Censor Watch

2009: February

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28th February   

Update: Unfair Fairness Doctrine Dies...

Long live the new unfair fairness doctrine
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Fairness...Demands that radio and TV should be fair to all views

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a ban on the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The archaic doctrine would force radio stations to offer opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

Senator Jim Demint sponsored the ban on the Fairness Doctrine, which the Senate passed 87-11.

The Senate almost immediately also passed what could amount to a stealth fairness doctrine in the form of regulations on media ownership. All 57 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment.

The new censorship threat was written by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, The purpose is To encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.

Senate Democrats insist on keeping the idea of reviving the Fairness Doctrine alive, against the wishes of a majority of Americans, said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the nutters of Focus on the Family Action.


28th February   

Diary: Life of Brian Unbanned...

Pythons to attend showing Life of Brian in Aberystwyth
Link Here
Full story: Monty Python...Monty Python winds up the nutters

Life of Brian
28th March 2008

Two Monty Python stars will be at the first screening of their classic film Life of Brian in a town where it has not been seen since a ban 30 years ago.

Terry Jones and Michael Palin will join Aberystwyth mayor Sue Jones-Davies - who also starred in the 1979 film - at a charity showing on 28 March. Long before becoming mayor, she played Brian's girlfriend in the movie.

But she pledged to fight for the film to be shown when she found it had not been seen in the mid Wales town since.

Last July, Ms Jones-Davies said she was amazed a town like hers still barred a movie now regarded as a comedy classic.

It is understood some churchgoers in the seaside resort are still against the film being shown.

Ms Jones-Davies said she had been assured there was nothing standing in the way of showing Life of Brian in Aberystwyth in 2009: I talked to officials at the town council to check if it was appropriate to show the film and we thought, why not, the proceeds are going to charity. I then asked Terry if he would like to come to the screening and he said, 'shall I ask Michael?'. I said yes and then Michael agreed.

The two Pythons and the mayor will also hold a question and answer session with fans following a champagne reception and the film.

Tickets costing £25 are on sale now, but organisers said only 120 were available.

Ms Jones-Davies' chosen charity is Calon Ceredgion Nurse Appeal, which is part of British Heart Foundation Cymru. Terry Jones has chosen Truthout, a news agency dedicated to establishing a "powerful, stable voice" for independent journalism.


28th February   

Update: Old Age...

Thais have to be 20 years old to watch softcore sex
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

Thailand's first film-rating system will be up and running in May after the Cabinet approved four draft regulations.

Films that authorities deem to offend the monarchy, threaten national security, hamper national unity, insult faiths, disrespect honourable figures, challenge morals or contain explicit sex scenes will be banned from Thai screens.

The ratings are:

  • General Audiences This category is for films with no sex, abusive language or violence.
  • 13 This category excludes violence, brutality, inhumanity, bad language and indecent gestures.
  • 15 The '13' rules are relaxed slightly.
  • 18 Films can explore the darker side of human nature but must not show scenes of exposed genitalia, crime or drugs.
  • 20 Sex scenes are allowed here but only if viewers don't get a peek of genitalia.
  • There is an extra category for films that should be promoted on cultural or artistic merit

Thai Film Director Associa-tion chairman Yongyoot Thong-kongtoon said the regulations would give a framework for film directors. One positive side is that it might encourage less low-grade comedies and more movies with substance, he said.

Director and producer Prachya Pinkaew, who sits on the panel that prepared the draft regulations, said he was happy to see the system sail through the Cabinet. The regulations have been dogged by criticism since they were first unveiled.


28th February   

Update: Grizzly News...

Thai critics complain of grizzly newspaper images
Link Here

Representatives of lecturers and students from six Thai universities have asked the print media to be socially more responsible and stop presenting pictures of grisly and violent scenes that can put the public off.

Yubol Benjarongkij, dean of Chulalongkorn's communication arts faculty, said that since the beginning of the year there have been many newspapers, including the market leaders, which have frequently published photographs whose subject matter included badly burnt victims of the Santika pub fire, bloody crime scenes, dead bodies of accident victims, and the latest, the head of a foreigner dangling from the Rama VIII bridge.

In Thai culture, prior permission from the relatives of the dead is considered necessary, as it is another way of showing respect to the dead.

She said since newspapers were media for all ages, not only for adults, pictures could be worth a thousand words. Too much exposure to such pictures could induce children to imitate violent behaviour, thinking that those crimes and violent scenes were just normal behaviour.

Udomsak Yoothanaraweesak, a professor at Huachiew Chalermprakiet University, said that more importantly such pictures also reflect the standard of newspapers. He said in the case of a girl who was raped, some newspapers did not publish her picture but named her parents, school and home address, which made it obvious who the victim was without intention. This made the girl nearly die of embarrassment.

Newspapers as well as other media outlets need to lift their standards and put journalistic ethics before profits, he said.


28th February   

Arche Villains...

Belarus magazine covering elections banned as extremist
Link Here

A trial has been held in Brest, Belarus. It declared an issue of the independent ARCHE magazine as extremist.

The judge announced that the session of the court is to be held behind the closed doors, so only a KGB representative and the lawyer of the magazine are present at the hearings.

People who have gathered to support the magazine and its editors haven't been allowed to be present in the court room.

As a result, the issue number 7-8 of ARCHE has been recognized extremist.

The editor-in-chief of the magazine Valer Bulhakau has called charges absurd. As said by him, there is a practice of one hand washing the other in state agencies, and the KGB wants to assume functions of an ideological censor.

The issue of the magazine was dedicated to parliamentary elections last autumn.


28th February   

Update: Scandalous Murder Case...

Journalists fined for covering murder case involving president's colleague
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

The Egyptian judiciary should overturn today's court decision to impose a fine on five journalists for violating a ban on media coverage of a murder trial, the Committee to Protect Journalists have said. The trial involves an influential businessman who is a member of President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party.

In a hearing attended by CPJ today, the Sayyida Zainab Misdemeanors Court sentenced Magdi al-Galad, Yusri al-Badri, and Faruq al-Dissuqi, respectively the editor and reporters of the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm; Abbas al-Tarabili, editor of the opposition daily Al-Wafd, and reporter Ibrahim Qaraa to a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,803) each.

They were found guilty of violating a November 2008 court decision banning media coverage of the trial of Hisham Talaat Mustafa, a billionaire businessman charged of killing his reputed mistress, Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim.

We are dismayed by this latest politically motivated court ruling and call on the Egyptian judiciary to overturn it on appeal, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

Sayyid Abu Zaid, lawyer for the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate said: It deals a harsh blow to journalists' right to gather information and to cover cases of public interest. He described the ruling as a dangerous precedent and a prescription for more blackouts on corruption cases involving influential figures and businessmen that are close to Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party.

Abu Zaid said he was consulting with the five journalists to appeal what he and other lawyers called an unconstitutional ruling.


27th February   

Update: BBFC Leading the Game...

BBFC survey reveals that parents want games regulated by the likes of the BBFC
Link Here

Three quarters of British parents want to see video games granted cinema-style age classifications, ratified by an independent body, according to a new survey commissioned by the BBFC.

Nearly 80% of those surveyed said they believed video games could affect the behaviour of some children, while 77% said that game ratings should reflect the concerns of British parents.

The survey, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the BBFC questioned 2,143 adults.

It comes as the Government considers the findings of the Byron Review, a paper written by parenting expert and psychologist, Tanya Byron, into the steps that need to be taken to safeguard children in the digital age. The Byron Review recommends that video games designed for people aged 12 and over, regardless of content, should be reviewed by the BBFC for classification prior to release.

In 2007, the BBFC alienated sections of the computer games industry by attempting to ban Manhunt 2 , a game in which players must escape an asylum using whatever weapons they can find. Following repeated appeals by the game's publishers, a cut version of Manhunt 2 was eventually granted an 18 age certificate.

The survey also found that 82% of parents believed it would be helpful if video games used the same age ratings systems as films and DVDs. At present, there are two systems of game rating in Britain: the compulsory one run by the BBFC and the competing voluntary one run by the Pan European Games Information body, known as PEGI.

This poll clearly shows parents support a regulatory system for games that is independent of the industry and UK based, reflecting UK sensibilities and sensitivities, said David Cooke, director of the BBFC said. The BBFC has been classifying games for over 20 years and our decisions reflect the views of the public. Our classification systems and symbols are known and trusted by the public and in a converging media world they want to know what their children are playing as well as watching.


27th February   

Update: Opposition Strengthens...

Numbers not adding up for Conroy's internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

  Unwanted by 79% of
surveyed Australians

The Australian Government's plan to introduce mandatory internet censorship has effectively been scuttled, following an independent senator's decision to join the Greens and Opposition in blocking any legislation required to get the scheme started.

The Opposition's communications spokesman Nick Minchin has this week obtained independent legal advice saying that if the Government is to pursue a mandatory filtering regime legislation of some sort will almost certainly be required.

Senator Nick Xenophon previously indicated he may support a filter that blocks online gambling websites but in a phone interview he withdrew all support, saying the more evidence that's come out, the more questions there are on this.

The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has consistently ignored advice from a host of technical experts saying the filters would slow the internet, block legitimate sites, be easily bypassed and fall short of capturing all of the nasty content available online.

Despite this, he is pushing ahead with trials of the scheme using six ISPs - Primus, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1. But even the trials have been heavily discredited, with experts saying the lack of involvement from the three largest ISPs, Telstra, Optus and iiNet, means the trials will not provide much useful data on the effects of internet filtering in the real-world.

Senator Conroy originally pitched the filters as a way to block child porn but - as ISPs, technical experts and many web users feared - the targets have been broadened significantly since then. ACMA's secret blacklist, which will form the basis of the mandatory censorship regime, contains 1370 sites, only 674 of which relate to depictions of children under 18. A significant portion - 506 sites - would be classified R18+ and X18+, which is legal to view but would be blocked for everyone under the proposal.


27th February   


MPs whinge at Twitter.com short messages without age verification
Link Here

The hugely popular blogging website Twitters does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to sign up to its service, but no age verification checks are made.

As a result some of the users of the site, most of whom do not use their full name, are people using it to promote pornography websites.

According to trade magazine New Media age, it is also being used by escorts to alert followers of their locations, images and videos. A group on Facebook directs escort services to Twitter where they can build their network without fear of being removed by moderators.

Tom Watson MP, the minister for digital engagement, who is also the UK's most active politician on Twitter, called on the site to self-regulate in a timely manner.

Twitter is a relatively new but fast-growing company. If it wants to maintain its reputation for quirky micro-blogging, it would be well served by sorting out its house rules on this sort of thing, he told the magazine.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the media Parliamentary Committee, agreed Twitter should move to ensure safety on its site. If Twitter is to be successful, it's in its interests to make sure it's policed, he said.

Whittingdale said the sign-up process for Twitter, which doesn't require users to enter a date of birth, was a problem. Young people will always sign up to these sites, but other social networks actively identify people who are underage and remove them, he said.


27th February   

Is This Site Blocked?...

Herdict Web lets users keep track of blocked sites
Link Here

Herdict Web crowd sources reports from users to discover, in real time, what users around the world are experiencing in terms of internet website blocking.

Herdict is a named coned from joining ‘herd' and ‘verdict.'

Using Herdict Web, anyone anywhere can report websites as accessible or inaccessible. Herdict Web aggregates reports in real time, permitting participants to see if inaccessibility is a shared problem, giving them a better sense of potential reasons for why a site is inaccessible. Trends can be viewed over time, by site and by country.

Herdict Web is the brainchild of Professor Jonathan Zittrain (The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It) and is part of The Berkman Center for Internet & Society.


27th February   

Updated: Putting the Boot In...

Israel's TV continues winding up the nutters
Link Here

A contestant on Israel's version of the hit reality show Survivor has sparked outrage among the country's Arab population for naming his shoe 'Mohammed. while mocking a former contestant.

The incident comes a few days after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a public apology for a skit on another of the shows on Channel 10 television, in which a late night TV host joked that Jesus had been too fat to walk on water and that his mother Mary had not been a virgin.

A website affiliated with Channel 10, Nana10, carried a clip from the flagship show in which contestant Natan Beshevkin can be seen referring to his shoes as 'Nasrin' and 'Mohammed.' Nasrin was the name of an Israeli Arab contestant who was voted off early in the season, and who had clashed repeatedly on the show with Beshevkin.

The Nana10 clip has been linked on Israeli Arab websites, and printed in Arab newspapers, drawing harsh responses from Israel's Arab and Islamic community leaders.

Laemaker Sheikh Ibrahim Tzarzur called the clip a degrading and ugly campaign against the Prophet Mohammed. He accused Channel 10 of organizing a campaign against Islam and Christianity and of playing with fire.

Update: A Tad Hypocritical?

27th February 2009. See article from todayszaman.com

Whilst Israel is having a good knock at other cultures it is interesting to note that they get a bit uppity when they are on the receiving end and are portrayed as baddies.

A popular but controversial Turkish television series, Kurtlar Vadisi ( Valley of the Wolves) , being aired on the United Arab Emirates-based Abu Dhabi TV station has sparked interest in Israeli media.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a clip of the miniseries was aired on Israel's Channel 2 TV news: A new Turkish television miniseries being broadcast throughout the Arab world depicts Israel supporting the Turkish mafia to spread prostitution and drugs throughout the country.


27th February   

Censors at Daggers...

Jamaica censors ban sexy or violent music
Link Here
Full story: Daggering...Censorship of Caribbean music and dance

Jamaican censors say they are forbidding all explicit references to sex and violence over the airwaves.

The new rules from the island's broadcast commission ban any song or music video that depicts sexual acts or glorifies gun violence, murder, rape or arson.

The Saturday announcement follows a Feb. 6 ban that specifically targeted dancehall tunes and videos depicting daggering — a dance style popular among Jamaican youth that features pelvic grinding simulating sex.

The beat-driven fusion of reggae and rap known as dancehall is hugely popular in Jamaica despite recurrent controversy over its lyrics and the dance style.


27th February   

Update: Indonesian Dance Censorship...

Constitutional Court dances round student challenge
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

The Indonesian Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by religious groups, students and a North Sulawesi Province youth organization to review the controversial antipornography law.

However, the rejection was made on trumped technical grounds and a future court hearing was not ruled out.

The plaintiff's demand is unclear, as they are not citing the content of the antipornography law, but instead that of the antipornography bill, judge Akil Mochtar said.

Also the group would have to reconsider grouping themselves under the name of the Ethnic Law Union of North Sulawesi because, Akil said, the group did not meet the requirements to represent the province's ethnic groups.

To add to the group's headache, their legal standing also was questioned by the court: It is not clear whether the plaintiffs have proposed the judicial review as individuals or as representatives of ethnic law, said Abdul Mukthie Fadjar, another judge. Mukhtie said that if the group claimed itself to be an ethnic law union, it needed to provide written proof from the organizations it named.


26th February   

Update: Simulated Politicians...

Keith Vaz bangs on about RapeLay in an EDM
Link Here
Full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

Games nutter MP Keith Vaz has decided to bang on about the game RapeLay which was withdrawn from US Amazon as soon as they realised it was controversial.

EDM 818 RapeLay Video Game by Keith Vaz

That this House is appalled that a video game that simulates rape has been readily available for sale on the internet; warmly welcomes Amazon's decision to withdraw the web page for the Japanese video game Rapelay; firmly believes that video games featuring high levels of violence can be detrimental to those playing them; notes that every year an estimated three million women experience rape, domestic violence, stalking or another form of abuse; and calls on the Government to ban such games from sale in the UK, including through online retailers.

Signed by

Lynne Jones, Lee Scott, Andrew Dismore, Peter Bottomley, David Drew, Bob Russell, Joan Humble, David Lepper, Martin Caton, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Durkan, Mike Hancock, David Taylor, Alan Simpson, Kelvin Hopkins, Colin Breed, Andrew George, Rudi Vis.


26th February   

Oscar for the Most Shameful TV Channel...

Asian STAR TV censored gay speeches from the Oscars
Link Here

Viewers across Asia saw a censored version of the Oscars after television chiefs removed gay references from Sean Penn's best actor speech.

The STAR satellite channel, which broadcasts to more than 300 million viewers in 53 countries, also cut the sound when Dustin Lane Black, who wrote the screenplay for Penn's film, Milk , addressed all the gay and lesbian kids. Milk is the story of Californian gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

Both Penn and Black backed gay marriage in their speeches and called for equal rights for homosexuals.

Gay Asians voiced their anger at the broadcaster, which censored its evening telecasts of the awards ceremony.

As a gay man, I am truly offended, Pang Khee Teik, a prominent Malaysian arts commentator, wrote in a letter sent out to several media organisations. Stop censoring the words that describe who I am. Pang said the move sent a message ... that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public's ears.

Jannie Poon, STAR's Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, stressed that the company had no intention of upsetting any viewers ...BUT... said it has a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.


26th February   

Good, Bad and Ugly Political Correctness...

Supporting the hype for Gran Torino
Link Here

Clint Eastwood believes the rise of political correctness is no laughing matter. He says the world would be a better place if we could still laugh at inoffensive jokes about different races.

The Hollywood actor and director said we live in constant fear of being labelled racist for simply laughing about national stereotypes.

People have lost their sense of humour, he told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine: In former times we constantly made jokes about different races. You can only tell them today with one hand over your mouth otherwise you will be insulted as a racist.

'I don't want to be politically correct. We're all spending too much time and energy trying to be politically correct about everything.


26th February   

Updated: Freedom to Read Week...

25th anniversary of Canada's Freedom to Read week
Link Here

22nd -28th February 2009

The list includes some of the most renowned works of English literature—Timothy Findley's The Wars , Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird , John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Margaret Atwood's dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale . It includes the most popular blockbusters of contemporary writing, from JK Rowling's Harry Potter series to the Philip Pullman trilogy His Dark Secrets . Books for children and young adults, from The Adventures of Tintin and the Goosebumps series to titles exploring more serious topics, such as Elizabeth Laird's A Little Piece of Ground and Michael Willhoite's Daddy's Roommate , have also been included in recent years. Even Vue Weekly is on it.

It's a list, now numbering well over 100 titles, of books and magazines which have been challenged by would-be censors in Canadian libraries, schools and bookstores over the past two decades.

Franklin Carter, editor and researcher with the freedom of expression committee of the Book and Periodical Council maintains the list and organizes the annual Freedom To Read Week in Canada. Sometimes very innocuous books provoke challenges. If you can think of a reason to challenge a book, somebody has probably thought of it before and tried to get that kind of book out of a school or the library.

Carter explains that unlike formal acts of censorship passed by Parliament, such as laws governing hate literature or child pornography, the censorship his organization tracks happens at the local level, most often without public scrutiny or open discussion about the merits of the work or the reasons behind the challenge. Books which are successfully challenged simply disappear off the shelves.

Carter says that descriptions or discussions of a sexual nature or books that explore homosexuality have also frequently been the target of challenges, even, ironically, books aimed at encouraging greater tolerance.

The good news, says Carter, is that most attempts at censorship are ultimately unsuccessful, and challenged books usually remain on library shelves. Unfortunately, Carter concludes, 25 years after the first Freedom to Read Week was organized in response to book challenges in Ontario high schools, the threat of censorship remains a real concern.

Update: Freedom to Read Award

26th February 2009. Based on article from business.theglobeandmail.com

The Writers' Union of Canada has named Nancy Fleming the posthumous winner of its annual Freedom to Read Award.

Fleming died Feb. 24, 2008 at age 76 after a long battle with emphysema. She spent more than 20 years as executive director of the Book and Periodical Council of Canada, during which she fought to protect writers and readers from numerous attempts to censor books in this country and around the world. She also helped to create Freedom to Read Week in 1984.

Nancy Fleming was a tireless foe of anyone who tried to limit the rights of Canadians to read or to write what they wished, said Wayne Grady, chair of the Union. Her years of fighting censorship have earned her this award. Although she has sadly passed on, her energy continues to drive Freedom to Read Week. We are honoured to be a part of it.

The award will be presented Wednesday in Toronto at a Freedom to Read Week event at the Gladstone Hotel. Previous winners Derek Finkle and Janine Fuller will be in attendance.


26th February   

Updated: Charity Watch...

Should the censors of the Internet Watch Foundation be considered a charity?
Link Here

Shaun wrote to the Charity Commission asking why the censors of the Internet Watch Foundation could be considered a charity

Thank you for your reply.

I am afraid I am not fully satisfied with it. I could find nothing in the guidance which would indicate to me, as to how the Internet Watch Foundation could be considered a genuine charity.

I would therefore like you simply to explain to me, how the Internet Watch Foundation justifies its charitable status in your opinion.

If the Internet Watch Foundation really is a charity and does indeed perform a genuine charitable function then this will not be a difficult task for you.

I do not dispute that it may well serve a useful purpose in regulating the worst of the internet, only that this is not really a charitable purpose, and that the Internet Watch Foundation exists mainly to serve the interests of the subscribing members (mostly consisting of Internet Service Providers), rather than the general public at large, and it was formed to help protect those members against excessive government regulation, as was the BBFC in the early days of cinema. Please note that the BBFC video and film censors NOT a charity and neither should the Internet Watch Foundation be considered one in my opinion

If you have a different opinion, as to why the Internet Watch Foundation really is a genuine charity, I should be most grateful to you for explaining to me why that is.

Comment: IWF Reply

26th February 2009

Thank you for your email below.

This has been passed to me as your question refers to the charitable status of the Foundation and our decision to register it as a charity and therefore whether it carries out charitable activities.

You will appreciate that all registrations are based on information supplied at the time of registration, so to answer your question I have looked back at the case file from that time..

The Foundation applied to us as an established company, which already worked in partnership with the Police, Government and the mobile and internet industry. At the time of the application it was funded by the internet industry and the European Community.

Having been informed of the activities of the Foundation, the Commission considered whether the protection of children from harmful material on the internet was charitable. Our Commissioners had taken a view that it is charitable in a decision in 2002, when considering an organisation known as the Internet Content Rating Association (the details of that decision are available on our web-site). The Commissioners were satisfied that the care and protection of the health and welfare of children and young persons by a facility which enabled controlled access to prevent harm was capable of being a charitable purpose and from information supplied it was clear that the Foundation does undertake activities which are aimed at the care and protection of children and young persons.

Regarding the prevention of crime, we determined that the Foundation's activities could lead to the prevention of crime because its activities include analysing emerging trends from countries and the geographical locations of where websites containing illegal content are located and intelligence is passed to the Police.

Comment: Mission Creep

26th February 2009

Shaun comments further:

Thank you for your reply for which I am most grateful. I have little doubt that the IWF was, at least to some degree, (not wholly however) a charitable organisation at the time of their registration. However I was concerned about some apparent "mission creep" on their part since then, in that they seemed to be extending their activities beyond those they were involved in at the time they registered as a charity. However after some complaints from the public they seemed to have recently reviewed their position, and returned to their original remit, to some degree at least.

Some of their current work however, still does involve reporting questionable UK hosted material NOT involving children, to the police. Is that charitable I still wonder ?

Should their activities extend even further to a general censor of adults, concerning contentious online material NOT involving children and/or material NOT intended for the eyes of children, then I will contact you again because I do not consider that to be any kind of charitable role. It would simply be a government backed unaccountable, unelected body, imposing government censorship policy on freeborn adult members of the general public who might not want it. If you somehow disagree, with these points and questions then I really must ask you: Would you really consider the internet censors in China, charitable in any way ? I know I wouldn't!

I therefore respectfully suggest, and ask, that any future censorship activities by the IWF might be fully taken into consideration when you are asked to review their status at future time, in case they have again extended their role well beyond what really is purely charitable, or at least arguably so.

Finally I still have some concern that the IWF exists primarily to help protect its ISP membership from government intervention in the form of new proscriptive or punative laws, and I firmly maintain that this particular aspect of its work is not really charitable. There is also a perception by many internet users that their work is clandestine, and not accountable to anyone, especially given that ISPs are encouraged to pretend the censorship is not happening by lying that the requested page isn't there, rather than being honest with internet users, by putting up a suitable onscreen page. Even in China and Saudi Arabia, their censors are more honest that that!


26th February   

Updated: Presidential Monkey Business...

New York Post under fire for Obama chimp cartoon
Link Here

At first glance, the main editorial cartoon in today's New York Post seemed like just another lurid reference to the story that the tabloid had been covering with breathless abandon for two days running - the shooting by Connecticut police on Monday of a pet chimpanzee that viciously attacked his owner's friend.

But the caption cast the cartoon in a more sinister light. They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill, it read, prompting accusations that the Post was peddling a longstanding racist slur by portraying president Barack Obama as an ape.

george Bush or chimp

  How come nobody defended me
when I was shown to be a chimp?

In a statement issued today, Al Sharpton, the Baptist minister and civil rights activist, called the cartoon troubling at best, given the historic racist attacks [on] African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.

David Paterson, the governor of New York state, told a local television station that it was very important for the New York Post to explain what the cartoon was intended to portray.

In response, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Col Allen, noted Sharpton's love of media attention. The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.

Update: Shut the Post Down

20th February 2009. See article from timesonline.co.uk

Protesters gathered outside the New York Post's Manhattan office last night chanting shut the Post down after they claimed a cartoon in the tabloid compared President Obama to a chimpanzee.

Civil rights leaders and politicians responded furiously claiming it echoed racist stereotypes. The Reverend Al Sharpton, an prominent civil rights leader, called the cartoon troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.

Members of the public also reacted angrily against the Post. Its phones rang all day with upset readers and protesters, picketing the tabloid's offices, demanded an apology and a boycott.

How could the Post let this cartoon pass as satire? said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists: To compare the nation's first African-American commander-in-chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel.

State Senator Eric Adams called it a throwback to the days when black men were lynched.

Update: Apologies

21st February 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

The New York Post has now apologised for a cartoon said to compare President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police.

The tabloid's statement came after two days of protests by civil rights campaigners and others - but the paper said it would not apologise to its long-time detractors, who it accused of exploiting the image for revenge.

Some of the cartoon's critics said they were not satisfied with the qualified apology and threatened to continue protesting outside the paper's offices today.

The newspaper posted an editorial on its website saying the cartoon was meant to mock the government's economic stimulus bill, but to those who were offended by the image, we apologise.

The piece was posted hours after 200 people chanting Boycott the Post! Shut it down! marched in front of the paper's office, saying the cartoon echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

Update: Afraid to call a spade a spade

26th February 2009. See article from news.aol.com

Last week's firestorm over an editorial cartoon at the New York Post is still burning it's way through the media and the blogosphere, and in the wake of Eric Holder's declaration that Americans (read: white Americans) are cowards and James Clyburn's claim that rejection of stimulus funds is motivated by racism, the reactions are naturally mixed and sometimes contentious. Reverend Al Sharpton, for example, is demanding investigations and protests. MSNBC is having shouting matches. Some cartoonists are simply preparing to self-censor and nevertheless suffer unintended consequences. The controversy is not soon to die down.

In light of the cartoon war, the Associated Press ran a story Saturday examining the overall shift to caution by that normally incautious breed of political commentator, the editorial cartoonist.

Because Barack Obama is black, to summarize the article, political cartoonists now operate under the duress of fear. In America, there is no worse stigma than that of being called racist , especially in the age of Obama. The armies of political correctness and so-called progressivism feel free to act more boldly, now that a man who owes his political career to the forces of the far left holds the highest office in the world.


25th February   

Update: Appeal Watch...

Ireland rates Watchmen as 16 after an appeal
Link Here
Full story: Watchmen...Watching the censors watch Watchmen

Irish cinemagoers aged 16 and over may see the violent new US action film Watchmen following a decision by the Film Appeals Board.

John Kelleher, director of the Irish Film Classification Office (Ifco), had given the film an 18 certificate – in tandem with a similar classification in the UK.

However, a more lenient rating has since been granted following an appeal by the film's distributor, Paramount Pictures. The film goes on release in Ireland, Britain and the US on March 6th.

Kelleher's office advises viewers on its website  that Watchmen contains strong, visceral hyper-realistic violence, including one brutal sexual assault.

We are delighted that Watchmen has been classified as 16, said Niamh McCaul, general manager of Paramount's Irish office. It increases our potential audience and more importantly will give access to fans that are 16 and over.

