Censor Watch
 2009: October
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31st October   

Update: Salvage Sale...

The Director's Cut of Terminator Salvation
Link Here  full story: Terminator Salvation...Hyping up cuts for a lower rating

Terminator Salvation Extended Cut Blu ray Terminator Salvation is a 2009 US/German/UK/Italy action film by McG

The (US PG-13 rated) Theatrical Version was passed 12 without BBFC cuts for the 2009 cinema release and 2009 Sony DVD.

  • Director McG cut one shot to earn the US PG-13 rating. The quick cut involved featuring Sam Worthington's character Marcus stabbing a screwdriver through the shoulder of a thug.
  • But McG also removed the nude Moon Bloodgood shot claiming it: felt more like a gratuitous moment of a girl taking her top off in an action picture, and I didn't want that to convolute the story or the characters.

The pre-cuts were restored for the (US R rated) Director's Cut (Extended Cut) which was passed 12 without BBFC cuts for the 2009 Sony Blu-ray.

The BBFC put the triviality of the nudity cut in good perspective:

Terminator Salvation is the fourth instalment in the Terminator franchise and sees a grown-up John Connor leading the human resistance movement. It has been passed 12 for scenes of moderate violence and intense action.

The setting of the narrative in this film is an all-out war between the human resistance movement and Skynet with its army of Terminators. There are some spectacular battle sequences with heavy explosions and gunfire which include sight of many robots being destroyed, including a close-up shot of a robotic head being crushed by a helicopter. This sets the tone for much of the violence in the film. Most of the damage and injury is caused to the robotic characters while the human characters generally emerge unscathed. There is some injury detail seen, to the Connor character in particular, but these sequences do not dwell on detail and do not contain any emphasis on injuries or blood. For the most part the injuries are impressionistic and the fantasy setting is always well to the fore. Given this approach to the depiction of violence the film is contained at 12 under the terms of the Guidelines for violence at that level.

The film as a whole does have an unrelenting intensity which is a well established feature of fantasy films at the 12 level but the tone is comparatively light and plays very much to audience expectations for the genre. There is none of the darker, sadistic, elements that occasionally take such works to the higher category. Mature themes and sustained moderate threat and menace are allowed at 12 in the Guidelines and these are all elements that contributed to placing Terminator Salvation at 12 .

The extended version of the film also contains a scene featuring brief sexualised nudity as we see a woman remove her top, revealing one of her breasts. This is only seen from considerable distance and there is no clear or sustained nudity present within a sexual context. At 12 , the BBFC Guidelines state that in a sexual context nudity must be brief and discreet and this sequence in Terminator Salvation falls within those limits.

 

31st October   

Update: Fantasy Games...

Venezuela solves gun crime by banning violent video games
Link Here

Mercenaries 2 RiaNovosti reports that the Venezuelan government has now passed a law banning violent video games.

This new law extends as far as outlawing the import, production and sale of such video games, as wall as a similar ban on toy guns and strict rules regarding TV adverts with a military nature aimed at children.

Gun crime in Venezuela is believed to be one of the primary causes of death among 16 to 20-year-olds, and while censorship on this scale is seen as distasteful on an international stage, it's hard to blame the authorities for taking any measure possible to stem the flow of violence. It'll be interesting to see if a link between games and violence becomes evident in the results of the ban.

 

31st October   

Naughty But Nice...

Nutter commissioned survey finds 76% of those questioned find hardcore morally unacceptable
Link Here

Morality in Media logo The nutter campaign group, Morality in Media, have commissioned a survey by Harris Interactive.

The questions and overall breakdown of responses are as follows:

1. Viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable

  • 6%--Strongly agree
  • 9%--Somewhat agree
  • 13%--Somewhat disagree
  • 63%--Strongly disagree
  • 9%--Don't know

2. Viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is, generally, harmless entertainment

  • 7%--Strongly agree
  • 11%--Somewhat agree
  • 11%--Somewhat disagree
  • 63%--Strongly disagree
  • 8%--Don't know

Overall, women are more likely than men to disagree with each statement (morally acceptable - 85% women vs. 66% men; harmless entertainment - 82% women vs. 64% men).

Morality in Media president Robert Peters had the following comments:

There is a perception held by many that hardcore adult pornography has become acceptable in American society. But the perception is false. This is not to say that there isn't a market for hardcore adult pornography. There is. But what primarily fuels the market is sexual addiction, not casual viewing. Furthermore, just because a person experiments with this material or on occasion succumbs to the temptation to view it does not mean he approves of what is viewed or of all pornography, especially when online hardcore adult pornographers often promote their products aggressively and deceptively.

In Hamling v. United States, the Supreme Court recognized that the mere fact that hardcore adult pornographic materials are available in the nation or in a community does not 'make them witnesses of virtue' or prove that similar materials at issue in a criminal obscenity trial are acceptable under community standards and therefore legal to disseminate.

In Miller v. California, the Supreme Court also stated: 'This much has been categorically settled by the Court, that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment.' The Miller Court went on to define 'obscene' in a manner intended to restrict the reach of obscenity laws to 'hard-core' pornography. Today, most adult pornography distributed commercially is 'hardcore.'

It is unfortunate that so little has been done at the Federal level to curb distribution of hardcore adult pornography. Under President Clinton, the Justice Department turned its back to the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet. Under President Bush, the Justice Department said the right things but failed to implement policies to get the job done. It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will enforce federal obscenity laws.

 

31st October   

Offsite: Chinese Book Banning Service...

Tilting at the Customs Administration over confiscated books
Link Here

China Customs flag You've taken a trip to Hong Kong and are returning with a stack of reading material that you can't normally find on the mainland. To your dismay, the customs agent seizes your books, but won't tell you why. What do you do? Sue!

Southern Weekly reported last week on a professor who is suing a customs office in Guangzhou over the confiscation of seven books he brought back from Hong Kong.

Most of the books that Feng Chongyi had confiscated by the Tianhe Terminal Customs Office were written by mainland authors and did not violate national laws or regulations. But the heart of his complaint is more general: there is no publicly-available index of banned books, and no clear public standard of what constitutes illicit printed material. Feng argues that this violates Chinese law.

...Read the full article

 

30th October   

Updated: Censor for 1 Day...

Birmingham cinemas ban film on police advice
Link Here

1 Day poster Cinemas in Birmingham have been caught up in a bitter row between police and film makers as they were advised not to screen a controversial new film about city gangs.

1 Day , which is to go on general release next week, tells the story of two rival gangs of black youths who are caught up in the underworld of drugs and guns.

The film was shot on the streets of Handsworth with the cast recruited from nearby neighbourhoods.

The row between police and filmmakers reached boiling point last night when it's director, Penny Woolcock, claimed that Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas had all been advised by West Midlands Police not to screen the movie in Birmingham.

Woolcock, said: Censoring this film is shortsighted, shameful and lets a lot of people down. Even if 1-Day did glamorise gun violence, which it certainly does not, I do not think it is the function of the local police to go round saying what films should be shown and which ones shouldn't. Let people decide for themselves.

But Assistant Chief Constable Suzette Davenport strongly denied there had been official censorship from West Midlands Police. The assistant chief constable said she had spent all day trying to find out where the message had come from not to show the film: I would like to make it absolutely clear that West Midlands Police don't have any powers at all to censor. Organisationally, we haven't sent out a message to cinemas that they shouldn't screen this film, she said. [...but...]

I have always been consistent in saying that I am concerned it glamorises gangs and the impact this will have on the people of Birmingham.

Odeon, which has a cinema on New Street, said it was not showing the film after taking advice from West Midlands Police. It declined to comment further.

Passed at '15' for strong language and violence

See article from bbfc.co.uk

To get a bit of perspective, the  BBFC have commented about the film:

BBFC logo 1 Day is a drama-thriller that follows a frenzied 24 hours in the life of a gang member and drug dealer in Birmingham who must somehow find a large amount of money that he owes to his gang leader who has just been released from prison. The film was passed at 15 for strong language and violence.

The film contains numerous uses of strong language that feature in the dialogue and the lyrics of hip-hop songs accompanying the action, certainly too many to meet with the restrictions of the Guidelines at 12A/12 which state that the use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') must be infrequent . Consequently, the film was placed at the 15 category where the Guidelines allow for frequent use of such language.

In a film depicting the lives of characters involved in crime and gang rivalries, there are sequences of moderate threat as well as scenes where tensions break out into open violence that include the use of knives and guns. These represent moments of strong violence with sight of its bloody consequences which required the 15 category, but there is no undue dwelling on the infliction of pain or injury , or on the bloody detail, which might have presented a challenge to the Guidelines at 15 .

The film contains infrequent soft drug use as well as sight of hard drugs, including a scene which sees a character cooking up crack cocaine but this is portrayed without any significantly instructive detail. The presence of drugs has a contextual justification but the depictions of drug dealing and drug misuse do not carry any elements of overt promotion or encouragement and it is likely that they would have been permitted at 12A .

The film also contains moderate language and a moderate suggestion of sexual activity.

Update: Story of a Police Censor

30th October 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

It seems that local police took umbrage at the portrayal of Birmingham violence in 1 Day , and the West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable, Suzette Davenport, appeared on television accusing filmmakers of glamorising violence .

She said: My starting-point is that it's fiction, but I think you do see some glamorisation of gang-related behaviour. The main character walks off with £100,000, leaving behind a carnage of dead bodies. It's like a shoot-out at the OK Corral.

The Odeon chain confirmed that it would not be showing the film in the city itself, although it will carry it in 10 cinemas nationwide. Cineworld has likewise opted out of a local screening, in spite of carrying it in more than 20 of its cinemas across the country, according to the film's distributors Vertigo. Only one major multiplex - Vue - which originally declined to show 1 Day in Birmingham, had a change of heart after a consultation process. And two smaller independent cinemas in the city will also show the film.

It emerged yesterday that a uniformed West Midlands police constable had taken it upon himself to speak to the manager of the Odeon in Birmingham and advised him, in a personal capacity, against screening 1 Day. The manager took the advice, word spread and other multiplexes followed. Davenport said the police officer in question was mortified by the consequences of his actions, but would not be suspended or reprimanded. [yeah yeah!]

She dismissed claims that the force had tried to implement a ban, but admitted that she had written to the BBFC in an attempt to have the film's certification raised from 15 to 18 years, but said her request had been denied. She had seen the film in a special screening.

 

30th October   

Call to Nutter Duty...

Australian nutters whinge about game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD Children's lobby nutters are calling on the Australian government to review its decision to classify as suitable for 15-year-olds an upcoming video game that allows players to assume the role of a terrorist and shoot innocent civilians in an airport.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a highly realistic shooter title due for release on November 10, is one of the most anticipated games of the year. Its predecessor, Modern Warfare , sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and garnered a slew of game of the year awards.

But the game has sparked nutter controversy after leaked footage revealed that, in one of the missions, players can join a group of Russian ultranationalist terrorists and massacre civilians with assault weapons in an airport. The mission effectively simulates a terrorist attack from a first-person view.

Jane Roberts, president of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, called on the Classification Board to review its rating decision. She said even if the game maintained an MA15+ rating it would still be easily accessible by people under 15.

The consequences of terrorism are just abhorrent in our community and yet here we are with a product that's meant to be passed off as a leisure time activity, actually promoting what most world leaders speak out publicly against, said Roberts, who is also the principal policy officer in Western Australia's Department of Premier and Cabinet.

We understand that it's a game but ... we're not far off when you look at the images that you could actually put it on a Channel Nine news report and you'd think maybe that is real.

Activision, the game's publisher, and its lawyers, have been working frantically to remove all traces of the footage from the web, arguing that it was released illegally before the game had come out. But the company has confirmed the footage is authentic and that the mission is part of the game.

Nicholas Suzor, spokesman for the lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the incident highlighted the need for an R18+ rating for video games. But he did not believe a video game could breed terrorism. He said previous games such as Counter-Strike have allowed players to assume the role of terrorists.

Films often show the villain's perspective and, by doing that, they get across the character's story and the heinous nature of people who carry out atrocities. Games, too, are becoming more expressive, and are telling more involved stories . We may make an argument that these sorts of topics are not suitable for children, but I don't at all accept that it is unsuitable for adults.

 

30th October   

Update: Nonsense Stays Protected...

Lords allow blasphemous libel to stand in Northern Ireland
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Lords logo The House of Lords debated on the 28th October 2009, Lord Lester's clause included in the Coroners and Justice Bill to abolish blasphemy in Northern Ireland.

The amendment was withdrawn. This means that the law stands as it is.

The feeling was that it is an issue that should be debated by the Northern Ireland Assembly rather than Westminster.

 

30th October   

Widening the Net...

FCC consults on whether it should be censor for a wider range of media
Link Here

FCC logo The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Notice of Inquiry seeking feedback and responses to the subject of the affect of electronic media on children and whether or not the Commission should have more power to wield authority.

Released on October 23, Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape presents some of the influence (both pro and con) emerging media has on youngsters, before asking for additional data on these subjects. Specifically the FCC is seeking information on the extent to which children are using electronic media today, the benefits and risks these technologies bring for children, and the ways in which parents, teachers, and children can help reap the benefits while minimizing the risks.

The FCC also is asking commenters to to discuss whether the Commission has the statutory authority to take any proposed actions and whether those actions would be consistent with the First Amendment.

 

30th October   

Offsite: Tastes Set at a Dial...

The BBC's censors risk killing off comedy
Link Here  full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

golden spoon Last Tuesday, the BBC Trust criticised the panel show Mock the Week because one of its stars, Frankie Boyle, joked about the facial features of Rebecca Adlington, the Olympic swimmer.

But even before the ban on derogatory gags, senior figures in comedy were expressing frustration at the BBC's increasing nervousness about humour. Take Jimmy Mulville, who runs the company that makes Have I Got News for You . At the Edinburgh Television Festival in August, Mr Mulville said it was becoming harder to get risqué jokes past the BBC's censors. My worry, he said, is that we're having our tastes set at a dial by the tabloid press.

...Read the full article

 

30th October   

Fairer Standards...

US appeals court finds that national not local community standards should be applied to internet obscenity
Link Here

US Dept of Justice In a ruling of particular interest to US online adult businesses, a federal appeals court has decided that a national community standard to define Internet obscenity is more appropriate than a local one.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed fraud, conspiracy, obscenity and money-laundering convictions and sentences for Jeffrey Kilbride and James Schaffer, but remanded to the lower court for correction three counts described as felonies as misdemeanors.

A three-judge panel weighed a joint appeal of the first convictions in the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit for Internet adult obscenity and the first convictions ever under the federal CAN-SPAM Act.

The appellants' arguments focused on an unconstitutional jury instruction that allowed a jury in Arizona to convict Schaffer and Kilbride of obscenity based on lay witness testimony as to community standards existing in places all over the U.S.

On Wednesday, the court agreed with Kilbride and Schaffer's contention that a national standard is more appropriate for Internet communications and that the lower court failed to instruct the jury to that standard.

Gary Jay Kaufman of The Kaufman Law Group and Greg Piccionelli of Piccionelli & Sarno argued the case before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit.

Piccionelli said he was glad that the 9th Circuit to made this long-overdue change in obscenity law.

It has been clear to those of us practicing in the Internet law area for the last 15 years that the old formulation of letting the most conservative communities in America dictate what is or is not obscene on the Internet is deeply destructive to our fundamental freedoms, Piccionelli told XBIZ.

Kaufman said: This holding sounds the death knell for the long-standing Miller test for determining whether materials are obscene when the materials are published via the Internet or in email communications. What the court is saying, in effect, is that the days of trying to fit horse-and-buggy law to the digital age are over. And it makes sense - how can you subject a person to criminal prosecution for having the bad luck to open their email or log onto a website in Boise, Idaho, rather than Los Angeles?

 

30th October   

Update: Religious Censors Trump State Censors...

Malaysian court case arguing whether state censors can ban books about religion
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia bans islamic books

Muslim challenge Islamic fundamentalism extremism The ban on a book published by Sisters in Islam (SIS) is illegal, irrational, and inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, the Malaysian High Court heard.

SIS also contended that then Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who ordered the ban, had no authority to do so.

In their submissions, counsel for SIS Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and K. Shanmuga told Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof that under the constitutional framework, Islam was a state matter and as such, fell exclusively within the purview of the state governments.

The minister does not have the requisite legal competence and/or authority to arrive at conclusions on matters pertaining to Islam. It would be necessary for the state religious authorities to have firstly concluded on the matter (where it pertains to Islam) before the minister could exercise his discretion, Malik Imtiaz said at the first day of hearing yesterday, adding that these pre-conditions were not met.

On Dec 15 last year, SIS Forum (Malaysia) had applied for leave for a judicial review of an order banning the 215-page book entitled Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism. It is a compilation of essays based on research by renowned international scholars and activists, and the book was edited by sociologist Prof Noraini Othman of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Institute of Malaysia and International Studies.

The ministry had banned the book under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 on grounds that it was 'prejudicial to public order' .

Hearing continues on Nov 18.

 

29th October   

Nutters Pissed Off...

Winding up the nutters with a gag about a weeping picture of Jesus
Link Here

Curb Your Enthusiasm Complete Season Comedian Larry David is under attack from critics who say he pushed the mocking of religion and Christian belief in miracles over the edge in the latest episode of his HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm , which the cable network defended as playful.

On the show's most recent installment, David urinates on a painting of Jesus Christ, causing a woman to believe the painting depicts Jesus crying.

Deal Hudson, author and publisher of InsideCatholic.com, said he doesn't find any humor in the episode. I don't think it's funny, Hudson told Foxnews.com. Why is it that people are allowed to publicly show that level of disrespect for Christian symbols? If the same thing was done to a symbol of any other religions -- Jewish or Muslim -- there'd be a huge outcry. It's simply not a level playing field.

Somebody should [apologize], Hudson said. When is it going to stop? When is common sense going to dictate that people realize this willingness of artists to do to Christianity what they would never do to Judaism or Islam?

In a statement to Foxnews.com, HBO downplayed the controversy.

Anyone who follows Curb Your Enthusiasm knows that the show is full of parody and satire, the statement read. Larry David makes fun of everyone, most especially himself. The humor is always playful and certainly never malicious.

During Sunday's episode, David, who created, wrote and produced Seinfeld , visits a bathroom in his assistant's home and splatters urine on a picture of Jesus. Instead of wiping it off, David leaves the restroom. Minutes later, David's assistant enters the bathroom and concludes that Jesus is crying. She then summons her mother to the bathroom, where both women kneel in prayer.

The episode, The Bare Midriff , primarily revolves around David's assistant and her belly-revealing attire. According to the show's Web site, a new pill increased David's urine flow, leading to the misunderstanding about a miraculously weeping Jesus.

HBO promoted the controversial scene on the show's site, complete with a squirm-o-meter that ranked the urine incident ahead of David's confronting his assistant about her exposed midriff.

 

29th October   

Update: Comedy Bomb Attack...

Dieudonne M'bala M'bala fined for allegedly anti-semitic gag
Link Here  full story: Dieudonne Mbala Mbala...Comedian winds up with near anti-semitic humour

Dieudonne poster A court in Paris has fined the French stand-up comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala €20,000 (US$ 30,000) over an allegedly anti-Semitic stunt during a show in which he invited a notorious Holocaust denier onto stage.

Dieudonné was ordered to pay €10,000 for his public anti-Semitic insults and a further €10,000 in damages and legal fees to organizations that sued him. He was prosecuted after he invited Robert Faurisson, a convicted Holocaust denier, onto stage during a comedy show to receive a satirical award from an actor dressed as a Jewish deportee. The comedian admitted at the hearing that the show had been a comedy bomb attack but defended his right to free expression.

Dieudonné, a former anti-racism campaigner whose father originated from Cameroon, often courts controversy and earlier this year tried to enter politics by standing for the European parliament as head of an anti-Zionist party.

In September 2007, Dieudonné was fined after he accused Jews of exploiting memorial pornography and attacked a Zionist lobby which cultivates the idea of their unique suffering ... and has declared war on the black world. Two months later, he was back in court and was fined €5,000 for having compared Jews to slave-traders .

 

29th October   

Whinges of the Week...

Ofcom receive 290 complaints about Nick Griffin on Question Time
Link Here

Question Time logo Ofcom's weekly log of complaints received:

Tuesday 20 October 2009 to Monday 26 October 2009

Question Time BBC 1, Thursday 22 October 2009 : 290
The X Factor ITV1, Saturday 24 October 2009 : 62
The X Factor ITV1, Sunday 25 October 2009 : 18

 

29th October   

Update: Lost for Word...

Microsoft pull out of Family Guy sponsorship
Link Here

Family Guy Season 8 DVD Microsoft has yanked its sponsorship from an upcoming half-hour special on Fox featuring Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, according to Variety. The special was set to air on November 8, and was going under the working title Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show. The show, announced earlier this month, was to be commercial free, but would feature Windows 7 marketing messages woven into the fabric of the program.

When it came to time to sign off on the show, however, Microsoft wasn't laughing. Variety reports that Microsoft executives came to view the special's taping on October 16, but got more than they bargained for when MacFarlane and Family Guy co-star Alex Borstein started doing jokes about the deaf, the Holocaust, and incest.

The special's content turned out to be a little too much for Redmond, and the company decided the show was not a fit with the Windows brand.

Even though Microsoft has passed on the show, Variety says Fox plans on going forward with the November 8 special in partnership with a new, yet-to-be-named sponsor.

 

29th October   

Update: Flagging up Censorship...

Morocco bans French and Spanish papers reprinting 'offensive' cartoons
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Morcocco cartoon Morocco blocked distribution of an edition of leading Spanish daily newspaper El Pais after it reprinted cartoons deemed disrespectful to the royal family, the newspaper said. Morocco also blocked distribution of editions of the French newspaper Le Monde over the cartoons.

Moroccan authorities accused the newspapers of attacking the monarchy with the publication of the cartoons.

One of the cartoons is by Le Monde's star cartoonist Plantu and it depicts a hand reaching out of a Moroccan flag to create a child-like drawing of a funny face wearing a crown.

The other is by Moroccan caricaturist Khalid Gueddar and it alludes to the 25 September wedding of Prince Moulay Ismail, a cousin of King Mohammed VI, to a German convert to Islam.

The Federation of Journalist Associations in Spain said it deplored the distribution ban slapped on El Pais, saying in a statement it was regrettable that the Moroccan ministry of communication had opted for censorship .

 

28th October   

Takedown Hall of Shame...

New website highlights outrageous attempts to take down online content
Link Here

Takedown Hall of Shame Websites like YouTube have ushered in a new era of creativity and free speech on the Internet, but not everyone is celebrating. Some of the web's most interesting content has been yanked from popular websites with bogus copyright claims or other spurious legal threats. So today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching its Takedown Hall of Shame to call attention to particularly bogus takedowns — and showcase the amazing online videos and other creative works that someone doesn't want you to see.

Free speech in the 21st century often depends on incorporating video clips and other content from various sources, explained EFF Senior Staff Attorney and Kahle Promise Fellow Corynne McSherry. It's what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does every night. This is 'fair use' of copyrighted or trademarked material and protected under U.S. law. But that hasn't stopped thin-skinned corporations and others from abusing the legal system to get these new works removed from the Internet. We wanted to document this censorship for all to see.

EFF's Takedown Hall of Shame at www.eff.org/takedowns focuses on the most egregious examples of takedown abuse, including an example of a YouTube video National Public Radio tried to remove just this week that criticizes same-sex marriage. Other Hall of Shame honorees include NBC for requesting removal of an Obama campaign video and CBS for targeting a McCain campaign video in the critical months before the 2008 election. The Hall of Shame will be updated regularly, as bad takedowns continue to squash free speech rights of artists, critics, and commentators big and small.

Many of the bogus takedowns come from misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under the DMCA, claimants can demand that material be removed immediately without providing any proof of infringement. Service providers, fearful of monetary damages and legal hassles, often comply with these requests without double-checking them, despite the cost to free speech and individual rights.

The DMCA encourages a 'take down first, ask questions later' approach, creating an unfair hurdle to free speech, said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. People who abuse this law to silence critics should be shamed publicly, and that's what we're aiming to do.

The Takedown Hall of Shame is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless intellectual property claims.

 

28th October   

Offsite: The Lords Giveth and the Lords Taketh Away...

Let's cheer the demise of criminal libel
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Lords logo Freedom

For all the flaws in English libel law, we should be grateful for small mercies. At least now we've moved further to ensuring libel is no longer a criminal offence in this country. The House of Lords has voted on a government amendment to the coroners and justice bill to repeal the laws of criminal libel, seditious libel and obscene libel. With last year's repeal of blasphemous libel, this completes the removal of the four ancient offences that blighted our record on free speech.

It's true that none of these charges had been used for many years; nonetheless, they sat on the statute books like ugly toads, occasionally uttering a warning croak, echoed by even uglier and rather busier toads around the world. Criminal libel laws still apply in the majority of the world's states to the detriment of free speech and the free flow of information. And let's be clear: these laws are not used to protect anyone's reputation, they are used to silence dissent.

