Not Saussure

September 1, 2006

Violent Internet Porn (II)

Filed under: civil liberties, Politics, press, Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 1:24 am

I am indebted to Frank Fisher, in Comment is Free, for reminding me of the title a Hitchcock movie I vaguely recalled when I read that these proposals were the result of a murder committed by a man obsessed with images of violent erotic strangulation. It’s Frenzy, of course, and here’s a still from it. Don’t worry; downloading the image won’t get you into any trouble, since the film is passed for certification by the BBFC, so it’ll be legal under the proposed legislation.

This, by the way, may well cause problems for prosecutions under the new proposals, since — unless they switch the burden of proof — a jury would have to be sure that the image complained of wasn’t, in fact, taken from a film for which the BBFC had granted a certificate. Since, as those of us who recall, from our mispent youth, the doings of 1970s vampire lesbian sluts (many of whom come to rather gory ends) well know, they’ve granted certificates to some mighty rum movies in their time, so putting the prosecution to proof might be quite interesting.

Mr Fisher also makes the very valid point that Vernon Coaker, the junior minister responsible for this proposed legislation, was being disingenuous when he argued that producing and distributing such material is already illegal; as Mr Fisher argues,

‘The Obscene Publications Act contains nothing outlawing such material in those terms, merely outlawing all materials that “corrupt” – and as any lawyer knows, juries have disagreed on what that constitutes for decades. No, this isn’t a loophole, this creates a whole new category of carefully defined criminality’.

Except, of course, it’s a definition full of loopholes and absurdities. According to the Telegraph, ‘The Home Office said the new law was not intended to target those who accidentally came into contact with obscene pornography; nor would it target the mainstream entertainment industry which works within current obscenity laws.’

Well, in that case, even if the burden of proof is in some way altered, someone’s still going to be able to argue, is he not, that he thought the images complained of were from something passed by the BBFC but he wasn’t sure and he was busy checking them against available material for comparison? The prosecution, remember, will have to make a jury sure (they don’t use the phrase ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ any more) that he isn’t telling the truth; even if a jury thinks he’s probably trying it on, but isn’t sure he is, then they should, according to their oath, acquit.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] I’ve previously written here and there about the Home Office’s latest wheeze, to make the possession of violent porn punishable by three years in jail. […]

    Pingback by Violent Internet Porn (III) Hang ‘em and flog ‘em (provided they don’t enjoy it) « Not Saussure — October 9, 2006 @ 8:20 pm


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