BBFC explain their uncut 18 rating for the film

See article from bbfc.co.uk

Watchmen is the latest film from director Zack Snyder and the team behind 300. Based on a famous graphic novel from the 1980s it tells the story of an alternate America in which the Vietnam War was won, Nixon was elected for a third term and costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of society. It was passed ‘18' for strong bloody violence.

The BBFC Guidelines at ‘15' state that ‘violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury'. In Watchmen however there are a number of scenes that focus on strong detailed violence and its gory result. In one such example, a man is stabbed through the arm, with it forcefully twisted and broken as the knife is shown penetrating his arm and emerging from the other side. In another, a man is shown being struck in the head with a meat cleaver followed by repeated bloody sight of the cleaver striking the head. Both of these scenes, in addition to one or two others, were considered inappropriate at ‘15' and better placed at the adult ‘18' where detail of strong violence is permitted.

Watchmen also contains an attempted rape scene, strong language and sexual activity without strong detail.


25th February   

Update: Social Networking Addles Nutter Minds...

Lady Greenfield warns the House of Lords
Link Here

Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.

The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children.

She told the House of Lords that children's experiences on social networking sites are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity.

Arguing that social network sites are putting attention span in jeopardy, she said: If the young brain is exposed from the outset to a world of fast action and reaction, of instant new screen images flashing up with the press of a key, such rapid interchange might accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Perhaps when in the real world such responses are not immediately forthcoming, we will see such behaviours and call them attention-deficit disorder.

"It might be helpful to investigate whether the near total submersion of our culture in screen technologies over the last decade might in some way be linked to the threefold increase over this period in prescriptions for methylphenidate, the drug prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

She also warned against "a much more marked preference for the here-and-now, where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences. After all, whenever you play a computer game, you can always just play it again; everything you do is reversible. The emphasis is on the thrill of the moment, the buzz of rescuing the princess in the game. No care is given for the princess herself, for the content or for any long-term significance, because there is none. This type of activity, a disregard for consequence, can be compared with the thrill of compulsive gambling or compulsive eating.

Greenfield also warned there was a risk of loss of empathy as children read novels less. She said she found it strange we are enthusiastically embracing the possible erosion of our identity through social networking sites, since those that use such sites can lose a sense of where they themselves finish and the outside world begins.

The solutions, however, lay less in regulation as in education, culture and society.


25th February   

Update: Dark Days After Hours...

Nutter prosecutor wins his case to ban adult films from Staunton
Link Here
Full story: After Hours Sex Shop...Adult video shop persecuted in Staunton

The ongoing case between the nutter Staunton prosecutor Raymond Robertson and Rick E. Krial, owner of After Hours Video, which led to convictions on obscenity counts last August, could be nearing its end.

Krial has confirmed that he has agreed not to appeal his obscenity convictions and in return will not be prosecuted on felony charges. Krial also has agreed not to reopen After Hours, which has been temporarily closed since the trial ended.

If the store stayed open, they were going to come at me with all the charges they could, Krial said.

The trial centered around standard adult videos purchased at After Hours Video by undercover agents in October 2007. Krial and his company were found guilty and store manager Tinsley Embrey was acquitted of two charges by the jury.

Two months after the verdicts were handed down, the defense team — which included 1st amendment lawyers Paul Cambria and Louis Sirkin — filed motions to have the convictions set aside, citing numerous improper statements that were aimed at inflaming the passions and prejudices of jurors.

Krial has now said that the fight is over: Nobody needs this kind of aggravatio n.

Krial said other businesses in the city were selling adult videos at the time he applied for and was granted his business license, and the charges against him were a surprise: I didn't expect it because it was already being sold in Staunton. Krial also runs 11 adult enterprises in Maryland and Virginia.

Robertson is a long time nutter and opponent of adult material. In August 2007 when Robertson heard of Krial's intentions to open the store vowed he was not going to allow dissemination of pornographic material in Staunton. In November 2007, Krial and his company were indicted by a special grand jury on 16 felonies and eight misdemeanors.

Update: End of a Repressive Court Case

7th April 2009. See article from xbiz.com

The court order ending the city's prosecution of Rick Krial and the now-defunct After Hours Video store has been signed.

Krial and his company, LSP of Virginia LLC, were found guilty on two misdemeanor obscenity charges by a seven-person jury following a week-long obscenity trial in August, setting the stage for possible future felony convictions. Krial and the company were fined $2,500 and ordered to pay $160 in court costs.

According to the court order, Staunton prosecutor Raymond Robertson will not pursue 16 felony charges against Krial and the company, and in return Krial has agreed to drop a motion to set aside the verdicts and will not appeal the convictions.

Krial also agreed not to reopen After Hours Video or any other adult video store in Staunton.


25th February   

Anna Politkovskaya...

Those who dare criticise Russia can be killed with impunity
Link Here

The trial of three men charged in connection with the murder of Anna Politkovskaya is over. The defendants were all acquitted by the jury. Even if one or all of the accused had been found guilty, neither the hit man nor those behind the killing were in the courtroom in the first place. Those on trial were charged with being accessories to the murder.

Anna Politkovskaya was the most prominent among the few Russian journalists who dared write the truth about the second Chechen war. She travelled to the region for so many years, wrote about such burning issues, took such tremendous risks, that after a while many of us thought that she had managed to transcend danger. It seemed inconceivable that she could be simply, cynically, killed. After all, Russia could not possibly afford such an outrageous scandal.

Apparently, it could. Anna was shot dead at the entrance of her own apartment building.

The murder of Politkovskaya on 7 October 2006 made headlines in Russia and around the world. Russia's Prosecutor General took control over the investigation. Politkovskaya's family, friends and colleagues, and the public at large, were reassured time and again that justice would be done. Today, however, those responsible for the killing are still at large, and the authorities have sent a very clear message to Russian civil society: those who dare criticise the government can be killed, with their killers practically guaranteed impunity.

As a tribute to those who have been killed we must not stop trying to ensure that the message is wrong.

Update: Arrested

30th August 2011. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

The man alleged to have been paid to assemble the murder squad that tracked and shot dead Russian journalist Anna Politovskaya has been detained by Moscow authorities. Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in October 2006.

The arrest of retired police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov is the latest development in the investigation into the killing of Politkovskaya who reported for opposition paper Novaya Gazeta exposing human rights abuses and high level corruption that angered the Kremlin.

Investigators also told Russian media they have information about the person who ordered the contract killing and hired Pavlyuchenkov, but that it was premature to make this public.

Pavlyuchenkov is alleged to have gathered four men, including three brothers from Chechnya, to trace the movements of the crusading journalist before devising a plan for the attack and obtaining the murder weapon. Politkovskaya was shot in the head as she entered the elevator of her apartment building as she returned home.


25th February   

Update: Censorship by Burdensome Admin...

Record keeping 2257 law upheld in Appeals Court
Link Here
Full story: 2257 Record Keeping...US adut industry onerous requirements

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld the 2257 federal record-keeping law in the long-contested Connections case.

Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Sutton addressed what he sees as the critical question in this issue: Under what circumstances is it appropriate to invalidate a law in all of its applications when its invalidity can be shown [or assumed] in just some of its applications?

Sutton went on to discuss the hypothetical middle-aged couple shooting their own erotica — a practice used as an example of the burdensome requirements of the statute. Over twenty years and numerous administrations, the statute has never been enforced in this setting, and the attorney general has publicly taken the position that he will not enforce the statute in this setting, Sutton wrote.

Opposing the ruling was Circuit Judge Helene N. White, who in writing a dissenting opinion stated her belief that under intermediate scrutiny the identification/record-keeping requirements of 2257 impose an unconstitutional burden on plaintiffs' First Amendment rights.

As for the future of the statute it really comes down to whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case, attorney Larry Walters told XBIZ: But that is much less likely to happen since the circuit court upheld the law, rather than overturned it.

The upholding of 2257 presents a possible immediate threat to the industry as well:

Webmasters [and others] should be much more concerned about possible inspections and prosecutions, Walters said: Now that the law has been upheld, 2257 inspections could resume at any time.


25th February   

Offsite: Book Banners...

Dubai's censorship extends far beyond book festivals
Link Here

For many years censorship has been an everyday reality for the millions of expatriates living in the UAE; with books, newspaper output, and Internet access all being heavily restricted.

At the heart of the system is the National Media Council — an unfortunate remnant of the UAE's old Ministry of Information and Culture. The NMC claims that it has become more tolerant and now only censors books that offend Islam or are pornographic. However there is little doubt that it still actively bans a wide range of books, or — more accurately — simply avoids providing the necessary approval to willing distributors. The US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor reports on the UAE confirm this view, regularly detailing banned publications in the UAE. The NMC's other responsibilities include the blacking out of nudity in media output (still done by using black felt tip on newspaper and magazine articles), and running a department for external information, which keeps a close eye on UAE-related content in foreign publications and seeks to limit the output of certain writers.

...Read full article


24th February   

Ahmadinejad Uncensured...

Peace and goodwill extended even to barbaric regimes at Christmas
Link Here

The Alternative Christmas Message
Channel 4, 25 December 2008, 19:15

The Alternative Christmas Message was an address to the UK audience by President Ahmadinejad of Iran. It was the latest of such annual messages which have been broadcast by Channel 4 over the years. Ofcom received 295 complaints concerning the programme. It featured a seven-minute address from the Iranian President, preceded by a short film that gave a commentary on controversial political and social issues relating to Iran and President Ahmadinejad.

The complainants considered it offensive and inappropriate for airtime to be given to President Ahmadinejad, known for his controversial views and policies on issues such as the Holocaust, women, and homosexuals. Some complainants believed it was especially insulting for such a programme to be broadcast on Christmas Day.

In his address, President Ahmadinejad stated that, in his view, the problems of humanity could be linked to the indifference of people and governments to the teachings of the various prophets of the Abrahamic faiths, including Jesus Christ. He added his view that, if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would be against warmongering, terrorism, and what President Ahmadinejad termed the tyrannical policies of prevailing global, economic and political systems. We believe Jesus Christ will return along with one of the children of the revered messenger of Islam and will lead the world to love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ and Abrahamic faiths is to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age.

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

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom recognises that, at times, offence can be caused not by the actual content of a programme but by the very fact that people with controversial views are given airtime. Any potential offence in these circumstances can be exacerbated if viewers or listeners consider that such contributors' views are not properly challenged or contextualised.

Ofcom acknowledged that this programme, taken in its entirety, would have been challenging and upsetting to a number of people. However, in judging whether the offence caused represented a breach of the Code, Ofcom must take into account the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority. The Code places no restrictions on the subjects covered by broadcasters, the manner in which such subjects are treated, the contributors used, or the day or time they are broadcast, so long as offensive material that is broadcast is justified by the context.

Whilst President Ahmadinejad gave what was an unmediated address to camera, Ofcom noted that this was importantly preceded by a short report, summarising the controversial issues and events which have been connected to him and his presidency. For example, Ofcom noted the following commentary in this segment of the programme:

Ofcom considered that President Ahmadinejad's contribution was put in sufficient context by the preceding commentary, which furnished the audience with useful background information on this particular contributor. Further, the actual content of his address could be described as non-confrontational, comprising as it did, a message of good will to the UK audience.

We therefore believe that the large majority of the audience would, in general, have not considered the material to be beyond what would normally be expected from this programme on this particular channel, the broadcast of this potentially offensive material was justified by the context.

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


24th February   

Update: Stephen Conroy: Hardcore Censor...

Conroy to mandate blocking of adult consensual hardcore
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

  Unwanted by 79% of
surveyed Australians

Stephen Conroy yesterday confirmed that the Government would consider the possibility of adult consensual porn being blocked by its mandatory internet censorship scheme.

At Estimates hearings conducted by the Environment, Communications and the Arts committee, the Minister repeatedly confirmed that the censorship trial announced on 11 February, to be conducted in association with ISPs Primus, Tech 2U, Webshield, OMNIconnect, Netforce and Highway 1 and others, would be based on illegal sites under the Broadcasting Services Act, but that the censorship of other content would also be determined after the trial.

Conroy's statement -- which he reinforced when he said that censorship of other (i.e. non-illegal) content would be determined on the basis of the trial -- establishes the basis for using the results of the censorship trial to extend mandatory filtering to content that is currently legal.

The Broadcasting Services Act currently prohibits both Refused Classification material and X18+ material, meaning content depicting actual sex is treated in a manner similar to criminal content such as child pornography. The BSA also bans R18+ material (including simulated sex) if there is no age-based restriction. This clumsy regime means material that is available in your average newsagent, let alone the local adult shop, is banned online and will technically be blocked under the ALP censorship trial.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority maintains a secret blacklist which it describes as the worst of the worst in terms of child pornography and other criminal material. It is this list that will be used in the trial, although it will extended beyond that to other filtering techniques such as key-word-based blocking. Given that the current regime also prohibits much of the petabytes of porn freely available on the internet, the idea of effectively filtering via a list is nonsensical.

The ban also perpetuates the Ruddock-era ban on alleged terrorist books imposed by the Howard Government as part of its national security-based attack on civil liberties. Academics using the internet to research terrorism-related materials may be blocked if filtering is imposed.

The results of the trial will not be known until at least mid-year.


24th February   

Publication not Possession...

Conservatives propose amendment to Dangerous Cartoons Bill
Link Here

Conservatives Edward Garnier, Henry Bellingham and Jeremy Wright have proposed an amendment to the Dangerous Cartoons Bill to make it ah offence of publishing rather than possession:

  • Clause 49, page 29, line 6, leave out ‘Possession' and insert ‘Publication'.
  • Clause 49, page 29, line 7, leave out ‘be in possession of' and insert ‘publish by any means whatsoever to another'.
  • Clause 49, page 29, line 13, leave out ‘produced' and insert ‘published'.
  • Clause 49, page 29, line 14, at end add ‘of the publisher or of a publishee'.
  • Clause 49, page 29, line 15, leave out ‘(as found in the person's possession)' and insert ‘on publication'.



24th February   

Update: Fitna for the US...

Wilders invited to show Fitna at the Capitol
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Republican Senator Jon Kyl is hosting a film screening at the Capitol building in Washington for a the controversial Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders

Kyl agreed to facilitate the event because all too often, people who have the courage to point out the dangers of militant Islamists find themselves vilified and endangered, said Ryan Patmintra, his spokesman.

Thursday's event was being sponsored by the International Free Press Society, headed by Lars Hedegaard, the Danish activist, and the Center for Security Policy, a think tank in Washington led by Republican Frank Gaffney.

The event is closed to the public and the media, but the film is being screened to members of Congress and their staff.


24th February   

Updated: England People Very Nice...

National Theatre play winds up the stereotyped
Link Here
Full story: England People Very Nice...Muslim protests about play that stereotypes everyone

It has incestuous, pig-breeding, drunken Irishmen, snooty Frenchmen, farcical Jewish anarchists and the animated presence of a mad mullah ranting about how women must be subservient to men.

It reminded the Daily Telegraph of the Carry On films and the London Evening Standard of the slick, cruel, abusive style that Bernard Manning perfected ages ago.

Its director and writer may well have anticipated controversy, but shortly after opening at the National Theatre, England People Very Nice , a new play by the award-winning dramatist Richard Bean about successive waves of immigration to the east end of London, has been labelled racist and offensive by the communities it portrays.

A delegation of writers and community activists from the East End will meet on Friday with Nicholas Hytner, the National's director who is also directing the play, to protest against what they regard as a caricature of Britain's racial history.

The National represents modern Britain, and in particular London, and I don't see how Muslims can identify with the National Theatre when it puts on this kind of racist work, Hussain Ismail, a playwright from Bethnal Green who has demanded the meeting with Hytner, told the Guardian: I have been going to the National for 20 years, but I don't see how I can identify with a place that stages what I see as a personal attack on me and the community I belong to.

Hytner said in a statement: The play lampoons all forms of stereotyping: it is a boisterous satire of stereotypes of French, Irish, Jews, Bangladeshis, white East End cockneys, Hampstead liberals and many others. Every stereotype is placed in the context of its opposite and it clearly sets out to demonstrate that all forms of racism are equally ridiculous.

Bean's comedy, set around the Brick Lane area of east London, spans more than three centuries, from the arrival of Huguenot weavers to successive influxes of Irish, eastern European Jews and Bangladeshi Muslims. Each wave is greeted with hostility and suspicion with locals, only to integrate to such an extent that they themselves take a similar attitude to the next wave of newcomers.

Update: Multicultural Censors Organise Protest

24th February. Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

Artists from the East End will be holding a protest outside the National Theatre at 5pm on Friday 27th February in the run up to the platform discussion at 6pm with Richard Bean, the writer of the play.

Playwright Hussain Ismail, who will be leading the campaign, said: Hytner is scared of a debate. We are from the East End and we know that it is the most multicultural place in the world. Brick Lane in particular is the centre of the multicultural universe. It's the coolest place on the earth and that's why people come from all over the world to hang out there. Bean and Hytner haven't got a clue about the East End. That's why the play is bonkers!

We want a right of reply ­ a proper debate ­ not a 40 minute platform discussion where the director just asks some bland questions to the writer and we all go home. We want a vigorous and robust debate with Bean and Hytner and us on the same platform with the media and public present on mass.

Organisers of the protest are asking everybody to come celebrate multicultural London and demand that East End artists have the right to a debate, and challenge misrepresentation of their communities. They are asking protesters to bring whistles and drums to stand up for multiculturalism.


24th February   

Mean Minded...

Whingers complain about disable kids TV presenter
Link Here

A disabled CBeebies presenter has been the victim of a disturbing campaign after parents complained that she was scaring toddlers.

They claimed that host Cerrie Burnell - who was born with one arm - is not suitable to appear on the digital children's channel.

Miss Burnell and co-presenter Alex Winters took over the popular Discover and Do slot and The Bedtime Hour programme last month.

But the decision to hire her has prompted a flurry of complaints to the BBC and on parenting message boards.

Incredibly, one father said he wanted to ban his daughter from watching the channel because he feared it would give her nightmares. Others claimed that they were forced to discuss difficult issues with their young children before they were ready. Some even accused the BBC of hiring Miss Burnell because of political correctness and solely to meet employment quotas.

A BBC spokesman said the broadcaster had received nine formal complaints about Miss Burnell. But she insisted the new presenter had also received messages of support and that many parents were keen to have a range of people on screen.

Miss Burnell hit back at her critics, branding them small minded and their remarks terrible ' Admitting she was upset by the comments, she added: It can only be a good thing that parents are using me as a chance to talk about disability with their children. It just goes to show how important it is to have positive disabled role models on CBeebies and television in general.


24th February   

Updated: Censorship Sucks...

Philippines love story banned by the censor
Link Here

Philippines censors at the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board last week banned the indie film Walang Hanggang Paalam, directed by Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos.

Villaluna has described it as a simple love story. The board said it got banned because of a fellatio scene.

Upon learning the news, Villaluna's immediate concern, expressed in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was the expense for a second review. Every MTRCB screening costs P8,250 (€135)

At the recent Film Summit organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Villaluna said the rate should be lowered for the sake of independent filmmakers.

Update: Passed After Cuts

24th February 2009. See article from showbizandstyle.inquirer.net

The MTRCB gave an R-18 rating to Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos' Walang Hanggang Paalam on its second screening.

Board chair Marissa Laguardia said the movie's producer submitted a new version of the film without the objectionable scenes. According to the committee report, the fellatio scene was altered and the ejaculation was not shown anymore.

Producer Leo Dominguez confirmed that he and the filmmakers made the cuts.


23rd February   

Holding Hands...

BBFC examiners resisting solo viewing for sex works
Link Here

Staff at the BBFC are in revolt over a management plan that would require them to watch hardcore pornographic films alone in a bid to save money.

The BBFC employs about 80 examiners, who currently watch explicit films in pairs, but executives want to extend solo viewing, which has already been introduced for less controversial content. Films released at theatres are still watched by more than one examiner, and sex works are also viewed in pairs. Examiners argue that working in teams make it easier to form a professional judgment about content.

Examiners say films that are refused an R18 certificate often include scenes that many find disturbing, including sadomasochism and sexual violence. Some are concerned that viewing pornographic content alone will increase the chances of being sexually aroused by the material.

Insiders say the changes are motivated by cost cuts. The BBFC is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the film and TV industries, whose members pay a fee for each product licensed. The BBFC classifies about 600 cinematic releases and 12,000 DVDs each year.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said its examiners already view most content alone, although some of it is still watched either by a team or by more senior staff. She confirmed that sex works are currently examined by teams of two, but added that a final decision on the proposed changes had not been taken.

The BBFC is currently consulting staff about a proposal that sex works should also be examined by examiners viewing alone, but only on the basis that an appropriate policy is in place for having works which are particularly problematic or unpleasant viewed by teams. Difficult or unpleasant issues or material are not confined to sex works.


23rd February   

Update: Keith Vaz is a Disgrace...

Vaz self destructs into a stream of liquid bullshit on Newsnight
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

The chairman of the British Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, was among the top decision makers who, last week, bravely denied Geert " Fitna " Wilders the right to open his mouth anywhere on U.K. soil.

It's painful to watch Vaz pretending to misunderstand what free speech means, but even more gobsmacking to hear him admit, below, that he hasn't seen the film that he's deemed so hateful that its Dutch maker must be banned from England.

The co-host of BBC Newsnight , Kirsty Wark, is momentarily speechless. You're chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee ... it's fourteen minutes long ... and you haven't seen it? V az splutters that he's had more important things to do than go a private screening of Fitna at the House of Lords — willfully oblivious to the fact that the short film has been streaming on thousands of websites, including mine, for almost a year.

In the slightly intemperate words of Pickled Politics, He then proceeds to self-destruct in a thunderous self-inflicted detonation, causing blood, sperm and liquid bullshit dripping off the studio furniture. Leaving the other protagonists in the discussion to carry on with the semblance of a conversation, while the fulminated entrails of Vaz's credibility twitched involuntarily around them.


23rd February   

Category III...

Film censorship in Hong Kong
Link Here

At the beginning of February, media in China was buzzing about the possibility of a film rating system being put into place sometime this year. Although the story turned out to be incorrect, it still sparked yet another round of debate over the feasibility of implementing a rating system for mainland cinema.

In a blog post last week, film critic Wei Junzi discussed how Hong Kong's film rating system came about.

Men Behind the Sun , was a notable co-production that depicted the tragic biological experiments conducted by the Japanese invaders on Chinese people. According to Hong Kong media reports in 1988, the film censors vomited from disgust when they viewed the film and in one swift action, Category III films were born in Hong Kong.

Why was it only in 1988 that Hong Kong started having Category III films? Going back to the beginning, in March 1987, the English-language Asian Wall Street Journal disclosed that there was no legal foundation for Hong Kong film censorship, a revelation that caused instant controversy throughout the city. Creating a new film screening system, regardless of what it would eventually become, had to be put on the agenda immediately. Therefore the Hong Kong Executive and Legislative Councils quickly established a task force to deliberate a new Film Censorship Bill that would incorporate a motion picture rating system. On November 10, 1988, the Film Censorship Ordinance went into effect, and from that day forward, Hong Kong had a three-level film rating system:

  • Category I (All ages admitted)
  • Category II (All ages admitted, but the film had to carry the statement, Not suitable for children )
  • Category III (Persons aged 18 and above).

Subsequently, Hong Kong's film screening became substantially more permissive. Even though this led to the proliferation of films wallowing in sex and violence, at the same time, Hong Kong filmmakers obtained a good deal of creative freedom, and produced a stream of excellent works that broke through thematic taboos.

In 1995, Hong Kong's film censors changed the "three-level system" into a "four-level system." The main changes were to indicate the degree of nudity, sex, violence, crude language, and frightening content present, and divided the former Category II into:

  • Category IIA (Not suitable for children)
  • Category IIB (Not suitable for children or youth).

It is suggested that the proposed 2 level system for mainland China is

  • Category I (All ages admitted)
  • Category IIA (Not suitable for children)


22nd February   

Inglourious Nutters...

Australian nutters support the hype for Tarantino's latest
Link Here

A new movie said to be more gruesome and gory than Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill should be banned from Australian cinemas, according to nutters

Inglourious Basterds , the latest Quentin Tarantino film, stars Brad Pitt as a Nazi-killing commander.

In World War II, Pitt leads a group of Jewish soldiers on a massacre, dismembering, disfiguring and torturing Nazis.

Speaking over a sinister rock soundtrack, Pitt says: We will be cruel to the German. And through our cruelty they will know who we are. Each man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps.

A nutter group has called for the film, which has been described as extremely brutal, to be banned. They claim Tarantino has increased the shock value to keep audiences interested, but this time he has gone too far.

Bill Muehlenberg, from the Family Council of Victoria, said Pitt would attract a young and influential audience and he recommended parents beware: He is a role model for many young people, so the more gory and bloody and violent it gets, the worse the example. We have a classification board that allows filmmakers to get away with murder.

Jewish groups were also uneasy about the level of bloodshed, saying it did not reflect reality and was not a true story. However, it could split the community, according to Rabbi Sholom Kluwgant, who said some might applaud its revengeful message.


22nd February   

Update: Italian Censorship Mafia...

Proposed law to censor dissent on the internet
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

A new bill has come before the Italian Senate, giving the interior ministry the power to order Internet providers to remove criminal content within 24 hours or face a fine of up to 250,000 euros.

Senator Gianpiero D'Alia introduced the measure after the Italian press reported on the existence of Facebook fan groups for convicted Corleone-born Mafia bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who have been convicted of dozens of homicides and are serving multiple life sentences in prison.

After Facebook expressed its concern about Italy's proposed law to force Internet providers to block access to websites that incite or justify criminal behaviour, D'Alia replied that the aim is not to block sites like Facebook or YouTube in their entirety if they contain criminal content. Rather, the senator explained, the law is intended to force them to remove individual pages or groups.

However, the text of the bill is misleading, as it does not distinguish between blocking pages and entire websites. This makes the law extremely flawed, as Marco Pancini, the European Public Policy Counsel for Google, which owns YouTube, has said. Internet providers are not able to eliminate single elements from websites, and this means blocking entire platforms in a situation where Internet providers themselves are not left with any choice but to respect orders for the removal of an unlawful site.


22nd February   

Dark Angel Warns Anime Fans...

How do you tell the age of a cartoon character?
Link Here

Dark Angel warns UK anime fans about the impact of the Government's noxious Dangerous Cartoons Bill.

The UK Government is planning to outlaw mere possession of cartoon images that appear sexually explicit IF the persons in them APPEAR to be under 18. How do you tell the age of a cartoon character?...

See video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDjtMgsBuvE


22nd February   

Throwing Icicles...

Mr Potato Heads whinge about Dancing on Ice
Link Here

Ofcom has announced that it will launch an investigation after receiving viewer complaints about Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner.

A small number of fans contacted the TV censor after Gardiner compared Roxanne Pallett to a Cabbage Patch doll and Ellery Hanley to Mr. Potato Head on last weekend's live show.

A Dancing On Ice spokesperson said: During the Dancing On Ice '80s special on Sunday, Jason Gardiner gave feedback to a number of the celebrities. In his critique of Roxanne and Ellery, Jason compared them to particular toy characters. This was not meant offensively and was intended to be in the spirit of the themed show.

Gardiner recently complained that the contestants are taking his behaviour too seriously, insisting that his comments are intended to be fun.


22nd February   

Seven Jewish Children...

Complaints about a play for Gaza
Link Here

A short 10 minute play, Seven Jewish Children - A Play for Gaza , written by Caryl Churchill in response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and examining the history of Israel, was performed at Royal Court.

67 members of the jewish ccommunity complained :

The play Seven Jewish Children at the Royal Court demonises Israelis by reinforcing false stereotypes. It portrays Israeli parents as inhuman triumphalists who care little about anything except their children's feelings, and who teach them that Arabs are sub-human and must be hated.

It is historically inaccurate. It fails to say that the Six Day War was a defensive war, following which Israel offered to return virtually all the land it had gained, in return for peace. It excises from history the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and ignores the more than 6,000 rockets, launched with the sole aim of the indiscriminate killing of Israelis.

