And they say feminists are hysterical...

(174 Posts)
FloraFox Thu 28-Feb-13 19:38:27

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/28/iceland-porn-ban-free-society

So a group of activists from different countries (including Laurie Penny) have penned this gem of a letter to the Icelandic minister in charge of the pornography ban proposal. It includes such gems as:

"The current discussion of blocking pornographic content has offered no definition, no evidence and suggested no technology. This is an affront to the basic principles of the society..."

Eh? What basic principle of society would that be?

"Rather than silencing a voice, the result is depriving the population of material they can see and read. This is censorship, as it skews the way people see the world."

What? Through the filter of a woman's vagina?

"The right to see the world as it is, is critical to the very tenets and functions of a democracy and must be protected at all costs."

Just, fucking, wow.

"The prohibition of pornographic content may create demand for an underground porn industry, unregulated and most certainly affiliated with other illegal activities..."

So we must not regulate pornography on the internet because if we do, an unregulated porn industry might arise. OK, got it.

Gigabot9k Sun 03-Mar-13 11:28:12

Something should only be banned if it is directly harming someone or abusing them. When 2 or more people consent to have sex on video, regardless of what others may think of it, then it should not be banned.

Censorship is often a dirty word because history has shown it is a slippery slope and the line between protection and freedom becomes blurred and easy to cross.

Those of us in the UK should be acutely aware of this, as we already have extremely abusive censorship in our press, with companies and people seeking out injunctions to "protect their privacy".

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/16/trafigura-african-pollution-disaster
"its lawyers repeatedly threatened anyone worldwide who sought to contradict its version. It launched a libel case against BBC Newsnight, forced an alleged correction from the Times, demanded the Guardian delete articles, and yesterday tried to gag journalists in the Netherlands and Norway with legal threats."

Be careful what you wish for. The great firewall of china is a real and looming prospect in the "free" world.

Today they will use the power of censorship to stop consenting adults from publicly displaying their sexual antics, but what will they do with this power in 10 years? What happens when the government changes hands and this power is available to them? What happens if there is a cultural shift in the population and this power is available to them? What happens when well read lawyers find ways to use this power to protect their clients wrong doings?

www.pressgazette.co.uk/node/44499
"Journalists in the UK enjoy less press freedom than those in 19 other countries including Estonia, Malta, Latvia and Lithuania, according to a survey released yesterday."

Imagine a world where Israel can demand that we don't display images of Palestinians being killed because "graphic content is bad for the peoples minds".

Or what if Government officials dodgy dealings cannot be reported because "it will undermine the government".

Just look at China. They banned porn too...
za.news.yahoo.com/china-porn-crackdown-225-sites-4k-channels-30k-040050986.html

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 11:52:45

If the argument is that it is not possible to regulate what people view on the internet, then that argument surely applies to anything viewed on the internet. That is the only logical conclusion.

Incidentally people can and have been prosecuted for things that they have seen / done on the internet, so it's not even a particularly valid argument.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 11:57:00

The definition of porn in the post above is the funniest one I have heard I think!

"Today they will use the power of censorship to stop consenting adults from publicly displaying their sexual antics".

That sounds like people having sex with people they want to have sex with in the middle of the high street just because they feel like it!

Incidentally consenting adults publicly displaying their sexual antics IS in fact illegal in, I'm sure, every country on the planet grin

Surely a better definition of porn would be people engaging in sexual activity, in order to sexually arouse others, in return for money.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 13:02:47

So it's not porn if the participants aren't paid? confused

Gigabot9k Sun 03-Mar-13 16:26:15

"Incidentally consenting adults publicly displaying their sexual antics IS in fact illegal in, I'm sure, every country on the planet"

I was referring to people distributing videos of them having sex with each other.

However, I wouldn't actually be against people displaying sexual acts in public as long as it was kept discreet.

Perhaps you'd like to outlaw kissing in public? What about displaying breasts for breast feeding? Why not go the whole hog and make men and women cover themselves head to toe when in public?

Trouble with your attitude is that you assume that "displaying sexual antics" is considered the same thing by all people. It's not.