Yet some questions remain. Now that libel is a purely civil affair, will the government turn its attention to meaningful reforms in this area, to ensure that the balance between free speech and reputation is more appropriately set? Will the government also review its counter-terrorist legislation to ensure that we are free to express our fundamental (even fundamentalist) beliefs without risking criminal charges? Does the repeal of obscene libel laws mean that we are more or less sexually liberated - given new restrictions on extreme pornography ? And will the Religious Hatred Act allow us to speak out about religious absurdities without fear of being prosecuted for causing offence?

...Read the full article

 

28th October   

Update: Literary Censors...

Chinese take aim at literature that supposedly disregards common decency
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Chatterleys Lover Penguin Books no 1484 Chinese authorities have banned 1,414 works of online literature, saying all of it was deemed obscene.

Official news agency Xinhua said that the banned works either included pornographic content, used provocative or privacy-violating titles to draw attention or blatantly talked about one-night stands, wife swapping, sex abuses and violence that disregarded common decency.

The ban, authorized by the General Administration of Press and Publication and decided by 50 experts, affects about 30,000 links, Xinhua said. These censors also plan to establish laws and regulations on the publishing of literature online

 

28th October   

Comment: Out on a Limb...

Comedian under fire for jokes about injured soldiers
Link Here

Jimmy Carr DVD Jimmy Carr has come under fire for joking about soldiers who lost their limbs in battle.

He has landed in trouble for a joke in his current Rapier Wit tour in which he says: Say what you like about these servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in 2012.

However, Carr is a supporter of seriously injured troops - who are often known for their gallows humour - and has previously visited patients at Selly Oak military hospital in Birmingham and the Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

His joke made the front page of the Sunday Express, as well as coverage in The Mail on Sunday and Daily Star Sunday.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer said: This was a remarkably dim and foolish thing to joke about. It's not funny and this man's career should end right now.

In a statement, Carr said: I've got nothing but respect for the young men and women who put their lives on the line for this country. I've visited Selly Oak and Headley Court on many occasions.

I'm sorry if anyone was offended but that's the kind of comedy I do. If a silly joke draws attention to the plight of these servicemen then so much the better. My intention was only to make people laugh.

Comment: Jimmy Carr and the pomposity of those professing outrage

28th October 2009. See article from independent.co.uk by Dominic Lawson. Spotted by  mediasnoops

There really should be a single word to describe people who are volubly outraged on behalf of someone they have never met. There is, I suppose, the term busybodies , but that doesn't quite capture the noise they make.

This week's target for vicarious outrage is the comedian Jimmy Carr. He had made the following remark in last Friday night's show at the Manchester Apollo theatre: Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in 2012.

If you believe the suspiciously identical reports in various different newspapers, the 2,500-strong audience were stunned and gasped with shock . I'm more inclined to trust the reader who emailed one such paper to say, I was at the Manchester Apollo that Friday and the audience was not 'stunned into silence'. The place erupted in laughter.

...Read the full article

 

28th October   

Update: Tolerating Nonsense...

Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2009
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

Annual Report on International Religious Freedom In what one official describes as a mixed report, the US State Department's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom praises growing interfaith initiatives in some countries but criticizes blasphemy laws supported by some Islamic nations. Such laws, it says, curtail freedom of expression.

Introducing the report at the State Department Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized anti-defamation policies, such as those being proposed at the United Nations, saying that an individual's ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others' freedom of speech.

Clinton said the protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faiths will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse.

The annual report, addressing the state of religious freedom in 198 countries and territories, cites serious problems of religious tolerance in Afghanistan.

It singles out a controversial law signed by President Hamid Karzai limiting the rights of women from the Shia minority. It also cites harassment and occasional violence against religious minorities and Muslims perceived as not respecting Islamic strictures. Non-Muslim minority groups -- including Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs, it says -- continued to face incidents of discrimination and persecution.

The United States has very serious concerns over the status of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia as well, Posner said. The report says freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under Saudi law and it is severely restricted in practice.

The State Department will issue a separate report on countries of concern. Officials say they plan to release by January.

 

28th October   

Update: Flogged Off...

Saudi King waives flogging for journalist associated with sexual confessions programme
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBC The Saudi king has waived the lashing a court ordered against a woman for working at a Lebanese television channel that aired a sexual confessions programme.

He (King Abdullah) has asked the ministry of justice to drop the lashing against journalist Rozana al-Yami, information ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman al-Hazaa told AFP.

Hazaa said that the king has ordered the transfer of the cases to the ministry of information, referring to Yami's case and that of another female journalist, reportedly named Iman Rajab, who was convicted of working for the same controversial programme which caused a stir in the conservative kingdom.

 

27th October   

Update: Hardcore Nutters...

White ribbon wearers blame all the world's ills on porn
Link Here

White Ribbon The nutters of Morality in Media are gearing up for its annual White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week.

WRAP is a Religious Right group's efforts to publicize what it sees as the harms of pornography. Led by the Morality in Media (MIM), the movement hopes to escalate enforcement of obscenity laws and put behind bars adult entertainment operators like Goldman, who faces a federal jury over an eight-count indictment on obscenity charges.

The group is distributing WRAP ribbons through Sunday and is promoting letter-writing campaigns to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

MIM President Robert Peters said Monday that there is a breakdown over enforcement of hardcore movies, and that he hopes that more adult entertainment operators leave the business altogether.

While enforcement of obscenity laws is not the whole answer to the pornography problem, vigorous enforcement will put many hardcore pornographers out of business and encourage others to get or stay out, Peters said. It will also send the message that pornography is a moral and social evil. Youth especially need to hear this message.

Peters blamed a fueled-up proliferation of adult material on the Internet for much of today's societal ills: It is clear that the explosion of hardcore pornography on the Internet and elsewhere is fueling this moral crisis. The Supreme Court has held that obscenity laws can be enforced against 'hardcore pornography,' and these days most commercially distributed pornography is 'hardcore.'

Meanwhile, Barry Goldman faces trial tomorrow at U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., over his efforts selling DVDs through TorturePortal.com.

 

27th October   

Update: Leading by Example...

Campaigners hoping for end to criminal libel claim success in the House of Lords
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

House of Lords logo Freedom of speech campaigners are claiming victory as the House of Lords is expected to back changes removing anachronistic laws which have criminalised libel for more than 700 years.

The changes, which will be debated as part of the controversial coroners and justice bill, repeal laws dating back to 1275 and allow extremely serious libel and sedition to be prosecuted in criminal courts. The laws have long been regarded as an impediment to freedom of speech and an anomaly in the UK, which has encouraged countries with repressive regimes not to conduct prosecutions for libel.

Agnes Callamard, executive director of campaign group Article 19, said: This will send a very strong and clear signal globally that democracies do not have criminal defamation laws. The government's admission that the law, which has been widely recognised as hampering freedom of press and political dissent, must change comes after increasing concern about clampdowns in other countries, including many states in Europe and the Commonwealth.

These common law offences are anachronistic and their continuing existence, albeit seldom used, has been cited by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws, which have been actively used to restrict media freedom, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: The UK is committed to encouraging other countries to recognise and respect freedom of expression and the media must take the lead in abolishing these out-of-date offences.

There is also a debate about whether to extend changes to the law on blasphemous libel to Northern Ireland, where offensive remarks about the Christian church remain an offence.

There is now a grotesque situation in Ireland, said Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester QC. In the Republic of Ireland, there has been a rebirth of the offence of blasphemous libel for domestic constitution reasons, and in Northern Ireland we have not yet managed to get rid of it. God no more needs to be protected by criminal law in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain.

The government denied it was considering extending the repeal of blasphemous libel to Northern Ireland. The government believes that the Northern Ireland assembly is the best forum to consider this area of law as it relates to Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Justice said.

 

27th October   

Update: Pandering to the Lesbian Sensitive...

Lesbian Vampire Killers beheaded for its US release
Link Here  full story: Lesbian Vampire Killers...Pandering to the 'lesbian' sensitive

Lesbian Vampire Killers Bloody-Disgusting.com has learned that Genius Products/Weinstein Company's December 29 DVD release of Lesbian Vampire Killers in the US has been re-titled to Vampire Killers .

Perhaps inspired by British distributors who offered supermarkets a version with a sticker conveniently blocking the word 'Lesbian'

 

27th October   

A Question of Sacrifice...

The Director's Cut of Drag Me to Hell
Link Here
Drag Hell Blu ray Alison Lohman Drag Me to Hell is a 2009 US horror by Sam Raimi

The BBFC passed the Director's Cut 15 uncut for the 2009 Lions Gate Blu-ray.

The BBFC passed the Theatrical Version 15 uncut for the 2009 cinema release and 2009 Lions Gate DVD.

From review from dvdtalk.com : Sacrifice

The Blu-ray disk offers two alternatives of a gruesome sacrifice scene: the Unrated cut lunges directly for bloodletting and shock, the PG-13 takes a few more breaths before the inevitable.

In a rare instant of restraint crossing the finish line first, the PG-13 cut is the stronger, more demented experience (though less bloody) and the one I recommend to start with. For the curious, compare both cuts around the 49:45 mark.

 

27th October   

In the Name of Cohesion...

Council reports christian nutter for hate crimes over rant against gay pride march
Link Here

  Who? Sodomites?
No! Council
Jobsworths!

After witnessing a gay pride march, 'committed' Christian Pauline Howe wrote to the council to complain that the event had been allowed to go ahead.

But instead of a simple acknowledgement, she received a letter warning her she might be guilty of a hate crime and that the matter had been passed to police.

Two officers later turned up at the frightened woman's home and lectured her about her choice of words before telling her she would not be prosecuted.

Howe, 67, whose husband Peter is understood to be a Baptist minister, spoke of her shock at the visit and accused police of wasting resources on her case rather than fighting crime: I've never been in any kind of trouble before so I was stunned to have two police officers knocking at my door. Their presence in my home made me feel threatened. It was a very unpleasant experience. The officers told me that my letter was thought to be an intention of hate but I was expressing views as a Christian.

Howe's case has been taken up by the Christian Institute, which is looking into potential breaches of freedom of speech and religious rights under the Human Rights Act, either by Norwich City Council or Norfolk Police.

And homosexual equality pressure group Stonewall has branded the authorities' response disproportionate .

Her letter to the council described the gay pride march as a public display of indecency that was offensive to God . She wrote: It is shameful that this small but vociferous lobby should be allowed such a display unwarranted by the minimal number of homosexuals.

The letter went on to describe homosexuals as sodomites , said homosexuality had contributed to the downfall of every empire and added that gay sex was a major cause of sexually transmitted infections .

She received a response from the council's deputy chief executive, Bridget Buttinger, who said it was the local authority's duty... to eliminate discrimination of all kinds . The content of your letter has been assessed as potentially being hate related because of the views you expressed towards people of a certain sexual orientation. Your details and details of the contents of your letter have been recorded as such and passed to the police.

 

27th October   

Update: The Morocco Star...

The Morocco newspaper cartoon that wasn't found so funny
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Morcocco cartoon On Sept. 28, 2009, the government ordered Akbar el Youm silenced, shuttered its offices in Casablanca, and posted policemen at its entrance to prevent any of the newspaper's 70 employees from reaching their desks.

The reason? This cartoon by Khalid Gueddar, published on Sept. 26:

It's Moulay Ismail on his nuptial truss, says the line in Arabic. Moulay Ismail is a cousin of Mohammed VI. He got married to a German woman recently. The faintly Hitlerean pose of the cartoon is gratuitous and vulgar. The Moroccan ministry of the interior didn't like the cartoon. It called it anti-Semitic for the way it portrayed the Moroccan star apparently as a Star of David.

The ministry then displayed its own anti-Semitism when it charged that the depiction of the national star as a Star of David was an outrage to the flag. The cartoon, the ministry charged, also lacked respect for the royal family --which, in Morocco, must be respected more than humor, truth or justice, as the cartoon case proved: Khaled Gueddar and his editor, Toufik Bouachrine, now face three to five years in prison. Moulay Ismail, the nuptialized prince, is claiming $400,000 in damages.

 

26th October   

Breeding Censors...

Supporting the hype for a Director's Cut of Nightbreed
Link Here

Nightbreed Craig Sheffer Nightbreed is a 1990 US horror film by Clive Barker

Boogeyman from HorrorMovieFans.com wants horror fans to help get the uncut version of Nightbreed released on DVD. He has started an online petition at Go Petition.

Clive Barker and friends have discovered that Morgan Creek Productions has an uncut version of Nightbreed with an additional 44 minutes of footage and they refuse to release or sell.

After all signatures are collected over the next few months they will be presented to Morgan Creek Productions.

From cuts details on IMDb :

Director Clive Barker was reportedly required to cut the film down to 101 minutes from the original 126 minute cut by distributor 20th Century Fox. They felt that this cut was too long and rather too explicit for an R-rated release.

Also, Barker shot additional scenes with David Cronenberg's Decker character to flesh out his mentality. The excised footage consisted of some very graphic gore during the climax, disturbing images in the monsters' lair and quite a bit of "unnecessary" character development.

There were also some strange sexual themes between the monsters and Boone that wound up on the cutting room floor.

Writer/Director Clive Barker is reportedly preparing a restored "Director's Cut" of the film for DVD release.

 

26th October   

Update: Flog First, Trump Up Charges Later...

Saudi flogs journalist for association with controversial TV programme
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBC A woman journalist has been sentenced to 60 lashes by a Saudi Arabian court after a man appearing on the television chat show she worked on described his sex life.

Rozanna al-Yami said she was too frustrated and upset to appeal the sentence, which was handed down by a judge in Jiddah as a deterrence .

The show, Bold Red Line , caused huge controversy in the ultra-conservative Arab state when it was broadcast in July on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation's satellite channel. It featured a man called Mazen Abdul-Jawad talking openly about his active sex life and displaying sex toys, which were blurred out by the producers.

Al-Yami said she worked on the series as a co-ordinator but had not been involved with the offending edition. She had understood that the judge had dropped charges against her, which included involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising it on the internet.

Her conviction, she added, seemed to rest on the question of whether LBC was properly licensed to operate in Saudi Arabia: I had nothing to do with Mazen Abdul-Jawad's show. The verdict was just because I cooperated with LBC, she said. I was not aware (that LBC was unlicenced) but in the end this is the verdict and I accept it.

The Saudi ministry of culture and information yesterday questioned the validity of the court proceedings. Spokesman Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza said al-Yami should have been tried before a court that specialised in media issues and that failing to do so was a violation of Saudi law. It is a precedent to try a journalist before a summary court for an issue that concerns the nature of his job, he said. LBC's Western-style entertainment programmes and talk shows have made it a popular channel in Saudi Arabia, and royal billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a shareholder.

 

26th October   

Violating Sharia Law...

Now Egyptians get all riled by Beyonce Knowles
Link Here

Am Fierce Deluxe Tracks Lyrics Two weeks before American star Beyonce Knowles is scheduled to hold her first ever concert in Egypt, an Islamist MP publicly blasted the government for accepting to host the event and accused the government of violating Sharia law.

The pop star is set for a government-approved gig at the Red Sea resort of Port Ghalib, irking Muslim Brotherhood member Hamdi Hassan, who slammed the government for allowing a singer who appears naked in her clips to perform, which he said would spread vice. The government is trying to make people indulge in sin and licentiousness to cover up the other crimes it is committing against them, Hassan said in a parliament session.

Hassan highlighted what he called government double standards for refusing to allow an Islamic band that sings religious songs for children to enter the country.

Update: This is not Egypt.

7th November 2009. See article from google.com

A group on social networking site Facebook opposing Beyonce's concert has attracted nearly 10,000 members.

One poster displayed on the site, showing the silhouette of a curvacious woman with a diagonal red line through it, was entitled This is not Egypt.

 

25th October   

Update: Hacked Off...

Saw VI release called off in Spain
Link Here

Saw VI Theatrical Release Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (WDSMPI) International's Spanish arm has had to postpone the release of its horror film Saw VI nationwide in Spain because the film was given an X rating for extreme violence by the Spanish government's film institute, the ICAA.

This is the first time a non-pornographic Spanish film has been given such a rating which means that the film can only be released in eight Spanish cinemas normally dedicated to pornography.

WDSMPI had planned to release the film with 300 prints in commercial Spanish cinemas nationwide yesterday but has instead been forced to appeal the decision made by the ICAA and postpone the film's release.

All five of the previous Saw films had been given an 18 certificate in Spain and enjoyed success at the local box office, but the ICAA ruled that the sixth instalment was too violent and therefore warranted the X rating.

 

25th October   

Update: Censorship Devices...

Kentucky continues its quest to confiscate domain names of gambling websites
Link Here  full story: Online Gambling in the US...US censorship problems with online gambling

Kentucky state seal The Kentucky Supreme Court has heard arguments in a potentially landmark case that could determine the future of online poker as well as set new standards and precedents regarding the censorship of the internet.

The Supreme Court hearing marks the latest legal stop in a year-long debate on whether or not the Commonwealth of Kentucky has the jurisdiction to seize gambling-related domain names that are accessible to residents of the state.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear gave the order to seize 141 gambling-related domain names in fall of 2008, claiming that they were gambling devices and, as such, violated an anti-gambling statute that has been on the state's legal books since 1974. The initial ruling by District Court Judge Thomas Wingate agreed with Beshear that the web sites were gambling devices and upheld the state's actions.

Several gaming groups including the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) and the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) appealed the case and organizations like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also submitted written briefs to the court decrying Wingate's decision.

The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the online gambling sites, but the battle did not end there as the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

In addition to reiterating their belief that URL's do not constitute gambling devices, the respective attorneys speaking on behalf of the online gambling industry also emphasized the lack of due process in the proceedings, as the initial hearing with Judge Wingate did not allow for the opposition to be heard. Tate argued that the state's actions violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction to take this sort of legal action.

It could take up to a couple of months for the court to issue their written decision. Should the court rule in favor of the Commonwealth, any domain names that do not block Kentucky residents from accessing their sites will be required to forfeit the URL to the state. During his argument, Lycan revealed that those domain names would be sold at public auction once they were under the state's control.

 

24th October   

Updated: Pepsi Fails to Score Jezebel...

Pepsi apologises over chat up lines phone app
Link Here

Amp Up Before You Score Pepsi has apologised for releasing an iPhone app that supposedly encouraged men to brag about their sexual conquests.

The AMP UP Before You Score app also provided phone users with chat-up lines for getting lucky with 24 different types of women.

The software provoked criticism and derision when news of its release broke yesterday, with people complaining that it was sexist and denigrated the status of women.

Thousands of protests were marshalled on Twitter under the hashtag #pepsifail, prompting the soft drinks giant to issue an apology over the official Twitter feed of AMP Energy, the new drink that the app was released to promote.

Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it's in bad taste & appreciate your feedback. #pepsifail, the tweet read.

But the company did not promise to withdraw the programme, which is still available to download for free from the App Store. The app's description encourages users to share the names of their sexual partners with their friends online: Get lucky? Add her to your Brag List. You can include the name, date and whatever details you remembers . Keep your buddies in the loop on email, Facebook or Twitter.

Pepsi's unsophisticated appeal to masculine bravado went down particularly badly with readers of Jezebel, a US blog aimed at women.

Update: Pepsi Creates a Buzz

24th October 2009. Based on article from business.avn.com

Pepsi has retreated under heavy fire from feminists and finally pulled an iPhone app that they claim stereotypes women, but not before the firestorm had quieted down and the company felt it had reaped all the benefit it could from the controversy.

It launched Oct. 12 and almost immediately earned the scorn of feminists around the country.

An anti-AMP app Twitter campaign was also launched, prompting Pepsi to issue an apology, but it still refused to remove the app from the marketplace, until yesterday.

According to Associated Press, 'There was a lot of online chatter about the application last week and PepsiCo didn't remove the application then so the talk would continue,' said Kevin Dugan, director of marketing at Empower Media Marketing. He suspects the chatter has died down—in fact, he said he hadn't heard about the application for days—and that's why PepsiCo removed it. 'The true benefit had been realized by PepsiCo with it generating all that buzz,' he said.

 

24th October   

Updated: Incitement to Censor...

Bombing Gaza doesn't incite hatred against Israel but making a TV programme about it does
Link Here

TRT logo Israel's foreign minister ordered Turkey's ambassador to be summoned over a Turkish TV series that portrays Israeli soldiers killing children.

Avigdor Lieberman said the programme, broadcast on Turkey's state television, incited hatred against the country. In one clip screened on Israeli TV, an Israeli soldier takes aim at a smiling young girl.

In a statement, Lieberman said the series, which presents Israeli soldiers as the murders of innocent children, would not be appropriate for broadcast even in an enemy country and certainly not in a state which maintains diplomatic relations with Israel .

Another clip from the series - which tells the story of a Palestinian family - reportedly shows a bullet fired by an Israeli solders travelling in slow motion towards a Palestinian child. The programme was broadcast on Tuesday evening on Turkey's TRT One Channel.

Based on article from ynetnews.com

Turkey shrugged off angry protests from Israel about a Turkish television drama that portrays Israeli soldiers as cruel and repressive.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey is not based on censorship and that the state has no right to comment on the quality of broadcasts or the opinions expressed in them.

The Foreign Ministry is not an advisory body for TV series, he said a day after Israel rebuked Turkey's acting ambassador, warning the series could incite attacks against Jews visiting Turkey.

The 13-episode drama is Ayrilik, Askta ve Savasta Filistin , which means Separation, Palestine in Love and War , and tells a love story against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Update: Now Censored

24th October 2009. Based on article from khabrein.info

Turkish authorities imposed censorship on state-owned TRT channel, which on its part is showing Ayrilik (Separation), a highly-controversial prime-time TV series set against the backdrop of Israeli Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The now-censored series show Israeli soldiers shooting a smiling young girl in the chest, killing babies, steamrolling tanks through crowded streets and lining up a firing squad to execute a group of Palestinians, among other scenes that Israel saw as anti-Israeli .

 

24th October   

Update: Many Angels and Demons...

Three versions of Angels and Demons released in the UK
Link Here

Angels Demons Extended Cut Blu ray Angels & Demon is a 2009 US drama by Ron Howard

There are 3 versions of Angels & Demons released in the UK

  • The Extended Version was passed 15 without further BBFC cuts for the 2009 Sony Blu-ray.

The Extended Version includes more violent footage than the Theatrical Versions.

See pictorial version details from movie-censorship.com

  • The US Theatrical Version was passed 15 without further BBFC cuts and is also on the 2009 Sony Blu-ray.
     
  • The pre-cut UK Theatrical Version was passed 12A/12 without further BBFC cuts for the 2009 cinema release and 2009 Sony DVD. The BBFC stated:

This film was originally shown to the BBFC in an unfinished version. The BBFC advised the company that the film was likely to receive a '15' classification but that the requested '12A' certificate could be achieved by making reductions in four scenes. In particular the BBFC suggested that sight of blood splattering onto a character's face, sight of a character screaming in pain as he burns, sight of a wound being injected and sight of a character self-immolating and burning should all be reduced. When the finished version of the film was submitted, all these reductions had been made satisfactorily and the film was classified '12A'.

 

24th October   

Update: Making Nonsense Sacred...

OIC try a new angle to get 'defamation of religion' into law
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

More freedom of expression and human rights groups have voiced concern at a bid by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the African Group to write new conditions into an international convention that will add a requirement to ban defamation of religion to a convention intended to eliminate racism.

The OIC, represented by Pakistan, and the African Group, represented by Egypt, have approached the UN Ad Hoc Committee mandated to elaborate on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The OIC proposes new and binding standards on issues such as defamation of religions, religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols .

Twenty four groups, including ten Arab organisations, have put their name to an appeal to the Ad Hoc committee [pdf] not to accept the OIC proposals.

With an eye to the Danish cartoons saga, the OIC calls for protection against provocative portrayals of objects of religious veneration as a malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance, and prohibition of the publication of …gratuitously offensive attacks on matters regarded as sacred by the followers of any religion .

The OIC submission would also provide for action against abuse of the right to freedom of expression in the context of racio-religious profiling .

The letter, originated by free expression campaigners Article 19, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and Human Rights Watch Legal Resource Consortium in South Africa, maintains that the concept of defamation of religions is contrary to freedom of expression but also general principles of international human rights law.

The focus, the signatories argue, should be on protecting the rights of individual believers, rather than belief systems.

 

23rd October   

Update: Left 4 Dead Too...

Australian ban on Left 4 Dead 2 confirmed by review board
Link Here

Left for Dead 2 A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the computer game Left 4 Dead 2 is classified RC (Refused Classification).

In the Review Board's opinion, Left 4 Dead 2 could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.

In addition, it was the Review Board's opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors.

 

23rd October   

Update: Trapped in a Porn Cinema...

Saw VI gets a rare X rating in Spain
Link Here

Saw VI Theatrical Release If you plan on seeing SAW 6 in Spain you will be seeing it in a porn cinema since the film just got an X rating limiting where it will play.

