in progress.
  • Contains coverage of operational details in respect of war or any other security operation except as disclosed by the authorised officer.

In another draft clause related to violence or disasters, the government prohibits close-ups and extended images of blood or gore, dismembered or disfigured limbs or bodies or images of the dead or seriously wounded people or violence which may seriously distress or offend substantial number of viewers or cause public panic and incite further violence or compromise the dignity of the dead.


8th January   

Offsite: Priorities for 2009...

Whinging about a stupid throwaway comment on a rubbish TV show?
Link Here

2009 has begun with complaints about a BBC Three show called The Most Annoying People of 2008 , which was broadcast several times over the festive period. People are complaining about a bit that featured Ron Jeremy when he described what he wanted to do to Lindsay Lohan and her gal pal Sam Ronson.

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell blasted the show, saying: The remarks by BBC Radio 5 presenter DJ Spoony and straight US porn actor Ron Jeremy were gratuitously sexist and homophobic. The BBC should have never broadcast them. A public apology is due from the BBC.

Okay, these comments may be pretty dumb, but c'mon! Surely a human rights activist has better things to do with his time than throw his penny in about some crappy clip show on BBC Three? Here we have a man who tried to slap a citizen's arrest on Mugabe and slags off the pope for homophobia... good causes... but a stupid throwaway comment on a rubbish TV show?

...Read full article


7th January   

Update: Children's Version Passed...

Atari resubmits revised Silent Hill Homecoming for an MA15+ rating
Link Here
Full story: Silent Hill Homecoming...Adding to long list of banned games

The computer game, Silent Hill: Homecoming was banned in Australia in late September.

An update to the Classification Board's online rating database dated January 5, 2009 now lists Silent Hill: Homecoming as conforming to the maximum MA15+ rating for video games.

The site lists the rating as "revised," with consumer advice identifying strong horror violence and themes.

So it seems that Atari have edited the game to make it suitable for the MA 15+ rating


7th January   

Gambling on an Appeal...

Ladbrokes appeal against humourless advertising censor
Link Here

Ladbrokes accused the advertising censor of excessive political correctness after it was ordered to pull television commercials offering Ladbrokes Casino as an alternative to over exaggerated recklessness.

A single viewer objected to two commercials in the bookmaker's campaign for its gambling website ladbrokes-casino.com, which carried the strapline Quench your thrill buds.

The advertisements sent up thrill-seeking individuals, relating in documentary style the fates of a deep-sea diver who dressed in a seal costume before plunging into shark-infested waters, and a skydiver who tried to use a crisp packet as a parachute.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it accepted Ladbrokes' argument that the advertisements were humorous and the protagonists' behaviour was ridiculous and unlikely to be seen by viewers as realistic or aspirational.

But it ruled that their overall context, including the claim that if only he'd seen ladbrokescasino.com it would have quenched his thrill buds, portrayed gambling in a context of toughness and linked it to excessive risk-taking and reckless behaviour.

The bookmaker said it would appeal, saying the ASA had wrongly applied the broadcast advertising standards code and was, in effect, banning humour in gambling adverts.

Tim Duffy, UK chief executive of M&C Saatchi, said if the appeal were unsuccessful, the ruling could present serious challenges for creating gambling campaigns.


7th January   

Intimidating Acts...

Thai Journalists Association define their 2008 intimidation top 10
Link Here

The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) says the year 2008 was the most challenging year for mass media professionals as they faced various forms of intimidation from different interest groups.

The TJA panel on rights, liberties and media reform idntified the 10 most serious media intimidation cases that occurred during 2008:

  1. The murder of two Matichon reporters. Athiwat Chainuwat was gunned down on Aug 1, while Jaruk Rangcharoen was shot dead on Sept 27
  2. Unkind words against political reporters from Samak Sundaravej were a daily dose for those hounding him for news when he was the prime minister
  3. A call from Samak urging journalists to side with the then PPP-led government after anti-government protesters, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Aug 26 laid siege to the state-run NBT television station and later stormed and occupied the Government House.
  4. Intimidation and physical assaults against journalists covering protest rallies of rival political groups.
  5. Renaming of the state-owned Channel 11 to NBT by the Samak government in a bid to make the station look more independent, but in fact serving as a propaganda tool for the government.
  6. Street protesters' browbeating of television stations on various occasions. Threats to the NBT, a station that was briefly seized by PAD, the surrounding of the TPBS by the pro-PPP Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, and the ASTV station that was attacked by war weapons.
  7. Lawsuits demanding 100 million baht compensation from two columnists of Krungthepturakij newspaper filed by Ek-Chai Distribution System, operator of Tesco Lotus in Thailand.
  8. Thai Rath newspaper's tragic loss of six staff members in Narathiwat. Chalee Bunsawat, a Narathiwat-based reporter for the newspaper was killed in an insurgent bomb attack. Then, a van carrying 10 members of its newspaper's deep South bureau and heading for Chalee's funeral in Sungai Kolok district crashed and caught fire, killing five of them at the crash scene and seriously injuring five others.
  9. Banning of several TV broadcast programmes.
  10. The banning of the TJA shirts by Government House media officers. Journalists entering the compound were requested not to wear shirts bearing the message Intimidating Media, Intimidating the People distributed by the TJA on World Press Freedom day.


