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18th October   

Update: Censorial Turkishness...

Author accused of insulting Turkishness has a go at his president
Link Here

Other Colours book by Orhan Pamuk Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize laureate, forcefully denounced the Turkish government for its treatment of writers, speaking at the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair as the president of Turkey sat listening.

Every year, a nation is chosen to be guest of honor at the fair and this year it is Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of publishers, editors, agents and authors are gathered here from 100 countries.

Pamuk spoke quietly but intensely: A century of banning and burning books, of throwing writers into prison or killing them or branding them as traitors and sending them into exile, and continuously denigrating them in the press — none of this has enriched Turkish literature. It has only made it poorer.

Pamuk, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006, was the subject of criminal charges of insulting Turkishness after giving a 2005 interview to a magazine in which he condemned the genocide against Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I and the killing of Kurds by Turkey in the 1980s. The charges were dropped, but many nationalists have not forgiven Pamuk.

The state's habit of penalizing writers and their books is still very much alive, Pamuk said in his speech. Article 301 of the Turkish penal code continues to be used to silence and suppress many other writers, in the same way it was used against me; there are at this moment hundreds of writers and journalists being prosecuted and found guilty under this article.

When he was working on his latest novel, Museum of Innocence,   Pamuk said, he used YouTube to research Turkish films and songs. Now, he said, YouTube and many other domestic and international Web sites are blocked in Turkey for political reasons.

President Gul, who spoke immediately after Pamuk, said Turkey was really proud of Pamuk's Nobel Prize. He did not address Pamuk's criticisms directly, but said that today I can state with happiness that in Turkey, thanks to political and economic reforms that have gradually and more intensively been integrated, his nation was moving closer to fulfilling the conditions necessary to join the European Union.

 

30th September   

Update: UK Council for Nutter Internet Demands...

Beyer dreams about the new UK Council for Child Internet Safety
Link Here
John Beyer

John Beyer
Seeing harm everywhere
he looks

Speaking today John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk said:

We very much welcome the new Council and wish it every success in its endeavours. Many parents are very worried and concerned about the offensive and harmful material so easily accessible on the Internet. We hope that the Council will provide a much needed forum where these issues can be raised and properly considered. The highest priority for the Council is the protection of children and the Prime Minister was right to set it up. We hope that other countries will follow the example we have set in the UK and we hope it will lead directly to an International Treaty on content that will effectively require the plethora of pornographic and violent imagery currently available to be taken down and the stopping of new offensive and harmful imagery being uploaded.

We hope it will lead directly to an International Treaty on content that will effectively require the plethora of pornographic and violent imagery currently available to be taken down and the stopping of new offensive and harmful imagery being uploaded.

Comment: Ban it All

From Dan

So as usual, this does not go far enough for Beyer. He wants an all powerful International Treaty that will ban and remove all porn from the internet.

As we all know nothing will satisfy Beyer when it comes to protecting children other than the government agreeing to ban everything Beyer and his cohorts disapprove of.

Those responsible for protecting children online have come up with all sorts of workable recommendations (such as giving parents more information as to the content of websites) but no recommendations other than BAN THE LOT will do for Beyer and his chums.

Beyer and Mediawatch UK see protecting children as a chance to impose their views on everyone else.

 

30th September   

Tagged as Brutal...

Children's version of Taggart offends the TV censor
Link Here

Taggart DVD ITV has been criticised by the TV censor, Ofcom, for screening violent scenes in Scottish police drama Taggart in a mid-afternoon slot.

Screened in May and June this year, the six programmes showed characters being set on fire, setting themselves alight and being forced to ingest bleach.

STV, which compiled the programmes for ITV1, said it had edited the shows to reduce the level of violence shown.

In its monthly bulletin, however, Ofcom said the show breached its regulations: The graphic and brutal nature of the violent scenes... resulted in these scenes exceeding audience expectations, it claimed. The programme, it ruled, went beyond generally accepted standards for an afternoon drama.

 

30th September   

Bloody Censors...

My Bloody Valentine poster not so bloody in the US
Link Here
 
 

When Lionsgate began passing out teaser posters for its January release My Bloody Valentine 3-D , there was a difference between the UK and US versions.

The US smeared heart has been bumped down in saturation so it no longer implies it's blood.

Our guess is that this alteration was made to meet MPAA demands. Blood is not favored on one-sheets by the censors.

 

30th September   

Update: Nutter Credibility Theft...

New Zealand Board of Review clear Grand Theft Auto IV
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game New Zealand's Film and Literature Board of Review has reconfirmed the earlier decision of the Office of Film and Literature Classification to grant the "uncut" version of GTA IV an R18 classification in New Zealand.

The nutters of the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards had applied for a review of the classification and claimed:

  • that players are encouraged to commit wantonly breach the criminal law and commit acts that are crimes against persons and property
  • that the constant stream of obscenities in the game advances misogyny, and demeans, degrades, and dehumanises women in particular
  • that the dominant effect of the game is to titillate, entertain and engage players within the mindset of an action drama that glamorises: criminal activities, the infliction of extreme violence or extreme cruelty, drug-taking, the killing of law enforcement officers and innocent members of the public etc.

In upholding the R18 rating for the game, the Review Board considered a submission from Stan Calif, director of First Games. The Board accepted Stan's point that committing acts of crime in the game are not without consequence - such acts always draw a rapid Police response - and found that the game does not promote or encourage criminal acts. The satirical nature of the game also helped lessen the impact of violent acts in the game.

 

29th September   

Update: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety...

New censors start work today
Link Here

Byron Report Social networking websites and major technology companies are joining the government in an organisation designed to improve children's safety online.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety is to be launched by Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

The council will promote responsible online advertising and will seek to shut down "harmful" websites. It will also develop a code for websites featuring users' content.

The creation of the council is the latest stage in the development of the government's safety strategy for children using the internet.

It follows a government-commissioned report by psychologist Tanya Byron earlier this year, which called for the setting up of a child safety council, as part of a drive to protect children using the internet and digital technologies.

The council, which will report to the prime minister, will have a membership of over 100 organisations, including technology companies such as Microsoft and Google, websites such as Facebook and mobile phone companies such as O2.

Speaking ahead of the council's launch on Monday, Dr Byron said: Every parent will know that video games and the internet are a part of childhood like never before.

This is extremely positive; giving kids the opportunities to learn to have fun and communicate in ways that previous generations could only dream of. But it can also present a huge challenge to parents and other adults involved in the welfare of children.

 

29th September   

Human Rights Belong to People not Religions...

Defamation of Religion idea losing ground at the UN
Link Here

UN logo The tide really does seem to be turning in the UN debate on combating defamation of religion – even to the point where there are hopes among some delegates that the concept will soon be buried, at least in the Human Rights Council.

Following attacks by France and Belgium last week on the notion of defamation of religion, several NGOs joined the attack with several strong statements.

The Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies with Article 19, the European Center for Law and Justice, and Center for Inquiry in a joint statement with IHEU were among those who weighed in.

Gregor Puppinck of the European Centre for Law and Justice stated that they could not support the concept of defamation of religions or phobias when applied to religions or beliefs. They also recalled that the concept of defamation was incompatible with human rights. It endangered the rights of religious minorities and would lead to international approval for blasphemy laws.

Austin Dacey from the Center for Inquiry and International Humanist and Ethical Union said in a speech:

We welcome the new Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mr Githu Muigai, and we welcome the call from his predecessor, Mr Doudou Diene, to replace the notion of the defamation of religions with the legal concept of incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence. Not only does the former notion have no legal basis, it is a threat to human rights and to religion itself.

U.N. resolutions combating the defamation of religions are dangerous, as noted by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ms Asma Jahangir, since they can be used to legitimize blasphemy laws that punish members of religious minorities, dissenting believers and non-theists or atheists.

In Afghanistan, a 23-year-old student named Sayed Pervez Kambaksh sits in prison, convicted of blasphemy for circulating an article critical of women's status under Islam. For this he has been sentenced to death. Religion does not need protection from Pervez Kambaksh. He needs protection from those who act in its name.

Would this Council return Geneva to the era of heresy and blasphemy? Or will it work to guarantee to Pervez Kambaksh and to all people, the freedom of expression enjoyed here today? We urge member states to return focus to the protection of persons and to abandon the dangerous notion of the defamation of religions.

 

29th September   

Offsite: Dangerously funny...

Sabina Guzzanti is a satirist irking the Italian state
Link Here

Sabina Guzzanti I didn't pick on the Pope, Sabina Guzzanti insists: That was the only remark they hit upon in a 20-minute address. It made it look as if I delivered a speech to say the Pope's a poof.

In Italy, she has been in and out of headline-grabbing controversies for at least 10 years. But this month she went global. On September 10, prosecutors in Rome asked for leave from the government to put her on trial, charged with contempt of the Pope . Addressing a big leftwing rally in the Italian capital, the comedian had said: In 20 years [the former Cardinal Joseph] Ratzinger will be dead and will end up in hell, tormented by queer demons - not passive ones, but very active ones.

Within 48 hours, her case had even worked its way into the US presidential election. Sitting alongside John McCain on Barbara Walters' morning talkshow, The View, the actor Whoopi Goldberg asked: Did you know that in Italy a comedian called Guzzanti risks five years in jail for a joke about the Pope? It brought howls of dismay from the live audience.

Quite a few Italians, too, were shocked to discover that it was an offence in their country to poke fun at the pontiff. The offence was introduced in 1929 by a treaty between the papacy and Italy's then fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. The treaty was revised in the 1980s and one of the changes was to remove the offence of which Guzzanti was accused.

...Read full article

 

28th September   

Update: The Censored Pill...

Peaceful Pill Handbook to be resubmitted to the Australian censor
Link Here

A censored version of The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Dr Philip Nitschke was awarded an adults only R18 certificate in May 2008.

It has just had the R18 reconfirmed by the Review Board, who dismissed a challenge brought by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards and Right to Life New Zealand.

The author Dr Philip Nitschke has said the decision clears the way for a fresh attempt to get the book classified so it may be published in Australia where it is currently banned outright: We are talking to our Australian lawyers about lodging a copy of the New Zealand edition of the Handbook with the Australia Office of Film and Literature Classification, making use of the detailed the arguments outlined by the New Zealand Board of Review to justify re-classification here.

 

28th September   

Self Centred Liberalism...

Australian sex trade association sides with nutters again
Link Here

Eros Vol 9 No 1 One Australian state has so many shops selling adult entertainment that a trade group has called on the government to limit their numbers.

Queensland has about 65% more sex shops now than it did two years ago, The Brisbane Sunday Mail reported. With 180 adult stores, Queensland has twice as many sex shops as Blockbuster video outlets.

EROS, the trade group, said capping the number of sex shops and regulating them more strictly would halt the proliferation of stores and allow the government to crack down on sales of illegal items. Queensland bans the sale of the most explicit DVDs and restricts the sale of some magazines.

Family First, a nutter group, also wants to limit sex shops, saying too many are opening in suburban areas: I've had so many families say they don't want their children confronted with these sexual images and issues in suburban areas, Family First Chairman Peter Findlay said.

 

28th September   

Low Community Standards in Louisiana...

Police claim that real sex DVDs are obscene
Link Here

Louisiana State Seal The Morehouse Parish Sheriff's office arrested the owner of adult shop Red Door, Lori Tremaine on six counts of obscenity. Bond has been set for $30,000, $5,000 for each count.

The six counts followed six purchases of DVDs by undercover officers, Morehouse Sheriffs Department Major Terry Wyatt told XBIZ, and several hundred DVDs were confiscated after a search warrant was issued.

It's not the titles, Wyatt said: In this jurisdiction, those types of movies that show explicit sex acts fall under obscenity. In Louisiana, the obscenity law is extremely detailed and almost subjective in that it's based on community standards.

Wyatt told XBIZ that the DVDs were commercially produced and did not involve patently illegal content like children or bestiality.

 

27th September   

Nasty Cultures...

Labour nutter plans internet censorship just to even things up for TV companies
Link Here

Andy Burnham The culture secretary, Andy Burnham, said that the government plans to crack down on the internet to even up the regulatory imbalance with television.

Burnham, in a keynote speech at the Royal Television Society conference in London, said that a fear of the internet had caused a loss of confidence that had robbed the TV industry of innovation, risk-taking and talent sourcing in programming.

Following the speech Burnham fielded questions from the floor, including one asking him to expand on the topic of the internet and the TV industry.

The time has come for perhaps a different approach to the internet. I want to even up that see-saw, even up the regulation [imbalance] between the old and the new.

He said that perhaps the wider industry, and government, had accepted the idea that the internet was beyond legal reach and was a space where governments can't go.

Burnham said that he would like to tighten up online content and services and lighten up some regulatory burdens around the TV industry.

Burnham added that the government had highlighted the way forward with its cross-industry and cross-departmental strategy , to tackle music piracy involving self-regulation: It is a new sign of our approach. It is not just about copyright or intellectual property but [things like] taste and decency in the online world. The time will come to say what are the direct interventions [needed, if any].

 

27th September   

Do as we Preach Not as we Do...

Evangelical Alliance propose 10 commandments for bloggers
Link Here

Don't steal another person's content...
Share it!

Church leaders have drawn up a new set of the Ten Commandments aimed at delivering “God bloggers” from the temptations of the blogosphere. Alarmed by the extent to which religious blogs can descend into vitriol, senior evangelical clergy are calling on bloggers to obey the new commandments or risk perdition.

The commandmentswere drawn up at a “Godblogs” conference in Kennington, southeast London. They have been engraved on cyberspace tablets by the Evangelical Alliance, the leading Christian umbrella group that represents thousands of churches of most denominations nationwide.

  1. You shall not put your blog before your integrity
  2. You shall not make an idol of your blog
  3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog
  5. Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes
  6. You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings
  7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind
  8. You shall not steal another person's content
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger
  10. You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content

 

27th September   

Update: Morality Bill...

Indonesian porn bill rejected by its National Commission on Human Rights
Link Here

Klomnasham The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) rejected the pornography bill as it is considered interfering with privacy. We clearly reject it. It is not ethical to generalize a perception of a moral value, said the Commission member Yoseph Adi Prasetyo in Jakarta yesterday.

Yoseph explained the regulation on the pornography issue actually can be covered under the Criminal Code. Special regulations can cause it to overlap with other bills.

Update: Rethink but not stalled

6th October 2008. Based on article from old.thejakartapost.com

Due to increasing pressure, legislators have agreed to revise the controversial anti-pornography bill, scheduled to be introduced to the House of Representatives later this year.

But after a series of public hearings -- held in Jakarta, Ambon, Makassar and Banjarmasin -- and a volley of criticism in which groups pointed to an expansive definition of pornography and vague wording in a draft of the legislation, it's not yet clear if that will be enough to pass the bill.

"We understand that this is a delicate issue," said Bahrul Hayat, secretary-general of the Religious Affairs Ministry. "It is not a one-day process."

Originally, supporters had pledged to pass the bill before the end of Ramadan, but critics pushed for more discussion.

The Ministry welcomes public input into the process, said Bahrul, but he emphasized that the bill still must move forward.

"As a law it is a common agreement. It cannot please everybody," he said. And, although the law would seek to protect cultural diversity in Indonesia, he added, questions of appropriate art would be settled in the courts.

Some artists and educators, however, remain anxious about the bill's potential effects on artistic expression and education.

While many agree with the need to curtail pornographic material -- especially for youth -- they cite the potential for abuse or misunderstanding and a general lack of clarity in exactly how the law would be enforced.

 

27th September   

Inspire by Nutters...

Cameroon implements nutter inspired porn ban
Link Here

Cameroon flag A district governor in the West Africa nation of Cameroon has issued an order banning adult material in the district of Mfoundi.

The order bans reproduction and dissemination of erotic and pornographic writings and images in his jurisdiction, according to a report published on Africa Press Agency's website.

Joseph Beti Assomo, the prefect of the Mfoundi district where the national capital Yaounde is located, issued the order following a homily by the city's archbishop denouncing widespread pornography through cable television, and targets motels, hotels and video clubs.

 

27th September   

Update: Dicks...

Would be Jesus dick prosecutor admits to not seeing the exhibit
Link Here

Terence Koh's Jesus Emily Mapfuwa, the Christian who was so offended by a statue of Jesus with a penis that she decided to take the art gallery to court, never actually visited the exhibition in which it was displayed, a local radio station has confirmed.

Mapfuwa's lawyer, Michael Phillips of the Christian Legal Centre, was interviewed on BBC Radio Essex, where he was asked the question, Did Emily actually visit the exhibition?

He replied: Er, no. She didn't.

So how did Mapfuwa hear about the exhibit which so offended her deeply held religious beliefs? Unity at the Ministry of Truth suggests that, as the initial complaint was filed in January, it is likely to have been an article in The Sun entitled Aroused ‘Jesus' Statue Outrage which caught the sensitive thing's eye. The trouble is, that story was illustrated with an entirely different artwork, from a completely different exhibition (in the Saatchi gallery, 2006, as it happens).

So, in effect, we have a Christian claiming to be offended by a statue that was never actually exhibited, in an exhibition that she never actually visited.

And they wonder why people make fun of them?

 

27th September   

Offsite: Words can Never Hurt Us...

20 years after The Satanic Verses, Muslims are beginning to appreciate the right to offend them
Link Here

The Satanic Verses book Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses .

Just over a year ago, I wrote a piece arguing that it was time to admit that those of us who had called for the book to be banned or pulped were wrong. Utterly wrong. It was understandable why many regarded and still do regard passages in The Satanic Verses to be so offensive, but that could not be used as a justification to try and prevent others from reading the book.

My piece got a mixed reaction from the Muslims I spoke to. Some agreed that the episode had been a disaster while others strongly disagreed with me and did not accept that a novelist should have the right to offend . I tried to explain that the right to offend did not imply that one agreed with what was being said – it was just that the writer should not be prevented from doing so as long as he was not breaking any laws.

This year I decided to send an email to members of one national Muslim organisation asking them for their own views on the matter. Here are excerpts from some of the responses that I received:

You cannot force people to respect you and it has resulted in the exact opposite reaction with all sorts of people lining up to insult and lampoon the prophet, Islam, the Qur'an and Muslims generally in the last two decades since.

I was 16 years old at the time and was perplexed over the issue. I knew that Rushdie had written an offensive book, but I found the Muslim protestors' response somewhat offensive too.

Some months back I had dinner with a well-known British columnist who has some rather strident views about immigration and Islam. I asked him outright what it was that so annoyed him about Islam and he said it was what he viewed as the seemingly constant attempts by Muslims to try and restrict freedoms.

And regrettably, like it or not, that is the image too many people now have of Muslims.

...Read full article

 

26th September   

Censors Homecoming...

Australia bans video game Silent Hill: Homecoming
Link Here

Silent Hill: Homecoming game Horror game Silent Hill: Homecoming has become the fourth game this year to be refused classification by Australia's censors.

The game, which was due for release on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in November, is the sixth installment in the popular Silent Hill survival horror series published by Konami and features a soldier who returns from war to search for his missing brother.

Homecoming was refused classification by The Classification Board last week, presumably for excessive violence, and follows similar verdicts for Fallout 3, Shellshock 2: Blood Trails and Dark Sector.

No doubt the distributors will now edit the game to produce a suitably child friendly version to get an MA15+

The film was passed 18 uncut by the BBFC, the UK's game censor.

 

26th September   

Update: In the Dog House...

Artist cleared insulting the Turkish PM
Link Here

picture of dog with PM's head A British artist walked free after being cleared of insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, by portraying him as a dog in a case seen as a test of Turkey's tolerance of free speech.

A Turkish court acquitted Michael Dickinson of criminal charges despite citing some insulting elements in his depiction of Erdogan as a dog attached to a leash in the colours of the US flag. But the court ruled that the artwork was within the limits of criticism.

Dickinson who has lived in Turkey for 20 years, was charged with insulting the prime minister's dignity in September and could have faced up to two years in jail if convicted. He was arrested after unfurling the picture at a court hearing of an art exhibition organiser, who had been charged with insulting behaviour for displaying another of Dickinson's works. The earlier picture depicted Erdogan as a dog being presented with a rosette by George Bush.

Dickinson, a member of the Stuckist art movement, voiced relief at his acquittal but warned that other artists still faced legal pressure for expressing dissenting views. I am lucky to be acquitted. There are still artists in Turkey facing prosecution and being sentenced for their opinions, he told AP.

 

26th September   

Update: Arousing Doubt...

Indonesian porn bill now stalled
Link Here

Bali dancing threatened by anto porn bill The Indonesian parliament has postponed endorsing a controversial anti-pornography bill following opposition from social and religious groups, who say the unclear bill threatens to interfere in people's private lives.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on Sept. 23, 2003, and has been revised several times in response to criticism from various groups.

Nonetheless, opponents say the bill still does not clearly differentiate between pornography and obscenity on the one hand, and cultural, artistic and creative expressions on the other. They also fear the bill will allow the state to interfere in people's private lives, and especially to target women.

Chapter I Article 1 of the bill says, Pornography is sexual material made by humans in the form of pictures, sketches, illustrations, photos, writing, voice, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversation, body movement or any other form of communication through various media and/or public performance that can arouse sexual desire and/or violate societal values.

This definition is too wide, the Jakarta-based Kompas daily maintained in its Sept. 22 edition, in a special section dedicated to an analysis of the bill. The paper also pointed out this could allow the state to control people's private sex lives.

Originally containing 11 chapters and 93 provisions, the bill's final draft has eight chapters and 44 provisions.

 

26th September   

Update: Mobile Phones Turn Minds into Swiss Cheese...

Swiss parliament votes to ban porn from mobile phones
Link Here

Switzerland flag More than a year ago the Swiss State Council voted 25-4 to broaden its porn ban to mobile phones, making the sale of adult material on portable devices illegal.

The decision from the Senate came in light of a series of gang rapes involving minors. The Justice Minister at the time, Christoph Blocher, questioned the need for a blanket ban and the House of Representatives were forced to vote on the issue.

Last week, the House of Representatives finally approved motions banning the distribution of pornographic or violent material on cell phones, according to SwissInfo.ch. The chamber voted in support of the plan despite recommendations from the government to deny the motion.

With the motion on pornography passing the Senate, it is expected they will jump on the House's bandwagon to ban violence as well.

 

26th September   

Update: End Game...

Anti-games lawyer, Jack Thompson is permanently disbarred
Link Here

Jack Thompson cards The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday permanently disbarred nutter anti-porn lawyer Jack Thompson after years of review but left open a slim window of opportunity for reconsideration.

Thompson represented himself as he contested a disbarment recommendation from Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis in July and challenged a March opinion from the state's high court barring him from future filings without the signature of another Bar member as a sanction for alleged abusive filings.

Thompson said in a telephone interview that he would file a request for an emergency stay in U.S. District Court in Miami, where he has filed a civil rights complaint against the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Bar, Tunis and others involved in his case.

The court viewed Thompson's filings contesting Tunis' recommendations as meaningless in the wake of its order and disbarred him after his deadline for an answer tolled.

There being no authorized petition for review filed and the time period to seek review has passed, the court has treated this as an uncontested case, the order said.

Thompson has 30 days to close out his practice and was ordered to pay court costs of $43,675.

