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Death threats...

Freemuse calls for an end to the social media intimidation directed at a Kyrgyz artist singing about gender rights whilst dressed in a jacket and bra


Link Here 23rd September 2018
Zere Asylbek has been the recipient of several death threats over her attire in the music video for her song Kyz (Girl), which was written to generate public debate on gender inequality and women's rights in Kyrgyzstan. In the video Asylbek is seen wearing a jacket and bra.

Freemuse calls for Kyrgyz authorities to ensure the safety of Asylbek and launch a criminal investigation into the threats. Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said:

It is Zere's right to use art to express herself and the issues she sees as critical for women without fear of being persecuted, threatened or harmed in any way. The government of Kyrgyzstan must protect freedom of artistic expression and ensure that she is safe and can continue to have this important public conversation in her own country.

In a 19 September interview with Asylbek, the singer told Freemuse that there was a recent, famous case in Kyrgyzstan in which a girl, named Burulai, who was bride kidnapped--an ancient tradition where girls are kidnapped and forced into marriage--died under police custody. The girl was left alone in a police station with the kidnapper who subsequently killed her. She explained that cases such as this and the general situation for women in the country is what inspired her to write and perform her song.

Asylbek shared on her Facebook page some of the threats she's received as private messages via social media. One message she received on Instagram reads: If you don't remove the video and don't apologise to the Kyrgyz people, we will kill you soon. This will be the first and last time. Another private message reads: I will gladly join and cut your head off.

 

 

Getting the dope about what people really think...

An interesting idea for snooping on social media posts in Canada. I wonder what else they will apply it to...sex holidays in Pattaya...private views on immigration...


Link Here 23rd September 2018

The Canadian government is seeking a company that will scour social media and the dark web for data on Canadians' use of cannabis. The request comes a few weeks before recreational pot use becomes legalized on October 17.

According to a tender posted by Public Safety Canada this week, the government wants a company to algorithmically scan Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and other relevant microblogging platforms for information on Canadians' attitudes towards legal pot and their behaviours.

The initiative will look for self-reported usage patterns (how much, what kind, and where) and activities such as buying and selling weed. The government will also be scanning social media for criminal activities associated with cannabis use--driving under the influence, for example. The initiative will also capture metadata, such as self-reported location and demographics, but according to the tender the data must exclude individual unique identifiers.

Motherboard asked Public Safety Canada spokesperson Karine Martel about the project but she did not comment on whether information on cannabis-related crimes collected from social media will be shared with law enforcement, but noted that the work will be conducted in compliance with the Tri-Council Policy Statement which notes that: research focusing on topics that include illegal activities depends on promises of strong confidentiality to participants.

According to a second tender the feds are also looking to keep track of Canadians buying and selling weed on so-called dark web markets. Both projects are slated to conclude on April 30, 2019.

 

 

Offsite Article: Banned books and more in Ireland...


Link Here 23rd September 2018
Banned Books Week reminds us of days when even TV was dubbed a tool of the Antichrist. By Damian Corless

See article from independent.ie

 

 

Updated Maybe there should be an Oscar for the Best Censorship Drama...

Kenyan film maker sues the country's film censors and gets the film unbanned for 7 days in time to qualify for the Oscars


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Rafiki is a 2018 Kenya / South Africa drama by Wanuri Kahiu.
Starring Patricia Amira, Muthoni Gathecha and Jimmy Gathu. IMDb

Banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board in April 2018. The KFCB claimed the film seeks to legitimize lesbian romance.

Rafiki, which means friend in Swahili,  is adapted from the 2007 Caine Prize-winning short story, Jambula Tree, by Ugandan writer Monica Arac Nyeko. It follows two close friends, Kena and Ziki, who eventually fall in love despite their families being on opposing sides of the political divide.

Wanuri Kahiu, the director of the banned film Rafiki is Suing Kenya's film censors to unblock the way for the film to qualify as contender for the Oscars. The suit demands that the local ban be lifted in time for her to submit the film to be considered for an Oscar. It's also pushing to change the law that has been used to ban popular films like The Wolf of Wall Street.

