Saturday, 3 May 2008

The road to Hell... paved with micromanagement.

To put it another way: if you wish to know where this government is going wrong, you have only to look at their shiny new Criminal Justice Bill. Take, for instance, the bit about "extreme porn".

Now is not the place to re-rehash the many arguments against it. For that, look here, here and here.

But the devil is in the detail. Once this Bill is Law, you could go to jail for up to three years for possessing an image of an action that is not itself illegal.

Imagine, for argument, that your significant other gets a kick out of "playing dead". No - not just their bored response to your usual Saturday night ritual. Its a kink!

It is not against the law. Although having a picture of it soon might be.

Mindful of the silliness of this result, the government introduced an amendment. Now, if you have a picture of yourself and sig other and you knew they were not really dead...well, that's OK. Same for any other participant - if ménage à trois is what floats your boat.

Although the photographer would still go to jail.

Oh. But if numero trois just couldn't make it that night and you mailed them a copy of the pic... they could go to jail for three years. Er: but you'd still be OK.

And if you happen to look at a picture that falls into what the government claim to be extreme and pornographic categories, then even if you know that no humans or animals were harmed in the making of it, you could go to jail.

Unless its part of a BBFC rated film.

Unless its a part of a BBFC film rated taken out of context and viewed for the purposes of sexual arousal.

Where - oh, where - is the sense in all this? Its clearly not protecting anyone from exploitation. Its not drawing a line under any particular type of picture. Its a nightmare jumble of edict and counter-edict that will give barristers indigestion. Not to mention some very large fees. How then is the ordinary pc user meant to understand what is going on?

Meanwhile, the one category of porn that is now protected by law - the odd couple realistically staging their fantasies and committing them to film for their private delectation - is now specifically exempt from any penalties under it. That is, if you believe the government's own rhetoric: the thing most permitted will be the thing closest to the criminal act.

Its a mess. In the Lords, even peers basically in favour of the principle suggested, politely, that the government might wish to take these clauses away to a Select Committee where they could be considered at greater length.

But no. This government must be seen to be "doing something". Sending a message. So in place of coherent law, we will end up with a bullet point guide to what we may or may look at.

They have been warned - by lawyers, Lords, experts alike - that it won't work.

But are they listening?

Are they, Hell!


Professor Sapient said...

The scariest piece of legislation in years, I despair of these ham fisted sycophants who capitulate to the puritanical.

SimonT said...

Well said, it beggars beleif how this ever made it onto the statute books. I'm sure had this been a standalone bill and debated properly, instead of being tacke donto a larger bill and shoehorned through, it would have been tossed out!