Aullidos.com is reporting the film got an X rating and that its the first time it has happened in 20 years for a wide release theatrical horror movie.

It really begs the question what's in the movie that makes it so bad? I am sure Lionsgate will be proud of this and start putting it in their commercials.

 

23rd October   

Bad Nannies...

Nanny Association whinges at upcoming game, Dante's Inferno
Link Here

Electronic Arts Dantes Inferno PS3 The International Nanny Association (INA) is whingeing at the upcoming Electronic Arts game Dante's Inferno .

The game features Bad Nanny rewards for players who slaughter a yet undetermined number of unbaptized infants, leading INA to say that the game component was created out of poor taste and bad judgment.

INA is opposed to video games that promote and encourage players to kill babies, even in fantasy play. It is our opinion that this type of play may promote violence towards children. The name of the trophy or achievement, Bad Nanny, is offensive to our association in that we strive to promote and educate the public regarding the selfless work nannies do to support families by providing quality in-home child care.

INA urged its members to email the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) with concerns and complaints.

 

23rd October   

Update: Losing Face...

Facebook group winds up Berlusconi's government
Link Here

Facebook logo The 20,000 members of a Facebook group called Let's Kill Berlusconi face an investigation after Rome magistrates said that the group could prompt an assassination attempt against the Italian Prime Minister.

But new members were continuing to join the group ( Uccidiamo Berlusconi in Italian) yesterday after prosecutor Nello Rossi announced the move, following government pressure for action against the Facebook users.

Angelino Alfano, the Justice minister, said: I'm waiting for the magistrates to do their duty and investigate, pursue and find the ones, who by encouraging hatred and murder against Silvio Berlusconi, are committing a punishable offence.

A third of the group's members have joined in the past 48 hours after criticism by the Berlusconi family newspaper Il Giornale raised its profile. Nonetheless, ministers said they were alarmed that some members of Uccidiamo Berlusconi, listed in Facebook's just for fun section, said they were willing to kill the Prime Minister.

Interior minister Roberto Maroni has pledged to shut down the group and publicly denounce its participants. I don't think that there's a country in the world in which someone would be able to write on a website 'Let's kill the Prime Minister', he told Corriere della Sera. It would be a good thing if this demonisation of political adversaries stopped. I'm extremely concerned there's a risk things could get out of control.

 

23rd October   

Right Too Far...

Rightwing Swedish politician charged with hate speech
Link Here

Sweden flag Swedish politician Jimmie Åkesson has been charged with hate speech for writing an opinion piece in which he calls Islam the biggest threat to his country since World War II.

In piece published in Swedish daily Aftonbladet, the leader of the far right Sweden Democrats writes that his country has the most rapes per capita in Europe, and most of the perpetrators are Muslim. Åkesson also claims that ten Muslim terrorist groups have established cells in Sweden.

According to Åkesson, today's multicultural Swedish power-elite are totally blind to the dangers of Islam. As a Sweden Democrat, I see this as our greatest external threat since World War II and I promise to use all my power to change the trend during next year's election, he writes.

 

23rd October   

Offsite: Censorship for 'Economic Reasons'...

End of an era for Lebanon's free press
Link Here

LBC logo For decades, Lebanese journalism has been applauded as the freest, most outspoken and most literate in the heavily censored Arab world. Alas, no more. Beirut's best-read daily has just shed more than 50 staff and LBC, one of the country's best-known television stations, has just fired three of its most prominent presenters. The Lebanese media are being hit - like the rest of the world - by the internet and falling advertising revenues. But this is Lebanon, where politics is always involved. Is something rotten in the state of the Lebanese press?

Is it by chance that An Nahar's culture editor - whose supplement campaigned against assassinated prime minister Rafiq Hariri's plans for rebuilding downtown Beirut - has been fired after the paper cosied up to the politics of Hariri's son Saad, now the Lebanese prime minister designate? Is it a coincidence that the three senior presenters on LBC represented the last supporters of the old Lebanese Forces (of civil war infamy) still working at the channel?

...Read full article

 

22nd October   

Updated: Debate Heats Up...

UK Government climate change advert receives 200 complaints
Link Here  full story: Climate Change Advert...Drowning in a sea of complaints

Act on C02 advert The advertising censor ASA has received more than 200 complaints that the government's latest TV campaign on climate change is misleading.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change  (DECC) launched the £6m campaign, in which the government throws its weight behind the scientific evidence that climate change is man-made and will affect us all.

DECC said it has taken the stronger approach because research has shown that more than half of the UK public think climate change will have no effect on them.

However, over the past week the Advertising Standards Authority has received 202 complaints about the campaign.

Some have argued that there is no scientific evidence of climate change; others claim there is a division of scientific opinion on this issue and therefore the ad should not have attributed global warming to human activity.

Another complaint was that the ad, which features a father telling his daughter a scary bedtime story about climate change, is inappropriate to be seen by children because it is upsetting and scaremongering .

The ASA is assessing the complaints and will make a decision on whether to launch an investigation in due course.

Update: Drowning in a Sea of Complaints

22nd October 2009. Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

ASA logo The ASA, the Advertising censor, is to consider the Government climate change TV advert which featured a drowning puppy and rabbits dying of thirst.

The ASA said the advert had prompted more than 350 complaints and that it would now be launching an investigation.

It will now look into claims that the film should not have been shown before the 9pm watershed because children would have been watching. The censor will also examine whether the advert would have been distressing for youngsters and whether it constituted scaremongering .

Others have also complained that the advert which is part of a £6million campaign had presented human caused climate change as fact and challenged the statistics used. Critics also suggested that the content was political and accused it of being propaganda.

The investigation is expected to last for two to three months before a ruling is made.

 

22nd October   

Update: Thank Evan...

Criminal libel, obscene libel and seditious libel to be abolished
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

House of Commons logo Index on Censorship and English PEN welcomed MPs' robust response in an adjournment debate to law firm Carter-Ruck's challenge to Parliamentary reporting, and called on them to strengthen the public's right to information by banning the use of so-called super injunctions except in extreme circumstances.

Jo Glanville, Editor of Index on Censorship, said: The widespread use of super injunctions is a serious threat to media freedom in this country - and to the fabric of open democracy. It is essential that this debate marks the beginning of reform, so that individuals and companies are no longer free to gag the press and prevent information that's clearly in the public interest from coming under scrutiny.

Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, said: The rights of Parliament are the rights of citizens. Unless Parliament is free to debate everything that MPs believe to be important, it can't do its job properly. And unless the public is free to know what Parliament is talking about, we have closed government. Super injunctions compromise democracy and should be banned, except in extreme circumstances.

MPs from the three main parties voiced their concerns about super injunctions and the impact of English libel law on free speech in an adjournment debate called by Evan Harris MP in the wake of the Trafigura affair, in which the law firm Carter-Ruck argued that a super-injunction prevented the media from reporting on a Parliamentary question asked by Paul Farrelly MP.

During the debate, Denis MacShane MP called for the partners of Carter-Ruck to be called to the Bar of the House of Commons to account for their attempts to subvert Parliamentary democracy.

MPs commended the work of Evan Harris, English PEN and Index on Censorship in raising awareness of the failings of English libel law.

David Heath MP asked the government to confirm that the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840, which grants the media the right to report on everything in Parliament, is still in force.

Responding to the debate, Bridget Prentice, Minister for Justice, said: It is not possible to fetter Parliament . She confirmed that the advice given by Carter-Ruck in their letter of 14 October to the Speaker was incorrect. She said: we are very concerned that super injunctions are being used more frequently, especially in libel. And she confirmed that the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 was still in force.

Prentice promised further guidelines on the use of super injunctions and agreed that defamation law needs to be tightened up . She stated that the government would abolish the antiquated laws of criminal libel, obscene libel and seditious libel in an amendment to the Coroners & Justice Bill in response to pressure by Index on Censorship, Article 19 and English PEN.

 

22nd October   

Update: Fierce Criticism...

Malaysian nutters censor Beyonce gig
Link Here  full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars

Am Fierce Deluxe Tracks Lyrics US singer Beyonce has postponed a planned concert in Malaysia following accusations by Islamic conservatives that the show would be immoral.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party called for the show in Kuala Lumpur to be scrapped because it would promote Western sexy performances.

Organisers said the concert, which was due to be held on 25 October, would be postponed to a future date .

The postponement is solely [the] decision of the artiste and has nothing to do with other external reasons, organisers Marctensia said in a statement.

Last month, Marctensia addressed concerns the singer might wear inappropriate outfits, saying all parties have come to an amicable understanding about stage costumes.

Female performers at Malaysian concerts are required by government rules to cover up from the shoulders to knees, with no cleavage showing.

 

22nd October   

Updated: Puckered Out...

India bans the kissing in Hollywood romance between Indian prime minister and the Viceroy's wife
Link Here

Indian Summer The Indian government has ordered that love scenes between characters based on its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of Britain's last Viceroy, be deleted from a new Hollywood film of their romance.

Officials revealed they had given permission for the film Indian Summer , starring Hugh Grant and Cate Blanchett, to be filmed on location in India on the condition that scenes showing the couple in bed, kissing, and dancing, are deleted.

Another in which Nehru declares his love for Lady Mountbatten is also understood to have been deleted.

The script was vetted by a committee of senior government officials who were concerned it portrayed Nehru in a poor light.

The film, which is due for release in 2011, is based on Alex Von Tunzelmann's book Indian Summer, The Secret History of the End of Empire , which tells the story of Nehru and Lady Mountbatten's intense and clandestine love affair during the Mountbattens' return to India for the handover and partition in 1947.

The nature of Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten's relationship is still hotly contested in India, where many prefer to believe the lonely widower and the adventurous Vicereine were devoted but platonic friends.

Update: Postponed

22nd October 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

News that British film-makers planned to lift the lid on one of the most sensitive chapters of the last days of the Raj - the love affair between Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru - sent waves of panic through the modern-day Indian establishment when it was announced earlier this month.

The Delhi government, of which Nehru was the first prime minister following independence in 1947, demanded scenes be rewritten and depictions of physical intimacy be banned in exchange for granting permission to film. But now it seems it need not have worried about stepping in to safeguard the reputation of the founding father of the world's largest democracy - at least until the recession blows over.

Universal Pictures has postponed plans to start filming the adaptation of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by the historian Alex von Tunzelmann, according to Variety magazine.

Due to star Cate Blanchett as the amorous English aristocrat, with Hugh Grant as her socially ambitious husband the last viceroy, studio bosses are said to have baulked at the $30m to $40m (£18m to £24m) price tag for the venture with Working Title Films.

Director Joe Wright, who had hoped to start filming on location in India next year, said the budget pressures in a difficult market had added to the already troublesome conditions of shooting a major film in India and forced the delay. It was claimed he had considered going ahead on a reduced budget of less than $30m, but decided to hold on for the extra cash with Universal.

We were in between a rock and a hard place, he said. The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.

 

21st October   

A Killer, A Monster, A Terrorist...

Advert for video game Prototype cleared by the advert censor
Link Here

ACTIVISION Prototype PC DVD A TV ad, for the console game Prototype , showed a male character, who wore a top with its hood up. The voice-over stated My name is Alex Mercer. They call me a killer, a monster, a terrorist. I'm all of these things . The ad included a rapid sequence of action scenes; the character was shown jumping from a building before jumping on to a helicopter and a tank as well as swinging knives and swords.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children.

Issue 1. A viewer objected that the ad was harmful, because he believed it glamorised and condoned violence and murder.

Issue 2. he also challenged whether the ad was appropriately scheduled, because he believed it could cause particular harm to young people under 18.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA noted the ad included explosions and the main character briefly swung blades; however, the action scenes did not depict inter-personal violence, injury or murder. We considered that viewers would understand that the action sequences, which were relatively mild and fleeting, reflected the content of a fictional action game; the action was clearly not realistic. We noted the voice-over stated They call me a killer, a monster, a terrorist ... however, in the context of the overall impression of the ad, we considered viewers were likely to regard the voiceover as part of the fictional action. We acknowledged that some viewers might object to the themes of the game, but considered that the ad itself was unlikely to be seen to condone violence or murder.

We also considered the ad did not feature sequences that were likely to have a directly harmful influence on children or young people; the sequences shown were clearly fictional and relatively mild and were therefore unlikely to cause harm to children by condoning violence and murder. We considered the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the ex-kids restriction was sufficient.

 

21st October   

Update: Taboo Words...

Joan Bakewell against a diktat on strong language...BUT...
Link Here

View Here Life Seventy Journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell has described the BBC's plans to clamp down on strong language as far too sweeping a diktat .

Bakewell, whose 2001 series Taboo listed the words people find most offensive, warned there was a major danger of censorship stifling creativity.

She argued that society needs taboos and spoke up for the right to shock .

Writing in the Radio Times, Bakewell referred to the Strictly Come Dancing race row, saying it was right that using insulting words like paki could get you into trouble as Anton Du Beke deservedly found out .

She continued: Casual swearing is lazy, ugly, a glib way to let off steam on the football pitch or in the kitchen. I don't want it on my television at all. But when it's part of a tense, gritty drama - such as those set among soldiers at war like Occupation - or of an uproarious lampoon of our political system such as The Thick of It , then that's a proper use of the language and should be allowed.

 

21st October   

National Security Censors...

Former British spy attempting to overturn MI5 book ban
Link Here

Uk Supreme Court A former British spy is asking Britain's Supreme Court to overturn a decision by domestic intelligence agency MI5 to block him from publishing a book about his career.

Lawyers for the former MI5 officer, who is not named in court documents, told a hearing that he is seeking a judicial review of the decision.

Britain's government says publishing the book could threaten national security.

 

21st October   

Breeding Censors...

Old MPAA cuts to David Cronenberg's The Brood
Link Here

Brood DVD Oliver Reed The Brood is a 1979 Canada horror by David Cronenberg

The BBFC passed the US Unrated Version for the 2005 Anchor Bay DVD without cuts for an 18 rating.

Previously the US R Rated Theatrical Version was passed uncut for the 1979 X rated cinema release, 1992 Video Gems video, 1997 Arrow video, 1998 Polygram video and 2005 Anchor Bar DVD.

This version was cut by US film censors at the MPAA to achieve an R Rating

From version details on IMDb

28 seconds of footage deleted from:

  • the ripping and licking of the foetus
  • the mallet murder of the old lady
  • shots of the dead schoolteacher's battered face

Review from UK Amazon : Cronenberg get noticed

The Brood was David Cronenberg's third feature release and the film that got him noticed outside Canada and the horror genre. With heavy weight actors Oliver Reed and Samantha Egger, Cronenberg's excellent script - Oliver Reed said it was the best written part he had had since The Devils - and a story more psychological than outright horror, though there are a few gory scenes, Cronenberg was onto a winner.

This is a film that stays with you long after the final credits have rolled. There are many influences playing through the film, the brood children are reminiscent of the dwarf from Don't Look Now, Howard Shore's excellent strings only score a nod to Bernard Herrman's score for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Get this DVD now! it should be in your collection, quick before some idiot does a remake with CGI brood and no plot or subtext!

 

21st October   

Flab Fights Back...

Campaigners want 'fatism' added to anti-discrimination law
Link Here

Size Acceptance Attacking someone for being fat should be a hate crime, campaigners say.

They want so-called fat-ism to be made illegal on the same grounds as race, age and religious discrimination.

A demonstration was held outside the offices of the mayor of London asking him to lead the way in making sure employers are not prejudiced.

Protesters want the UK to follow San Francisco, where a law bans fat-ism in housing and employment and stops doctors pressing patients to slim down.

Sondra Solway, a San Francisco lawyer, said: The San Francisco ordinance says you may want to mention weight to the patient but if the patient says they do not want to talk about that then you are asked to respect those wishes.

People who are very overweight do experience a lot of prejudice both in their social life and working life and do need some protection. Dr Ian Campbell, Weight Concern

The campaigners, who belong to the Size Acceptance Movement, say surveys show 93% of employers would rather employ a thin person than a fat one even if they are equally qualified.

 

21st October   

Lands of the Not So Free...

Reporters Without Borders publish their Press Freedom Index 2009
Link Here

Reporters without Borders logo Africa

The Horn was again the African region with the most press freedom violations. Eritrea (175th), where no independent media is tolerated and 30 journalists are in prison (as many as in China or Iran but with a much smaller population), was ranked last in the world for the third year running. Somalia (164th), which is steadily being emptied of its journalists, was the world's deadliest country for the media, with six journalists killed between 1 January and 4 July.

Americas

The process of adopting a Shield Law protecting the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level is far from over in the United States (20th) but the judicial authorities are no longer jailing journalists and violating civil liberties in the name of national security as they were in the Bush era. So the US is back in the press freedom top 20, as is appropriate for a country where the press has traditionally played its role as independent watchdog well.

One of the countries where prosecutions led to exorbitant damages awards, Canada (19th) fell a few places but still holds the hemisphere's highest position.

Asia

The authoritarianism of existing governments, for example in Sri Lanka (162nd) and Malaysia (131st), prevented journalists from properly covering sensitive subjects such as corruption or human rights abuses. The Sri Lankan government had a journalist sentenced to 20 years in prison and forced dozens of others to flee the country. In Malaysia, the interior ministry imposed censorship or self-censorship by threatening media with the withdrawal of their licence or threatening journalists with a spell in prison.

War and terrorism wrought havoc and exposed journalists to great danger. Afghanistan (149th) is sapped not only by Taliban violence and death threats, but also by unjustified arrests by the security forces. Despite having dynamic news media, Pakistan (159th) is crippled by murders of journalists and the aggressiveness of both the Taliban and sectors of the military. It shared (with Somalia) the world record for journalists killed during the period under review.

The Asian countries that least respected press freedom were, predictably, North Korea, one of the infernal trio at the bottom of the rankings, Burma, which still suffers from prior censorship and imprisonment, and Laos, an unchanging dictatorship where no privately-owned media are permitted.

Asia's few democracies are well placed in the rankings. New Zealand (13th), Australia (16th) and Japan (17th) are all in the top 20. Respect for press freedom and the lack of targeted violence against journalists enable these three countries to be regional leaders.

Europe & ex-USSR

For the first time since 2002, the press freedom index's top 20 is not quite so European. Only 15 of the 20 leading countries are from the Old Continent, compared with 18 in 2008. Eleven of these 15 countries are European Union members. They include the top three, Denmark, Finland and Ireland. Another EU member, Bulgaria, has been falling steadily since it joined in 2007 and is now 68th (against 59th in 2008). This is the lowest ranking of any member of the union.

The biggest one-year fall of any EU member was Slovakia's. It sank 37 places to be 44th. This was mainly the result of government meddling in media activities and the adoption in 2008 of a law imposing an automatic right of response in the press. Two candidates for EU membership also experienced suffered dramatic falls. They were Croatia (78th), which fell 33 places, and Turkey (122nd), which fell 20 places.

Turkey's big fall was due to a surge in cases of censorship, especially censorship of media that represent minorities (above all the Kurds), and efforts by members of government bodies, the armed forces and judicial system to maintain their control over coverage of matters of general interest.

Middle East & North Africa

Israel cast down by Operation Cast Lead This is the first time that Israel (internal) is not at the head of the Middle Eastern countries in the press freedom index. By falling 47 places to 93rd position, it is now behind Kuwait (60th), United Arab Emirates (86th) and Lebanon (61st). Arrests of journalists (and not only foreign ones), their conviction and in some cases their deportation are the reasons for Israel's nose-dive. Israel's media are outspoken and investigate sensitive subjects thoroughly, but military censorship is still in force.

Iran at gates of infernal trio Iran (172nd) now stands at the threshold of the infernal trio of countries at the very bottom of the index after a major deterioration in its press freedom situation marked by blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi's death in Evin prison, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi's arrest and the crackdown in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad's disputed reelection in June. Many journalists were arrested and a Stalinist-style show trial began in Tehran in which the most basic rights of the defendants are still being flouted.

1 Denmark
++
- Finland
+
- Irland
+
- Norway  
- Sweden
+
6 Estonia
-
7 Netherlands
+
- Switzerland  
9 Iceland
-
10 Lituania
+
11 Belgium
-
- Malta
--
13 Austria
+
- Latvia
-
- New Zealand
-
16 Australia
++
17 Japan
++
18 Germany
+
19 Canada
-
20 Luxembourg
--
- United Kingdom
+
- United States of America
++
23 Jamaica
-
24 Czech Republic
-
25 Cyprus
+
- Hungary
-
27 Ghana
+
28 Trinidad and Tobago
-
29 Uruguay
++
30 Costa Rica
-
- Mali
+
- Portugal
--
33 South Africa
+
34 Macedonia
+
35 Greece
-
- Namibia
--
37 Poland
++
- Slovenia
-
39 Bosnia and Herzegovina
-
- Chile
++
- Guyana
++
42 Surinam
--
43 France
-
44 Cape Verde
++
- Slovakia
--
- Spain
-
47 Argentina
++
48 Hong-Kong
+
49 Italy
-
50 Romania
-
51 Cyprus (North)
+
- Maldives
++
- Mauritius
-
54 Paraguay
++
55 Panama
+
56 Papua New Guinea
--
57 Burkina Faso
+
- Haiti
++
59 Taiwan
--
60 Kuwait
+
61 Lebanon
+
62 Botswana
+
- Liberia
--
- Malawi
+
- Serbia
+
- Tanzania
+
- Togo
-
68 Bulgaria
-
69 South Korea
--
70 Bhutan
+
71 Brazil
++
72 Benin
-
- Seychelles
+
- Timor-Leste
-
75 Kosovo
--
76 Nicaragua
--
77 Montenegro
--
78 Croatia
--
79 El Salvador
--
80 Central African Republic
+
81 Georgia
++
82 Comoros
+
- Mozambique
+
84 Ecuador
--
85 Peru
++
86 Uganda
++
- United Arab Emirates
--
88 Albania
-
89 Senegal
-
- Ukraine
-
91 Mongolia
+
92 Guinea-Bissau
--
93 Israel (Israeli territory)
--
94 Qatar
--
95 Bolivia
++
96 Kenya
+
97 Zambia
--
98 Dominican Republic
--
99 Lesotho
++
100 Guinea
-
- Indonesia
++
- Mauritania
+
103 Burundi
-
- Côte d'Ivoire
+
105 India
++
106 Guatemala
-
- Oman
++
108 USA (extra-territorial)
++
109 Cameroon
++
110 Djibouti
++
111 Armenia
-
112 Jordan
++
113 Tajikistan
-
114 Moldova
--
115 Sierra Leone
-
116 Congo
--
117 Cambodia
+
118 Nepal
++
119 Angola
-
- Bahrein
--
121 Bangladesh
++
122 Philippines
++
- Turkey
--
124 Venezuela
--
125 Kyrgyzstan
--
126 Colombia  
127 Morocco
-
128 Honduras
--
129 Gabon
--
130 Thailand
-
131 Malaysia
+
132 Chad
+
133 Singapore
++
134 Madagascar
--
135 Nigeria
-
136 Zimbabwe
++
137 Gambia  
- Mexico
+
139 Niger
-
140 Ethiopia
+
141 Algeria
--
142 Kazakhstan
--
143 Egypt
+
144 Swaziland
+
145 Iraq
++
146 Azerbaijan
+
- Democratic Republic of Congo
+
148 Sudan
--
149 Afghanistan
+
150 Israel (extra-territorial)
-
151 Belarus
+
152 Fiji
--
153 Russia
--
154 Tunisia
--
155 Brunei
--
156 Libya
+
157 Rwanda
--
158 Equatorial Guinea
-
159 Pakistan
-
160 Uzbekistan
+
161 Palestinian Territories
+
162 Sri Lanka
+
163 Saudi Arabia
-
164 Somalia
--
165 Syria
-
166 Vietnam
+
167 Yemen
--
168 China
-
169 Laos
-
170 Cuba
-
171 Burma
-
172 Iran
-
173 Turkmenistan
-
174 North Korea
-
175 Eritrea
-

 

20th October   

Update: Haunted by Censors...

Mock the Week wins the Golden Spoon Award for Bad Taste
Link Here  full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

Mock the Week book A joke about the Queen broadcast on BBC2's satirical panel show Mock the Week had been cleared by the corporation's TV censor.

Comedian Frankie Boyle joked that you would not hear the Queen say during her Christmas broadcast: I'm now so old that my p**** is haunted.

The episode had first been shown in 2007 but was repeated in October 2008 during the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand furore.

A complainant said the joke was grossly offensive and added: It would have been objectionable at the best of times but coming as it did in the midst of the Ross and Brand controversy it was quite unforgivable.

An initial complaint to the BBC's management had been rejected saying that, while the joke was near the knuckle , it was in keeping with the show.

The viewer then took his complaint to the BBC Trust which also rejected the complaint, despite admitting the joke had sexist and ageist overtones .