For Rafiki to be eligible for a Best Foreign Language award, it needs to be shown in Kenya before September 30, The Hollywood Reporter adds . If the selection committee is given permission to screen the film to submit it to the Academy, Rafiki could be the first Kenyan film to be nominated in that category

Wanuri Kahiu's Rafiki has received its due praise on the film festival circuit since her film was selected to make its world premiere at Cannes earlier this year-- making it the first Kenyan feature film to do so. However, the Kenya Film Classification Board banned the film, claiming that it seeks to legitimize lesbian romance.

Update: Make love not war, court organises a 7 day truce

22nd September 2018. See article from bbc.com

A Kenyan judge has lifted a ban on a film about a lesbian relationship - for a week. Judge Wilfrida Okwany decided to allow the screening of the film for seven days so that it could be submitted for the Oscars.

In order to be submitted to the Academy Awards, the film must have been publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days at a commercial motion picture venue.

In her ruling on Friday, Ms Okwany gave permission for the film to be shown to willing adults. She said she was not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.

But the head of the Kenya Film Classification Board, Ezekiel Mutua, was unhappy about the decision, claiming homosexuality is not our way of life.

The film's director Wanuri Kahiu, who appealed against the ban, was overjoyed with the latest decision.

The film's Twitter account announced that it will hold screenings in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi

 

 

Dirty talking...

The EU Commissioner for 'justice' and gender equality labels Facebook and Twitter as 'channels of dirt'


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU proposes mandatory cleanfeed for all member states
Vera Jourova is the European Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality. Once she opened a Facebook account. It did not go well. Jourova said at a news conference:

For a short time, I had a Facebook account. It was a channel of dirt. I didn't expect such an influx of hatred. I decided to cancel the account because I realised there will be less hatred in Europe after I do this.

Jourova's words carry more weight than most. She has a policy beef with Facebook, and also the means to enforce it. Jourova says Facebook's terms of service are misleading, and has called upon the company to clarify them. In a post Thursday on that other channel of dirt, Twitter.com, she said:

I want #Facebook to be extremely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money. Not many people know that Facebook has made available their data to third parties or that for instance it holds full copyright about any picture or content you put on it.

Jourova says European authorities could sanction Facebook next year if it doesn't like what it hears from the company soon. I was quite clear that we cannot negotiate forever, she said at the news conference. We need to see the result.

 

 

Evil plans...

The Intercept reveals more details about Google's plans to collaborate with the Chinese government to monitor and censor internet searches


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Full story: Google Censorship...Google censors adult material froms its websites
Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed disgrace details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned.

The memo, authored by a Google engineer, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location -- and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner, presumably a proxy for the government, who would have unilateral access to the data. This Chinese 'partner' would be able to edit the data controlling what should be censored.

The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system.

The Dragonfly memo reveals that a prototype of the censored search engine was being developed as an app for both Android and iOS devices, and would force users to sign in so they could use the service. The memo confirms, as The Intercept first reported last week, that users' searches would be associated with their personal phone number. The memo adds that Chinese users' movements would also be stored, along with the IP address of their device and links they clicked on. It accuses developers working on the project of creating spying tools for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.

People's search histories, location information, and other private data would be sent out of China to a database in Taiwan, the memo states. But the data would also be provided to employees of a Chinese company who would be granted unilateral access to the system.

The memo identifies at least 215 employees who appear to have been tasked with working full-time on Dragonfly, a number it says is larger than many Google projects.

Ex Google boss predicts that the internet will split into a Chinese internet and a US internet

22nd September 2018. See  article from dailymail.co.uk

The internet will be divided into two different worlds within the next decade -- and China will lead one of them, according to ex- Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

He notes that the control the Chinese government wields over its citizens' online access means it is incompatible with the democratic internet of the west. This means there will be two distinct versions of the world wide web by 2028, one run by China and the other by the US.

The process is already happening, with the so-called Great Firewall of China blocking Chinese citizens from accessing several of the internet's most popular websites, including Facebook and YouTube.

 

 

Trigger happy censorship...

China blocks game streaming website and app, Twitch


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Full story: Games censorship in China...A wide range of censorship restrictions
Twitch, the game streaming giant noted for its eSports, has confirmed that it is now banned in China.