7th January   

Offsite: Art and Politics as Usual...

Giant Stalin poster censored from New York college building
Link Here

In the light of what happened to my project at Cooper Union [last month, the museum removed a giant banner with a reproduction of a Picasso drawing of Joseph Stalin, after protests from the Ukrainian church opposite], it is a bit ironic that the show was announced under the headline, Art and politics as usual .


When you do projects in a public space you are asking for trouble, both as an artist and as an institution, and one has to be prepared for attacks. No one had foreseen the Ukrainian reaction, or the already existing conflict between Cooper Union and the Ukrainian community. But any kind of public art has the ability to offend someone, even if it is not so intended. Any image or presentation that is ambiguous is likely to be read as offensive by someone. Therefore, when you make art in a public space the question is not how to avoid offending people, but how to deal with these reactions. Cooper Union decided that the best way was to take down the banner, and to try to silence the reactions with a statement that was so well balanced that it worked more as a cover-up than a starting-point for a discussion.

The intended provocation of the banners lies not primarily in the fact that I show an enlarged portrait of Stalin, but in the combination of one of the most famous artists from the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, and one of the most infamous dictators of the same period, Joseph Stalin. Normally these two short and powerful men would not figure in the same story, or in the same presentation of history. But here they are together, linked by a charcoal drawing.

...Read full article


6th January   

Most Annoying People 2009...

Anne Widdecombe whinges at BBC3 programme
Link Here

Half an hour after the 9pm watershed adult film actor Ron Jeremy – captioned on screen as a porn legend – described in graphic detail lewd acts that he wanted to perform on Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan and her lesbian lover.

Nutter politicians and lobby groups reacted in supposed anger to the segment on the programme Most Annoying People 2008 .

It was first broadcast on December 29 but repeated over the New Year period and is still available to view online.

Another guest on the BBC3 show, Radio 5 Live presenter DJ Spoony, referred to lesbians as munters and mingers, prompting supposed fury from gay rights activists.

Nutter MP Anne Widdecombe has demanded to know who sanctioned broadcast of the programme: What was their reasoning behind choosing a porn star as an interviewee at all – and why was the pre-recorded show screened?

You would think that following the debacle with Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, they would have gone out of their way to ensure anything going out was within the limits of decency. This was a holiday period when children tend to stay up later and there is a strong risk that children would have seen it.

Indecency is just ingrained at the BBC. They are institutionally indecent.

Jeremy, who has appeared in almost 2,000 hardcore movies, said of Lohan and Ronson: ‘These two girls are very good-looking. I would love to be in the middle of that: They will do each other, do me, do each other, do me, back and forth. Jeremy also said of Lohan: Men are wishing they could be with her and change her mind, thinking “Yeah, she is a lesbian now because she never met me.”

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Spoony, 38, said of lesbians: Let the munters and mingers get each other. That's cool because nobody wants them. But referring to Mean Girls star Lohan and Ronson, he added: When they're hot and fit - Hollywood superstars - they should be saved for the guys.

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell branded the remarks by Jeremy and Spoony gratuitously sexist and homophobic. The BBC should have never broadcast them and should issue a public apology. Spoony should be suspended by the BBC and only be allowed to continue presenting his Radio 5 Live programme after he has apologised on air and promised not to repeat his homophobic garbage.

Ron Jeremy's comments were needlessly offensive. He's a sexist pig, which no right-thinking woman, lesbian or straight, would want to meet, let alone have sex with.

The BBC today said that it had received 13 complaints about the programme to date.

A spokeswoman said: Most Annoying People 2008 is a light-hearted and comedic look at people and events that have annoyed, amused or appalled us over the last 12 months. The contributors to the programme are expressing their own views and opinions, which are meant in a light-hearted way with no malicious intent.


6th January   

Army of Whinging Clones...

100 complaints about Volkswagen TV advert
Link Here

A UK TV ad for the Volkswagen Golf featuring a series of fight scenes between a car designer and clones of himself has attracted more than 100 complaints to the advertising censor.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received 115 complaints about the ad and is investigating whether the ad is in breach of the broadcast advertising code for featuring excessive violence that could be copied by children.

Complainants have objected that the ad is supposedly offensive because the depiction of violence is excessive, inappropriate to be seen by children, should not be shown before the 9pm watershed and may encourage emulation.

The TV ad, which draws inspiration from the Bourne and Matrix movie fight scenes, opens in the office of the chief designer at the German VW factory. He answers a knock at his door and is confronted by a sinister clone of himself who punches him. The designer fights back then tries to escape from his attacker, only to be confronted by more and more clones as he is pursued through the VW factory.