Richard Tait, BBC trustee and chairman of the editorial standards committee, said the joke was well after the watershed, well signposted and within audience expectations for the show . He said: The committee did feel this joke was in bad taste - it had both sexist and ageist overtones.

golden spoon However, a gag on a different episode of Mock the Week about Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington was deemed to have broken rules.

In August last year, Boyle said Adlington looks like someone who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon . He also made a sexual innuendo about the gold medalists' love life, saying Adlington's boyfriend looked like a male model and continuing: So from that I have deduced that Rebecca Adlington is very dirty - I mean if you just take into account how long she can hold her breath...

One viewer told the BBC he was appalled .

The show's producer later responded to the complaint, saying the ribbing might have gone a tad too far and apologised.

The trust said that 75 complaints were received about the item, originally aired in the week that Team GB returned from the Olympic Games. It found that, while Adlington was a public figure, she had not courted media attention. The judgment said: The joke about her appearance and the sexual innuendo were humiliating and there was no demonstration of a clear editorial purpose for the inclusion of these comments.

The committee also noted that the commissioning editor had made her views known about preferring not to include the joke. It said it was concerned she appeared to have been unable to obtain the edits she would have preferred.

 

20th October   

Updated: Nutter Trash...

German nutters organise event to trash 'killer games'
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Rage Trash It Sega Saturn A German nutter group has organized an event designed to get participants to bring their violent video games, tagged killer games, to in order to dispose of them in a trash can.

Aktionsbndnis Amoklauf Winnenden, or Action Alliance (loosely translated), has setup the event for this Saturday, October 17 in front of the Stuttgart State Opera. One game tosser will win a signed jersey from the German national soccer team.

The Action Alliance is made up, at least partially, of the parents of children slain earlier this year at the awful school shooting incident in Winnenden, Germany, which claimed 16 lives.

Update: Rubbish Idea

20th October 2009. Based on article from gamepolitics.com

The Killer Game Drive put on by Aktionsbndnis Amoklauf Winnenden over this past weekend appears to have been a failure.

The group was attempting to get people to come and toss killer games into a dumpster, and, well, while the Action Alliance did have a huge, graffiti-laden repository, let's just say that it probably didn't take them hours to empty it.

From pictures posted online of the event, it appears that just three games made it into the dumpster: a copy of Grand Theft Auto , Small Soldiers for the Game Boy Advance and one other unknown title.

 

20th October   

Nothing 'Natural' in the Daily Mail...

Stephen Gately article seen by many as an anti-gay rant
Link Here

PCC logo The Press Complaints Commission has received a record 22,000 complaints about Jan Moir's Daily Mail article about Stephen Gately. This is more complaints in a single weekend than the PCC has received in total in the past five years.

Moir's article, which was published the day before Gately's funeral in Dublin, provoked widespread outrage on the web. The original headline on the Mail Online website, Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death , was later amended to the print edition headline A strange, lonely and troubling death . The article has also prompted a complaint to the Metropolitan police.

Moir's article said Gately's death in Mallorca after a night out strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships .

It is understood that the PCC will be mindful of the attitudes of Gately's family and partner. They appear to be individually written complaints, a source said. The PCC has had no formal contact with the Daily Mail over the incident, the source added.

The PCC today stopped short of announcing an immediate investigation to see if its code of practice has been violated but said it would consider the 22,000 complaints. In this case the PCC could launch an investigation to see if Moir's article violated parts of its code that deals with intrusion into grief, accuracy, discrimination and homophobia.

On Friday advertisers including Marks & Spencer demanded that their advertising be removed from the webpage on which Moir's piece was published, although Mail Online had already taken the decision to remove banner ads.

Moir, who has won a British Press Award, made a statement defending her column late on Friday, saying it was not her intention to offend, blaming a heavily orchestrated internet campaign for the furore and adding that it was mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones .

 

20th October   

Rated R for Resigned...

US chief film censor to step down
Link Here

MPAA logo Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, has made it official that he will leave his post with the lobbying organization for Hollywood studios when his contract expires in September.

The news follows the quiet departures of several MPAA executives over the past few months and repeated industry criticism that Glickman's record has been mixed at best.

Glickman, who succeeded longtime MPAA chief Jack Valenti, has held his post for five years.

 

20th October   

Vaguely Harmful...

Repressive internet porn law challenged in Ohio court
Link Here

Ohio state seal A state law supposedly designed to protect children from pornography and predators on the Internet is too vague for the average citizen to know what is prohibited and what is permitted, according to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

But Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray believes otherwise.

The two sides will argue their case before the seven-member Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 20.

The law makes it a crime to directly send obscene or harmful material to a juvenile via electronic means, including the Internet. Cordray lumps email, individual messaging and private chat rooms as electronic means. The law also has a provision that lets people off the hook if they didn't know the recipient was a juvenile or they had no way of preventing a juvenile from seeing it.

The American Booksellers Foundation sued, contending that the law is unconstitutional and overly broad. In 2007, a federal court granted an injunction that bars authorities from trying to enforce the law. Then the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals asked the state supreme court to review the statute and Cordray's interpretation of it.

 

20th October   

Knives Glamourised...

New Blu-ray uncut release of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Link Here

gp Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a 2001 US action film by Simon West

The 2009 Paramount Blu-ray is noted as the Uncut Feature and has been passed without BBFC cuts but with a 15 certificate

Previously the BBFC stated that the 2001 Paramount DVD is cut as per the cinema release: Cuts required to glamorising shots of flick knife (including sight and/or sound of knife opening, a close shot of the knife covered in blood, and clear sight of knife being twirled) and to sight of a headbutt delivered by heroine, to take account of the large, young, 12-14 year old audience which has already been created by the similarly cut film version.

 

19th October   

Update: Crumbs and Sound Bytes...

Robert Crumb's Genesis gets noticed by the press
Link Here

Robert Crumb's The Book of Genesis A sexually illustrated Book of Genesis by subversive artist Robert Crumb, which depicts Bible characters having intercourse, has predictably been condemned by religious groups.

The book, which is released this month, carries the warning adult supervision recommended for minors , and is described as scandalous satire by its publishers.

Crumb has said he does not believe that the Bible is the word of God. I take it all for myth from start to finish, with probably some faint relation to historical reality. They're great stories. But for people to take texts as something sacred, handed down from God... that's pretty backward, I think.

It is turning the Bible into titillation, said Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, a religious think-tank. It seems wholly inappropriate for what is essentially God's rescue plan for mankind. If you are going to publish your own version of the Bible it must be done with a great deal of sensitivity. The Bible is a very important text to many many people and should be treated with the respect it deserves. Representing it in your own way is all very well and good but it must be remembered that it is a matter of people's faith, their religion. Faith is such an important part of people's lives that one must remember to tread very carefully.

A spokeswoman for the Bible Society said she hadn't seen the book but that reviews had suggested that Crumb had really engaged with the Book of Genesis. It may surprise people but the bible does contain nudity, sex and violence. That's because it contains real stories about real people. If by reading the book people are encouraged to re-engage with the Bible then that can only be a good thing.

 

19th October   

Chained by Censors...

Old cuts to David Worth's Chain of Command
Link Here

Chain Command Michael Dudikoff Chain of Command is a 1994 US action film by David Worth

The BBFC cut 1:53s from the 1994 Warner video

  • A scene is cut showing Maya touched by the bad guy who then proceeds to cut away some of her clothes with a knife

See review from IMDb : Some good moments

Unusual for Michael Dudikoff, he plays a foul-mouthed character, an ex-Green Beret who now works for an American oil company in a foreign country. The F word flies left and right from the Dudemeister's mouth as he winds up the only survivor of a massacre at the refinery he's there to inspect.

Not one of my favorite Dudikoff films, but there's some good moments throughout. The opening titles are pretty cool, with the credits set against a montage of oil fields with some cool music playing, Keren Tishman is gorgeous in her (to date) one and only film role, and the long climactic fight between Dudikoff and Todd Curtis is well-executed. But, it doesn't make the list as one of my favorite Dudikoff films.

 

19th October   

Melancholia...

International award winning Filipino film director talks about his films being banned at home
Link Here

Death in the Land of Encantos Filipino director Lav Diaz may have been paying homage to the late actor Marlon Brando when he was invited to the 8th Italian film fest. Asked to speak about his experience in winning awards at the recent Venice film fest, he instead sent actress Angeli Bayani to read his speech:

In 2007, my film Death in the Land of Encantos competed and won Special Mention at the Orizzonti section of the festival. The following year, in 2008, my film Melancholia competed in the same section and won the Orizzonti Prize.

The Board of Censors here in the Philippines banned my films. There's nudity and sex, they said. Without proper critical viewing of my films by the honorable members of the Board of censors, they deemed the films not appropriate for viewing here in their country of origin. They banned other works, too.

And lately, they have been encroaching on the freedom of venues like the Adarna Theatre of the University of the Philippines. I'll say it again: Censorship is poison to cinema. Censorship is poison to the arts. Censorship is poison to culture.

Censorship is a very feudal act. It is fascism.

 

19th October   

Update: Failing Health...

Morocco press freedom on the decline
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Al Michaal weekly The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns the decision of a Rabat court to imprison the managing editor of Al-Michaal newspaper for one year.

A Rabat misdemeanor court sentenced Driss Chahtan to a year in jail and Al-Michaal journalists Mostafa Hiran and Rashid Mahameed to three months in prison and a 5,000 dirham (US$655) fine each for intentionally publishing false information in a number of articles about King Mohamed VI's health, local journalists told CPJ.

The paper's lawyers walked out of the hearing on October 8 to protest procedural violations and the court's failure to abide by basic standards for a fair trial, they said.

Immediately after the court ruling, around two dozen policemen stormed the Casablanca-based offices of Al-Michaal and arrested Chahtan, journalists told CPJ. Lahbib Mohamed Haji, one of the newspaper's lawyers told CPJ that the arrest violated the country's penal code, saying that the public prosecutor had no legal basis to request the imprisonment after the court issued its decision.

Haji said he has appealed the ruling. Neither Hiran nor Mahameed have been detained.

These jail terms are part of a disturbing trend of repression of critical journalism in Morocco, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. The government has failed to keep its repeated promise to reform restrictive press legislation and a politicized judiciary. We call on the appeals court to overturn these convictions. Meanwhile our colleague should be released on bail.

Update: Banned

21st November 2009. See article from indexoncensorship.org

Moroccan newspaper Al-Michaal was banned on 13 November after editor in chief Driss Chahtan was sentenced to one year in prison and a 10,000 dirham fine as punishment for his articles about the health of King Mohamed VI.

 

18th October   

Hitler is Not Dead...

He is Welcoming Visitors to Pattaya
Link Here

Nazi salute welcome to Pattaya The Thai operator of a waxworks museum in Pattaya has covered up a giant billboard of Adolf Hitler giving a Nazi salute after complaints from the Israeli and German ambassadors that it was offensive and utterly tasteless .

The billboard - along with three others featuring famous dead people - is prominently located on the main highway into Pattaya, as part of an advertising campaign to promote Louis Tussaud's Waxworks which is due to open early next month. The Thai slogan on the billboard reads: Hitler is not dead.

The managing director of the museum, Somporn Naksuetrong, apologised for the billboard and said the creative agency behind the campaign had not intended to cause offence: In the museum we don't show him with other world leaders, we show him in the scary section. Somporn said since the billboard was erected more than two weeks ago they had received about 100 complaints and a protest letter from the Israeli Embassy. He said they would keep the promotional concept, but come up with another famous deceased person to replace the German dictator.

German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher noticed the billboard when he attended the opening of the Child Protection and Development Centre in Pattaya last weekend. He told representatives of the Pattaya City Council and the local business community that this kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people . It could also create negative consequences to Pattaya as a popular tourist destination, the embassy said in a statement, adding it had contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the matter.

Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Shoham said the embassy had received many complaints over the billboard and had asked authorities involved to urgently remove this hateful street sign . Shoham said many Israeli tourists holidaying in Pattaya have been horrified to see such a sign on the main highway. It is totally unacceptable to have such a monster like Adolf Hitler on public display, he said. How this could happen is beyond my understanding and comprehension. He also urged the operators to remove the Hitler waxwork from the museum.

 

18th October   

Censorship Roulette...

Old cuts to Jing Wong's God of Gamblers
Link Here

God Gamblers DVD Yun Fat Chow God of Gamblers is a 1989 Hong Kong film by Jing Wong

The BBFC waived their cuts for the 2002 MIA DVD

Previously the BBFC cut the 1990 cinema release and 1990 Justmatch video by 41s

  • In reel 4 a scene where a moustached man twirls a butterfly knife was removed.
  • Also, shortly afterwards, a scene was reduced in which a knife is twirled by a man before he threatens a woman's face.

Review from UK Amazon : Part of the charm

It isn't John Woo, but it's still a great action thriller. Not massive on the stunts until the end and boy, it's worth waiting for. The beauty of Chow yun Fat is that he does all of his own stunts (watch out for the: doing a somersault, catching two guns in each hand, and shooting a bad guy before he hits the floor).

The acting is admittedly camp, but it's all part of the charm of Hong Kong cinema.

 

 

18th October   

Update: A Bad Rap...

Police music censor shifts from live music to MC and DJ events
Link Here  full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

Metropiltan Police badge Hip-hop clubs have come under police scrutiny after a rethink of a strategy to prevent violence at music events.

There had been strong objections to the Metropolitan Police's use of Form 696, used to gather details of promoters and performers.

It has now been changed so as not to be primarily aimed at live music. It will in future focus on large promoted events between 10pm and 4am which feature MCs and DJs performing to recorded backing tracks .

Police claim it is necessary to track artists and promoters who have attracted problems, allowing officers to prevent violence by putting extra security in place or banning shows.

Police say evidence shows trouble is most likely at music events when DJs or MCs perform to a live backing track at late-night clubs.

Detailed research identified which events are most likely to attract crime and disorder, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police told BBC News. At the end of the day, you've got to say that certain events attract more trouble than others. We're shifting the focus away from live music. Originally the definition of what Form 696 applied to was extremely broad so by narrowing it down, it's thought that we can better tailor it to our requirements.

Club promoter Rod Gilmore said the new criteria would target urban music. Reading between the lines, the indie kids are all right but we've got to look out for those black boys with microphones in their hands, he said. Saying it's over recorded music with DJs and MCs really narrows it down.

 

18th October   

Offsite: Covering Up the Torture Scars...

How I took on the Foreign Secretary and (almost) won
Link Here

Ragged Union Jack Foreign Secretary David Miliband is in an ethical crater, entirely of his own making, but still he continues to excavate.

Last Friday, in a High Court judgment over the torture of the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Binyam Mohamed, he was not merely defeated, he was crushed.

According to Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, to accept Miliband's arguments would undermine democracy and the rule of law.

The judges, Miliband expostulated, had fundamentally misunderstood the case. Funded by the taxpayer, he would be mounting an appeal, contesting the judgment in the strongest possible terms - which is why we still cannot read the document detailing what really happened to Mohamed.

...Read the full article

 

18th October   

Update: Age of Micro-Managed Lives...

Concern that age related internet sales restrictions can easily be extended to other products
Link Here

House of Lords logo A proposal that will force online retailers to take extra steps to ensure that young people cannot buy or access inappropriate goods or material will moves one step closer to becoming law. The Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill was set receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday.

The Bill proposes making it a requirement for the providers of goods and services and the providers of specified facilities enabling the purchase of such goods and services to take reasonable steps, in certain circumstances, to establish the age of customers making such purchases . The proposed law refers to goods which it is already illegal to sell to people under the specified ages, such as 16 for cigarettes and 18 for alcohol.

It had previously been introduced in the House of Commons but ran out of Parliamentary time.

Some peers in the Lords raised objections to the Bill, though. The Earl of Erroll said that concerns over payments technology and over the scope of the Bill should cause concern: We must allow young people to buy things online. Many things are only obtainable that way nowadays - certainly the better bargains, he said. We must not outlaw methods of payment that will completely stop them buying anything.

The Earl of Erroll also warned that the Bill was in fact not just about age-restricted goods but gave Government the power to bar access to other materials: The second major problem refers to unconstrained powers. Clause 1(2) provides that the Secretary of State can make regulations that could extend to things that are not covered by legal ages or goods and services covered under current laws. The legal duty to comply with these laws already exists, and I do not think that Parliament should micromanage people in how they do these things. We should not be passing laws just to send a message. That is not a good idea.

 

18th October   

Censorship Protects Ignorance...

Sit-in at book fair to protest against Kuwaiti book censorship
Link Here

Kuwait flag Kuwait's leading liberal movement has vowed to defy state censorship placed on books by staging a sit-in on Oct 31.

This demonstration will mark a protest against any ban on publications during the upcoming book fair.

Burning books is equal to burning people, said Dr. Mohammad Al-Hasan, Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Forum movement during a seminar that was organized by the forum under the title Censorship Protects Ignorance.

Al-Hasan held the government accountable for what he described as intellectual terrorism by imposing strict censorship on various kinds of publications, including books. He also claimed that the country's Islamic blocs are only instruments in the government's hand.

Meanwhile, seminar convener Ahmad Saud, who is also the Chairman of National Democratic Youth Association, announced that the seminar was held as part of a series of activities that will be held by organizers. He revealed that the movement would hold a sit in on Oct. 31 during the book fair which will be held by the end of this month at Mishref's International fair ground.

Yousef Khalifa presented his own experience with the censorship board where the Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Information prevented him from publishing his book. It had offered the explanation that his work hurts the country's moral fabric without even mentioning the reasons and causes of why certain sentences and text should be altered in the book. He added that many of the authors and novelists have stopped writing or did not complete them because they are worried that censorship would erode the book's intellectual value. Khalifa asked why people continued to ignore the will imposed by the state. We should take an decisive action against censorship, he asserted.

 

17th October   

Updated: Super Injunctions...

Attempt to prevent Guardian publishing parliamentary proceedings fails
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

The Guardian An unprecedented attempt by a British oil trading firm to prevent the Guardian reporting parliamentary proceedings collapsed following a spontaneous online campaign to spread the information the paper had been barred from publishing.

Carter-Ruck, the law firm representing Trafigura, was accused of infringing the supremacy of parliament after it insisted that an injunction obtained against the Guardian prevented the paper from reporting a question tabled on Monday by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly.

Farrelly's question was about the implications for press freedom of an order obtained by Trafigura preventing the Guardian and other media from publishing the contents of a report related to the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast.

The Guardian was prevented from identifying Farrelly, reporting the nature of his question, where the question could be found, which company had sought the gag, or even which order was constraining its coverage.

But overnight numerous users of the social networking site Twitter posted details of Farrelly's question and by this morning the full text had been published on two prominent blogs as well as in the magazine Private Eye.

Carter-Ruck withdrew its gagging attempt by lunchtime, shortly before a 2pm high court hearing at which the Guardian was about to challenge its stance, with the backing of other national newspapers.

MPs from all three major parties condemned the firm's attempt to prevent the reporting of parliamentary proceedings. Farrelly told John Bercow, the Speaker : Yesterday, I understand, Carter-Ruck quite astonishingly warned of legal action if the Guardian reported my question. In view of the seriousness of this, will you accept representations from me over this matter and consider whether Carter-Ruck's behaviour constitutes a potential contempt of parliament?

The Commons question reveals that Trafigura has obtained a hitherto secret injunction, known as a super-injunction , to prevent disclosures about toxic oil waste it arranged to be dumped in west Africa in 2006, making thousands of people ill. Farrelly is asking Jack Straw, the justice secretary, about the implications for press freedom of a high court injunction obtained on 11 September 2009 by Trafigura on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura :

61 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura. (293006)

62 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years. (293012)

63 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what mechanisms HM Court Service uses to draw up rosters of duty judges for the purpose of considering time of the essence applications for the issuing of injunctions by the High Court.

How super-injunctions are used to gag investigative reporting

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Injunctions have become one of the most effective tools powerful individuals and corporations reach for when they want to silence the media. In their simplest form, they prevent news organisations from reporting what happens in court, usually on the basis that doing so could prejudice a trial.

Super-injunctions that prevent news organisations from revealing the identities of those involved in legal disputes, or even reporting the fact that reporting restrictions have been imposed, have emerged recently. They grew out of family cases and then developed further as a result of the privacy law that has come into being in the UK on the back of the right to privacy enshrined in the 1998 Human Rights Act, itself based on the European convention on human rights.

That law has evolved through a series of high court rulings and was used by Max Mosley, the Formula One chief, last year to win damages from the News of the World when it revealed details about his sex life. But this privacy law, welcomed by some as a way of protecting against tabloid intrusion, has further boosted the use of injunctions whose terms of reference are far wider than ever before.

Libel lawyers Carter-Ruck and Schillings have proved adept at persuading judges that injunctions should now be granted on privacy grounds. Some tabloid newspapers are being served with a handful of such orders each week, according to media lawyers. The Guardian has been served with at least 12 notices of injunctions that could not be reported so far this year, compared with six in the whole of 2006 and five the year before.

Update: Injunction Lifted

17th October 2009. Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

Old Bailey A suppressed report which details how an oil company dumped toxic waste in Africa that may cause serious burns has now been released following a parliamentary row over freedom of speech.

The study commissioned just weeks after the incident in West Africa concluded that the dumping would have been illegal under European pollution laws and suggests that the likely cause of the illness reported by locals was the significant release of potentially lethal gas.

The report had been kept secret after Trafigura, one of the world's largest independent oil trading firms, obtained a super injunction that threatened the centuries-old privilege of newspapers to report what MPs can say freely in the Commons.

On Friday night, as the High Court gagging order was lifted, senior figures at Trafigura admitted their approach may have been heavy-handed and insisted it had not been their intention to try to gag Parliament.

 

17th October   

Update: Antichrist in the US...

The Christian media ministry MovieGuide predictably lays into Antichrist
Link Here  full story: Extreme Cuts...Lars Von Trier sexual violence causes a stir

Antichrist DVD As Antichrist approaches its US theatrical release date it has predictably been making waves amongst the usual nutters.

The Christian media ministry MovieGuide is inviting people concerned about the film's 'gruesome and graphic' content to join a petition of the MPAA to rate the movie NC-17, which would not only prevent children from viewing the film, but also dissuade many theaters from showing it.

Coming to your local theater Oct. 23 is a movie that I can only call the most horrific movie ever seen, writes Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission. It's called Antichrist , and it's filled with a wicked worldview, vile pornographic scenes, onscreen mutilation of private parts and some other material which I simply cannot describe to you in a family publication.

We cannot stop this movie, he continues, but we have a strategy which we believe will be the next best thing.

MovieGuide's petition explains three reasons why an NC-17 rating, rather than an R rating for the film, would limit the number of people - especially children - exposed to the movie:

  • An R rated movie easily makes its way to the cinema in your local neighborhood. Thankfully, many local cinemas still won't show the movie if it's NC-17.
     
  • An R-rated movie stands a chance to make more money than NC-17, and this will only encourage some producers in Hollywood to make more vile movies like this.
     
  • And most importantly, children under 17 cannot get into movies with an NC-17 rating, unlike R-rated movies, which admit them.

According to MovieGuide's review of the film, William Defoe's newest effort includes demonic activity, full nudity and graphic on-screen depictions of sex, sadomasochism, sexual mutilation with both a block of wood and a pair of scissors, child abuse, and violent animal acts.

Antichrist is the wicked story of a married couple's plunge into occult darkness as they try to grieve the loss of their son, the review states. This movie wallows in evil and contains extremely graphic pornographic sexual scenes, much occult content and extreme sadomasochistic violence, making it a movie to avoid.

If the world had standards, this movie would be Triple X and banned, states the site's review of the film. As it is, we are issuing our strongest warning not to see it, and to complain to the MPAA for allowing a movie like this to come to theaters near you.

 

17th October   

Update: Brought to Book...

Chinese book censors and publishers not impressed by criticism at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Frankfurt Bookfair 09 Li Pengyi, vice president of China Publishing Group Corporation (CPGC) was pleased with business at the Frankfurt Book Fair. But was not so impressed at the criticism of China's censorship.

We don't feel we've been hospitably treated, he said. China sent more than 2,000 people to Frankfurt. And now this barrage of criticism.

The German media, intellectuals and politicians have been pummelling China all week, attacking it for jailing writers, for refusing to include dissident authors in the official party and for trying to paint a false image of Chinese harmony.

The delegation from China, which arrived so proudly in Frankfurt, is clearly hurt by the hostile public reaction in Germany.

We were not expecting to be treated like this, said Zhao Haiyun, spokesman for the state-run General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). He said China had put on an impressive exhibition and arrived with a well-thought-out cultural programme. But instead of dwelling on Chinese literature, the German media had focussed on human rights policy.

GAPP is China's principal censorship body, since it decides what may be published in China and what not. Zhao's colleagues supervised the Chinese programme at the fair.

There should be no taboos in the debate, and I am sure there won't be any, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech at the opening of the fair.

It was a clear riposte to listening Vice-President Xi Jinping, who had just uttered an appeal to the same audience for understanding and respect from the German hosts. Li, of publishing house CPGC, fumed about the remark. If Germany or Merkel had been playing the guest role in China, we would never dream of addressing them in such a way, he said.