Abacus first reported that Twitch's website was unavailable in mainland China, and that its app had quietly vanished from the Chinese Apple App Store.

Twitch declined to comment on why it had been banned. A recent development was the popularity of the app to view the Asian Games, which was not broadcast on state television.

Perhaps the ban is also to do with Chinas trade war with Donald Trump.

 

 

Peak censorship...

China to ban all foreign programming from prime time TV


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Full story: TV Censorship in China...TV censors SARFT

China wants to expand a ban on foreign TV shows during the evening prime-time hours, according to the latest proposal by the country's media censor.

Since 2004, China has banned foreign TV movies and serials during the peak 7-10pm viewing hours. Now the National Radio and Television Administration is considering banning  programming all foreign programmes during this peak period.

The rules will apply to free-to-air and paid channels, as well as streaming sites.

The censors speak of ideological reasoning but maybe its also to do with China's trade war with Donald Trump.

As China's TV gets ever more censored, many people now use streaming sites like iQiyi and Mango TV for their kicks and they are increasingly willing to pay for it. While these sites offer hit western shows such as Game of Thrones, they have also adopted a similar strategy to Netflix by producing their own content.

But as they gain popularity they may also gain more attention from the censors.

 

 

Transitioning to Authoritarianism...

Student editor at Durham University fired for tweeting his opinions


Link Here 22nd September 2018
 

Philosophers out seeking the truth on the Durham campus
 

A student editor at Durham university has been fired in a transphobia row after he tweeted that women don't have penises.

Angelos Sofocleous, assistant editor at Durham University's philosophy journal Critique , was sacked from his post for writing a tweet deemed claimed to be transphobic by fellow students.

Sofocleous faced disciplinary action last month after he re-tweeted an article by The Spectator on his Twitter titled Is it a crime to say women don't have penises?, with the comment: RT if women don't have penises.

The postgraduate philosophy and psychology student was dismissed from his position at the university after the tweet sparked 'outrage'. He was also fired from his position as editor of Durham University's online magazine The Bubble , and ironically forced to resign as president of free speech society Humanist Students.

Sofocleous bravely stood by his comments, he wrote:

I may be wrong and women might indeed have penises, although I don't believe that to be the case. But the backlash that took place after my comments, particularly within the organisation, convinced me that, unfortunately and surprisingly, there are certain issues within the humanist movement which are undebatable.

No effort was made, beyond name-calling, derogatory comments, and ad hominem statements, to convince me of the truth of the other side's position.

 

 

Updated: An outright ban...

US internet companies line up to censor Alex Jones' Info Wars


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
The radio host and colourful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been permanently censored by Twitter.

One month after it distinguished itself from the rest of the tech industry by declining to bar the rightwing shock jock its platform, Twitter fell in line with the other major social networks in banning Jones.

Twitter justified the censorship saying:

We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts' past violations. We will continue to evaluate reports we receive regarding other accounts potentially associated with @realalexjones or @infowars and will take action if content that violates our rules is reported or if other accounts are utilized in an attempt to circumvent their ban.

Update: Apple censors the Infowars app

8th September 2018. See  article from theverge.com

 Alex Jones' Infowars app has been permanently banned from Apple's App Store.

Apple confirmed the removal with Buzzfeed by citing the App Store guidelines, which forbids content that is offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, or in exceptionally poor taste.

Update: Paying the price of using Paypal

22nd September 2018. See  article from uk.pcmag.com

PayPal is the latest tech company to ban Infowars. Paypal told PC<ag:

We undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites, and found instances that promoted hate or discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions, which run counter to our core value of inclusion.

InfoWars said PayPal gave it 10 days to find an alternate payment provider before terminating the service. PayPal didn't cite the specific instances of hate speech, but Infowars says the content involved criticism of Islam and opposition to transgenderism being to taught children in schools.

 

 

No more sherpa porn...

Nepal is set to ban all internet porn


Link Here 22nd September 2018
Full story: Internet Censorship in Nepal...Nepal gets wound up by porn
Nepal's Government will soon ban porn sites in the country. The Ministry of Communication and Information technology (MOCIT) has instructed the internet censor, the NTA, to ban porn websites and any other sexually offensive/indecent content.

