Scottish Parliament pr0n law faces angry opposition
Dead horse flogging farce limps on
Last week, the long-awaited Scottish extreme porn bill (pdf) was published — s34 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill — and it hasn’t gone down well at all.
The proposal was much as expected; similar to the English version, but slightly more extreme. However, unlike the English version, which avoided the trap of appearing to criminalise pictures of people flogging a dead horse — by criminalising sado-masochism or bestiality or necrophilia — Scottish legislators have walked straight into it, seeking to make it illegal to own pictures of anyone having sex with an animal carcass.
Those familiar with the English law on this subject will be aware that it is now illegal, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to possess ‘extreme’ pornographic pictures. These are defined as images that show damage to genitals, breast or anus, or depict a threat to life in a pornographic context: so it is now OK to while away the dark winter evenings ogling mass murder, so long as one’s interest in the topic is purely psychotic.
The English law also criminalises the possession of pictures of bestiality or necrophilia.
Excepted are pictures in which those who possess them are also the principal actors in the pictures — a peculiar get-out, which appears to encourage the acting-out of fantasy. Pictures with a BBFC rating are also exempt — so long as you possess the film, the whole film and nothing but.
What then of the Scottish law? It is tighter than the English law in several places. Harm has been extended beyond the specific (body) parts listed in the English law.
A close reading suggests that in England, a court might permit you to possess a depiction of a consensual act that you were involved in that may result in “threat to life” or “serious injury” — the Scottish version now reads “severe” for some reason — but in Scotland, consent no longer counts.
The other area in which the Scottish law plays fast and loose with the concept of consent is in respect of “rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity”. The key point here is that even if it was actually consensual, an image will be illegal if it looks non-consensual or if it appears to show harm.
An image will be judged as “pornography” — or not — solely by looking at the image, accompanying sounds, and where the image is part of the series, the context in which it appears. Intriguingly, the English version of the law makes no reference to sounds: so possibly jurors will be required to watch any prosecutions south of the border without sound.
The only positive aspect to this proposal is that the Scottish Government appear not to have attempted the English trick of creating a new definition of obscenity based on the dictionary, relying instead on the pre-existing s51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
Opposition to this proposed legislation is both broader and louder than it was in England. The usual suspects are there: Becky Dwyer, convenor for Consenting Adult Action Scotland, is actively campaigning against the legislation and met on Friday with civil servants responsible for the redrafting of the legislation.
"My thoughts are, that for a small number of people in this world, who have some kind of deviant personality (evidenced by the desire to harm or kill other human beings), the use of certain types of pornography (if the desire has a sexual element) or violent video games/films etc, etc may normalise (to them) the extreme aspects of their nature. I think it is then a small step for them to cross the line."
You're sure, are you, that it's safer for people to stay "unnormalised", and to feel that a sexual interest in these matters has to be evidence of a dangerous sickness that must be resisted at all costs?
Even though a common thread in so many serial killers is a a repressive upbringing and a long period when they fought and suppressed all those disturbing thoughts. Until they couldn't do it any more....
Cos, there's no way porn could do anything but harm, could it? Ted Bundy who was responsible for maybe 60 killings thought so, and he should know.
I haven't followed all the thread and agree with other things you say, but the 'normalisation' argument isn't one to take on trust and unexamined.
another reply to AC
'My response: That attitude says it all. Not interested in finding out facts? Not a politician by any chance, are you? :p'
Attitude? Lol, just not interested in S&M. At all.
But don't be surprised to receive a comment in the same tone as the one that you left ;-)
To me the S&M aspect of this is incidental. My thoughts are, that for a small number of people in this world, who have some kind of deviant personality (evidenced by the desire to harm or kill other human beings), the use of certain types of pornography (if the desire has a sexual element) or violent video games/films etc, etc may normalise (to them) the extreme aspects of their nature. I think it is then a small step for them to cross the line.
Is this an excuse for them? No. They are culpable for their actions and the full penalty of the law should be applied.
While i agree with you re: blaming images for unacceptable behaviour, the power of images to influence cannot be denied. Why do so many young girls want to be thin? - because they see their heroes on TV etc and want to be like them. Why do companies advertise?
As i said, what is not clear is how much difference not having access to such material would have made to a man such as this. Consequently, i think this law is flawed.
OK you nutters
Just ban sex altogether and be done with it. It will save time.
On related news (kiddie porn cartoons, here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/17/cartoon_badness/ ), Hall of Fame-worthy comment from a MP:
"If somebody is in the process of arousing themselves sexually by that process, it must be part of something. In a lot of cases, it will be part of something that will lead on to something else."
I think that's clear. Or not.