 

17th October   

Update: Curtain Comes Down on TV News...

Russia's last independent TV stations return to state controlled news
Link Here

REN TV logo Campaigners accused the Kremlin today of killing off the last vestiges of independent television in Russia, after it emerged that the two remaining private TV channels would come under state control next year.

REN TV and St Petersburg's Fifth Channel, which are sometimes critical of the authorities, have until now been Russia's last semi-independent private TV stations. Although neither can be described as radical, they are the only channels on which opposition politicians can air their views, or where dissenting voices may be heard.

Next year both channels' news bulletins will be restructured, Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported today. The state-owned, pro-Kremlin English language television station Russia Today will take over responsibility for their news broadcasts from 2010, the paper added.

Journalists said they were appalled by the move. This means independent TV will be destroyed. It will disappear, said Oleg Ptashkin, a former correspondent with Russia's state-run Channel One TV. Ptashkin, who now runs an independent journalists' union, added: Russians won't be able to find alternative views to state propaganda. We are returning to the Soviet regime and Soviet model.

Until now, the Kremlin has not interfered with REN TV or the Fifth Channel, which are watched by only 10-15% of Russia's population. But the economic crisis, and fear of a popular uprising, appears to have persuaded Russia's risk-averse leadership to pull the plug on the last surviving television platforms for liberal views and discussion.

 

17th October   

Less Fire...

Old cuts to Sang Lung's Girl on Fire
Link Here

Girl Fire Kwok Leung Cheung Girl on Fire is a 1994 Hong Kong crime film by Sang Lung

The BBFC cut 1:07s from the 1997 Eastern Heroes video

  • At 51 minutes, a scene of a man stripping clothes from a struggling woman was reduced.
  • At 52 minutes, a scene of a man having sex with a recently deceased woman was removed.

 

17th October   

Update: Twitter Censor...

Chinese internet censors block third party Twitter applications
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Twitter logo In the past few days, Chinese twitterers reported that the Chinese censor has blocked a number of popular Twitter's third party applications.

Since Fanfou, the Chinese micro-blogging website, has been ordered to shut down earlier this year, many bloggers moved to Twitter to spread their ideas. Net activists believe that it is impossible to block Twitter as there are many third party applications that allow users to read and post information without accessing the site. However, beginning from early this week, many Chinese twitterers reported that popular third party applications such as twitpic, itweet, twitese, twittergadget have been blocked and they have to shift to other tools.

When you search #fuckgfw (great fire wall) in twitter, you can see the most updated blocking reports.

 

17th October   

Offsite: Television - Not in Front of the Children?...

Australia is planning to advise against TV for toddlers
Link Here

Teletubbies Time DVD A draft ofAustralian government's guidelines says that TV time for young children may reduce the amount of time they have for active play, social contact with others and chances for language development , and may also affect the development of a full range of eye movement [and] . . . reduce the length of time they can stay focused .

Jo Salmon, associate professor of epidemiology at Deakin University, was one of the researchers who informed the Australian government's draft guidelines. Children aged six to 30 months who are watching television have less developed vocabulary, display more aggressive behaviour and have poor attention spans, she says. Parents and childcare centres are not justified in encouraging children, under the age of two, to watch television. While there is no evidence that so-called educational programming is harmful, she would discourage under twos from watching it. I really would not put my young one under two in front of a television. Generally, the evidence that's out there says it could be detrimental, she says.

...Read the full article

 

16th October   

Can we Keep our Hands off the Net?...

Parliamentarians ponder a rhetoric question
Link Here

ApComms logo An all-party group of MPs has recommended mandatory nanny filters for all mobile devices and data devices that can access the internet - and wants the UK's Internet Watch Foundation secretive censor system extended to the whole world.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Communications (Apcomms) today recommends: A global 'notice and take-down' regime is required, and if the IWF cannot provide it then someone else should.

The reason for given for mandatory net filters is that the default child protection settings are different on different mobile networks and different devices. This is unnecessarily confusing for parents, and so the report recommends that the industry move to a consistent, and 'safe', arrangement.

The Apcomms report Can we keep our hands off the net? considered the questions:

  1. Can we distinguish circumstances when ISPs should be forced to act to deal with some type of bad traffic? When should we insist that ISPs should not be forced into dealing with a problem, and that the solution must be found elsewhere?
  2. Should the Government be intervening over behavioural advertising services, either to encourage or discourage their deployment; or is this entirely a matter for individual users, ISPs and websites?
  3. Is there a need for new initiatives to deal with online privacy, and if so, what should be done?
  4. Is the current global approach to dealing with child sexual abuse images working effectively? If not, then how should it be improved?
  5. Who should be paying for the transmission of Internet traffic? Would it be appropriate to enshrine any of the various notions of Network Neutrality in statute?

Parliament and the Internet Conference

Based on article from computerweekly.com

In his introductory comments to the Parliament and the Internet Conference, Ed Richards seemed to think that the transition of Ofcom from a Broadcast to an Internet regulator was inevitable, as content and viewing habits moved across, albeit it raised many questions of practicality.

He also spoke of the need to protect existing players as their traditional business models crumbled, while saying that legislation was needed to break the current spectrum logjam.

Later in the conference, Derek Wyatt MP summarised the main conclusions from the apComms report Can we keep our hands off the Net? - also all to do with self-regulation rather than government interference.

The day was, however, stolen by the delegates from the childrens IGF organised by Childnet. They went straight for the difficult issues that we were all avoiding: wanting open access with safety.

They pointed out that our technology dependent, safety-first, if in doubt block it , censored feeds to schools got in the way of their supervised project work - because they could not access main stream sources, let alone any of the blogged commentaries on them. But they also wanted effective facilities to help guard against 24 by 7 on-line bullying.

 

16th October   

Updated: Worthy of Censorship...

German novel cancelled over fear of muslim sensitivities
Link Here

Wem Ehre Gebuhrt book A German publisher has cancelled plans to publish a mass-market novel out of fears that it might face violent protests due to a reference to the Koran, Der Spiegel magazine reported Saturday.

The crime novel, Wem Ehre Gebhrt - about the honour killing of a Muslim woman - had been scheduled for September publication, but the Droste publishing company of Dusseldorf decided not to print it after all.

Der Spiegel said the publisher had first asked the author writing under the pen name WW Domsky, to tone down dialogue in To Those Worthy of Honour which might be construed as offensive, but she had refused.

Spiegel reported that the offensive phrase in question was a character saying: You can shove your Koran up ... Publisher Felix Droste had asked an expert on Islamic society to study whether the crime story's text could compromise the safety of his firm or his family, and the expert suggested the phrase be modified. But the author refused to alter it to You can shove your honour up ... Droste wrote back that riots over Danish cartoons that poked fun at the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 showed that anyone publishing insults to Islam was putting their safety at risk, Spiegel said.

Update: Honour to Leda-verlag Publishers

16th October 2009. Based on article from mediawatchwatch.org.uk

Der Spiegel reports the good news that the crime novel recently cancelled by a Dusseldorf publisher for fear of violent Muslim reaction has found another publisher. Leda-Verlag plans to present the re-titled Ehre, wem ehre… at the Frankfurt book fair this week.

Publisher Heike Gerdes conceded that the book might provoke some, but insisted that it did not single out the Turks or Islam for criticism, focusing instead on traditional misogynic attitudes. We believe that everyone should form their own impression. We have found nothing in the text which would deter us from publication, and will bring out the book in full. But as a precaution, the police have been informed.

A%age of the book's profits will be donated to the charity Solidarity With Women in Need.

 

16th October   

Bonfire of the Humanities...

Church nutters organise book burning for halloween
Link Here

Amazing Grace banner The Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina is on the loose.

Here is what they got planned for Halloween:

Halloween Book Burning

Burning Perversions of God's Word

Oct. 31, 2009, 7pm

Great Preaching and Singing

Come to our Halloween book burning. We are burning Satan's bibles like the NIV, RSV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, ect.

These are perversions of God's Word, the King James Bible.We will also be burning Satan's music such as country , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, contemporary Christian, jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc.

We will also be burning Satan's popular books written by heretics like Westcott & Hort, Bruce Metzger, Billy Graham Rick Warren Bill Hybels , John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham , Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa, The Pope, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, etc.

We are not burning Bibles written in other languages that are based on the TR. We are not burning the Wycliffe, Tyndale, Geneva or other translations that are based on the TR.

Our Scriptural Bases For Burning

The Scriptural bases for what we are doing each year is found in Acts 19:18-20 "And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

 

16th October   

Cartoon Nutters...

US Nutters whinge at 7-11 for selling Marge Simpson Playboy
Link Here

Playboy with Marge Simpson A US nutter group is slamming 7-Eleven for choosing to stock the November issue of Playboy, which will feature cartoon character Marge Simpson on the cover.

Most American dads know the dangers that porn represents to young males, American Family Association Special Projects Director Randy Sharp said in a press release. It's irresponsible of 7-Eleven to display porn in front of boys who pop into 7-11s for a hot dog or a Slurpee.

The Telegraph recently reported, Despite being on the front cover, Marge will not be totally bare, with the magazine only featuring 'implied nudity.'

The move is a sign of changes to come from new CEO Scott Flanders . The Marge Simpson centerfold is obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Flanders said in an interview: It had never been done, and we thought it would be kind of hip, cool and unusual.

 

16th October   

Update: Playing a Mean Game...

China bans adverts and links for 'amoral' online games
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

World of Warcraft China has banned Web sites from advertising or linking to games that glamorize violence. A notice posted on the Culture Ministry Web site on Monday said games that promote drug use, obscenities, gambling, or crimes such as rape, vandalism and theft are against public morality and the nation's fine cultural traditions.

Such online games promote the glorification of mafia life . . . and are a serious threat to the moral standards of society causing vulnerable young people to be adversely affected, the notice said. The ban on the Web sites starts immediately.

No details were given on how the law would be implemented, but the notice called for law enforcement bodies to ensure Web sites adhere to the new law.

 

16th October   

Unlucky...

Old cuts to Black Cat Run
Link Here

Black Cat Run Patrick Muldoon Black Cat Run is a 1998 US TV movie by DJ Caruso

The BBFC cut 12s from the 1998 Home Entertainment video.

Thanks to Bleach:

  • Scene of man being deliberately and repeatedly run over by car was reduced.

 

16th October   

Cult-Like Practices...

Amway expose remains banned in Poland after 12 years
Link Here

Amway logo The Warsaw International Film Festival has bowed under pressure from the Amway direct sale retailer and withdrawn a critical documentary on the controversial company.

The film, directed by Polish film maker Henryk Dederko, reveals a number of the Amway corporation's secrets - including obvious violations of Polish law, claims the Warsaw Film Festival web site.

To prevent these seeing the light of day, Amway obtained a court ban [in 1998] on the film, preventing its release. Director Henryk Dederko and producer Jacek Gwizda ł a were sued by Amway several times on various counts. This was the first case of preventive censorship in the history of Polish cinema after 1989, the web site continues as part of the original blurb on the film, enticing cinema goers to see this as yet unseen documentary in Poland.

Showing the film as part of the festival would have been the first time that a Polish audience could decide for themselves about Amway's alleged cult-like practices and pyramid selling structures .

But TVP, which holds rights to the documentary, has withdrawn viewing rights from the Warsaw Film Festival - now in its 25th year - after the public broadcaster received legal threats from the US based corporation.

Amway said it would take TVP to court if Welcome to Life ( Witajcie w z.yciu ) originally made back in 1997, ever appears on the cinema screen. Organizers and sponsors of the Warsaw film festival also received warnings from Amway.

For twelve years, those who are depicted in the film have tried hard not to let anyone watch it, said Stefan Laudyn, Warsaw Film Festival director.

 

16th October   

Update: Widest Possible Consultations...

Getting nowhere in long lasting debate about Indian TV regulation
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logo Despite its active participation in content regulation on Indian TV, the information and broadcasting ministry has suggested independent regulation by private players.

The government feels that there must be some sort of independent regulation. Every country has it but India doesn't. We have so many channels but no regulators. It doesn't make sense to us that we should be sitting over it (content regulation), said I&B ministry Joint Secretary Zohra Chatterji.

The content code has layers - self regulation and peer evaluation followed by independent regulation. The broadcasters came to us to leave it to them for some time. Above all, the prime minister has already made it clear that it (if anything is done by I&B) shall be done only after the widest possible consultations, she added.

 

15th October   

Updated: The X Factor...

Amateurish over-exaggerated offence at minor gay quip
Link Here  full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

X Factor Revealed DVD Dannii Minogue has apologised for a quip about a finalist's sexuality live on X Factor as fans called for her to be fired.

The judge sparked 'outrage' with a comment about contestant Danyl Johnson. The teacher had finished a version of Whitney Houston's I Am Telling You when Dannii referred to reports that Danyl is bisexual.

Talking about the lyrics, she said: No need to change the gender references, if we're to believe everything we read in the press.

The comment on Saturday's show 'stunned' Johnson and 'incensed' Simon Cowell.

Thousands of fans logged on to the X Factor forum to vent their 'anger' while a survey showed more than 80% of fans wanted her kicked off the show.

One fan said: Forget the Strictly row, Dannii is the one that needs to be sacked. She was live on air and set an extremely awful example to our children.

Many said they had complained to media watchdog Ofcom.

Dannii said on her Twitter blog she meant no offence and said she was happy to apologise publicly. In a statement, she said: I want to clear up exactly what happened on Saturday night's X Factor show and post my sincere apologies to anyone who took offence. It was meant to be a humorous moment about the fact he had an opportunity to have fun with his song. An openly bi-sexual guy singing a song that is lyrically a girl's song. Danyl and I were joking about the very same thing in rehearsals on Friday, so it carried on to the show. I'd like to apologise to anyone that was offended by my comments, it was never my intention.

Danyl said he was not offended: We're completely cool about it and chatted after the show. I wasn't upse t.

Update: I'm Telling You, 4000 Complaints

15th October 2009. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

The TV censor Ofcom has now received almost 3,885 complaints from members of the public about The X Factor judge Dannii Minogue's comment about contestant Danyl Johnson's sexuality on Saturday night.

Johnson changed the lyrics of Jennifer Hudson's song I'm Telling You , in which the lyrics refer to a male, so that the song from the point of view of a man singing to a woman. Minogue subsequently made a joke with Johnson, who has been the subject of tabloid stories suggesting he is bisexual, saying that there was no need to switch the gender reference in that song .

The regulator has not yet decided whether it will launch a formal investigation into whether Minogue's comment represented a breach of its broadcasting code.

 

15th October   

Updated: Backing Simon Singh...

Events as Simon Singh's case goes to court
Link Here  full story: Simon Singh vs Chiropractors...Chiropractors take science sceptic to libel court

Sense About Science logo With English PEN and Index on Censorship, and with all your help in compiling case studies, we are putting together the case for reform of libel laws to stop other writers finding themselves in Simon Singh's position.

Meantime, this is a quick note to remind you that Simon Singh has his oral hearing on Wednesday 14th October at the Royal Courts of Justice. This is his last chance to try to overturn the early ruling on meaning in his case. The result will shape how he decides to continue. For a briefing see: Simon Singh background to next hearing . You can sign up to the legal blog twitter feed there too.

On Tuesday 13th October, from 7pm, Westminster Skeptics in the Pub is holding a public meeting on Simon's case so far, on his court hearing and the need for libel law reform. The meeting is organised by the lawyer and blogger David Allen Green and Simon Singh, Dr Ben Goldacre and the journalist Nick Cohen will be speaking at the Barley Mow pub, Horseferry Road, Westminster, London.

Simon Singh and Tracey Brown of Sense About Science will be speaking about the case and the libel chill in science and medicine on Thursday 15th October at the City University London and Association of British Science Writers debate on Science Journalism and Libel Law. They will be joined by John Kampfner of Index on Censorship, Dr Ben Goldacre and Duncan Lamont, libel lawyer and Head of Media & Entertainment at Charles Russell. See details .

Do watch our website and Twitter feed (@freedebate) for updates on Simon's case and the campaign.

Update: Leave to Appeal Granted

15th October 2009. Based on article from senseaboutscience.org.uk
See also article from indexoncensorship.org

This morning at the Royal Courts of Justice Simon Singh was granted leave to appeal the preliminary ruling on meaning in his libel case with the BCA. In his judgement Lord Justice Laws said There is no dispute that [Simon's original article] is in the public interest, with no suspicion of malice and there is no question of good faith .

In a scathing rebuttal of Mr Justice Eady's previous judgement in the case, Lord Justice Laws said Eady had risked swinging the balance of rights too far in favour of the right to reputation and against the right to free expression. Lord Justice Laws described Eady's judgement, centred on Singh's use of the word bogus in an article published by the Guardian newspaper, as legally erroneous .

Simon Singh's statement: This is a great result, but we now have to win the appeal…and then we have to win the trial. So there is still a long battle ahead in my case and in reforming the libel laws. Thank you to everyone for all your support and please use today's success to encourage others to sign up to supporting libel reform.

 

15th October   

Bad Made Worse...

Old cuts to Andy Warhol's Bad
Link Here

Andy Warhols Bad Perry King Andy Warhol's Bad is a 1977 US comedy by Jed Johnson

The BBFC cut the 1977 cinema release

From cuts details on IMDb

  • Cut to remove all close up footage of pornographic magazine material
  • Edits to the finger removal scene
  • Edits to shots of a dead baby.

 

15th October   

Bed Time Horrors...

Last House on the Left ad screened too early for the advert censor
Link Here

Last House on the Left 2009 DVD Three TV ads for the cinema release of the film The Last House on the Left.

a. The first ad showed scenes from the film, which included a brief shot of a gun being fired, shadowy characters walking around a large house at night, a teenage girl floating face up in water and later being carried, unconscious, by two adults, her parents. The voice-over stated If the people who attacked your daughter were in your home, would you ever let them leave? Quickly edited scenes of action from the film continued and concluded with a man leaping through a closed window. The child's mother who was crying and being comforted by her partner stated They're here to which he replied You have to be ready to do anything .

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 7.30 pm timing restriction.

b. The second ad opened with a voice-over that stated Late one summer, Mari Collingwood left her parents' lake house to meet a friend in town while scenes from the film showed a teenage girl diving into a lake, kissing her parents and walking away. The voice-over continued Six hours later, she was left for dead ; the accompanying imagery showed the same girl with a scared look on her face, which was streaked with dirt, followed by brief shots of her head being held down on a forest floor, her running through a forest and swimming through water, a man firing a gun and the girl floating face up in water. Action from the film continued with the girl's father calling Mari! as the girl lay on the floor covered in mud. Her father asked Can you tell us who did this to you? and four figures were seen standing in a doorway. The girl lay wrapped in a blanket as her mother, who was crying, stated They're here and the father replied You have to be ready to do anything . Quickly edited shots of action continued, which included a shrouded figure holding a knife, the mother using a fire extinguisher as a club, a hand reaching for a kitchen knife, a mouth being gagged by a hand, a man leaping through a closed window and another screaming in pain. One man shouted Ah you're crazy , a bloodied hand reached for a light switch and a figure approached a man from behind with his hand raised, ready to strike. The ad concluded with a close-up shot of the back of the man's head, which was about to be hit.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 9 pm timing restriction.

c. The third ad showed scenes from the film. A teenage girl said to her parents, I was thinking maybe I could meet up with Page? She kissed her mother and her father said Have fun . The action then cut to a forest scene, where the girl was being thrown to the floor and struggling in the grip of a man as she cried Oh no, please help me! . A gun was fired and a figure was seen emerging from water and gasping for air. The voice-over stated If the people who hurt your daughter were in your home would you ever let them leave? . The girl's father called out Mari! and then asked, as the action moved back to the home, Who did this to you? . Four figures were seen standing in a doorway and the mother, crying, said They're here . Quickly edited scenes of action in the darkened house were then seen, which included the image of a man with a blood-stained face, a figure leaping through a closed window and a hand reaching for a kitchen knife while sounds of struggle were heard. At the close of the ad, a man spoke to the girl's father, Do you wanna hear what I did to your daughter? as the accompanying image showed the girl's head being forced down onto the forest floor. The father replied No, I wanna hear you beg for your life . The man let out a yell as the father appeared to lunge at him from behind with a knife.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 9pm timing restriction.

The ASA received 19 complaints:

Issue 1: Viewers, who saw ad (a) at approximately 8.50pm and ads (b) & (c) at approximately 9.45pm on ITV1 challenged whether they were excessively violent and inappropriate for broadcast at a time when children could be watching;

Issue 2: Three viewers, who saw ad (c) after 10pm, challenged whether it was offensive because in their view it portrayed excessive violence and graphic references to a sexual assault.

ASA Assessment: Issue 1 complaints upheld

The ASA acknowledged that the timing restriction applied to ad (a), which was post 7.30 pm, ensured that it was unlikely to be seen by very young children. We also noted the audience index figures for the break in which the ad appeared, taken from Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) data, indicated that, proportionately, Britain's Got Talent had not demonstrated particular appeal to children under the age of 16.

We agreed with Empire Design, ITV and Clearcast that the ad's content was not especially graphic. We considered however that the general tone of the ad, which consisted almost entirely of very dark or partially lit scenes and which incorporated eerie music and sound effects, including the sound of a girl gasping for breath, was sinister and threatening. In addition, we considered that the themes of terror within the film, including the attack of a girl and a home invasion, were clearly portrayed both in the ad's imagery and voice-over and were likely to be understood by both children and adults. Although we acknowledged that adults and older children would understand that the ad represented the content of a film only, we considered that this was not likely to be so readily distinguishable for all children and particularly those up to the age of eight years who might find the atmosphere and storyline of the ad distressing: the violence the ad suggested was against ordinary people and the manner in which the storyline was depicted was realistic.

We noted the ad had not been broadcast until 8.50 pm, much later than the 7.30 pm timing restriction that had been applied. We were concerned, however, that the post 7.30 pm timing restriction did not take into account the possibility of young children up to the age of eight years who might be watching TV between the hours of 7.30 pm and 9 pm. We concluded that the post 7.30 pm timing restriction was insufficient on this occasion and a later restriction should have been applied to minimise the risk of young viewers seeing the ad and being distressed by it.

Although we agreed that ads (b) and (c) were not explicitly graphic, we considered that their tone was sinister and threatening in content and showed the girl being terrified and assaulted by a group of men, her lifeless body floating in water, gun and knife wielding in an atmosphere of terror and intimidation and people screaming in pain, together with the suggestion of personal violence, which was directed in part towards ordinary people in a home environment.

We acknowledged that the ads were broadcast after the 9 pm watershed when viewers understood that more adult content might be broadcast. We also noted the BARB audience index figures showed that Britain's Got Talent and the results show that followed had not demonstrated particular appeal to children. However, we were concerned that the terror and violence both portrayed in and suggested by the ads was realistic and likely to cause distress to children up to the age of 12 years, who could still be watching at the time they were broadcast. We considered that a later timing restriction such as post 11pm would have been more appropriate to reduce the risk of children of that age group from being exposed to the ads.

We concluded that the timing restriction applied to the ads was insufficient to avoid causing distress to younger viewers and in consequence they had not been scheduled appropriately.

ASA Assessment: Issue 2 complaints not upheld

We understood that the complainants were concerned because they felt that the violent theme of the film was presented in too explicit a manner in the ad for general viewing.

While we acknowledged that the theme of the film was unlikely to be to everyone's taste, we considered that the ad was not explicitly graphic and was suitable for broadcast providing it was scheduled appropriately to minimise the risk of children being distressed by it. We understood, that in clearing the ad, Clearcast had taken into account the ad's suggested violence and had applied a post 9 pm timing restriction to ensure that it was kept away from young viewers. We understood that the complainants had noticed the ad after 10 pm.

While we considered that it would have been more appropriate for ad (c) to have been broadcast with a later timing restriction than 9 pm to minimise the likelihood of children seeing it, we considered that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or undue distress to an adult audience at the time it was broadcast.

 

15th October   

Update: Good News!...

Berlusconi to bombard the world with propaganda
Link Here

Propaganda Unsatisfied with his direct and indirect control over most of Italy's media, Silvio Berlusconi has devised a campaign to stop the world's press sniping at him over his sex life and legal woes.

An emergency taskforce is to be established within a month to monitor airwaves and news-stands the world over for coverage of Italy and bombard foreign newsrooms with good news about the country.

The plan was announced by the tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, who said a crack team of young journalists and communications experts would be assembled to stamp out bad news.

Their first job will be to monitor all the foreign press, including dailies, periodicals and TV in every latitude, from Japan to Peru, she told Corriere della Sera today.

The second task will be to bombard those newsrooms with truthful and positive news , and reveal to the world a generous, truthful and audacious Italy - the Italy of entrepreneurs, art, cultural events and our products .

Brambilla said that Italian exports were suffering as a result of the country's bad press. Exporters are worried because it is only news of the shameful attacks on Berlusconi that reach abroad. This affects national appeal and we cannot allow that.