In staging this play, and releasing it for free performance anywhere, the Royal Court is being unbalanced in its favours.

Our regret at the decision to show Seven Jewish Children should not be taken as opposition to free speech in the theatre – which is vital. However, we are at a loss to understand how the decision accords with the comment by the associate director of the Royal Court that he would be reluctant to stage a play critical of Islam.

Opinion: Selective bravery is not very brave

See article from guardian.co.uk  ny Jonathan Romain

This [complaint] touches on two sensitivities far beyond the play itself. The first is the right to publicise what others regard as misinformation. I believe that right does exist. I may not want to see the play. I may warn others about it. I may even stand outside and distribute pamphlets exposing its errors to those about to go inside. But I will not back calls for it to be banned. If the price of free speech is being enraged by the venom or stupidity of others, that is a fury worth enduring.

The second issue is whether the Royal Court holds that same view. Ramin Gray, its associate director, has admitted that he would be hesitant to stage a play critical of Islam. How can that possibly be justified? If he is fearless to attack aspects of one country or one faith, then surely all the others should be open to the same critique. Selective bravery is not very brave.

This is a principle that should apply equally across the religious spectrum. It is why it was right for Jerry Springer the Opera to be shown on BBC despite the (equally permissable) protests of some Christians. This is also why it was wrong for the play about Sikh life – Bezhti – to be withdrawn from the Birmingham Repertory Theatre after pressure from Sikhs. Why can the church be exposed to challenge and not the Gurdwara?

Assuming that Ramin Gray is an honourable person (as I am happy to do) and that he is not guilty of hypocrisy by favouring the mosque over the synagogue, there can be only one explanation for his reluctance: fear.

Presumably it is not fear of letters in the Daily Telegraph or peaceful distribution of leaflets outside his theatre, but of violent attack.

If so, is this based on his fantasies or does it reflect realistic expectations of how the Muslim community would behave? If the former, then that is hardly justification; if the latter, then it is a perception, or misperception, about which Muslim leaders should be alarmed, for it does the image of Islam no favours.

...Read full article


22nd February   

Updated: The Gulf Between Us...

Dubai bans British author from literary festival
Link Here

A book festival in the Middle East that claims to celebrate the world of books in all its infinite variety has banned a British author because her novel contains references to homosexuality.

The first International Festival of Literature in Dubai promises that it will be relaxed, vibrant and diverse.

One author has found otherwise. Geraldine Bedell's book The Gulf Between Us was greeted with enthusiasm by organisers because of its setting in the Middle East, but the mood changed swiftly when they discovered a gay character.

Isobel Abulhoul, director of the festival, wrote to Ms Bedell to tell her that she was not invited. I do not want our festival remembered for the launch of a controversial book. If we launched the book and a journalist happened to read it, then you could imagine the political fallout that would follow.

She explained that the book was unsuitable because one of the characters was a gay sheikh with an English boyfriend and the plot was set against the background of the Iraq War which could be a minefield for us.

Ms Bedell, who has lived in the Gulf, told The Times that the book has since been banned from sale in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates.

Giles Foden, who also plans to attend, said: I've never heard of this happening at other literary festivals, though there is an interesting comparison with that Dutch MP not being allowed to come here, which shows that Britain is not above barring entry to people because of what they say or write.

Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, the writers' association, said: Great literary festivals, like great literature, provide amazing opportunities for cultural exchange, which we need now more than ever. A literary festival which bars books because of their gay or religious content is neither literary, nor a festival. I hope that the organisers will reconsider.

Update: A festival that shuts its doors to anything mildly controversial isn't really worthy of the name.

19th February 2009. See article from independent.co.uk

The Canadian novelist and former Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood is pulling out of the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature after a fellow writer was blacklisted for offending cultural sensitivities.

Atwood, a vice-president of the writers' group International PEN, has infuriated organisers of the literary festival by posting a letter of protest on her website. I was greatly looking forward to the festival, the letter reads, and to the chance to meet readers there; but, as an international vice-president of PEN – an organisation concerned with the censorship of writers – I cannot be part of the festival this year.

Her boycott was reinforced with protests from other writers threatening to pull out. The children's author Anthony Horowitz has written to festival organisers expressing deep concern.

The festival director, Isobel Abulhoul, issued a statement in which she said: I knew that her work could offend certain cultural sensitivities. I did not believe that it was in the festival's long term interests to acquiesce to her publisher's request to launch the book at the first festival of this nature in the Middle East.

Other writers may be emboldened to join Atwood in boycotting the event by the words of Jonathan Heawood, the director of English PEN: The idea of a literary festival is cultural exchange through literature. A festival that shuts its doors to anything mildly controversial isn't really worthy of the name. Ultimately it is up to individual writers, but I applaud any others who follow Atwood's example.

Update: Ban Over-Hyped

21st February 2009. See article from guardian.co.uk

In a remarkable intervention into an already murky mess, Atwood in the Guardian today declares that she regrets withdrawing from the festival, and did so having been wrongfully led to believe that a book by the Observer journalist Geraldine Bedell had been banned both from the festival and the Emirates themselves.

Writing exclusively in today's Guardian Review, the author suggests that she was "stampeded" into a misconception by a publicity campaign for Bedell's book, berates Bedell for using the word "ban", and declares she has been left with egg all over my face.

Update: Let's Discuss It

22nd February 2009. See article from google.com

The organisers of the first-ever international Dubai literary festival announced on Saturday they will host a debate on censorship, after a row last week over censorship and freedom of speech.

The debate next Saturday will include a panel of international writers who will discuss the issues of censorship and cultural misconceptions about the acceptable limits of freedom of expression. It is a joint venture between EAIFL and PEN, the literary anti-censorship organisation, of which Atwood is vice-president.

According to English-language daily The National, the decision to stage the debate followed pressures on the festival's organisers for excluding Bedell's book.

Head of the National Media Council Ibrahim al-Abed said the book had never been banned: It's not our policy to ban any book, unless it's crude pornography or its contemptuous of religion. [sounds like an awful lot of books to me, especially knowing how easily offended people are in the region].


22nd February   

Updated: Stitched Up...

Malta's theatre censor bans the Neilson play, Stitching
Link Here

The Maltese censorship board has banned a play by the Unifaun Theatre Company, which was scheduled for February.

The play, Stitching by Anthony Neilson, has been described by the Daily Telegraph as shocking , and by the Independent as brave and Brutal.

It deals with a couple trying to piece together their relationship and is directed by Chris Gatt. Rehearsals have been underway for weeks now – and Unifaun artistic director Adrian Buckle lamented that the company is considerably out of pocket, having paid for performing rights and other expenses, unable to wait any longer for the board's decision.

But it is not the financial implications of the Film and Theatre Classification Board's decision that has disturbed him: I simply do not see why it should be banned because it is shocking. People know what to expect from our plays and it is certainly not as shocking of some of the others that made it through the censorship board. Nowhere else in Europe are plays banned… This actually goes against European law.

A Council of Europe (CoE) report some years ago was highly critical of the face that there was still censorship in Malta, especially with regards to theatrical performances. The report said such censorship was not consistent with the beliefs of the Council of Europe and those of the European Union, because it represented control over creative expression.

Unifaun is trying to appeal the decision. A reaction is being sought from the board.

Update: Censor Unseen

15th February 2009. See article from timesofmalta.com

Speaking at a press conference this morning, director Chris Gatt and producer Adrian Buckle said the chairman of the Board of Film and Stage Classification, Therese Friggieri, never asked to see the play before banning it.

Mr Gatt said that although words in the play may sound shocking , the production played out in a completely different manner.

They insisted that in this day and age, the ban on the play was an infringement of their rights.

The play is about a couple in crisis coming to terms with a loss, and deals with themes that include death and abortion.

Update: Maltese Censor Insults Human Dignity

17th February 2009. See article from timesofmalta.com

The play Stitching is an insult to human dignity from beginning to end, the chairman of the Classification Board insisted

The play was banned by the board last month but the producers have said they will defy the ban.

Teresa Friggieri in a short statement this morning insisted that the play cannot be staged: The producers know they are breaking the law, it is their business. They also know that legal proceedings which they themselves started, are now in progress, and they should at least have the decency to await the outcome of that process.

Friggieri said the reasons for the ban had been handed to the producers' lawyers in writing. They were that: The play has graphic references to child abuse; the play includes anti-Semitic comments; it includes swearing; sadism and cruelty against innocent victims and other perversions.

Update: Decadent Censors

18th February 2009.  See article from timesofmalta.com

Teresa Friggieri, chairman, said that although plays were normally assessed by one person, in this case it was reviewed by three people - Cecilia Xuereb, Dione Mifsud and herself, who decided it should be banned and disallowed.

After the producers requested a review of the board's decision, Friggieri said the script was seen by another three persons - Marthese Scerri, Joe Camilleri and Tony Muscat who independently confirmed the original decision.

Friggieri said the board denied violating the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights since freedom of expression was not absolute and was subject to several limitations in the interests of morality, and public decency. In this case, the script not only contained obscene language, but in some cases it also offended religious sentiment. It included decadent material, shameful and perverted content of a sexual and sadomasochistic content and even paedophilia. It also included references to the Auschwitz victims which exceeded all limits of public decency.

Update: Decadent Censors

22nd February 2009.  See article from timesofmalta.com

The Unifaun Theatre Company is prepared to take its case against the banning of Stitching to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if necessary.

Unifaun lawyer Michael Zammit Maempel said the producers planned to cite the Handyman v UK case in the European Court of Human Rights (1976), which resulted in the ruling that freedom of expression is applicable not only to 'information and ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of pluralism, tolerance and broad mindedness without which there is no 'democratic society'.


22nd February   

Update: Record Review...

Arguing that Obama should reject last minute revision to 2257 record keeping requirements
Link Here
Full story: 2257 Record Keeping...US adut industry onerous requirements

Addressing fellow members of the Free Speech Coalition, attorney Jeffrey Douglas said the FBI won't show up anytime soon to inspect the records of adult producers under the revised 2257 regulations.

Douglas' remarks followed in the wake of events which have left the latest changes to 2257 in limbo, leading to questions about the future of the record-keeping laws under President Obama.

The final revisions to 18 U.S.C. §2257 officially took effect Jan. 20, the same day Obama was sworn into office.

Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel announced on the same day that all regulatory changes not yet in effect from the final days of the Bush regime would be suspended, pending review by the new administration.

After inspecting more than two dozen adult companies in an 18-month period, the Justice Department has yet to bring a single 2257-based criminal case against a mainstream" adult producer.

And the question remains: Will President Obama's administration continue to pursue an even more overcomplicated version of this law?


21st February   

Update: Free as a Butterfly...

Harry Nicolaides pardoned by Thai king
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The Thai king has pardoned and freed an Australian writer jailed for on lese majeste charges.

Harry Nicolaides was last month sentenced to three years in jail by a Bangkok court after pleading guilty to lese majeste.

Canberra had lobbied intensely for a royal pardon, and Australia's foreign affairs department said Nicolaides had been freed this week.

I can confirm that the King of Thailand has granted a pardon to Mr Nicolaides, a spokesman told AFP.

The writer's barrister, Mark Dean, said Nicolaides walked free late Friday night. He was expected to arrive in Australia on Saturday, he added.

Nicolaides' brother Forde Nicolaides said the family was ecstatic at the outcome.


21st February   

Update: Fitna for Italy...

Fitna shown in the House of Lords but without Wilders
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna was shown in Rome and Wilders was present proving that Italy is a much more free society than Great Britain which constrains and cajoles in the name of the intolerant New Labour creed that tolerates no dissent from its worldview.

The event in Rome took place in an environment of massive security with the Italian army and the Caribinari securing the immediate vicinity of the conference.


21st February   

Too Fat to Walk on Egg Shells...

Israel's catholic bishops get wound up by TV comedy
Link Here

Catholic bishops in the Holy Land have expressed outrage over what they call repulsive attacks on Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary after an Israeli TV program spoofed them.

We, the members of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land deplore and condemn with utter dismay the repulsive attacks on our lord Jesus Christ and on his mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, carried out on Channel 10 of the Israeli television, the group said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the private channel broadcast a series of skits, one of which suggested the Virgin Mary was impregnated at the age of 15 by a school friend. Another said Jesus died at a young age because he was fat and that his excess weight would have made it impossible for him to walk on water.

In the program, Israeli comedian Yair Shlein joked that since Christians deny the Holocaust, then I want to deny Christianity. Following protests, he later apologised to Arab Israeli Christian dignitaries.

The bishops said they viewed this recent incident in the larger context of continuous attacks against Christians throughout Israel over the years and urged authorities to launch an investigation.

Update: Patriarchs Chew the Fat

26th February 2009. See article from religiousintelligence.co.uk

Patriarchs Ignatius IV Hazim of Antioch and all the East for Greek Orthodox, Zakka I Iwas of Antioch and all the East for Syriac Orthodox and Gregory III Laham of Antioch and all the East for Greek Catholic have condemned the Israeli media for causing offence to Christian religious symbols, denouncing the offence of supreme religious values.


21st February   

Update: Game Over...

California attempt to restrict violent computer games declared unconstitutional
Link Here
Full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

A California federal appeals court has ruled that a state law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to children is a violation of the right to free speech.

The law was first penned by Democrat senator Leland Yee and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. But shortly thereafter, it was soon blocked by a federal judge, and it never took affect.

It sought to prohibit the sale or rental of video games depicting serious injury to humans in a manner especially heinous, cruel or depraved.

Any game judged patently offensive to children based on the prevailing standards in the community sold in California would require a 2- by 2-inch solid white '18' displayed on the front of the case. Store owners caught selling violent games to underage tykes would face a fine up to $1,000.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco today upheld the lower court's decision declaring the ban unconstitutional.

In a 3-0 ruling, Judge Consuelo Callahan said California could only justify the ban if the state could not only prove violent video games caused actual psychological harm, but that the best way to prevent it was through criminalization. The court also shot down the act's labeling provision because it doesn't require the disclosure of purely factual information but compels carrying the legislature's controversial opinion.


21st February   

Trigger Happy ASA...

Advert censor whinges at internet ad for RockNRolla
Link Here

Two ads for the film RocknRolla .

a. A poster featured the film's main characters; in the background one held a gun, which pointed into the foreground towards the left. Text stated GUNS, GIRLS, GEEZERS ... YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO BE ONE ROCK N ROLLA ANOTHER PIECE OF THE ACTION FROM THE GUY WHO BROUGHT YOU SNATCH AND LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS.

b. An internet banner ad showed a character from the film with his arms spread wide and a gun in each hand, which pointed in either direction. Text stated: ROCKNROLLA HIT ME.

  1. One complainant objected that ad (a) condoned violence at a time of increasing public concern about gun crime;
  2. another complainant objected that ad (b) glorified guns
  3. the same complainant objected that ad (b) was inappropriate in a medium that was accessible to children.

Updated ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the images in the ad were stylised and reflected the film's storyline. We acknowledged the text YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO BE ONE might be interpreted by some as aspirational but also noted the gun was not prominent and the characters did not display direct aggression. We considered the overall impression of the ad was such that it would be understood as a reflection of the fictional content of an action gangster film and the presence of a gun in that context was unlikely to be interpreted as suggesting that the use of guns in real life was acceptable. We concluded ad (a) was unlikely to be seen to glorify guns.

2. Upheld

We noted the text HIT ME was intended as an invitation to click on the ad. We considered however that, in conjunction with the image of a character clearly pointing two guns, it could also be interpreted as a suggestion of aggression. We acknowledged that the ad reflected the fictional content of an action film but considered that the stance of the character, in conjunction with the text, meant it was likely to be interpreted as glorifying guns. Because it glorified guns, we concluded that ad (b) condoned violence and was irresponsible.

3. Not upheld

We noted the Code stated that marketing communications addressed to or targeted at children should contain nothing that was likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm. We noted Warner Bros had taken steps to ensure that over 97% of online impressions were targeted at those aged 15 years or over. We concluded that the ad had not been addressed to or targeted at children.

Ad (b) must not appear again in its current form.


21st February   

Diary: Music Freedom Day...

Musicians and broadcasters will focus on music censorship
Link Here

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Over three years, the annual Music Freedom Day has grown into an event which inspires increasing numbers of musicians and concert organisers to join.

Death threats to musicians in North-west Pakistan, imprisonment of musicians in Burma, Cameroon and Ethiopia, radio airplay restrictions on music in Somalia, endless court cases in Turkey... If you browse through the news headlines of the last weeks on freemuse.org, you could very well get the impression that musicians are an endangered species.

This is why, once a year, musicians and media get together to advocate freedom of expression for musicians world-wide.

This year, the Nobel a concert and a seminar in Stockholm, Sweden, will highlight the Music Freedom Day.


21st February   

Update: The Free Speech Protection Act...

Protects US writers from claimant friendly UK libel laws
Link Here

I A US bill aimed at protecting American journalists, writers and publishers from libel tourism cases brought against them in foreign courts has been introduced into the United States Senate.

The Free Speech Protection Act is being sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bill is aimed at protecting journalists and publishers from libel suits in foreign courts which do not have the same protections for free speech as the US constitution. The measure would give federal courts the power to bar the enforcement of foreign libel judgments if the material at issue would not constitute libel under US law.

It is also aimed at actively deterring libel tourism cases brought in foreign courts by permitting American defendants to counter-sue under certain circumstances.

Companion legislation is expected to be introduced into the House of Representatives.

Specter said: Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of expression of ideas, opinions, and research, and freedom of exchange of information are all essential to the functioning of a democracy, and the fight against terrorism.

There is a real danger that American writers and researchers will be afraid to address the crucial subject of terror funding and other important matters without these protections.

The UK has become a popular venue for libel tourism defamation cases. Claimants from around the world have sought to take advantage of what are seen as England's claimant-friendly defamation law. English law, unlike that in the US, does not require a claimant to prove falsity or actual malice.


20th February   

Update: Westboro Hatist Church...

US hateful nutters plan a UK picket against college play
Link Here
Full story: Westboro Baptists...Reprehensible nutters hate gays and soliders

The fundamentalist US family church notorious for picketing the funerals of dead soldiers plans to carry out its first protest in Britain this week.

Followers of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church have threatened to picket a sixth form college in Basingstoke, Hampshire during a staging of The Laramie Project , a play about an American youth murdered because of his sexuality.

The 'church' from Topeka, Kansas is mainly composed of relatives of the founder, pastor Fred Phelps, who style themselves the most hated family in America.

Their core belief – that God will punish the West for its acceptance of homosexuality – has seen them protest at dozens of servicemen's funerals brandishing garish placards stating God hates the USA and Thank God for dead soldiers .

Details of the church's first picket in Britain was posted on their website with the slogan God Hates England; Your Queen Is A Whore.

Some of the best Bible preaching in the history of the world came out of that dark dismal land, but now it is full of all abominations, the notice read: God will shortly destroy the UK and the world, but not until they have got the plain, clear message so that they will be without excuse.

The Laramie Project DVD The target of Friday evening's demonstration will be the Central Studio arts venue at Queen Mary's College, where local gay group Freedom Youth is staging a small production of the The Laramie Project this week. The play, which has roused the ire of Westboro followers in the past, tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay teenager tortured and murdered in small town America in 1998.

Maria Miller, Conservative MP for Basingstoke, said that she had contacted the Home Secretary to see what action the Government may be considering in relation to possible attempts by the Phelps family to enter the country.

She condemned the church's highly inflammatory language and behaviour and said the young people who had worked on the play would not be intimidated by threats.

Members of Anonymous, the nebulous online community that has previously organised protests against the Church of Scientology, are already planning counter-demonstrations outside the college on Friday, posts on internet message boards indicate.

Update: Phelps Banned from Britain

20th February 2009.  See article from guardian.co.uk

A homophobic American cleric who runs a website called God Hates Fags and was allegedly planning to picket a play showing in the UK has been banned from Britain by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith.

Fred Phelps had vowed to come to Britain with his daughter, Shirley, to picket a school play in Basingstoke.

There was no evidence that the Phelps family, who tour the US spreading their message and have expressed a wish to come to Britain to preach at Speakers' Corner in London, had made arrangements to carry out their threat of picketing the play, but the Home Office said Phelps and other members of his family would be banned from entry if they arrived.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: The home secretary has excluded both Fred Phelps and his daughter from the UK. Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities.

The government has made it clear it opposes extremism in all its forms. We will continue to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country … regardless of their opinions and beliefs.


20th February   

Update: Nutters on the Front Page...

Feminist censors want sexy tabloids top shelved
Link Here
Full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

The Front Page Campaign based in Fife calls for newspapers and magazines which show nudity to be placed on the top shelf.

Amy King started the campaign after writing to a number of supermarkets when she saw naked photographs on the front of newspapers displayed next to children's magazines.

She told The Press: We are just looking for a bit of respect in a public place. Some people might not accept it's harmful but they need to respect a person's right to decide whether it is what many of us consider offensive.

The campaign focuses on freedom of choice for those who would rather go shopping without being bombarded with sexually provocative images, and promises that it is not about censorship or feminism.

King continued: We are taking action because we believe that pornography is harmful to men and women, and I personally have particular concern about the effect of, for example, The Sport on teenage boys. It's sometimes assumed that men have no problem with sexually explicit pictures of women, but we think there are men who are uncomfortable with it.

Commenting on the issue, an Asda spokesman said as a family orientated supermarket they ensure all magazines that may be offensive are placed in a suitable area and level.

A spokesman from Tesco said: We know these magazines are popular with some customers and are widely available in newsagents and other retailers. We're aware, however, that some people have concerns and this is why we have moved this type of publication beyond the eyeline of children and making it more difficult for youngsters to pick them up.


20th February   

Update: 4% adult, 96% Nutter...

Washington adult tax canned as unconstitutional
Link Here
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

Representative Mark Miloscia gave it his best shot, but his proposal to tax adult entertainment products and services to fund unemployment and welfare benefits is dead - mainly because it's too complicated.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rep. Ross Hunter , chair of the state House Finance Committee, had originally said he'd give a hearing to House Bill 2103,  but thought better of it after remembering that the state had previously signed onto the 2002 Streamline Sales and Use Tax Agreement, whose fundamental purpose is to simplify and modernize sales and use tax administration in the member states in order to substantially reduce the burden of tax compliance.

Miloscia's porn tax bill, it seems, in attempting to put a tax on goods based on their content, wouldn't fly under the simplification agreement - and besides, a tax based on content is just unconstitutional.


20th February   

Update: Consistency Theft...

Australian censors lost and damned
Link Here
Full story: Grand Theft Worldwide...International certificates for GTA IV game

In 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV on console was released in Australia in a censored form. No blood pools, no sexy camera angles. In 2009, though? All is forgiven, all censorship, removed.

The original Australian version of GTAIV on console was censored. Blood was kept to a minimum, and you couldn't enjoy the same kind of intimate viewing experience with ladies of the night as you could elsewhere.

But when the PC version rolled around later in the year, it passed without incident. It did include blood pools, and it also included the full range of sex-related camera angles, despite being the same game intended for the same audience.

Newly-released expansion Lost & Damned is no different. It's been given an MA15+ rating and will have all the blood and sex that was deemed unacceptable less than a year ago in the same country.

Leaving us with this absurd situation: If you boot up your 360 copy of GTAIV and play GTAIV , it's censored. But if you boot up your 360 copy of GTAIV and play L&D , you'll get the full, uncensored experience.


20th February   

Petition: Real Not Staged...

Amend s63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act
Link Here

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Amend s63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act so as to explicitly target images of sexual abuse and to prevent the persecution of consenting adults, whether gay or straight, whose sex life involves consensual activity such as bondage, discipline, sadomasochism or role-playing.

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 makes it a criminal offense to possess an 'extreme pornographic image'. This law is not evidence based and did not have proper parliamentary scrutiny.

As the new law stands, thousands of consenting adults who enjoy consensual, staged fantasy images of bondage and other kinks could have their lives, and that of their families, wrecked for looking at images of activities where no crime was committed.

We propose to amend this legislation so as to explicitly target people who collect images of real abuse. Similar amendments were introduced in the House of Lords but were rejected by the Government without good reason.

An amendment to provide a defense of reasonable belief of consent and absence of serious injury should be brought forward immediately.

...Sign the Petition


19th February   

Update: Getting up the Nose of the Advert Censor...

ASA whinge at Longer Lasting Sex advert
Link Here
Full story: Longer Lasting Sex...Nutters get off on advert for longer lasting sex

A poster for AMI Clinic Ltd (AMI) stated in large, prominent lettering WANT LONGER LASTING SEX? The word 'SEX' appeared in very large lettering. Smaller text stated NASAL DELIVERY TECHNOLOGY CALL THE DOCTORS AT ADVANCED MEDICAL INSTITUTE.

  1. 521 complainants believed the poster was offensive and, therefore, unsuitable for display in public locations, which included near schools and in areas with a high Jewish population, where it could be seen by children
  2. The ASA challenged whether the poster advertised an unlicensed medicine.

ASA Assessment
1. Upheld

The ASA noted AMI's argument that the poster delivered their message in a blunt and direct manner, which included the word 'SEX' in large lettering, but incorporated no swearing, suggestive imagery or nudity. We also noted, however, a number of people who had seen the posters had felt that the language used was offensive and inappropriate for general public display.

We understood that many people also considered the posters' bright colours and very large text, including the word 'SEX' to attract attention, was unsubtle and crass. We also understood that the word 'SEX', in itself, had caused concern in many cases and, in the context of WANT LONGER LASTING SEX?, which related directly to sexual intercourse, had also caused embarrassment amongst some parents or guardians who had been quizzed about its meaning by children. A number of complainants pointed out to us that the sheer size and prominence of the message made it impossible to avoid, which they found very uncomfortable.

We recognised that the sensitive nature of the message AMI wanted to deliver about their product and the treatment programmes they offered could be intrusive to some readers under any circumstances. We also noted the poster contained nothing explicit, and considered that the word 'sex' was not necessarily problematic in itself. We considered, however, that the style and tone of this ad, with direct reference to sexual intercourse through the phrase Want longer lasting sex? , was presented in too stark and prominent a manner, and as a result were concerned that it had caused both serious and widespread offence.

In view of this, we concluded that the poster was unsuitable for public display.

2. Upheld

We noted that the medicine was available by prescription only and that AMI did not hold a marketing authorisation for any medicines prescribed as part of their treatment programmes. We therefore concluded that the poster had indirectly advertised an unlicensed medicine, which was available only on prescription, to the public.


19th February   

Update: Bad Apple Spoils South Park...

Apple ban South Park app from iPhone
Link Here

Apple has blocked the creators of South Park from selling an iPhone app.

According to a BoingBoing post, friends at South Park said that We first announced our iPhone App back in October, after we submitted the Application to Apple for approval. After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we are sad to say that our app has been rejected.

The reason? The content was potentially offensive!


19th February   

The Soft Underbelly of Censorship...

Nutters whinge at TV programme Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities
Link Here

Bare breasts and raunchy sex scenes have sparked fierce debate following the second outing of the Underbelly prequel.

Nutters have expressed concern over this week's episode of Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities , which featured raunchy sex scenes between heroin kingpin and his drug-running mistress.

The Australian Family Association said the show was pornography and inappropriate for its 8.30pm timeslot.

The laws governing censorship need to be reviewed because teenagers are still up at this time, AFA spokesnutter Joe Lopez said: There's no excuse at anytime to show excessive pornography or violence like they do in Underbelly.


19th February   

Update: News Strike...

Sudan newspaper on strike over state censorship
Link Here
Full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan has been urged to stop censoring a daily newspaper after employees at al-Midan went on strike and the newspaper failed to appear on February 10.

According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information says that authorities require that the newspapers send a copy of each edition to the Media section of intelligence for pre-publishing approval with an intelligence office for each newspaper. The list of forbidden topics described as sensitive includes Darfur, Abyei, the Water Dams projects in northern Sudan and any criticism of the president, the armed forces or intelligence.

The latest dispute arose after the observer expunged six internal pages and removed some topics entirely from the prepared proofs, meaning that they were rendered meaningless and useless.

In a statement, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned the pre- and post-publishing censorship on the Sudanese press, considering it as a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, opinion and media provided by the interim constitution. Therefore ANHRI demands the Sudanese government end all forms of unlawful censorship against journalists.