The government cited an increase in the rate of rape incident in the country as the reason fir the censorship. It also claims that the easy sexual content access increases sexual violence in the country.

The ministry also requests all the ISPs, telecom operators, social media operators, and Internet users not to distribute, publish and broadcast such sexual content in the country.

Some popular porn sites have been blocked for some years. Whereas some websites are still operating freely.

Attempting to read a censored websites leads to a page simply saying: This website has been blocked as per NTA's Policy.

 

 

Silencing the British people...

BuzzFeed News leaks UK government plans to set up an internet censor along the lines of Ofcom


Link Here 21st September 2018
The UK government is preparing to establish a new internet censor that would make tech firms liable for content published on their platforms and have the power to sanction companies that fail to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours.

Under legislation being drafted by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) due to be announced this winter, a new censorship framework for online social harms would be created.

BuzzFeed News has obtained details of the proposals, which would see the establishment of an internet censor similar to Ofcom.

Home secretary Sajid Javid and culture secretary Jeremy Wright are considering the introduction of a mandatory code of practice for social media platforms and strict new rules such as takedown times forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech within a set timeframe or face penalties. Ministers are also looking at implementing age verification for users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The new proposals are still in the development stage and are due to be put out for consultation later this year. The new censor would also develop rules new regulations on controlling non-illegal content and online behaviour . The rules for what constitutes non-illegal content will be the subject of what is likely to be a hotly debated consultation.

BuzzFeed News has also been told ministers are looking at creating a second new censor for online advertising. Its powers would include a crackdown on online advertisements for food and soft drink products that are high in salt, fat, or sugar.

BuzzFeed News understands concerns have been raised in Whitehall that the regulation of non-illegal content will spark opposition from free speech campaigners and MPs. There are also fears internally that some of the measures being considered, including blocking websites that do not adhere to the new regulations, are so draconian that they will generate considerable opposition.

A government spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the plans would be unveiled later this year.

 

 

The Word Transformed...

Censoring the Sun isn't censorship claims a political event at the Labour Conference


Link Here 21st September 2018
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor
Sun journalists have taken to Twitter to denounce the decision taken by The World Transformed , a political event, to not grant them press passes for our four-day festival of politics, arts and music taking place alongside the Labour party conference in Liverpool next week.

The World Transformed released a statement explaining that this censorship was an act of solidarity with the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, and a show of support for the boycott of the newspaper observed by community groups and businesses across Liverpool.

Campaigners from Total Eclipse of the S*n and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign will appear at the festival.

 

 

Offsite Article: Censors not playing the game...


Link Here 21st September 2018
Full story: Games censorship in China...A wide range of censorship restrictions
China freezes video game approval after a change of organisation and the resulting consideration of new rules

See article from pocketgamer.biz

 

 

More like gambling than baseball cards...

European games censors get together to oppose loot boxes in video games


Link Here 20th September 2018
Full story: Loot boxes in video games...Worldwide action against monetisation of video games
Fifteen EU-based regulators plus Washington State have made a joint declaration while Australian based study likens loot boxes to gambling, not baseball cards

Fifteen EU gambling regulators from the UK, Ireland, France, Austria, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Spain, the Isle of Man, Malta, Portugal, Jersey, Norway, and the Netherlands plus US representation from the Washington State Gambling Regulator published the letter, noting their concerns with the business model.

In addition to the loot box problem, the letter addresses how it will take on websites that let players either gamble or sell in-game items like skins or weapons with real-world money.

One of the signatories, Neil McArthur, CEO of the UK Gambling Commission said:

We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children. We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.

The letter speaks of the groups concerns but does not detail the direction sthat the group will take in reacting to the concerns.

According to VentureBeat, a study conducted by the Australian Parliament's Environment and Communications References Committee showed that there were links between loot box spending and problematic gambling. The population sample size was 7500 people.

The more severe a gamers' problem gambling was, the more likely they were to spend large amounts of money on loot boxes. These results strongly support claims that loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling, said the report, conducted by Dr. David Zendle and Dr. Paul Cairns.