One country might use this kind of censorship to ban typical western pornography as we see it, yet another group may consider women revealing their stomachs to be sexual and suggestive, and ban any picture of a woman who isn't fully clothed head to toe.

The reason why things like SlutWalk can happen, with women displaying their breasts in public, is because people have fought off this kind of prudish censorship, and they want sex to be considered just sex, no shame, no victim status.

Imagine if Ireland took this same stance on censorship and banned any pro-abortion literature from being viewed on the internet because it "corrupts the people". Suddenly this kind of censorship looks a lot more frightening.

Censorship needs to be fought, because it is a slippery slope to loss of freedom of expression.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 16:33:24

Are you seriously advocating sex in public places?

It's an interesting proposition, but not one that would garner much interest, I think. Many groups of people would feel very uncomfortable about people copulating around the place.

OLKN I think the primary definition of porn is that it is produced with the intention of sexually arousing someone. However the vast vast majority of people who are recorded are paid. "Amateur" porn is often not actually amateur at all - it's set up to mimic genuine amateur porn. From the same perspective not all porn involves people having sex - some porn involves things that others find sexually arousing but don't involve sex. Still as a starting point I think that my definition will catch most of it - was just off the top of my head and is surely a better definition than "people having consensual sex in public" which is a totally different ballgame and to me sounds more like dogging.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 16:39:14

I agree that the primary function of porn is to sexually arouse, but the problem with that as a "definition" is, as you also say, that what one person might find sexually arousing, another person might find revolting, and a third person be completely unmoved.

We simply don't have a definition of what porn actually is. And I'm not sure we could ever agree one, let alone write surefire software that could use that definition to block porn, and only porn.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 16:41:08

Then there are all the people who are flimed without knowing it and end up on bluetube etc. They are not paid obviously but personally I think it is a pretty appalling thing to happen to someone. Especially if they are unconscious when what has been flimed is a rape and they are featured quite prominently on the main free porn sites.

I guess if the pornsites aren't going to filter out illegal stuff then you can understand where Iceland are coming from.

Has anyone got a link to the reaosning behind their proposals?

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 16:42:13

No I don't think you could block it at the mo. But I do think that some stuff is illegal at the moment, and people are prosecuted when they are found to have used it, and so Iceland could follow that direction if they were so inclined.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:30:15

So I had a look to see what the proposal in Iceland actually is from here:

"Gunnarsdottir says the proposals being drawn up by a committee of experts will not introduce new restrictions, but simply uphold an existing if vaguely worded law.

Pornography is already banned in Iceland, and has been for decades, but the term is not defined so the law is not enforced. Magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse are on sale in bookshops, and more hard-core material can be bought from a handful of sex shops. "Adult" channels form part of digital TV packages.

Iceland's left-of-centre government insists it is not setting out to sweep away racy magazines or censor sex. The ban would define pornography as material with violent or degrading content.

Gunnarsdottir said the committee was exploring the details of how a porn ban could be enforced. One possibility would be to make it illegal to pay for porn with Icelandic credit cards. Another, more controversial, route would be a national internet filter or a list of website addresses to be blocked."

So they are looking to uphold their existing laws wrt internet content.
And this has triggered people into writing protest letters?
That's just weird.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 17:36:00

"Violent or degrading" content. Does violence include consensual smacking? And "degrading" is a bit subjective, it's on the same lines as earlier and intending to cause sexual arousal.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:42:29

You'd need to look at the Icelandic law and what they allow to be sold legally at the moment and what they don't, OLKN.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 17:45:13

From what you posted, it looks as if no porn is legal atm, but because the term hasn't been defined, it's still sold. We're back to that definition thing again.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:47:41

Seems like what they actually want to do is relax the existing laws on porn, then, and enforce the new law.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 17:49:25

So not sure why people are in a pickle about it.

Seems to me that maybe people think that if something is available that means it is legal? I suppose the availability has undermined people's understanding of what is actually allowed and what is not. certainly we have laws against obscene publications in the UK and much on the net would not pass. We could start prosecuting people if we wished.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 03-Mar-13 17:52:31

Looks as if it may all be hot air and waffle anyway. Also from your link, "They may also run out of time. Iceland is due to hold parliamentary elections in April, and the unpopular coalition government could be thrown out."