19th February   

Update: Kano Guru Court...

Victim of Nigerian censor's mobile court
Link Here
Full story: Censorship in Kano...Everything is banned in Negeria's Kano state

Northern Nigerian filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama is in prison, a victim of ludicrous censorship laws

In December 2008, a mobile court justice sentenced him to three months in prison and a fine equivalent to $2,500 for allegedly failing to register his company with the Kano State Censorship Board. He was also sentenced to a further year in prison, with option of fine, for supposedly selling his film Tsintsiya without having it censored by state authorities.

The judge held up Tsintsiya and asked if this was my film. Iyan-Tama said: I said, 'Yes, but it's not for sale in Kano.' The judge said I should answer, 'yes or no, yes or no.'

Tsintsiya is a Nigerian "remake" of Westside Story sponsored by the U.S. embassy, the film won a prize for "Best Film on Social Issues."

I just want to get out and continue with my life, Iyan-Tama said. As of Feb. 13, he was still in prison waiting on his appeal.


19th February   

Offsite: You're Looking at 3 Years...

UK 'bad' pics ban to stretch?
Link Here

The government could be planning to up the ante when it comes to material it doesn't approve of - it may become illegal to even look at images, not merely possess them.

Some odd, ambiguous remarks by Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions, raise this gruesome possibility. Evidence for it emerged from an elliptical exchange between Starmer and Jenny Willott, Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central during the committee stage of the Coroners and Justice Bill.

Miss Willott has clearly done her homework. She noted that whilst the Internet Watch Foundation focuses on images that can be downloaded – the traditional web route – images accessed through other means, such as streaming, are not within its remit. She asked Mr Starmer: If someone is watching streaming images online, there would be no actual copy on their computer, so they would not technically be in possession.

He replied: It would be for the courts to interpret the meaning of possession. We would proceed on the basis that there should be no such loophole.

...Read full article


18th February   

Censorial Tits...

Group campaign against cosmetic surgery adverts
Link Here

Cosmetic surgery adverts are being defaced by campaigners who oppose the 'sexist' portrayal of women.

Posters on the London Underground featuring Clare Thornton showing her breast enlargement, have been plastered with abusive stickers over the past two weeks.

The words sexist shit were stuck next to a quote from Thornton saying that going from a 34B to a 34DD was the best decision I ever made!

A 1,000-strong protest group on Facebook - called Somewhat Strident But Who Cares - features photos of vandalised Harley Medical Group adverts.

Cambridge graduate Nadia Kamil uploaded a shot of a poster at a London station, featuring a different model, with the words Everyone is beautiful already scrawled on it in red.

Ms Thornton, an estate agent from Leeds, paid £4,250 for the operation with Harley Medical Group. She said: I've got a thick skin and I'm proud of my new breasts but I've found this upsetting and rude. People should be allowed to choose what they spend their money on provided it's legal, and what they look like. Others shouldn't judge them.

The Harley Medical Group said the stickers were offensive and any that are found are removed.

London MEP Mary Honeyball, who is on the European Parliament's women's rights committee, criticised Transport for London for allowing ads that seek to undermine women's confidence in their natural bodies. I am disgusted a government body is taking money to put up them up in view of vulnerable children and teenagers.


18th February   

Update: Coming of Age...

Thai Minister for film censorship announces new scheme for May
Link Here
Full story: Age Classification in Thailand...Thailand introduces age classification for films

Starting this May, film-rating system will come into effect in Thailand for the first time.

The Cabinet has just approved four draft regulations on the system.

We should be able to enforce the regulations from May onward, Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch said.

Thailand's system will classify films into 5 age groups, plus a category for films that should be promoted on merits of cultures, arts or traditions. And of course there is the ever popular option to ban a film entirely.


18th February   

Help, My Licence has been Revoked...

Lebanon censors have a last minute change of heart about film with gay references
Link Here

Help , a new Lebanese film that was due to open this week, now hangs in limbo as the license granted to it by the state's censorship department has been revoked, not on the basis of anything legal, but on the basis of personal opinion, according to director Marc Abi-Rached.

Permission to show the film in Lebanon was granted on July 10, 2008. That license was pulled on February 16, just three days before the scheduled opening, and four days after the premiere on February 12, when the film received largely positive reviews from the press.

In order to pass censorship regulations again, the department is now requesting that 28 minutes of the 87-minute-long film be cut.

According to Abi-Rached, the only censorship request made by the Censorship Department prior to releasing the license last summer was that he darken an image to screen the visibility of a vagina during one scene of the film, which he readily complied with.

A psychological-social drama, Help tells a story of choice and destiny in a Lebanese context, bringing together the lives of a prostitute, a juvenile delinquent, a wealthy businessman, and a cab driver, among others. The film also tackles homosexuality and prostitution by presenting actors in a realistic light intended to reveal the basic humanity behind these issues. The 28 minutes in question largely contain scenes that include swearing and homosexuality.

I won't accept to change even one second of my movie, Abi-Rached said, adding that: I already had the permission; I did everything by the book. I don't want to challenge the system, I just want my movie. People have the right to see this film.

Update: No Help Yet

7th April 2009. See article from latimes.com

Since the ban, critics and intellectuals have demanded that decades-old censorship laws be scrapped in a country where flocks of Arabs from the oil-rich Persian Gulf visit for rampant sexual tourism and youths openly pursue Western lifestyles.

In Lebanon, a censoring body of security officers influenced by the Muslim and Christian clergies continues to review all plays and films before they are shown, cutting all scenes that might offend public morals.

Although the contentious sex scenes in Help are far from explicit, the film features a threesome of a woman and two men. That may explain the controversy: Homosexual acts are illegal in Lebanon.


17th February   

Deserving of a Good Slapping...

German TV presenter cops a feel on live TV
Link Here

A German TV presenter is under fire after he grabbed his colleague's breast on a live prime time show.

Hans Blomberg was announcing the results of a public vote for a song contest when he fondled his colleague, 28-year-old Susanka Bersin.

As the results came in, Blomberg joked: But the two most beautiful points remain with me – before he grabbed at Bersin's cleavage.

Bersin was shocked and immediately slapped him in the face.

Blomberg said he did not understand what all the fuss was about. He said: The real scandal was that she slapped me – not my boob grabbing!

Blomberg's boss Karsten Kroeger said: He had gone too far, no doubt about that. However it has been announced that the presenter will not be sacked.


17th February   

Evading Chinese Censors and Gangsters...

Supporting the hype for Shinjuku Incident
Link Here

Jackie Chan's new movie will not be released in China - because its director Derek Yee has deemed it too violent for the country's cinema-goers.

Chan appears in Shinjuku Incident , a Chinese-language film which stars Chan as a refugee who escapes to Japan and gets embroiled in the local gang culture.

The movie features several gruesome scenes, including one character getting his hand chopped off and being stabbed with knives.

Yee said: We tried to cut the violent scenes to meet the requirements of the Chinese market, but producers I invited to watch that version thought it was incomplete. For us, the problem was just the violence.

Shinjuku Incident will be released in Hong Kong and southeast Asia in April, and in Japan in May.


17th February   

Update: Taxing Sending Messages...

New York Governor proposes 4% download tax
Link Here
Full story: Pole Tax...Discriminatory taxes on adult entertainment in USA

In light of a $15 billion state budget deficit, New York Governor, David Paterson, has proposed an additional 4% tax on all digitally delivered entertainment services, including online adult content.

Following the proposition, the iPod tax was immediately met with criticism from not only the adult entertainment industry, which has largely dismissed the tax as a publicity stunt, but also from the conservatives, who fear that such a tax would legitimize the downloading and viewing of adult content.

You're sending a message to children, and you're sending a message to teenagers: If you're taxing it, how can it be wrong? said state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long.

Paterson's proposed tax is the most recent of a seemingly popular trend in that it follows similar propositions in California and more recently, Washington.

Update: Unconstitutional

18th February 2009. See article from avnmag.avn.com

At least one constitutional scholar questions the legality of such a tax.

If the tax were limited to [MP3, porn and other entertainment downloads], there would be some substantial problems, said attorney Reed Lee, an expert in constitutional law: If it's an attempt to tax all Internet traffic, whether that be downloading the latest NASA pictures from Mars for scientific purposes or what, as well as entertainment downloads, then that has a much better chance of passing constitutional muster. In general, a tax designed to impose a burden on specific expression will face the most serious constitutional obstacles in court.

Lee cited two late-'80s cases involving the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper and the Arkansas Writers Project. In the Minneapolis case, the government tried to place a sales tax on newsprint - and failed.

A government can impose a sales tax on newspapers and magazines, so long as it also imposes a sales tax on everything else, Lee explained. But a sales tax on only newspapers and magazines might pose a serious constitutional problem. And one imposed only on Playboy and Penthouse would face virtually insurmountable problems.

Update: Wisconsin

20th February 2009. See article from theregister.co.uk

Wisconsin has followed in the footsteps of New York State by passing a stimulus bill that includes a measure for adding sales tax to digital downloads starting October 1. The bill also includes budget cuts as well as a variety of tax increases to patch Wisconsin's $600m shortfall under its current budget set to expire June 30.

But the bill is getting a lot of media play for its digital tax provisions, fingered as (the arguably misleading moniker of) an "iPod tax." The name obviously downplays the true reach of the tax, which levies a 4 per cent charge on "digitally delivered entertainment services" including music, movies, e-books, greeting cards, ringtones, and many other downloadable items. It's expected to generate $11m for the state over two years.

Update: Wisconsin downloads new tax

21st February 2009. See article from business.avn.com

Wisconsin state legislature has now approved a 5% tax on Internet downloads to take effect in October.

Backed by Governor Jim Doyle, the tax will apply to music, movies, downloads, games, ringtones, e-books, greeting cards and other items, according to the Associated Press. This would presumably include adult content.

Update: Stimulus ends need for Download tax

12th March 2009. See article from gamepolitics.com

Gamers who live in the state of New York are already experiencing a benefit from President Obama's recently-passed stimulus package.

CNN reports that New York has scrapped a plan to tax digital downloads such as iTunes music and video games.

Instead, Gov. David Paterson and New York legislators will utilize $1.3 billion in stimulus money to help balance the state budget.


17th February   

Updated: Potty Potter Prattler...

Pope promotes nutter who whinged about Harry Potter books
Link Here

Pope Benedict has promoted ultra-conservative cleric Father Gerhard Maria Wagner to assistant bishop of the Austrian city of Linz.

Fr Wagner is notorious for his extreme views - he has accused the popular Harry Potter novels of spreading Satanism, and described Hurricane Katrina as God's punishment for the sinners of New Orleans.

He also wrote in a parish newsletter that the death and destruction caused by the hurricane in New Orleans was divine retribution for the city's tolerance of homosexuals and permissive sexual attitudes. The future bishop said he was glad that Katrina destroyed not only nightclubs and brothels in New Orleans, but also five of the city's abortion clinics.

Update: Storm Blows Over

17th February 2009, Thanks to Alan,  See article from iht.com

The nutter priest who suggested God punished New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina expressed relief Monday after passing up a papal promotion that had sparked an outcry from Austrian Catholics.

Pope Benedict promoted Gerhard Maria Wagner to the post of auxiliary bishop in Linz  causing an uproar from church groups and priests who argued he would push people to leave the church.

Late Sunday, he unexpectedly announced his decision to pass up the opportunity. Wagner said he considered his decision to be in the interest of the church and that he looked forward to continuing his job as pastor in the Upper Austrian town of Windischgarsten.


16th February   

Beyer Recommends...

Free Agents
Link Here

TV censor Ofcom is preparing for a wave of complaints this week over the language used in a Channel 4 sitcom.

'cunt' featured three times in the new comedy, Free Agents , first aired last Friday.

Actor Anthony Head plays the head of a talent agency in the six-part series, written by Chris Niel and described as a caustic romantic comedy.

Head, who became famous in the cult show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, said : Free Agents is a very adult show but it is very ­funny, and I get to say words I've never said on ­television before. It's very ­liberating.

In the first few minutes, Head's character Stephen Cauldwell said: Good morning, my dear cunts. 'fuck' also featured 22 times in the half-hour episode.

Mediawatch spokesman John Beyer said: The obscene language in this programme is appalling by any standard. It shows a disregard of public concern that is completely unacceptable from a public service broadcaster.

We invite readers to sign our Stop Swearing on TV online petition to the Prime Minister and we call again on the regulator, ­Ofcom, to rewrite the terms of its Broadcasting Code so that offensive language of this sort and ­intensity attracts substantial financial penalties.


16th February   

Sheik Ya Fayed...

Sack for Saudi cleric who called for executions to end 'immoral' TV
Link Here
Full story: Death to TV Companies in Saudi...Clerics call for death of offending TV broadcasters

In an apparent bid to reform the religious establishment, Saudi King Abdullah has dismissed the head of the feared religious police and a hard-line cleric who issued an edict last year saying it was permissible to kill owners of satellite TV stations that show immoral content.

The dismissals were seen as an attempt by the king to reform the religious establishment, which has come under persistent criticism especially because of the performance of the religious police and the judiciary.

Abdul-Aziz bin Humain will replace Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ghaith as head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which runs the religious police, according to the agency.

Bin Humain, who is believed to be more moderate than al-Ghaith, will head a body whose members have been criticized by Saudis for their harsh behavior.

Abdullah also removed Sheikh Saleh al-Lihedan, chief of the kingdom's highest tribunal, the Supreme Council of Justice. Al-Lihedan's satellite TV edict, issued in September, was denounced across the Arab world. He was replaced by Saleh bin Humaid, who until Saturday served as the head of the Consultative Council, the closest thing the kingdom has to a parliament.

Noura al-Fayez has been appointed Faisal's deputy for girls' education — the first time a woman has been appointed a deputy minister.


15th February   

Ministry of Injustice...

Victims of family injustice to be gagged
Link Here

Last Wednesday, Mark and Nicky Webster were told they will never see three of their children again, even though a judge accepted that allegations of abuse could be false. Their story was the lead item on the following day's BBC news, and appeared in several newspapers with pictures of the couple and quotes of them saying they felt they had been the victims of a miscarriage of justice.

But as of April, because of a change in legislation being introduced by Jack Straw, the Injustice Secretary, the media will no longer be able to identify those involved in cases such as the Websters. It will also be illegal for any children currently in care to speak out, even if they feel they are being maltreated.

The change, unremarked by the press, comes within an overhaul of the law on the reporting of family courts that has otherwise been widely welcomed by the media. Currently there is a blanket ban on journalists entering family courts, but in December Straw announced a change to the law that will allow journalists to attend family court hearings. Sipped in at the end of Straw's statement, he stated his intention to reverse the decision in a case known as Clayton v Clayton. This was a landmark Court of Appeal  ruling that a parent should be allowed to identify himself and his child and tell his story. It was decided that a parent's right to freedom of expression was greater than a child's right to privacy.

ILiberal Democrat MP John Hemming explains: There are two issues here. One is that the press will be prevented from reporting cases like the Websters with their names and faces. The other is that, at the moment, children who are in care are entitled to speak out if they are unhappy, although it doesn't happen very often because nobody knows how to do it. The effect of this change will be to gag them.


15th February   

Update: Ottawa Folks Easily Offended...

Atheist bus adverts banned in Ottawa
Link Here

IThe City of Ottawa has rejected an atheist bus ad campaign.

The Freethought Association of Canada, a non-profit group, has been using bus advertisements in several cities across Canada.

The ads, which read, There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life, are already on buses in London, Toronto and Calgary.

The Freethought Association had been hoping the posters would soon plaster the sides of OC Transpo buses in Ottawa, but their advertising request was denied last week.

It's not the first rejection we had, said Justin Trottier, president of the Freethought Association of Canada: We got rejected in Halifax a week or two ago.

Trottier said his group has not ruled out challenging the decision in the Supreme Court.

The decision was made based on a subsection of the transit advertising policy which says that religious advertising which promotes a specific ideology, ethic, point of view, policy or action, which in the opinion of the City might be deemed prejudicial to other religious groups or offensive to users of the transit system is not permitted.


15th February   

Turkmenbashi 2...

Turkmenistan freedom slated by Amnesty International
Link Here

Ahead of the second anniversary of the present government's term in Turkmenistan, Amnesty International has released a new report on the poor human rights situation in the country, including details of how journalists, activists and religious believers are all targeted by the authorities.

The present government of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov came to power on 14 February 2007. There were widespread hopes that after the repressive rule of the self-styled Turkmenbashi there would be an improvement in the country's abysmal human rights record.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director Nicola Duckworth said: While President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov reversed some policies of his predecessor, he has still to live up to his promises of human rights reform. Journalists, civil society activists and religious believers are still subject to harassment and intimidation by the new government.

The list of human rights violations is long: clampdown on dissent, unfair trials, internal exile, enforced disappearances all continue two years after the government's pledges to improve the human rights situation. Unless it takes immediate measures, there will be little to distinguish the present government from the previous one.

Amnesty is making 19 recommendations to the two-year-old government, including that it ensure that everyone in Turkmenistan is entitled to a fair trial, has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, the right to freedom of religion and the right to be free to leave and return to the country.


15th February   

Offsite: A Stalled Jihad...

Jacqui's jihad on web extremism flops
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

  More criticisms Jacqui:
You really need to get
your sister's house in order

More than a year after Jacqui Smith gave a major speech on counter terrorism, in which she said she wanted jihadi literature removed from the web, the internet industry has seen scant sign of action from the government.

On January 17 2008, Smith told an international conference on radicalisation that material that glorifies terrorism, made illegal under the Terrorism Act 2006, should be blocked. Where there is illegal material on the net, I want it removed, she said.

Earlier that day she had told Radio 4's Today Programme: We need to work with internet service providers, we need to actually use some of the lessons we've learned for example about how to protect children from paedophiles and grooming on the internet to inform the way in which we use it to prevent violent extremism and to tackle terrorism as well. We have a responsibility... to cut off the supply of those who want to look to violent extremism.

...Read full article


15th February   

Offsite: PixelAsian...

Afghan TV stations find censorship line is blurry
Link Here
Full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Tolo TV logo The young Afghan woman in a headscarf spends all day staring at other women's bodies and Hindu idols on her computer screen, then covering them up.

It's Laila Rastagar's job to turn Indian and Korean soap operas into family viewing in this conservative Muslim country. Dual flat-screen monitors illuminate the 22-year-old's face in the dark cubicle as she draws a blurry square with her mouse to obscure a collarbone, then a kneecap, then a Buddha statue.

She's one of a crew of such editors employed by Tolo TV, Afghanistan's most popular station, to censor shows in an attempt to balance its programming at the intersection of radical Islam, traditional values and the West.

...Read full article


14th February   

Comment: Fitna for Lords...

Fitna shown in the House of Lords but without Wilders
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Dangerous Texting

Thanks to Alan

I read in Private Eye, just hours after watching Lord Ahmed sounding off about Wilders, that a Lord Ahmed is awaiting sentence for dangerous driving, having killed a bloke while simultaneously driving and texting.

Bit worse than being rude about some bloke who's been dead 1500 years, I think.

Update: Labour Ahmed was sentenced to 12 weeks jail for dangerous driving.

Dangerous Hypocrisy

See article from independent.co.uk by Joan Smith

In the past, Lord Ahmed has shown himself to be a selective friend of free speech, hosting a book launch at the House of Lords in 2005 for a notorious anti-Semite who calls himself Israel Shamir. Last month, a Pakistani press agency reported that a screening of Mr Wilders' short film Fitna at the House of Lords had been called off after Lord Ahmed and representatives of the MCB met government leaders. When Lord Ahmed discovered that the screening was to go ahead, he said he had received threats and asked the Government not to allow Mr Wilders into the country.

Dangerous Text

See speech from geertwilders.nl

As Jacqui Smith deemed it necessary to ban Geert Wilders from addressing the House of Lords, he has posted his prepared speech on his website

Thank you for inviting me. Thank you Lord Pearson and Lady Cox for showing Fitna, and for your gracious invitation. While others look away, you, seem to understand the true tradition of your country, and a flag that still stands for freedom.


Thank you very much for letting me into the country. I received a letter from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, kindly disinviting me. I would threaten community relations, and therefore public security in the UK, the letter stated. For a moment I feared that I would be refused entrance. But I was confident the British government would never sacrifice free speech because of fear of Islam. Britannia rules the waves, and Islam will never rule Britain, so I was confident the Border Agency would let me through. And after all, you have invited stranger creatures than me.


By letting me speak today you show that Mr Churchill's spirit is still very much alive. And you prove that the European Union truly is working; the free movement of persons is still one of the pillars of the European project.


Ladies and gentlemen, the dearest of our many freedoms is under attack. In Europe, freedom of speech is no longer a given. What we once considered a natural component of our existence is now something we again have to fight for. That is what is at stake. Whether or not I end up in jail is not the most pressing issue. The question is: Will free speech be put behind bars?


Geert Wilders MP

...Read full speech


14th February   

Speechless: Silencing the Christians...

Gay campaigners get nutter advert pulled from TV
Link Here

A Michigan television station in the United States has pulled a one hour programme paid for by a notoriously homophobic family group.

The American Family Association (AFA) had paid for airtime on WOOD-TV to screen Speechless: Silencing the Christians.

It claims to reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom.

WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski said earlier this week that it would not run the AFA programme this Saturday as planned: Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else's fight.

The programme, which is available online, claims hate crimes laws target preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality, gays play a key role to play in the spread of all STDs and HIV/AIDS and employment protection based on sexual orientation will force churches to hire homosexuals.

The Human Rights Campaign, America's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organisation, had urged its members to contact the station and ask that they pull the programme.


14th February   

The Unwanted Face of Censorship...

Italian government proposes law to ban faces it doesn't like.
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Facebook has responded to a proposed Italian law that could see the social networking site forced to censor its members' postings and groups.

The row started when Italian media noticed fan groups for convicted mafia members on Facebook. The rumpus led Italian senator Gianpiero D'Alia to draft a law which would give the Interior Ministry the power to order internet service providers to remove web pages it doesn't like.

But a Facebook spokesdroid told Bloomberg that this would be like closing an entire railway network just because of offensive graffiti at one station. She added that Facebook would always remove any content promoting violence and already had a takedown procedure in place.


14th February   

Siege of Kalima...

Tunisian police confiscate computer equipment
Link Here
Full story: Siege of Kalima...Tunisia police harass and close radio station

Ever since Radio Kalima staffers launched their new station on January 26, Tunisian plainclothes police have done everything they can to suppress the newly launched satellite radio station: besieging the offices for several days, threatening a managing editor with a knife, and finally breaking into the building and confiscating the equipment.

The radio station was launched by the same team in charge of the online magazine Kalima, which is blocked within the country, and housed in the same building.

On January 30, after days of surrounding the offices, police confiscated equipment such as computers, phones, recorders, and flash discs, according to the Observatory of Press, Publishing, and Creative Freedom in Tunisia.

A who judge was present when police took over the building subsequently launched an investigation against Sihem Bensedrine, editor-in-chief of Kalima, for using a broadcasting frequency without obtaining a legal license, Lotfi Hidouri, a Kalima contributor, told CPJ. The station broadcasts over the Internet, and via satellite from Italy, whose government has granted permission to use the frequency. Tunisian laws don't address Internet streaming, both staffers said.

Radio Kalima is currently broadcasting from a temporary location,


14th February   

Freedom Preventative Measure...

Kyrgyzstan moves to make ISPs and blog hosts to be responsible for content
Link Here

Parliamentarians in Kyrgyzstan are proposing legislation to restrict Internet freedom, media watchdogs say.

The proposed Internet legislation would classify the web as a form of mass media, thus burdening producers of Internet content with the same regulations faced by broadcasters.

Kyrgyzstan has ranked highly in press freedom rankings relative to other Central Asian states, but its reputation has fallen during the last few years.

The law would make Internet providers and blog-hosting platforms responsible for content they host, thus increasing their vulnerability to libel charges. It would also allow law enforcement officials to eavesdrop on Internet traffic.

Parliamentary deputy Alisher Sabirov, the main sponsor of the bill, claimed that a new law is needed as a preventative measure. The Internet carries information that can ignite inter-ethnic and religious conflicts and … pornography. The current draft, Sabirov added, will not attempt to censor bloggers. But Sabirov's comments have not thoroughly reassured bloggers in the region.


14th February   

Harassment with Impunity...

Press under duress in Nepal
Link Here

Last month, Uma Singh, a Nepali reporter, was stabbed repeatedly by a gang of around 15 unidentified men in her home in Janakpur, southern Nepal. To this day, no motive has been identified, although IFEX members fear she may have been targeted for her work. Some of her articles made waves in the region, particularly those in which she criticised the caste and dowry system or the ongoing violence in the Terai region, where armed groups have been fighting for the establishment of an autonomous Madhesi state.

Singh's death sparked an emergency international media mission to Nepal on 5-8 February, which found that press freedom in Nepal continues to be threatened - despite the hope that democratic rule introduced last year would improve the situation.

According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), a staggering 342 press freedom violations were recorded in 2008, including a significant escalation in the number of physical attacks on journalists and media houses whose perpetrators go unpunished. This does not so much represent a rise in attacks on the media but a change in the nature of the attacks, more of which are being committed by non-state actors, says ARTICLE 19.

The authorities are failing in their duty to prevent, punish and redress the harm caused by such attacks, said the mission. Take the case of journalist, Prakash Singh Thakuri, who has been missing since July 2007. Late last year the government withdrew charges against his accused kidnapper, who was released on bail.

The mission also reports that not a single person has been convicted for a criminal act against journalists and media houses.

The mission says the ongoing attacks are having a chilling effect on press freedom, with journalists and media being forced into self-censorship, seriously jeopardising the peace and democratisation process currently underway in the country.


14th February   

Addicted to Daily Mail Bollox...

The appalling long term consequences of people believing what they read in the Daily Mail
Link Here

All our fun must be spoiled because a few middle class couples get fucked up by porn:

A few clicks of the mouse, and internet porn destroys yet another middle-class marriage...By Barbara Davies

For months until she finally caught him out, Jane Norman suspected that her husband was having an affair.

He was withdrawn, moody, says the 40-year-old mother-of-two from Oxfordshire.

He became less affectionate with me and our two teenage daughters. He didn't want to spend time with us. At first, I wondered if he was having some kind of breakdown. Then, when he started shutting himself away with the computer, I started to think he might be seeing someone else.

The truth, when it finally came out last summerrw, was far more complex, but equally disturbing.

Jane's husband had become addicted to internet pornography after spending hours each day viewing explicit online images.

Warning: Addiction to internet pornography is increasing at an astounding rate

...Read full article


14th February   

Offsite: The Age of the Easily Offended...

Now its a war on words
Link Here

Free speech controversies involving Prince Harry, Carol Thatcher and Jeremy Clarkson show the new thought police are in danger of running riot.

Ever since ‘Sachsgate' – the BBC controversy involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand – it has been a constant story of another day, another ‘scandal' about some celebrity or other being banned, investigated, suspended or censured for saying something offensive or outrageous. It is not only the frequency of these media controversies that stands out lately. Something new is happening in the free speech wars. It has become a war on words.

...Read the full article


13th February   

Update: Fitna for Lords...

Fitna shown in the House of Lords but without Wilders
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

The film by a Dutch MP who was refused entry to the UK over fears he would incite hatred with his message about Islam, was shown twice at Westminster last night.

The first screening of Geert Wilders Fitna was in the House of Lords and attended by about 30 people. No MPs and only five peers attended, although organisers blamed poor attendance on the fact parliament rose for a week's recess earlier this afternoon.

A second screening, which Wilders had been planning to attend, was held later in the evening, for the press, including journalists from the Netherlands. The 17-minute production quotes five Suras, or verses, from the Koran which apparently support violence against non-Muslims.

Wilders, a member of Holland's Freedom Party, had wanted to show the film to British MPs, but on Tuesday received a letter from the government warning he was not welcome because his views would threaten community security and public security in the UK. The 45-year-old tried to defy the ban, but was turned back at Heathrow after three hours.

Crossbench peer Baroness Cox, hosting the screening for the press near to the Houses of Parliament, said she did not agree with everything the film suggested, but that Mr Wilders had a right to defend it.