After he has defeated the last of his assailants, the chief designer is seen looking at the new VW Golf. Sometimes the only one you have to beat is yourself, runs the voiceover.


6th January   

Update: Searching for Censorship...

Chinese censors identify major search engines as the root of all evil
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

A Chinese organization has listed a group of big name websites, including Google, Baidu, Sina.com and Sohu.com, which have been found to supposedly spread pornography and threaten youth's morals, and could tighten regulations on these websites.

China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC) said it has found 19 websites that provide content that includes pictures, text, video clips and web links inappropriate for Chinese people.

Major websites such as MSN, Google, Baidu, Sina, Sohu, Tecent and NetEase are on the list. Google's photo search was singled out for particular criticism.

The announcement is part of a nationwide campaign launched jointly by seven Chinese ministries to clean up the online environment. The list identifies a number of websites that violate the government view of public morality and supposedly harm the physical and mental health of Chinese people.

CIIRC said the listed websites did not take effective measures to take out the inappropriate content after they were noted.

41 porn sites were also said to be closed by the Chinese censors.


6th January   

Offsite: Virtual Political Numbskull...

Why Kevin Rudd's internet censorship plan will not work
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Ministry of Broadband,
Communications and
the Digital Economy

A growing mountain of criticism rightly targets the policy's cost, its likely performance impact, the impossibility of its meeting required reliability standards, its expense, and the fact that its compulsory nature violates a Labor Party election promise.

But further gems of controversy have attracted little attention, and deserve to be brought to light. None are particularly complicated; all are damning.

If you don't like the new censorship regime and want to get around it, you can. If internet users avail themselves of free access to what those in the networking game call an open VPN (virtual private network), their traffic would become opaque to the Government and immune from the effects of the censorship system. Accessing a VPN is as simple as installing a free browser plugin, and requires no technical knowledge.

So, where would that leave us?

To begin with, it would leave us in the same situation we were in before - with uncensored, unfiltered internet access - only several hundred million dollars poorer. All we would have to show for the money spent on the censorship system would be the inevitable slowdown it would cause.

However, the effects of widespread VPN use run deeper than this.

Subscribers who intended to violate copyright would flock to VPN technology as the new censorship regime drew more attention to VPNs' ability to provide anonymity. In addition to "relocating" internet users - mainly to a new U.S. jurisdiction - VPNs also encrypt network traffic.

Once they were encrypting their traffic, the telecommunications interception warrants used by law enforcement would be useless. A police officer cannot do anything productive with an encrypted data stream - it holds no value as evidence. It is virtually inevitable some criminals would go free for lack of evidence against them once the government firewall was in place.

...Read full article


6th January   

Thought For the Day...

Religion: Preaching tolerance whilst practising intolerance
Link Here

An issue has arisen recently. It isn’t strictly a matter of censorship however it does involve a kind of restriction on broadcasting so I thought it was appropriate.

Radio 4’s Thought For The Day program, which provides a platform for religious viewpoints whilst deliberately excluding atheistic or humanist viewpoints. There is an organised campaign of opposition here .

More than 1600 people have pledged to write to the BBC and the organiser has just asked these 1600 to write in during the coming week (5/1/09). If you’re interested you can sign up or just send in an email or letter of complaint to the Beeb. Here is an example :

It should be interesting to see what happens. The Controller of Radio 4 said that he hears no appetite for change, but with the exception of the recent Jonathan Ross incident, Aunty usually only receives 50-100 complaints a quarter.

See also article from guardian.co.uk by Sue Blackmore:

I've always enjoyed Thought for the Day ( TFTD ), that two-minute spot in the middle of Radio 4's Today programme, which seems to be a brief respite from the hard news, and a chance for someone to give moral or ethical reflections on current events. The trouble is that only religious speakers are invited. Rabbis, priests, imams, chaplains, and monks are there, but never humanists, agnostics, or atheists.

Why not? Wouldn't it be better if they were? Morality is not the sole prerogative of the religious – there are even reasons to think that the irreligious are more moral. So why shouldn't we be invited to speak on TFTD ?


5th January   

Update: Worthless Trials...

Conroy's 10,000 websites to block wholly unrepresentative
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Ministry of Broadband,
Communications and
the Digital Economy

As the debate around the proposed Great Firewall of Australia censorship scheme in Australia continues, the Government’s long awaited censorship trial is due to begin shortly.

While some ISP’s are participating only to prove that the filter is flawed, it’s the testing procedure itself where things are completely wrong. The number of sites to be filtered in the trial: 10,000.

While 10,000 may be 10,000 too many, it’s also no where near close to how many sites the filter will have to block to comply with the Government’s guidelines.

We know that among other unwanted things, the following falls into the censorship regime: porn, R rated games, certain types of political speech (for example discussion of methods of euthanasia) and possibly copyrighted content.