Back to the drawing board, then.

Saying that the argument is about should/should not rather than could/could not is missing the overlapping issues.

Basically you probably could block porn, the problem is that you wouldn't just block porn. And that's where civil liberties come into it. To block porn you'd need to block other things too (due to the technology actually available) which isn't on. Partly it isn't on because some of the things that would probably end up blocked are quite important (eg. sex education) and partly because, if it was a govt/legal/centralised thing, it would be very open to abuse.

So the letter isn't saying, "it isn't possible" because it is but not safely/effectively/morally.

If the technology existed to block porn and only porn, then the argument would be moot.

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 18:01:55

It's simply untrue to say that it's not possible to define porn. There are a number of possible definitions that have been used at different times and in different places. The legislative process is well capable of determining a definition for our time and place.

In relation to censorship, we currently have a fair amount of it in the UK. We have the British Film Classification Board, Ofcom, the Advertising Standards Authority, the PCC, hate speech, libel and privacy laws and we will soon have a new Leveson regulator (maybe). What is so special about porn that it should be protected from legislation?

There is no evidence that porn is some sort of litmus test for the protection of free speech. The slippery slope argument is frankly laughable.

As for harm and violence, we also do not permit people to consent to violence, e.g. domestic violence. You cannot consent to working in an unsafe environment. We are entitled to look at harm to society in making laws and we are entitled to look at the context of consent. We do this also by looking at harm vs benefit. We rarely hear pro-porn advocates set out what they think is the actual benefit of porn. Not surprising really.

Flora When we are talking about porn wrt computers you need to be able to define it in such a way that computers can differentiate. And that means keywords. So what words would you use to filter out porn?

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 18:21:10

Murder I'm not writing the legislation on this thread. It's not just keywords, image analysis is already used on the Internet.

It's not as if porn is hidden on the web. Much of it is being actively pushed through spam emails and SEO.

If you're concerned about civil liberties, you might consider looking at the increasing amount of surveillance and information pooling we are subjected to. And what about secret courts FFS! Those are real issues affecting civil liberties and freedoms.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 18:37:00

Flora don't forget that in the UK in addition to the bodies you mention we have the obscene publications act, which is to do with regulating explicit material. Reading this thread it would seem that some people are not aware of that.

Just because you can look at it on the net, doesn't make it legal, folks.

Image analysis? Do you know how flawed that is? I've heard that they have software which will flag up images where the picture has a high percentage of flesh tones so something like this would be flagged up, or this.

So, yes, you could use it to block porn, but it would block stuff like those links. And it wouldn't block porn that was in b&w or sepia tinted.

"If you're concerned about [this] then why don't you worry about [that]?"

Who says I don't? Caring about one thing doesn't mean that I can't care about another.

And actually you've made a very valid point wrt porn being actively pushed. If someone wants to push porn then they will find a way around whatever filters. Eg. if you are going by fleshtones they'll use b&w, if you are using keywords like "tits" then they'll make sure to only use keywords like "kitten" - which is far worse as it's then even more likely to be seen by children.

Trekkie Sun 03-Mar-13 20:17:05

At the moment people are prosecuted if they are found to have viewed banned material.

Do you agree with that approach.

FloraFox Sun 03-Mar-13 20:58:40

I'm not saying you can't care about two things. I'm saying one has a real impact on civil liberties and the other (porn) doesn't.

I'm amazed at how defeatist people are about "well you can't stop it so you might as well not try" although it usually coincides with a generally pro-porn position. It also totally does not take into account that a very significant amount of casual access would be blocked by the easiest measures.

Most companies have imperfect but generally fairly effective screening measures. If you need to access something genuine, you can make adjustments for that. It's really not that hard if the will is there. The problem is that the will is not there.

"I'm amazed at how defeatist people are about "well you can't stop it so you might as well not try" although it usually coincides with a generally pro-porn position. It also totally does not take into account that a very significant amount of casual access would be blocked by the easiest measures. "

The easiest measures? Really? And what would those be exactly?

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