 

14th October   

Update: Buried Alive by Complaints...

BBC is to research the level of violence in its programmes
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders Annual 2009 Tim Randall BBC management is to conduct a study into the level of violence in its programmes after 'concerns' were raised by the BBC Trust and viewers about an EastEnders storyline that showed a character being buried alive.

Speaking at a Westminster Media Forum seminar in London on offence and standards on television, the BBC director of editorial policy, David Jordan, said that the issue of violence on TV was second in importance only to swearing for viewers: We thought we might be detecting a greater sensitivity to the threat of violence and being scared, Jordan added. There was a particular episode of EastEnders where someone was buried alive. Nobody was hurt. Nobody was brutalised, but somebody was buried alive.

He was referring to two EastEnders episodes screened on BBC1 over the Easter weekend last year in which a philandering character, Max Branning, was buried alive by his estranged wife, Tanya.

Jordan said that both the BBC Trust and Ofcom had noticed this trend for viewers to have a lower tolerance threshold for TV violence: We thought we should have a look at what levels of violence are acceptable but also in news programmes too to see what is expected. Do you sanitise things ... it's not something we've looked at for a while .

Jordan said he expected the research into violence to be carried out by the end of the year.

Channel 4's viewers' editor, Paula Carter, revealed at the same event that complaints to the broadcaster are falling. The number of complaints made to Channel 4 is declining. In the year so far they are 20% down, Carter said. She explained that the main reason is because of the declining popularity of reality show Big Brother.

Carter also revealed that of about 200,000 to 250,000 calls or emails made to Channel 4 in a year, only about 10% are complaints about issues of strong language: Our biggest single issue is in fact scheduling ... If people feel we didn't deliver a programme at the time expected, .

 

14th October   

Update: PostPrudes...

Major Australian retailer pulls literary classics
Link Here

Delta Venus Penguin Modern Classics The retail Australian reatail chain, PostShop, has banned the sale of three literature classics amid nutter concern over 'racy' passages and graphic sex scenes.

Crikey understands that two weeks ago, staff at 848 PostShop outlets across the country were ordered to pull the Popular Penguin titles Lolita , The History of Sexuality and The Delta of Venus from shelves after nutter complaints. All three books contain celebrated sexual encounters.

A spokesprat for Australia Post, Alex Twomey, confirmed the ban this morning, saying the titles were inappropriate for a mainstream shop like Australia Post . He said the government-owned corporation had received the books unsolicited from Penguin.

It was purely a decision around whether it fitted our stores. That also extends to DVDs and many other different products, Twomey said. When pressed by Crikey, he was unable to name the exact selection criteria that led to the decision to remove the licentious titles from sale.

However, one postal worker, who did not want to be named, said the books were removed because of customer complaints over inappropriate passages . Requests for the books at other outlets were met with a awkward silence. However, Crikey understands that in some shops, the Penguin stands, containing up to 50 titles, have been completely shielded from view.

Penguin Australia sales director Peter Blake told Crikey he had no idea why Australia Post had removed the offending titles. He said had never encountered a similar objection to their content from other retailers. We were certainly surprised by Australia Post's reaction, Blake said.

 

14th October   

Update: Growing Up...

Tate Modern replace Spiritual America exhibit
Link Here

Spiritual America IV 2005 From a Tate Modern press release regarding the Richard Prince work Spiritual America:

In consultation with the artist, Richard Prince, Tate has replaced Spiritual America 1983 with a later version of the work made by him in collaboration with Brooke Shields, Spiritual America IV 2005 . The room reopens to the public on Tuesday 13 October 2009. Tate is in ongoing discussions with legal advisors about the catalogue.

Well, if the work is deemed to be indecent, the Tate will have no option but to destroy all copies of the catalogue. Maybe they could call in the Met to do the burning...

 

14th October   

Update: Fitna for Travel to Britain...

Wilders wins appeal against Home Office ban on visiting Britain
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Home Offie logo Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right politician, has won his appeal against the Government's refusal to let him enter Britain.

Wilders challenged the decision by then home secretary Jacqui Smith which led to him being turned back at Heathrow Airport.

The ruling by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal means the head of the Freedom Party, who is accused of Islamophobia, could now be allowed into the country.

He was due to show his short film Fitna , which criticises the Koran as a fascist book , at the House of Lords in February. But Smith said his presence had the potential to threaten community harmony and therefore public safety .

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was disappointed by the ruling: The decision to refuse Wilders admission was taken on the basis that his presence could have inflamed tensions between our communities and have led to inter-faith violence. We still maintain this view.'

 

14th October   

Update: Not Pandering to Chinese Censors...

Frankfurt Book Fair organiser criticises Chinese censorship
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Frankfurt Bookfair 09 The chief organizer of the Frankfurt Book Fair condemned censorship in China just before the biggest annual meeting of world book publishers was to open in Germany.

Human rights groups had previously accused the organizers of pandering to China, which is this year's guest of honour, a status that allows it to stage a cultural exhibition at the fairgrounds and win special attention from the German arts media.

We strongly condemn the human rights breaches and the restrictions on freedom of opinion and the press in the People's Republic of China, said chief organizer Juergen Boos.

But he insisted China had been an excellent choice as this year's focus nation, saying, You can marvel at China, fear it or criticize it, but you can't ignore it. He said dialogue with China was likely to bring change, but a book fair was not the United Nations.The subject here is literature. We can describe conflicts, but we can't solve them here.

 

14th October   

Update: Big Brother's Little Bother...

Ofcom pass on daytime swearing after Channel 4 grovels sufficiently to the easily offended
Link Here

Big Brother 10 logo Big Brother's Little Brother Channel 4,
2 August 2009, 12:40

Big Brother's Little Brother ( BBLB ) is a pre-watershed sister programme to Channel 4's main Big Brother series ( BB ). It is screened live on weekdays at 18:00 and on Sunday lunchtimes. It provides an overview of the latest events in the Big Brother house and interviews with evicted housemates. Ofcom received one complaint from a viewer that two housemates who had recently left the house, Noirin Kelly ( Noirin ) and Isaac Stout ( Isaac ), used the words shit and fuck respectively.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.14 which requires that: The most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed.

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

Rule 1.14 requires that the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed. Ofcom noted on this occasion that the broadcast of a clear example of this language ( fuck ), whilst unfortunate, occurred during a live broadcast and that the presenter and guest both immediately apologised for it. Ofcom also acknowledges that the word shit is considered only mildly offensive and a toilet word (-1-) and that its use here in a live programme transmitted before the watershed, was isolated, and that the presenter and guest again apologised immediately for its use. Channel 4 also broadcast an on-air apology to the audience for the use of offensive language in the programme and subsequently reiterated that apology to viewers by way of its response to Ofcom.

Given the immediate and appropriate action taken by the broadcaster, we consider the matter resolved.

 

14th October   

Detail Obscured...

Bruno DVD and Blu-ray will be the Theatrical Version
Link Here

Bruno DVD Sacha Baron Cohen Brno is a 2009 US comedy by Larry Charles

The BBFC have passed the first DVD/Blu-ray version 18 without further cuts. It has already suffered pixellation at the hands of the US censors and distributor cut gags about Michael Jackson.

The Theatrical Version will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 9th November 2009.

The BBFC explained their 18 certificate:

BRUNO is a satirical comedy in which Sacha Baron Cohen plays gay Austrian fashion show presenter Bruno, who falls into disgrace and travels to the States in an attempt to achieve fame. This film was classified 18 in accordance with BBFC Guidelines, for strong sex and strong sex references. At 15 , the Guidelines state that sexual activity may be portrayed without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour . Both the scenes of strong sex and the sex references were considered by the Board to go beyond the 15 level, but acceptable at the adult 18 category. There are three strong sex scenes in the film. The first one features a montage of exaggerated sexual activity between Bruno and his boyfriend. The second shows Bruno comically miming fellatio and anilingus as he pretends to have oral sex with a deceased person with whom he is in contact through a medium, while the third scene features sex between couples at a swingers' party, with sexual detail obscured.

The film also contains some uses of strong language.

 

13th October   

Sad Old Bastards...

Having a whinge at the new Spanish film Agora
Link Here

Pop Culture Graphics Agora Poster Just days before the release of the new movie Agora by Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar, nutters are denouncing the film for promoting hatred of Christians and reinforcing false clichés about the Catholic Church.

The president of the Religious Anti-Defamation Observatory, Antonio Alonso Marcos, has sent an open letter to Amenabar denouncing the film's anti-Christian bias.

The reason for my letter is to make you realize something that you already know but have dismissed as unimportant: your film is going to awaken hatred against Christians in today's society. You present a biased view of the relationship between science and the Church, between faith and reason. It has been pointed out to you directly and indirectly, and you have used a somewhat vague excuse and looked the other way, Marcos wrote.

Marcos reminded Amenabar of the comments made by people who have already seen a private screening of the film and which Amenabar himself echoed during a television interview. During the interview he said, At the end of the film, people sitting near me said Christians are bunch of SOBs: This has been and will be the reaction of the public in general, and you know it, Marcos said in his letter. Is that what you were looking for? To throw manure on an institution that today helps millions of human beings to live and enjoy life to the fullest? he asked the director.

In response to Amenabar's statements that the film is not against Christians but rather against those who set off bombs and kill in the name of God, that is, against religious fanatics, Marcos wondered why the director has not recreated situations like those that take place in the Middle East.

Agora , which stars Rachel Weisz, is an epic film that recounts the story of Hipatia, a pagan woman who was killed for her political beliefs. According to some Spanish media, the film has yet to find a distributor in the United States because of its strong anti-Christian bias.

 

13th October   

Praising Missiles...

Ofcom find that Arabic debate about islamic justification for war broke programme code
Link Here

Al Hilwar TV Taamulat fiddine wa Siyassa
Al Hiwar TV
22 February 2009

Al Hiwar TV ( Al Hiwar ) is a channel that broadcasts programmes in Arabic to Arabic-speaking audiences across Europe including those of Tunisian origin.

On 26 February 2009 Ofcom received a complaint that an offensive comment was made in the programme by a guest who was being interviewed. He was Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of an Islamic Tunisian opposition political party, En-Nahda. The complainant alleged that Ghannouchi said:

… the term terrorist here has a splendid meaning…that is why I admire the Al-Quassam missiles…It is a civilised weapon, in the sense that it enables the expected aim to be attained…

By way of background, the complainant said that the famous al-Qassam missiles of Hamas have killed more than ten people (including children), injured over a hundred people, and caused the flight of thousands of inhabitants from Sderot, an Israeli town near the Gaza strip.

Ofcom sought an independent English translation of the relevant section of the programme. It noted that Ghannouchi first quoted some verses from the Qu'ran . He interpreted one which contains the phrase to strike terror into them as meaning:

Ghannouchi: that preparing power and strength does not aim at dominating and attacking but at keeping aggression away. In fact, the phrase 'to strike terror into them' is amazing because preparing power and strength does not mean to kill the others but rather to prevent them from attacking or carrying on aggression against you. That is why I quite like the Qassam rockets. During the war[referring to the Israeli incursion into Gaza] they did not kill anyone on the other side, they scared them only. It is a civilised weapon as it serves the purpose, it creates balance in power… Allah says not to exaggerate killing. Excess killing is not the purpose of war or jihad if aggression can be stopped by a Molotov bomb or Qassam rocket in order to create intimidation and balance in power because peace is the essence of Islam.

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

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

In a discussion on how and when war is justified by Islam, where Ghannouchi commented:

Ghannouchi: When one attacks you, when the other one becomes aggressive, you have no choice but to defend yourself because Islam is a religion of instinct, it allows human beings to defend themselves. However, the purpose of defence itself is to go back to the original state which is that of peace. That is why, chapter Al-Anfal says: 'against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies…'(Verse 60) the next verse however, says: 'but if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah…' which means that preparing power and strength does not aim at dominating and attacking but at keeping aggression away. In fact, the phrase 'to strike terror into them' is amazing because preparing power and strength does not mean to kill the others but rather to prevent them from attacking or carrying on aggression against you. That is why I quite like the Qassam rockets. During the war they did not kill anyone on the other side, they scared them only. It is a civilised weapon as it serves the purpose, it creates balance in power because Allah says not to exaggerate killing. Excess killing is not the purpose of war or jihad if aggression can be stopped by a Molotov bomb or Qassam rocket in order to create intimidation and balance in power because peace is the essence of Islam.

In response, the presenter said:

Presenter: …one should defend himself against Muslim and non-Muslim aggressors…

Ofcom therefore noted that the programme did not query the remarks made by Ghannouchi and, in fact, appeared by implication to endorse them.

Ofcom acknowledged that the full context of this programme was to promote a wider understanding of peaceful political participation from an Islamic perspective. However, included within the programme were a number of unchallenged remarks which had the potential to cause offence to viewers by virtue of the fact that they included praise for Molotov bombs, and Qassam rockets which in the months before the programme was broadcast, had been responsible for a number of deaths and injuries.

Whilst Rule 2.3 of the Code states that offensive material: May include…offensive language… , the use of such potentially inflammatory language, in particular referring to Qassam rockets as a civilised weapon went beyond the overall premise of a programme that the broadcaster has clearly stated was about peace and to dissuade the youth from resorting to violence in pursuit of political reform. Given the programme essentially permitted a guest in a discussion to praise the use of bombs, without challenge, Ofcom believed that there was insufficient justification for including the comments. As a consequence, the broadcaster failed to comply with generally accepted standards in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

 

12th October   

Pattison and Brazier...

Comedy nutter act whinge about Saw VI
Link Here

Saw VI Theatrical Release Nutters are urging councils to bar horror film Saw VI as 'concerns mount' over its grisly content.

The certificate 18 movie, which has shocking scenes of murder and torture, is set for release at Halloween.

However local authorities are able to block films and Tory MP Julian Brazier has urged them to ban Saw VI .

He said: The British Board of Film Classification is passing more and more violent films.

But councils do have the power to ban such films and I welcome any taking this tough line.

Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch, called for tighter controls. She said: Studies link exposure to film violence with violent behaviour. If there is the slightest chance that media violence can cause harm, is it worth the risk?

[always worth considering parallels with religion. Studies link exposure to religion with violent behaviour. If there is the slightest chance that religion can cause harm, is it worth the risk?]

But Sue Clark of the BBFC said: We believe adults should be free to choose their own entertainment.

 

12th October   

The Arch Misery Guts of York...

Having a whinge at Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Link Here

Secret Diary Call Girl DVD The Archbishop of York has condemned the glamourisation of prostitution as a middle-class trade .

Dr John Sentamu attacked the books and television programme based on the character Belle de Jour, a high-end London call girl, for misleading the public over the reality of prostitution.

He said that the lifestyle portrayed in the works was in stark contrast to the suffering endured by the majority of women involved in the sex trade: There is a myth that has been perpetuated in recent years that many people who prostitute themselves do so not because they are being oppressed or desperate for money, but because they see it as an easy way to make money through a relatively 'safe' and lucrative career, he said.

Archbishop Sentamu continued: We are meant to believe that these sex workers are independent women, empowered by the hold they have over men, who sell their bodies for money but who treat it like any other day job. This attitude can be evidenced by the popularity of books and television programmes such as The Secret Diary of A Call Girl , where the heroine, Belle du Jour, a high-end call-girl, has two very distinct lives.

His comments come on the eve of a vote in the House of Lords on laws proposed in the Police and Crime Bill that are designed to tackle prostitution. The archbishop expressed concern that there are moves to weaken the legislation.

He urged for the inclusion of a new offence proposed in the Bill targeting men with court action if they use prostitutes who have been trafficked, are controlled by pimps or are working for drug dealers.

 

12th October   

Update: Fair Protest...

Chinese at Frankfurt Book Fair see themselves as state censors
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Frankfurt Bookfair 09 The Frankfurt Book Fair's 61st edition opens on Wednesday with a bust up over censorship with guest of honour China overshadowing preparations.

In mid-September, a symposium organised ahead of the world's biggest book fair generated fireworks with two dissident Chinese intellectuals initially invited and subsequently de-programmed owing to protests from Beijing.

Following a German uproar, the pair were finally asked again to attend, causing part of the official Chinese delegation to storm out.

China's ambassador to Germany, Wu Hongbo, called the action by the fair's hosts unacceptable , and said it was not an expression of respect for their Chinese partners .

But Herbert Wiesner, head of the German chapter of the writer's defence organisation PEN, said that Chinese organisers have mistaken themselves for state censors. It's frightening.

In Berlin last week, fair director Jrgen Boos said organisers had known there would be protests: There is no doubt there is censorship in China. We are far from a democracy. But when the contract was signed with Beijing three years ago, we stipulated there would be complete freedom of expressio .

Boos stressed that our role is not political, it is meant as a platform for the freedom of expression: We will authorise all forms of demonstration allowed in Germany.

 

12th October   

Updated: Media Control...

Argentina debates media bill targeting large media companies
Link Here

Argentina flag On the eve of the Argentinean Senate's crucial vote today on the government-sponsored media reform bill, that will drastically change the industry if approved as it stands, rumours about the administration of President Cristina Fern án dez de Kirchner's plan to take over Papel Prensa, a paper mill company that supplies newsprint to about 170 papers nationwide, triggered a chorus of warnings about the Kirchnerites goal of controlling all the media.

Ruling party legislators yesterday expressed confidence they already have the necessary votes to pass the bill, while the opposition cried foul, stressing that former president Néstor Kirchner and the government are still exerting undue pressure to win back the support of lawmakers who had said they would oppose the controversial media reform.

See also article from reuters.com

The bill sets limits on the number of media outlets companies can own, forcing some to sell off their holdings within a year, during the run-up to a 2011 presidential election.

It also calls for a new government-controlled regulatory body responsible for issuing and renewing radio and TV licenses.

Nicolas Fernandez, a senator from the ruling party, defended the bill during the debate, saying: There isn't a single article that regulates content.

Update: Media Carve Up Passed

12th October 2009. Based on article from buenosairesherald.com

The ruling party late last night passed the controversial Media Bill, which would overhaul broadcasting regulations in Argentina. 44 Senators voted in favour of the bill, only 24 against it.

The controversial broadcasting bill was passed by the Lower House two weeks ago, and the government was reportedly pressing allied lawmakers to pass it without the introduction of any changes.

Thousands celebrated outside the Congress in a massive demonstration led by pro-government picket leader Luis D' Elía .

The Media Law splits airwaves' licenses into thirds, one for the government, one for private companies and a third for social organizations, which is seen as a key support to many organizations currently funded by social security plans.

The opposition had heavily resisted the bill, describing it as an attempt of the Kirchner administration to gag the press and pave the way for businessmen close to the government to get a share of the media market.

President Cristina Fern án dez de Kirchner has claimed that a new law to rule broadcasting licenses was important because it would limit the clout of media monopolies. But opposition lawmakers have accused the government of trying to control the media through the drastic reform, which would force major media groups to downsize to comply with the new regulations.

 

11th October   

Royal Book Banner...

Fergie has change of heart over uncovering brutality in Turkish orphanages
Link Here

Undercover Chris Rogers Marshall Corwin A book about the brutality of Turkish orphanages that landed the Duchess of York in a diplomatic row is to be published - even though the Queen's lawyers tried to get it banned.

Sarah Ferguson penned the preface to Under Cover , written by ITN investigative reporter Chris Rogers, when she initially fully co-operated on the book with the backing of Buckingham Palace.

But she later instructed lawyers to halt its publication after her involvement sparked a major row between Turkey and Britain. Turkey claims the Duchess, who has also made a television documentary about conditions in orphanages there, entered the country and filmed illegally.

Last month she appointed Farrer & Co, the Queen's lawyers, claiming much of the book was her copyright.

But last night publishers Authentic Media insisted the book, which contains in-depth interviews with the Duchess about the state of Turkey's orphanages, will be published early next year.

Lawyers acting for author Rogers and his publishers are understood to have given Farrer & Co a 30-day deadline to present their full case for a ban. The deadline has now passed and a spokesman for the publishers said: We are passionate about highlighting the issues raised in the book and were disappointed there was a move to block its publication. We are happy that publication is going ahead.

The book would not have been possible without Sarah Ferguson's dedication and unstinting co-operation. The fact she has pledged so much of her life to helping these children is a tribute to her and her family. Had the book not been published it would have been a tragedy for the children's charities to which much of the proceeds of sales will go.

 

11th October   

Fruits and Nuts...

Whingeing at Cadbury fair trade advert set in Ghana
Link Here  full story: Cadbury Fair Trade Adverts...A song and dance about Ghana chocolate advert

Cadbury Fair Trade advert Chocolate firm Cadbury has been accused of racism and perpetuating colonial stereotypes of African people in its latest advertising campaign. A poster and television advert created in Ghana for Dairy Milk has infuriated a number of prominent equality campaigners and Ghanaian leaders in the UK.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) meets this week to discuss initiating a formal investigation into Cadbury's TV advert - slogan show us your cocoa beam - which features a giant, negroid rotating head that unleashes mass dancing among what appear to be highly excitable people in an African village.

The advert and an associated poster campaign mark the chocolate firm's move to Fairtrade, but critics say this move has been overshadowed by the campaign's portrayal of African people as buffooning simpletons .

Toyin Agbetu, the founder of Ligali, a UK-based African human rights organisation, said: The video makes Africans look like buffooning simpletons. The biggest presence on the advert is a giant mask that people fall about in front of. Part of being able to use the Fairtrade brand should also include a responsibility to advertise ethically.

Paul Epworth, a British producer, was flown out to produce the advert, which is also online as a full-length music video to raise money for Care International. The song Zingolo features Ghanaian musicians, but Mr Agbetu said: The fact that Ghanaian musicians and artists were involved is sad, but it does not excuse it.

Nii Armah Akomfrah, the chairman of the UK branch of the Ghanaian political opposition group the Convention People's Party, has sent a letter of complaint to the Cadbury board on behalf of his party and British Ghanaians. He said Ghanaian groups in the UK will protest outside the chocolate producer's headquarters in Birmingham if the advert is not taken off air. People are disappointed. It's like making an advert about America and only showing images of Harlem, he said. It's a colonial mentality and stuff like this just brings the country down.

Cadbury said it had been made aware of the ASA complaints and was co-operating fully. Phil Rumbol, the marketing director at Cadbury, said: We completely reject these allegations. This campaign has been widely welcomed by Ghanaians, including community leaders both in Ghana and in the UK.

 

11th October   

Zed Warning...

Starting the hype for James Cameron's Avatar
Link Here

Avatar promo Hindus are concerned regarding upcoming Hollywood blockbuster Avatar

Expressing concern at the forthcoming blockbuster Hollywood movie Avatar , Hindus have urged its famed director James Cameron to be careful when handling Hindu concepts and terminology.

Hindu sound bite nutter, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada, said that avatar was one of the central themes of Hinduism and insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes results in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols and hurting the devotees.

 

11th October   

More Menace...

New release for Menace II Society Director's Cut
Link Here

Menace II Society DVD Menace II Society is a 1993 US crime drama by Albert & Allen Hughes

The BBFC passed the 2009 Entertainment in Video Director's Cut DVD/Blu-ray, 18 uncut

From cuts details on IMDb

The director's cut version makes the following changes:

  • An extra shot of bullets leaving the back of the guy Samuel L Jackson kills.
  • An extra shot of Awax holding the gang member while he shoots him.
  • A small scene showing how Caine and O Dog brake into the car in the garage.
  • Two extra shots of bullet wounds during the final scene.
  • It also includes two deleted scenes, the funeral of Caines cousin and a scene at his grandparents house after the funeral.

 

11th October   

The Show Goes On...

Channel 4 broadcast suicide episode of Hollyoaks despite calls for postponement
Link Here

Hollyoaks Indecent Behaviour Nick Pickard Channel 4's decision to broadcast a Hollyoaks episode featuring a suicide attempt despite similarities to a real-life incident in Scotland has sparked criticism.

The instalment of the teen soap saw schizophrenic student Newt (Nico Mirallegro) attempting to take his own life after making a suicide pact with new friend Rae (Alice Barlow). The troubled character jumped from an abandoned warehouse into cold dockland water while on the run.

Earlier this week, 15-year-old Neve Lafferty and 14-year-old Georgia Rowe died after jumping into the River Clyde from the Erskine Bridge.

A spokesman for Bishopton's Good Shepherd Care Home, where the teenagers lived, has now told The Sun: The decision to air this show is likely to cause further distress.

The network confirmed that it would transmit the episode as planned hours before broadcast. Speaking at the time, a Channel 4 representative said: Any similarities are entirely coincidental and we have carefully considered how best to proceed. We feel it is appropriate to continue with the transmission of these episodes as this is not a one-off programme but an established and long-running series.

 

11th October   

Update: iController...

BBC Trust mandate iPlayer parental controls already in place
Link Here

BBC Trust The BBC Trust has said that stringent parental controls should always be included on BBC iPlayer to ensure children do not watch inappropriate content. The BBC's governing body expressed concern yesterday that there is no direct equivalent of the watershed online .