Muslim groups were divided on whether to bar Wilders.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, backed the government's decision to keep Wilders out of Britain, accusing Wilders of inciting religious hatred: Mr Wilders film is all about demonising and attacking Islam and Muslims .

But the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim think tank devoted to fighting extremism, said he should have been allowed into the country so that his views could be challenged through debate and argument.

The Muslim Council of Britain said in a statement : We have no problem with the challenge of criticisms to our faith ...BUT... the film that will be screened tomorrow by Lord Pearson and Baroness Cox is nothing less than a cheap and tacky attempt to whip up hysteria against Muslims.

They went further and called for Lords hosting the event to be sacked: Mr Wilders' xenophobic and repugnant views have been identified by a Dutch court, and are now confirmed by his official exclusion to the United Kingdom. It is now time to ask why Peers of Realm who promote such demagogues without any censure are allowed to be regarded as mainstream, responsible leaders in our community.


13th February   


Radio guests have their say about Geert Wlders
Link Here

BBC radio presenter Simon Mayo apologised after two guests used derogatory terms while talking about Geert Wilders.

Writers Quintin Jardine and Dennis Lehane were speaking on Radio 5 Live at about 4pm. Their discussion about books had been broken off to cut to to a live interview with the Dutch MP.

Quintin Jardine blurted out 'wanker' while referring to Dutch MP Geert Wilders. When the station returned to the discussion Mayo apologised for the interruption. Scottish author Jardine said it was fine as 'wankers' like him need to be given airtime so that people can hear what they are.

Mayo immediately apologised to listeners. But no sooner than he had finished than American writer Lehane blurted out: Wanker is such a great word.

The host said: It might be a great word in America, we can't use it, it's not an appropriate word and we apologise for it.

Simon Mayo: I'm so sorry

Last night, a BBC spokesman confirmed the chain of events and said: During a live programme, two guests used inappropriate language which presenter Simon Mayo immediately apologised for. We are sorry for any offence caused.

The BBC had received one complaint about the incident last night.


13th February   

Social Censors...

Social Services consider legal action to ban Boys and Girls Alone
Link Here

Social services are considering legal action to stop the final two parts of the Channel 4 documentary Boys And Girls Alone being aired.

The four-part series involves a group of children aged from eight to 11 who are left to their own devices in isolated cottages in Cornwall.

Two episodes of the programme have so far been broadcast and include scenes of children fighting and crying.

Now Cornwall County Council's assistant director for social care and family services has written to both Channel 4 and Ofcom calling for the final two programmes to be axed due to serious concerns of emotional and psychological abuse.

Ruby Parry said her department would have intervened to safeguard the children had they been made aware of their circumstances at the time it was recorded. She also said the programme makers breached performance licensing legislation as one of the children involved is from Cornwall but a performing licence was not obtained from the county council. Parry said as any application for a licence would have resulted in detailed enquiries about the nature of the programme she 'can only surmise that this was a deliberate omission'.

Andrew Mackenzie, head of Factual Entertainment at Channel 4, denied they had breached performance licensing legislation as the children are not performing but are being observed.

Mackenzie said that Channel 4 regards children's welfare 'as our first priority when filming' and all programmes are made in consultation with the relevant Ofcom guidelines. He said: All the children were carefully chosen and screened by appropriately qualified experts, including a clinical psychologist, to make sure they could cope well with the experience of being in the series. The response from the parents and children to the series has been a very positive one. The mums and dads have learnt a huge amount about their children from having the opportunity to see them in this way. Furthermore many parents report more confident and able children following this stimulating and happy experience.'


13th February   

Vulnerable to Censorship...

Ontario censors of the politically correct call for a catch-all national press council
Link Here

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has issued a report calling for the Canadian Government to create a national press council with mandatory membership, a suggestion that critics say amounts to a call for government censorship of the press.

According to the proposal, all Canadian magazines, newspapers and media service websites would have to join the council, which would be given the power to deal with discrimination complaints. This would include internet-only news services as well as blogs. The media has the duty to address issues of hate expression says the report. The submission says the commission wants to ensure that mechanisms are in place to provide opportunity for public scrutiny and the receipt of complaints, particularly from vulnerable groups.

The OHRC observes that these measures must not cross the line into censorship and that the OHRC recognizes the media must have full freedom and control over what they publish.

However, an editorial published in the National Post, a national Canadian newspaper, questions whether or not such provisions can avoid becoming censorship, and questions the motives of the commission in pushing for such a council.

The National Post editorial board also suggests that the OHRC recommendation is related to the commission's inability to prosecute journalist Mark Steyn for Islamophobia last year, due to the fact that the Ontario Human Rights Code does not extend to published works. The human rights codes of other provinces, however, do extend to such written materials, and so while the Ontario commission was unable to pursue the complaint against Steyn, the B.C. commission held hearings on the issue, although the complaint was later dropped.

Famously, Barbara Hall, the head of the OHRC, released a press release announcing that the Ontario commission could not follow through on the complaint against Steyn, but in which she nevertheless denounced his writings as Islamophobic.

Ominously, at the time, Ms. Hall also stated that all journalists should put their writings through a 'human rights filter' before publication, observes the National Post editorial: Because she was not able to force such a filter on Maclean's, her current proposal for a national press council is almost certainly an attempt to make such a filter mandatory, in law.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported Monday, federal MP's will be looking at proceeding with curtailing or scrapping Section 13 - the hate provisions - of the Canadian Human Rights Act altogether. In the process they will consider the misuse of the Section by the Human Rights Commissions.


13th February   

Offsite: Dangerous Computers Act...

Internet industry not supportive of government desire to regulate the internet
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Parents should take greater responsibility for what their children get up to on the internet, according to Jeremy Olivier, Ofcom's Head of Convergent Media.

He was speaking at Taming the Wild Web? , a keynote forum hosted in Whitehall by Westminster eForums, and bringing together the great and the good from the internet world to discuss issues such as how online content can be regulated, whether all illegal activities should be regulated equally, and who should act as regulator.

The majority of panellists, with some notable exceptions, appeared to be in broad agreement. Hard-hitting laws to clamp down on the internet would be a mistake or as as Alun Michael, MP put it, quoting from Gibbon: Laws rarely prevent what they forbid. Too tight a framework for internet regulation would most likely have unintended consequences and inflict irreparable harm on what would otherwise be a key growth industry throughout the next few decades.


The day's main dissent came from Derek Wyatt, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Communications. He followed a short history of internet development with the contention that international regulation was coming: that there was growing government appetite for a body that would carry out this task, and that the best model for such regulation was our very own Ofcom.

His roadmap to a cleaner, safer internet world included a Communications Act in 2011, giving Ofcom a lead role in UK regulation; a creation of a world charter, to be presented by the UK to the G8 (or possibly G20) in the same year; and a gradual winning of hearts and minds - state by state, issue by issue - over the ensuing decade.

While such a big government approach was not in tune with the majority of contributions, Alun Michael did warn that if the industry failed to show willing in the matter of (self-)regulation, they should be wary of a Dangerous Computers Act being imposed on them.

...Read full article


13th February   

Update: Unsoiled Internet Feed...

Virgin America will provide uncensored internet access
Link Here
Full story: Inflight Internet Access...Airlines consider internet access on planes

  We would have used filters but they
blocked our own website

Virgin America will offer unrestricted wireless Internet access on flights from Boston to California starting tomorrow.

Although Delta, United, and American Airlines also offer wireless service on select flights, all of them have taken measures to block adult content. According to a report in the Boston Herald, Virgin has no plans to filter out porn sites.

We don't believe that Wi-Fi accessibility will significantly change the current formula, as there is nothing stopping guests now from downloading the content onto a laptop for a flight, airline spokeswoman Abby Lunardini told the Herald.

Virgin assumes adult passengers will not view pornographic content on a laptop while seated next to children. The airline doesn't censor content offered on seatback screens, although parental control is available.

Most guests view being on a flight akin to being in any other public place and moderate their behavior accordingly, Lunardini said.

Passengers may use the service with any Wi-Fi-enabled device once the plane has reached 10,000 feet, at a cost of $12.95 per flight.


13th February   


Ofcom consider Alex Zane radio joke stepped over the line
Link Here

The Alex Zane Breakfast Show
XFM, 20 August 2008, 07:20

In this edition of the Alex Zane Breakfast Show , the programme discussed a song which it said was acceptable in the 1960's but would now be questionable at best. The song was Code of Love by Mike Sarne and had been released in 1963. The presenter then played the following sample from Code of Love :

Number 1 you find someone, 2 you hold her hand, 3 you kiss her on the cheek. Number 4 you squeeze her, number 5 you tease her, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, too late to say when.

The presenters then explained that they had been inspired to write and produce their own song, which like Sarne's song would be considered to be inappropriate now but may have been acceptable in the 60's. Before playing their song, one of the presenters said that it would only be played on the radio once but it would be available on the internet later where the laws are different.

The presenters' song was then played which featured a man describing his amorous and, at times, physical advances, and a woman attempting to refuse them.

Lyrics to the song included:

Man: “What's a girl like you doing out at this time?
Such a crackin bird, like to make you all mine
and I ain't taking ‘no' for an answer tonight.
Woman: What are you doing let go of my arm!
Man: Just settle down and you'll come to no harm
cause I ain't taking ‘no' for an answer tonight.
Man: I walked her down to where there ain't no big lights.
Woman: I'm telling you I'll put up a big fight!
Man: But I ain't taking ‘no' for an answer tonight.”
Man: “Do any of your friends know where you are?
Woman: Ere you've only gone and torn my new bra.
Man: That's cause I ain't taking ‘no' for an answer tonight.
Man: Why don't you take off some of your clothes?
Woman: I swear I am going to punch you in the nose!
Man: Don't care I'm not taking ‘no' for an answer tonight.”
Man: “Well she's the type of girl who knocks you right off your feet. That's what I tried to do to her, only she don't seem that interested. Looks like I'm going to have to try harder.”
Woman: “What are you doing, now why won't you leave me?
Man: Have a look at this - it's great believe me.
Woman: I told you ‘no' and that's my answer tonight.
Man: If this was fish and chips it'd be a double portion.
Woman: You're going to get another police caution!
Man: Look I ain't taking ‘no' for an answer tonight.”
Woman: (Police sirens in background.) Here come the cop cars, sirens wailing.
Man: My pickup technique must be failing.
I'll grudgingly accept ‘no' as an answer tonight.”

A listener complained that the song had contained connotations of rape.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code which says, In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

Ofcom recognises the sensitivities involved when comedy makes reference to or deals with challenging subjects. Comedy and satire in particular has a long tradition of pushing boundaries and challenging what is acceptable. Taste in comedy can also vary widely between people. Ofcom is not an arbiter of good taste but rather it must judge whether a broadcaster has applied generally accepted standards by ensuring that the audience was given adequate protection from offensive material. In each case when reaching a decision on whether material breached the Code, Ofcom must take into account the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority unless prescribed by law.

It is clear from the introduction to the song that the programme was aiming to make a pastiche of Sarne's original song. The presenters were attempting to satirise what used to be acceptable in the 1960's but would now be considered totally inappropriate by today's standards. If was therefore always possible that the result could be offensive and therefore the context that such material was presented would be particularly important. .

However, the extract from Sarne's song played by the presenters bore little relation to the pastiche they attempted. The subject matter and tone of Code of Love were vastly different to the presenters' own song. In Ofcom's view, the presenters' song was likely to have been perceived by listeners as recounting a physical and sexual assault. Ofcom also noted that the subject matter of the presenters' song was portrayed as a light-hearted joke and the material was transmitted at breakfast-time, when children may be in the audience.

Ofcom notes XFM's actions following the broadcast. The Licensee initiated its own investigation into how the material had been broadcast without consultation with senior management. The broadcaster also aired its own on-air apology. Ofcom also noted that XFM introduced compliance workshops for those involved.

In dealing with satire, there is often a fine line between what is and what is not acceptable. It was clear there was an attempt in this case to parody what was considered to be acceptable in the 1960's. Although not necessarily appropriately executed, Ofcom acknowledges the actions taken by the broadcaster following transmission of the material and therefore considers the matter resolved.


13th February   

Hot Pants...

Fire at Chinese TV building is censored
Link Here

The censoring of dramatic pictures showing the fire that engulfed part of China's state TV headquarters has sparked a furore.

As flames consumed the 44-storey block housing recording studios for China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing, the state broadcaster did not cut away from a gala variety show celebrating the final day of the Chinese New Year holiday.

By midnight, with the fire still raging but under control, the station had issued a one-line news item on its website.

It is possible that the blackout was prompted by CCTV's embarrassment at the discovery that its own unauthorised show of fireworks outside the building sparked the blaze.

Citizen journalists have more than made up for the blackout, however, filling the void with pictures taken on camera phones, text messages and e-mails.

One blogger, Wang Xiaofeng, wrote: Even though the fire was up to their eyebrows, they were still trying to hide the truth... in this breaking news, the official media was defeated by the citizen media.

An official directive was sent to the media ordering no photos, video or in-depth reports and requesting they rely only on the version put out by the official Xinhua news agency. Even that notice of censorship was soon posted on the Internet.

The burnt building has always been popularly called the Thing underneath the Big Underpants and so inspired chatroom contributors to digitally edit photos to add giant robots and fire-breathing dragons attacking the broadcaster's landmark new building. The more irreverent are to be found at chinasmack.com.


12th February   

Emergency Measures...

European Parliament suggest a red button for parents to disable games
Link Here

Parents should have a red button to disable a game they feel is inappropriate for their child, says the European Parliament Internal Market Committee.

The aim is not to demonise games, which have a broadly beneficial effect on the mental development of children, but to help parents choose suitable content for their offspring.

However, not all games are suited to all age groups and the possibility of harmful effects on the minds of children cannot be ruled out.

To help parents choose, MEPs would like to see more public awareness of the content of video games, parental control options and instruments such as the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age rating system.

Different approaches to strengthening control of video games should be explored, argues the committee, but it does not propose specific EU legislation. MEPs believe Member States should ensure their national rating systems do not lead to market fragmentation. Harmonisation of labelling rules would be of help. Member States should also agree on a common system based solely on PEGI.

Members of the committee are particularly worried about on-line games, which are easy to download onto a PC or a mobile phone, making parental control harder. Until PEGI on-line is up and running, the report proposes fitting consoles, computers or other game devices with a red button to give parents the chance to disable a game or control access at certain times.

The presence of violence in video games does not automatically lead to violent behaviour, according to the report, which draws on recent studies. However, prolonged exposure to scenes of violence can have an adverse effect on the player and even potentially lead to violent behaviour. An amendment tabled by the Civil Liberties Committee calls on the Member States to frame specific civil and criminal legislation on the retailing of violent TV, video and computer games and argues that special attention should be devoted to on-line games.

Controls on video games need to be tightened up so that children do not have access to inappropriate games. For this reason, and also to prevent the potentially harmful effects of games, especially the danger of addiction or violent behaviour, retailers and parents should take appropriate steps. MEPs back the idea of a code of conduct for retailers and producers of video games. But above all, internet café owners are singled out and reminded of their responsibilities.


12th February   

Vaz Gets All Animated...

Keith Vaz gets his sound bite over Japanese rape game
Link Here
Full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

A computer game that involves the player stalking victims and then raping them in a virtual world was being offered for sale by online retailer Amazon.com but has now just been withdrawn.

The rape simulator , Rapelay , is produced and set in Japan

Reviews by gaming websites have expressed horror at the basis for the game. One website review describes tears glistening in the young girl's eyes as she is attacked in graphic detail.

Players begin the game by stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters described as virgin schoolgirls. Players are also allowed to enter freeform mode where they can rape any woman and get other male game characters to join the attacks.

Pregnancy and abortion are listed as key features. One review said: If she does become pregnant you're supposed to force her to get an abortion, otherwise she gets more and more visibly pregnant each time you have sex. If you allow the child to be born then the woman will throw you in front of a train!

The game's producer, Illusion is a company from Japan famous for making similar 3D Hentai games. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, says: Due to Illusion's policy, its games are not intended to be sold or used outside of Japan, and official support is only given in Japanese and for use in Japan.

Last night Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was shocked that Amazon are allowing people to purchase such a game and plans to raise the issue in Parliament after being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph website.

Vaz said: It is intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offence of rape. To know that this widely available through a major online retailer is utterly shocking, I do not see how this can be allowed. I will be raising this matter in Parliament and hope that action is taken to prevent the game from being sold.

After being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph Amazon today removed the webpage. A screenshot is also available at this location. The company would not comment on the item or say why it had been offered for sale through their website.


12th February   

Update: Trial by Censorship...

Stephen Conroy opts for small ISPs to trial his internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

  Unwanted by 79% of
surveyed Australians

Australia's minister for internet censorship, Stephen Conroy has released the names of which ISPs will be participating in round one of his live internet filtering pilot. They are:

  • Primus Telecommunications
  • Tech 2U
  • Webshield
  • OMNIconnect
  • Netforce
  • Highway 1

The large ISPs, Optus and iiNet, are not included in this first round but it is still open for participation in the 2nd round.


12th February   

Asbestos Fire Proofed...

BBC let off over radio banter about travellers
Link Here

George Lamb
BBC 6 Music, 5 November 2008, 10:00

George Lamb presents a live week day show on the BBC digital radio station, 6 Music. The show, co-hosted by Marc Hughes, is described as inane banter plus amazing bands and guests playing live nearly every morning!

During this programme, the presenter discussed a news story concerning a bid by the American property tycoon, Donald Trump, to build a luxury golf course in Scotland and his battle with local fisherman, Michael Forbes, whose farm lies on the site initially approved for the complex. As part of the discussion the presenter said the following:

George Lamb: He's [i.e. Mr Forbes] now said ‘I'll give my land to travellers before I give it to Trump'

Marc Hughes: Did he say that? Brilliant

George Lamb: And you ain't moving travellers off basically. Travellers is [sic] like asbestos basically. The whole gaff is getting condemned.

Ofcom received six complaints from listeners who believed George Lamb's comment was racist towards the travelling community.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context).

The BBC said that it re-edited the iPlayer version to remove the section in question. George Lamb also made an on-air apology the day after his comments were broadcast.

Ofcom Decision

In view of the presenter's on-air apology and subsequent action taken by the BBC, Ofcom considers this matter resolved.


12th February   

Update: Bloggers Banged Up...

Egypt arrests bloggers carrying news from Gaza
Link Here
Full story: Blogging in Egypt...Heavy handed Egyptian authorities jail bloggers

Egyptian authorities released the German-Egyptian blogger Philippe Rizk, after being held blind-fold for five days in an unknown place and subjected to all kinds of mental abuse.

In an interview with The Arabic Network for Human Rights (ANHRI) Rizk described what he went through:

I was repeatedly questioned about everything and I was terrified. Although I was not abused physically, I was blind-folded all the time. Officers kept saying to me, and I was threatened with long term imprisonment. They asked me if I supported Hamas, was working for Israel, and, being Christian, if I was an evangelist. I was never informed of any charges against me

The young blogger launched a webpage exclusively on Gaza before his detention, and he was preparing a documentary on the protests in Egypt against the Israeli war.

The police had carried out a raid on Rizk's house, searching it and demanding Rizk's father accompany them to his office. Plus confiscating three digital cameras, one video camera, a mobile phone, an IPod, thirty CDs and DVDs, a number of books and reference papers, personal documents, sixty camera films, a laptop case, a large travel bag, three hard drives and a handbag containing personal effects, according to Rizk.

Egyptian blogsphere was relieved to hear the release of Philippe, the story was circulated through Facebook and jaiku messages. A night before he get out of detention, tens of activists and bloggers staged a protest seeking freedom for him, also created a blog for the same goal and his colleagues are circulating updates on his arrest.

Another Egyptian blogger was also recemtly arrested. Central security forces broke into Diaa Eddin Gad, the owner of Sawt Ghadib blog (An Angry Voice). So far, the police did not reveal the reason behind his arrest or where he was being detained.

Bloggers have become a major target of the police authorities in Egypt and all these assaults are committed outside the law or under the cloak of the emergency state, the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI ) said in a statement.

Update: Blogged Up in Prison

7th March 2009. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

An Egypt Facebook activist was abducted by Police soliders, who attacked his home at 3:30am, shortly before the break of dawn. Rami El- Swaisi, 21, was taken to an unknown place since 2 days, when Officers and armed police soldiers broke into the home in Giza and took some of his personal property including his cell phone, laptop, and wallet.

Rami al-Swisi studies in a language institute and is an activist in the 6th of April youth movement. He has a Facebook account called Mahtag Akoud Hakky (I need my rights back!) where he practices his online activism.

Ahmed Maher, an activist with the 6th of April movement, told The Arabic Network for Human Rights that Rami received calls from state security officers demanding him to appear in front of them. When he refused, he was threatened several times in an attempt to pressure him into leaving the 6th of April movement.

Update: Mentally and physically abused

10th March 2009. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

A report was submitted to the Egyptian General Prosecutor claiming that the detained blogger Ahmed Abou Doma was subjected to torture. According to the report, the young blogger, was subjected to mental and physical torture. Torture in Egypt web advocacy stated from Doma's lawyers that: The detained blogger was mentally and physically abused in Al-Khalifa police station, while being transferred to prison. He was beaten up by sticks and his body was standing in a harmful posture for long hours.

Ahmed Abou Doma was arrested on his return from the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Crossing. The Egyptian authorities accused him of infiltrating across the eastern border illegally in violation of the presidential decree 298 of 1995. Last month, Doma was sentenced in a Military Court in Ismailia city in Egypt to one year and the fine of 2000 pounds.

Ahmed Abou Doma runs a blog called Sha'er ikhwan (Ikwani Poet), where he writes his poems and texts, expressing his political views. He published on this blog the photos he took in Gaza during the visit, which lead him to jail. After his arrest, the blog has been updated by his friends.

Update: Tortured

15th March 2009. See article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

Two bloggers were separately tortured in Egyptian State Security headquarters. One of them is now released, while the other has been receiving treatment in prison.

maeitblogger Mohamed Adel told an independent local newspaper that he was subjected to torture by the State security agents during the first 17 days of his detention.
Al-Dostour newspaper, quoted Adel who was released on 10 March:

torture included whipping and suspension and electric shocks, Mohamed Adel said that each time there were doctors who came to treat the torture trace on his body to hide it


11th February   

Good Riddance...

Martin Salter to stand down from parliament at the next election
Link Here

Dangerous Pictures campaigner Martin Salter has made the announcement that he is to step down as an MP.

He has represented Reading West since 1997 and has just celebrated 25 years of public service, but says he does not want to hit 60 and still be sat at Westminster. (A wish echoed by many)

He will stay as MP until the general election, which will probably happen in May next year.

He will join Labour's national general election campaign team under Douglas Alexander.

Reading Tory Rob Wilson said: He has been part of the local political landscape for almost 25 years, and it will therefore be very different without him. Being up against a high quality opponent, Alok Sharma, and the national polls have obviously led him to reassess his electoral prospects. It's likely he decided to jump before the electorate pushed him out.


11th February   

Update: Fitna for Censorship...

Home Office bans Geert Wilders invited to show Fitna in the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders has been refused entry to the United Kingdom to broadcast his controversial anti-Muslim film Fitna in the House of Lords.

Wilders said he had been told that in the interests of public order he will not be allowed to come to Britain.

He responded to the decision in fighting mood, telling reporters that he still intended to travel to London.

He said: I shall probably go to Britain anyway on Thursday. Let us see if they put me in chains on arrival. It is an unbelievable decision made by a group of cowards.

The film features verses from the Koran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam's holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove hate-preaching' verses from the Koran.

Last night, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said he had called British foreign secretary David Miliband to protest against the decision.

He said: It is disgraceful that a Dutch parliamentarian should be refused entrance to an EU country.

A spokesman for the Lords said that the invitation to show his film remained open.

Home Office sources confirmed Mr Wilders had been refused entry to the UK.

A Home Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: The Government opposes extremism in all its forms. It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. That was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on in October last year.


11th February   

Update: Focus on Playboy...

New censor on the block has a whinge about Playboy merchandising
Link Here
Full story: Playboy Brand...Playboy's ever shifting logo and brand

Consumer Focus has applauded WH Smith for ditching Playboy stationery, claiming pornography was becoming a feature of the playground.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, spoke out after WH Smith discontinued the pencil cases and folder bearing the famous bunny ears logo.

Mayo said stocking the Playboy items was part of a wider sexualisation of children and represented the continuing loss of youngsters' innocence. It was all part of a warped bombardment of children's lives with adult sexuality which could lead to mental problems in the young, he said.

In some senses it may seem harmless, but we know the stationery range was purchased by primary and secondary school girls - in other ways it's the tip of the iceberg. We know from research we did that young people like the brand but know it's connected with pornography and becomes a feature in the playground. One 14-year-old said 'It's posh, makes you feel good but it's pornography'. I am delighted WH Smith have done the right thing.

Mayo also spoke out about the dangers sexualisation of young girls yesterday, warning it triggers 'emotional distress, anxiety, low self-esteem and eating disorders'. Describing the consequences of exposing children to adult sexuality as dire today, Mayo said: There is a wider exposure of children to things and it's about too much, too young. Early sexualisation on children has a real impact in terms of mental distress.

WH Smith would not be drawn on whether the decision to withdraw the Playboy merchandise was because of pressure. A company spokesman said: We continually review and update our range to offer our customers a wide range of products. Each spring we renew our range of fashion stationery and as part of this update we have chosen to discontinue the Playboy range.'

Consumer Focus is a government funded statutory organisation, created through the merger of three organisations – energywatch, Postwatch and the National Consumer Council which:

  • establishes a new body to provide a stronger, more coherent consumer advocacy body – Consumer Focus – able to address consumer issues across different sectors, undertake cross-sectoral research, and provide a voice for consumers in dialogue with companies, regulators, Government and Europe
  • extends redress schemes to all licensed energy suppliers and postal services providers to resolve complaints where suppliers and service providers have not been able to do so, and provide compensation for consumers where it is appropriate
  • enables Consumer Direct to become the single point of contact for all consumers to obtain information and impartial advice as well as signpost consumers and provide them with help when making a complaint. Consumer Direct is a government-funded telephone and online consumer advice service offering clear, practical and impartial consumer advice (08454 04 05 06). Go to Consumer Direct website

Sounds like a another bunch of good for nothing moralising censors to me


11th February   

Egg on their Face...

ITV admonished for exploding microwaved egg whimsy
Link Here

Funniest Ever You've Been Framed
ITV1, 1 November 2008 at 18:00

Funniest Ever You've Been Framed featured a selection of humorous home video clips.

This programme broadcast a clip in which a teenage boy microwaved an egg in its shell. The boy was filmed as he removed the heated egg (with its shell intact) from the microwave and held it up to the camera. Moments after this the egg exploded with a loud ‘bang', spraying its content over the camera lens.

Voice over at the beginning of the clip: Rule one of many, here's why you should never, ever put whole eggs in the microwave…

Voice over at end of the clip: For pity sake don't try it yourself.

A viewer felt that the broadcast of this clip was inappropriate and would encourage children to imitate dangerous behaviour.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.13 of the Code, which includes, Dangerous behaviour, or the portrayal of dangerous behaviour, that is likely to be easily imitable by children in a manner that is harmful, must not be broadcast before the watershed, or when children are particularly likely to be listening, unless there is editorial justification .

Ofcom Decision

The clip in question featured everyday household items: a microwave and an egg. Both items are regularly used and are of easy access. The clip itself clearly showed viewers how to make an egg explode. A potentially dangerous activity which, given its visual impact, may appeal to children. In light of these factors, Ofcom had concerns about the broadcast of this material at a time when a significant number of children were watching.

Ofcom noted the warning's provided at the beginning and end of the clip. However, given the clip presented laughter from the studio audience after the egg exploded and showed no negative consequences (e.g. any physical harm or pain to the individuals involved), Ofcom considered that this would have weakened the impact of these warnings. As a result, the clip could have been interpreted as both humorous and harmless, therefore encouraging children to imitate such behaviour.

While Ofcom had concerns about the broadcast of this material, it noted ITV's apology and its assurance not to repeat the material. In light of this, Ofcom considers the matter resolved.