We can’t count every category, in part because we simply don’t know exactly how the Government will define what stays and what gets blocked, but we can estimate block rates for porn, because we know R rated softcore and X rated hardcore (R Rated stays only with strict age verification, which 99.99% of sites won’t meet) is out.

According to Netcraft, there are 73.6 million active websites. Estimates of the number of porn sites online vary from 1% through to a massive 35% of all sites online. The most common figure used is 12%. 12% of pages to be blocked by the Great Firewall of Australia would total 9.12 million sites. Even if we take the minimum figure of 1%, 736,000 sites would require blocking.

Do any of these figures sounding anything close to 10,000 sites? I’m told that the more sites listed on a blacklist, the slower the filter becomes because each website requested must be checked against the list. 10,000 sites vs 9.12 million: there is no way the trials can give a representative result of what the implementation of the Great Firewall will do for internet speeds in Australia.

The Government may well say in response that they will not be filtering that many sites, and that may be the case. But if true, how will the firewall be effective if some sites are blacklisted, and others aren’t?


5th January   

Offsite: Virtually impossible...

The Guardian comments on Burnham's bollox internet censorship idea
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

One problem that will not go away this year is how to deal with the growing problem of protecting children from dangerous material on the internet. The hint by culture secretary Andy Burnham that unsuitable websites might be given cinema-style ratings has been welcomed by some parents but was dismissed by bloggers. There is a serious problem: the ease with which youngsters can access pornography by clicking a button saying they are over 18 with no means of cross-checking. The problem didn't exist when many politicians were young and this may explain their keenness to apply yesterday's solutions. The prospect of people sticking PG or 18 certificates on the zillions of images and articles that whizz through the internet every hour is like building sandcastles to keep the tide out.

...Read full editorial


5th January   

Harmful Censorship...

Pakistan blocks pages with family pictures of Punjab Governor
Link Here

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued directives to all its ISP providers to block a list of six web pages on the grounds that they were harmful for the integrity of the country.

The URL Level block directive by the PTA was in response to the decision taken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee whose charter is to monitor and block anti-Pakistan, blasphemous, and pornographic web sites.

The specific URL’s under question carry a bunch of typical family pictures of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab. These pictures had been making rounds on various email lists across Pakistan some months back ridiculing the lavish parties thrown by the Governor Taseer at the Governor House while his people have been starving on the streets. None had blasphemous material, or anything which could even remotely be construed as anti-Pakistan.

It has been suspected that these pictures may have apparently been copied from a facebook picture album of one of the Taseer family and could arguably be deemed private in nature, but one does have to wonder how the Inter-Ministerial Committee chose to classify them as being ‘harmful for the integrity of the country’

3 of the 6 pages have already been removed from www.dictatorshipwatch.com as the site hopes to be unblocked in Pakistan. One page at www.friendskorner.com is subscription only but banned pages remain at:

  • www.makepakistanbetter.com
  • www.buzzvines.com


4th January   

Dark Days...

Has The Dark Knight been cut for DVD?
Link Here

I saw the Batman film The Dark Knight on the newly released DVD.

In the UK cinema version heath ledger puts the Stanley knife in the hoodlum's mouth and from a reverse shot the viewer sees the joker thrust his hand. The reverse shot was quite effective because you only saw heath moving his arm then the reaction of the other hoodlum as the body fell to the floor.

Whereas in the DVD the joker asks why so serious and the next shot is of the body crumbling to the floor and and the hoodlum's reaction.

I'm 100% certain this has been edited (you can tell from the music) and its akin to the poor editing seen in Die Hard With A Vengence elevator scene. Additionally, people who I saw it at the cinema with commented upon how they felt they felt it was edited because the scene seemed incongruous ie no explanation why the hoodlum doesn't scream or what injury he has. In the cinema version the jokers energetic thrust partly explained this.

I did have a slight suspicion that there would be edits on the DVD as a result of the banal complaints of parents about the level of violence in the film!

Update: MPAA Intejection

29th December

There are no cuts record by the BBFC. The most plausible explanation seems to be that the UK and US DVDs are the US theatrical version which is said to have suffered from MPAA interjection to edit the scene for a PG-13. The question is whether the UK cinema release was therefore the uncut version. If so, no doubt there be an unrated US DVD version in the pipeline.

Update: And the Blu-ray?...

29th December. From Andrew

Just watched the Blu-ray of The Dark knight and I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be noticing. Fair enough a majority of Blu-rays are from original uncut masters (its cheaper than releasing several edited copies for different territories), so the UK Blu-ray may very well differ compared to its DVD counterpart. HOWEVER if it doesn't then I'm not sure where the alleged edit is meant to be. Yes the hoodlum does collapse without a scream, but for a film that doesn't dwell on injuries or bloodletting as such, this isn't surprising.

The order of shots on the Blu-ray are:

  • knife in hoods mouth
  • jokers scar speech (back and forth POV's of Joker, hood and mob boss)
  • close up of the Joker as he looks at mob boss and says "why so serious?"
  • close up of mob boss (featuring) dramatic music cue
  • then the body slumps.