 

26th September   

The Da Vinci Blame Conspiracy...

Knife attacker blames The Da Vinci Code
Link Here

Tha Da Vinci Code DVD A man who attacked a priest has claimed he did so after watching the film The Da Vinci Code .

Father Caino Calitri was in a critical condition in a Rome hospital today after he was repeatedly stabbed in the neck by 25-year-old Marco Luzi.

Police found a note in one of Luzi's pockets reading: This is just the beginning, 666 - a number linked to the Devil.

Luzi - who also stabbed three bystanders who came to Father Calitri's aid - told police he had watched The Da Vinci Code the night before.

The attack took place at the Santa Marcella church in Rome.

Vittorio Rizzi, of Rome's flying squad, said: There certainly seemed to be a link between the film and the attack. He told us he had seen The Da Vinci Code on TV the night before. Then he said he had heard voices in his head telling him to carry out his mission and we also found a copy of Da Vinci's Last Supper at his home.

 

26th September   

Offsite: No End in Sight...

Net Suicide Bill would breathe life into government censorship
Link Here

Maria Eagle Government moves to reduce the availability of suicide sites on the internet may herald a new era of online censorship in the UK.

Last week, Justice Minister Maria Eagle announced a review of the law on suicide. Citing the usual suspect – public concern – she said: Protecting vulnerable and young people must be a priority and a responsibility for us all.

There is no magic solution to protecting vulnerable people online. Updating the language of the Suicide Act, however, should help to reassure people that the internet is not a lawless environment and that we can meet the challenges of the digital world.

It is important, particularly in an area of such wide public interest and concern, for the law to be expressed in terms that everyone can understand.

We continue to work with the internet industry to look at long-term ways to keep people safe and without jeopardising our freedom of speech.


Or in plain English: We are finally going to do something about people who have the temerity to use the internet to talk openly about this subject. Freedom of speech is optional.

...Read full article

 

26th September   

Update: Sky High Prices...

Parliament meeting about Sky prices and legality of subscription to foreign TV
Link Here

Sky logo The cost of Sky for pubs and the current legal situation around foreign satellites will be debated during a meeting in Parliament next month.

MP John Grogan is hosting the meeting in the Palace of Westminster on October 20.

Speakers at the event will be Nick Bish and Kate Nicholls from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and lawyer Paul Dixon, a partner at legal firm Molesworth Bright Clegg.

Dixon has represented Portsmouth licensee Karen Murphy, who has had her appeal against a conviction for screening foreign satellite football referred to Europe.

Grogan, who previously hosted a meeting for the European Satellite TV Association (ESTA) in July last year, said: A number of MPs have been lobbied over the Parliamentary recess by publicans regarding the issue of the cost of installing Sky TV in licensed premises.

With the forthcoming court cases in Europe and the report of OfCom into the Pay TV market due by Christmas, I thought it was an appropriate time to raise the issue.

 

25th September   

Update: Playing PR Games...Badly...

PEGI piss off the video games press
Link Here

PEGI logo Major gaming website,  Kotaku commissioned a freelance reporter to follow the BBFC vs PEGI tussle.

After an interview with the BBFC the writer reached out to PEGI for a similar interview, only to be asked to hand over the transcript of the BBFC interview and questioned on Kotaku's support of PEGI.

It seems that the PR agency handling PEGI is willing to set up an interview, but only if Kotaku side with them.

 

25th September   

Update: Cartoon Capers...

Russian TV channel 2x2 lives on after South Park whinge
Link Here

South Park Russian Dolls The Russian channel under fire from prosecutors and religious groups for airing South Park and The Simpsons kept its license Wednesday, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

We unanimously recommended the extension of the license of 2x2 channel, Mikhail Seslavinsky, a member of the Federal Competition Commission for Television and Radio Broadcasting.

Fans had staged protests in support of the channel, fearing that the commission would take 2x2 off the air starting next month after a campaign by religious groups against the irreverent US cartoons.

But the channel still faces a criminal investigation on charges of extremism for broadcasting the notoriously foul-mouthed South Park.

Religious activists heading the campaign against the channel say its cartoons are offensive to their faith. I've got no problem with my sense of humour ...BUT... any satire has its limits, Konstantin Bendas, a Pentecostal pastor who is heading the campaign and has written a formal complaint to prosecutors, told AFP.

Update: License Extended

18th October. See article from en.rian.ru

Russia's adult cartoon 2x2 TV channel thanked the federal TV and radio watchdog body on Friday for extending its license for another five years amid a row over 'extremist' cartoons such as South Park .

On Thursday, Rossvyazkomnadzor approved a decision on extending the license of the 2x2 TV channel, which was due to expire on Friday, until October 17, 2013. The move was earlier recommended by the Russian federal broadcasting commission.

 

25th September   

Well Roger Me!...

Life returns to Torbay after 30 years of censorship
Link Here

Life of Brian DVD Monty Python fans in the Devon resort of Torbay will be able to publicly watch The Life Of Brian for the first time after a 30-year-old ban on the film was lifted.

When the comedy was released in 1979, the local authority said its 15 rating should be upped to an 18. The film's distributors refused and the movie was effectively banned and never shown in the resort, reports The South Devon Herald Express.

The film recently won a vote to be shown at the English Riviera International Comedy Film Festival, forcing Torbay Council to seek legal advice on the ruling made three decades ago. It was subsequently decided that the 1979 decision is now redundant.

Torbay mayor Nick Bye said: The world has moved on. I haven't seen the film but I welcome its showing on Sunday.

 

25th September   

Update: No News...is Censorship...

Comcast terminates its usenet newsgroup service
Link Here

Usenet.com logo Comcast has joined the list of ISPs who are denying access to Usenet newsgroups in a 'voluntary' agreement to fight child porn online.

Comcast released a statement back in July saying officials planned to sign on after New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo threatened legal action.

Cuomo employed the same hard-nosed legal threats in order to obtain signatures from AOL, AT&T, Verizon and 13 other cable providers, supporting his campaign.

Comcast posted a notice on its website over the weekend informing users that its newsgroup services had been terminated.

Theoretically the agreement requests ISPs take measures to eliminate child porn websites and Usenet newsgroups containing child pornography from their servers. Unfortunately the ISPs seem to be removing a large amount of non-contentious content as well.

 

25th September   

Update: Criticising Military Service...

Turkish star unrepentant in court
Link Here

Bulent Ersoy A popular Turkish singer has defended public statements that Turkey's long conflict with Kurdish rebels needs a solution - not more deaths.

Bulent Ersoy made her comments at a court hearing in Istanbul, after being charged with attempting to turn the public against military service.

The transsexual singer also suggested that if she had a son she would not send him to fight.

If found guilty, she faces up to four-and-a-half years in prison.

Ms Ersoy made her comments about Turkey's powerful military on television last February. The Turkish army was conducting a major operation against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq at the time.

The prosecutor accuses Bulent Ersoy of making dangerous propaganda for the PKK, describing military service as the sacred duty of every Turk.

But Ms Ersoy told the judge she had committed no crime. The singer said she stood by her words and her right to express her thoughts freely - as a loyal citizen of her country.

It was a defiant stance, but this case has exposed the limits on free speech in Turkey once again - a country whose military remains extremely powerful, its reputation and actions protected from criticism by law, our correspondent says.

Questioning the Turkish military can be a risky business, our correspondent says. Article 318 of the penal code - dissuading people from military service - is frequently used by the military against its critics. Critics say a separate article, making it a crime to insult the Turkish nation and its institutions, is also used to stifle free speech.

 

25th September   

Low Odds of Freedom in Kentucky...

Kentucky confiscates domain names from online gambling sites
Link Here

Kentucky state seal Kentucky is attempting a somewhat novel tactic in its battle against online gambling - the state is asking the courts to give it control of over 140 gambling-related domains in an attempt to block Kentucky residents from accessing the sites.

Governor Steve Beshear explained the logic behind the move to the Kentucky Post: Unlicensed, unregulated, illegal Internet gambling poses a tremendous threat to the citizens of the Commonwealth because of its ease, availability and anonymity. The owners and operators of these illegal sites prey on Kentucky citizens, including our youth, and deprive the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in revenue. It's an underworld wrought with scams and schemes.

Casino gambling is illegal in Kentucky, but the state does have a substantial horse racing industry. The result is that Kentucky has a number of laws on the books that specifically prohibit the promotion or facilitation of unsanctioned wagers, online or offline. It's under those laws that the Governor is seeking to cause the sites to forfeit ownership of their domains.

PPA Executive Director John Pappas had this to say about the move: The Poker Players Alliance is outraged at the actions taken by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and the Franklin County Circuit Court to seize the domain names of Internet gambling websites. We believe this action not only unduly restricts the freedom of Kentucky residents to play games of skill, such as poker, online, but sets a precedent for censorship of the Internet by force.

Many of Governor Beshear's arguments – that online poker is illegal, unregulated and without a mechanism to capture tax revenue – are false. Online poker is not illegal under Kentucky law, is regulated in its home jurisdiction and the Commonwealth of Kentucky chose not to license and regulate poker websites.

 

24th September   

Sarkozy's Bad Rap...

Rapper acquitted after being sued for libel by Sarkozy
Link Here

La Rumeur CD On March 5, 2003, the door bell rang at the home of the French rapper Mohamed Bourokba, known as Hamé, and a bailiff informed him that the government was suing him for libel. The signature under the written complaint was familiar: Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister and now president of France.

Five years, two appeals and countless hearings later, Hamé was acquitted Tuesday. Barring a petition to the final court of appeal by the government by Friday, the latest verdict brings to an end one of France's most protracted and symbolic libel cases.

The length of the legal battle has raised the question of what freedom of speech really means in France. It also touches on the reputation and power of a president who has not shied even from suing a journalist perceived to be hostile - and whose tense relationship with youths in the suburbs has been a thread running through his political career.

It all started in September 2002, when Hamé's group, La Rumeur, released its first album, and with it a magazine. Inside, the rapper had written an article accusing the police of acting with impunity in their treatment of immigrants and their descendants.

The reports of the Interior Ministry will never acknowledge the hundreds of our brothers killed by the police without any of the murderers being held to account, wrote Hamé whose parents came from Algeria in the 1950s.

The reality is that living in our neighborhoods today means you have a greater chance of experiencing economic abandon, of psychological vulnerability, of discrimination in the job market, of unstable housing, of regular police humiliations.

Accused of public libel against the national police, Hamé was first acquitted in a trial court in 2004 and again in an appeals court in 2006. Then the Interior Ministry took the case to the top court of appeal, demanding that the judges annul the earlier verdict and arrange a second appeal. This time it won: In July 2007, not three months after Sarkozy had become president, the top appeals court ordered another appeals court in Versailles to rule again.

On Tuesday afternoon, a buoyant Hamé welcomed the verdict: It was a good moment. If we really win, it would be a victory for us but also for democracy and for freedom of speech.

Not everyone was so optimistic. I fear that the government cares less about the verdict and more about the deterrent created by a lengthy court case, said Gwénaële Calvès, a professor of law and civil liberties specialist: They are signaling that they don't tolerate a certain type of criticism.

Far from undermining La Rumeur, the case has apparently raised the group's profile; its album sales have doubled.

 

24th September   

Update: Humourless Russians...

Russian TV channel faces closure over the airing of South Park
Link Here

South Park Russian Dolls Pornographic, extremist and immoral - that's how Russian prosecutors are describing popular US cartoons like The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park.

The channel that carries them has been forced to suspend broadcasts of the offending programs pending legal action. On Wednesday (local time), a meeting of a government monitoring agency could take channel 2x2 off the air.

Throngs of teenagers have taken to the streets to demand their favourite cartoons back.

Fans of the cartoons say critics just don't get the joke and are engaging in Soviet-style moral censorship, while opponents say the cartoons are poisoning the minds of Russia's young.

Channel 2x2 is also facing a criminal investigation under strict new Russian legislation against extremism for broadcasting the notoriously foul-mouthed South Park.

Judging by a highly critical statement issued by the prosecutor general's office this month, the prospects for the channel and its cartoons appear bleak in a Russia that commentators say is becoming increasingly conservative: The cartoons broadcast by 2x2 propagandise violence, cruelty, pornography and anti-social behaviour.

The Federal Service for Monitoring in the Sphere of Connections and Mass Communications is set to meet on Wednesday (local time) to discuss whether or not to renew the channel's licence, which runs out on October 17.

 

24th September   

Update: Repression in Malaysia...

Malaysia Today blogger jailed for supposed insult to islam
Link Here

Malaysia Today logo A prominent anti-government blogger in Malaysia has been detained for two years on charges of insulting Islam.

Raja Petra Kamarudin has been held without trial under controversial internal security laws which could see him detained indefinitely.

He was arrested on 12 September as part of a crackdown on dissent by the Malaysian government, which is facing a mounting challenge from the opposition.

Raja Petra's lawyer said the order was a big blow to civil liberty.

The BBC's Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur said the well-known blogger had been a thorn in the side of the Malaysian government, using his blog to become one of its most vociferous critics.

Raja Petra, himself a Muslim, was accused of insulting Islam and inciting racial tensions through an article he published on the Malaysia Today website.

The arrest came shortly after he used his blog to accuse Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak, of involvement in the 2007 murder of a Mongolian woman - a charge Mr Razak strongly denies.

 

24th September   

Target Practice...

Finland shootings, blame and YouTube
Link Here

YouTube logo A deadly shooting at a Finnish school on Tuesday has raised internet blame issues after news the gunman posted menacing videos of himself on the Web before killing 10 people.

Student Matti Juhani Saari, 22, also killed himself in the incident closely resembling a 2007 massacre at another Finnish school, where that gunman also published messages on Internet video sharing site YouTube.

Police were alerted to videos posted by Saari and even questioned him on Monday, a day before the attack. He was not detained because the videos did not threaten anyone directly, said Finland's police chief.

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said authorities needed to look into what can be done to better protect citizens, including possible changes in Internet monitoring and tougher gun laws.

Within a couple of hours of the shootings in Kaujahoki, several videos posted by the YouTube user Wumpscut86 had been taken down by the site. The videos showed a man shooting a pistol on what looked like a firing range.

The videos did not appear to contravene the site's rules covering offensive content which state that: Graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed. If your video shows someone getting hurt, attacked, or humiliated, don't post it. There is zero tolerance for predatory behaviour, stalking, threats, harassment.

A YouTube spokeswoman said the new context of the shooting made the original videos posted by Saari unacceptable.

 

24th September   

No Smiles...

Unpleasant Thailand child abuse film ejected from Bangkok Film Festival
Link Here

Children in the Dark The movie Children of the Dark has been disqualified from being screened at the Bangkok International Film Festival.

A month ago, film selectors of the film festival working under no influence from the main sponsor, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), selected Children of the Dark for the line-up. The film is Japanese, and tells the story of a journalist and an activist who arrive in Bangkok and try to help young Thai boys and girls from a ring of child prostitution.

Naturally, the movie makes it clear that there are children being forced into the sex trade here, though in the end, it points the accusing finger at foreigners, Japanese and Western, who prey on the weaknesses of a less developed society and help perpetuate this contemptible practice.

In early 2007, the Japanese producer of the film went through the proper channels by applying for permission to shoot in Bangkok. After reading the script, the Thailand Film Office, the agency supervising foreign film shoots, denied the permit on grounds it contained unsavoury scenes that are difficult to stomach. Yet by some sort of Japanese black magic, Children of the Dark was shot in Thailand anyway.

When the Film Office learned the movie they'd denied a permit for would be screening here, they notified the TAT and the Ministry of Culture. After a deliberation, the festival organisers decided to axe the movie from the line-up because it is, according to them, inappropriate.

 

24th September   

YouTube UTurn...

YouTube blocked in Kuwait then soon unblocked
Link Here

YouTube logo The Ministry of Communication has issued a memo to all ISPs in Kuwait asking them to block YouTube access. The popular video website came under fire from the ministry due to content considered offensive to Muslims, a source within the industry told Kuwait Times. The Ministry pointed to content including a video of a man signing verses from the Holy Quran while playing the oud and another video showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Short Lived

Based on article from itp.net

According to reports, the decision to block access to YouTube has been revoked by the Ministry of Communications after a meeting was held to discuss the issue.

Sunday's surprise announcement by the Ministry to block YouTube over offensive videos generated angry reactions from people in Kuwait.

Update: Long List

30th September 2008. Based on article from itp.net

An insider working for an ISP in Kuwait has revealed to itp.net that the Ministry has issued a new order to block certain specific links within Youtube.com.

The official paper which has been circulated to ISPs, gives a five page list of specific URLs and key words that are to be blocked, mostly concerning sexual content.

ISPs have yet to implement the ban however, in part due to the confusion surrounding the order, and because of technical concerns about how to implement the blocking.

We have not yet applied any blocking mechanism, mainly because we're worried that such a long list of URLs might overload the CPU usage on our caches. And we're not sure what to do honestly. The decision seems to be definitely delayed until after Eid holiday, said the source.

 

24th September   

Update: Sheikh Yab Igstik...

Saudi fatwa against journalists who criticise clerics
Link Here

Nour Turksih soap The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about an edict issued Saturday by a top Saudi Muslim cleric, who said that writers who challenge or criticize religious sheikhs should be fired from their jobs, flogged, and jailed.

Sheikh Abdallah Ben Jabreen, a former member of the Saudi Arabia's Establishment of Fatwas, told Al-Majd TV, that journalists who criticize religious figures should be punished.

Ben Jabreen's fatwa came in support of an edict issued last week by Sheikh Saleh al-Lihedan, who called for the deaths of owners of television channels that broadcast “immoral” programs.

We fear for the safety of journalists and writers in the Middle East when senior religious figures issue calls for the imprisonment and flogging of their critics, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney: The Saudi authorities must take a stand against such sinister edicts and ensure that journalists are protected.

 

24th September   

Update: Indonausea...

Indonesian ban on bikinis and kissing marches on
Link Here

Bali dancing threatened by anto porn bill The Working Committee for pornography bill drafting at the Indonesian House of Representatives said the team will work on its final tasks on Tuesday and Wednesday before handing over the draft to a larger team of legislators to be discussed further.

A member with the working committee said the team made up of ten legislators and government officials, will discuss behind closed doors the remaining sticking points of the draft which were, article 1 on the definition of pornography, and article 20 on pornography ban on the internet.

The draft will be handed to a special committee consists of 50 persons which will discuss the draft after Idul Fitri holiday.

The remaining steps for the draft to be passed are reviews from all ten factions at the legislative and the house plenary session. Two parties still opposed to the bill are Indonesia Democratic Party for Struggle and Prosperous Peace Party.

 

23rd September   

Update: Rubbish Arguments...

ELSPA spouts censorial bollox to the Labour Conference
Link Here

ELSPA The video game producers' trade body as been lobbying the labour party supporting pan-European PEGI ratings over the BBFC.

ELSPA's Paul Jackson has told the Labour Party that the BBFC is not fit for purpose as a ratings system for videogames in the UK.

The latest in ELSPA's efforts to rubbish the BBFC as a credible ratings board came at a Labour Party Conference fringe event, where Jackson once again claimed the Pan-European Game Information system is better suited to rating games.

Jackson claimed the BBFC is too lenient when it comes to rating games, and that PEGI better understands the growing games business as it incorporates online play and downloadable content: The film ratings board continually downgrades games classified 18 by PEGI. They go to BBFC 15 or even BBFC 12. History shows us that BBFC ratings – and the UK – would regularly be out of step with our European neighbours .

[What bollox, there is no merit in over rating games 'just to be sure', it would lead to parents concluding that ratings are over cautious and hence ignorable]

 

23rd September   

Update: Anonymous Bureaucrats...

MEP feels that bloggers are negative and should be stripped of anonymity
Link Here

EU flag Marianne Mikko, an Estonian MEP, is concerned that growing numbers of blogs are being used by individuals with malicious intentions or hidden agendas.

The blogosphere has so far been a haven of good intentions and relatively honest dealing. However, with blogs becoming commonplace, less principled people will want to use them, she said.

Mikko has proposed that bloggers should be required to identify themselves and that some popular blogs should come with a declaration of interests.

We do not need to know the exact identity of bloggers. We need some credentials, a quality mark, a certain disclosure of who is writing and why. We need this to be able to trust and rely on the source, she said.

Chris Heaton Harris, a British Conservative Euro MP, has rejected any moves to regulate and restrict independent media sources. Mrs Mikko obviously does not understand that blogs have become the life blood of a vibrant democracy. I hope these proposals are kicked out.

Thursday's vote in the European Parliament is not legally binding but is an indicator of growing EU concern over the influence of blogs on the internet. A recent internal European Commission report, leaked three weeks ago, found that the EU was losing the battle for hearts and minds online. Blog activity remains overwhelmingly negative, it said.

 

23rd September   

Political Group Sex...

German artist irritates politicians
Link Here

Global Players A new sculpture installed in the square of a small southern German town, Bodman-Ludwigshafen, has some locals and politicians up in arms, reports Der Spiegel.

The three-panel relief by sculptor Peter Lenk presents a lively panorama of cartoonish Germans; in one corner, five top German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, are shown naked and laughing and grabbing one another's genitals.

Local politicians have called the work, which has brought a steady stream of tourists, piggish and " heap effect-mongering , and local residents have criticized Mayor Matthias Weckbach for commissioning pornography and paying for it partly with public funds. The panel with the contested scene, however, is a two-year donation by the artist himself.

Lenk says he wanted to show political group sex in part to protest a controversial welfare-reform package created by the five depicted politicians that has been linked to several scandals involving corporate money and public figures: When it comes to their privileges and taking money out of the pockets of citizens. T hey all hold the scepter, so to speak. Politics is far more pornographic than any art.

He also said that while political scandals quickly fade from the public's attention, a memorial like this will stay around and irritate them a bit longer.

 

23rd September   

Bird Brained Censors...

Israeli newspapers refuse to print pictures of their foreign minister
Link Here

Tzipi Livni Tzipi Livni is poised to become Israel's next prime minister - but ultra-orthodox newspapers in the Jewish state are refusing to publish her picture for reasons of religious modesty.

Only about 600,000 of Israel's 7 million population are haredi, or ultra-orthodox, but they pack a strong political punch and include key officials including cabinet ministers and the mayor of Jerusalem.

No haredi paper will publish Livni's picture, said Avraham Kroizer, a public relations adviser to the incoming premier: Graphic artists will blur the faces of women that do make their way into pictures that the papers want to use. They will also blur pictures of television sets or other items deemed improper to be seen by the wider haredi public.

One ultra-orthodox paper also said it would not be using Livni's name Tzipi - short for ‘Tziporah' which means ‘bird.'

We might write "Mrs. T. Livni" or just "Mrs. Livni," but the name. Tzipi is too familiar. It is not acceptable to address a woman using her first name, especially when she goes by a nickname, said a senior editor at Hamodia, the oldest ultra-orthodox daily.

 

23rd September   

Update: Turkey Dogged by Repression...

Artist on trial this week for insulting the Turkish PM
Link Here

picture of dog with PM's head Michael Dickinson, a British Stuckist artist in Turkey and a frequent contributor to MungBeing Magazine, was arrested and held by police for 10 days for displaying 2 collage pictures of Turkey's Prime Minister as America's pet dog.