10th February   


Ofcom dismiss suggestions that Swedes are less offended by strong language
Link Here

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
TV6 Sweden, 27 September 2008 at 19:55

ITV6 is a Swedish language channel licensed by Ofcom but restricted to Swedish viewers

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is a US entertainment series, originally broadcast on the US subscription channel Showtime. The series is hosted by the two American comedians/magicians Penn Jillette and Teller (known as Penn & Teller). The programme is described on the official Showtime website as a “high-octane, weird, wacky, entertaining journey through some bizarre territory that no one else is brave enough to touch” and aims to cause controversy by applying Penn & Teller's critical approach to various beliefs and philosophies. The episode complained of was called War on Porn and was broadcast in English with Swedish subtitles.

Ofcom received a complaint from a Swedish viewer about the sexual content included in the programme. The viewer was particularly concerned that the programme was inappropriately scheduled before the watershed on a Saturday evening, when young children were likely to be watching.

The programme featured frequent, but brief, clips of adult sexual content. These included shots of men and women simulating sexual intercourse, women touching themselves and other women in a sexual manner, shots of naked breasts and footage of an adult industry convention - including shots of sex toys, such as dildos and whips.

The programme also contained varying levels of offensive language. It was broadcast in English with Swedish sub-titles. The original sound-track in English contained several uses of the word “fuck” together with references to “cunt” and “motherfucker.” It also featured milder language such as, “dick”,“tits”,“cock”, and “pissed”.

The English translation of the Swedish subtitles indicated that they also included references to the word “fuck” and “cunt”, together with references to milder language, such as “cock” and “tits.”

Viasat said with regard to the offensive language featured in the programme, the broadcaster pointed out that although the language is offensive in English the same words are not regarded as offensive in Swedish. It stated that, although English offensive language is used throughout the programme, the majority of this offensive language was either not translated into Swedish or translated into mild or inoffensive language in the subtitles. Viasat also highlighted that the broadcast of offensive language in Sweden is not restricted to post-watershed programmes, and the viewer expectations of a Swedish audience are different from those of an English speaking audience. Viasat therefore believed the programme was suitable for the time of broadcast with regard to language.

Concerning the sexual content, however, Viasat acknowledged that the scheduling of the programme was in breach of its compliance procedures.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom recognises that Swedish audiences may have different expectations regarding the use of offensive language before the watershed. However, Viasat is a broadcaster licensed by Ofcom and therefore it is required to comply with its licensing obligations in the United Kingdom . This includes ensuring that all of its broadcast output complies with the Code. Rule 1.14 of the Code states unequivocally that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed… Ofcom therefore concluded that the broadcast of “fuck” and “cunt” before the watershed was clearly unacceptable.

Ofcom noted Viasat's acknowledgement that the programme was broadcast at an inappropriate time and so also found Viasat in breach of rules on that score too.


10th February   

Update: Late in the Day...

India still discussing grown up TV
Link Here
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

Adult content may be back on TV with the information and broadcasting ministry considering a proposal to be more liberal, government sources have said.

If the adult programmes return, however, they will be allowed only between 11pm and 4am. Programmes beamed at any other time must be appropriate for viewing by children, the proposal under discussion says.

The government had banned adult content on television in 2006, allowing only programmes that had a “U” certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for unrestricted public exhibition.

Its notification said that no film, or film song or film promo or film trailer or music video or music albums or their promos, whether produced in India or abroad, shall be carried through cable service unless it has been certified by the CBFC as suitable for unrestricted public exhibition in India.

The current rethink has been prompted by suggestions from a committee set up to review the Programme and Advertising Code under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act and the guidelines for certification of films under the Cinematograph Act.

The adult content will be restricted to films and music videos with “A” certification, the official added, saying: Adult content need not mean pornography.


10th February   

Update: Safer Internet Day...

EU announce agreement with social networking sites over child users.
Link Here
Full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

The European Commission has marked the sixth Safer Internet Day by unveiling details of an agreement on net safety that many web firms have signed up to.

Under the terms of the agreement the sites, which includes Bebo, Facebook, YouTube, Habbo Hotel and Yahoo! Europe, will take steps to proactively protect younger users.

These include prominent display of a Report Abuse button, switching online profiles of those under 18 to private by default, making profiles of those under 18 not searchable and discouraging registrations from those too young to use a site.

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for information society and media, said the agreement was an important step forward towards making our children's clicks on social networking sites safer in Europe.

In a statement she said the potential for social networking sites to flourish should only happen when children have the trust and tools to stay safe while they use such web destinations. She added: I will closely monitor the implementation of today's agreement and the Commission will come back to this matter in a year's time.

Playing Euro Games

Based on article from gamepolitics.com

We don't have any details on this yet, but the European Parliament has a notation on its website indicating that it will release some type of content and/or retailer guidelines later this week:

Video game safety: The Internal Market Committee will set out a series of recommendations to improve the protection of children from potentially harmful video games on Wednesday.


10th February   

Update: Editorial Integrity...

BBC World Service to be withdrawn in Sri Lanka due to local censorship
Link Here
Full story: BBC Censored in Sri Lanka...Sri Lanka jam BBC broadcasts

The BBC World Service is to suspend its FM programming on the Sri Lankan national broadcaster following a row over censorship.

The corporation has accused SLBC of deliberate interference after it blocked news reports and programmes in English, Sinhala and Tamil on 17 different occasions between 27 November and early January.

On some occasions SLBC censored whole current affairs segments of BBC programming, compromising its editorial integrity, the corporation said.

The BBC World Service today confirmed that it will suspend services from tomorrow.

Director Nigel Chapman said: We have no choice but to suspend broadcasts until such time as SLBC can guarantee our programming is transmitted without interference.

In order to cover news events in the most comprehensive and balanced way for our audiences, the BBC adheres to specific editorial values that include impartiality, editorial independence and seeking a relevant range of views on any topic.


10th February   

Petition: Stop Internet Censorship in Bahrain...

Petition to the Ministry of Information
Link Here

We, the undersigned, strongly oppose the Bahraini government's censorship Internet content.

We deserve the choice to have uncensored access.

Internet censorship should not be imposed on us.

On 14 January 2009, local newspapers disclosed a ministerial order by the new minister of culture and information addressed to all telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, calling on them to prevent access to websites that were banned by the ministry.

This is the first resolution issued by the minister this year and the first administrative resolution to give sharp and clear instructions to telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to prevent all the customary ways to access blocked sites, whether through Internet addresses or through the use of alternative servers (proxies) or any other way.

The MOI ordered ISP's to censor inappropriate content on the Internet, compulsorily, the Bahraini people will not be given a choice to view this material; it will simply become inaccessible by all Bahraini's. These restrictions will put Bahrain on the same level as countries such as China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea and Saudi.

The issue is with inappropriate as a definition, the websites that are blocked at the moment include Opposition websites, Human rights, Public forums, personal blog journals, some google services, Pornographic material and Gambling. Many websites that promote sectarian hatred on the other hand are still accessible from any computer on the island.

Inappropriate content will be defined and redefined by the government from time to time as they see fit depending on their Personal views and political stance. This is unacceptable and an intolerable restriction on our freedom of speech (which is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation) and our freedom of information.

The actions of the Bahraini authorities violate freedom of expression as stipulated in Article 19 of the ICCPR signed by Bahrain on 20 September 2006.

If this trend continues, the freedom of expression in Bahrain will take another blow and dwarf even more We should at least retain our right to choose.

People who do wish to have unrestricted access to the Internet should be able to opt for this. Government should not have unfettered control over our freedom of speech, expression and freedom of information.

Update: 640

16th February 2009

More than 640 people have now signed an online petition against a government order to block pornographic and unauthorised websites such as political and Internet forums.


9th February   

Dangerous Prosecutions...

CPS provide legal guidance concerning Dangerous Pictures
Link Here

The Crown Prosecution Service has now published its guidance on the Dangerous Pictures Act. There take on a dangerous picture is as follows

Elements of the Offence

For an offence contrary to section 63 of the Act the prosecution has to prove:

  1. That the image is pornographic; and
  2. That the image is extreme namely grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character; and
  3. That the image portrays in an explicit and realistic way any of the extreme acts set out in section 63(7).

An Extreme Image

An image is pornographic if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal. Whether an image is pornographic or not is an issue for the District Judge or jury to determine simply by looking at the image. It is not a question of the intentions of those who produced the image. Nor is it a question of the sexual arousal of the defendant.

Section 63(6) of the Act states that an extreme image must be explicit and realistic; both those terms take their ordinary dictionary definition. Taking an example which was raised during parliamentary debates on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, the anal sex scene in the movie Last Tango in Paris , even if it were to be considered pornographic and of an obscene nature, would not be caught by the new offence, because it is not explicit and does not portray an act resulting or likely to result in serious injury to an persons anus.

The painting Leda and the Swan , another example raised during debates in Parliament, would also not be caught by the new offence, because it would not meet the explicit and realistic test.

Section 63(7) lists a number of extreme acts including:

  • An act which threatens a persons life; this is not defined in the Act and therefore should be given its ordinary dictionary meaning. The Ministry of Justice note of Further information on the new offence of Possession of Extreme Pornographic Images at paragraph 11 gives examples of life threatening acts.
  • An act which results in or is likely to result in serious injury to a persons anus, breast or genitals; this could include the insertion of sharp objects or the mutilation of breasts or genitals. The words serious injury are not defined in the Act and would take their ordinary dictionary meaning and be a question of fact for the District Judge or jury.
  • The Ministry of Justice note of Further information on the new offence of Possession of Extreme Pornographic Images specifically states that the reference to serious injury was not intended to expressly link into the case law with respect to grievous bodily harm contrary to sections 18 and 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (which has been interpreted as being capable of including psychological harm).
  • Although the Act does not state what a serious injury is, prosecutors must be aware that by the very nature of its name serious injury will not include trivial or transient injuries which include bruises and grazes.

The CPS information also outlines defences, charging guidance and information about obtaining consent from the DPP


9th February   

Update: Dressing Up History...

Chinese internet users 'save' classical nudes from the censor
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

  ...And for fuck's sake Adam, put a tie on

Chinese internet users angered by censorship in cyberspace have redressed images of famous nudes in a protest against Beijing's crackdown on vulgar online content.

Images posted include Michelangelo's statue of David - shown in a Mao suit - while black socks and a strategically- placed necktie were added to an image of the artist's depiction of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The protest began last week after a user of a social-networking site, Douban.com, complained that images of several paintings, including Titian's nude, Venus of Urbino , had been deleted from an online photo album. Douban administrators told the user that posting pornography online would endanger the site's operations.

In response, the organisers of the protest asked Internet users to clothe images in artworks to save them from censors, who have shut down 1,635 websites and 200 blogs in a one-month campaign against content that harms public morality.

The protest had an almost immediate effect. Last Thursday, the Shanghai user whose Renaissance album started the controversy said Douban had allowed images of the deleted paintings to be shown in their original form.


9th February   

Update: PEN Pals...

British professor flees Thailand after lese majeste charges
Link Here
Full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

A leading Bangkok-based professor who has joint British and Thai nationality fled Thailand at the weekend in the face of a lengthy sentence under the country's draconian lese-majesty laws, which forbid criticism of the king.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn arrived in England at the weekend after being charged under the laws. He had been due to present himself to the police in Bangkok today and could have faced 15 years in jail if found guilty.

I did not believe I would receive a fair trial, said Ungpakorn, an associate professor of political science at Chulalongkom University and a contributor to the New Statesman and Asian Sentinel.

Ungpakorn is the author of A Coup for the Rich , in which he criticises the 2006 military coup. He said that the charges arose out of eight paragraphs in the first chapter deemed insulting to King Bhumibol. He claimed that the director of a university bookshop stocking his book had informed the special branch that it insulted the monarchy. The offending paragraphs deal with incidents around the coup.

The English chapter of PEN, the international writers' organisation, has written to Bill Rammell, the UK Foreign Office minister who is due to visit Thailand, urging him to make representations to the Thai government.

Carole Seymour-Jones of PEN said: We remain deeply concerned by the increased use of lese-majesty laws in Thailand. Giles is the second New Statesman contributor to have faced such charges in recent months, the first being the Australian writer Harry Nicolaides, sentenced to three years in prison on 19 January.

Academics from the UK, India, South Africa, Turkey, France, Greece, Poland, Canada, Australia and other countries have also protested. A group, including Professor Alex Callinicos, Susan George and Dennis Brutus have signed a petition expressing deep concern. In a letter to the Guardian recently, more than 30 academics urged that charges be dropped.


9th February   

Update: Indonesian Dance Censor...

Governor denies dance ban BUT wants to discuss 'problems' with Jaipong dancing
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

West Java Governor and dance censor Ahmad Heryawan has denied using the controversial pornography law to ban Jaipong dancing, reports of which have drawn great criticism in the past few days.

There was no official statement on Jaipong dancing, he said, stressing that he had never made any statement relating to the folk art form.

The media had reported that the administration intended to forbid Jaipong dancers from wearing sexy costumes and executing provocative dance moves.

The governor said he would meet with the province's artists to discuss the problem. This rather suggests that Heryawan is being a bit more censorial than his denial suggests.

Based on article from thejakartapost.com

Previously it was reported that Indonesia's new regressive pornography law was targeting cultural heritage, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan was said to have used it as a legal basis to forbid Jaipong dancers from wearing sexy costumes and executing provocative dance moves.

The West Java administration's ban has prompted severe criticism from artists and legislators who blast it as a move to curb the traditional arts and culture of local people.

Bandung-born singer and dancer Dewi Gita said she did not see the need for the administration to delve into the matter when there were so many other problems affecting the province, including floods, poverty and expensive education: You see, Jaipong has nearly vanished. It is our unique heritage and we should do our best to keep it alive. But instead of supporting the internationally recognized dance, the authorities encourage its extinction.

Jaipong has nothing to do with pornography, it's merely a cultural expression. The dance is actually derived from the traditional ketuk tilu dance, which is a way that girls attract boys in Sundanese traditional customs. No wonder, the girl must be provocative and sexy, she said.

Update: Democratic Party of Struggle

17th February 2009. Based on article from xbiz.com

Opposing parties of Indonesia's controversial anti-pornography law vowed to annul the law at a public debate against the ruling party on Friday.

The law, ratified last October by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was met with fierce opposition by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the Prosperous Peace Party and a number of civil rights groups on the grounds that it is a betrayal to the Balinese, said Nyoman Dhamantra of the Party of Struggle at the debate: With or without a majority, we will overturn the law.


8th February   

Update: The Fuck-Up...

Whinging at book shops selling books with 'fuck' in the title
Link Here

Tesco and Asda were 'condemned' for selling a string of books and CDs with the F-word in their titles.

The items were available on their websites, where they were easily accessible to children.

Asda quickly apologised when The Mail on Sunday brought the books and CDs to its attention and promptly removed them from its stock list.

Tesco explained that its technological filter system, designed to prevent any products with offensive titles from appearing on its main site, had been faulty. It has since been repaired, making the titles more difficult to view.

But nutter MPs and campaigners are now questioning whether a change in the law is necessary to prevent unlimited access to such products.

Don Foster, the not so Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, criticised falling standards of decency among retailers. He said: In terms of magazines, CDs and DVDs, standards seem to be slipping. If the industry can't collectively sort itself out then we must seriously look into external regulation. If they can't regulate themselves, we may have to introduce a statutory code.

Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, questioned how selling adult material fitted in with Tesco's image as a family supermarket. Is this the beginning of Tesco's drive to dominate the entire retail industry by abandoning all moral boundaries? Is this Tesco's first step into the adult retail market? What kind of supermarket with a shred of moral responsibility allows such products to be sold openly on the internet, available to children, possibly without a parent's knowledge?

The two supermarkets are not alone in featuring controversial titles on their websites. Last week WHSmith had 23 titles containing the F-word while Waterstone's had 38.
This widespread availability reflects the lack of regulation on the display of such goods on the internet. As the products are legal to sell, the stores themselves agree on a code of conduct over their availability.

Both Tesco and Asda said they did not sell books with the 'fuck' in the titles in their supermarkets.

Tesco Direct had more than ten books and CDs on its site with the F-word in the titles. These included How To Fuck A Woman's Brains Out . Other examples were The Fuck-Up , an American novel about a hopeless New Yorker; and Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way , a self-help book written by an ex-advertising executive turned holistic healer.

A Tesco spokesman said: We block material which may cause offence so that titles like these cannot be searched for or accidentally found. Unfortunately our filter process was not working properly but has now been fixed. We're grateful this was brought to our attention as we do take this responsibility seriously. With Tesco's filter system, the only way to buy a book with an offensive title is to find out its ISBN – a unique identifying code – and enter that in the site's search engine.

Asda's website is monitored by a third party, which removes from sale anything deemed to be offensive.

Last night, however, both supermarkets' websites were still offering books whose titles use f**k starred out.

John Beyer of campaign group Mediawatch-uk said the products were legal to sell. But he described the law as ineffective and stressed that retailers had a duty to protect shoppers. He said: Sellers have a wider responsibility to the community they serve. Having that word in the title on full display is not something you'd expect of a supermarket.


8th February   

Update: Still an Idiot...

Jeremy Clarkson explains his apology
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

  At least he didn't call me fat!

Jeremy Clarkson watered down his apology yesterday for calling Prime Minister Gordon Brown a one-eyed Scottish idiot – saying he was not sorry for the idiot bit.

Speaking to The Sun, in which he writes a weekly column, he said: I very specifically apologised for making fun of his personal appearance – very specifically.

I have nothing against the Scottish and of course I regret making any remark that might have upset the disabled. But the idiot bit – there is no chance I'll apologise for that.

The BBC said it would be taking no further action against Clarkson.


8th February   

Update: Just Reward...

Secularists of the Year: the movers behind the abolition of blasphemy
Link Here

The National Secular Society's annual award for Secularist of the Year has been awarded jointly to Dr Evan Harris MP and Lord Avebury for their success in getting blasphemy laws abolished.

The prestigious prize was handed over by Professor Richard Dawkins at a glittering awards ceremony at the Imperial Hotel in central London on Saturday.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society (NSS), said: The abolition of the blasphemy law in 2008 was a major coup for the NSS and a great victory for everyone who values free speech. The ancient laws had not been used successfully since the 1970s, but there were efforts by Christian evangelicals to revive them, and a case was being considered even as the law was abolished.

Sanderson said that Dr Evan Harris and Lord Avebury – both Lib Dems – had engineered a clever parliamentary pincer movement that resulted in the Government being forced into bringing forward its own amendment to abolish the law. Having elicited the promise from Ministers in the House of Commons that the law would be abolished, Lord Avebury, who has been campaigning against the blasphemy laws for decades, then brought forward his own amendment to ensure that the Government could not renege on its commitment.


8th February   

Update: Effing Brilliant...

Gordon Ramsay puts failing TV censors to right
Link Here
Full story: Gordon Ramsay...Gordon Ramsay stirs trouble for Australian TV censors

The Australian TV censor, ACMA, has agreed a undertaking from The Nine Network to classify Gordon Ramsay's fruity language with a more restrictive rating:

The Nine Network will be required to put in place more rigorous classification procedures for future series of Underbelly —including the forthcoming second series A Tale of Two Cities —under an enforceable undertaking accepted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Nine will also reclassify repeat broadcasts of a number of episodes of the original Underbelly series, and implement additional training and reporting processes.

In addition, Nine will classify as MA all episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and other programs substantially featuring Gordon Ramsay, subject to any material change in the content of the programs.

‘This remedial action is the product of extensive discussions with the Nine and WIN networks about action they will take over the next 24 months to ensure that these programs are correctly classified and shown in the appropriate time slot, said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. It is a response to the unacceptably high number of incorrectly classified Underbelly and Ramsay programs broadcast in 2008. It aims to create an improved compliance culture, while giving ACMA an avenue to pursue further remedial action if necessary .

If ACMA subsequently finds that one of the licensees has breached its undertaking—for example, by incorrectly classifying a program covered by the undertaking—ACMA may apply to the Federal Court for an order that the licensee pay ACMA an amount equivalent to the financial benefit the licensee obtained by breaching the undertaking.

In relation to the Underbelly programs Nine and WIN will:

  • reclassify or edit programs found by ACMA to be incorrectly classified
  • provide reports to ACMA on any complaints alleging code breaches with respect to these programs.

In addition, Nine will:

  • conduct an extensive education program for the Underbelly production team to outline the requirements of the M classification
  • develop ‘detailed internal classification guidelines' based on ACMA's findings
  • ensure that classifiers review scripts and assess each episode of the 2009 series, to ensure that the classification requirements are met
  • report to ACMA on compliance with the classification training requirements.

All programs featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay will be classified MA. Nine and WIN will also provide reports to ACMA on any complaints they receive alleging code breaches with respect to these programs.


8th February   

Divine Punishment...

Al Jazeera TV criticised by MPs for hate speech
Link Here

The international television channel al-Jazeera has been criticised by MPs for broadcasting the sermons of a Muslim cleric in which he celebrates the Holocaust and prays for the killing of all Jews.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons Media Select Committee, urged al-Jazeera yesterday to apologise for broadcasting the messages of Yusuf al-Qaradawi and to ban the cleric, one of the network's top hosts, from appearing on screen.

I would hope that anybody who watches it or is aware of it may change their attitude towards al-Jazeera, he told The Times: I would've thought it is very damaging. Al-Jazeera should apologise.

But the network refused to apologise for Sheikh al-Qaradawi's statements, which were broadcast on al-Jazeera's Arabic station, saying that it could not control the words and opinions expressed during live broadcasts.

Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP for Hendon, condemned al-Jazeera for associating itself with Sheikh al-Qaradawi — who hosts one of its most popular segments, Shariah and Life — saying the network should not use live coverage as a means of justifying the broadcast of the sheik's comments: If they put on somebody who has known racist views they should not be surprised what comes out at the other end.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said: These sermons represent hatred in its purest form and epitomise the worst of Islamist anti-Semitism.

The complaints relate to a sermon and a lecture by Sheikh al-Qaradawi in which he described the Holocaust as a divine punishment and prayed to Allah to kill Jews down to the very last one.


8th February   

Update: The Slaying of Ahmadinejad...

Weekly banned over spoof movie poster
Link Here

Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance to suspend Hemat , a weekly that supports allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The ministry said a spoof movie poster on the front page of the latest issue, on 1 February, had insulted senior government officials.

The spoof poster, for an imaginary movie called Slaying of Ahmadinejad , alluded to the presidential election scheduled for June. The poster showed the photo of the film's supposed director, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, together with the photos of its three stars: former President Mohammad Khatami, former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Tehran's current mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. All three are potential rivals to Ahmadinejad in the election.

The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, the censorship arm of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, ordered the newspaper's suspension for insulting high-placed regime officials.


8th February   

Update: Blogger Threat...

Yemen website hacked after criticism of government
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Yemen...Bloggers and websites under duress in Yemen

Mohamed Al-Jabali, the editor of Akhbaralasr news website is the latest casualty in a wave of intimidations targeting bloggers and online journalists in Yemen.

In a statement, Al-Jabali appealed for protection after receiving death threats in the capital Sanaa from the regime's security apparatus. This comes just after his website was also hacked. The hackers, whom Al-Jabali said are elements of the regime, published a sarcastic entry on the front page with a picture of a monkey and an insult on the owner of the website Al-Jabali.

Al-Jabali said the regime was angered by his online reports on peaceful anti-government political activities in the Tihama region in the West of the country. The website had articles critical of the regime's handling of the economy and a recent article highlighted a call to end the national investment mafias in the country.

In an email message, Al-Jabali said he feared for his life after being threatened near Al-Tahrir Square in the city center and accused a senior advisor of the President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh for supporting those activities against him and his website:


7th February   

Update: Down Under the Belt...

Jeremy Clarkson apologises for calling Gordon Brown an idiot
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

  At least he didn't call me fat!

Jeremy Clarkson has apologised after referring to Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a one-eyed Scottish idiot. He was speaking in Sydney, Australia where he is hosting Top Gear Live , a stage version of the popular BBC show.

During a discussion on the economy, he compared Brown unfavourably with Kevin Rudd, the Australia prime minister, who had addressed his country on the scale of the financial downturn.

He genuinely looked terrified. Poor man, he's actually seen the books, Clarkson said of Rudd.

We have this one-eyed Scottish idiot who keeps telling us everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying, but he's smooth at telling us.

Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: Mr Clarkson's description of Prime Minister Brown is offensive. Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable. We would be happy to help Mr Clarkson understand the positive contribution people with sight loss make to society.

In a statement issued by BBC Worldwide, Clarkson said: In the heat of the moment I made a remark about the Prime Minister's personal appearance for which, upon reflection, I apologise.

Scottish politicians reacted angrily to Clarkson's remarks. Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said: Such a comment is really a reflection on Jeremy Clarkson and speaks for itself. Most people here are proud that the Prime Minister is a Scot and believe him to be the right person to get the UK through this global economic crisis.


7th February   

Baleful Apology...

BBC Breakfast News next for the complaints production line
Link Here

The BBC apologised after broadcasting strong language on Breakfast News.

The show was doing an item on an expletive-laden rant by actor Christian Bale on the set of the new Terminator film.

His four-minute outburst at the film's director of photography, Shane Hurlbut, has become a hit on YouTube.

Ashen-faced: BBC presenters Charlie Stayt and Susanna Reid were left stunned as Christian Bale's foul-mouthed rant turned the airwaves blue
Ashen-faced: BBC presenters Charlie Stayt and Susanna Reid were left stunned as Christian Bale's foul-mouthed rant turned the airwaves blue

Before playing a clip at 6.55am presenter Charlie Stayt told BBC1 viewers they may want to cover their ears because of its aggressive nature.

The clip was then aired with Bale heard shouting ‘fuck' before producers, realising their error, cut the video short.

A shriek was heard in the studio before the programme returned to the two presenters, open-mouthed and supposedly pale with shock, not at the language, but at the fear of the usual media spotlight.

Susanna Reid said: An enormous apology. That was definitely supposed to be edited. We are very sorry. You won't hear that again. We do apologise.

The BBC received more than 50 complaints, with many supposedly concerned that it was heard by schoolchildren, but really enjoying the expected BBC embarrassment.

The BBC blamed a technical error. A spokeswoman said: We apologised on air immediately afterwards and another apology was given at the end of the programme. We also pulled a later repeat of the item. We are sorry for any offence caused.

John Beyer, of Media Watch accused the BBC of being careless particularly as younger children getting ready for school could have been watching.

He added: Given the controversy about bad language on television they should have been far more careful. It's language that the audience watching BBC Breakfast would not expect.

The BBC should have been alert to the problems when airing clips like these. They have apologised and are right to do so promptly.

Bale's astonishing tantrum has been viewed by millions since it was posted online earlier this week. In the clip he is seen shouting and swearing profusely at the film's director of photography Shane Hurlbut. The four minute outburst contained around 35 expletives, and was simply prompted by Hurlbot distracting him during a scene. It also sees the star threaten to quit his lead role as John Connor in the multi-million pound film unless Hurlbot is fired.


7th February   

Loopy Censor...

New Zealand Censor sees online censorship as just a loophole to close
Link Here

The New Zealand chief censor is calling for online games to be subject to the same regulations as video games and films.

At present the law states only video games with restricted content must be submitted to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

In a briefing to Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth, chief censor Bill Hastings said the law has to change.

The law hasn't managed to keep up with technology, so it's a loophole that has been created by the law not being able to keep up, he said. Online games should be submitted for classification in New Zealand, he said.

I don't want to downplay the difficulties of the online digital environment because it does create its own challenges and it will get more difficult and more of a challenge as more content goes digital


7th February   

Updated: Censor War...

Australian politicians claim censorship control over online games
Link Here
Full story: Online Games Censorship in Australia...Online games producers try to evade censorship

Australian video game publishers and retailers are risking hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines by selling online role playing games such as World of Warcraft without age classifications.

The games industry believes there is a legal loophole exempting online games that don't have a single player component from classification requirements but this view is contradicted by the federal and state attorneys-general.

World of Warcraft , with more than 11.5 million subscribers, is the most popular of the online-only games but there are other examples including Age of Conan , Warhammer Online and Pirates of the Burning Sea.