According to the Trust's latest review of BBC Editorial Guidelines, clearer labelling must be placed on the catch-up service to flag up strong or challenging content . When we make audio or visual content available on demand on BBC platforms, and where appropriate, we must provide information to enable users to understand its context and to make informed choices about its suitability, both for themselves and for children, before they access, the organisation said.

The new editorial standards stipulate that any post-watershed programming should be flagged with a G For Guidance rating to highlight its potential unsuitability for younger audiences, with a system of content labels indicating the relative strength.

More stringent parental controls must also be included on BBC iPlayer, involving a lock function for challenging content which can then only be accessed by inputting a password.

Both these functions are already in place on the catch-up service, but this is the first time that the editorial guidelines have factored in their provision.

The Trust is now holding a public consultation on the proposed guidelines, with licence fee payers able to have their say until December 24. When approved, the new editorial standards will come into force in summer 2010.

 

11th October   

Update: Hate in the House...

US hate crime bill passed by House of Representatives
Link Here

US Senate A long-debated bill to broaden US federal hate-crime law to cover violence against gays has been approved by the Democratic-controlled House in what would be the first major expansion of the law in more than 40 years.

The measure, which is expected to go before the Senate within days, had faced a veto threat from President George W. Bush, but enjoys President Obama's support.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said: As the president said back in April, the hate-crimes bill takes on an important civil rights issue to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association, he said.

The measure passed by a vote of 281 to 146.

The hate-crime legislation would expand the law to cover acts of violence motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, gender, disability or gender identity. Existing federal law defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on religion, race, national origin or color.

The measure also would give federal authorities more leeway to help state and local law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. It also makes grants available to states and communities to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles and to train law enforcement officers in investigating, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes.

The bill also creates a new federal crime for attacking members of the military because of their service.

A number of Republicans assailed the measure as thought crimes legislation, contending that it could lead to the prosecution of a pastor delivering sermons against homosexuality if one of his church members committed a hate crime. They have hinted at a constitutional challenge.

Congress should protect all Americans equally and not provide special protections to a few politically favored groups, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. It violates the principle of equal justice under the law and also threatens to infringe on the free speech rights of the American people.

The bill's supporters, however, say that they added language to the measure to protect freedom of religious expression.

 

10th October   

Update: Unisex Children's Toys...

By order of the nutters at the Swedish advert censors
Link Here  full story: Sexist Advertising in Sweden...Sweden considers banning sexist advertising

Toys R Us logo US-based toy retailer Toys 'R' Us has been reprimanded for gender discrimination following a complaint filed by a group of Swedish sixth graders about the store's 2008 Christmas catalogue.

Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in south central Sweden reported Toys 'R' Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro), a self-regulatory agency which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce.

According to the youngsters, the Toys 'R' Us Christmas catalogue featured outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive , according to a statement from Ro.

13-year-old Hannes Psajd explained that he and his twin sister had always shared the same toys and that he was concerned about the message sent by the Toys 'R' Us publication: Small girls in princess stuff…and here are boys dressed as super heroes. It's obvious that you get affected by this .

Upon reviewing the case, the Reklamombudsmannen agreed with the sixth-graders complaint, and have issued a public reprimand of the toy retailer.

According to the Ro's advisory committee the Toys 'R' Us catalogue discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes . Specifically, the committee found that the catalogue feature boys playing in action filled environments while girls are shown sitting or standing in passive poses .

Taken together, the catalogue portrays children's games and choice of toys in a narrow-minded way, and this exclusion of boys and girls from different types of toys is, in itself, degrading to both genders, Ro said in a statement.

The public reprimand has no accompanying sanctions for Toys 'R' Us.

 

10th October   

Dangerous Allegations...

Egyptian newspaper banned after reporting about gay actors
Link Here

Egypt flag The weekly independent newspaper, Al Balagh Al Gadid , has been banned after reporting that three prominent Egyptian actors were caught in a prostitution network for homosexuals.

In a story published last week, the paper reported that the actors were questioned by police for being part of a homosexuals' network, which was allegedly discovered last month at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo.

While police sources denied the story, the newspaper said the actors were investigated by authorities before they bribed officers and the hotel management to disregard the whole incident and keep it quiet. The actors were outraged by the report, saying the newspaper's story was groundless. They filed lawsuits against the publication's chief editor, executive chief editor and one of its reporters.

In a statement, the Egyptian Higher Council for Journalism said it decided to ban the broadsheet after considering the reports forwarded to the general prosecutor by the actors, who stressed that Al Balagh Al Gadid was aiming to damage their reputations.

Most public figures in Egypt want to avoid being connected to homosexuality, which could damage their popularity among Muslim fans.

 

9th October   

Update: Left 4 Dead 2 Plan B Cert 15...

Edited version of game passes Australian censor as MA15+
Link Here

Left for Dead 2 A toned-down version of Left 4 Dead 2 has now been given a rating of MA15+ after the original was refused classification last month.

According to the Classification Board's report, the modified version removes considerable amounts of gore from gameplay.

The board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment, it said.

No wound detail is shown and the implicitly dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground.

The report said melee weapons such as axes, crowbars and chainsaws were still featured in the game.

 

9th October   

Red Faces...

Australian nostalgia show 'offends' with blacked up Jackson 5 parody
Link Here

Your Songs Harry Connick Jr An Australian variety show has become embroiled in an international racism controversy after airing a skit featuring men dressed as the Jackson 5 - with their faces painted black.

The Jackson Jive parody, which aired on a reunion episode of the variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday , was deemed offensive by the guest judge, the US singer Harry Connick Jr, who complained on air, saying: If I knew that was going to be part of the show I definitely wouldn't have done it.

On behalf of my country I know it was done humorously, but we've spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons that when we see something like that we take it really to heart.

The show's host, Darryl Somers, apologised on air to Connick Jr, who lives in New Orleans, for causing offence. However, Somers said yesterday that the controversy over the blackface routine, which aired as part of the Red Faces talent segment, had been blown out of proportion.

If there were any Australians who were offended ... on behalf of the show I apologise,'' he told Sky News. To most Australians I think it's a storm in a tea cup.

Hey Hey It's Saturday ran on Australian television for 27 years until 1999. The latest episode was watched by 2.3 million people. The six doctors who performed the Jackson Jive parody had performed a similar routine 20 years ago, without controversy, when they were medical students.

 

9th October   

Updated: Defamation of Religion is Out...BUT...

Is the US Supporting Calls to Outlaw Supposed Hate Speech?
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logo Is the US Supporting Calls to Outlaw Supposed Hate Speech?

That's what it looks like, with this Joint U.S./Egypt draft U.N. Human Rights Council resolution (dated Sept. 2005). The resolution generally seems to be an attempt to urge more protection for free speech throughout the world, and some praise it for that; moreover, it lacks the exception for defamation of religion that some Muslim countries have urged. It may therefore be a step forward for Egypt, and an attempt to urge a step forward for some other countries.

But I'm worried that it might be a step backward for our own constitutional rights, because of what seems to be the U.S. endorsement of the suppression of any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and possibly of negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups. I say seems to be because some of the language in the resolution is pretty slippery, and of course it's always possible that I'm misunderstanding it.

Paragraph 4 of the draft resolution expresses ... concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their international human rights obligations, to address and combat such incidents.

Paragraph 6 likewise stresses that condemning and addressing, in accordance with international human rights obligations, including those regarding equal protection of the law, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is an important safeguard to ensure the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, particularly minorities.

Paragraph 10 also expresses regret at the promotion by certain media of false images and negative stereotypes of vulnerable individuals or groups of individuals, and at the use of information and communication technologies such as the Internet for purposes contrary to respect for human rights, in particular the perpetration of violence against and exploitation and abuse of women and children, and disseminating racist and xenophobic discourse or content.

...Read full article

Update: Stereotypically Weak Defence of Free Expression

9th October 2009.  Based on article from indexoncensorship.org

The UN Human Rights Council has now passed the resolution condemning stereotyping of religion . It's a move that flouts freedom of expression - and it was sponsored by the United States and would surely be considered unconstitutional under its First Amendmen. The UN Human Rights Council on 2 October adopted the resolution, which the US had co-sponsored with Egypt.

While the new resolution focuses on freedom of expression, it also condemns negative stereotyping of religion . Billed as a historic compromise between Western and Muslim nations, in the wake of controversies such the Danish Muhammed cartoons, the resolution caused concern among European members.

The language of stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals, I stress individuals, and must not protect ideologies, religions or abstract values, said France's representative, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, speaking for the EU. The EU rejects the concept of defamation of religion.

France emphasised that international human rights law protects individual believers, not systems of belief. But European members, eager not be seen as compromise wreckers, reluctantly supported the measure.

On the other side of the fault line stood the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which lobbied for a measure against religious defamation . There is talk that this OIC resolution will be returning to the UN spotlight later this year.

While this new Egypt/US resolution reflects new efforts by the US to broker compromises between Western and Muslim nations, it also represents an ominous crack in the defences of free expression.

 

9th October   

Russian Music Censorship...

Security services keep a very watchful eye on gigs and radio stations
Link Here

Way success Put k uspekhu Mikhail Borzykin, lead singer of a Russian rock group Televizor , is no stranger to censorship because his band have been performing political songs for 25 years. When a jerk in a jeep hits your father / And he is the son of a defence minister / Nobody will touch him / The OMON police truncheons will be the pay-off for the right to say all this, run Borzykin's lyrics to A Silly One , about an incident involving Sergei Ivanov, the then defence minister's son, who killed a pedestrian crossing the street in Moscow in 2005. All charges were dropped.

Songs such as this have ensured a police presence at Televizor concerts. At last year's Rock for Freedom festival, there were 3,000 police watching our performance with only 1,500 spectators on hand, says Borzykin. The performance went without issue, but Borzykin had to leave the venue immediately after the gig finished.

Today's censorship does not happen directly. Instead of making a list to include certain songs or artists from being played on the radio or at local clubs, the government scares the owners with sudden closures, higher rent fees or other 'violations', says Mikhail: No owner wants to risk their livelihood being taken away.

Perhaps the difference between western and Russian acts when it comes to criticising the government is subtlety. PTVP , another punk rock band from St Petersburg, hide nothing with their 2002 song, FSB Whore, about Vladimir Putin. Don't listen to anything / He always lies to you / Putin, Putin, Putin! / A pig will find filth everywhere, are just some of the lyrics. The band has a strong following among Russia's hardcore punk groups, but fans aren't the only ones present at PTVP's concerts. Their lyrics soon attracted attention from FSB watchmen, who attend the band's concerts, sometimes openly, sometimes in disguise. On several occasions, police have rushed the stage during the band's anti-government songs, even arresting Nikonov.

This puts club owners in a difficult position of choosing between artistic freedom and survival. No owner, television or radio-programming director will openly admit to censorship pressure from Kremlin. Radio stations admit that they don't play PTVP, even though the band's music is popular, claiming limited appeal . Most music managers are connected, through rent or other financial obligations, to government officials, says Mikhail Borzykin. They are able to censor an artist without ever mentioning the word.

 

9th October   

Offsite: Threatening on YouTube...

Can a rap song pervert the course of justice?
Link Here

Index on Censorship logo The sentencing of two young rappers for posting a threatening song on YouTube sets a dangerous precedent.

This week two men from West London were found guilty of perverting the course of justice by posting a gangsta-style track with threatening lyrics on YouTube. The song was designed to intimidate witnesses in a murder trial, the prosecution successfully argued. The men will be sentenced in November. The judge has told them to expect to be imprisoned.

In recent years lots of young people have landed themselves in hot water at school or their workplace for publishing weird, inappropriate videos on YouTube. But should someone be sent to jail for writing and singing a song, then posting it online? As one contributor to an online rap discussion board put it, it's deep to go to prison over a YouTube vid : What are you in here for? Some YouTube video.

This conviction sets a potentially dangerous precedent. If a video featuring a song with threatening lyrics, not even directly targeted at or sent to individual witnesses in the murder trial, can be said to create an intimidating atmosphere and thus pervert the course of justice , then any kind of loud, ranting, violent-minded rap might potentially find itself policed and censored.

...Read full article

 

8th October   

Online as On-Air...

BBC online news to follow broadcast guidelines
Link Here

BBC Trust The BBC Trust today unveiled a new set of editorial guidelines that could lead to changes to the content its journalists can post online.

The draft guidelines state that: Nothing should be written by [BBC] journalists and presenters that would not be said on-air.

Some industry observers are already referring to that as the Jeremy Bowen clause . The BBC's highly-regarded Middle East editor, was censured by the Trust in April for loose phrasing in a potted history of post-war Israel, which appeared on the BBC News website.

Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists and presenters on such matters, the new guidance says. This applies as much to online content as it does to news bulletins. Nothing should be written by journalists and presenters that would not be said on-air .

 

8th October   

Degraded Censors...

ASA declare mild innuendo as seriously offensive
Link Here

Nice Headlamps ad A poster, for UlsterTrader.com, featured the cleavage of a woman wearing a white bra. Text stated Nice Headlamps. What do you look for in a car?... .

44 complainants challenged whether the poster was offensive, because it objectified women, degraded them and was sexist. Some complainants also considered that the poster implied that women, like cars, were commodities to be bought and sold.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

The ASA noted some complainants believed the poster was offensive because, by primarily targeting a male audience, it implied that women did not need to buy or sell cars and was therefore sexist. We considered that, while distasteful, the poster did not go as far as to suggest that the UlsterTrader.com service was only of relevance to men and was therefore unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence on the basis that it was sexist.

We noted some complainants believed the poster implied that women were commodities to be bought or sold. We considered that the image of the woman's cleavage coupled with the strapline Nice Headlamps. What do you look for in a car? was likely to be seen to objectify and degrade women by linking attributes of a woman, her cleavage, to attributes of a car, the headlamps, in a way that would be seen to imply a woman, like a car, was to be selected for those attributes.

We concluded that the poster had caused serious offence to some readers and was likely to cause widespread offence.

 

8th October   

Update: Left 4 Dead 2 Plan B...

Edited version of game submitted to Australian censor just in case
Link Here

Left for Dead 2 Three weeks ago, Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board on the grounds that the game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 to play.

Speaking at a press conference in Sydney today, Valve's Gabe Newell confirmed reports that they had appealed the original decision. Newell said the Review Board would announce their findings on October 22.

Newell also revealed that an edited version of Left 4 Dead 2 had been submitted via the standard classification process. Newell said he thinks this Australian-only version is fully compliant with the guidelines for an MA15+ rating. The Board's classification decision on this edited version is expected to be announced soon.

We think Left 4 Dead 2 is a lot of fun, said Newell. It's a game for adults. But we're aware that different countries have different restrictions, and we want to make the choices that make the game the most fun for that country.

However, Newell stressed that this edited version is just a back-up plan in case the appeal fails or takes longer than expected. Our goal is not to ship this second version, he claimed, while declining to detail what elements had been edited.

 

8th October   

Update: Lashings of Repression...

Saudi man gets 5 years and 1000 lashes for sexual boasts on TV
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBC A Saudi man who boasted about his sexual exploits on television has been sentenced to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes, drawing worldwide attention to the conservative kingdom's highly repressive laws on personal morality.

Mazen Abdel-Jawad was convicted of publicising vice and confessing to crimes on a satellite television channel for describing his conquests on LBC TV's Bold Red Line talkshow. He bragged that he first had sex at the age of 14.

Abdel-Jawad was also told by a criminal court in Jeddah that he would not be allowed to travel abroad for five years after his release. His lawyer said he would appeal against the sentence.

The divorced airline employee was arrested in August by the religious police and charged after describing his sexual relationships and how he picked up women using Bluetooth mobile phone messaging. He was also shown on television with sex toys, condoms and lubricants in his red-themed bedroom and filmed cruising the streets of Jeddah looking for women.

The episode sent shock waves across Saudi Arabia. Many ordinary citizens reportedly filed petitions with the authorities after the programme was broadcast in mid-July, demanding that Abdul-Jawad be punished, even executed for moral corruption .

Three of his friends who appeared with him were sentenced to two years in jail and 300 lashes each.

 

8th October   

Gay Blockers...

Turkey close down top gay information sites
Link Here

HadiGayri.com Turkey's two largest gay and lesbian Internet communities, hadigayri.com and gabile.com, have been shut down by the Telecommunication Directorate, or TI.B.

The Web sites have more than 200,000 members combined. According to its administrators and members, the sites do not contain any pornographic or criminal content. The directorate blocked the sites without providing any information to the owners or issuing a demand to take down certain content, site mangers said, calling the action unlawful and arbitrary.

The judiciary previously refused the demand to close down Lambda I.stanbul and Kaos GL, the city's two main gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations. Site managers said the new decision came after previous attempts to close down the online networks of members of these organizations.

 

8th October   

Update: Free Trade Restrictions Notified...

Government target 11th December to enact the Video Recordings Act
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

DCMS logo The buzz is that the UK Government lodged the Video Recordings Act with the European Commission on 11th September 2009 such that the Act will finally come into force on 11th December 2009.

 

8th October   

Critical Voices...

Iran bans 3 reformist newspapers
Link Here

Iran flag The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Iranian authorities' decisions to revoke the licenses of three reformist newspapers.

The Association for the Supervision of Publications in Iran revoked the licenses of the Tehran-based dailies Farhang-e Aashti, Arman , and the Shiraz-based daily Tahleel-e Rooz newspaper.

Iranian authorities have resorted to virtually every measure to suppress critical voices since the country held its presidential elections on June 12, said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. The shuttering of these three newspapers is just another step in a long string of actions by the authorities meant to silence critical journalists and media.

The BBC Persian service reported that the Association for the Supervision of Publications in Iran revoked the license of Farhang-e Aashti, saying the paper has received money from foreigners. It is not clear why the other newspapers have been shut down.

 

8th October   

Offsite: Zealous Chinese Web Censors...

So, Comrade, tell me: why did you censor my website?
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

danwei.org logo On 3 July Chinese government censors blocked access to Danwei.org, the website I have edited from my home in Beijing since 2003. It is hosted outside China, so it's easy for zealous regulators to flip an electronic switch and restrict access. Most of our content is translated from the Chinese media and internet, which gave us a certain amount of protection: most Chinese people who write or publish in China self-censor; this is why we had escaped the censor's wrath. Until July.

This year - after a period of relatively relaxed controls - the bodies who censor information and culture have come back with a vengeance. There are several reasons: 2009 has seen a number of sensitive anniversaries, including the 4 May student uprisings of 1919, the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and Tiananmen Square in 1989. Although Tibet has been relatively calm this year, the riots in Urumqi in July added greatly to the tense atmosphere in Beijing. Government nervousness about the internet was exacerbated by hype in the western press about Twitter bringing democracy to Iran. Another factor is the financial crisis, which has made mass unrest more likely.

...Read full article

 

7th October   

Update: Humiliated Stunts...

BBC TV to dumb down to please the easily offended
Link Here

BBC logo BBC presenters are to be banned from swearing immediately after the 9pm watershed and from conducting humiliating and intimidating prank phone calls under sweeping changes to the corporation's editorial guidelines.

The BBC will take the radical step of putting its guidelines out for public consultation as it tries to pander to nutters after editorial blunders such as the prank phone calls involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

The BBC Trust, the internal regulator, has conducted a review of the rules governing programming and is proposing new regulations banning the use of offensive language between 9pm and 10pm except in exceptional circumstances, and encouraging producers to bleep more swear words.

Other plans to go forward for public consideration include new restrictions on risqué breakfast radio presenters, such as Chris Moyles, whose shows are on air when large numbers of children are listening.  The trust is also insisting that the BBC never condones malicious intrusion, intimidation and humiliation .

Although much of the public focus will be on the trust's recommendations for bad language and behaviour, the plans will also include rules aimed at safeguarding the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC's factual programming, as well as measures to ensure that children do not emulate aggressive behaviour of characters in programmes such as EastEnders. Regulations on ensuring the integrity of phone-ins and text voting are also proposed.

Once the public consultation period is over, the trust will consider the responses before coming to a final decision on the use of its editorial guidelines. It is expected to put the regulations into operation early next summer.

 

7th October   

Classified as R for Restrictive...

DVD classification fees are seen as unfair in small market New Zealand
Link Here

Department of Internal Affairs logo A spokeswoman for Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy has said that the Internal Affairs Department and the Ministry of Justice were considering potential amendments to the Classification Act.

New Zealand's unwieldy and expensive censorship laws are so outdated they are at odds with the Bill of Rights, a media law specialist says. Censorship laws had not kept up with technological change, resulting in a confused patchwork of rules, Victoria University law lecturer Steven Price said.

For example, films and television series did not need to be classified to be shown on television, but required a classification to be sold or rented on DVD. It's difficult to say restrictions are justified in one case and not in another, and that's where you're going to strike Bill of Rights issues, Price said. Content should be treated uniformly regardless of format, and legislative changes needed to be future-proofed, he added.

His comments came as an on-line campaign for censorship reform gained support from DVD retailers, distributors, libraries and the film industry.

Campaign founder Andrew Armitage, who runs Wellington's Aro St Video Shop, said a government review of censorship laws was long overdue. The public has missed out on access to many DVD titles because retailers and distributors were often wary of investing in potentially unprofitable classification costs, he said.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification charged $1100 per disc to classify unrated films or television series, which amounted to economic censorship , Armitage said.

It was unjustifiable that broadcasters were not subject to the same costs, he said.

Chief Censor Bill Hastings said the campaign for reform seemed to be motivated by the economic pressures facing the DVD industry, rather than the workability of the classification system: I think to some extent we're an easy target here, and there may be changing economic patterns as much to blame as censorship fees.

Classification fee waivers of up to 75% were available, and retailers and distributors could cooperate to share the cost of classifying DVD titles. The law needed to be updated for the digital age, but did not require major surgery, Hastings said: Why throw the baby out with the bathwater if you can achieve what you want to achieve through tweaking the existing legislation?

 

7th October   

Children should be Seen but not Located...

Ofcom research into parental control of children's internet access
Link Here

Ofcom logo More children than ever before can now access the internet directly from their bedrooms, new Ofcom research reveals today.

Our figures show that 35% of 12-15s and 16% of 8-11s now have web access in their bedrooms. That's up from 20% and 9% respectively in 2007.

At the same time, some 60% of 12-15s and one third of 8-11s say they use the internet mostly on their own. Internet controls. One in five of 5-7s also say they use the internet without an adult in the room.

Nearly half of parents whose children use the internet at home say they have internet controls or filtering software in place.

The research also reveals that nearly three quarters of all parents are concerned that other people could locate their child through their mobile phone using location based services. A location-based service uses technology to find your mobile phone's position and provide services related to where you are.

 

7th October   

Update: The Venezuelan Blame Game...

Solving crime problems by banning violent video games
Link Here

Mercenaries 2 In a bid to curb rampant crime in San Augustin slums, Venezuela's National Assembly is on track to prohibit violent video games and toys. The proposed legislation, which received initial approval in September, is expected to get a final vote in the coming weeks.

Parents applaud the proposed ban. But critics argue the bill is little more than a public relations stunt by supporters of President Hugo Chavez to camouflage his government's inability to deal with Venezuela's rampant violent crime, the country's most pressing problem according to public opinion polls.

Lawmaker Jose Albornoz concedes that fighting crime requires a multifaceted approach. But he's convinced that authorities can reduce the murder rate by breaking what he says is a direct link between video games and crime, though most studies find no evidence that such games prompt violent behavior in youngsters.

Venezuela would be one of few countries to impose an all-out ban on the manufacture, importation, distribution, sales and use of violent video games and bellicose toys. The proposed law would give Venezuela's consumer protection agency the discretion to define what products should be prohibited and impose fines as high as $128,000.

The Venezuelan bill would also mandate crime prevention classes in public schools and force the media to implement permanent campaigns to warn against the dangers of violent games. Another provision requires the government to promote the production, distribution, sales and use of games that teach kids respect for an adversary.

 

7th October   

Censorship by Bureaucracy...

US Supreme Court refuses Free Speech Coalition challenge to the onerous 2257 record keeping requirement
Link Here

Free Speech Coalition logo Without comment, the US Supreme Court has denied a challenge to 18 U.S.C.§2257, the onerous federal recordkeeping and labeling law for the adult entertainment industry.

The 14-year-old case weighed by the court, Connection Distributing Co. vs. Holder, involved the ability of a publishing company to post sexually explicit photos of swingers to accompany advertisements seeking like-minded adults.

But the justices' refused to reconsider a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reaffirmed the legality of 2257.

The justices' denial is a big defeat for the Free Speech Coalition. FSC attorneys argued that 2257 is overly broad because it requires age verification for older adults and because it applies to couples in their own homes.

Diane Duke, executive director of the FSC, told XBIZ that she was disappointed that the Supreme Court didn't grant cert: 2257 does nothing to stop child pornography; it does nothing more than overburden legal adult businesses. It is outrageous it is unconstitutional and we are going to continue the fight.