In a statement, the pair added loot boxes could potentially act as an introduction to gambling or take advantage of gambling disorders. They note that the industry tends to brush off loot boxes as similar to harmless products like baseball cards, football/soccer stickers, and products along those lines.

In related news games maker EA could face legal issues for ignoring a ruling by the Belgian government to remove the Ultimate Team portion from FIFA 18.

 

 

Having faith in the people...

Ireland's referendum on repealing its blasphemy laws is set for 26th October


Link Here 20th September 2018
Full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

The National Secular Society has said Ireland's impending referendum on its blasphemy law should prompt global action in defence of free speech on religion.

On Tuesday evening the Dail, the lower house of the Oireachtas (Ireland's parliament), ratified a proposal to hold a referendum on the issue on Friday 26 October. The decision passed through the house unopposed.

The upper house, the Seanad, is expected to pass the legislation on Thursday.

Currently Ireland's constitution says:

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law. The referendum will propose removing the word blasphemous from that article.

The minister for justice Charlie Flanagan said while the offence remained in the constitution, Ireland would be seen as keeping company with those who do not share the fundamental values we cherish such as belief in freedom of conscience and expression.

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans urged Ireland to take a stand for free speech when the referendum takes place:

Repealing the reference to blasphemy from Ireland's constitution would be a welcome declaration of Ireland's changing attitude to religious privilege and a statement of support with free thinkers globally.

Ireland's referendum should prompt global action in defence of free speech on religion. It should send a message to the rest of the world: offending religious sensibilities is not a crime, and the world will not tolerate those who persecute people for their thoughts and words.

 

 

Updated: A warning to all cinema owners...

Manmarziyaan hurts religious sentiments in India and is banned in Pakistan


Link Here 20th September 2018
Manmarziyaan is a 2018 India romance by Anurag Kashyap.
Starring Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal and Tapsee Pannu. BBFC link IMDb

The film is a love story set in Punjab where Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, and Vicky Kaushal will be seen in prominent roles.

The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DGMC) is staging a protest on Sunday against this week's movie release, Manmarziyaan (Husband Material) , demanding a nationwide ban on the film.

The committee claims that the filml has a few anti-Sikh scenes which have the potential to hurt the sentiments of the community.

DSGMC president Manjeet Singh GK said:

I believe that this movie should not be screened till makers remove the objectionable scenes from the movie.

Since ages we have been demanding that the censor board should recruit a representative of the Sikh community in their team but they haven't.

We will not tolerate this at any cost and will strongly protest against this movie.

The Delhi police have stepped up the security outside the movie theatre to prevent violence.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, Manmarziyan, has not been cleared by the Central Board of Film Censors for release in Pakistan. According to CBFC Chairman Danyal Gilani, all board members found the content inappropriate and agreed that the film violated its censorship code.

However, the film was given an adults only 'A' Certificate by the Censor Boards of Sindh and Punjab.

Manmarziyan released in India, USA and Australia on September 14, after a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8.

Update: The producers decide to cut the film for national reease

See  article from devdiscourse.com

A court in the city of Jammu ordered 4 cuts in the film on grounds of 'hurting religious sentiment'. However the producers had already decided to cut 3 scenes on the same grounds for national release.

The producers submitted the version to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The three deleted scenes are:

  • a 29-second smoking sequence of Abhishek,
  • a minute long scene featuring Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek entering a gurudwara and
  • an 11-second scene where Taapsee is shown smoking.

The film cuts will be applied to all prints in circulation in India within the next couple of days.

 

 

Fake concerns, fake surveys about fake news...

Ofcom joins in the government's propaganda campaign, calling for the internet censorship to be as strict as TV censorship


Link Here 19th September 2018
Ofcom has published a prospectus angling for a role as the UK internet censor. It writes:

Ofcom has published a discussion document examining the area of harmful online content.

In the UK and around the world, a debate is underway about whether regulation is needed to address a range of problems that originate online, affecting people, businesses and markets.

The discussion document is intended as a contribution to that debate, drawing on Ofcom's experience of regulating the UK's communications sector, and broadcasting in particular. It draws out the key lessons from the regulation of content standards 203 for broadcast and on-demand video services 203 and the insights that these might provide to policy makers into the principles that could underpin any new models for addressing harmful online content.