To be honest I really couldn't notice anything unusual in the soundtrack or the frame rate of shots. Certainly nothing to warrant a comparison to the awful Die Hard with a Vengeance slicings.

As I say the DVD may differ somewhat, but the Blu-ray certainly doesn't do anything in that scene that would make me question it. Not when theirs several savage beatings by Batman, and the infamous pencil trick still intact. Plus the full daylight shots of Harvey Two Face.

Update: Holy Blu-ray Batman

30th December 2008. Thanks to Byron

On another website someone has compared the UK Blu-ray with a screener copy and they are the same so the version shown in UK cinemas is the version on the Blu-ray.

Update: DVD = Blu-ray = Cinema Version

4th January 2009. Thanks to Byron

I checked the UK DVD last night and its the same as the Blu-ray. I had to go back and forth a few times and am 99% sure they are the same. I could not do a time check as it would not be accurate as the UK DVD is PAL 50 hz so PAL speed-up would be present where as the Blu-ray runs in cinema 24 Hz mode.

I think this is one of those cases of people thinking it was more brutal than it is and expecting a backlash because of the knife blame game. I am surprised the DVD has not been checked before now either as its a popular film and you would think people online would be all over this if cuts were present.


4th January   

Update: Longer Lasting Whinges...

10 Longer Lasting Sex adverts removed
Link Here

Nutters have accused the ASA, Britain's advertising regulator, of failing to take action over a billboard campaign which attracted almost 300 complaints.

The firm behind the posters - which are 30 feet wide with the question Want Longer Lasting Sex? has voluntarily taken them down them from several sites after local nutter protests.

The ASA is waiting until its officers have completed a report into the case due next Friday, Jan 9. The month-long advertising campaign will have run its course and the posters will be in the process of being taken down regardless of the ASA's ultimate ruling.

An ASA spokesman said: If an advert is deemed to have caused widespread harm and offence we can order its immediate removal. This is rare and was not felt to be the case on this occasion.

Ann Widdecombe, nutter Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, said the posters should have been taken down immediately: The ASA should have used its powers to suspend the advert while it was carrying out an investigation, rather than waiting until its investigation was complete . These posters are horrible and offensive, particularly at this time of year. People do not want to be confronted by them, especially if they have children with them.

The billboard campaign is intended to promote the Advanced Medical Institute (AMI), a company which markets a nasal spray said to cure impotency. It has two clinics in the UK. AMI commissioned Titan - one of Britain's biggest outdoor advertising agencies - to put up 190 of the hoardings around London, where the clinics are located.

After more than 80 residents in Barnet, north London, complained about the wording and the size of the posters, two were removed from sites at Mill Hill, and outside Edgware Hospital. Brian Gordon, a Barnet councillor, said: It might seem old fashioned, but people around here believe there should be some degree of modicum when it comes to matters of a sexual nature. It is a victory, alas rare these days, for public decency.

Another of the billboards, sited in Harrow, north-west London, was covered up following similar complaints from residents. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea also forced the removal of one of the adverts.

In all, Titan have removed 10 of the billboards including a number which had been placed near schools and places of worship. In one case, the poster was placed within sight of a mosque in south London. On being told an important religious ceremony was due to take place at the mosque, Titan moved quickly to remove the billboard. The company also removed one from close to a school and church in Wimbledon, south London, following complaints.

Steve Cox, Titan's marketing director, said: We have to be sensitive because it is so public. But of itself the advert is not indecent. It's about a promoting a medical product to alleviate a genuine medical complaint. We felt the advert was legal, decent, honest and truthful, but in some cases we have taken it down following complaints or after being made aware a particular billboard was insensitively located.


4th January   

Foul Language...

Nutter MPs praise the Daily Mirror over its strong language on TV bollox
Link Here

Labour MP Jim Devine has generated an Early Day Motion on 17.11.2008.

Foul Language On Television

That this House deplores the level of foul language on television; and congratulates the Daily Mirror's campaign to stop this abuse.

The motion has now been signed by the following MPs:

Devine, Jim
Hamilton, David
Cunningham, Jim
Ruane, Chris
Anderson, David
Taylor, David
Kaufman, Gerald
Russell, Bob
Humble, Joan
Keetch, Paul
Meale, Alan
Campbell, Gregory
Drew, David
Bottomley, Peter
Wareing, Robert N
MacNeil, Angus
Simpson, David
McCrea, Dr William

McDonnell, Alasdair
Brooke, Annette
Vis, Rudi
Winterton, Nicholas
Robinson, Iris
Jenkins, Brian
Cummings, John
Dismore, Andrew
Hancock, Mike
Vaz, Keith
McCartney, Ian
Dobbin, Jim
Foster, Michael Jabez
Taylor, Dari
Hopkins, Kelvin
Williams, Betty
Wilshire, David
Smith, Angela C (Sheffield)


4th January   

Update: Bollyban...