All are sold as boxed sets in retail stores across the country without classification by the Classification Board or the appropriate labelling, for instance M or MA15+.

A spokesman for NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said the NSW Classification Enforcement Act prohibited publishers and retailers from selling unclassified computer games: The NSW legislation covers computer games bought online as well as those bought in stores, and treats single, multi-player and online games the same way .

The spokesman added that enforcement of the act was the responsibility of police but penalties for breaking these laws ranged from $1100 to $11,000 for individuals and/or 12 months' imprisonment. For corporations the fines were approximately double.

A spokeswoman for Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that, although it was up to each state and territory to enforce game classification requirements, Commonwealth legislation also had no loopholes for online games: The National Classification Scheme does not distinguish between games based on whether or not they contain a single player component. Online games are computer games within the meaning of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 and are covered under the existing legislation.

But Ron Curry, chief executive of games industry body the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia said he believed that online games without a single player component did not require classification by the Classification Board.

Update: Loopy Australian Classification

7th February 2009. See article from incgamers.com

Despite reports earlier in the week that World of Warcraft and other multi player online games were being withdrawn from sale due to legal reasons, the games are still for sale in all stores.

A loophole in the Australian law that allowed online games with no single-player content to go on sale without a classification was exposed earlier this week, and the federal and state attorneys-general declared that all titles without this classification were to be withdrawn from sale. However, this only applied in NSW, the other states were unaffected. Also, it was up to the police to act on complaints about sales of the games, something which they are unlikely to receive.


7th February   

Updated: Great Firewall of New Zealand...

Government plan to block 7000 sites
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is setting up a filter system that will allow internet service providers to stop people accessing child pornography.

But there are concerns that the power to censor browsing could be abused. The filter system has already been trialled in hundreds of thousands of New Zealand households. Internal Affairs deputy secretary Keith Manch says the voluntary system blocks access to 7000 websites carrying images of child sexual abuse.

Internet Safety group NetSafe welcomes the move, but says there could be concerns if the department later uses the filter to block a wider variety of websites. Manch says there are no such plans and the filter is only for targeting the sexual abuse of children. He says the department is finalising its analysis from the trial and will be discussing with internet providers how to implement the system.

Update: Rapid Start Up

7th February 2009. See article from arstechnica.com

At the end of this month, New Zealand's ISPs are required to start disconnecting users accused of infringing copyright multiple times. ISPs are also being asked to start censoring 7,000 Web sites under a government plan to make it harder for Kiwis to access child pornography over the Internet.

Child pornography restrictions will be extended to the Internet under a program initiated by the Department of Internal Affairs, though it will remain voluntary, according to Radio New Zealand News. The system relies on a blacklist of specific Web sites, and it has about 7,000 entries at the moment.

The program has already been tested in trials across the country, and ISPs are now looking into implementation details.

New Zealand says it has no current plans to extend the system behind child porn, which sets it apart from neighbouring Australia, where an ambitious (and required) censorship program has the right to block any sort of illegal content.

Update: No Plans

20th March 2009. See article from nbr.co.nz

Those nervously watching the chaos across the Tasman can breathe a sigh of relief.

We have been following the internet filtering debate in Australia but have no plans to introduce something similar here, says Communications and IT minister Steven Joyce.


7th February   

Updated: Super Bowl Bollox...

Comcast mortified by racy Super Bowl interruption
Link Here

Comcast is examining whether a malicious attack is behind the interruption of the company's Super Bowl coverage Sunday by a pornographic film clip in some areas of Tucson. The interruption, which lasted less than 30 seconds, affected customers watching the company's standard definition coverage but not high-definition customers, a Comcast spokeswoman said.

Comcast has contacted the FCC as well as local authorities to investigate the matter. But an initial review showed that the company's technical systems functioned properly at the time of the incident, suggesting someone deliberately seeking to interrupt the broadcast rather than a technical glitch.

We are mortified by the incident and we apologize to our customers, the Comcast spokeswoman said. The company will likely issue credits to customers who were affected, though the amount remains to be determined.

The incident sparked a flurry of angry phone calls and emails.

Update: Super Censor

7th February 2009. Based on article from broadcastingcable.com

Reports of a possible FCC investigation into cable's version of anatomical parts-waving have been more about grabbing headlines than dealing in the realities of media content. An FCC spokesman confirms the FCC has received complaints about the 10 seconds worth of cable porn that slipped into a Comcast cablecast of the SuperBowl in Tucson.

He had no comment on the likelihood that it would trigger the next step of contacting the parties, but the likelihood is slim to none.

The standard for broadcasting is indecency, where similar displays of the male anatomy have drawn FCC censure.

But for cable the standard is obscenity, a threshold that is far higher as the perusal of any hotel adult video menu or magazine newstand will attest. For instance, the material that bled through to the Super Bowl was apparently from a PPV channel that regularly runs on the cable system.

To be obscene, something has to be prurient, completely devoid of social, scientific, educational or political value and violate community standards. Most graphic sexual content has not been found to violate that standard and is permissible speech on cable and other pay media. [interesting that there is no mention of customer expectation].


7th February   

Update: Ashtray Placement...

Finland draft law banning smoking in the media
Link Here

If enacted, a new tobacco law in Finland will force television shows, films and theatre productions to be written without scenes of people smoking tobacco products.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health claims the proposed changes won't curb or censor freedom of expression.

Ilkka Oksala, a ministry official, says the law is designed in such a way that smoking advertising restrictions cannot be circumvented through indirect means, i.e. product placements in films and plays.

The tobacco act amendment, which seeks to curtail images of people smoking in newspapers, on television as well as on stage, is expected to come before Parliament for a decision this spring.


7th February   

Myriad Forms of Censorship...

Less journalists killed but more press censorship
Link Here

Ninety-three killed in 2007, 66 in 2008. If numbers could tell full stories, the plunge in recorded journalist deaths might have encouraged sighs of relief.

But as this year's IPI World Press Freedom Review underscores, these statistics mean little in light of the myriad forms of censorship available to those looking to suppress news and information.

This year IPI focuses on Asia, which proved the region deadliest for journalists in 2008, largely due to a string of killings in India, Pakistan and the Philippines. But journalists in other corners of the globe died in disturbing numbers, such as in Iraq, Mexico, Georgia and Russia, where the apparent execution-style killing of an Ingushetian reporter unnerved a journalistic community long accustomed to harrowing violence.

Judicial harassment dressed up as national security protection, in the past much criticized in the United States, also permitted authorities to intimidate outspoken journalists in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, China and Iran. The European Union's anti-terrorism efforts subtly encroached on the media, with the implementation of a directive requiring the retention of communications data for potential use in criminal investigations, a headache for those looking to protect their sources.

Censorship in the name of tradition, religion, culture and national reputation was also widespread. In Thailand, laws protecting the reputation of the monarch prompted judicial proceedings and led to the shutdown of more than 2 000 websites. In parts of the Middle East and North Africa, laws forbidding insults to Islam continued to carry the death penalty.

Turkey 's government resisted deeper reform to its prohibitions on insults to Turkishness , half-heartedly rewording the law to forbid insults to the Turkish nation . In Slovenia, a country that held the EU presidency in the first half of 2008, parties angered by media coverage repeatedly pushed for the prosecution of journalists under laws forbidding insults to the state.

But the news was not all grim. Chile and Guatemala approved access-to-information laws. Nepal created a National Information Commission to implement the previously enacted Right to Information Act. Bangladesh too saw a new law on the right to information, though various insufficiencies resulted in relatively muted celebrations. The Cook Islands took the lead in Oceania, becoming the first nation to introduce a right to information law in that region. Disappointingly, Nigeria's government once again stalled consideration of the ever-pending Freedom of Information Bill.

Containing cyberspace was another ambitious effort into which authorities worldwide put much energy. In the Middle East and Central Asia, this largely came in the form of new user registration requirements. Even the democratic government of South Korea said it is considering such measures. In China, cartoon police officers that popped up on computer screens when Internet users there accessed illegal content were no laughing matter for those all too familiar with the real thing.


7th February   

Update: Fighting Back...

Via VPN and the Thai Netizen Network
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Official Censor of the Military Coup, has blocked  at least 17,775 websites which, along with blocking by the Royal Thai Police, resulted in more than 50,000 websites blocked in Thailand. Public webboard discussions, circumvention tools, voices from Thailand's Muslim South and critical commentary of Thailand's monarchy were particularly targetted for censorship.

Thailand's military government also passed a Computer-Related Crimes Act with draconian penalties and onerous data retention provisions abnegating privacy and anonymity and chilling public discussion of vital issues among Thais. The result of this cybercrime law was to criminalise circumvention with one notable exception, the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) relied on by business to create a secure, private, encrypted channel.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has now provided links to easy tools for private citizens to legally ignore Thailand's Internet censorship. Virtual Private Networks have been complicated to set up and difficult to maintain. However, with these two free, public tools, VPN is available to everyone.

Fighting Back

Based on article from cpj.org

Thailand's Internet--once open and free--is fast morphing into one of Asia's more censored cyberspaces. But a new group of concerned Thai citizens, known as the Thai Netizen Network (TNN), is bidding to turn back the tide of government censorship through advocacy and monitoring.

Web sites that have posted materials deemed potentially offensive to the Thai royal family have been blocked by successive military-appointed and democratically elected Thai governments. And the campaign of censorship is accelerating under new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Beginning last year, a group of academics, activists, journalists and webmasters held informal meetings to discuss the emerging threat to Internet freedom in the wake of the passage of the 2007 Cyber Crime Act and the intensified use of lese majeste charges against journalists, commentators, and everyday Internet users. Both laws give Thai officials the authority to censor news and opinions that could be deemed a threat to national security or the monarchy.

TNN coalesced into a formal organization soon after several local Web sites, including news and commentary outlets Prachathai and Fah Diew Kan, were threatened with closure last year by officials for posting materials offensive to the monarchy. Fah Diew Kan's site was eventually blocked in January after officials threatened the site's ISP administrator.

TNN coordinator Supinya Klangnarong told CPJ that the new group's main missions are to keep Thailand's Internet open and free, to monitor government surveillance and censorship, and to provide moral and legal support to Internet users and writers who encounter harassment for their postings.

Currently, TNN is publicizing the case and arranging legal representation for Suwicha Thakor, an oil-rig engineer who was arrested and held without bail on January 14 for posting materials onto the Internet considered offensive to the monarchy. They have also taken up the case of BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, who faces three different lese majeste complaints filed by a senior Thai police official.


6th February   

US Censor Cuts...

MPAA suffers a round of staff layoffs
Link Here

Many of the major film studios have gone through a painful round of layoffs and now the US film censor is cutting staff, too.

The Motion Picture Association of America has gone through a significant round of layoffs, according to a studio source. The source said the layoffs were well over 10% and more reductions are expected.

As well as film censorship MPAA fight copyright infringement on behalf of the six largest film studios. How the cutbacks will affect the group's antipiracy efforts is unclear.

The ailing economy is hurting Hollywood and staff cutbacks have occurred at Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney, as well as others.


6th February   


2200 people complain to the BBC over the sacking of Carol Thatcher
Link Here

Thousands of viewers have complained to the BBC over the sacking of Carol Thatcher.

The corporation has been condemned for its decision to fire Baroness Thatcher's daughter from her roving reporter role on The One Show after she referred to a black tennis player as a golliwog during an off air conversation.

Last night at least 2,200 had complained about the decision. Even The One Show 's official website was packed with comments critical of the BBC. So far, the BBC has received 60 messages backing its move.

Thatcher's comments came in a conversation after the broadcast of last Thursday's edition with One Show host Adrian Chiles and comedienne Jo Brand. They had been discussing the Australian Open tennis championships and the black French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – who Thatcher referred to as a golliwog'.

Some senior BBC staff have expressed concerns that this will lead to a culture of people reporting each other to the authorities all the time.

The BBC said there had been 12 people present when the comments were made in the green room after the show aired.

BBC1 controller Jay Hunt said: What Carol decides to say in the privacy of her own home and in a conversation with friends is one thing. What she says in a green room space where there are 12 people present, in her capacity as a roving reporter for The One Show, is a rather different thing. On this occasion her using that phrase, it being overheard and having caused offence to a number of people, was totally inappropriate.


See article from guardian.co.uk

The toy store Hamleys is withdrawing its range of golliwog dolls after the furore over Carol Thatcher's use of the word.

The store said today it wanted to be seen to be doing the right thing as the toys and the word were "clearly offensive" to some people.

The decision was announced after the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk apologised for selling £9.99 golliwog dolls called Tazz and Ollie at the gift shop for more than a year.


6th February   

Update: War on Criticism...

Thais asked to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The government in Thailand has set up a special website urging people to inform on anyone criticising the monarchy.

It has also established a war room to co-ordinate the blocking of websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. On its first day of operation the centre banned nearly 5,000 websites. The Ministry of Information had already blocked many thousands of sites, but that work is now being accelerated by the new centre.

Internet users are being urged to show their loyalty to the king by informing via a new website called protecttheking.net (Thai language), which has been set up by a parliamentary committee. It calls on all citizens to inform on anyone suspected of insulting or criticising the monarchy.

The new website appears to be part of a concerted effort by the government and its conservative supporters to stifle any debate on the future of the monarchy, before it can gather momentum, our correspondent says.

The War Room

Based on article from prachatai.com

The committee formalized the Internet Security Operations Centre (ISOC), formerly known as the ‘War Room', to monitor inappropriate content on the internet, with officials from the ICT Ministry and other relevant agencies keeping watch 24 hours a day. A special call centre is being set up for the public to give information on inappropriate websites.

In the ISOC room, staff will be divided into three sections to monitor three categories of inappropriate websites: (1) those which offend the nation, religion, and monarchy, (2) those which affect tradition and culture, such as Hi5, or advertise abortion pills, and (3) those which provide gambling and dangerous online games such as the GTA game, said the ICT Minister.

According to the minister, the MICT has requested court orders to close or block 4,818 URLs which include 4,683 web pages offensive to the monarchy, 98 pages offering pornography, and 37 pages containing false advertisements.

The MICT and the Ministry of Culture have also been monitoring the postings of pictures of female students with phone numbers for the purpose of prostitution, and have found an increase in online advertisements for abortion pills and sex gear.


6th February   

Update: Prosecution Bullies...

Italian case threatens the fundamentals of YouTube
Link Here
Full story: Google on Trial...Google sued for YouTube bullying video

The Privacy Trial of the Century is already waving jail time at three current Google execs and its former chief financial officer. And now there's an added complaint against the company itself.

In September 2006, someone posted a three-minute cell-phone video to Google's Italian website in which four Turin teenagers make fun of a classmate with Down's Syndrome. And in July, after two years of investigation, Italian authorities filed criminal charges against four Google execs. The four are charged with defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data.

The trial of the Google execs was set to begin this week in Milan, but after a short hearing the judge delayed proceeding until February 18. During the hearing, the City of Milan filed a complaint against Google itself. An Italian legal mind tells the IAPP that local law allows public entities to file for compensation when a claim involves someone with disabilities.

The video in question showed a 17-year-old with Down's Syndrome as four other 17-year-olds hit him over the head with a box of tissues. It was uploaded on September 8, 2006, and almost a month later, Google received two takedown notices - one from an individual user and one from the Italian Ministry.

The search giant removed the video within a day of receiving the complaints. But Italian authorizes argue that company execs broke the law by allowing the posting in the first place.

Google declined to discuss the trial, but provided the following statement: As we have repeatedly made clear, our hearts go out to the victim and his family. We are pleased that as a result of our cooperation the bullies in the video have been identified and punished. However, we feel that bringing this case to court is totally wrong. It's akin to prosecuting mail service employees for hate speech letters sent in the post. What's more, seeking to hold neutral platforms liable for content posted on them is a direct attack on a free, open internet. We will continue to vigorously defend our employees in this prosecution.


6th February   

Update: Birth of Censorship...

Cinema censorship introduced in Nepal lest films dispute the birthplace of Buddha
Link Here
Full story: Banned in Nepal...Bollywood film banned in Nepal

Nepal's Ministry of Information and Communication has issued some new regulations for screening of national and international movies.

According to the new provisions, producers or distributors should take permission from Nepal Film Development Board to screen any film.

In case of international films, English translation of the film's script should be submitted to the Censor Board and the film can be screened only after the approval of the Board.

The ministry has taken such decision following recent protests of a Bollywood movie Chandni Chowk to China which mentioned that Lord Buddha was born in India.


6th February   

Update: Shared Repression...

Chinese video sharing sites delete thousands of videos
Link Here
Full story: Video Sharing in China...China bans most video sharing websites

Chinese censors at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) have shut down 131 unlicensed video Web sites and penalized a further nine for carrying supposedly pornographic videos as part of its continuing crackdown on Internet porn.

SARFT said that the crackdown, which began on Jan. 5 and will last until the end of February, has also resulted in the country's 307 licensed video Web sites deleting content from their platforms. Among these are Tencent, which has deleted 12,841 videos; Tudou, which has deleted 3,214 videos; PPLive, which has taken down 440 videos; PPStream, which has removed 85 videos; Joy.cn, which has deleted approximately 10,000 videos and posts; 6.cn, which has deleted over 2,300 videos and 2,500 comments; and Funshion, which closed its forum and picture-posting areas.


6th February   

Silence Points of View...

Long running Argentine Radio show closed down after criticism of owners
Link Here

The recent cancellation of a radio show hosted by prominent Argentine broadcast journalist Nelson Castro, a harsh critic of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's administration, sparked immediate controversy.

Electroingeniería, the company that owns the Buenos Aires-based Radio Del Plata, announced that the news show Puntos de Vista (Points of View), which has been on the air for 16 years, will come to an end.

Castro said the decision is an attempt to suppress critical voices in an electoral year, according to the daily La Nación. In his weekly column, he called it a blow to freedom of expression in Argentina. His colleagues in the Argentine media reacted immediately. According to the daily Crítica de la Argentina, it is a case of masked censorship. The political opposition condemned the cancellation. Representative Elsa Quiroz, with Coalición Cívica party, described it as an act of censorship.

The owners of Electroingeniería, a construction and engineering company that purchased the station in November 2008, have close ties with high-ranking administration officials, according to local news reports. Castro, who runs a column in the Sunday edition of critical newspaper Perfil and hosts the weekly show "Juego Limpio" (Clean Game) on cable television, said the decision was motivated by his reporting on a story about alleged surcharges paid by Electroingeniería in a public works project in southern Patagonia.


6th February   

Diary: Lured by the Two Horny Old Men...

First erotica exhibition in South Africa's East London
Link Here

Ann Bryant Art Gallery, Southernwood, East London, South Africa
5th – 10th February 2009

East London's first erotica exhibition opens at Ann Bryant Art Gallery in Southernwood and organisers are wary of resistance from the religious community.

More than 80 nude oil paintings, digital art photographs, sculptures and sketches are on display.

The works, some of which show explicit sexual acts dating back as far as the biblical era, come in all shapes and sizes. One of the biggest art pieces, titled Susanna Lured by the Two Horny Old Men, measured about two metres in height.

Organiser and owner of Gecko Art Gallery Janine Vorster said they had been crossing their fingers since the big banner advertising the event went up across Batting Bridge in Beacon Bay almost a week ago: We expected to get a little bit of flak from religious groups or the prudes because it's a risqué subject. There's a lot of in-your-face sex and sensuality but it depends on what you perceive as art and what you think about sex. We will see if we get any flak, but we will never close down the exhibition. We have put up signs to warn people before they enter the exhibition and, if it offends you, please don't enter.


5th February   

Insulting Religion...

Norway rejects an extension of hate laws to include blasphemy
Link Here

mediawatchwatch.org.uk is reporting good news from Norway.

Dagbladet reports that the Norwegian parliament has voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal to extend existing anti-hate laws to include blasphemy. (At least, that's as much as can be gleaned from the Google Translation)


5th February   

Not Bowled Over...

Nutters whinge at Go Daddy Super Bowl adverts
Link Here

GoDaddy's Super Bowl advertisements, which mix women and suggestive material, have generated a lot of attention. But the sexy ads have turned off some viewers and it could be costing GoDaddy some business.

Wired.com reports that one Web manager is pulling some of his religious sites from the provider after clients complained.

Brian Harrell, who oversees sites for Christian churches and faith-based organizations, says that after the ads aired, some of his clients demanded that their sites be to moved a different provider. GoDaddy aired two Super Bowls ads this year both featuring NASCAR driver Danica Patrick; the first ad had Patrick getting into a shower, the second had Patrick in a courtroom discussing enhancements.

Harrell, a Christian, sent an e-mail to the company, which he shared with Wired.com, asking them to re-think how your morals and values are looking to the public.

The company responded with a short e-mail detailing their commitment to freedom of expression.

Harrell plans on growing his business and getting more churches online, but says that he will not suggest GoDaddy to his clients.


5th February   

Update: Strokes Caused by Smoking...

30 lashes for smoking on a Saudi plane
Link Here

A passenger has been sentenced to 30 lashes for smoking on a domestic Saudi Arabian Airlines flight.

The Sudanese man will be flogged by police after refusing repeated requests from cabin crew to stub out his cigarette, despite being told smoking is banned on Saudi's national carrier.

The passenger was arrested when the aircraft landed in Jeddah and promptly handed over to police

A judge handed down the sentence despite the man proving he was attending a clinic to help kick the habit.

Wearing just a thin shirt, the unnamed passenger will be flogged by a policeman wielding a slim reed who must hold a book under his arm to prevent him using too much force.
The strokes are not meant to leave permanent damage but to inflict painful welts that bleed and bruise.


5th February   

No Space on MySpace...

MySpace ejects 90,000 users listed as 'sex offenders'
Link Here

MySpace says about 90,000 sex offenders have been identified and removed from its huge social networking website.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said that the new figure was 40,000 more than MySpace officials acknowledged last year.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has led efforts to make social networking websites drop such users. He said These convicted, registered sex offenders creating profiles under their own names unmasks MySpace's monstrously inadequate countermeasures. MySpace must purge these dangerous offenders now, and rid them for good.

Facebook Inc, which was sent a similar subpoena, has not yet responded, Blumenthal said.


5th February   

Offsite: Nek on the Block...

Gregorius Nekschots' Speech at the Danish Free Press Society
Link Here

In Western culture, rationalism, science, humanism and democracy, in a lengthy and painful process, created the separation between Church and State. Freedom of Speech became a constitutional right in many countries. Thus, ridiculing Christianity, without fear of losing one's life, has been possible for quite some time.

When large numbers of migrants with a different cultural and religious background came to Western Europe, things fundamentally changed. Poorly educated – and without exception raised under dictatorial regimes – a lot of immigrants with an Islamic background cannot agree to our separation between religion and politics, no matter how self-evident this separation appears to us.

...Read the full article


5th February   

Offsite: UK Shifts Toward Censorship...

Summarising UK government censorship for the US adult industry
Link Here

While U.S. citizens possess free speech by constitutional right, U.K. subjects must go cap in hand to representatives of our constitutional monarchy to check what we are — and are not — permitted to see, say, read or view.

That is the easy comparison to draw, and one that may give some comfort to those who believe in the inevitable superiority of the U.S. Constitution. Reality, as always, is a bit more complicated, with precedent and a generally laid-back attitude over here producing end results, in respect of adult content, that may be broadly similar to those on the other side of the pond.

...Read full article


5th February   

Offsite: Crime Solutions are in our Own Hands...

In defence of Internet pornography
Link Here

Sex crimes among Summit County juveniles are at their lowest rate since record-keeping began in 1989. Officials are baffled as to why.

Well, I can tell them why, and I can tell them in just one word: porn.

Never has pornography been more readily available. The hardest of hard-core smut can be seen every day by anybody with a computer and an Internet connection.

Isn't porn supposed to lead to more sexual abuse of girls and women? Well, that was the theory, voiced constantly and vehemently for decades. But statistics show precisely the opposite.

During the 15-year period ending in 2008, the rate of forcible rape dropped a staggering 30 percent nationwide.

In 1992 — the Dark Ages of the Internet — about 43 people were raped among every 100,000 Americans, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. Since then, the rate has dropped to 30 per 100,000.

With rare exceptions — so rare that they make front-page news — males are the sexual predators, not females. Males are much more easily stimulated visually. And if they can see virtually anything they want at any time, for free, without even leaving their house, maybe that's not such a bad thing — at least in terms of crime prevention.

To be sure, rape is a crime of violence. But it's also a crime of lust. And if somebody who is twisted enough to contemplate rape is now taking matters into his own hands, so to speak, perhaps his blinding drive for immediate gratification is safely eliminated.

...Read full article


4th February   

Europeans Groomed...

European parliament recommends more child protection laws
Link Here

The European Parliament has asked the EU to make online grooming a criminal offence.

As part of a report adopted in Strasbourg by a vote of 591-2 in favour, MEPs called for the criminalisation of all types of sexual abuse of children, including online grooming. The report was drafted by MEP Roberta Angelilli of Italy.

Grooming refers to adults befriending children online in order to steer them towards sexual conversations.

The report also proposed to make providing online chat rooms and forums where paedophile activities take place a crime. It also proposes that EU citizen who commit a sex crime outside the EU should be subject to uniform extraterritorial criminal legislation.


4th February   

Embarrassed by Freedom...

An EU internet freedom law would embarrass censorial member states
Link Here

An EU law to reinforce freedom on the Internet would be unnecessary and put European companies in a difficult position, the union's top telecoms and media regulator said.

The US recently drafted a Global Online Freedom Act. Some European Parliament members want the EU to follow suit, saying authoritarian nations are increasingly censoring the Web by blocking sites and intimidating users with cyber police.

Should the EU have specific legislation on Internet freedom? I am not convinced so far that hard law is the best way to deal with the challenge, EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding told a meeting in the European Parliament.

I believe that we should not put European companies in an invidious position where their choice appears to be to break the law or leave the market to more unscrupulous operators, Reding said.

Reding said the U.S. State Department and Department of Justice were cautious about the Global Online Freedom Act as even democratic countries in Western Europe could be subject to restrictions foreseen in the draft bill.

Suggestions that EU money could be used to research and develop anti-censorship software were attractive and would be followed up, Reding said.


4th February   

Update: Victory on Hold...

A 2nd chance to show Fitna in the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

As previously reported, a House of Lords screening of Fitna was blocked after pressure from Muslim groups.

The screening, planned for last Thursday, was cancelled after a meeting between Lord Nazir Ahmed, senior House of Lords figures and Muslim leaders.

The Associated Press of Pakistan quotes Lord Ahmed terming the cancellation a victory for the Muslim community.

However Melanie Phillips is now reporting in the Spectator that Geert Wilders has been re-invited to speak and screen his film in the Lords later this month.

A Supreme Case

Based on article from iht.com

Meanwhile Wilders has asked the Dutch Supreme Court to halt his prosecution on hate speech charges for anti-Islamic remarks.

Geert Wilders says the remarks — including labeling the Quran a fascist work and calling for it to be banned — fall within the realm of normal discourse and his prosecution threatens his right to freedom of speech.


4th February   

Update: Playing the Game...

Advert censors finds that game companies advertises responsibly
Link Here

The advertising censor has cleared the marketing practices of the video games industry after conducting a wide-ranging review at the behest of Dr Tanya Byron's review into child safety.

The compliance report, carried out by the Advertising Standards Authority, monitored 241 video game adverts on TV, cinema, online and posters from April to June last year.

The compliance survey found that the majority of the ads monitored did not breach the advertising code. Just one ad was found to be in breach.

The ASA said most of the ads, apart from radio, made a clear reference to the age-rating of the game.

In addition it found that the content of the ads mostly reflected the age-rating of the game with more graphic imagery appearing for video games rated 15 or 18.

Depiction of violence was a strong theme, but it was often stylised, fantasy-like and clearly separated from reality, said the ASA. Appropriate scheduling and placement of the ads meant they were not considered to be problematic.

The advertising watchdog conducted the survey following recommendations raised in Dr Byron's report Safer Children in a Digital World published last year. Byron's review questioned the level to which violent and inappropriate imagery is targeted at children and recommended a survey to look at whether video game ads are advertised and targeted appropriately and in line with their age restrictions.