The UK Government intends to legislate to improve online safety, and to publish a White Paper this winter. Any new legislation is a matter for Government and Parliament, and Ofcom has no view about the institutional arrangements that might follow.

Alongside the discussion paper, Ofcom has published joint research with the Information Commissioner's Office on people's perception, understanding and experience of online harm. The survey of 1,686 adult internet users finds that 79% have concerns about aspects of going online, and 45% have experienced some form of online harm. The study shows that protection of children is a primary concern, and reveals mixed levels of understanding around what types of media are regulated.

The sales pitch is more or less that Ofcom's TV censorship has 'benefited' viewers so would be a good basis for internet censorship.

Ofcom particularly makes a point of pushing the results of a survey of internet users and their 'concerns'. The survey is very dubious and ends up suggesting thet 79% of users have concerns about going on line.

And maybe this claim is actually true. After all, the Melon Farmers are amongst the 79% have concerns about going online: The Melon Farmers are concerned that:

  • There are vast amounts of scams and viruses waiting to be filtered out from Melon Farmers email inbox every day.
  • The authorities never seem interested in doing anything whatsoever about protecting people from being scammed out of their life savings. Have you EVER heard of the police investigating a phishing scam?
  • On the other hand the police devote vast resources to prosecuting internet insults and jokes, whilst never investigating scams that see old folks lose their life savings.

So yes, there is concern about the internet. BUT, it would be a lie to infer that these concerns mean support for Ofcom's proposals to censor websites along the lines of TV.

In fact looking at the figures, some of the larger categories of 'concern's are more about fears of real crime rather than concerns about issues like fake news.

Interestingly Ofcom has published how the 'concerns' were hyped up by prompting the surveyed a bit. For instance, Ofcom reports that 12% of internet users say they are 'concerned' about fake news without being prompted. With a little prompting by the interviewer, the number of people reporting being concerned about fake news magically increases to 29%.

It also has to be noted that there are NO reports in the survey of internet users concerned about a lack news balancing opinions, a lack of algorithm transparency, a lack of trust ratings for news sources, or indeed for most of the other suggestions that Ofcom addresses.

I've seen more fake inferences in the Ofcom discussion document than I have seen fake news items on the internet in the last ten years.

See also an article from vpncompare.co.uk which concurs with some of these concerns about the Ofcom survey.

 

 

A Stitch in Time...

Malta's Unifaun Theatre stages the play Stitching, a decade after it was banned, which set in motion a rewrite of the country's censorship laws


Link Here 19th September 2018
Full story: Stage Censorship in Malta...Maltese censors ban stage play Stitching, then get disbanded
The play Stitching , has opened at the Unifaun Theatre in Malta for a two week run. But Stitching is not your average piece of theatre; it's taken 10 years, international coverage, and even a literal EU court case to get this show up and running.

Ten years ago, in October 2008, local theatre producer Adrian Buckle sent an email to playwright Anthony Nielson, asking for permission to produce his play Stitching in Malta. Nielson duly granted Unifaun the rights to a performance of his play. Buckle booked a slot at a local theatre, hires the cast and informs the Board for Film and Stage Classification in order expecting to be issued an age-rating certificate for the piece. However, instead of receiving an age certification, Buckle received a certificate that simply stated the play had been Banned and disallowed, with no explanation or reason provided. Thus begins a ten-year-long battle that finally brings us to this year's production.

However, the team at Unifaun would not stand for this lack of explanation; they chased for an answer, and in January 2009 the police commissioner delivered a letter that detailed the reasons:

  1. Blasphemy against the State Religion
  2. Obscene contempt for the victims of Auschwitz
  3. An encyclopaedic review of dangerous sexual perversions leading to sexual servitude
  4. Abby's eulogy to the child murderers Fred and Rosemary West
  5. Reference to the abduction, sexual assault and murder of children

In conclusion, the play is a sinister tapestry of violence and perversion where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The Board feels that in this case the envelope has been pushed beyond the limits of public decency.

The censorship became major news in Malta and it was decided by the politicians at the time that the established censorship system was no longer compatible with EU human rights requirements, notably Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights:

Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of such a society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man [...] it is applicable not only to 'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.