Charged with insulting the prime minister under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, he faces a two year jail sentence if found guilty.

We at MungBeing throw our support fully behind an artist's right of free expression. Any laws that stifle an artist's creative and artistic expression must not be allowed to persist.

After several adjournments the trial is now set for September 25th, 2008.

 

22nd September   

Exaggerated Figures...

Plastic surgeons call for ban on unfeasible breast enlargement adverts
Link Here

BAAPS logo Models with anatomically impossible breasts are being used to seduce female clients to undergo cosmetic surgery that creates unrealistic expectations , senior plastic surgeons said.

Turning their fire on parts of their trade, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said digitally enhanced pictures of bikini-clad women in ecstatic poses should be banned in advertisements.

Promoting lunch-time face-lifts, which could not be carried out in the time, and financial discounts worth up to £250 to reward clients who signed up quickly should also be outlawed, the association said.

The association represents around a third of cosmetic surgeons in the UK but has no powers to regulate the multimillion pound industry, which is growing rapidly.

Douglas McGeorge, the president of the association and a consultant plastic surgeon, said: BAAPS has been increasingly concerned about the standard and style of today's cosmetic surgery advertising. Surgery is a serious undertaking which requires realistic expectations and should only proceed after proper consultation with a properly qualified clinician in an appropriate clinical setting.

He added: It would be lovely to have a lunchtime facelift. But it simply does not exist. The association had complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about some of the advertisements, but by then the damage had been done, he said.

 

22nd September   

Silence I Kill You...

Achmed the Dead Terrorist at the ASA
Link Here

Achmed the Dead Terrorist An Internet ad on YouTube, for a mobile phone ringtone, was headlined MEET ACHMED and depicted a skull with red eyes. He was wearing a white head dress and text in a speech bubble stated SILENCE!! I KILL YOU . A text box stated Click here.

1. Four complainants objected that the ad was deeply offensive and disrespectful to the Muslim religion.

2. Two of the complainants felt it was offensive and insensitive to those who had been victims of terrorism.

ASA Assessment 1. & 2. Not upheld

ASA noted the ad was for a ringtone related to a comedy character that was well known in the USA and that the video of Achmed the dead terrorist had been viewed on YouTube over 54 million times worldwide.

We noted comedy touched on contemporary issues including terrorism. We also noted Xtendmedia said they had taken steps to target users who would be aware of the show and would find the ad humorous.

We considered that, whether or not viewers were aware of the show, some may find the character and the comedy theme of terrorism distasteful or offensive. We considered, however, the part of Achmeds head dress shown in the ad was not recognisable as belonging to any religious tradition. We considered that the text SILENCE!! I KILL YOU would be viewed as light hearted and was unlikely to be seen as a serious threat. We considered that the ad was an accurate representation of the product and concluded that because the ad itself contained no direct reference to terrorism or the Muslim religion, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers of YouTube.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency) but did not find it in breach.

Update: Banned in South Africa

7th October 2008. See article from livenews.com.au

A ringtone commercial, featuring Jeff Dunham's puppet was banned in South Africa, following complaints from a Muslim man who had filed that the ad was offensive to the Islamic religion.

Moegamat Khan argued to the South African censor that the character suggested that all Muslims were terrorists.

 

22nd September   

Offsite: The Advocacy 2.0 Guide...

Tools for digital activists
Link Here

Advocacy 2.0 logo The Advocacy 2.0 Guide (Tools for Digital Advocacy) describes some of the best techniques and tools that digital activists - and others who wish to learn from this subject - can use as part of their online advocacy campaigns. While our previous guide (Blog for a Cause!) focused on the effective use of blogs as an advocacy tool, this guide will explore creative uses of other web 2.0 applications.

Our goal is to:

  • Aggregate web 2.0 tools for advocacy
  • Provide detailed instructions on how to use them
  • Highlight successful experiences of web 2.0 activism by local digital activists around the world..
  • Inspire other activists to adopt these strategies in ways that serve their specific goals and needs.

From “Geo-bombing” to “multi-blogging” and Twitter to “mash-ups”, we explore the field of digital advocacy, helping activists reach out to audiences they may never have reached before.

We are releasing the first from a series of Advocacy 2.0 Guides that will show you how to use the web 2.0 as an advocacy tool:

...Read full article

 

21st September   

Taking Offence at Insulting Football Songs...

Rangers v Celtic, Ireland v Scotland, Censorship v Free Speech
Link Here

Rangers vs Celtic When Glasgow Rangers fans sang the Famine Song at an Old Firm derby they never thought it would cause so much trouble:

I often wonder where they would have been
If we hadn't have taken them in
Fed them and washed them
Thousands in Glasgow alone
From Ireland they came
Brought us nothing but trouble and shame
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Now Athenry Mike was a thief
And Large John he was fully briefed
And that wee traitor from Castlemilk
Turned his back on his own
They've all their Papists in Rome
They have U2 and Bono
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Now they raped and fondled their kids
That's what those perverts from the dark side did
And they swept it under the carpet
And Large John he hid
Their evils seeds have been sown
Cause they're not of our own
Well the famine is over
Why don't you go home?
Now Timmy don't take it from me
Cause if you know your history
You've persecuted thousands of people
In Ireland alone
You turned on the lights
Fuelled U boats by night
That's how you repay us
It's time to go home.

But the song angered one fan so much he put in a complaint that led Irish diplomats to raise the concerns with the Scottish government.

Now anti-censorship campaigners have stepped into the row, claiming this weekend that any attempt to curb the fans from singing the lyrics would be a dangerous assault on freedom of speech. It is the Rangers fans' right, they say, to insult the Irish over the Great Famine if they choose.

Index on Censorship's Irish-born spokesperson, Padraig Reidy, said he was concerned about the state intervening: Considering we all know that there have been nasty, offensive songs at Old Firm games for years, making it into a national issue seems absurd and dangerous. It's trying to set a legal limit on speech that isn't incitement to violence. Rangers and Celtic have an agreement between themselves to sing what they want.

Reidy said that, while the song about the Famine is undoubtedly offensive, behaviour should be controlled by the two clubs rather than the state: It's different to anti-discrimination laws, which are a very good thing, but seeking to outlaw any kind of insulting or offensive speech/songs does become very problematic, because someone will always take offence .

Rangers FC said it has approached Strathclyde Police for guidance, a spokesman for the club said, adding fans had been actively discouraged from singing the song at games.

 

21st September   

Gospel Goes Under the Counter...

Gospel Today banned from open sale
Link Here

Gospel Today magazine The five women on the cover are dressed in black and smiling, not an uncommon strategy for selling magazines.

But these cover girls are women of the cloth, featured in Gospel Today magazine's latest issue, which the Southern Baptist Convention has pulled from the shelves at its bookstores, though the magazine is available for sale upon request.

The group says women pastors go against its beliefs, according to its interpretation of the New Testament. The magazine was taken off stands in more than 100 Lifeway Christian Bookstores across the countr.

The magazine's publisher, Teresa Hairston, said she was just reporting on a trend, not trying to promote women pastors: They basically treated it like pornography and put it behind the counter. Unless a person goes into the store and asks for it, they won't see it displayed.

 

21st September   

Update: Censorship Gurus...

Hindus whinge about lack of representation at the Malaysian censors
Link Here

The Love Guru The Malaysia Hindu ruling body, the Sangam, wants to be included on the Film Censorship Board panel to have a say on the screening of movies which are deemed insensitive and offensive to Hindus.

It's Sensitive Issues Sub-Committee chairman P. Murugiah said the board must respect the sentiments of Hindus when approving the screening of movies in theatres.

He expressed regret that the movie Love Guru was still being screened in theatres nationwide despite the organisation's call for the movie to be banned two weeks ago: But despite the objection, the board approved the movie for screening without even removing the sensitive scenes such as the picture of Lord Ganesha on a chastity belt, obscene yoga postures, elephants copulating in front of a crowd and a lavish ashram staffed with scantily clad women .

Murugiah said the Hollywood movie clearly poked fun at the Hindu religion and culture through actor Mike Myer's portrayal of a spiritual advisor or guru.

He said he was puzzled that the movie was not banned here as it clearly breached the Penal Code, the Film Censorship Act 2002 and the Sedition Act 1948.

Murugiah said protests held in India and Singapore had resulted in the movie not being screened there.

 

21st September   

Update: Olympic Sport of Backtracking...

China re-applies internet blocks after Olympic ease up
Link Here

Olympic hand cuffs Reporters Without Borders discovered today that access to its main website has again been blocked within China. The site had been accessible since 1 August, a week before the start of the Olympic Games.

Our website was accessible for just over a month in China, the press freedom organisation said: The freedom allowed to Chinese Internet users for the Beijing Olympic Games, which the authorities had promised, was just an illusion. There is no letup in online censorship in China. We call for the restoration of access to our site and all the other news and information sites that are blocked in China.

The websites of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the BBC are still accessible although they continue to be “geoblocked” for Internet users in Tibet. The overseas Chinese news and human rights websites are also blocked, as is the site from which the censorship circumvention software TOR can be downloaded.

 

21st September   

Offsite: Bucks Against Free Press...

Meet Sally. Her case should scare us all
Link Here

Police raid house The security services planned the arrest of the journalist with painstaking care. They bugged her contacts and assembled an elite squad to take her down. On 8 May 2007, eight detectives swarmed into her home and seized her address book, mobile, laptops and bank statements. In a simultaneous raid, a second team searched her newspaper office - going through everything from filing cabinets to boxes of Cup-a-Soup by the office kettle.

Once in custody, detectives kept her isolated from her two teenage daughters and autistic son for 24 hours. Then they began the grilling.

You could go to prison, they told her.

They let her go, but soon hauled her back in. Before her second interrogation, they left her shivering in a cell. Before her third, a woman officer put on rubber gloves and strip-searched her. After that, I just lost my ability to think coherently, Sally Murrer said: My brain went to cotton wool.

Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Putin's Russia or Hu Jintao's China?

No, Gordon Brown's Buckinghamshire.

...Read full article

 

21st September   

Offsite: A Disgusting Feast of Filth?...

The history of British theatre censorship
Link Here

Theatre Censorship book The theatre is a watchword for unfettered artistic licence. Or is it? Dramatists and producers still engage in battles with state censors — who can still determine what is fitting for public consumption. The official role of state censor, given to the Lord Chamberlain under the Licensing Act 1737, may well be dead — but censorship is alive and well in other guises.

...Read full article

 

20th September   

Update: Hounded by Nutters...

Nutters call for cinema boycott of Hounddog and Towelhead
Link Here

Hounddog poster Nutters are calling for a box office boycott of two films that feature inexplicit sex scenes involving young girls.

Hounddog , starring 14-year-old Dakota Fanning, drew controversy when it appeared at the Sundance Film Festival last year for its scene depicting the rape of a pre-teen girl.

A second film, Towelhead , stars Summer Bishil, an 18-year-old actress portraying a 13-year-old girl who experiences her sexual awakening on screen.

This is abhorrent and abusive, said Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission: We are calling on people to avoid these movies, to tell other people not to see it.

Baehr said the movies are damaging to the child actresses filming the explicit scenes, as well as the public at large: There are two sides of it. The side of actual abuse to the actress and promoting or condoning these activities .

Family and women's nutters have been especially active in North Carolina, where the controversial child-rape scene in Hounddog was filmed. Baehr said Hounddog received nearly $400,000 in tax credits funded by state citizens.

Baehr has joined the No More Child Porn campaign, run by Donna Mille of Concerned Women for America, a coalition of conservative women who promote Biblical values and family traditions. They are a part of about 200 smaller groups around the country who have joined the protest.

A spokesman for Warner Independent Pictures, which released Towelhead " said, Our film deals with a girl's coming of age. He said that the art-house production is rated R, and will be released Friday in select cities across the country: It is a movie like any other movie. It's an adaptation of a novel and a novel that was a New York Times best seller.

 

20th September   

Update: Ramadan Gift Delayed...

Indonesian parliament postpones anti-sex and pornography bill
Link Here

Bali dancing threatened by anto porn bill Indonesia's parliament has postponed plans to table a controversial anti-pornography Bill after growing opposition from critics who say it could damage native cultural traditions.

The Bill aims to shield the young from pornographic material and lewd acts, but also contains provisions that could see people being jailed for kissing in public or wearing bikinis and could criminalise many forms of art and traditional culture that hinge on sensuality.

Parliamentarians have so far stopped short of passing the Bill because of claims it could jeopardise Indonesia's tradition of tolerance and polarise the country.

Some political parties had been hoping for the Bill's approval this month as the final draft was due to be tabled in parliament on September 23rd.

So far at least two parties - the Christian Peace and Welfare Party and the nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) - have rejected the proposed Bill.

 

20th September   

Update: Freedoms Overturned...

Another Malaysian blogger arrested
Link Here

inverted Maaysia flag The Malaysian blogger Syed Azidi Syed Aziz, blogging as kickdefella, has been arrested. From initial reports, it is not clear if he was arrested for inciting the public to fly the national flag upside-down or for an article he wrote.

Other reports suggest that Syed Azidi is being investigated under the Sedition Act.

Kickdefella's arrest does not come as a surprise, considering the uproar he created when he suggested bloggers post their flags upside down on their blog sites. On 22 August 2008, it was reported that he was under police probe. It has been reported that Syed Azidi himself feared he would be arrested because of his online appeal to fly the national flag upside down as a sign of protest that the nation was in distress.

 

20th September   

Update: Justified Contempt of Singapore Court...

Blogger in Singapore jailed for insult to judge
Link Here

Singapore flag Former Singaporean citizen and naturalized American, Gopalan Nair, has been sentenced to three months imprisonment for insulting a high court judge on his blog.

Newspaper reports that the court, in handing out the sentence, had stated that Gopalan had scandalised…the judiciary and the administration of justice in Singapore

Gopalan had allegedly accused Justice Ang of prostituting herself…by being nothing more than an employee of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son and carrying out their orders.

In his defence, Gopalan said that he hoped to raise political awareness in Singapore on his blog. He admitted that his words might have been strong, but he was not remorseful as they were true.

He was charged under Section 228 of Singapore's Penal Code, Intentional insult or interruption to a public servant sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding.

 

20th September   

Offsite: Is the law tying itself in knots?...

Government extreme on dangerous fantasy pictures yet feeble on important moral issues
Link Here

F**k Fashion book I believe strongly that prostitution should be legalised. Why doesn't the Government do that, instead of introducing this ban on extreme porn? It seems to me that they just want to be seen as "tough". Yet, in my opinion, the present Government has been rather useless and feeble about the most important moral things. They have taken this country to war; they are not strong on green issues: are we, for instance, going to take up the offer by the President of Guyana to pay for them not to cut down their rainforest?

Why don't we put our minds to dealing with these really important issues before serious damage is done to the world, instead of persecuting people for their fantasies?

We already have laws to deal with real violence, and surely there are much more pressing matters to be debating than "Is porn good?"

My answer to that, meanwhile, is simple: of course it is.

...Read full article from independent.co.uk

 

19th September   

Liberté Iranian Style...

Alcohol companies block French access to their websites
Link Here

Brandy advert France may be home to some of the world's finest wines but it could be about to join the tiny club of Muslim states that forbid their promotion on the internet.

Winemakers and other players in the drinks industry are fighting to avert a ban on advertising, sales and even vineyard websites that has been looming ever since a court ruled that the internet should be included in France's strict laws regarding alcohol advertising.

The Heineken beer company was forced by the ruling last February to block French access to its corporate site. Since then, some of the biggest drinks brands have shut out French visitors for fear of prosecution. Today in France, the sight of a bottle of wine has become as offensive as a picture of war or pornography, said Daniel Lorson, a spokesman for CIVC, the industry body of champagne producers.

The industry complains that it is being demonised and that an internet ban would penalise hugely one of the glories of the French economy and the national heritage. A click from France on Courvoisier cognac, for example, elicits the message: Sorry, the regulations of your country do not authorise us to give you access to our site.

Even the alcohol-fuelled world of sport has not been left unscathed. When Liverpool played Marseilles in this week's Champions League match, the logo of Carlsberg, the team's main sponsor, was absent from their shirts, while rugby union's Heineken Cup is simply called the European Rugby trophy in France.

Frédéric Delesque, the marketing director of Camus Cognac, which has also bowed to the law and blocks French visitors said:  There are three countries in the world which ban the discussion of alcohol: Iran, Afghanistan and France. It is a pity for the image of our products.

The Evin law, passed in 1991, limits the advertising of alcoholic drinks only to the press, the radio and on posters. Since the world wide web did not exist then, it is not approved for drink advertising. The court upheld that argument in the Heineken case, but added that it should be clarified.

The world of alcohol fears that the inevitable jokes produced by the country's comedians are a little too close to reality. Will it soon be illegal, for example, to mention such place names as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne or Cognac in public?

 

19th September   

Update: Vengeful Thoughts...

Italy decides to back off from prosecuting satirist over pope quip
Link Here
Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict turns the other cheek

Angelino Alfano, the Italian Minister of Justice, said he had refused a request by the public prosecutor in Rome for permission to charge the comedienne and satirist Sabina Guzzanti with insulting Pope Benedict.

Ms Guzzanti had said during a left wing rally in Rome in July that because of the Church's stand on homosexuality the Pope would go to Hell, where he would be tormented by very active poofter devils.

Under the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Vatican, an offence to the pontiff carries the same weight as an offence to the Italian head of state, with a penalty of up to five years in prison. However prosecution requires the go ahead from the Justice Ministry.

Alfano said he had decided not to proceed with a prosecution knowing the depth of the Pope's capacity for forgiveness . Speaking at the Catholic University in Milan the minister said that as a Roman Catholic himself he had been saddened and shamed by Ms Guzzanti's remarks. However she had accepted full responsibility for them, and he saw no point in adding further fire to the flames.

 

19th September   

Update: Creationist Delusion...

Dawkins website blocked in Turkey after comment about inane creationist book
Link Here

God Delusion book A Turkish court has banned internet users from viewing the official Richard Dawkins website after a Muslim creationist claimed its contents were defamatory and blasphemous.

Adnan Oktar, who writes under the pen name of Harun Yahya, complained that Dawkins, a fierce critic of creationism and intelligent design, had insulted him in comments made on forums and blogs.

According to Oktar's office, Istanbul's second criminal court of peace banned the site earlier this month on the grounds that it "violated" Oktar's personality.

His press assistant, Seda Aral, said: We are not against freedom of speech or expression ...BUT... you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion. There was a line and the limit has been passed. We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not.

Oktar, a household name in Turkey, has used hundreds of books, pamphlets and DVDs to contest Darwin's theory of evolution. In 2006 his publishers sent out 10,000 copies of the Atlas of Creation, a lavish book rejecting evolution on every one of its 800 pages.

Dawkins, one of the recipients, described the book as preposterou ". On his website the British biologist and popular science writer said he was at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content.

 

19th September   

Update: Courting Censorship...

1600 websites being blocked in Thailand
Link Here

Old Thai website blocking page The Thai public is never made aware of the extent of Internet censorship because the ICT ministry operates as secret government.

Recently, MICT announced that it had been blocking 1,200 websites.

No article we've seen points out that the further 400 sites recently blocked by court order on application of MICT are in addition to the original 1,200.

If these figures can be called accurate, MICT is responsible for blocking at least 1,600 websites.

The court order was never made public because, of course, MICT would then have to reveal exactly which sites were being blocked and the reasons for so doing.

 

19th September   

A Dangerous Business...

CPJ's 18th annual International Press Freedom Awards
Link Here

CPJ logo The Committee to Protect Journalists will honor courageous journalists from Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, and Cuba with its 2008 International Press Freedom Awards at a ceremony in November.

Bilal Hussein of Iraq, Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad of Afghanistan, Andrew Mwenda of Uganda, and Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez of Cuba have all risked imprisonment, harassment, and, above all, their lives to report the news and stand up for press freedom in their countries.

These are the front-line reporters who risk their lives and their liberty to bring the news not only to the people of their own countries but to a global audience, said CPJ Board Chairman Paul Steiger: Their courage and determination have expanded the world's knowledge in critically important ways.

The awards will be presented at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on Tuesday, November 25.

Beatrice Mtetwa, a press and human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe, will receive CPJ's Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in recognition of her continued efforts to ensure a free press in one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

Bilal Hussein, a photographer for The Associated Press, risked his life covering Ramadi and Fallujah in the volatile Anbar province in western Iraq. Hussein's 2004 photo of Iraqi insurgents firing on U.S. troops during the battle of Fallujah helped AP win a Pulitzer Prize in photography. This same photo may also have led to his detention by the U.S. military. Hussein was arrested by U.S. forces in April 2006 and held for two years without charge. His case illustrates the U.S. military's alarming tactic of open-ended detentions of Iraqi journalists. All of the detained journalists have ultimately been released without any charges ever being substantiated against them.

Danish Karokhel is director and Farida Nekzad is managing editor and deputy director of Pajhwok Afghan News, Afghanistan's leading independent news agency. Karokhel and Nekzad are also media rights activists in one of the world's most dangerous countries. Both committed themselves to the advancement of press freedom after the fall of the Taliban.

Andrew Mwenda, founder and managing editor of the newsmagazine The Independent, is one of Uganda's most outspoken and best recognized journalists. A press freedom fighter throughout his career, Mwenda resigned last year as political editor of Uganda's leading independent daily, The Monitor, arguing that government intimidation had compromised its editorial freedom. This year, despite repeated harassment by police, Mwenda launched The Independent, a hard-hitting publication critical of the government.

Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez was part of Cuba's flourishing independent press movement when he was arrested and jailed along with 28 other journalists in Fidel Castro's massive crackdown on political dissidents in March 2003. The following month, Maseda Gutiérrez was sentenced to 20 years in prison for acting “against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” Maseda Gutiérrez began working as an independent journalist in 1995. He later founded, along with veteran journalist Manuel Vázquez Portal, the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, which published reports critical of Cuba in foreign media.

 

19th September   

Update: Decimated...

If there's one thing worse than the Burmese censor, its his deputy
Link Here

Burma flag Burmese journalists are up in arms over censorship but can do little but unanimously voice that they are facing severe censorship at a time when the Chief of the Censor Board is on tour.

Journalists attached to periodicals said that censorship has became more severe while the director of the notorious 'Press Scrutiny Board' popularly known as 'Literary Kempetai', Maj. Tint Swe, is out of station.

A monthly magazine editor said the Deputy-Director Maj. Aung Kyaw Oo imposed stricter restrictions on magazines and journals to avoid unnecessary mistakes which can put him in trouble: He censors many more news and articles whenever Maj. Tint Swe is on official tour. We are pained when we see these censored manuscripts. He seems not to want to take responsibility and tries to avoid trouble.

The print media in Burma is incurring heavy losses due to the overcautious and stricter censorship. The publishers of print media in Burma have to submit their draft printed copy to the censor board. They have to remove the censored articles, news and re-typeset it again for the final copy and have to submit it for final approval. Only after these stages have been crossed the publishers can distribute their papers and magazines in the market.

Mizzima learnt that the Censor Board wanted removed about half of the 80 domestic news items from a weekly journal at the draft copy stage.