Pakistan looks set to restore ban on Indian films
Link Here
Full story: Bollywood Banned...India films banned in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Sixteen Hindi films were screened in Pakistan last year after a nearly four-decade ban on Indian movies was lifted.

But strained ties between the neighbours following the Mumbai terror attack coupled with dipping fortunes of the Pakistani film industry may signal the end of this short lived golden phase.

Pakistan Censor Malik Shahnawaz Noon said the board was planning to again ban Indian movies as it was destroying the local film industry. I personally believe Indian films should not be screened in Pakistan and we are working to put a ban on Bollywood movies.

Others agreed with him. Said Syed Noor, a leading Pakistani writer-director-producer: Some people with vested interests don’t want our industry to flourish. He disclosed that the government was meeting members of the film fraternity to find ways to revive local cinema.


4th January   

Update: Loopy Lewes...

Council go on the hunt for lewd place names
Link Here

There must be a limit to the silliness of local councils. But if there is, it has not yet been reached. Lewes District Council has just decided to ban street names which officials think might be susceptible to a "lewd" interpretation.

So in an heroic effort to emulate the spirit of those Victorian prudes who put drapes over piano legs for fear of generating lustful thoughts in young people, names such as Hoare Road and Lady Gardens are to be banned by council officials.


4th January   

Offsite: Faceless Censors...

A bit too in your Facebook
Link Here
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

On the Saturday after Christmas the entrance to the headquarters in Palo Alto, California, of Facebook, the social networking site that has 140m users worldwide, was the venue for a supersized nativity scene as breastfeeding mothers gathered in protest. The so-called nurse-in was held in support of another young mother, Kelli Roman, whose profile picture had been removed by the Facebook moderator because it showed her suckling her baby.

Facebook’s spokesman, Barry Schnitt, says the censorship of Roman’s breastfeeding photo is part of its antinudity policy. He said: Breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful act and we’re very glad to know that it is so important to some mothers to share this experience with others on Facebook. We take no action on the vast majority of breastfeeding photos because they follow the site’s terms of use. Photos containing a fully exposed breast do violate those terms and may be removed. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children over the age of 13 who use the site. The photos we act on are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain.

Facebook also bans pictures showing nipple, areola or gluteal cleft (bum cleavage, as was). Of course, this policy has originated in the United States, where the flash of Janet Jackson’s nipple at the 2004 Super Bowl caused a national furore. Any child in Britain can get all the areolas he or she wants in the nation’s most popular daily newspaper.

I wonder how many people in Facebook HQ sit on the working committee on nipple exposure. When exactly does a natural and beautiful act become something that endangers the moral wellbeing of 13-year-olds?

...Read full article

I don't normally sign petitions, but in this case...

See article from guardian.co.uk by Victoria Coren

More than 100,000 people have now signed an online petition, protesting against the Facebook ban on photographs of women breast-feeding.

Clicking join this group on a Facebook petition page is too easy to carry any weight. People do it for fun, or to pass the time, or by mistake. Large numbers don't make the issue important or newsworthy. One hundred thousand people have clicked to register their disapproval of the breast-feeding photo ban, but 300,000 have clicked I want my 90's Nickelodeon back.

The breast-feeding petitioners are obviously right, though. What an exasperating, stupid, misguided ban. It comes under the general rule of no fully exposed breasts . Presumably, the person responsible is one of those who can't look at a nipple, even when it's waiting to feed a baby, without giggling, pointing and making honking noises.

Whoever ruled that a feeding breast would violate the rules on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material needs, rather than banning them, to look at as many as possible, until he morphs gradually back from Sid James into someone who recognises an innocent, sexless human function that a proud mother might like to record in her online baby album.


4th January   

Festival of Repression...

Burmese film censor to decide if movies can compete in international film festivals
Link Here

Burma's Information Ministry has announced that makers of films and documentaries will need to seek prior permission from the Censor Board to be able to contest in international film festivals, sources in the Burmese film industry said.

The film censorship board has issued a new order. All films and documentary makers must seek permission before contesting at international film festivals, a film director in Rangoon said on condition of anonymity.

According to sources in Rangoon's film industry, the new regulation came into being after director Kyi Phyu Shin won the 2008 Best Short Film Award of the National Geographic Society with her 15 minute-long documentary film in 2008.

Director, Kyi Phyu Shin, won the award for her documentary film,  Scathes of Wathoneon,  the life of a Burmese painter called Wathone.


3rd January   

Offsite: Ban This Sick Filth...

Countdown to Dangerous Pictures Day
Link Here

The Daily Mail has produced a typically nasty article supporting the impending Dangerous Pictures Act, titled:

Protesters say it's their right to watch sadistic porn. Tell that to the mother of the girl murdered by a man addicted to it...

So much glee in punishing innocent people for a crime committed by somebody else.