The country's censorship laws were rewritten without calling on the services of stage censors. Film censorship was also reformed with new rules that are based on the UK's, which is at least significantly more free than before.

So now the play has opened, was it really that bad? lovinmalta.com answers:

Yes, the play is crude. Yes, they swear a lot. Yes, they talk about child murderers. Yes, they use a dildo on stage. Yes, they describe sexual acts very explicitly. Yes, it probably made people very uncomfortable. That is why performances are given an age certification. That is not reason to censor and an artist.

Three performances have passed so far and the world has not ended. Nobody has walked out of the theatre mid-performance in a fit of rage.

 

 

Offsite Article: Reams of paper and many man hours...


Link Here 19th September 2018
ASA bans advertising for confectionary on all media where more than 25% of viewers are kids

See article from asa.org.uk

 

 

The BBFC: censors without a soul...

8 councils have now overruled the BBFC and awarded a local 12A rating to the documentary, A Northern Soul


Link Here 18th September 2018
Full story: A Northern Soul...Director takes issue with the BBFC 15 rating
Eight local councils have now decided to overturn a film's BBFC 15 age rating so younger viewers can watch it.

The documentary A Northern Soul was rated 15 by the BBFC for strong language. The BBFC commented:

It  includes around 20 uses of strong language and therefore exceeds by some margin anything we have ever permitted at 12A.

The film follows Steve, who struggles to make ends meet as he tries to teach hip-hop to children in Hull schools with his Beats Bus.

So far, licensing committees in Hull, Lambeth, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton, Hackney and Calderdale have downgraded A Northern Soul from a 15 to a 12A.

Phil Bates, licensing manager at Southampton City Council, said he viewed the film differently because it's a documentary rather than a drama. He explained:

We can see why BBFC awarded a 15 rating, although equally we can see why other authorities have also granted it a 12A.

The use of profane language is fairly infrequent, some of it was used at a time of stress but there were occasions when it was used as everyday language. As this is a fly-on-the-wall style film, showing life as it is, rather than a scripted film where the language is used for effect, we felt the film warranted a 12A.

Director Sean McAllister spoke of the councils' decisions: I think they're responding as human beings. He added that Steve's language was credible and real and culturally embedded within how he speaks. He continued:

The irony is that the motivation for making this film and the heart of why this film should be seen has got the thing censored.

When people actually see it, everyone's saying 'where's the swearing?' They [the BBFC] have done a word count, which is an F count, and they've simply censored it based on that. And they've got to get over that.

When in Mission Impossible people are having their heads blown off and 12As are being granted, the whole thing is hypocritical, backward and needs reassessing. Language not used for effect

The BBFC repeated its mantra that its classification guidelines are the result of a large scale public consultation designed to reflect broad public opinion across the UK. Bit in reality the 'large scale' part of its public consultation asks a few broad brush questions about whether people generally agree with the BBFC about ratings. The questions do not offer any more nuanced insight into what people think about swearing in the context of everyday parlance of some working people. 

 

 

Faith in censorship...

Lebanon bans the horror movie, The Nun


Link Here 18th September 2018
Full story: Banned Films in Lebanon...Beirut Hotel
The Nun is a 2018 USA horror mystery thriller by Corin Hardy.
Starring Taissa Farmiga, Bonnie Aarons and Charlotte Hope. BBFC link IMDb

Summary Notes

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order's unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in 'The Conjuring 2,' as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

Lebanon's film censors have banned the new horror movie, The Nun, from a cinema release. The censors claimed that the film was offensive to the Christian faith.

The Warner Bros production was awaiting a screening licence from the General Security's censorship committee ahead of an expected release on 6 September. However last Wednesday, the Catholic committee watched the movie and asked the General Security to ban it in Lebanon for religious reasons.

It is unclear which scenes caused 'the offence', but some believe the ban may stem from the victimisation of nuns in the film.

According to the constitution, multi-religious Lebanon can impose censorship on local and international productions for a number of reasons. These include banning films for stirring religious and political sensitivities as well as those with sexually explicit content.

 

 

What is the point of TV censorship?...

