Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Sadomasochistic website viewers to become subject to arrest

CODE RED ALERT (CRA indicates that post reports on a situation that represents a clear and present danger to the civil liberties and privacy of the citizenry.)

 Sadomasochistic website viewers will become subject to arrest in the United Kingdom with the upcoming passage of a new obscenity law.  UK viewers of websites originating from the United States will be subject to arrest while the US website owners will not be subject to criminal prosecution. (Read on to find out how Americans can also be arrested under this law.)

Such is not the unforeseen effect of the law rather it is the intended effect.

The creation of the law was spearheaded by Liz Longhurst, the mother of Jane Longhurst.  Jane Longhurst was murdered five years ago by a person who was revealed to have been accessing websites showing images of women being “abused and violated”.

The law criminalizes the viewing of “extreme pornography”.  The major question then becomes what is extreme pornography.  Extreme pornography is defined in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which is scheduled to get Royal Assent on May 8 .

As reported by the BBC News, extreme pornography is defined in the the following way-

As defined by the new Criminal Justice Bill
An act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life
An act which results in or appears to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals
An act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse
A person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal

Until now pornographers, rather than consumers, have needed to operate within the confines of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act (OPA). While this law will remain, the new act is designed to reflect the realities of the internet age, when pornographic images may be hosted on websites outside the UK.
Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer – who is responsible under the OPA – to the consumer.

But campaigners say the new law risks criminalising thousands of people who use violent pornographic images as part of consensual sexual relationships.

Opposition to the legislation 

is led by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a Liberal Democrat peer who has fought to have the legislation amended.

“Obviously anything that leads to violence against women has to be taken very seriously,” says Baroness Miller. “But you have to be very careful about the definition of ‘extreme pornography’ and they have not nearly been careful enough.”

She has suggested the new act adopt the legal test set out in the OPA, which bans images which “tend to deprave and corrupt”.

But the government has sought to broaden the definition and the bill includes phrases such as “an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life”.

Speaking from her home in Berkshire, Mrs Longhurst acknowledges that libertarians see her as “a horrible killjoy”.

“I’m not. I do not approve of this stuff but there is room for all sorts of different people. But anything which is going to cause damage to other people needs to be stopped.”
To those who fear the legislation might criminalise people who use violent pornography as a harmless sex aid, she responds with a blunt “hard luck”.

“There is no reason for this stuff. I can’t see why people need to see it. People say what about our human rights but where are Jane’s human rights?”

Baroness Miller says the new law also threatens people’s privacy.

“The government is effectively walking into people’s bedrooms and saying you can’t do this. It’s a form of thought police.”

She says there’s a danger of “criminalising kinkiness” and fears the legislation has been rushed through Parliament without proper debate because it is a small part of a wider bill.

Another critic of the law states-

“How many tens or hundreds or thousands of people are going to be dragged into a police station, have their homes turned upside down, their computers stolen and their neighbours suspecting them of all sorts?”

Such “victims” won’t feel able to fight the case and “will take a caution, before there are enough test cases to prove that this law is unnecessary and unworkable”.

Another opponent of the new law is Edward Garnier, an MP and part-time judge, who questioned the clause when it was debated in the Commons.

“My primary concern is the vagueness of the offence,” says Mr Garnier. “It was very subjective and it would not be clear to me how anybody would know if an offence had been committed.”

…opponents have also seized on what they see as an anomaly in the new law, noted by Lord Wallace of Tankerness during last week’s debate in the House of Lords.

“If no sexual offence is being committed it seems very odd indeed that there should be an offence for having an image of something which was not an offence,” he said.

With that partly in mind, the government is tabling an amendment that would allow couples to keep pictures of themselves engaged in consensual acts – but not to distribute them. Lord Hunt, who has charge of the bill in the Lords, admits it is being rushed through to meet a deadline. But he denies the law has not been thoroughly considered and maintains it will only affect images that are “grossly offensive and disgusting”.

Such is the nature of the absurdity of what is about to happen in the UK.  And what the dankprofessor finds to be ironic is that the UK initiated change in their laws to legalize same sex sexual consensual behavior way before homosexual law reform occurred in the United States, and now the UK will be criminalizing UK viewers who view consensual sm behaviors on websites originating in the United States.  And for those blog readers who may think this issue has nothing to do with universities and sexual politics, think again since the viewing of such websites in universities throughout the UK will become illegal.

And let us not overlook the Draconian nature of this legislature, images of actual harmful behavior need not be presented in these websites, it is appearances that count.

Such would make the San Francisco website kink.com, which was recently the subject of a feature article in the NY Times, play an unintended role in facilitating the arrest of their UK viewers.  And, of course, some of these viewers in the UK may be American citizens who in a state of naivete access a website that can lead to their being arrested.

Times do change.  In the old days, Americans returning to the US from Britain with copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover risked having their copy seized and risked being arrested.  Now Americans in Britain could be arrested in Britain for viewing American websites.

Unfortunately, the attack on adult sexual consensual behavior/viewing knows no limits.  This attack on sm consensual behavior/viewing is simply another contemporary example of a sexual crusade which has no respect for individual autonomy, and personal privacy in the implementation of moral zealotry.

FOR AN UPDATE ON THIS STORY, CLICK HERE

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008 

 

 

 

April 29, 2008 Posted by | censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual politics, speech, Uncategorized, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

   

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