Our survey is encouraging as it suggests that video games are being advertised responsibly and in line with the [advertising] codes, said Christopher Graham, director general of the ASA.


4th February   

Obscene Policing...

Indian Judge dismisses police charges against kissing couple
Link Here

A court in India has dismissed criminal proceedings against a married couple charged with obscenity for allegedly kissing in public in the capital.

Police arrested the couple - a 28-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman - for kissing near a station last September.

The police in Delhi had begun criminal proceedings against the couple for sitting in an objectionable position near a metro (railway station) pillar and kissing due to which passersby were feeling bad.

Judge S Muralidhar quashed the criminal proceedings. He said that even if police reports were accurate it is inconceivable how... an expression of love by a young married couple would attract an offence of obscenity and trigger the coercive process of law.

The judge expressed surprise that the couple had been picked up and charged by police despite officers being told that they were married.

The lawyer who contested the case for the couple told a Delhi newspaper: Obscenity charges are attracted when an act is so obscene that it encourages depravity or annoys the public. In this case both these contents are missing, because the charge sheet is silent on any passers by as originally claimed.


4th February   

Snow Bound...

ITN ask Jon Snow to write a blog but then didn't like what he said
Link Here

At the weekend, the Channel 4 newscaster, Jon Snow, told a literary festival that he had been asked by his employers at ITN to write regular blogs, but claimed that, despite the company's enthusiasm, one in four of his postings was suppressed.

In the last few weeks, the company I work for decided they needed to have a blog and wanted the person who presented the news to write it , he said: But of my first 12 blogs, three were not allowed to go because they didn't like what I had to say.

Another panellist, Matt Frei, presenter of BBC World News America, advised him that the best way to kill a blog was to write about completely mundane stuff, like what sort of toothpaste you use.

But Snow replied gloomily: That's what they want me to do.


4th February   

Update: Prison Sentences Edited...

Egyptian newspaper editors spared jail but convictions and fines still stand
Link Here
Full story: Press Freedom in Egypt...Press under duress in Egypt

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes a Cairo appeals court decision to strike down a one-year jail term against four editors, but condemns that the conviction stands for criticizing President Hosni Mubarak and his top aides.

An appellate court judge Mohamed Samir struck down a one-year jail-term given in September 2007 to four editors for publishing false information likely to disturb public order. However, the court upheld a 20,000 Egyptian pound (US$3,540) fine against Ibrahim Eissa of the daily Al-Dustour, Adel Hamouda of the weekly Al-Fajr, Wael el-Abrashi, former editor of Sawt Al-Umma, and Abdel Halim Kandil, former editor of the weekly Al Karama.

We are relieved that the prison terms have finally been struck down, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. But we condemn the practice of using the judiciary to criminalize critical journalism and spread fear and self-censorship. We call on Egypt's highest judicial authorities to overturn this politically motivated verdict.

Eissa is among the most judicially harassed journalists in the country. In September, an appeals court sentenced him to six months in prison for disseminating false news about Mubarak's health. He was granted a presidential pardon in October. Eissa said that the regime's willingness to accept the media has regressed and that there is no room for journalistic expression when reporters are threatened with 32 articles in the penal code and the press regulation law.


3rd February   

Update: Protest at the BBFC...

A song and a dance about smoking in the movies
Link Here

Don't smoke pups...
It addles the brain, you may turn
into a Liverpuddlian health nut

Anti-smoking campaigners from Liverpool took a musical message to the capital – to win support to get smoking out of youth-rated movies.

Young people from D-MYST, the Liverpool-based youth activists organisation, travelled to London to stage a protest outside the offices of the BBFC.

And, to grab attention for their Scary Movies protest, they staged a dance performance outside the BBFC offices.

D-MYST have approach-ed the BBFC to arrange a meeting to discuss the issue of smoking in youth-rated movies – so far without success.

They handed in a letter asking for a meeting in the near future.

SmokeFree Liverpool has also asked the BBFC to use its powers – saying that 3,300 young people in Liverpool are currently smoking because of images they have seen on the silver screen.

Gideon Ben-Tovim, the chairman of Liverpool PCT, said: We are not saying that old films should be re-rated – simply that new films which contain smoking should not be seen by under-18s. How simple a proposal is that?


3rd February   

Update: The Effing Record...

Beyer claims Channel 4's standing as public service broadcaster should be reviewed over Ramsey's language
Link Here
Full story: Gordon Ramsay...Strong language winds up the nutters

  Perhaps Gordon Ramsey should
try his hand at sorting out
failing morality campaigns

Beyer's predictably jumped on the Gordon Ramsey bandwagon:

Gordon Ramsey is apparently in record breaking form after swearing 243 times in one show.His guests took the total to 312 expletives.

Friday night's programme broke the record for the most swearwords in a TV show set by the comic Paul Kaye in 2007. Ramsay used the F-word 187 times in his programme that ran for 103 minutes.

Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister, has led calls for Ramsay to be sacked: Anybody who swears that much on a cooking show must be fired. Most people were already fed up with him. This is the final straw. Just how far does he have to go before Channel 4 bosses accept that he has caused real and genuine offence and broken all acceptable boundaries of good taste? What is their limit?

Mediawatch director John Beyer went one step further and called for Channel 4 to be sacked. He said: This is a serious political issue. Ramsay's behaviour was unacceptable and Channel 4 is ultimately responsible for it. They know what he is like and it's completely wrong for them to let this go when it has caused so much offence.

The channel's whole remit as a public service broadcaster needs to be investigated by the Government if it refuses to take on board the concerns of viewers and politicians.

Channel 4, which received 69 complaints from viewers, said no action would be taken against Ramsay. A spokesman said: He is a well-known TV personality and viewers know what to expect when watching these programmes. This was an extended two-hour programme shown after the watershed and preceded by an on-air warning about its content. The swearing is a genuine expression of Gordon's passion and frustration.


3rd February   

Just Too Much!...

TV has harmed mental health of a whole generation of children
Link Here

Too much television and time spent on the internet can make children mentally ill, according to a survey into British childhood.

Excessive exposure makes a child materialistic, which in turn affects their relationship with their parents and their health.

That is one of the conclusions of the new wide-ranging survey produced for the Children's Society.

It says that children are part of a new form of consumerism, with under 16 year-olds spending their money on clothes, snacks, music, video games and magazines.

The report claims that some advertisers explicitly exploit the mechanism of peer pressure, while painting parents as buffoons and that in its most extreme form, advertising persuades children that you are what you own.

In addition the constant exposure to celebrities through, TV soaps, dramas and chat shows is having a detrimental effect. It says: Children today know in intimate detail the lives of celebrities who are richer than they will ever be, and mostly better-looking. This exposure inevitably raises aspirations and reduces self-esteem.

The Good Childhood inquiry, compiled by more than 35,000 contributors is independent of the Church of England affiliated society but has been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. It takes an in-depth look at the changing face of childhood and family life in Britain, and the challenges facing youngsters today.

The Good Childhood study was carried out by a panel of independent experts for the charity. They included Lord Layard, a former adviser on well-being to Tony Blair; Children's Commissioner for England Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, and a group of prominent academics. Two religious figures also took senior roles: the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Church of England Bishop of Leicester, and Dr Muhammed Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

The report claims that the upward trend of violence in the media in general, is making children violent and causing tension within the family.

The report says: We know from controlled studies that exposure to violence can breed violence. So it seems likely that the upward trend in media violence is helping to produce the upward trend in violent behaviour - and also the growth of psychological conflict in family relationships.

The report also notes that commercial pressures have led to the 'premature sexualisation' of young people. It notes that young people are having sex earlier because of many forces , including more privacy when both parents work, more contraception, commercial pressures toward premature sexualisation, and fundamental changes in attitude.


3rd February   

Update: Wrong Values...

Student sex for sale websites added to Thailand's banned list
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The increasing censorial Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has said that he had instructed the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to crack down on websites, which allow students to post messages soliciting sex clients.

Abhisit said the ministry was taking actions against the sites. He said the prostitution by students was influenced by wrong values so there should be campaigns to have students change their values. He said the government is launching the campaigns through education as well.

Previously the issue had been identified by colleges and universities who sought action against students found to have engaged in direct-sale prostitution via social-network websites like Hi5.

Assoc Prof Sukhum Chaloeysap of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University said all institutes of higher learning should admit the problem existed and join forces to combat it.

Some students are said to have touted sexual services on Hi5, which has links to more than 1,000 other websites that openly post students' pictures, many in uniform, and suggestive messages. He urged the principals of colleges and universities to investigate.

Many students' part-time jobs are affected by the economic slowdown, driving some to prostitution to earn extra money, he said.

He blamed the online student sex trade on youth's faulty values and overspending on luxurious and unnecessary items that drove young people to such lengths to get quick cash. He called for strong families and proactive educational and religious institutions to counter the trend.


3rd February   

Update: Networking Charges...

Japan blocks under 18's from networking sites unless they pay up for a content monitor
Link Here

Japanese telco NTT Docomo has banned customers under 18 from accessing mobile internet dating sites.

The sites being banned are not the more dodgy wife-swapping sites either, but conventional blogging and social networking sites. While Mobage-town, Myspace Mobile and Gree have been deemed safe, others have been blocked by NTT Docomo.

It is expected that the move will be followed by outer Japanese telcos. Softbank Mobile has announced that it will start blocking the sites in the first week of February.

Docomo said that customers under 18 must submit an application and proof of age to view sites which are blacklisted.

To avoid blacklisting, site owners have to pay a content monitoring watchdog $5,574.86, have a 24-hour watch system in place and a system to notify police or fire officials in emergencies.


3rd February   

Update: Dogs of War...

High Court asked to get the title changed of Slumdog Millionaire
Link Here
Full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

The controversy over the title of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire has moved on to court.

Gujarat High Court has allowed the petitioner,  the organisation Dastak, to draw in the Central Board of Film

The NGO filed the case on the day the film's released claiming the title was offensive to Indians. We Indians are not slumdogs, stated its member Meena Jagtap in the petition adding that the organisation doesn't have objection towards the content of the film.

The case has been filed against the Hollywood film company Fox Searchlight and the music company T-series. Earlier, a similar case raising same contention was filed by a Patna resident.

Dastak has urged the court to restrain the film's exhibition in cinema halls, television and CDs. Besides this, a stay has also been sought on the marketing and advertising of the film in Indian market. Dastak has requested High Court to direct the film company to get certification once again after changing the film's name.


3rd February   

Name Calling...

Indian blogger silenced by TV station for criticism of their Mumbai terrorist coverage
Link Here

Armed Chyetanya Kunte is an Indian blogger living in the Netherlands. On 27th of November, 2008 during the terror attacks in Mumbai he wrote a blog post (now available through Google cache) criticizing Indian private television channel New Delhi Television (NDTV) and particularly their group editor Barkha Dutt's coverage of the incident.

Several other bloggers were equally scathing in their criticism of Barkha Dutt's sensationalistic coverage of the 11/26 Mumbai terror attack, accusing her of broadcasting sensitive information about the position of hostages and security troops, sensationalizing the news coverage, and being borderline hysterical, in general.

In turn Barkha Dutt' wrote on her Facebook page:

Just because some random bloke can sit at a computer and make up stuff doesn't mean he or others like him need to be dignified with responding to their utter and total rubbish. rubbish is what it is. And as already mentioned. Mr. Kunte has been served a legal notice for libel by NDTV. That should give you some indication of where we and I stand. The freedom afforded by the Internet cannot be used to fling allegations at individuals or groups in the hope that they will then respond to things that aren't worthy of engagement.

And indeed legal papers were served on the blogger forcing him to delete his blog and apologise.

Other India bloggers were not impessedby the NDTV bullies. Blogbharti posts an appeal:

We urge all bloggers to send us their views on this issue. And to protest NDTV's highhanded efforts to curb our freedom of speech.


3rd February   

Offsite: From Fatwa to Jihad...

Salman Rushdie: The book-burning that changed Britain for ever
Link Here
Full story: Satanic Verses...Salman Rushdie irritation of the muslim world

It was 20 years ago this month that Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced his fatwa on Salman Rushdie. I inform all zealous Muslims of the world, he proclaimed: that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses . . . and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death.

This was not just a brutally shocking act that forced Rushdie into hiding for almost a decade; it also helped to transform the character of British society. The Rushdie affair was the moment at which a new Islam dramatically announced itself as a political force — and the moment when Britain realised that it was facing a new kind of social conflict.

Muslim fury seemed to be driven not by harassment or discrimination, but by a sense of hurt that Rushdie's words had offended their deepest beliefs. Where did such hurt come from? How could a novel create such outrage? Could Muslim anguish be assuaged and should it be?

...Read full article


2nd February   

Diary: Taming the Wild Web?...

Westminster Media Forum on online content regulation
Link Here
Full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Wednesday 11th February 2009
Sixty One Whitehall, London SWIA 2ET

  • The internet: ‘A lawless zone'?

    To what extent was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP correct when he described the internet as ‘lawless'? Who currently regulates what? How effective is the regulation currently in place, and where should responsibility for regulation lie? Are there areas of the web that need greater regulation? Are there areas that are over regulated? How prevalent is illegal content online? What impact does inappropriate, illegal or ‘extreme' content have on consumers, citizens and business?

    Tim Toulmin, Director, Press Complaints Commission
    Peter Robbins, Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation
    Richard Mollett, Director of Public Affairs, BPI
    Will Gardner, Deputy CEO, Childnet International
    Camille de Stempel, Director of Policy, AOL UK
  • Online Protection

    Derek Wyatt MP, Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Communications Group
  • Online content regulation

    Jeremy Olivier, Head of Multimedia, Ofcom
  • Options for regulation

    How can online content be regulated? Should illegal activities such as intellectual property, copyright infringement and inappropriate images be regulated equally? Who should regulate, and what should be the extent of their powers? Could Australian and Chinese style filtering be used in the UK? How would increasing regulation affect creativity and entrepreneurship? What impact will regulation have on web 2.0 environment and sites containing user-generated content? Who should be responsible for content? What could be the unintended consequences?

    Peter Johnson, Head of Policy and Business Development, BBFC
    Christopher Stokes, Chief Executive, NetResult
    Annie Mullins, Head of Content Standards, Vodafone
    Ben Allgrove, Senior Associate, Baker & McKenzie
    Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology, Director of Graduate Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Senior representative, Open rights


2nd February   

Freaking TV Censors...

ITV 2 shows old cut version of Die Hard 2
Link Here

For some reason Sunday night ITV 2 showed the original BBFC "15" cut of Die Hard 2 . Forgot just how much silly stuff was dubbed out and cut (especially Dennis Franz saying FREAKING so many times).

I might be wrong but I think this actually WAS the video they showed, as the picture quality was very saturated and the print seemed dirty and full of blemishes, Plus it was the full screen version, which was cut quite heavily, until the film was re-rated on video in the early nineties due to the popularity of "WIDESCREEN" releases (mostly by CBS/FOX). Both the first 2 Die Hards were front runners for this trend.


2nd February   

Offsite: Dangerous Digits...

The other face of 'Digital Britain'
Link Here

A while back, British newspapers were harrumphing about the Australian government banning Aboriginals from accessing pornography, as a knee-jerk response to a report showing high levels of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children. What they signally failed to notice, however, was that one of the nineteen new offences announced in New Labour's 54th criminal justice bill since it came to power was the possession of what it calls 'extreme pornographic images'. Those found guilty risk three years in gaol, or a hefty fine, or both. They will also be put on the sex offenders register, and thus have their lives wrecked.

In spite of a concerted three-year campaign against this measure, and great swathes of the bill being dropped as it passed through parliament, the anti-porn clauses not only remained in the bill but were actually widened in scope. This can only be regarded as a direct smack in the faces of those like Backlash, the Spanner Trust, Index on Censorship and a considerable number of academics, who had the temerity to object to it in the first place, and a clear warning that the government intends to intimidate and criminalise not only the entire BDSM community but very considerable portions of the DVD/video-owning and website-visiting communities as well.

...Read full article


2nd February   

Art Speaks and Censors Hear...

US art exhibition forced to close by protests against Vietnamese communist flag
Link Here

A photograph depicting a Vietnamese woman wearing a shirt with a communist flag led to the exhibit's closure.

More than 30 years after the Vietnamese-American community had been established, the freedom of expression that so many refugees yearned for is denied to them by, unfortunately, members of their own community who shut down a communicative art exhibit in Orange County, California.

The F.O.B. II: Art Speaks exhibit recently put on by the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association was forced to close down early. Presenting more than 50 works of Vietnamese artists from the United States and Vietnam while celebrating the many artistic voices of the Vietnamese-American community, the exhibit ignited and outraged responses by the most vocal faction because it displayed a particular photograph by Brian Doan. Its subject matter? A young Vietnamese woman standing beside a bust of Ho Chi Minh and wearing a shirt representative of the flag of communist Vietnam.

The photograph and a few other works were immediately construed as pro-communist and evocative of painful memories. Consequently, the entire exhibit was condemned, protested and shut down. Santa Ana, California city officials claimed that the organizers lacked the business license to present a gallery, but the hundreds of Vietnamese-American protesters demonstrating outside the building were clearly pressuring city officials, building owners and exhibit organizers alike.


2nd February   

Update: Spotlight on Thailand...

CPJ lay into Thailand's deteriorating media climate
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Thailand...Thailand implements mass website blocking

The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about mounting government threats to media and Internet freedom in Thailand, including legal action against community radio stations and censoring thousands of Web sites.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga recently told a parliamentary session that his ministry intends to censor 3,000 to 4,000 Web sites for posting materials considered offensive to the Thai monarchy. The Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Ministry announced on January 5 that it had shut down 2,300 Web sites for violating the country's strict lese majeste laws.

Piraphan said that he had established 10 different panels to implement the Internet crackdown and that his ministry was working closely with the ICT and Defense ministries. He mentioned in particular that three Thai nationals had been identified for posting anti-monarchy materials on the Web site Manussaya and that one of the writers has been arrested on lese majeste charges.

Satit Wongnongtaey, a minister in the prime minister's office, proposed taking legal action against five community radio stations he contended were causing unrest through their news reporting. He mentioned specifically the Taxi Lovers Club radio station situated in Bangkok and four others located in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Udon Thani provinces.

The areas are known to be strongholds of former and now exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, political rival to the now incumbent Democrat Party-led coalition. Satit sent a proposal to investigate the stations for instigating unrest to the government's Public Relations Department's subcommittee on broadcasting and told reporters that the subcommittee must take quick action against them. He did not specify what form that action might take.

Thailand is headed in the same direction as its historically more authoritarian neighbors--including Myanmar, Vietnam and China--in regards to Internet censorship, said Robert Mahoney, CPJ's deputy director: We call on the country's new democratic government to quickly reverse this worrying trend and instead work toward re-establishing the country as a regional standard-bearer for free expression.

CPJ recently reviewed a copy of draft legislation signed by Piraphan that intends to expand the censorship powers vested in the controversial 2007 Computer Crime Act. According to the draft amendments, ICT ministry officials would no longer be required to receive court approval before blocking and censoring Web sites. Thai courts approved the ICT Ministry's earlier blockage of 2,300 Web sites on grounds of lese majeste, but officials have since said that the legal process has slowed their work in censoring the recent proliferation of anti-monarchy materials posted to the Internet.

On January 27, CPJ sent a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressing its concerns about Thailand's fast deteriorating media climate.


1st February   

Police Poo...

Jo Brand TV joke about poo to the BNP reported to the police
Link Here
Full story: Jo Brand...Jo Brand quips about sending poo to the BNP

Comedienne Jo Brand is at the centre of a police investigation over quips she made on the comedy programme that temporarily replaced Jonathan Ross's TV chat show.

A senior producer on the Friday night Live At The Apollo show has been questioned by the Metropolitan Police about the incident.

Outspoken: Jo Brand's remark on the BNP party was cheered by the Hammersmith Apollo audience. The remarks concerned the leaking of the British National Party's membership list. Brand joked that as a result of the list becoming public knowledge on the internet, she now knew the addresses where to send the ‘poo' through the post.

Brand's routine was a hit with the live audience, who laughed and cheered at her remarks. However, the joke, which was broadcast on the late-night BBC1 show from Hammersmith Apollo on January 16, offended members of the BNP.

The following day, Simon Darby, the BNP's deputy leader, made an official complaint to Hammersmith police alleging that Brand's comment had been an act of incitement to cause racial harassment. Further complaints from the BNP followed, to the BBC and the police, and a formal review was launched two weeks ago.

A police spokesman last night confirmed: We have received a complaint and officers will be reviewing the programme to see if any offences have occurred.

But a senior police source said: It is an absurd case and very unlikely to get to court. A lot of police time and money appears to have been wasted investigating what for all intents and purposes is just a TV show joke.

A file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last week to determine if there is enough evidence for a successful prosecution to be made against Miss Brand or the BBC. A decision will be made by the CPS in the next few days.

A BBC spokesman said last night: We do not comment on police matters. However, we believe the audience would have understood the satirical nature of the remarks.


1st February   

Update: Gordon's Great British Nutter Nightmare...

Gordon Ramsay is prime target for more Ross dross from the tabloids
Link Here
Full story: Gordon Ramsay...Strong language winds up the nutters

The Mirror is reporting about viewers fury at 312 swear words in 103 mins including Gordon Ramsay's 240 used of 'fuck'

Viewers were said to have flooded Channel 4 with complaints after Friday's Gordon's Great British Nightmare.

And it all came on the same day the fiery chef promised not to swear on the US version of his live cookalong show for fear of upsetting American viewers.

Ramsay's show on Friday drew three million viewers and went out just after the 9pm watershed with a warning about strong language.

Labour MP Denis MacShane said: Gordon Ramsay might be a good chef, but he is a terrible role model to every child and adolescent in Britain. He is giving two-fingers to people who care about the English language. Channel 4 should give Britain a break from this foul-mouthed soup-stirrer. This is a clear breach of Ofcom's rules on swearing and it should launch an investigation into the programme immediately.

Lib-Dem MP Don Foster said: This is getting beyond a joke. When you hear about this much swearing in a single programme, you're tempted to utter an expletive yourself. We have got to tone it down because bad language on TV is seeping into society.

An Ofcom spokesman said they were unable to comment on complaints received over the weekend until next week.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: Gordon Ramsay is a well-known TV personality and viewers know what to expect. The swearing was a genuine expression of his passion and frustration.


1st February   

Update: Thailand Cast Adrift...

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

The latest issue of The Economist will be withheld from distribution in Thailand for the third time in two months because of its coverage of the country's monarchy, the magazine said.

The British magazine's Thai distributor, Asia Books, refused to deliver copies of its Jan. 31 issue because the article might break the country's strict law against insulting the royal family, the magazine said in an email to subscribers.

The Jan. 31 issue contains an article, entitled A sad slide backwards, that criticizes Thailand for alleged abuse of Muslim migrants from Myanmar known as the Rohingya.

Their plight gained international attention after several boats carrying around 1,000 migrants were intercepted in December by the Thai navy. Human rights groups allege that Thai officers detained and beat them before forcing them back to sea in vessels with no engines and little food or water. Hundreds are believed to have drowned. Thai authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.

The article's criticism was largely directed at the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Thai military in its handling of the migrants. It made only passing mention of the taboo subject of royal involvement in Thai politics.


1st February   

Update: Voice of the Cesspit...

Miserable sinners whinge about student production of Jerry Springer: The Opera
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Full story: Jerry Springer Blasphemy...Christian Voice attempt private prosecution

St Andrews university in Edinburgh is about to be hit by a wave of nutter protest as the first ever amateur production of the notable West End musical Jerry Springer: The Opera rolls into town.

The play, which caused a nutter storm for supposedly ridiculing Jesus Christ, God and the Virgin Mary, is to be performed by a group of students from St Andrews, who claim the musical will show the ancient institution is daring enough to promote religious debate.

The Just So Musical Society at St Andrews University will stage its production in April as part of the On the Rocks arts festival, which launches this year at the university. The show, which will follow the original script and score with a cast of 25 students, will have a three-night run at the students' association from April 19 to 21.

The student director of the show, John MacLean, who is a practising Christian, denied he was courting controversy. I've decided to put it on because it's a fantastic show. I think the score is incredible, and I went to see it in Edinburgh and I laughed out loud throughout. .

Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, remains implacably opposed to the show. His organisation's campaign against the earlier, professional tour using leafletting and the threat of legal action against theatres meant the show lost £500,000.

Green said his organisation would try to do the same to the St Andrews production. It is disgraceful that in the birthplace of the Scottish Reformation, St Andrews University is putting on a production that insults the Lord Jesus Christ. Ridiculing Jesus Christ will bring shame and God's judgment on what should, with all its history, be a devout seat of learning, not a cesspit.

He called all Christians to take action against the musical. We must pray that this show is cancelled, but if it is not, may the Lord bring Christian people out on the streets of St Andrews to witness and evangelise at all the events during the arts week. If many sinners repent and turn to Jesus Christ, some good will yet come from this evil.

Solicitor Michael Phillips, who represented Christian Voice when they sued the BBC for blasphemy after broadcasting the musical in 2007, said: It's a worry that this production is rearing up again, and it's sad that something with so little artistic merit was given such a lot of attention because it used profanity and blasphemy. St Andrews University could be opening themselves up for protests which could lead to legal action if there is somebody with the right funding behind them.

Gordon Macdonald, of Christian Action, Research and Education in Scotland, said: We would ask people not to see it or give them any encouragement by attending the performance. We recognise people's freedom of speech, but at the same time that has to be exercised responsibly, and they shouldn't go out of their way to offend people unnecessarily.


1st February   

Poisoned Minds...

Propose anti porn legislation in Uganda
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Ugandans selling pornography risk being sentenced to Prison for 10 years or to pay a fine of sh10m, once the Anti Pornography Bill 2009 is passed.

Ethics and Integrity minister Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said the Bill was ready and would soon be tabled in Parliament.

If the offender is a corporate body or a business, the directors or proprietors or both, will be liable to a fine not exceeding sh100m or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.

Pornography is a big business for both promoters and advocates of immorality, who do not care about the quality of human relationships in the family and nationally, Buturo said: Pornography is a poison to the mind. It fuels sexual crimes like rape and defilement. It destroys marriages and turns values upside down. Some of the values have stood the test of time.

Some sections of the Bill target to punish producers and participants in the production, traffickers, publishers or broadcasters of pornography. It also empowers the courts of law to order the forfeiture and destruction of all materials and objects used to commit the offence. The Bill empowers the court to issue a search warrant for any premises or persons, seize the materials and arrest the culprits.

It states that once culprits are convicted, they have no appeal option. Buturo said the Bill caters for Internet service providers, who permit the downloading or uploading of pornography.


1st February   

Gods of Censorship...

Another political film offends the Malaysian censors
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Amir Muhammad's latest documentary film, Malaysian Gods , has been barred from wide release by the censors.

The Malaysia National Film Censorship Board has decided that the 60-minute movie cannot be shown on TV or in cinemas. The board gave no reasons for its decision despite an appeal by Da Huang Pictures which produced the film.

This is not the first time Amir has run into trouble with the authorities for his films about Malaysian history or historical events. Notably, two of his films The Last Communist (2006) and Village People Radio Show (2007) were banned. Both works deal with the Malayan Communist Party. Because they were banned, both received a fair share of publicity.

The Film Censorship Act 2002 states that the reasons for censorship could include obscenity or material that may be contrary to public interest.

Malaysian Gods is an experimental video, documentary and fiction that backdrops the 1998 Reformasi movement. It conducts interviews in Tamil, with English sub-titles, with Tamil-speaking Malaysians who work or patronise areas in Kuala Lumpur which were the site of anti-government Reformasi demonstrations.

Describing the censors' decision as quite strange, Amir said he would instead arrange for screenings in other venues. We plan to screen it in many local campuses, he added. And it will be released on DVD later.


1st February   

Offsite: F U C K 'em...

Does the Britney Spears song If U Seek Amy offend you?
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Full story: If You Seek Amy...Britney Spears winds up the nutters

Britney Spears's new single just goes to prove that if you double the entendre you stir up twice the fuss. The Times pop music critic muses on a long pop tradition of offensive pop music.

...Read full article


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