The Telegraph recently produced a more informative article on the issue:

New pornography law 'will criminalise bondage'

A new law that will make it illegal to possess "extreme" pornographic images risks criminalising law-abiding people who simply enjoy unusual sex, say campaigners.

And as previously reported the Independent had a few sensible things to say about the legislation in an article and a leader :

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 comes into force on 26 January and makes owning extreme porn pictures a criminal offence punishable by up to three years' imprisonment.

An image is deemed to be extreme if it is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character and portrays in any way an act which threatens a person's life, or which results or appears likely to result in serious injury to someone's genitals or breasts.

Members of Britain's BDSM (bondage, domination and sado-masochism) community, as well as those in the gothic and alternative scenes, complain that they are being unfairly targeted. I firmly agree that images of non-consensual activities which involve violence should be criminalised but this is a badly worded law that risks criminalising thousands of ordinary people, said Claire Lewis, a 35-year-old disabled rights activist from Manchester who has set up the Consenting Adult Action Network (Caan). The Government seems to be convinced that if people like us look at pictures for too long we'll end up turning into abusers. That's outrageous.


3rd January   

Malpractices in the Censorship System...

Depicting a corrupt education system gets an Indian comedy banned
Link Here

For the first time in the history of Marathi cinema, Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has rejected an entire film claiming that its theme and impact was not fit for exhibition.

The film Master Eke Master , starring veteran Ashok Saraf and directed by Sanjay Surkar, is a comedy that highlights loopholes in the education system.

The Censor Board has conveyed it to the makers of the film that Master eke Master glorified corruption and malpractices in the education system.

The members who saw the film, including Prof Nandini Sardesai, objected to scenes like liquor being served in the class, depiction of degradation of women and a teacher indulging in bigamy.

The film violates guidelines of the Censor Board. Even after giving cuts, the objectionable theme of the film cannot be changed. It is not suitable for viewing by non-adults and hence the film was unanimously recommended refusal certificate for all categories, CBFC said.

Expressing shock at the decision, Surkar said: Master eke Master is a black comedy that depicts confrontation of two extreme individuals from the education field. In reality, one sees lot of corruption in the education system.

Surkar said he would make an application before the revising committee of the Censor Board soon and added that he was willing to fight it out at the tribunal as well.


3rd January   

Update: TalkSport Nazis...

Sacked radio presenter Jon Gaunt has started legal action
Link Here
Full story: Jon Gaunt and Talksport Nazis...Talksport sack radio presenter over Nazi jibe

Northamptonshire shock jock Jon Gaunt has begun legal action against TalkSport after the radio station sacked him.

The controversial radio presenter was given the boot in November for branding a guest a 'Nazi' live on air.

In a message on his personal website, Gaunt said his efforts to make peace with his former bosses had been ignored: I have tried to offer an olive branch to TalkSport chief executive Scott Taunton but he has declined my overtures, He claims he will not reinstate me despite the tens of thousands of e-mails that you have sent in. Therefore he has left me with no choice but to take legal action and that has now started.

Gaunt said: People keep asking me how many complaints there were about the interview with Councillor Stark and I can now tell you that according to Ofcom's own website there were only 16.

Gaunt also promised fans that he would be back on the radio soon.


3rd January   

Retrograde Step...

Kenya president further chips away at press freedom
Link Here

Kenya's President Kibaki has signed into law the controversial Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008, which the media and human rights groups say is draconian and retrogressive.

The Editors Guild immediately denounced the action, while the Media Owners Association was set to hold a crisis meeting last night.

This is retrogressive. He has looked for an excuse to clamp on democracy. The President has completely evaded the issues we have raised as the media fraternity, said Macharia Gaitho, chairman of the Editors Guild.

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) expressed shock and disappointment. MCK chairman Wachira Waruru said the council will not relent in its fight for press freedom and independence.

The President  told the media to recognise that freedom comes with responsibility: While press freedom is a cardinal pillar of democracy [...BUT...] this is a right that carries with it special duties and responsibilities. Press freedom must therefore be counterbalanced with other freedoms and must at all times take into account the overriding interest and the safety of Kenyans .

Washington has expressed deep reservations about the law, saying it gives the east African country's information minister undue influence and that it was understandable Kenyans had demonstrated against the bill.

The amended media law provides for a new communications commission with powers to regulate broadcasting content and impose tougher fines or jail terms for press offences.

Campaigners had also called for a measure allowing authorities to shut down media outlets during a state of emergency to be revised. The article, first made into law in 1998, was not included in the amendment and remains in force.


2nd January   

Dangerous News...

Fall in number of journalists killed doing their jobs
Link Here

The number of journalists who were killed doing their jobs in 2008 came to 60, down from 86 recorded in the previous year, according to a report released by a human rights group Tuesday.

But the finding does not warrant any optimism, said the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

The three most deadly countries for journalists in 2008 were Iraq, with 15 deaths, Pakistan with seven and the Philippines with six, the group said.