FSC is prepared to continue the fight challenging the new regulations and broadening the plaintiff base, she said.

 

7th October   

Advancing the Cause of International Justice...

The Committee to Protect Journalists honoured with the Thomas J. Dodd Prize
Link Here

Thomas J Dodd Prize The Committee to Protect Journalists has been honored with the fourth biennial Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights.

The $75,000 prize is given to an individual or group who has made a significant effort to advance the cause of international justice and global human rights.

CPJ was selected for the prize by a committee representing the University of Connecticut, the advisory board of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and representatives of the human rights community.

Supporting press freedom is an integral part in the promotion of human rights and democracy, said Betsy Pittman, director of the Dodd Center. We as citizens are entitled to the truth and knowledge that comes with freedom of the press and we are honored to have the opportunity to award this distinguished prize to an organization whose mission is to ensure press freedom is maintained worldwide.

Marianne Pearl, wife of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, presented the award to CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon on the plaza of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. CPJ is honored to receive this prestigious award, said Simon. We accept it as a testament to the incredible risks that journalists take around the world to report the news. It is their dedication that serves as a model for all of us.

 

6th October   

Update: Nuts to SWAP...

Scottish government say that present restrictions on the display of lads' mags are sufficient
Link Here  full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

No Fun: The Scottish Government logo Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is to dismiss calls to restrict the display of so-called lads' mags on newsagent shelves.

Scottish Women Against Pornography said the publications featured sexually graphic images and should be screen sleeved away from children's eyes. The nutters said some tabloid newspapers should be treated the same.

MacAskill will tell MSPs the National Federation of Retail Newsagents had drawn up a voluntary code of practice and that ministers are unaware of any evidence that a large numbers of newsagents ignore it.

The Scottish Parliament's petitions committee is considering calls from Scottish Women Against Pornography for ministers to introduce and enforce measures to ensure magazines and newspapers containing what it considers are sexually graphic images are covered and not displayed at children's eye-level or beside children's publications.

Scottish ministers said the display of obscene or indecent material, such as pornographic magazines, was already restricted by law and argued restrictions over lesser material did not clearly justify government intervention, which would cost extra cash to enforce.

 

6th October   

Blog Ads...

US Federal Trade Commission applies payment disclosure guidelines to product reviews on blog sites
Link Here

FTC logo US regulators will for the first time crack down on bloggers who fail to disclose fees or freebies they get from companies for reviewing products.

The Federal Trade Commission, FTC, decided to update its nearly 30 year old guidelines to clarify the law for the vast world of blogging. Offenders could face eventual fines of up to $11,000 (£6,900) per violation.

In a statement the FTC said the revised guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

Until now, bloggers had not been covered by the guidelines - something which had concerned consumer groups. They had argued that for a long time that the links between some bloggers and companies were not always totally transparent and clear for readers.

Consumers are increasingly dependent on the internet for purchase information, said Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America. There's tremendous opportunity to steer consumers in the wrong direction. There is nothing in the new rules about how disclosures must be made. That's left up to the endorser, said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's division of advertising practices. It can be a banner, part of the review. The only requirement is that it be clear and conspicuous.

The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final web guidelines, which will take effect from 1 December. The commission had unveiled a draft of the proposed policy last year.

The guides are not binding by law, but rather interpretations of law that hope to help advertisers comply with regulations.

 

6th October   

Watching Out...

Watchmen Director's Cut on Blu-ray
Link Here

Watchmen Directors Cut 2 Disc Blu ray Watchmen is a 2009 US Action film by Zack Snyder

The BBFC passed the 2009 Director's Cut on Paramount Blu-ray 18 uncut

Version details from US Amazon :

The director's cut runs about 25 minutes longer, and incorporates more elements from the comics, adds more violence, as well as more shots of Dr. Manhatten's schlong. Some of the previous scenes are reworked with additional dialogue.

Overall, the storyline and conversations are better fleshed out, and this version is truer to the comics. The largest additional addition is that of Hollis Mason's death.

  • Rorschach gets additional dialogue, some straight from the comics.
  • When Rorschach searches the Comedian's apartment shortly after the opening scene, he encounters two cops still stationed there. He fights briefly with them before jumping back out the window.
  • Conversation between Dan and Rorschach (beans scene) is extended.
  • All flashbacks extended, with the exception of Sally's.
  • Dr. Manhatten discussing the symbol on his forehead. Additional questions in the face to face with Dr. Manhatten. Dan and Hollis watch Dr. Manhatten go crazy on their TV set.
  • Laurie getting interrogated by the military as they try to determine Dr. M's whereabouts (on Mars). Alessandro Juliani's scene has been reinserted. He plays one of the scientists who bursts in during the interrogation of Laurie to tell the military that they've located Dr. M on Mars.
  • Probably the biggest addition is the depiction of Hollis Mason's death at the hands of the knot heads. Interestingly, the death is done from poor Hollis' POV, where he imagines himself fighting the gangsters of the 1940s. He delivers left and right hooks to Captain Evil, before being done in by "Moloch". The score for the death scene is very fitting.
  • Dan taking revenge on an isolated knot head at a bar, post Hollis' death. It's a brutal revenge.
  • The shootout by hired hitman Roy Chess is much more brutal- e.g. more blood and gore, fingers blown off.
  • Conversation between Dr. Long and Rorschach is extended.
  • Longer jail-break scene with arguments between Rorschach and Laurie. Prison guards open fire on Dan's ship.
  • Longer conversation between Dr. M and L on Mars.
  • Riot scene is longer with more conversation between the Comedian and the rioters.
  • Agent Forbes (Fulvio Cecere) has a larger role as the government agent in charge of handling all the Watchmen.

 

5th October   

Update: Malaysia Doesn't Censor the Internet...

It just has technical problems that coincidentally block controversial sites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malysia Comms and Multimedia Commission Malaysia's Ministry of Information Communication and Culture has rebuffed allegations the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) abused its power in controlling the new media and condemns comparisons to Adolph Hitler's secret Nazi police Gestapo .

The ministry said in a statement that the allegations showed that certain groups were attempting to tarnish the image and ridicule the commission as an independent body that regulates the country's Internet facilities and content. It noted that regulatory measures undertaken by the MCMC, Malaysia's ICT regulator, had always been transparent, fair and balanced .

In fact, the commission is an agency that upholds and protects government policies. This has been proven because to date, Malaysia is among the countries that do not impose any restriction on the Internet, except for Web sites that contain pornography, threats to the national security and fraud, the ministry said. It confirmed that certain sites had been closed through legal processes, in line with provisions under the Communications and Multimedia Act.

The ministry said comments by owners of Web sites that had accused the MCMC of purportedly closing down their sites and acting like Gestapo were slanderous . What had occurred on the day in question was a technical disruption that resulted in the Web sites concerned to be inaccessible to the public, it said.

The ministry did not specify the sites it referred to in its statement but in the past month, the MCMC has been accused of pulling the plug on Malaysia Today, a blog known for its anti-government stand. The Commission had also been investigating online political news portal Malaysiakini over the posting of two allegedly offensive video clips. The political news site later refused to comply with a Sep. 3 order issued by the MCMC to remove the videos.

The investigation had generated a deluge of negative publicity for the government, including statements from international lobby groups describing the MCMC's action against Malaysiakini as harassment .

 

5th October   

Offsite: Crushing Free Speech...

US Supreme court to hear about the dangers of censoring depictions of animal cruelty
Link Here  full story: Animal Cruelty in US Media...Legal challenge to censorship of animal cruelty

Dogs of Velvet The discovery of graphic videos in which kittens, rabbits, hamsters and other small animals are stomped to death by women, usually with their bare feet or in high-heeled shoes, led to a federal law that is now the subject of a legal battle that involves questions about animal cruelty, free speech and the specter of censorship.

The 1999 law, pushed through Congress by Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, banned the production, possession and sale of videos depicting acts of animal cruelty for commercial gain.

In Washington, the Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether the law should be overturned on the grounds that it threatens free speech.

The legal case has caught the attention of the film industry, book publishers, news organizations and other opponents of censorship, all of which have filed legal briefs asking the court to strike down the statute.

On the other side are animal rights groups and attorneys general from 26 states, including California, who argue the law should be upheld.

Three tapes at the center of the legal proceedings show brutal, bloody scenes of pit bull fighting. Robert Stevens, an author and sometime film producer, was arrested and charged with three counts of violating the law after federal agents seized the tapes during a predawn raid of his home in 2003.

Stevens was convicted and sentenced to 37 months in prison for selling the videos. Last year, Stevens scored a legal victory when the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia overturned his conviction and ruled that the federal law illegally restricts free speech. Though the court said preventing cruelty to animals is a worthy goal, it rejected the government's argument that the law is justified by a compelling interest in protecting animals from wanton acts of cruelty.

The decision set the stage for Tuesday's proceedings before the Supreme Court.

...Read full article

 

5th October   

Offsite: The Censored Kiss...

Erotic scenes on Turkish TV, right or wrong?
Link Here

Turkey flag Turks are used to watching erotic scenes in foreign TV series. But when Turkish actors appear in erotic scenes in popular, prime-time Turkish series, the question of whether they harm Turkish family values and should be encrypted is launching a new debate

After five minutes of kissing earned one television channel a warning from the industry watchdog and prompted a state minister to suggest encrypting scenes of questionable mores, debate has erupted over the appropriate length of romantic encounters on Turkish TV.

This debate, however, is only a small part of a much larger discussion ongoing in society over popular TV series that stand accused of harming Turkish family values. But what exactly are Turkish family values? ask some experts.

A suggestion from the state minister in charge of family and children, Selma Aliye Kavaf, that some TV channels air scenes in their programs or series that could be encrypted has fueled debate over the content of programming on television. In a press meeting Sept. 26, Kavaf said: The scenes, broadcasts, publishing, speeches and actions that might harm the strength of the family and content that could offend the public conscience should be examined, Anatolia news agency reported.

This suggestion drew a strong reaction, as television critics complained that proposing encrypted broadcasts to national channels for certain scenes is technically impossible and equates to censorship.

....Read full article

 

4th October   

Update: Police Cartoon Censors...

Morocco newspaper closed over royal wedding cartoons
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Akhbar Al Youm logo The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the closure of a Moroccan independent daily amid an escalating government campaign to silence critical journalists.

On Tuesday, police prevented Taoufik Bouachrine, managing publisher and editor of the daily Akhbar al-Youm, and dozens of staff members from entering the offices of the Casablanca-based newspaper.

The sudden move followed a statement from the Ministry of the Interior accusing the independent daily of blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family for publishing in its September 26-27 weekend edition a cartoon on a strictly private wedding ceremony organized by the royal family. Prince Moulay Ismail, the cousin of King Mohamed VI, was married in a ceremony that, though private, had generated considerable interest and coverage in local newspapers.

Police detained and interrogated Bouachrine and cartoonist Khaled Kadar for more than 24 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday in Casablanca, lawyers told CPJ. Lawyers told CPJ that the allegations against Akhbar al-Youm are groundless and that the Ministry of the Interior has no legal authority to shutter a newspaper unilaterally. Article 77 of the Moroccan Press Law goes only so far as to authorize the ministry to ban a single issue of a periodical deemed disrespectful to the royal family.

We urge King Mohamed VI to order an immediate end to the arbitrary siege of Akhbar al-Youm and to immediately back the right of our colleagues to do their job without police or judicial harassment, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. The time has come for a regime that constantly pays lip service to democracy to turn the page on abusing the law to settle scores with critical journalists.

Blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family

Based on article from map.ma

The cartoon, published September 26-27, 2009 by the daily, is a blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family, said a statement by the Ministry on Monday.

In addition to tendentiously using the national flag, the cartoon undermines a symbol of the Nation by insulting the emblem of the Kingdom, the statement said, adding that the use of the Star of David in the cartoon raises many questions on the insinuations of the people behind it and suggests flagrant anti-Semitic penchants.

In light of the elements at hand, the Interior Minister has decided, in accordance with the laws in force, to sue and seize the daily, and to take the appropriate measures concerning the paper's equipment and premises, the document said.

In the same vein, Prince Moulay Ismail has decided to take legal action concerning this issue.

 

4th October   

Update: Human Values Stripped Away Forever...

Indian judge decides that 'vulgar' TV has destroyed India
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India flag Calling for a powerful moral guardian for the society, the Madras high court has favoured a stringent censor mechanism to vet television programmes that contain violence, obscenity and vulgarity.

Justice R Regupathi, quashing defamation proceedings initiated against actor Vijay in various courts of Tamil Nadu observed: The most dangerous trend is, there are certain channels which exclusively air music and fashion programmes with semi-nudity and adult content, and school-going children, who have free access to remotes, get to view such channels. Their character and psychology is hardened at a tender age...and it is feared that good behaviour, human values and moral standards would be stripped away forever.

He was passing orders on the petitions filed by Vijay, producer of Sivakasi AM Rathinam and its director Perarasu, who sought quashing of over a dozen defamation proceedings initiated by advocates in different courts. Advocates, represented by S Prabakaran, claimed the film scornfully ridiculed the legal profession. During the hearing, the crew apologised for the scenes and said objectionable portions had already been deleted.

Recording the apology, the judge quashed the complaints, but with an observation: The film industry too has social and moral responsibilities... Of late, it is irritating to note that corruptive, pointless and irresponsible messages are being conveyed through movies in the name of entertainment.

Justice Regupathi lamented that most of the movies, documentaries, serials, music and dance programmes televised ceaselessly contained obscene, vulgar and violent scenes, besides promoting supernatural and superstitious beliefs. In such a critical situation, clear and stringent censorship guidelines for TV programmes must be laid down, he observed.

He said: The need of the hour is, apart from scrutiny of films, there should also be a close monitoring of television programmes so as to check lapses and to instantly initiate steps against transgressors. Such a governing body should be powerful, unbiased and mindful of its role and responsibility as a moral guardian of the society.

 

3rd October   

Should be Locked Up...

Swedish reality TV show offends the welfare board
Link Here

TV4 logo A new TV4 reality show featuring youths doing time in an adult prison has been slammed by the Swedish Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen) for encouraging criminal careers.

The TV show entitled Inlåt (Locked up), premiered on Thursday and places a group of troubled youths in an adult prison, exposing them to the grim reality of incarceration.

The aim is for the group to be scared straight - a method applied in the USA to frighten young offenders from a life of crime.

But the Welfare Board argues that TV4 have not done their homework and cite a raft of international studies which indicate that the experience is more likely to have the opposite effect.

Against better judgement TV4 are using a damaging method which increases the risk that the young people will destroy their futures. Will TV4 take responsibility if this occurs? Knut Sundell, Mari Forslund and Kristin Marklund at the board write in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Friday.

 

3rd October   

Tired of Censorship...

Brazilian Samba Show banned in Lebanon
Link Here

Brazilian Samba Show A protest by Muslim clerics torpedoed a Brazilian samba show in the Lebanese city of Tire, local officials said.

A statement by the clerics condemned plans for the open-air display by a dance troupe that has been touring Lebanon.

We support tourism ...BUT... are against obscenity, said Sheikh Ali Yassin, who heads a group of clerics in the predominantly Shi'ite Muslim city.

The local council responded by cancelling the show after consulting politicians and security officials, officials said.

The troupe, including musicians and scantily clad dancers, performed in central Beirut's Martyrs' Square last week.

 

3rd October   

Offsite: The People vs Berlusconi...

Italians are marching against the prime minister's stranglehold on their country's media
Link Here

L'Unita logo Italians will stage a huge demonstration for free speech in Rome on 3 October, in protest of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's new efforts to stifle media criticism. Protesters will also demonstrate in other cities such as London, where the Italian community and friends will gather in front of BBC World Service headquarters.

The idea of organising a demonstration to support freedom of expression came after Berlusconi's lawyers launched defamation suits against two leading newspapers, La Repubblica and L'Unità at the end of August. The move marked an unprecedented change in Berlusconi's usual (and usually successful) strategy. Previously he portrayed himself as a victim of communist and judicial conspiracies, instead of taking legal actions against those accusing him of wrongdoings.

According to Berlusconi's lawyers, La Repubblica is guilty of asking offensive questions to the prime minister. Notably, these include the 10 questions that the newspaper has published daily since May concerning Berlusconi's friendship with young women and the state of his health. L'Unità the main opposition party's daily, is charged reporting comments by the foreign press which are harmful to the prime minister, even though these comments were reported by most of the Italian press.

Following this legal action, Berlusconi received an open letter from three eminent Italian jurists, now supported by 445,000 people and counting. The letter tells Berlusconi that the only way to prove the questions are offensive is not to silence the questioner, but to answer them. The international media have also grown concerned about the current state of affairs, with The Economist suggesting that the PM's move are similar to those undertaken by an earlier Italian politician, Benito Mussolini.

...read full article

Update: Berlusconi Loses Immunity from Prosecution

8th October 2009. See article from dailymail.co.uk

Silvio Berlusconi was defiant after Italy's top court stripped him of his immunity from prosecution.

Berlusconi pushed through the law giving him immunity last year, meaning that he did not have to stand trial in a corruption case alongside British company lawyer David Mills. Berlusconi may now have to stand trial in a corruption case which saw David Mills, the estranged husband of Tessa Jowells, jailed

The Constitutional Court ruled that the legislation, pushed through by Berlusconi soon after he returned for a third term in power, violates the principle that all citizens are equal before the law.

The fallout is likely to prove even more damaging to centre-Right leader Mr Berlusconi's 17-month-old government than the sex scandals that have seen his popularity plummet, including the revelation that prostitutes had attended a party at the married premier's home.

 

3rd October   

Bound to Censor...

ASA whinges at advert for mosaic tiles
Link Here

Bisazza geisha ad Three ads, for Bisazza mosaic tiles appeared in Vogue magazine, The World of Interiors, Elle Decoration and Wallpaper magazines

  • Ad (a) woman, styled with geisha hair, make-up and clothing, was shown lying on her back on a mosaic tiled floor. She was bound across the shoulders and waist with rope and was looking at the camera with a submissive expression.
  • Ad (b) used the same creative treatment as ad (a), although the woman was shown lying on her side and her kimono had ridden up to expose her thighs. She was looking at the camera and appeared visibly upset.
  • Ad (c) was a double-page spread. On the first page, the geisha was seated on a rock with her feet placed on a mosaic-tiled floor. She was bound across the torso and was looking at the camera. The second page used the same image as ad (a).
     
  • Issue 1. Four complainants challenged whether the ad (a) was offensive, because it seemed to condone sexual violence against women.
  • Issue 2. Six complainants challenged whether ad (b) was offensive, because it seemed to condone sexual violence against women.
  • Issue 3. One complainant challenged whether ad (c) was offensive, because it was demeaning to women.

ASA Assessment

1. & 3. Not upheld

We considered the geisha could be viewed by some as striking submissive poses in ads (a) and (c). However, we also noted the images were not dark or threatening and were artistic and highly stylised.

Although we noted some readers found ads (a) and (c) distasteful, given that the images were highly stylised and appeared in both high fashion and upmarket interior magazines, we considered that they were unlikely to be interpreted by most readers as either condoning sexual violence against women or demeaning them. We concluded that ads (a) and (c) were therefore unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to the readers of Vogue or Elle Decoration.

2. Upheld

We noted the geisha again was shown in a submissive pose, appeared visibly upset and was shown with her kimono pushed up to expose her thigh. Notwithstanding the highly stylised nature of the ads, we considered that the creative treatment could be seen to imply that sexual violence had taken place or was about to take place.

We concluded that, although it also appeared in high fashion and upmarket interior magazines, ad (b) had caused serious offence to some readers of The World of Interiors, Elle Decoration and Wallpaper magazines.

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

 

2nd October   

Asking for a Punch in the Facebook...

US games nutter sues Facebook where gamers vent their anger at him
Link Here

Anti-video game nutter Jack Thompson is suing Facebook for $120 million, accusing the social website of causing him emotional distress by not removing threatening comments posted by gamers.

Thompson is best known for his ludicrous attempts to sue game makers over claims adult content in video games is directly responsible for acts of real-world violence. Last year, he was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court after it ruled he abused the legal system by submitting numerous, frivolous and inappropriate filings.

His ostentatious behavior both in court and as a talking head on news programs has also made him a subject of considerable anger and ridicule among gamers. In a lawsuit filed in Florida on August 29, Thompson said several user groups on Facebook are advocating physical harm against him.

There are literally hundreds of anti-Thompson groups on Facebook, usually with rude names but Thompson claims Facebook has allowed more insidious material to remain on the website, such as the user group Jack Thompson should be smacked across the face with an Atari 2600 and another that offers $50 to anyone who punches the former attorney in the face. The latter group has apparently been removed from Facebook since the filing.

 

2nd October   

Update: Art and Law Cannot be Reconciled...

Chinese internet censors block most of the Tor nework
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Core Onion Chinese authorities has begun blocking the intermediate nodes and servers, directory services on the basis of the Tor anonymizing their IP addresses.

In the columns of Tor's blog can be read that the great firewall (GFW) is blocking communication with about 80% of the Tor node. Author of note also admitted that it was expected this turn of events.

Already in the middle of last year, China blocked Tor website. Therefore, the operator of the website and its creators tried to be the protection of the new Tor servers, to prevent the Chinese authorities to get into the list of public nodes - the intention is apparently failed.

Although the establishment of an anonymous connection is still possible using the remaining 20% of the nodes, but such an operation takes a long time. Author of this blog entry advises users that you run a Tor private goals (so-called bridge relays) if they want to help Chinese colleagues. This kind of goals do not appear on public lists, and thus difficult to find and block.

 

1st October   

Update: Whingeing Basterds...

ASA dismiss complaints about adverts for Inglourious Basterds
Link Here

A poster and radio ad for the film Inglourious Basterds.

a. The poster featured an image of three men holding guns and a knife.

b. The radio ad featured sound clips from the film; the voice-over stated Quentin Tarantino brings you his most inglourious, most wildest adventure yet, utterly glorious ... Inglourious Basterds in cinemas Wednesday.

Issue 1. Six complainants objected that the word basterd was offensive and inappropriate for display on a poster or where it could be seen by children.

Issue 2. One listener objected that the word basterd was offensive and inappropriate for broadcast when it could be heard by children.

ASA Assessment: Not Upheld

Issue 1. Not upheld. The ASA considered that although the word basterd would be considered distasteful by some, it was presented in the context of a film and was not used in an aggressive or derogatory manner or used to verbally attack someone. Because the word was presented in such a way as to make it clear that it referred to a film, and care was taken in its placement to mitigate its exposure to children, we considered that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, or be seen as socially irresponsible.

Issue 2. Not upheld. We noted the steps Universal had taken to ensure that the radio ads were scheduled in such as way to avoid times when children were most likely to be listening. We considered that the ad was unlikely to be of particular appeal to children and, because it was clear the word referred to the title of a film, we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or harm children.

 

1st October   

Who Said That?...

Conviction for homophobic chant quashed on appeal
Link Here

Old Bailey A 14-year-old boy and a 43-year-old man have had their convictions for shouting homophobic abuse at former Portsmouth and England defender Sol Campbell overturned.

Ian Trow and the 14-year-old, who cannot be named, were found guilty of shouting abuse at the player during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth at Fratton Park on 28 September last year.

Trow was fined £500 and banned from attending football matches for three years. The teenage boy was also banned from football matches for three years, and fined £400 costs with an additional £15 to go to a victim surcharge fund. But the convictions have been overturned after the pair launched a successful appeal.

The appeal judge said it was not possible to determine whether Trow or the teenager were personally responsible for shouting abusive words, according to the Milton Keynes Citizen.

Judge Richard Price said: We can hear the crowd, we can hear the words 'gay boy'. We can't be sure those words came from Mr Trow's mouth. We can't be sure those words came from the boy's mouth.

He overturned the convictions and quashed both sentences.

 

1st October   

Update: Art and Law Cannot be Reconciled...

Indonesia artist combines nudes with anti pornography law text
Link Here  full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

Agus Suwage work Indonesian artist Agus Suwage knows what it is like to run up against the religious conservatives. Four years ago, he was hauled into parliament, where lawmakers accused him of blasphemy and of producing pornography dressed up as art.

Today, facing an even more restrictive climate in Indonesia, Suwage refuses to be silenced and has made those restrictions the focus of his art.

His latest exhibition, which opened at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute this month, highlights what he sees as a growing conservatism in Indonesia.

Many of the works probably could not be shown at a big public exhibition space in Indonesia following the passage of a controversial anti-pornography law last year.

Art and this law cannot be reconciled. There is art and then there is this law and they are very far apart, Suwage told Reuters in an interview.

Suwage's latest works are a series of prints of female nudes overlaid with the actual text of Indonesia's 2008 anti-pornography law, under which a person can be charged for any public activity that incites sexual desire.

In several of his new prints, the area around the nude's genitals has been cut out completely. In a nod to the issue of censorship, the cut-outs in three artworks have been filled with images of Suwage covering his eyes, ears or mouth.