The Director could be approached for reconsideration of censored news and articles after slight modifications. We cannot do this with the new person, a weekly journal editor said.

In news censorship, a directive was issued to delete all news covering government ministries and departments without interviewing the responsible person of the departments concerned.

Literary magazines such as Mahaythi, Cherry, Ahtwe Ahmyin, Nwe Ni, Sabephyu are severely hit by the strict censorship. The circulation of these monthly magazines has declined significantly. A monthly magazine which had a previous circulation of over 10,000 copies is now selling 7,000 copies and a magazine with an earlier circulation of 3,000 copies is now selling at just below 1,000 copies.

The censor board badly cuts and deletes widely read popular articles and it is hardly readable with so many deletions and omissions. On the other hand, the people cannot afford to buy these magazines as the prices are rising, in an already bad economic situation, a veteran magazine editor who wished not to be named said.

 

18th September   

Update: Gangs of Censors...

YouTube implement UK specific censorship of violent videos
Link Here

YouTube logo The Google-owned video sharing website YouTube has moved to counter criticism that it helps fuel gang violence by introducing new rules to ban submissions that glamorise guns and knives.

The UK-specific rule will ban videos showing weapons with the aim of intimidation after criticism that fierce battles were being fuelled by rival members posting videos.

A Google spokesman said: There has been particular concern over videos in the UK that involve showing weapons with the aim of intimidation, and this is one of the areas we are addressing.

The move comes days after YouTube also introduced new global guidelines to outlaw content that directly incites violence .

But the new rules will not change the internet giant's stance on the way content is regulated. It is committed to a policy of user-moderation, arguing it is impractical for it to vet every video before it is posted. Once a video is flagged up as potentially inappropriate YouTube's staff examine it and remove it if it breaks the guidelines.

 

18th September   

Update: Condemned 2 Censure...

ASA whinge at TV ads for Condemned 2 video game
Link Here

Condemned 2 video game Two TV ads for the video game Condemned 2 have been censured by the ASA

a. The first ad, which was cleared by Clearcast with a post-9 pm restriction, showed scenes of violence including a man punching another on the floor and blood splattering on the screen as a man was beaten with a club. The ad ended with a close-up of an eye, surrounded by blood, looking through a spy hole. On-screen text stated: CONDEMNED 2 Out Now ...

b. The second ad, which was cleared by Clearcast with a post-11 pm restriction, was longer in duration. It included the same violent scenes and on-screen text but also included further scenes and a voice-over that stated Where is former agent Thomas? He must be warned, he must know that it's not over. This time, as the characters fought, noises could be heard which seemed to express pain and the force of their exertions.

The ASA received nine complaints:

1. Most of the complainants thought ad (a) condoned violence and was offensive and distressing. One complainant said the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at any time.

2. Some of the complainants thought ad (b) condoned violence and was offensive and distressing. Two complainants said the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at any time.

ASA Assessment: 1. & 2. Upheld

We considered, however, that both the post-9 pm and post-11 pm versions showed the same violent images of blood, beating with clubs and punching and that, with the exception of duration, the differences between the two ads were not significant.

We noted the ads were intended to demonstrate the likely experience of a consumer playing the game. We considered, however, that the ads contained scenes of graphic and brutal violence which, although computer-generated, were realistic in appearance. We noted in particular that both ads showed a man punching another on the floor and blood splattering on the screen as a man was beaten with a club and considered viewers were likely to find those scenes offensive and distressing and to see them as condoning real violence and cruelty.

We considered that, with particular reference to the scenes described above, they were likely to offend or distress some viewers whatever time they were shown and both ads should be withdrawn from transmission completely.

The ads breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 6.1 (Offence), 6.2 (Violence and cruelty) and 6.4 (Personal distress).

 

18th September   

Update: Tightening the Censorship Noose...

Government to rewrite 1961 Suicide Act
Link Here

Ministry of Justice logo The law on pro-suicide websites is to be 'rewritten' to ensure people know that such are illegal, the government has said.

It follows findings that people searching for information on suicide are more likely to find sites encouraging the act than offering support.

It is illegal under the 1961 Suicide Act to promote suicide, but no website operator has been prosecuted. The law will be amended to make clear it applies online and to help service providers police the sites they host.

Justice Minister Maria Eagle said there was no "magic solution" to protecting vulnerable people online: Updating the language of the Suicide Act, however, should help to reassure people that the internet is not a lawless environment and that we can meet the challenges of the digital world. It is important, particularly in an area of such wide public interest and concern, for the law to be expressed in terms that everyone can understand.

Ms Eagle said she hoped the changes would be in force by next year but warned there are "inherent difficulties" with policing "suicide websites" as most are based overseas.

 

18th September   

Update: An Education in Whinging...

The Sex Education Show continues unabashed
Link Here

The Sex Education Show Channel 4's The Sex Education Show continues to shock some viewers – with a close-up examination of male and female genitalia before the 9pm watershed.

A spokeswoman for TV censor Ofcom said nearly 20 viewers had already complained about last night's programme, which aired at 8pm.

The show's host Anna Richardson discussed sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the second episode – going with five men as they got tested for them at a clinic - and showing schoolchildren disturbing images of infected private parts, some of which reduced them to tears.

In another scene a doctor pointed out the parts of a vagina to viewers on a real-life naked model.

Update: Whinges

7th October 2008

Channel 4 received 173 complaints about The Sex Education Show.

 

18th September   

Aboriginal Abuse...

Another attempt to ban Aboriginal access to pay TV
Link Here

Aborigine woman with a beer The federal opposition wants access to pornographic pay-TV programs banned from Aboriginal communities.

The coalition will use the Senate to press for the ban even though the Rudd government had already rejected a similar proposal in the House of Representatives.

South Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi claimed watching pornography led to child abuse.

The coalition supports a blanket ban on pornography on pay TV, he told the Senate during a debate on a government bill which deals with aspects of the Northern Territory intervention.

The coalition also believed the permit system, which traditionally had restricted access to remote Aboriginal communities, had not worked. The system was abandoned by the previous Howard government during its dramatic intervention into the Northern Territory's remote indigenous communities last year. The government is seeking to restore the system.

Senator Bernardi criticised the need for journalists to obtain ministerial approval before visiting certain communities. Problems within those communities could be addressed, if people knew about them.

 

18th September   

Update: Humiliation for Indonesia...

Balinese protest against pornography bill
Link Here

Bali dancing threatened by anto porn bill About 1,000 Balinese dressed in traditional sarongs rallied Wednesday to protest against a controversial anti-pornography bill that critics say could hurt local cultural traditions.

The bill contains provisions that could jail people for kissing in public and criminalize many forms of art or traditional culture that hinge on sensuality.

Lawmakers have so far stopped short of passing the bill which has been in parliament for over three years because of criticism it would threaten Indonesia's tradition of tolerance.

But some political parties are hoping for its approval this month when the final draft is tabled in parliament. One Islamic party's lawmaker has said the bill would be a Ramadan gift.

We in Bali see the body as aesthetic, but the pornography bill sees the body as an object of sin, said Sugilanus, one of the protesters at the rally in Denpasar, capital of the predominantly Hindu island of Bali.

Reject the pornography bill, some protesters shouted as they performed a sensual traditional dance while others carried banners saying, The porn bill is not a gift but humiliation for the nation.

 

18th September   

Comment: BBFC Translated as Censors...

Monthly censorship stats: BBFC cut 28% of R18s
Link Here

R18 Story Update for R18s butchered by the censors in July 2008

July: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
August:

The R18 cuts stats 2008:

  • January: 23 R18s cut out of 71 (32%)
  • February: 28 R18s cut out of 90 (31%)
  • March: 29 R18s cut out of 97 (30%)
  • April: 30 R18s cut out of 98 (30%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 72 (30%)
  • June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)
  • July: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)

Monthly award for the most nonsensical censorship:

BAD LADS GO BAREBACK

The BBFC notes say: Cut required to dialogue for which translation was not available and which might contain references to under-age sex, under the Video Recordings Act 1984

Comment: BBFC Clangers

18th September 2008, thanks to Alan

I've read this with incredulity. What language was the dialogue in? Why were the jobsworths at the BBFC unable to find a translator?

This really does seem utterly bonkers. Demanding cuts because the dialogue "might" contain references to something is utterly grotesque and unwarranted censorship. Maybe anyone who wants to watch a foreign film and can understand the original language without subtitles should obtain it in or from the country where it's made.

 

17th September   

Update: EastEnderophiles...

Latest story line gets the complainers writing
Link Here

Eastenders The Scenes of a paedophile preying on a teenager in pre-watershed soap EastEnders has led to scores of complaints.

Viewers have hit out at what has been dubbed the most controversial story-line on the show ever, featuring a man's relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

Viewers were introduced to new expendable character Tony, boyfriend of Bianca, who has just been released from prison.

The character of Tony King, will abuse his stepdaughter Whitney Dean in a new EastEnders plot. But his character is shown have a romantic relationship with schoolgirl Whitney, who is the step-daughter of Bianca.

Tony has been shown kissing the girl passionately after sneaking into her bedroom while his girlfriend was in the bath on Friday night's episode.

The programme depicts the girl's character as a willing participant in the romance, something which has also upset some viewers.

There have already been almost 70 complaints to the BBC and Ofcom and the storyline has only just been introduced on the long-running soap.

One said: 'I am totally disturbed by tonight's episode...I can barely talk. The storyline with Whitney & Tony is terrible. I am aware this type of abuse is going on in some homes but is this really the only way to get the message across.

Another added: I too find this quite distasteful for a programme scheduled in the early evening...I watch soaps for enjoyment, not for public service messages.

The BBC said the episodes had been incredibly carefully thought through and that the broadcaster had worked with the NSPCC on the storyline.

Update: More

18th September 2008

The BBC has now received 138 complaints and Ofcom 27 about the storyline.

Update: Even More

19th September 2008

More than 200 complaints have been lodged with the BBC and Ofcom

 

17th September   

Update: Queen Victoria's Land...

Brisbane shops fined for selling standard hardcore porn
Link Here

Naughty but Nice logo Queensland's Office of Fair Trading has prosecuted two adult shops for selling banned films and magazines.

Attorney-General Kerry Shine said Costa George and Con Ange, the proprietors of Brisbane store Everything Adult, were each fined $5,000.

Merlaway Pty Ltd, proprietor of Naughty but Nice, at Capalaba in Brisbane's east, was fined $2,000 for the sale and display of banned publications and films.

Office of Fair Trading inspectors found the banned items on sale supposedly while responding to consumer complaints, Mr Shine said.

The items were then sent to the Commonwealth Classification Board, which found the DVDs classified as X18+ and RC, Refused Classification, while the magazines were classified as Category 2 Restricted. Items with these classifications are banned from sale in Queensland.

Shine said the Office of Fair Trading took breaches seriously and would continue to carry out spot checks.

 

17th September   

Update: Mile High Censors...

Qantas to restrict internet access to a few safe and crappy websites
Link Here
Airstewardess serving

Tissue Sir?
A good job you brought your own porn
The Qantas selection is bollox

Qantas has shelved plans to offer live internet access on its A380 planes from next month as American Airlines comes under fire from nutters and flight attendants for allowing passengers to surf porn websites.

Qantas will instead offer only a limited selection of what it calls cached internet content and access to web-based email and chat services.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the internet plans had been paired back due to logistical and regulatory issues encountered by its connectivity provider, OnAir. The airline said the full internet service was now scheduled to be available later in 2009.

The lack of a full internet service will most likely disappoint many passengers who will have to make do with a limited selection of cached internet content. Qantas has refused to give further details of what content will be included - other than qantas.com - or how much the service would cost.

Laptop power sockets will be provided for every passenger. USB ports, also built into every seat, will potentially allow passengers to access multimedia content from music players and portable hard drives through the seat-back screens.

Update: Profanity Filtering

18th October

Unlike American Airlines and Delta, the scope of Qantas' filtering seems to go far beyond just pornography.

Restrictions may include sites that contain violence, profanity, nudity and other content we consider may be offensive to our customers, said a Qantas spokesman who did not respond when asked if the filtering would include sites that criticised Qantas.

 

17th September   

Update: Inciting Censorial Desire...

Indonesian Sharia anti-porn bill resurfaces
Link Here

Bali dancing threatened by anto porn bill An anti-pornography bill which is before the Indonesian Parliament may hurt tourism on the island of Bali, some officials have claimed.

The bill, currently in draft form in the House of Representatives, defines pornography as acts that incite sexual desire.

The repressive legislation defines pornography as sexual materials in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversations or any other form of communicative messages.

But some say the legislation could go as far as jailing people for kissing in public.

Experts see the bill as contentious, because traditional dress in Bali and the sparse clothing and swimwear worn by tourists, could be viewed as pornographic under the legislation.

The island's tourism will clearly suffer should the house pass the bill, said Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali Tourism Board.

Bagus Sudibya, a tourism expert, acknowledged the moral stance behind the bill's inception, but warned against hidden agendas in the process to pass it into law. Bagus said the bill should focus on defining explicit pornography designed to arouse sexual desire or exploit women, and not condemn artwork depicting nudity: Many of Bali's trademark attractions are in close connection with its arts, which occasionally depicts women in the nude .

Last Friday, an Indonesian Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party said the anti-pornography bill could be a Ramadan present" for Muslims.

The draft bill has been before the Parliament for three years and there is speculation that it may be passed in a few weeks.

 

17th September   

Model Censors...

Indian censors finds a bare breast objectionable
Link Here

CBFC logo Ketan Mehta's film Rang Rasiya has run into trouble at the Indian Censor Board because of a frontal nudity scene shot on Nandana Sen .

The movie, starring Randeep Hooda and Nandana, is based on the life of famous painter Raja Ravi Varma who painted nude women way back in late 19th century and early 20th century despite strong opposition from some groups.

While Randeep plays the painter, Nandana plays his muse Sugunabai who posed nude for him. One such scene is a wide angle shot that shows a bare breast of the skimpily clad Nandana Sen.

Though the scene is aesthetically shot, certain members of the Censor Board have found it objectionable and send it to the Revising Committee for a wider consensus. A final decision is likely to come within days.

 

17th September   

Offsite: Distinctly Unsexy New Law...

Amending South Africa's press freedom
Link Here

South Africa flag South Africa's Films and Publications Amendment Bill has passed through the two houses of Parliament and is waiting for President Thabo Mbeki's signature before becoming law.

But it is a sinister and ill conceived piece of legislation and the president would be well advised to refer it to the Constitutional Court for an opinion on its constitutionality.

The bill is ostensibly aimed at curbing child pornography. But the way it attempts to do so makes little sense. It also threatens media freedom and freedom of expression in South Africa.

Under the bill, it is an offence to publish:

  • propaganda for war
  • descriptions of sexual conduct
  • incitement to violence
  • hate speech

Any material that could fall into any of the above categories must be submitted, prior to publication, to a censorship board for classification. This provision initially applied to all publications, including newspapers. Successful lobbying on the part of the South African National Editors Forum has seen certain South African newspapers exempted from this pre-publication restraint. However, thousands of other publications remain subject to it.

If the bill is signed into law the government may be able to ban speech that deserves constitutional protection in a free and open democracy. Editors of non-exempt publications will know that costly legal wrangles with the classification authorities could be financially crippling. They will therefore tend to engage in self-censorship, preferring to leave out material rather than submit it for approval. They will also tend to accept bans imposed rather than contest whether the material in question truly falls foul of the statute.

The law will thus provide a tool whereby the state can effectively ban noncompliant publications and bring others to heel through financial pressures and self censorship.

...Read full article

 

16th September   

Update: All Huffin' and Puffin...

Ofcom clears Gordon Ramsay's puffin hunt
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD The F Word
Channel 4, 29 July 2008, 21:00

The F Word is a food and cookery programme presented by the chef Gordon Ramsay. During the broadcast on 29 July 2008 an item was transmitted which showed Gordon Ramsay in Iceland ‘sky fishing' for puffins and then eating them, which included the local tradition of eating the bird's heart when it has been freshly killed.

Ofcom received 42 complaints that the practice of killing puffins was cruel, the eating of their fresh hearts was offensive, and that, whilst not protected, puffins were a species under threat.

Ofcom considered the programme with regard to Rule 2.3 of the Code which requires that in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision

In this edition of the programme, Gordon Ramsay visited Iceland where puffins are commonly eaten. He was taught how to hunt puffins in a traditional Icelandic manner using a large net to ‘fish' the birds out of the sky. He caught six puffins in total. After releasing two, his companion swiftly broke the necks of the remaining four puffins and skinned them, taking out the puffins' hearts to eat as a special Icelandic delicacy.

In considering Rule 2.3, Ofcom noted that The F Word has historically contained programme items featuring the rearing, hunting and/or killing of a variety of animals for food. These items have at times included animals which are not usually eaten in the UK and for which there can be a particular affection amongst some members of the audience. Viewers should therefore have been prepared to some extent for an item similar to the one complained of.

Ofcom also noted that the programme began at 21:00, and that a verbal warning about the killing and gutting of birds was broadcast around 21:45 ( Coming up, the puffin hunt continues with scenes of killing and gutting birds ) immediately before the section showing these images.

Ofcom acknowledges that in this country some members of the public may consider that the capture of puffins for human consumption is unacceptable and consequently distressing. However, the sequence featuring Gordon Ramsay occurred in Iceland where it is not a protected species, where it comprises a popular part of the national diet and, as the programme informed viewers, is …a traditional food that has been hunted for centuries… In addition, Ofcom noted that the birds were caught and killed in what appeared to be a fast and humane way with minimal suffering.

Ofcom appreciates the concerns of viewers who were unhappy that puffins should be caught and eaten in this way. It does not, however, consider that this item went beyond the general expectations of the audience for this post-watershed food and cookery programme, which has consistently challenged conventions in the UK about the acceptability of various foods and ingredients from around the world.

Ofcom therefore concluded that Rule 2.3 was not breached.

 

16th September   

Self Confessed Nutters...

Catholic church gets wound up by joke book
Link Here

101 Places to Have Sex The Catholic Church is raising holy hell over a new Simon & Schuster book that encourages couples to sneak into church confessional booths and have sex.

In 101 Places To Have Sex Before You Die, out in November, authors Marsha Normandy and Joseph St. James write: The only sex the Church doesn't frown upon is the married, hetrosexual and birth control-free kind, so the odds are the pope is pretty displeased with you already. Instead of carrying all that mortal sin around with you for weeks at a time until you can make it to confession, why not combine both with a quick and tidy 2-for-1 session?

Joe Zwilling, a rep for the New York Archdiocese, told us: This is sick stuff and the authors and the book publishers should be ashamed of themselves . . . Let's hope the reaction from people is . . . strong.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue added: The kind of people who would have sex in the confessional would also have sex in a graveyard. And I don't mean with each other.

A rep for Simon & Schuster said: " This is one entry in a book that includes 100 other equally facetious references. We think readers will understand the spirit of the book."

 

16th September   

Nutters for Censorial Values...

Newspaper sues nutters who targeted adult advertising
Link Here

CCV logo A coalition of pro-family nutters in Ohio is being sued by an alternative newspaper for allegedly conspiring to violate their First Amendment rights.

Citizens for Community Values (CCV), along with 38 other civic leaders and groups, asked Cincinnati's tabloid known as CityBeat to stop running their adult services category of ads. CCV and other groups claim the adult services category has been used by advertisers to promote prostitution and other sexual services, in violation of Ohio criminal law.

CityBeat has now filed a lawsuit against CCV and the other community leaders, claiming the coalition's appeal is a conspiracy to violate the newspaper's First Amendment rights.

Nutter David Miller of CCV says while he believes the lawsuit is frivolous, it must be defended: I think we could see a very serious problem if we were to lose this case, When any pastor, any person who wanted to raise a standard of righteousness and say, this is wrong, we shouldn't be doing such-and-such in our society -- it might even roll over to the issue of abortion -- there's no telling how far down the road this could go.

 

16th September   

Iran's Human Rights Heresy...

Iran proposes law to consider dissenting bloggers as heretics
Link Here

Iran flag In its latest pressure tactic against Iranian bloggers and text-messagers, Iran's government has declared blogs, texting, social networking sites and, more generally, the Internet destructive , tools of media warfare and more dangerous to the public than addiction. It also is threatening to charge some bloggers with heresy, which could carry a death sentence.

Under the guise of protecting the Iranian people from supposedly dangerous online material such as pornography, the Majlis (Iranian parliament) has proposed legislation that associates bloggers with violent criminals and proposed a committee to confront bloggers and those who have Internet sites, and control them - if necessary to filter them, or otherwise open a case and turn them over to judicial authorities for arrest.

They in fact want to create a preventive measure within families. And on the other hand, they have brought up the subject of execution for bloggers - under the claim of heresy or publishing material that would lead and encourage corruption and prostitution, said a blogger.

The crime of heresy can be interpreted very broadly by the authorities.

 

15th September   

Update: More Blood Lust for Censorship...

Another Saudi cleric calls for executions to end astrology TV
Link Here
Gypsy and her crystal ball

You will meet a tall, dark,
frock wearing charlatan.
Beware! He wants to kill you
 in the name of nonsense

Another senior Saudi cleric has called for the deaths of competing purveyors of nonsense. He said astrologers on Arab television should face the death penalty

Sorcerers who appear on satellite channels who are proven to be sorcerers have committed a great crime... and the Muslim consensus is that the apostate's punishment is death by the sword, Sheikh Saleh Al-Fozan told Al-Madina daily.
"Those who call in to these shows should not be accorded Muslim rites when they die, the prominent cleric added.

Many of the hundreds of Arab satellite channels that have sprung up in recent years specialise in horoscopes and other advice to callers on solving problems that is seen by some religious authorities as sorcery . In their capacity as judges, clerics of Saudi Arabia's austere form of Islam often sentence sorcerers to death.

Al-Fozan, a member of the Higher Council of Clerics, was responding to a controversy ignited by a Council colleague, Sheikh Saleh Al-Lohaidan, who said last week that owners of Arab TV shows should be tried and face death over some shows.

 

15th September   

Band on the Run...

Sacrifice operatives await Paul McCartney's concert in Israel
Link Here
 
 

An Islamic militant leader warned that former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney could be the target of suicide bombers unless he cancels his first concert in Israel, reported the British Sunday Express.

The celebrated rock star plans to arrive in Israel as part of a world tour, and give a single concert at Tel Aviv's Park Hayarkon on September 25.

Omar Bakri, an Islamic preacher, said McCartney's decision to perform as part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations made him the enemy of Muslims worldwide.
Advertisement

If he values his life, Mr. McCartney must not come to Israel, Bakri was quoted as saying. He will not be safe there. The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him.

 

15th September   

Update: Classified as Late...

Thailand film classification due next month
Link Here

25 cert The Thai Culture Ministry has finally finished drafting film rating regulations for all movies before they are released in theatres. The regulations will be forwarded to the National Film and Video Committee and the cabinet for approval. They are expected to be put into force next month.

Under the proposed film rating system, movies will be grouped by age. Classifying audiences will give film directors the opportunity to fully express their creativity, said Somchai Seanglai, ministry deputy permanent secretary.

Since films will only be screened before the appropriate age group, movies will no longer be cut or censored, he added.