Well according to Tony Hall it's to impose onerous expenses to even up commercial imbalances


Link Here 17th September 2018

Tony Hall, the BBC's director general, has repeated his call for global streaming companies, Netflix and Amazon to suffer the same censorship as the UK's traditional broadcasters -- or else risk killing off distinctive British content. He said to the Royal Television Society's London conference:

It cannot be right that the UK's media industry is competing against global giants with one hand tied behind its back.

In so many ways -- prominence, competition rules, advertising, taxation, content regulation, terms of trade, production quotas -- one set of rules applies to UK companies, and barely any apply to the new giants. That needs rebalancing, too. We stand ready to help, where we can.

Hall will use the speech to warn that young British audiences now spend almost as much time watching Netflix -- which only launched its UK streaming service in 2012 -- as watching BBC television and iPlayer combined.

Citing Ofcom figures, Hall warned that Britain's public service broadcasters have cut spending on content in real terms by around £1bn since 2004. He said that global streaming companies are not spending enough on British productions to make up the difference, while their UK-based productions tend to focus on material which has a global appeal rather than a distinctly British flavour. Hall added:

This isn't just an issue for us economically, commercially or as institutions. There is an impact on society. The content we produce is not an ordinary consumer good. It helps shape our society. It brings people together, it helps us understand each other and share a common national story.

 

 

Smallfoot, the latest film to suffer category cuts for cinema release...

Yetis go out in search of humans, strange and mythical creatures that can be reduced to a blubbering heap by the sound of a four letter word


Link Here 16th September 2018
Smallfoot is a 2018 USA children's cartoon comedy by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig (co-director).
Starring Zendaya, Channing Tatum and Gina Rodriguez. BBFC link IMDb

The film has just been passed U for very mild threat, rude humour, language after BBFC category cuts for 2018 cinema release.

The film was originally passed PG uncut for infrequent mild bad language, but 10 days later the film was passed U after a cut for category.

The BBFC commented:

  • Company chose to remove a single use of mild bad language ('crap') in order to obtain a U classification. An uncut PG classification was available.

Summary Notes

A Yeti is convinced that the elusive creatures known as "humans" really do exist.

 

 

Cultural censorship...

Iran imprisons theatre manager and the director of Midsummer Night's Dream


Link Here 16th September 2018
Theatre director Maryam Kazemi and theatre manager Saeed Assadi were detained by Iranian authorities over a video trailer for a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on 9 September 2018.

The trailer features men and women dancing together, which is illegal in Iran.

Cultural censorship official Shahram Karami said the issue was with the type of music played and the actors' movements used in the trailer.

Both men were later bailed on surety of about $23,000 each.

 

 

True Git...

Sunday morning westerns on TV end in Turkey over bad relations with Donald Trump


Link Here 16th September 2018
The decades-long Turkish tradition of watching a classic American cowboy film on Sunday morning came to an end in August 2018, with state-run broadcaster TRT giving them the boot as US-Turkey relations deteriorate.

American Westerns have been shown at 9.55am on Sundays since the 1980s; according to NRT News , the John Wayne film Big Jake that aired on 19 August was the last.

TRT will now show films supported by the Turkish Ministry of Culture in that timeslot.

The change comes after a diplomatic dispute over US pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest on charges relating to the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey.

Arab News says the decision comes after the Turkish media censor, Radio and Television Supreme Council, warned about the expansion of American imperialism and culture through movies.

 

 

Rousing music...

Wagner still unofficially boycotted by Israel


Link Here 16th September 2018
Israel's public broadcaster has apologised to listeners after playing part of an opera by German composer Richard Wagner on 31 August 2018.

Classical music radio station Kol HaMusica (the Voice of Music) said its editor erred in choosing to play the final act of Wagner's Goetterdaemmerung (Twilight of the Gods) opera, which goes against the broadcaster's long-standing directive not to play any music by the controversial 19-century figure, who was Adolf Hitler's favourite composer.

Wagner's music has been unofficially banned in what is now Israel since 1938. In addition to composing music, Wagner also wrote a pamphlet called Judaism in Music, in which he said that the Jew was incapable of artistic expression.

 

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