The report also said 673 journalists were arrested during 2008, with African countries topping the list with 263 arrests. The report said 38 journalists were arrested in China, 31 in Iraq and 17 in Myanmar.


2nd January   

No Radio Liberty...

Azerbaijan bans the BBC from its airwaves
Link Here

Azerbaijan has decided to ban from 1 January foreign radio broadcasts on the country's national frequencies.

The decision taken by the Azeri National TV and Radio Council will affect the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Liberty and Europa Plus.

The move was criticised by the United States and the European security body, the OSCE, who both urged Baku to reconsider the ban.

These media organisations play a crucial role in supporting democratic debate and the free exchange of ideas and information, said US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid: This decision, if carried out, will represent a serious setback to freedom of speech, and retard democratic reform in Azerbaijan .
The OSCE's media freedom representative, Miklos Haraszti, said closing down FM news radio broadcasts that were among the few remaining sources of varied, public-service quality information is a serious step backwards for an OSCE democracy.

An official from President Ilham Aliyev's administration said Baku was not closing down foreign radio stations ...BUT... we want their activities to be regulated according to international practice.

Azeri officials said foreign stations could broadcast via satellite, internet or cable. But the OSCE argues that Azeris have less access to those options than to FM radio.

European human rights groups and the Azeri opposition have accused President Aliyev of stifling democracy and media freedom in the oil-rich former Soviet republic.


2nd January   

Offsite: Pipedreams...

Government pipedreams on internet ratings doomed to fail
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Proposals by UK Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, to introduce cinema-style ratings for websites across the globe might benefit from a little more fact-finding and a little less rhetoric. On the other hand, the danger of open-minded research, is that it might just expose New Labour waffle to the harsh realities of how things actually work.

...Read full article


1st January   

Inappropriate Offensive...

Israeli propaganda on YouTube flagged as inappropriate
Link Here

The Israeli Defense Force has launched its own YouTube channel to bolster its case for the air assault against Hamas. It includes footage of Hamas terrorists loading rockets into a truck in a residential neighborhood. There are also clips of attacks on Hamas weapons sites and tunnels used for smuggling.

But some videos were removed after Hamas sympathizers flagged them as inappropriate.

While some clips were later reinstated, the IDF said in a statement on its YouTube page: We are saddened that YouTube has taken down some of our exclusive footage... it is imperative that we in the IDF show the world the inhumanity directed against us and our efforts to stop it.

Meanwhile, Israel is developing an independent blog where the videos can be viewed without any issues.


1st January   

Action Blank Post...

Bloggers protest against censorship in Tunisia
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

A national day of protest against censorship in Tunisia, staged on December 25th, has prompted criticism from some bloggers who feel the effort is misplaced.

Even though he participated, blogger Anis considered Action Blank Post 2008 – in which writers published a blank blog entry to signify censorship – a waste of time.

Fellow blogger Saloua derided the idea, saying that Tunisians should instead increase their writing on that day; otherwise we shall be deemed as practicing internal censorship, especially as we are exposed to censorship every day.

Since 2006, bloggers in Tunisia have used December 25th to raise awareness of the banning and manipulation of online writing. An estimated 160 bloggers participated in this year's demonstration.

Numerous bloggers complained in 2008 of intrusions and blockages of websites by the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI). Many Tunisians also accuse ATI of supporting bans on a number of popular websites. It was this issue that prompted journalist Ziad El Heni to file a lawsuit against the agency, accusing it of blocking the social networking website Facebook before it was re-opened last August based on an order from the President. El Heni lost the case in a lower court, and is preparing himself for an appeal.


1st January   

Update: No Sympathy...

Newspaper closed for not taking Iranian line about Hamas
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Iran...As if there were any

An Iranian newspaper has been shut down for publishing an article that authorities deemed sympathetic to Israel.

An official at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, says the Kargozaran newspaper was closed because it sanitized the Zionist regime's crimes in Gaza.

The official said the article suggested Hamas officials were terrorists and brought on civilian deaths by hiding in schools and hospitals. It is not clear when the ban will take effect — the paper did appear on newsstands on Friday.


1st January   

Update: Gambian Madman Explains...

British missionary couple jailed for comments about sharia law and churches being closed
Link Here

The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has told the country's Christian leaders that the convicted British couple, David Fulton (and his wife, Fiona, tarnished the image of the country and personally attacked him by saying a lot of untruths about his government.

The Gambian leader said the couple went to the extent of writing to inform the Bishop of England that the Gambian government condoned the practice of Sharia law.

Jammeh said the couple alleged that they were attacked by Muslim groups and that they managed to escape.

In this country, as far I am the President and head of state, we will continue to be tolerant, accept all criticisms. We believe that only one God created all of us and if we are all created by one God we are equal [ ...BUT... We lock up anyone who criticises the president!!!]

Jammeh stated further that the couple wrote that I am moving fast on this as we have just managed to thwart an attempt at bringing Sharia law into The Gambia and the trade off was that 20 unregistered churches were closed down.


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