Once the regulations come into effect, movie theatre operators will have to inform their customers about a film's rating, Somchai said: And if staff allow in people who are not supposed to see a movie, the operator will face at least a one-year jail term or be fined up to 100,000 baht [£1650], or both.

The ratings regulation will also be applied to DVDs and VCDs, which will display the rating on their packaging.

The draft of the film rating regulation divides movies into seven categories, including violence-free movies, movies that should be promoted to all audiences, movies for people with a minimum age of 13, 15, 18 or 20, and films that are banned for containing content deemed insulting to the monarchy, national security and moral decency.

 

15th September   

Hang the Truth!...

Iran tries to cover up the scale of state executions
Link Here

Hanging TThe Iranian mullahs' Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (MCIG) warned newspaper editors on censoring reports about escalating number of executions in particular that of the minors in the country.

In two separate letters from the ministry, the editors of Kargozaran and Etemaad dailies were ordered not to publish news of executions since they have adverse international effects.

Also, journalists insisting on covering the news should be laid off. In past few weeks, agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) contacted editorials across the country ordering them to fire reporters eager to cover executions.

Kargozaran, Etemaad, Etemaad-Meli and Sarmaeh dailies as well as Shahrvand weekly are on top of the list of newspapers and weeklies warned so far.

Names of suspected columnists, news editors, and reporters of various dailies and publications appeared on the MOIS's black list. MOIS has demanded that all the firings end before the presidential elections next June. The editors were strictly ordered not to mention anything about MOIS pressure to fire the malignant reporters.

 

15th September   

Update: Repression in Malaysia...

Malaysia Today blogger arrested for article that insulted islam
Link Here

Malaysia Today logo A prominent anti-government internet campaigner has been arrested in Malaysia.

Raja Petra Kamarudin was held under the country's oppressive Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial.

He was accused of posting an article that insulted Islam.

His arrest comes a day after the country's army chief threatened people not to make remarks that could damage race relations. General Abdul Aziz Zainal called for stern action to be taken against anyone stoking racial tension in the country.

Raja Petra was detained by police at his home near Kuala Lumpur, two weeks after his anti-government website Malaysia Today was closed down.

Independent online news outlets and blogs flourish in Malaysia, says the BBC's Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur, and Raja Petra had been a constant thorn in the government's side before his arrest.

Earlier this year, he wrote a piece suggesting Najib Razak, Malaysia's deputy prime minister, may have been linked to the murder of a Mongolian model.

The crackdown on dissent comes amid a race row that has threatened to engulf the government, our correspondent says. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had earlier suspended a member of the governing party who had described Malaysia's ethnic Chinese and Indians as "squatters".

Two newspapers have been put under investigation by the Interior Ministry for their reporting of the row. Also Malaysian advertisers on  Malaysia-Today have been visited by Commercial Crime Division and told to pull out their ads from the website immediately.

 

14th September   

Update: Tax Injustice...

Vietnam blogger jailed for critical reporting
Link Here

Vietnam flag The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns a Vietnamese court decision to imprison blogger Nguyen Van Hai, better known by his penname Dieu Cay, on charges of tax evasion.

The court convicted Hai, 55, in a closed-door trial, sentencing him to 30 months in prison.

According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Hai was convicted for failing to pay 10 years of back taxes on a part of his residence that he rented to an optical shop. One of his lawyers quoted in the same news story said that the contract agreement with the shop stipulated that the tenant, rather than the owner, must pay the tax.

The DPA report said Hai belonged to a group of bloggers known as the League of Independent Journalists, and that his colleagues believed he was sentenced for his critical reporting on nationalistic protests launched in January against China's claims to the nearby Spratly and Paracel Islands.

We call in the strongest terms possible for the relevant authorities to overturn the trumped-up conviction of blogger Nguyen Van Hai, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia Program director: Hai has an established reputation for critical commentary in Vietnam's blogosphere. There is little doubt that his arrest is due to his postings critical of the government.

 

14th September   

Update: Licensed to Oppress...

Egyptian editor jailed for publishing newspaper without a licence
Link Here

Egypt flag An Egyptian editor was sentenced to one-year in prison as the Egyptian government continued its efforts to censor media in the country.

Press freedom groups have condemned the ruling, saying Cairo is doing little to ensure freedom of the press.

Ahmed Baker Seleem, editor of the Cairo Today newspaper, was handed a one-year jail term for publishing a newspaper without a license, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported. Seleem, who was also fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,845), is currently free on bail while he awaits appeal.

The case was brought to court after a rival newspaper accused Seleem of defamation. It was later discovered that Cairo Today had been publishing without a license.

 

13th September   

Attacking the Violent Video Community...

YouTube add new censorship rules
Link Here

YouTube logo YouTube has moved to ban videos that supposedly incite violence following criticism in the UK and US that it needed to toughen its policies.

Google-owned YouTube has updated its community rules - specifically pointing out that a new addition is to make sure no videos directly incite violence.

We realise it's not always obvious where we draw the line on content that's acceptable to upload, said YouTube in a blog post: We've updated the community guidelines… included in the update are a few new things to steer clear of, like not directly inciting violence.

Within YouTube's community rules section, the updated rules include two points on violent videos. Graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed, points out one rule: If your video shows someone getting hurt, attacked or humiliated, don't post it.

The second relevant rule relates to hate speech: We do not permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status and sexual orientation/gender identity).

 

13th September   

A Blood Lust for Censorship...

Saudi cleric calls for executions to end 'immoral' TV
Link Here

Nour Turksih soap The head of Saudi Arabia's Islamic Sharia courts has said owners of Arabic television stations airing immodest shows in Ramadan could face execution.

Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, one of the most powerful clerics was responding to a question on a radio phone-in program about the owners of TV stations airing programs that offend modesty, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

If the evil of those who promote corruption in belief and actions cannot be held back through lesser punishments, then they can be put to death through the judicial process, Lohaidan, head of the Supreme Judicial Council said.

He appeared to be referring to Turkish soap operas that became hugely popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries this year, provoking a storm of anger among conservatives in Saudi Arabia who fear the spread of secular culture.

They gained huge popularity partly because they were dubbed into colloquial Arabic and focused on a Muslim country whose culture many Arabs can relate to. The characters would fast in Ramadan but also drink wine.

The government's official advisor on religious affairs, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, said in July it was not Islamically permissible to watch the Turkish serials.

The shows, Nour and Lost Years , were aired by MBC based in the United Arab Emirates.

 

13th September   

Holy Fuck-Up Batman...

Strong language shines through in Batman magazine
Link Here

DC Comics is asking stores around the country to destroy tens of thousands of copies of a new Batman comic because of a printing error that revealed censored obscenities.

Text every friend you've got, shitheads, Batgirl tells a group of foulmouthed, drug-dealing thugs in All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder No. 10: Sell your poison somewhere else. This here arcade belongs to the fucking Batgirl.

The 'shits' & 'fucks' were supposed to be blacked out, but two shades of black were used, and the expletives are clearly legible.

While All-Star Batman & Robin isn't aimed at kids, it also doesn't have a mature readers warning on the cover.

DC caught the error earlier this week as the comic was heading to stores. They were able to stop some shipments, and asked retailers who got copies to destroy them.

Several city comic-book stores said they had complied, but the comic is currently doing good business on eBay, with copies selling for between $20 and $250.

One comic seller said the title has been full of adult content since the minute it was published. We'd never sell it to minors. The curse words make no difference.

 

13th September   

Torrent of Abuse...

Swedish fracas about murdered child pictures via Pirate Bay
Link Here

Pirate Bay logo The Pirate Bay, the controversial BitTorrent tracking site in Sweden, has become ensnared in a grisly, high-profile scandal involving the online circulation of autopsy pictures of two murdered children.

The Swedish media are focusing on The Pirate Bay's refusal to remove the links to the torrents of photos uploaded to the internet by its users of photos of two dead children.

The photos are from a police case file concerning the murder of two toddlers. The father of the children has asked the operators of the site to remove the links, but they've declined to do so, based on the group's anti-censorship policies.

The Pirate Bay's co-founder Peter Sunde in a post on his personal blog asks why the Swedish media isn't focusing either on the individual who had uploaded the photo, or on the country's laws regarding the way the government classifies information and provides access to government documents. In this case, someone had accessed the police investigation file, uploaded a torrent file of the photo onto the internet, and linked to the torrent on The Pirate Bay. Under Swedish law, most documents generated by the government are made available to the public unless specifically deemed secret by the courts. In this case, the documents were not sealed by the court.

The operators of the site announced on their blog Friday that they would no longer speak with the media after an incident on a Swedish television station, which Sunde effectively characterized as an ambush.

Sunde had participated in a television interview with Sweden's TV4 Thursday night, as he recounts on his personal blog. He says that he was promised that the interview would focus on policy and the issues of censorship and what gets published on the internet.

But when he arrived at the studio, he was faced with the father of the children who was participating remotely, and asked what he had to say to him, he recounts in a long and angry blog post.

Pirate Bay has been described in Swedish media as 'publisher' of the photos, which is technically not correct, says Mikael Pawlo, an internet entrepreneur based in Stockholm who's been following the case. But Pirate Bay only provides aggregated tracking information on the torrents, which are in turn distributed peer-to-peer, without ever being relayed through Pirate Bay. But he adds: Pirate Bay is also in practice the main distributor of information on how to download the photos.

Sunde takes exception and writes on his blog that the media characterizes the operators of The Pirate Bay as terrorists, and as people totally without emotion, and as bloodthirsty devils. Shame on you Sweden. And shame on you in the media .

 

13th September   

Comment: So Much for Turning the Other Cheek...

State persecutors go to court to sue over satirical joke
Link Here
Pope Benedict

Can't wait!

Italian politicians of right and left, comedians and even some priests yesterday deplored a move by prosecutors in Rome to put a satirist on trial for contempt of the Pope.

Sabina Guzzanti, known for her take-offs of the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, risks being jailed for up to five years. The prosecutors recommended to the justice ministry that she be indicted because of a speech she made to a leftwing rally in July.

Referring to the attitude to gay people of the Catholic church and Pope Benedict, Guzzanti said: In 20 years Ratzinger will be dead and will end up in hell, tormented by queer demons - not passive ones, but very active ones.

The 1929 Lateran treaty that created the Vatican city state describes the Pope as a sacred and inviolable person . It makes insulting him an offence in Italy on a par with contempt for Italy's president, punishable by between one and five years in jail. Indictment, however, requires an endorsement from the justice minister.

The minister, Angelino Alfano, has not yet replied to the prosecutors' request.

Father Bartolomeo Sorge, editor of a Jesuit monthly, condemned the attempted prosecution: I am sure the Pope has forgiven those gratuitous offences.

As for Guzzanti, she said she felt honoured .

Comment: Holy Revenge

13th September 2008. Thanks to Alan

Viva Zapatero! DVD What I suspect is happening is that Berlusconi is out to get Sabina G because of what she said about him, especially her comments in the same speech about him and Mara Carfagna. Making the Pope the wounded party seeks to disguise that.

Berkusconi may be overreaching himself. Some members of his own party think so, notably Senator Guzzanti, who's, errr, Sabina's dad. (One of the funnier bits in her film Viva Zapatero! was the bit where some minister effectively said to her, Sabina Guzzanti, I'll tell your dad about you.

Indicentally, some people call Berlusconi the neo-Duce. To give the real one his due, he wasn't an interfering busybody seeking to ban prostitution (as per the other Italian story). I've got a copy of the authorised price list of an official knocking shop ("casa di tolleranza") dating from the Fifteenth Year of the Fascist Era (1938).

 

13th September   

Offsite: Jordan's Kangaroo Courts...

Concerns about the frivolous pursuit of Wilders through court and Interpol
Link Here

Fitna The prosecutor general in Amman charged the 12 with blasphemy, demeaning Islam and Muslim feelings, and slandering and insulting the prophet Muhammad in violation of the Jordanian Penal Code. The charges are especially unusual because the alleged violations were not committed on Jordanian soil.

Among the defendants is the Danish cartoonist whose alleged crime was to draw in 2005 one of the Muhammad illustrations that instigators then used to spark Muslim riots around the world. His co-defendants include 10 editors of Danish newspapers that published the images. The 12th accused man is Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who supposedly broke Jordanian law by releasing on the Web his recent film, Fitna , which tries to examine how the Quran inspires Islamic terrorism.

Neither Denmark nor the Netherlands will turn over its citizens to Interpol, as the premise of Jordan's extradition request is an affront to the very principles that define democracies. It is thus unlikely that any Western country would do so, either. But there is no guarantee for the defendants' protection if they travel to countries that are more sympathetic to the Jordanian court.

Unless democratic countries stand up to this challenge to free speech, other nations may be emboldened to follow the Jordanian example. Kangaroo courts across the globe will be ready to charge free people with obscure violations of other societies' norms and customs, and send Interpol to bring them to stand trial in frivolous litigation.

...Read full article from online.wsj.com

 

12th September   

Update: Explicit Definitions...

Canada Post refine their rules about carrying adult material
Link Here

Canada Post logo Canada Post will continue to ban sexually explicit material from its general delivery admail service, despite a January ruling at least partially upholding the Sex Party's right to freedom of expression.

The Sex Party challenged Canada Post's criteria for Non-Mailable Matter in 2006 after the postal agency refused to deliver one of its political pamphlets. The pamphlet outlined the party's Politics for a Sex-Positive Future and contained a sexual IQ test and images of potentially erotic art, including a photo of a doorknob in the shape of a penis.

Canada Post rejected the pamphlet because, according to its admail policy at the time, it will not knowingly deliver offensive articles that contain sexually explicit material.

Ruling that the corporation's restrictions were impermissibly vague, federal court Justice Michel Beaudry gave Canada Post six months to clarify its regulations and define what counts as sexually explicit.

When the case was heard last October, Canada Post lawyer Steinman offered the following definition: representations of nudity suggestive of sexual activity, representations of sexual intercourse, and written text describing sexual acts in a way that is more than technical all fall under the umbrella of sexually explicit, he said.

Had that definition been included in the corporation's regulations to begin with, Beaudry said he would have dismissed the Sex Party's complaint outright. Imposing certain conditions on the distribution of sexually explicit material is demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society, he ruled.

The revised policy states that admail containing images or representations of nudity that are suggestive of sexual activity, images or representations of sexual intercourse, and text that describes sexual acts in a way that is more than purely technical must now be enclosed in an opaque envelope marked adult material. Material considered illegal under Canada's obscenity law is entirely prohibited.

 

12th September   

Update: South Park Cold War...

Cartoon invokes fear, panic and terror in Russia children
Link Here

South Park Russian Dolls Killing Kenny is apparently against the law, and the popular South Park cartoon series appears set to become the latest victim of Russia's crackdown on “extremism.”

As the Interfax news agency reports, Moscow city prosecutors have filed a motion with the Basmanny regional court after finding that an episode of the show broadcast in January bore signs of extremist activity. Simultaneously, the channel that broadcasts the American cartoon, 2×2, has been issued a warning for disseminating extremist materials.

An investigation conducted by prosecutors found fault with an episode titled Mr. Hankey's Christmas Special, which went on air on January 9th. Experts found that the show humiliates the honor and dignity of Christians and Muslims, offends the feeling of believers regardless of their denomination, and can provoke interethnic conflict, up to and including extremist acts.

A panel of experts examined the 12 animated series shown on 2x2, including 118 films. Among them are the Simpsons, Family Guy, Metalocalypse, Drawn Together, Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl, Angry Kid , and others.

The experts found that the cartoons do not correspond to the legal requirements for protecting children's moral and mental development and protecting their health. The cartoons promote violence and cruelty, pornography, anti-social behavior, abound with scenes of mayhem, the infliction of physical and ethical suffering, and are aimed at invoking fear, panic and terror in children, the Office said in a statement: Practically all the cartoons exploit the topic of suicide, and characters demonstrate readiness to risk their lives for the sake of deriving extreme sensations.

 

12th September   

Chasing Hype...

Chasing Pavements song banned as a gay anthem
Link Here

Chasing Pavements CD single Several US radio stations have banned Adele's single Chasing Pavements , claiming that it is a gay anthem, reports the Daily Mail.

Speaking at the Nationwide Mercury Music awards, Adele denied that the song was about homosexuality, saying that her inspiration came from an ex-boyfriend: Some weirdo on the Net wrote that 'Chasing Pavements' was about being gay, which isn't true at all . Because of that some radio stations in the States wouldn't play it.

The soul singer added that her ex was a boy who went bad, but he's good now... we've made up.

 

11th September   

Uneducated Whingers...

Complaints that sex education should be post watershed
Link Here

The Sex Education Show A Channel 4 programme about sex education that showed men's genitals before the 9pm watershed has sparked complaints from nutters.

The Sex Education Show was billed as a ground-breaking series which tackled the nation's ignorance and offered the biology lesson you never had.

However, viewers complained to the television watchdog that the first episode of the six-part series should not have been broadcast at 8pm.

Among the scenes was a discussion about safe sex in which a doctor uses vegetables to teach a group of young men how to put on a condom correctly. In another segment a doctor examines a man's genitals and explains how it functions during a sex education lesson.

Shouldn't this programme have been shown post-watershed? said one viewer during an online discussion about the show. Another said: Channel 4, we're not shocked any more. Do stop these infantile and puerile programmes on sex and start making decent documentaries. Put it away please, nobody's impressed.

Ofcom said it was looking into the programme after receiving 25 complaints.

Channel 4 defended the series saying it offered viewers important advice aimed at reducing teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. We did get a small number of complaints. The programme was aimed at families and we hope it will form a starting point for a family discussion about the issues raised.

 

11th September   

Mile High Wankers...

Flight attendants want onboard internet access to be censored
Link Here
Airstewardess serving

Tissue Sir?

American Airlines flight attendants are urging the world's largest carrier to filter its in-flight Internet service to block access to pornography and other web sites the workers said were inappropriate.

Union leaders discussed the issue with management without making a formal request to bar specific sites, said David Roscow, a spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

We've heard a lot of complaints from flight attendants and passengers about travelers pulling up objectionable Web pages, said Roscow, who didn't cite any examples.

The vast majority of travelers use good judgment in what they look at, American spokesman Tim Smith said: Customers viewing inappropriate material on board a flight is not a new scenario for our crews, who have always managed this issue with great success .

American offers Internet access for $12.95 on 15 Boeing Co. 767-200 jets that make 25 daily flights between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles or San Francisco, and between New York and Miami.

The program is in a 3-6-month trial period, Smith said. When American reviews usage and feedback, we will obviously assess this concern as well, including the number of actual incidents reported and any other related issues.

 

11th September   

Very Politically Incorrect...

Muslim Massacre game winds up would be censors
Link Here

Muslim massacre screenshot The goal of Muslim Massacre , which can be downloaded for free on the internet, is to ensure that no Muslim man or woman is left alive, according to the game's creator.

Players control an American Hero armed with a machine gun and rocket launcher who is parachuted into the Middle East.

By slaughtering all the Arabs that appear on screen – some dressed as terrorists, some apparently civilians - players progress to later levels where they take on Osama bin Laden, Mohammed and finally Allah.

The game's creator, a freelance programmer known as Sigvatr, described the game as fun and funny and some players have interpreted the game as a critical commentary - albeit a crude one - of US foreign policy.

But Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of The Ramadhan Foundation, Britain's leading Muslim youth organisation, said that the game glamorised violence against Muslims whether or not it was satirical: Encouraging children and young people in a game to kill Muslims is unacceptable, tasteless and deeply offensive.

If it was the other way around, with a game featuring Muslims killing Israelis or Americans, there would be uproar and rightly so. We would urge ISPs to take action against sites like this.

We have written to the British Government today to urge an inquiry into this game and take action to shut down the site; this is not satire but a deliberate attempt to demonise Muslims.

The game was first released in January this year, but has become more popular in recent days after being linked to by several prominent blogs.

Sigvatr, an American based in Brisbane, Australia said on an internet forum appeared to distance himself from the view that it was a parody of American jingoism, and acknowledge that many players would enjoy the game for the chance to shoot virtual Muslims: I think it's pretending to be legitimate commentary and I'm sure there will be lots of people who defend it on those grounds, but ultimately it's just a game where you blow the gently caress out of arabs .

Anyone is free to believe whatever they won't (sic) though, because I don't even know how to interpret it myself anymore. The bottom line is that I enjoyed making it and it's fun to play.

Update: Ongoing Massacre

5th November 2008. Based on article from theage.com.au

The Australian Muslim community has accused the Federal Government and police of double standards over their treatment of a free online game in which the aim is to kill as many Muslims as possible.

Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association, wrote to the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, expressing outrage over the game, Muslim Massacre , saying it teaches young people to further hate Muslims and encourages them to carry out acts of discrimination, vilification or outright violence against Australian Muslims.

 

11th September   

Of Gratuities and Kings...

Moroccan man sentenced to two year for criticising king
Link Here

Morocco flag The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Moroccan court's decision to jail and fine blogger and journalist Mohamed Erraji for failing to respect the king.

The court, convicted Erraji in a closed trial and sentenced him to two years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 dinars (US$626), according to his family and local news reports. Erraji is a contributor to HesPress, a Moroccan daily news Web site.

The trial lasted for about 10 minutes, and Erraji did not have a defense lawyer, HesPress reported. His family said they are looking for a lawyer and plan to appeal to the court's decision.

This is another unfortunate milestone in the decline of press freedom in Morocco, which once had a reputation for an independent press, CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said. Mohamed Erraji was convicted after a 10-minute, closed-door hearing without a defense attorney. This is a farce. We call for this conviction to be overturned.

On September 3, Erraji published an article on HesPress criticizing King Mohamed VI for rewarding people who praise him. In the article, Erraji wrote: We need to admit that what has destroyed our country and made it plummet to this embarrassing level in all international rankings, is this economy of dispersing gratuities, which benefits the lucky sons and daughters of this country and overlooks the rest.

 

11th September   

Update: Delusion in Turkey...

Richard Dawkins atheist website blocked in Turkey
Link Here

God Delusion book The atheist website RichardDawkins.net has been blocked in Turkey where viewers encounter a white screen saying: Access to this site has been denied by court order.

However there has been no official explanation of the ban. Suggestions for the ban include hacking and a comment that might have offended the litigation happy muslim creationist, Adnan Oktar, or Harun Yahya.

The block seems to be easily worked around using proxies or open DNS servers outside of Turkey.

 

11th September   

Less Periodical...

Offices of Panama weekly newspaper seized
Link Here

Panama flag The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the decision of a Panamanian civil court on Friday to order the seizure of assets belonging to a weekly newspaper, as well as portions of two staff members' salaries. The ruling came after the publication ran a story on alleged tax evasion by a local real estate tycoon.

Judge María Leticia Cedeño Suira with the Eleventh Civil Court of the First Judicial district in Panama City ordered the confiscation of US$1.1 million of El Periódico's assets, according to local news reports. The seizure included the premises of Editora Gráfica del Pacífico, S.A., the company that owns the weekly, El Periódico's bank accounts, and 15 percent of the wages of Omar Wong, the paper's director, and one of its journalists, according to the daily La Prensa.

Jean Marcel Chéry, president of the Association of Panamanian Journalists, told CPJ that the paper plans to file an appeal.

