Feeds

Tory Lady tries to give bodice-rippers the snip

Stealing a leaf from New Labour's morality handbook

Security for virtualized datacentres

First there was the Dangerous Pictures Act, and then there was the Dangerous Cartoons Law. Now, courtesy of the Conservative Party, we could be in for new laws on "Dangerous Writings".

If you thought Tories were not quite so censorious as New Labour, then this is a salutary reminder that they can be every bit as righteously prudish as anything the Left can offer.

The Coroners’ and Justice Bill – which includes provisions to make it illegal to possess indecent cartoon images of children – is currently going through its Committee stage in the House of Lords. On Friday, Conservative peer Baroness O'Cathain, put down an amendment to this Bill which, if passed, would make it illegal to possess extreme pornographic literature. That means not pictures or cartoons, but words on a page.

The wording of the amendment is ripped off from the wording of last year’s law on extreme pornographic depictions, and suffers accordingly. Like that law, it would make it a criminal offence to possess writings which portray life-threatening acts, acts likely to result in serious injury to anus, breasts or genitals, sexual interference with a human corpse or sex with an animal (dead or alive!).

Like that Act, this amendment would only apply if the writing was deemed to be pornographic – so any number of slasher novels would remain OK, whilst similar writings with sexual overtones could instantly condemn their possessor to a criminal record.

However, it is in its attempt to carry over concepts such as "realistic" that the amendment shows its weakness: a test for "realism" may make sense in a cinematic concept, but it almost certainly does not in a literary context.

It seems likely that this carbon copy amendment is a knee-jerk response to the outcome of the "Girls (Scream) Aloud" trial, which ended as soon as it began when the prosecution agreed they had no evidence to submit last Monday.

Whilst this amendment has little chance of progressing through parliament, it does reflect what El Reg warned about when that case ended: that given the difficulty of finding a jury who would agree with the government view of what was obscene, legislation in which the legality of material is determined by a tick-box approach becomes far more attractive.

One serious issue with this law, as with the law on extreme porn, is that unlike the Obscene Publications Act, it allows no exemptions for artistic merit or political intent.

On the other hand, the introduction of a test for "realism" might be its undoing. In the story to have been tried last week, the victims are described as becoming progressively more sexually aroused as they are mutilated. It is possible that a jury might not consider such a portrayal to be realistic.

Clair Lewis, National Convenor of the Consenting Adult Action Network said: "This illustrates precisely what we warned about at the time: that the government’s initial legislation was just their opening bid. It's hardly surprising, if one follows the Government’s logic, that this progression, from picture to cartoon to words, would follow.

"It is yet another instance of attempting to blame crimes on the materials people view, instead of abusers being forced to take responsibility for their illegal actions.

"The fact that it is a Conservative who is introducing this amendment only underlines that it is not possible to trust either of the main parties when it comes to freedom of expression and censorship. Like New Labour, the Tory Party has a very narrow-minded attitude when it comes to sex, and like New Labour, the Tory Party seems to believe it is justified for the state to intervene in the sex lives of consenting adults."

We have contacted the Conservative Party for comment, but to date we have received no response. Baroness O'Cathain is widely regarded as being socially conservative, so it might be that her views on this matter do not reflect the mainstream party. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.