Written material saved from censor's big black pen - for now
Lords suicide debate saves the day
Censorship of written material is off the agenda – for now: and for that we may need to thank Lord Falconer’s intense interest in suicide.
This week in the House of Lords, an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, put forward by Baroness O’Cathain, was withdrawn at the last minute. This amendment was designed to make possession of extreme pornographic written material an offence, in much the same way as extreme pictures are now.
It was what is known as a "christmas tree" amendment, in the sense that it did not relate directly to the text of the bill, but used the Bill as a convenient hook on which to hang. It was the third in a series of such amendments due to be debated on Tuesday night: the first two were in respect of assisted suicide abroad, proposed by Lord Falconer, and genocide.
Such was the interest in the suicide amendment that debate dragged on well past the point when their Lordships usually adjourned for their supper. House business, which usually takes place at half seven, was delayed until twenty past eight, when a stampede of hungry Lords headed for their canteen. Debate on the Coroners’ Bill did not resume until an hour later.
Sadly for the Baroness, New Labour reforms to the way parliament works means that the Lords now shut up shop at 10 pm – and debate on amendments cannot carry on between sessions without prior agreement between parties. Although not the case in this instance, the streamlining of parliamentary business through excess guillotining of debate has been bitterly resisted by opposition parties, who claim that important legislation is now passed with little or no formal scrutiny.
The Baroness’ amendment was eventually called at three minutes to ten – at which point she appears to have decided it was not worth putting, and did not stand up to propose it.
This may not be quite such good news for those worried about the possible extension of censorship to possession of written material. By withdrawing the amendment when she did, the Baroness reserves the right to bring it back to the House at Report stage in October.
Typically, peers put forward amendments of this kind to test the water. Although the Baroness did not receive formal support from her own front bench, she will have carefully noted who did lend her support, as well as the reaction her amendment received informally from the government side of the House.
El Reg managed to have a brief word with the Baroness as she was leaving the House: she expressed herself pleased with the result, and our impression was that she felt that her amendment had helped to rally support around this issue.
She would not be drawn on her plans for the future. ®
Written material may have been saved from censorship, but what about the visual or sound material which arise inside my head while reading the written material?
Does that mean . . .
. . . that Pterodactyl porn (google it, funniest thing you will ever watch) is now illegal ?
Loving the Alien - Re: Furries?
I seem to remember there's a David Bowie song called Loving the Alien. So I chose it as the title for this post, since I want to offer some thoughts about bestiality. (The song wasn't about that, though.)
It's not hard to imagine that in the case of, say, Spock's parents having sex, proponents of such things as extreme and cartoon porn laws would argue that since Vulcans are sufficiently anthropomorphic humanoids, it wouldn't really count as bestiality. The same would go for Time Lords and humans, along with many, many other humanoid species.
Are chimpanzees sufficiently anthropomorphic humanoids? They're a lot more closely related to humans than, say, Time Lords, or Klingons. PG Tips ads relied on chimpanzees being anthropomorphic humanoids. What about orang-utans? Right turn, Clyde!
Are such great apes not sufficiently anthropomorphic? What about Klingons? What about various other alien species? What about ET? What about Daleks? (There's already porn of that - Daloids.)
And what about shape-shifters/changelings, such as Odo on Deep Space Nine? If Odo's in humanoid form, and has sex with a human, is that okay? What if Odo's in the form of a zebra? What if Odo and another of his species (the Founders) are having sex, in a whole variety of forms? Does it matter if one takes the form of a washing machine?
What about different non-humanoid species? A Dalek having sex with an octopus? Does it matter that Daleks are mutated, once-humanoid Kaleds? What about an octopus having sex with a zebra?
Sometimes science fiction involves the idea of species that age backwards. They start off old, and progressively get younger. How will the cartoon porn law cope with that?
And tribbles? Doctor McCoy found that tribbles are born pregnant - how does that work? Can it be legally turned into tribble porn?
Inspired by tribbles, I came up with the following idea for an alien species, possibly but not necessarily anthropomorphic. It's a species that reproduces sexually, but is only sexually active during what we could call "childhood". That's when the sharing of genetic material occurs. Then, they go through something we might liken to puberty, becoming adults. Soon after entering this puberty-like phase, they (usually) lose interest in sex. Once they're mature adults, they (if they're of the right sexes for this) lay eggs, give birth, whatever it is they do.
As a bonus, I imagined that those adult members of this species that retain an interest in sex are regarded in much the same way as paedophiles. Sex is something for children - and only children. Adults having sex - whether it's with each other or with children - is regarded by this species as dirty, disgusting, wrong, unnatural, etc. They should have grown out of it.
Where would the proposed cartoon porn law stand on cartoon porn of such alien adults having sex with each other? It seems it would remain entirely legal! Is this a "loophole" to be closed?