 

11th September   

Repression Blog...

Egypt's array of measures against bloggers and internet users
Link Here

Egypt flag As its blogosphere burgeons, Egypt is finding new ways to crack down on bloggers and other Internet users.

On 9 August, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported that the Egyptian government is now obliging Internet cafés to gather and keep personal information - including names, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers - of Internet users. Also, Internet café users must have a mobile phone to verify their personal information, including a personal identification number.

ANHRI says the measures amount to censorship, infringing upon privacy, and discouraging access to information on the Internet and free expression in online forums.

According to the official Information and Decision Support Centre, Egypt has more than 162,000 bloggers, mostly 20- to 30-year-olds, who constitute 30% of Arab bloggers.

Thirty young activists arrested in Alexandria in July were members of the 64,000 member-strong Facebook group linked to the opposition April 6 Movement, according to the Menassat website. Fourteen of the detained activists, now known as the "Facebook Youth," were released by 4 August; none were formally charged.

Mohammed Refaat, a blogger arrested on 21 July, was due to have been released on 17 August. But authorities used a 40-year-old state of emergency to keep him in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Refaat was arrested on charges of offending state institutions, undermining public security and using the Internet to incite others to demonstrate and strike - but there is nothing political in [his] blog, maintained RSF.

Older means of suppressing free expression also continue to be used.

A lawyer connected with the ruling party has demanded that a prominent female Egyptian movie director be flogged, ANHRI reported on 13 August. He called for Enas El-Dighaidy to receive 80 lashes because of her movie Diaries of a Teenager Girl , which he claims defames Egypt.

Also in August, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) observed the fifth anniversary of a prominent journalist's disappearance, which has received no acknowledgement by Egyptian authorities. Reda Helal, a senior editor at Egypt's leading state-owned daily Al-Ahram , vanished on 11 August 2003.

Update: Released But...

6th October 2008. Based on article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

After being in jail for more than 2 months, the Egyptian blogger Mohamed Refaat was set free.

Mohamed told Add-Dostour daily newspaper that the state security officers insisted that he will not go out of his detention custody till he sign a paper saying he will never update his blog neither heis Facebook account , nevertheless dealing with humanitarian NGOs or journalists.

Refaat has being in jail since July, though the editor of the blog Matabbat was ordered to be realesed. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Hisham Mubarak Law Center reported in a statement: The state security apparatus had raided Mohamed Refaat's home early in the morning on 21st of July 2008 in his absence, and seized his PC, and many of his books, and when Mohamed Refaat approached the officer Hisham Tawfik in the morning in the state security offices, he shocked by the fabricated charges of inciting to strike on the occasion of 23rd July.

 

10th September   

Update: Fallout from Australian Games Censorship...

All territories to get the same children's version of Fallout 3
Link Here

Fallout 3 game Speaking to Edge, games make Bethesda has explained what it calls a “misconception” regarding the classification of Fallout 3 in the Australian region. Edge has also learned that due to concerns and issues raised in the process of international classification, Fallout 3 will not contain real world drug references in any territory.

Fallout 3 was originally refused classification by the Australian Censor Board, citing among other reason the in-game use of Morphine in order to ignore limb pain. According to the censor's guidelines, material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use is banned.

In mid-August, the OFLC announced that a revised version of the game had been granted a rating in Australia, thanks to edits that changed the context of the in-game drug use.

While it has been assumed that these changes would only be in place in the Australian release of the game, Edge has been told by Bethesda vice president of PR Peter Hines that there will be no differences between the version that releases in Australia and the versions that will release in other territories, including Europe and the US.

Hines said, An issue was raised concerning references to real world, proscribed drugs in the game, and we subsequently removed those references and replaced them with fictional names. To avoid confusion among people in different territories, we decided to make those substitutions in all versions of the game, in all territories.

 

10th September   

Comment: Grand Credibility Theft...

Grand Theft Auto blame cited in trial of violent attacker
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game A teen has attacked four women supposedly in an imitation of violent computer game Grand Theft Auto , a court heard.

Ryan Chinnery, 19, prowled streets in his car targeting females he thought were prostitutes after 'becoming obsessed' with the game.

He assaulted his victims, none of them hookers, by night in a two-month period.

And the court was told he may have been influenced by the virtual reality game, in which a character drives around on “missions” — including approaching prostitutes who can be beaten up.
Dragged

A copy of Grand Theft Auto was found at his home by police. Yesterday Chinnery was told he faces a long prison sentence after he admitted two sex attacks. Two similar offences were left on file.

Prosecutor Eleanor Laws said Chinnery's love of Grand Theft Auto may go some way to explaining his attitude towards women. Prostitutes in it can be subjected to violence. There may be some connection with the defendant admitting spending a lot of time playing that game.

Judge Philip Statman adjourned sentencing until October 22 pending probation and psychiatric reports. The case will fuel debate on the effects on youngsters of violent computer games.

 

10th September   

Exiled Art...

Artist MF Husain cleared of hurting hindu sentiment
Link Here

MF Husain piece MF Husain, India's most renowned living artist, faces years of exile despite a ruling from the country's supreme court.

He will not be able to return to India unless the hundreds of cases claiming he hurt Hindu sentiment are withdrawn, say experts despite a ruling from the country's supreme court clearing him of the charges.

The artist has been in self-imposed exile since January 2006, forced out by threats from Hindu groups enraged by his paintings of nude gods and goddesses. Three supreme court judges considered whether his painting, Bharat Mata (Mother India), which depicts a nude woman on her knees creating the shape of a map of India, was sacrilegious.

The bench rejected the petition seeking prosecution for offending Hindus, saying it was a work of art and citing India's tradition of graphic sexual iconography.

Does the sentiment of the petitioner get scandalized by the large number of photographs of erotic sculptures which are in circulation? the judges asked: It is an art like the sculptures. None get scandalized looking at the sculptures.

 

9th September   

Update: Scoring Points for Aggression...

German politicos campaigning for a ban on killergames
Link Here

CSU logo GamePolitics has heard from several European gamers who have cited anti-game comments made by Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann to Zeit Online. Herrmann, a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), refers to violent games as Killerspiele (killer games). Big thanks to felix-reichert who has very graciously provided a translation of the interview:

ZEIT ONLINE: Mr. Herrmann, which "Killergames" have you played to come to the belief that they must be banned?

Joachim Herrmann: I personally don't play, but I have watched them [being played] extensively. I am shocked how the player is driven towards gruesome violence. He, so to speak, becomes a criminal himself and kills others to obtain money or to collect points. The more gruesome the killing the higher the score. We don't need something like this. Such games are unbearable.

ZEIT ONLINE: Obviously you are talking about the GTA-Series. The most recent GTA is rated 18. Why shouldn't adults be allowed to play these games?

Herrmann: From a cinema-owner I can expect that he actually only lets people over 18 years in. But if we're talking about Computer games its different. If an 18-year-old has a game, the next day he'll pass it to 17-, 16- and 15-year-olds. I don't believe that there's an entitlement for these games in our liberal society. The protection of children and the youth must be a priority. Its not about the playing [of these games] alone. There are numerous studies that explicitly prove: the more intensive teenagers engage themselves in these games, the higher the danger of them imitating this [behavior] in reality.

ZEIT ONLINE: Media-scientists haven't found common ground on that issue, though.

Herrmann: The criminologist Christian Pfeiffer provided corresponding evidence from his studies at our expert-round in Berlin. Of course not every player becomes a violent criminal. But even if games only cause a rise of a certain percentage in youth-violence it is reason enough to outlaw them. In other fields we also have clear bans, I'm thinking of child pornography.

ZEIT ONLINE: The [indexing] that exists today is in fact equivalent to a ban. For example indexed games can't be advertised.

Herrmann: That's not enough. Games that glorify brutal violence must generally be banned in penal law.

In the wake of the Zeit Online interview, German magazine PC Games called on gamers to conduct a massive mail campaign to CSU leadership by way of protesting Herrmann's implication that violent game players are potential killers. The CSU responded with a press release calling for an urgent ban, and dismissed the gamer protest.

 

9th September   

Update: Childish Sensitivity...

Another Bill Henson work published
Link Here

Bill Henson photo In a move that could reignite the divisive children-in-art scare, a photograph by artist Bill Henson of a naked girl has been reproduced on the internet and in an art auction catalogue.

Auction house Lawson-Menzies has displayed the work, Untitled 1985/86, in publicity for the sale in two weeks.

The photograph depicts a naked girl, apparently a teenager but whose age is unknown, lying on sheets, her legs parted. The girl appears to be sleeping. Henson created the work in 1985-86 and it was exhibited in 1989.

The National Gallery of Victoria and the Albury Regional Art Gallery are believed to own works from the same series.

Lawson-Menzies' national head of art Tim Abdallah said last night the photograph belonged to a Melbourne collector who had decided to sell.

The director of the National Association for the Visual Arts [NAVA], Tamara Winikoff, said: Bill Henson's work has been assessed by the Classification Board on the basis of community complaints and the board agreed it was perfectly fine to be seen by the general community and it didn't break the law. That should be the end of it.

NAVA is currently working on an arts censorship guide to clarify people's rights and responsibilities. The Australia Council is also developing a set of protocols to address the depiction of children in art works, exhibitions and publications that receive government funding. The protocols will be in place by January 1 next year, and adherence to them will be a condition of receiving Australia Council funding.

 

9th September   

Copyright Attack...

YouTube take down videos critical of scientology
Link Here

Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult Over a period of twelve hours, American Rights Counsel LLC sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology. Clips included footage of Australian and German news reports about Scientology, A Message to Anonymous/Scientology, and footage from a Clearwater City Commission meeting. Many accounts were suspended by YouTube in response to multiple allegations of copyright infringement.

YouTube users responded with DMCA counter-notices. At this time, many of the suspended channels have been reinstated and many of the videos are back up. Whether or not American Rights Counsel, LLC represents the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is unclear, but this would not be the first time that the Church of Scientology has used the DMCA to silence Scientology critics. The Church of Scientology DMCA complaints shut down the YouTube channel of critic Mark Bunker in June, 2008. Bunker's account, XenuTV, was also among the channels shut down in this latest flurry of takedown notices.

 

9th September   

The Nag's Head...

The Godfather restored and rated 15
Link Here

The Godfather re-mastered DVD The Godfather is a 1972 US drama by Francis Ford Coppola (Paramount)

The 2008 re-mastered version was downgraded to a 15 certificate. Previously the film was rated 18 and video versions from 1987 to 2001 are uncut as was the 1996 cinema re-release

The 1972 cinema release was however cut by the BBFC.

From cuts details on IMDb :

  • Suffered minor BBFC cuts to the scene of Sonny's body being machine-gunned and kicked in the face.

 

9th September   

Update: Good, But Not Good Enough...

Response to Singapore's new approach to new media censorship
Link Here

Singapore flag Good, but not good enough.

That was the verdict yesterday of a group of bloggers on a list of proposals the Singapore Government-sponsored panel had put up for managing new media.

It has some good, forward-looking options but the approach was overly-cautious, said a group which calls itself The Bloggers 13 .

The Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (Aims) has released its consultation paper and is now seeking public feedback on its proposals.

In fact, for every Aims suggestion that called for a relaxing of restrictions, the bloggers went one-up and asked for the law to be removed completely.

Where the panel gave three ideas for easing the ban on party political films, the bloggers wanted an unconditional repeal of Section 33 of the Films Act.

They also wanted Section 35 of the Films Act to go, a move that would strip the Government of powers to ban films

The panel had also urged that more activities be allowed for online election advertising. But the bloggers asked if such a list is even necessary.

Similarly, they disagreed with Aims' suggestion that political bloggers be exempted from registering under the Class License Scheme. They want it dumped altogether. The scheme requires all who deal with political material or religious issues online to register with the Media Development Authority.

In addition, it treats all websites as automatically licensed, meaning their owners must adhere to a prescribed code of conduct. For instance, the code prohibits the posting of pornographic material. The bloggers argue that existing laws adequately deal with pornography or racial and religious hate-mongering without the need for such a scheme.

The only suggestion they agreed with is the lifting of the ban on 100 websites. Aims believes that once its proposals for the protection of minors are in place, the list becomes unnecessary.

 

8th September   

Update: More Poppycock...

Nutters whinge at Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Link Here

Secret Diary of a Call Girl Billie Piper's TV portrayal of a happy hooker has been branded obscene by an anti-prostitution campaign group.

The POPPY Project singled out Billie, star of ITV2's Secret Diary Of A Call Girl , for criticism.

Chief executive Denise Marshall said: She appeared in Doctor Who, a programme watched by lots of young people. To then go and give endorsement to a programme like Secret Diary is obscene.

In the TV drama, which returns to ITV2 on Friday, Piper's character provides sex services in swanky surroundings with handsome men.

Denise added: For this privileged young woman to misrepresent the reality of prostitution is appalling.

A spokesman for Tiger Aspect Productions which makes the show, said: The programme in no way seeks to condone or normalise prostitution.

Update: Warm Reception

13th September 2008

Star Billie Piper said that the warm reception the show received in the US made a welcome change from criticism in this country that it glamorised prostitution.

She said: I was really thrilled as it got some serious slamming over here and it was just quite nice that in the reviews Stateside they were more thorough about the ideas that the show had, rather than about me being an irresponsible role model.

 

8th September   

Comment: As if by Clockwork...

Italian media quick to blame Clockwork Orange
Link Here

Clockwork Orange Italian police are investigating a brutal attack on four Franciscan monks in a monastery in northern Italy.

The country's media are comparing the incident, at the San Colombano Belmonte monastery near Turin, to the violence in Anthony Burgess's controversial novel A Clockwork Orange , in which adolescent thugs delight in what they call “ultra-violence”.

A small group of hooded attackers entered the monastery on Tuesday and bound and gagged the monks.

One managed to raise the alarm two hours later when he regained consciousness after being beaten.

They unleashed an incredible level of violence against them," Gabriele Trivellin, in charge of Franciscan monks in the area, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera: It was wild and gratuitous violence because they did not resist the attack at all.

The youngest monk is in a coma after suffering severe head injuries. The other three monks are expected to be released from hospital in a month.

Police believe the motive may have been robbery, as some cash was stolen from the monastery.

Comment: Clockwork Orange being blamed for youth violence

Thanks to Andrew, 8th September

I don't even know where to start with how much this pisses me off. How can you blame a medium for a copycat attack, when said copycat(s) didn't, A - Prey on the same targets, B - Weren't even remotely dressed the same, and C - Bear absolutely no resemblance to the characters depicted in the medium that's APPARENTLY at fault.

I've gotta be honest, I never really understood the threat of Clockwork Orange , yes I know its one of those Exorcist scenarios where people twice my age tell me "YOU WEREN'T THERE", "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE", this (in both situations) is true, I wasn't around at the time of the films original release, but surely a film of that magnitude and strength would hold up some 25 years later when I come across it. Yes it did.

At the same time though I felt that a lot of what was on the screen looked incredibly fake and VERY camp. Yes there's violence, but nothing convincing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bad mouthing this film, its a very powerful piece of work BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT only from a cinematic point of view. From a realistic point of view its very slight, and somewhat lacking in realism. As with the chainsaw massacre, it doesn't actually have any blood in it. Our hero gets smashed in the face with a milk bottle (to the degree that it breaks), and all we see is a red tinged bandage in the next scene. Our hero jumps from a high window, next thing he's in a classic comedy all body cast. It doesn't sound like the traditional "SPARK" material for every looney looking to blame everyone but himself.

so where did these boys get the idea to brutally and savagely attack 4 monks?

Maybe their just twisted little fuckers. Ever consider that?

Maybe, JUST maybe They're fucked in the head.

It cant be that can it? That would mean society/people/parents admitting that we don't live in a perfect world, we ARE all born differently, and every once in a while someone is born whose just wrong. Be it on a genetic level, or a mental level.

Films don't create killers. They're already here.

 

8th September   

Comment: Scissor Work...

Interview with an Australian film censor
Link Here

Film Classification Board Alexandra Greene is a qualified lawyer on the Australian Film Classification Board since 2003.

In her role Ms Greene spends each working day watching about 300 minutes of material, taking notes every two minutes to pick up each instance of nudity, profanity and violence before classifying the product as G, PG, M, MA, R, X or refusing it classification.

The board censors and makes classification decisions about films, computer games and publications

About 16% of all the material that she and the other members of the board have to watch is what they call "adult product".

You get used to the adult product, you get used to seeing it and you know what to expect but I that makes you the opposite (of desensitised). You know what you're supposed to look out for and when it comes up it jumps out at you, she said: It does get repetitive; it's the same old thing. They go through the same scenes, vignettes and motions. They can only go so far with it, there is not much more they can invent. It's one of the easier things to do because all we really have to look out for is violence and some fetishes that aren't permitted.

Ms Greene claims her role is not to censor but inform people about what they are about to watch and if necessary restrict the content from being viewed: You know what the community is going to find offensive on a general level .

People should be able to watch or read what they like ...BUT... we do need to protect people and children from unsolicited material, or at least give them the choice if they want to watch it.

I've got a pretty strong stomach so I haven't had any really bad reactions. I had one which was was an internet site a few years ago which was a live beheading. It caught me by surprise. That was quite confronting obviously. I got a physical reaction to it. I felt quite sick but I just went for a walk around the block and spoke to a few people about it.

But the double entendres in children's films such as Shrek and The Cat in the Hat' s title character calling a garden tool " a dirty hoe" tread a line that can be hard to define.

I saw an interview with (Scottish comedian) Ronnie Barker where he said double entendres were OK because the children couldn't understand it and the adults would get a laugh. But now it's that adults get offended because they're worried their kids might understand.

 

8th September   

Offsite: An EU ban on ads with sexist overtones?...

Another quasi-fictional piece of translucent flimflam
Link Here

EU flag The story was a brilliant excuse to print Eva Herzigova's infamous Wonderbra ad yet again

According to a pointless piece of eye-rolling anti-EU extrapolation that appeared in a number of newspapers, a smattering of MEPs are calling for the introduction of strict new advertising guidelines that could eventually lead to Eva Herzigova's breasts being taken out and shot.

But wait, it doesn't end there. As the Daily Mail goes on to explain, This being the EU, it is not simply raunchy advertising that is in danger ... It wants anything which promotes women as sex objects or reinforces gender stereotypes to be banned ... Any campaigns which are deemed sexist might have to go ... [such as] the bare-chested builder with a can of Diet Coke in 1996 ... Even famous adverts such as those featuring the Oxo family, with Lynda Bellingham as the housewife, might be deemed sexist.

Inevitably, the minuscule conker of reality at the heart of this shitcloud is markedly less interesting than all this talk of a wild banning outbreak might suggest. Once you remove all the "mights" and "coulds" and other weasel words from the article, you're left with nothing but a report from the EU women's rights committee (doubtless a barrel of laughs at parties), which merely suggests governments should use their existing equality, sexism and discrimination laws to regulate advertising.

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

7th September   

Update: Censorial Nightmare...

ACMA whinges at Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD ACMA finds that coarse language in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares exceeded M classification guidelines

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Channel Nine breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice on 6 March 2008, by broadcasting Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares – Secret Garden with an incorrect M (Mature) classification. The finding arose out of a complaint about coarse language in the program.

ACMA found that the program contained both aggressive coarse language and very coarse language, neither of which is permitted in M-classified programs. While the code allows frequent coarse language in M-classified programs (where it is particularly important to the storyline or program context) ACMA determined it was not justified in this case.

ACMA concluded that the program should have been classified MA (Mature Audience). Programs which are classified MA are considered suitable for viewing only by persons aged 15 years or over in view of the intensity and/or frequency of coarse language or other material contained in the program. Such programs must be broadcast in the later MA time zone.

‘The code establishes a scale for the level and amount of coarse language that is permissible in programs at each classification level, and requires programs that contain more impactful coarse language to be classified appropriately.

Both the broadcaster and the Nine Network conceded that the program contained very coarse language that is not permissible in M-classified programs, and have confirmed that the very coarse language contained in the program will not be broadcast in any future programs.

 

7th September   

Advertising Froth...

Nutters take knife concerns to new depths of ridiculousness
Link Here

1664 beer A TV ad, for Kronenbourg 1664 lager, began with a male voice-over that said Lets open this new Kronenbourg 1664, with Dynamo Systeme .

The ad then showed a number of French professional chefs in a kitchen. The chefs carried a very large bubble to a work surface, while one chef said I want small bubbles, you know. The ad then showed the chefs using culinary knives to rapidly slice the bubbles into smaller bubbles. Other utensils were also used, including a grater, to reduce the bubbles in size. One scene showed a chef looking into the camera using a small knife to pop three bubbles. Another scene showed a different chef moving quickly towards the camera holding a knife and bursting a bubble in mid-air.

The ad ended with a close-up of the bubbles in a pint of the lager. One of the chefs proclaimed lovely bubbles , while on-screen text stated SMALLER BUBBLES. SMOOTHER TASTE.

Eight nutters challenged whether the ad:

  1. encouraged or condoned violence
  2. linked alcohol with aggressive or antisocial behaviour.
  3. One viewer challenged whether the ad linked drinking with an activity which was potentially dangerous after consuming alcohol.
  4. The ASA challenged whether the ad was likely to appeal strongly to under 18-year olds by reflecting youth culture.

Scottish & Newcastle UK Ltd (Scottish & Newcastle) said they took their responsibilities as an advertiser very seriously. They said the context of the ad was important and pointed out that knives were legitimate tools for chefs practicing their trade. They felt that the role of the knives in the ad was clearly defined and pointed out that they were being used to chop and slice bubbles in a similar manner to food being prepared in a professional kitchen and were not being used as weapons in any way.  They did not feel that the ad depicted or condoned violence or antisocial behaviour.

Clearcast acknowledged that recent media reports had highlighted the problems with knife crime. However, they endorsed Scottish & Newcastle's response and added that they did not feel they could prevent ads from showing knives being used in a legitimate manner. They pointed out that the ad was somewhat surreal and, although the chefs were chopping bubbles, the knives were used in a responsible manner.

ASA Assessment

1. & 2. Not Upheld

The ASA understood that there were serious concerns about knife crime, particularly in light of a number of recent high-profile stabbings. We did not dismiss those concerns lightly, however we considered that the ad showed knives in an entirely different context. We considered that the knives were not depicted as weaponry and the chefs did not engage in threatening, violent or antisocial behaviour whilst using the knives.

Although the ad was shot in such a way as to give the impression of a high-energy environment, we noted that the chefs did not appear aggressive or antisocial at any stage. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to encourage or condone violence, or link alcohol with aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

3. Not Upheld

We acknowledged that the ad did not show alcohol being consumed in the kitchen scenes. We noted that the scenes which showed the chefs using their knives did not show any of the characters drinking alcohol and we considered that it did not give the impression that they were working under the influence of alcohol. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as linking drinking with an activity which was potentially dangerous after the consumption of alcohol.

4. Not Upheld

We considered that, because the dance track was over 10 years old, and the song had not been made popular since, it was unlikely that it would hold strong appeal for under 18-year olds.

 

7th September   

Ill-Conceived Censorship...

YouTube aborts pro-life videos
Link Here

YouTube logo YouTube has blocked four videos from the pro-life student organization Live Action over the past two weeks, saying that the videos contained "inappropriate content."

