Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

UK residents advised to destroy “questionable” sm books to avoid arrest

The Criminal Justice Bill has become the law of the United Kingdom as of May 8.  The dankprofessor has previously posted on this attempt to criminalize so-called extreme pornography by making it illegal for persons to be in possession of extreme pornography or what may appear to be extreme pornography.  I viewed the passage of this bill to be a clear and present danger to any person in the UK, citizen or non-citizen, who is in possession of what the authorities deem as extreme pornography.  But at the time of my original posting I erred in assuming that the law would be predominantly if not totally directed toward persons in the UK who view so called extreme porn sites on the web. I noted that American citizens in the UK could be arrested for viewing website originating in America that were legal in the United States.

The dankprofessor confesses to have been in a state of extreme naivete since I did not recognize that persons in the UK who are in possession of books, journals, photos, etc., that had representations of extreme pornography are subject to arrest for violation of the Criminal Justice Bill.

The website Index on Censorship facilitated my becoming more cognizant of how many persons could become entangled by this law.  Following are key quotes from the Index On Censorship post-

Collectors looking to make a fast buck by investing in erotica had a nervous awakening this morning. And fans of Madonna were left wondering whether they would need to mutilate one of her most famous books.
The Criminal Justice Bill …on ‘extreme pornography’…makes it illegal to possess images that depict ‘explicit realistic extreme acts’ that are also ‘grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character’. The penalty, if found guilty, is up to three years in prison.

Supporters claim that the target of the bill is very clear. Others are not so sure.

Sex, by Madonna, caused controversy on its publication in 1992. It was shot by respected photographer Steven Meisel. But critics accused it of including hardcore images of sado-masochism and even bestiality. In one photo, Madonna appears threatened by a knife. In another she appears in a sexually suggestive pose with a dog. Sex was banned in Japan.

Up to 100,000 copies may still be owned in the UK. Mint copies of this work are being traded for up to £700 on Amazon.

Confusion reigns. A barrister with expertise in this area argues that at least one of the images in Madonna’s book could pass all three tests set by the new law.

‘There has always been a grey area between art and pornography. For the first time, owning a book could land you in jail’, she added.

London lawyer John Lovatt, who advises on the Law and sexuality, is not so sure. ‘Personally, I do not think Madonna’s work would be criminal within the meaning of the new Act.

‘But this law is uncharted territory and will remain so until we see how the courts — and juries — interpret it.

‘If individuals wish to be 100 per cent safe, then they need to err on the side of caution. There are many books it would be safer to mutilate — or destroy altogether.’

His advice to collectors is therefore very simple: ‘be careful. It’s not worth going to jail for a coffee table adornment’.

The dankprofessor finds the bottom line of this posting to be disconcerting, extremely disconcerting to say the least.  To advise persons living in the UK to be careful and the safer thing to do with books of the genre of Madonna’s SEX would be to mutilate them or destroy them is almost beyond belief.

No wonder that “opponents of the new law burnt images outside the British Library before going on to mount a demonstration in Parliament Square”.

As reported by the website Inquisition 21st Century, Clair Lewis one of the demonstrators said that the protesters will employ other strategies as well-

“On the one hand, we intend to demand from the police, from the CPS, from Government that they make crystal clear which books, which images will be illegal. Future actions are likely to involve mass visits to police stations, asking the police to provide guidance, before the law is enacted.

“On the other, we are not going to make this easy for them. It is clear from police enthusiasm for this measure that they believed that taking control of people’s sexuality would be straightforward. It will not. We will fight them all the way. Every case will cost the police and authorities very dear indeed in terms of time, resources and manpower.”

“It is not the business of government to police the bedrooms of consenting adults. We cannot conduct our sex lives on the basis of ringing for legal advice every time we open a book.”

The voice of Clair Lewis will hopefully ring loud and clear not only in the UK but in all nations in which the freedom of the citizenry to choose for themselves what to view and read is considered to be axiomatic.

—–
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

 

May 25, 2008 Posted by | censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, speech, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

   

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