YouTube gave neither advance warning nor specific reasons for why the videos were removed, and has not responded to Live Action's request to cease censorship and to unblock the videos for public viewing.

The videos include phone recordings of Planned Parenthood employees agreeing to process donations from a caller with a racist agenda. Earlier this year, the YouTube videos sparked national media interest, with TV, print and radio outlets reporting on the content, and some networks, like Fox News, broadcasting parts of the videos. Live Action media director David Schmidt said: These four videos have received over 160,000 YouTube views in total, with the oldest video having been public on YouTube for over seven months. Why are these videos being removed now?

YouTube has censored videos from pro-life organizations in the past, as recently as this year. In February, an American Life League video criticizing a Planned Parenthood TV advertisement was removed from the site due to its "inappropriate nature. In July, a short film by the pro-life Population Research Institute highlighting dishonest reporting from a pro-choice filmmaker was censored. YouTube eventually responded to criticism and restored both videos.

It is discriminatory for YouTube to selectively censor material that clearly does not contain inappropriate content, states Live Action president Lila Rose: We will continue to apply pressure on YouTube until it restores the videos.

 

7th September   

Update: Stereotypical Whingers...

Big Brother comment blown out of all proportion
Link Here

Big Brother 9 logo Actress Wendy Richard has denied she is a racist after making a comment about Thai housemate Kathreya on Big Brother's Little Brother.

Wendy was in mid-conversation with host George Lamb talking about her opinions on the remaining housemates when she made the remark.

Of Kathreya, she said: She is fake, and she is very cute. What is it they say about these inscrutable Chinese? And she is Thai, but it is all Oriental isn't it? Well it is to me anyway.

This drew some gasps from the audience before George cut in, saying: I don't think that is unique to Asian people, more to Kat.

But Wendy continued to dig her hole, adding: They don't betray their emotions on their face, that is what I meant.

The comments were edited out of the repeat on E4 1 an hour later, and Channel 4 commented: BBLB does go out live, George Lamb did correct her that her comment was not specific to Asian people but to Kat.

However, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom confirmed they had received a large number of complaints about the comments Wendy made, and would be looking into them.

 

7th September   

Offsite: The Death of Magomed Yevloyev...

A terrifying and tragic blow to freedom of expression in Russia
Link Here

Russia flag One can only guess what happened on 31 August in business class on a flight from Moscow to Magas, the capital of Ingushetiya between two Ingush men: Murat Zyazikov, pro-Kremlin Ingush president, and Magomed Yevloyev, businessman, lawyer and the owner of popular website Ingushetiya.ru, known for its uncompromising criticism of the region's administration. But what happened after the aircraft landed in Magas airport sounds like a gangster movie: minutes after the cortege of the Ingush president left the airport, another cortege led by the Ingush interior minister, followed by his well-armed guard, arrived on the runway. They met Yevloyev at the steps of the aircraft, put him in a Volga saloon car and drove away.

As they drove he was shot in the temple… They threw him out of the car near the hospital, a lawyer for the website told journalists. ‘He was found there and quickly taken to the operating theatre, where he died.' Ingush police claimed Yevloyev was shot accidentally.

...Read article from indexoncensorship.org

 

6th September   

Dead Wrong...

Dead Space game banned in China, Japan and soon Germany?
Link Here

Dead Space game Citing comments made by a Dead Space community manager, Destructoid reports that EA's upcoming sci-fi horror game has been banned in China, Japan and Germany:

We've also been told by Dead Space community manager Andrew Green that the title has been completely banned from the following countries: Germany, Japan, and China. That's right, there's just too much survival and way too much horror in Dead Space for these countries to handle. No word on whether EA has any plans to alter the game for a future release in those territories.

Based on article from fragland.net

Update: EA told Eurogamer de that their community manager doesn't have a clue what he's talking about and that the game isn't banned in Germany. In fact, Dead Space hasn't gone through the German classification process yet. So in short: Andrew is jumping the beans at the moment, Dead Space will be banned in Germany.

Australia has awarded the game MA15+ whilst the BBFC has rated it uncut at 18

See decision from the BBFC :

DEAD SPACE is a horror shoot-‘em-up for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Set aboard a deep space mining ship, the player controls Isaac, an engineer, who discovers that the ship's crew has been ravaged by a vicious alien infestation, and that he must fight to stay alive. It has been classified ‘18' for strong bloody violence and horror.

The player uses a variety of sci-fi weapons to battle numerous surreal and vicious monsters, some of which are mutated crew members. He can also employ melee moves of punching and stamping. There is quite a high ratio of puzzle solving to violence - but the bloody violence is still very frequent. Strong horror includes sight of human corpses scattered around the blood-drenched environment, in various states of injury and dismemberment. Strong, bloody violence is seen during attacks, as Isaac can shoot limbs off both live aliens and human corpses, with plenty of blood spurts and gore. He can also stomp a corpse to pieces, including stamping off its head, with quite realistic and grisly sound effects. Some human-on-human violence is seen in the cutscenes, and includes violence such as a mad woman slicing in half an eviscerated man on a surgical table, then cutting her own throat, and a crazed doctor driving a large spike into a restrained man's forehead. It was considered that the focus on strong bloody violence, gore and horror, and ability to inflict sadist post-mortem damage, exceeded the BBFC Guidelines at '15', which direct that 'Violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury ... strong threat and menace are permitted. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. This is an adult game, similar to other video games such as F.E.A.R or BIOSHOCK.

Update: Hype

18th December 2008. See article from gamepolitics.com

From an interview

Game Informer: You had some problems with the game being banned in Germany, Japan and Korea.

Glen Schofield (general manager of EA Redwood Shores): Germany finally came around, because the bottom line is that the take it into a whole context... At the end of the day, Germany said they would take the game untouched, which is fantastic.

In fact Dead Space went on sale in Japan without a fuss. 

 

6th September   

Comment: Gassing...

The Herald identifies possibly the next 12A controversy
Link Here

The boy in striped pjamas book It starts off looking like a period piece aimed at a back-to-school audience seeking escapism. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (12A), a Disney/Miramax collaboration, features steam trains crossing moonlit countryside and little boys in short trousers playing aeroplanes.

The lead character, Bruno, is an eight-year-old German, and though his dad is a Nazi, even that, somehow, doesn't break the spell.

When the family move to the country, Bruno makes friends with one of the boys who lives on the nearby "farm", Schmuel. They play draughts through the fence. But then come references to smoking chimneys, a strange smell, missing relatives. What is going on over there, Bruno wants to know? Why do they wear pyjamas all day?

By the time the film reaches its tragic conclusion, cosy assumptions about what constitutes a Disney children's drama are in shreds.

Adapted from John Boyne's 2006 bestseller, the film, which goes on general release next Friday, has once more raised the issue of what is appropriate viewing for children, a debate that has hardly died down since the hoo-ha over Batman, The Dark Knight , earlier this summer.

The focus of concern in that case was the film's scenes of violence. With The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas , the questions have been wider ranging: can a children's film ever satisfactorily reflect the horror that was the Holocaust? And can children have the emotional maturity to handle so difficult a subject?

The BBFC kindly explain their 12A decision as follows:

BBFC logo The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a British film from the writer of Brassed Off and Little Voice . Set during the Second World War, it tells the story of an eight year old German boy called Bruno who moves to a house next to a concentration camp when his father is made Commandant there. It was passed ‘12A' for scenes of holocaust threat and horror.

The BBFC guidelines at ‘PG' state that ‘frightening sequences should not be prolonged or intense' and although The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is quite a gentle film for the most part, the climatic sequence was considered too threatening and horrific to be suitable for children of around eight. In it, the young Bruno gets into the concentration camp thinking he can help out a little Jewish companion with whom he has made friends though the wire. This clearly puts him in a position of extreme vulnerability and without a reassuring outcome, it was considered more appropriately placed at ‘12A' where moments of horror can be more sustained and the exploration of mature themes is acceptable.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas also includes images of concentration camp victims being corralled into a gas chamber that some may find upsetting.

Comment: Never Forget

6th September 2008 from Andrew

Has it ever occurred to anyone that the reason most of today's kids are so off key is because they CLEARLY don't know the sheer magnitude of what the holocaust was? or what it meant to the people that were their?

I like to think that the reason this film is aimed at the teenage mind is solely because children listen to movies and magazines more than they do their parents/teachers etc.

What surprises me most is the fact that films such as the Great Escape (which has the same rating as just about every Disney film ever made in the UK), can be praised and celebrated more making light of a tragic situation, yet serious films like the one here is persecuted just because children might actually (A) learn something, and (B) get an insight into just what happened in those awful years.

Can you honestly see 7 year old children nagging their parents to take them to see this? I can't. Which is a shame, because I think children should see it. For everyone in the free world, this film shows your heritage, this is why you never met your Grandfather, because he died fighting to stop this from happening.

The world has forgotten what happened in those 6 years. To a certain degree that's a good thing, but for today's generation (especially those living in Britain), you should never forget.

Comment: Storm in a teacup

29th June 2009. From Gary

With regard to the "controversy" regarding the film of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - I haven't yet read John Boyne's novel nor seen the film. However, I have visited Auschwitz, which you have to be thirteen to be allowed into. (And I have no problem with that.) If a book aimed at a teenaged audience can deal with the subject, and teenagers are considered mature enough to visit the real thing, then I don't see why a film on the subject cannot be suitable for twelve-year-olds and upwards.

Part of this is due to the fact that teenage (or "young adult" if you prefer) fiction can and does deal with all manner of difficult issues, and has done for years. However, many adults don't read it and seem to assume that YA fiction can only be sanitised and unchallenging, when in many cases it is more challenging and sophisticated than many so-called adult novels.

Storm in a teacup, I think. And if you are the parent of a child under twelve, make note of the BBFC's content advice before taking him or her to the cinema.

 

6th September   

Sado-Salo...

Uncut Salo re-released by BFI
Link Here

Salo DVD Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom is a 1975 Italian/French film by Pier Paolo Pasolini (BFI Video)

The DVD was passed uncut in 2000.

In reaching the decision to pass Salò '18' uncut, the BBFC considered that although the film was undeniably - and intentionally - shocking, it did not contain anything that would 'deprave and corrupt' viewers - the basic test of the Obscene Publications Act.

In fact, Salò's purpose and its likely effect on viewers seemed to be quite the opposite. In the Board's view, the film depicted its events in a cold, detached and ritualised style, deliberately removing any hint of titillation. The film also mirrored de Sade's verbose literary style, alienating the viewer through its repetitions. Although the film contained many disturbing scenes, the Board agreed that its intention was to deliberately shock and appal audiences at the evil of fascism and to vividly illustrate the idea that 'absolute power corrupts absolutely'.

Much like James Ferman in the 1970s, the BBFC agreed that any attempt to cut the film would undermine the director's purpose by making the film less shocking, the events depicted more palatable, and therefore less effective.

Although the film was suggestive of many horrors, the Board noted that most of its on screen violence was in fact relatively muted and shown in long shot or extreme long shot. There were no lingering close ups and the film's climactic death scenes could even be said to appear technically unconvincing by modern standards.

Previously it had been rejected for a cinema certificate in 1976 on grounds of gross indecency. 6 minutes were then cut by chief censor James Ferman enabling an uncertificated version to be shown at cinema clubs.

The cut version lost nearly six minutes of footage, removing - amongst other things - the coprophagia, the extreme violence at the end of the film, and certain elements of homosexual behaviour that were believed to be vulnerable to prosecution.

It also added an 4 minute on-screen prologue to legally 'explain' the context of Mussolini's regime at Salò and the writings of the Marquis de Sade.

Review from UK Amazon : Not for the Faint-Hearted

There are few movies out there, if any, that can generate as much ire and disgust as Pasolini's Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma .

Over the years, the film has created this almost mythical quality around itself, if mostly for the fact that it's still banned / badly cut in many countries around the World. Not so for us lucky Brits - The BBFC has passed the uncut edition since the Halcyon Days of 2000. Make no mistakes, if any film has the ability to transform you into a gibbering, crying mess, it's this one.

Not for the Faint-Hearted? You'd better believe it.

And thus, it's hard to really "recommend" this film to anyone, as you wouldn't really "recommend" divorce - But it's a life experience you can gain valuable knowledge from. The film takes it's inspiration / Modus Operandi from the Marquis De Sade's notorious novel The 120 Days of Sodom , which, if you have read it, you will know perfectly well what you can expect from the film. Transporting the setting to Mussolini-Era Fascist Italy, four Aristocratic Libertines subject their young subjects to Sexual Manipulation and Torture, both physical and psychological. Pasolini does not shun from showing these in all their brightest colours, and considering that the great man was murdered mere months after the film's premiere, it can be surmised that it raised much anger amongst those artistically inclined.

Watch at your peril, without Mother and Children preferably.

 

6th September   

Hung, Drawn and Quartered...

ASA have a go at adverts for the Edinburgh Dungeon
Link Here

William Wallace at Edinbugh Dungeon A series of four posters, which all appeared on the same street in Edinburgh, advertised the William Wallace attraction at the Edinburgh Dungeon and portrayed either a dismembered arm or leg.

In each case the severed arm or leg had cuts and open sores that oozed blood and deep ligature marks appeared around the ankles and wrists. Text on the four posters stated "William Wallace ..." , "hung, drawn and quartered ..." , "and made an exhibition of" and "First on your right" respectively. In the fourth poster the fore-finger was in a pointing position. All posters displayed the logo and address of the Edinburgh Dungeon.

Three complainants believed the posters were offensive and distressing and unsuitable for general display.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the complainants' concern that the posters were too offensive for general display. We also acknowledged Merlin's argument that the severed limbs shown were not brightly lit and, unlike an earlier display, were less graphic as no bone was displayed.

We recognised that the tone of the ads, although not to everyone's taste, was intended to be darkly humorous and considered that adults would understand that to be the case. We noted the posters appeared in close proximity to each other and were not seen in isolation; it was clear, therefore, from the message they conveyed as a group, that they referred to an exhibition at the Edinburgh Dungeon and the final poster, with a finger pointing out the location of the attraction, highlighted this in a tone, that was, although somewhat ghoulish, intended to be amusing. We considered that the posters were unlikely, therefore, to cause serious or widespread offence amongst adults.

We noted, however, the limbs on each poster appeared very badly maimed with realistic ligature marks and open wounds, which were explicitly horrific in their portrayal and the graphic depiction of torture they represented. Therefore, although we acknowledged that it was clear to adults that the posters represented a display at the Edinburgh Dungeon, we considered that the images could cause distress to young children, who were likely only to focus on the images and would not understand their meaning or that they were intended to be humorous.

We concluded, therefore, that in the context of an untargeted medium such as a poster where they could be seen by a general audience including children, the images were too shocking and were, therefore, irresponsible.

The posters breached CAP Code clause 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 9.1 (Fear and distress), but did not breach clause 5.1 (Decency).

 

6th September   

Update: Appealing For an End to the Delay...

Afghan court drags its feet over blasphemy appeal
Link Here

Free Pervez! Reporters Without Borders is outraged by delays and obstruction in journalist and student Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh's appeal against his death sentence for blasphemy.

Hearings in his appeal, which began more than four months ago in Kabul, have been suspended since his 15 June. This is illegal, his lawyer has told Reporters Without Borders. After an original trial that was such a scandal, we had hoped for exemplary appeal proceedings that respected the rule of law and the presumption of innocence, but instead we are seeing a parody of justice in which appearances take precedent over substance, the press freedom organisation said.

We fail to understand the behaviour of the judges, who are making no effort to ensure that the legal deadlines are respected, Reporters Without Borders added. The judicial authorities need to get a grip of themselves and move ahead with the appeal process so that this young journalist held in Pul-e-Charkhi prison can be acquitted and released as soon as possible.

Kambakhsh's lawyer, Afzal Nuristani, told Reporters Without Borders: An appeal court is legally obliged to rule on a case within two months, but the appeal has been suspended since 15 June. The court is waiting for witnesses from Mazar-i-Sharif, but they have not come! Their evidence is not important for the case because they are not direct witnesses. They have been summoned three times but they have not appeared.

 

5th September   

EU Politicians with Malicious Intent...

EU are looking to censor and regulate blogs
Link Here

EU flag When it comes to blogs, Eurocrats instinctively dislike spontaneous activity. To them, "unregulated" is almost synonymous with "illegal". The bureaucratic mindset demands uniformity, licensing, order.

Eurocrats are especially upset because many bloggers, being of an anarchic disposition, are anti-Brussels. In the French, Dutch and Irish referendums, the mainstream media were uniformly pro-treaty, whereas internet activity was overwhelmingly sceptical.

[Perhaps blogs are just a little more in touch with what real people are actually thinking. It seems a little arrogant and patronising to think that people mindlessly heed the government friendly mainstream media. It maybe that blogs don't influence so much as reflect the thoughts of real people]

Bruno Waterfield recently reported on a secret Commission report about the danger posed by online libertarians: Apart from official websites, the internet has largely been a space left to anti-European feeling. Given the ability to reach an audience at a much lower cost, and given the simplicity of the No campaign messages, it has proven to be easily malleable during the campaign and pre-campaign period.

The EU's solution? Why, to regulate blogs! Back in June, MEPs began to complain that unlicensed blogs were polluting cyberspace with misinformation and malicious intent . They wanted a quality mark, a disclosure of who is writing and why.

At the time, I dismissed it as the ramblings of a single dotty MEP. Not even the European Parliament, I thought, would actually try to censor the internet. I was wrong. We now have the full report and, sure enough, it wants to clarify the status, legal or otherwise, of weblogs , and to ensure their voluntary labelling according to the professional and financial responsibilities and interests of their authors and publishers.

 

5th September   

Intoxicated by Blame...

Now radio programmes blamed for binge drinking
Link Here

Chris Moyles Show poster Radio presenters are encouraging binge drinking with BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles among those to blame, says a Government funded report.

Researchers analysed comments on BBC and commercial radio shows about drinking and found presenters talked about drinking on air, being hungover at work and wetting themselves while drunk.

There were few references to responsible drinking and being drunk was made to sound 'cool', the report said.

The report, Alcohol and the Media , included an analysis of 1,200 hours of radio shows by a team at the University of the West of England in Bristol and 703 extracts were found to contain references to alcohol.

The study found three-quarters of all the comments made about alcohol encouraged drinking, of which 13% promoted 'excessive drinking'. Only 2% of comments discouraged excessive drinking.

Commercial radio stations were worse offenders than the BBC, with Kerrang! Radio being particularly likely to encourage excessive drinking, the report said.

On the BBC stations, almost half of the alcohol-related comments were either neutral or discouraged excessive drinking, compared to 17% of the comments on commercial radio.

The Chris Moyles show was an exception, with 74 seconds of alcohol references in a three-and-a-half hour show.

 

5th September   

Dour Objectives...

EU legislation objects push for an end to sexist advertising
Link Here

EU flag The European Parliament is calling on member states to tackle the issue of gender stereotypes in advertising through public information campaigns.

An EU report, drafted by the legislation objects of the Women's Rights Committee, was adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament today.

It pushes for education initiatives to be introduced that will combat the structurally embedded stereotype images of women and men we find all around us.

The report argues that gender stereotypes are used in advertising to the financial gain of big business and that women have suffered by being represented as objects.

It also calls on member states to monitor ad campaigns and to remove stereotyped and degrading images of women from advertising while introducing regulatory measures to promote balanced and diverse portrayals of women by the media.

The report recommends especially close policing of the use of nudity and noticeably thin women in ad campaigns.

Report author and legislation object Eva-Britt Svensson also highlighted digital media as being of particular concern, especially the portrayal of women in the majority of video games and their supporting advertising.

 

5th September   

Hands Off Evil Dead II...

BBFC downgrade the certificate to a 15
Link Here

Evil Dead 2 Evil Dead II is a 1987 US horror video by Sam Raimi (Optimum Releasing)

The certificate was downgraded to 15 when submitted in August 2008

Previously the 1987 cinema and video versions of 1987 (Palace), 1999 (BMG) and 2000 (Universal) were all similarly cut by the BBFC as follows:
  • We don't see Ash (Bruce Campbell) being kicked in the head.

But the cuts were waived in 2001 for the Momentum Pictures release

From cuts details on IMDb :

The full version of the film is considered lost, but nonetheless behind-the-scenes photo and video of some scenes have been found and are included on laserdisc and DVD editions:

  • As Henrietta is in her rocking chair while the professor is reading the incantations, she rocks into the light, which reveals her demonic eyes. Linda's severed head throws up black bile on Ash when it's trapped in the vice (which is why black slime suddenly appears around her mouth in the final scene).
  • A gorier version of Ash cutting off his hand with a hatchet rather than the usual chainsaw. During the "blood flood" the blood not only changes to black, but to red, green, and orange. This scene was altered in theatres in an attempt to get an R-rating, which the film never received.
  • After hitting the possessed Ed with the axe, the scene continues as a "half-headed" Ed runs after them and eventually is chopped to pieces. The body parts flop on the floor.
  • A possessed Ash eating a squirrel as he runs after Annie.

Review from IMDb : Hands Off

After the huge success of the first film, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell reunite for this Quasi-Remake/Sequel.

Ash and his lady are off on a nice trip through the woods. They stop off and rest inside an old cabin. Does Ash realize that he's been here before, or hasn't he?

Raimi and company (armed with a bigger budget and over the top special effects) bring us the second instalment of the Evil Dead series.

This film focuses more on black humor and camp instead of shock and horror. Technically this film is far superior to the one that was release a few years back and in many ways it's a better film.

What a better way to spend the night? Watch Evil Dead II with some of your friends and let the party begin! Leave all logic at the door.

Remember, this is a movie, and a fun one at that. Highly recommended!

 

5th September   

Registered as Prudish...

Jobsworth censorship of Oklahoma number plates
Link Here

Banned plates by Dave Carman The Oklahoma Tax Commission, which authorizes license plates, has denied 1,281 vanity tags in its history, according to commission data.

Many of the denied plates refer to sexual orientation, drugs or body parts. Some are self-promoting, others are derogatory.

Sometimes it still amazes me what people ask for, said prudish Vicki McCartney, administrator for motor vehicle's accounting section. They just blatantly say it.

For the past 27 years, McCartney has helped decide what plates are appropriate for Oklahoma's roads. By rule, the commission doesn't allow license plates that could be offensive to the general public. But what is offensive? McCartney and supervisors Kathy Green and Sonny Newton ultimately make that determination.

Nearly all requests referring to sex, race or drugs are tossed. More than 460 of the turned-down plates include what many would consider objectionable language, according to a Tulsa World analysis. About 365 are sexually explicit. Others reference — often negatively — religion, gender or death.

The Tax Commission also has rejected more innocent tags, such as SCREWUP, IMGAY and BUFMAMA .

It's absurd for the state to create a platform for drivers to express themselves only to have a few select people with few guidelines decide what is allowed, said Joey Senat, who teaches classes in censorship and media law at Oklahoma State University. In other government-related situations, that type of policy would be unconstitutional, Senat said: Now we have the state dictating what is appropriate for the rest of us. When you have state-approved speech, that's not American.

The Tax Commission has rejected 120 tags that refer to a person's arse, according to data. About 15 of the turned-down plates refer to a prostitute.

The list of plates deemed offensive in Oklahoma include DUMMY, I ZUM, SWISH and SMELLYA. All were rejected, though McCartney said she didn't know why.

 

5th September   

Registered as Repressive...

South Korea keen to register forum contributors
Link Here

South Korea flag A draft law pushed by the Korean Communication Commission (KCC), the country's telecommunication and broadcasting regulator, that imposes strengthened identification policies for Internet users is sparking widespread protests from the public and media.

The revised bill mandates all Internet sites with more than 100,000 daily visitors to verify the identities of their users.

This is a stronger version of the current telecommunications law that imposes identity verification for sites with more than 300,000 visitors.

The designated sites require subscribers to submit their private information such as I-PIN, an alternative identification system for online users, and also reveal their real name or register nicknames when they post comments.

Internet companies must disclose the identities of the users accused of cyber attacks when victims seek to sue for libel or privacy infringement.

Following a review by the Regulatory Reform Committee (RRC), the KCC is expecting the revised law to be enforced as early as October.

The KCC hired a group of 10 people, including industry experts and scholars, for a project to research the impact of the strengthened identity verification system. However, despite the group having yet to produce a study, regulators are fast-tracking the bill anyway.

The government, which first introduced the identity verification policy last year, claims that the measures are essential to curb cyber attacks and other 'negative online behavior'.

However, critics argue that the revised law is a strong threat to the freedom of speech on the Internet and could be abused as a tool for censorship.

Another controversial provision of the KCC bill is the mandating of portals to suspend the publishing of articles deemed fraudulent or slanderous for a minimum of 30 days while a media arbitration body rules on the legitimacy of the complaints. For example, should a blogger or online journalist write a post criticizing the government, the new rules will have Web sites immediately pull the articles for a month if they receive a complaint.

Due to the unclear definition of cyber bullying and malicious online messages, there is a danger that authorities might use their power arbitrarily, critics said.

The KCC admits that the identity verification system has so far had a limited impact on curbing cyber bullying since its introduction in July last year, saying that the number of 'malicious' messages reduced by only about 2%.

 

5th September   

Negative Censorial Image of Vietnam...

Vietnam censors ban film festival showing of When I Am 20
Link Here

Venice film festival logo A Vietnamese short film scheduled to screen at the Venice Film Festival was banned by Vietnamese censors for being a little bit too sexy , a Vietnamese film official said.

The film, When I Am 20 , by director Pham Dang Di, was accepted by the biennial Venice Film Festival. But Vietnamese authorities in August blocked the director from exporting the 35-mm print of his film, saying censors had refused to grant it a licence for public showing.

Earlier, the department watched the film to see if it could be shown publicly, perhaps after cutting some sensitive scenes, said Nguyen Thi Hong Thai, deputy head of the Vietnam Cinematography Department: But after watching it, we thought it was hard to just cut a few scenes. In general, the film is a little bit too sexy.

The Venice Film Festival issued a press release Monday saying it planned to screen the movie Wednesday as scheduled, using a lower-quality DVD version: The 65th Venice Film Festival has decided not to exclude the film from the competition, believing that every form of freedom of expression has to be guaranteed and defended .

The film contains sex scenes explicit enough to earn an X rating in the US, and Vietnamese officials worried it would present a negative image of the country abroad.

 

5th September   

Offsite: Perfectly Normal Nutter...

Legal attempts to suppress literature have rarely been successful
Link Here

Its Perfectly Normal book JoAn Karkos from Maine was recently taken to US court for failing to return a library book. She had borrowed a sex education book from her local public library but, having decided the contents were “dangerous” for children and subsequently failing to get the police to bring obscenity charges, she opted to take censorship into her own hands and declared her intention to keep the book.

The book, called It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies,Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health , features candid cartoon illustrations on topics such as abstinence, masturbation and sexually-transmitted diseases. Written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley, it has won various educational awards and has been translated into 21 languages since 1993. Ms Karkos, however, took the view that 36,000 citizens of Lewiston, Maine should be prevented from reading it.

A judge ordered Ms Karkos to pay a $100 fine and she was eventually allowed to leave court. The authorities decided there was no point in sending her to jail and allowing her to become a celebrated sufferer for a cause.

Historically, there has been a serious problem for those who try to use the law to ban books: their action is commonly counter-productive. Nothing so effectively enlarges a book's readership as a censor trying to stop people from reading it.

As soon as the public in America became aware of the Karkos case, people from around the country sent their copies to the public library in Lewiston.

...Read full article

Update: Fine Paid

7th September 2008

A clergyman who ministers to children has paid the $100 fine imposed on a Lewiston woman who borrowed a sex education book from the city's public library last summer and refused to return it because she deemed the contents obscene.

Karkos said she declined offers from others who wanted to the pay her fine. She said it seems more appropriate that Taylor, the founder of the Jesus Party known for its defense of children, took care of it.

 

4th September   

Education Cuts...

Exam board censors poem with references to knife crime
Link Here

Carol Ann Duffy poems Britain's biggest exam board has been accused of censorship after it removed a poem containing references to knife crime from the GCSE syllabus.

Officials at the AQA board said their request that schools destroy the anthology containing the Carol Ann Duffy poem Education for Leisure had been triggered by concerns in two schools about references to knives. A spokeswoman confirmed the decision had been made in the context of the current spate of knife-related murders.

But poets yesterday condemned the move, saying such "censorship" fundamentally missed the point of the poem, which they said could help children debate the causes of street violence.

The poem starts:

Today I am going to kill something.
Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God.

It describes a youth's yearning for attention and a journey to sign on for the dole, and makes references to the killing of a goldfish. It ends ominously with the youth walking the streets armed with a bread knife.

Duffy's literary agent, Peter Strauss, said: It's a pro-education, anti-violence poem written in the mid-1980s when Thatcher was in power and there were rising social problems and crime. It was written as a plea for education. How, 20 years later, it had been turned on itself and presented to mean the opposite I don't know. You can't say that it celebrates knife crime. What it does is the opposite.

A spokeswoman for AQA confirmed there had been three complaints, two referring to knife crime and a third about the description of a goldfish being flushed down the toilet.

The AQA spokeswoman said: The decision to withdraw the poem was not taken lightly and only after due consideration of the issues involved. We believe the decision underlines the often difficult balance that exists between encouraging and facilitating young people to think critically about difficult but important topics and the need to do this in a way which is sensitive to social issues and public concern.

 

4th September   

Update: Zack Attack...

MPAA blown away by poster for Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Link Here

Zack and Miri Make a Porno poster The new poster for Zack and Miri Make a Porno contains the tamest, smallest blowjob reference you could possibly imagine-- the two stars, fully clothed, with the head of the other star hovering somewhere around their crotch area.

So how did the MPAA react to this poster, which makes a sexual reference so subtle only those in the know would get it? Uh, they banned it. Only Canada will get to see the poster in their multiplexes.

As EW.com reports, director Kevin Smith is more amused than annoyed by the MPAA's whackjob decision: When you've got the word 'porno' in the title, naturally, the marketing materials are gonna be scrutinized more closely by the MPAA. I understand they've got a job to do, but c'mon...this image isn't that dirty; they're both fully clad.

 

4th September   

Update: Thai Games Ban...

Players of violent political games ban violent fictional games
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Hitman Triple Pack PC games Video game repression has surged in Thailand following last month's killing of a taxi driver by a 19-year-old man who told police he was re-enacting Grand Theft Auto .

Jesada Chandraprasert  who pens Cnet's Technology Thailand blog, reports that five games have been officially banned by the Ministry of Culture:

  • Hitman
  • 300
  • Killer Seven
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Fifty Cent: Bullet Proof

In a story broken by GamePolitics, Thailand stole its list of "dangerous" games from an outdated list offered by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy during the 2007 holiday season. The five banned games constitute half of the list.

Their official press release at the Government's Web site clearly states that they see gaming as a problem which is obsessive and has an (adverse) effect on the behavior of children and teens....

Chandraprasert also reports on a recent government and law enforcement conference which was held to discuss the video game issue - with ominous overtones:

The conference, held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center on August 21, had an audience of over 1,500 people, mostly public officials and the police. The main focus of this conference was to find solutions to unregistered gaming stores (basically an Internet cafe like a setup where people can go in and game all day long on computers, not the traditional arcade) and "dangerous games". Their aim is to eliminate the "dangers" associated with said problem within 90 days of the conference.

 

4th September   

Verisimilitude...

Australian author arrested in Thailand for lèse majesté
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Verisimilitude booik An Australian writer has been arrested in Thailand and faces a lese-majeste charge for publishing a novel deemed defamatory to the country's royal family, police and the Australian embassy said.

An embassy official identified the man from Melbourne and police named him as Harry Nicolaides, who was unaware there was an arrest warrant out for him when he tried to fly out from Bangkok to Australia.

An arrest warrant was issued in March for a book he wrote in 2005 deemed defamatory to the crown prince, Police Lieutenant-Colonel Boonlert Kalayanamit told Reuters.

He has been charged with lese-majeste, a crime that can carry a 15-year jail sentence in Thailand, and was being held at a remand prison pending further interviews, Boonlert said.

Nicolaides, a regular visitor to Thailand and briefly a resident, when he taught English and wrote for Australian newspapers, had not been granted bail, police said.

Police identified the novel in question as Verisimilitude , described  as a trenchant commentary on the political and social life of contemporary Thailand.

 

4th September   

Re-emerging Censors...

Thai political censors identify 1200 sites to block
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Blocked Thai website Thailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry has sought court orders to shut down about 400 websites and 'advised' ISPs to block 1,200 sites supposedly as a danger to national security or disturbing social order.

ICT minister Mun Patanotai said the department had advised ISPs to immediately block these websites, which it claimed were detected between March and August this year, and had sought court actions against them under article 20 of Thailand's Computer Crime Act.

This move to shut down online dissent follows the Thai authorities' declaration of a state of emergency as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand the government's resignation.

Thai prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, announced sweeping curbs to civil liberties to maintain calm, after which the ICT Ministry said it had detected more than 1,200 websites that violated the Computer Crime Act.

In addition, a Thai court issued three orders to shut down about 400 websites, 344 of which, it claimed, carried material that was supposedly contemptuous of the country's royal family.

The ICT ministry, the Bangkok Post reported, also sought help from the police to bring all the violators to trial.

 

4th September   

Celebrity Fuckers...

TV censor ofcom gets wound up by Katie and Peter
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Katie & Peter logo Singer Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter
ITV2, 3 June 2008, 20:00

Katie & Peter: The Next Chapter was a ‘fly-on-the-wall' programme chronicling the everyday life of celebrity couple Katie Price and Peter Andre.

Ofcom received one complaint from a viewer who said that the word “fuck” and its derivatives was repeatedly used in this episode broadcast before the watershed, together with frequent instances of offensive language including the words “shit” and “wanker”.

Ofcom considered the program against Rule 1.14 (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed) and Rule 1.16 (frequent use of offensive language must be avoided before the watershed).

ITV acknowledged that the programme contained strong language, including the word “fuck”, which was inappropriate for the time of transmission, and apologised for any offence caused to viewers.

It explained that the wrong version of the programme was transmitted as a result of an unusual series of human errors.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom noted ITV's recognition that this material was entirely unsuitable for a prewatershed programme and that this was a serious error.

Our research indicates that the word “fuck” and its derivatives are considered by respondents to be the most offensive language. Broadcasters must have robust procedures in place to ensure compliance with the Code. The broadcast of such language before the 21:00 watershed is in breach of the Code (Rule 1.14). Ofcom also judged that the programme contained excessive offensive language in general and as such considered it to be in breach also of Rule 1.16.

Breach of Rules 1.14 and 1.16

 

4th September   

Saturday Nights Alright for Banning...

YouTube bans singers music video
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YouTube logo Singer Sandi Thom has had the video for her latest single banned from YouTube because of scenes of drug-taking.

The Scottish singer-songwriter told The Scotsman that the video, which featured a compilation of images sent in by fans of their Saturday nights, was discovered to have contained inappropriate scenes, including one of a man with what appeared to be four lines of cocaine in front of him. The images also featured a man with his hands down his trousers, she said.

I thought it was hilarious in a way when I found out they'd banned it, but I also felt bad for my fans who had sent in their pictures in good faith who won't get to see them now, said Thom.

 

4th September   

Policing Dissent...

Dissenting reporters killed in Russia
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Russia flag Authorities must thoroughly investigate the murder of Telman Alishayev, a reporter and host for the Islamic television channel TV-Chirkei, and the severe attack in Kabardino-Balkariya against Miloslav Bitokov, editor-in-chief of the independent weekly Gazeta Yuga.

Alishayev died today of gunshot wounds sustained in an attack in Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala. He is the second journalist to be shot and killed in the restive North Caucasus region in three days. Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of the critical news Web site Ingushetiya, was killed in the custody of Ingush police on Sunday.

In a separate incident, Bitokov was hospitalized today with multiple injuries after three unidentified men beat him at the entrance to his apartment building in Nalchik, capital of the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkariya.

Just three days after the death of our colleague Magomed Yevloyev, we mourn the loss of yet another Russian journalist. Our deepest condolences go to Telman Alishayev's family, colleagues, and friends, said Nina Ognianova, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. The vicious string of violence against journalists in the North Caucasus region can only be countered by the resolve of Russian authorities to solve these crimes. We call on police and prosecutors to aggressively investigate Telman Alishayev's murder and Miloslav Bitokov's beating, and to bring all of the perpetrators to justice.

The independent weekly Gazeta Yuga is one of the few news outlets in Kabardino-Balkariya to openly criticize local authorities.

 

4th September   

Fringe Censorship...

Barbers whinge that they are made to look bad in Indian movie
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Kuselan poster An organisation of hair stylists in Tamil Nadu have launched a protest with the Indian Censor Board demanding a ban on depiction of members of any profession in poor light in any film in future.

We presented a memorandum to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and demanded re-censoring of ‘Kuselan'. We have also requested a future ban on all professions being belittled in films, Tamil Nadu Barbers' Association president M. Natesan said.

The attitude of the director hurt us more than the scenes, as P. Vasu said only a fake barber was shown in bad light. The director claimed we were out to merely create trouble, said the body's general secretary M.G. Bhagyanathan.

 

3rd September   

Update: Reforming Deformed Defamation Resolution...

EU and US fight censorship via muslim defamation of religion resolution
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UN logo The Bush administration, European governments and religious rights organizations are mounting a new effort to defeat a General Assembly resolution that demands respect for Islam and other religions but has been used to justify persecution of religious minorities.

The resolution, called Combating Defamation of Religion, is sponsored by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and has been approved by the world body annually since 2005. It comes up for renewal this fall.

U.S. officials said they hope to persuade 'moderate' Muslim nations - among them Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and Indonesia - to reject the measure, which lacks the force of law but has provided diplomatic cover for regimes that repress critical speech.

Before, it was one resolution with no impact and no implementation, said Felice Gaer, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal body that investigates abuses and proposes policies to advance freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Now we are seeing a clear attempt by OIC countries to mainstream the concept and insert it into just about every other topic they can, Gaer said: They are turning freedom of expression into restriction of expression.

The European Center for Law and Justice filed a brief with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in June warning that such anti-defamation resolutions are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression.

U.S. officials working on human rights said the resolutions are being used to justify harsh blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Afghanistan.

 

3rd September   

Update: Malaysia Today Unbanned...

Malaysian unblocks news website
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Malaysia Today logo The banned news portal Malaysia Today was up and running yesterday after being blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM).

The portal was blocked on Aug 27 after Internet Service Providers in the country received notices from the commission to ban the website.

The move by the commission sparked debate because under the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia 10-Point Bill of Guarantees, the Government promised to ensure no Internet censorship.

Update: Still Blocked

4th September 2008

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's (SKMM) directive to Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the Malaysia Today portal still stands pending an investigation to determine if its editor should be charged.

SKMM chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, when contacted Wednesday, said an investigation was underway to determine whether or not to charge the portal's editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin under Section 211 or 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

Update: Flip Flop Decision

14th September 2008

Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin said he was not surprised at the flip flop decision and considered the whole situation ridiculous.

He said he would leave the old website as it was and those wanting access to his website could continue doing so at mt.m2day.org/2008 , which was set up after his initial www.malaysia-today.net website was blocked.

 

3rd September   

Lust for a Censor...

Lust for a Vampire/Vampire Lovers new double bill DVD
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Lust for a Vampire double bill DVD Lust for a Vampire is a 1971 UK horror film by Jimmy Sangster (Optimum releasing)

Warner video/DVD releases of 1990 and 2002 were uncut as is the 2008 submission from Optimum Releasing.

However the 1970 cinema version suffered minor BBFC edits with a token cut made to the love scene between Mircalla and Amanda.

See review from IMDb : Cult Following

Just when the Hammer Christopher Lee Dracula franchise began to run out of steam in the late sixties, the company revved up its product by turning to Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and filming several versions of the novel.

The other most interesting one is Vampire Lovers, which keeps far closer to the plot of the book and has a more sustained sense of mood and atmosphere,.

Lust is admittedly shaky in terms of script, and the ambiance is on again off again (but wow is it terrific when it's on). What makes this click with so many horror buffs, in particularly those who love lesbian vampire films, is the one-time star Yvette Stensgard, a gorgeous Scandanavian child-woman who looks absolutely innocent (particularly when her eyes fetchingly cross), even the moment before she rips open the neck of her next victim. Lots of nudity, with nothing but blood covering her nubile body.

A genuine cult following has formed around this film because of Stensgard's devastating charisma, which would never be properly employed again, by Hammer or any other company.

 

2nd September   

Update: Pineapple Missing a Slice...

Pineapple Express pre-cut for cinema release
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Pineapples Express DVD Pineapple Express is a 2008 US Comedy by David Gordon Green

The pre-cut 2008 cinema release was passed without further cuts by the BBFC with the explanation:

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS is a comedy about a man who witnesses a murder and is forced to go on the run from the police, along with his drug dealer. The film was classified '15' for frequent drug use and references, strong language and comic violence.

As the lead character is a regular drug user, sight of soft drug use (in the form of cannabis smoking) and verbal drug references are found throughout the film. However, although the tone of the film is light it does not, as a whole, promote or encourage such drug use. There is also frequent use of strong language (BBFC Guidelines at '15' state that 'There may frequent use of strong language') and some scenes of strong but comic violence. The scenes of comic violence include sight of a tough policewoman being kicked in the groin by a man and close up sight of an ear with part of it having been shot off. The film also contains a number of strong sex references such as You wanted to eat that lollipop out of that stripper's snatch and You'll blow a bunch of dudes and become a lesbian, which are crude but in line with the Guideline requirement that, at '15', 'there may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour'.

However in an article from news.bbc.co.uk

Canadian actor Seth Rogen has said that one of the drug scenes from his new film Pineapple Express had to be specially edited for UK audiences.

The film is rated R in America but in the UK it's got a 15 certificate.

Rogen said: There's a scene in the movie when we sell [drugs] to high school kids - that's still in there I assume. But in the American version of the scene we also smoke weed with them and hang out. It's a really explicit scene of us getting high with these 11-year-olds. I think for the UK they've kind of softened it a bit.

Released in UK cinemas on 12 September 2008.

 

2nd September   

Update: Bleep This...

ITV commended for marching Joan Rivers off TV programme
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Loose Women poster ITV1 daytime show Loose Women has escaped censure from Ofcom over a strong language incident involving American comedian Joan Rivers.

The TV censor received 21 complaints about Rivers' outburst during her guest appearance on the lunchtime magazine show in June.

Rivers, who was on the show to promote her West End acting debut, described actor Russell Crowe as a piece of, get ready to bleep this, fucking shit.

In its ruling today, Ofcom praised ITV1 for taking swift action to remove her from the show. The channel apologised to viewers on four separate occasions.

But Ofcom said Loose Women was aimed at an adult audience and this edition of the programme was broadcast during term time when few young people would have been watching: Ofcom considers that ITV acted responsibly on this occasion and broadcast several apologies. Given that this was an isolated occurrence which the broadcaster acted swiftly to recognise and remedy, Ofcom considers the matter resolved.

 

2nd September   

MTV Less the Music...

MTV conscious of regional sensitivities during Ramadam
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MTV Arabia The Middle East's new youth entertainment and lifestyle tv-channel MTV Arabia announced on 20 August 2008 that it will mark the holy month Ramadan by refraining from music videos.

Some call it religious censorship over music videos. Others appreciate the tv-channel's sensitivity to the solemnity of the Islamic month of fasting.

MTV Arabia's manager Samr Al Mazouqi was quoted as saying: The Holy Month is a time for introspection, and we would like to offer our viewers a break from the ordinary fare. (...) MTV Arabia is conscious of regional sensitivities and we are keen to respond to the needs and desires of viewers in the Middle East, the vast majority of whom will be fasting, spending time with family, and focusing on their spiritual lives.

During Ramadan, the channel will continue to play programmes from MTV's international roster of reality shows, celebrity news and pop culture documentaries.

We have high censorship on what goes on air in terms of language, images, everything has high censorship, the station's head of productions and promotions, Rasha Al Eman, told Communicate Magazine in December 2007.

 

2nd September   

Updated: Extreme Vindictography...

Columnist relishing that people will be put in prison for viewing what she does not like
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F**k Fashion book Bad artists of Britain, beware. Jack Straw's Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 seems to be creating a lot of unintentional collateral damage out in the tackier fringes of the art world. The act outlaws "extreme pornography" in which a woman or man's life appears to be in danger, as presented for the titillation of the viewer. As such, it also unwittingly includes much art and fashion photography, music video imagery and any other image in which a person (usually, in reality, a woman) is made the object of mortal threat. So it seems that we will no longer get to see any marvellous hipster pics of objectified female meat in danger. What a loss for the world of culture.

See article from guardian.co.uk

Update: Good Riddance

Thanks to Alan who points out an excellent counter blog to Bidisha's vindictiveness:

See Good Riddance to Bad Pseudo-Feminism from rohrstockpalast.blogspot.com

Bidisha is a novelist and a frequent contributor to he Guardian and the Observer. I enjoy her angry, hyperbolic columns a lot. They are a flashback to dogmatic 1970's style feminism, but written with all the vitriol and the fanaticism of youth. I think society needs people like Bidisha. For entertainment value, and to kick dumb, disrespectful, chauvinistic males in the face until they squeal like the craven pigs they are. There are still way too many of those leering neanderthals around, and they annoy me almost as much as they do women.

Unfortunately, Bidisha on her part doesn't think that society needs people like me - kinky people, that is, who are into corporal punishment and BDSM. Never mind that it's between consenting adults, never mind that roles in BDSM aren't really fixed to gender, but to personal preference. I can claim all I want that I respect women. In her eyes, being a CP fetishist makes me a dumb, chauvinistic pig myself, someone who propagates exploitation and abuse. No different from a sexist creep who harasses female colleagues in the workplace, really. And what about the women in our community? Well, they are nutcases who have conveniently internalised male oppression and misogyny. See, I told you, Bidisha is a lot of fun. And the frightening thing is, she's dead serious.

...Read the full article Good Riddance to Bad Pseudo-Feminism