Sex Crimes…Or Are They?

I have to confess this article really struck a chord with me. A bill outlawing the possession of ‘extreme pornography’ is going to become law next week, and I could try to deconstruct all sorts of different points from it, but what really bugs the hell out of me is this:

Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer – who is responsible under the OPA – to the consumer.

See i just don’t get that, but it’s hardly a new thing. Why blame the consumer for thinking what they think and wanting what they want? You criminalise genuine criminals equally with those who have a clear mental demarcation point between fantasy and reality. And I think that’s ridiculous – criminalising people for liking and getting off on something which looks like it might be wrong/illegal/distasteful, but actually isn’t. Says Liz Longhurst:

To those who fear the legislation might criminalise people who use violent pornography as a harmless sex aid, she responds with a blunt “hard luck”.

Sorry, that really isn’t good enough. Why on earth are the producers of genuinely dangerous pornography not being tracked down? Is it not possible to come to a consensus and get ISPs in the UK to block specific websites which every reasonable person could agree on, or to work with Interpol and other governments to get foreign websites tracked down and stopped? Or maybe it’s just easier to attack users, given they don’t tend to have the technology to bounce their access across countries and servers? The Ministry of Justice comes close to admitting it, confessing outright a desire not to censor but actually to judge:

“Pornographic material which depicts necrophilia, bestiality or violence that is life threatening or likely to result in serious injury to the anus, breasts or genitals has no place in a modern society and should not be tolerated,” says a spokeswoman for the ministry.

If you read the article, this isn’t about just banning actual depictions, it’s also about the appearance of them. It would be a slippery slope but we’re already running headlong down this path. This Labour government has an inability to see issues on a case by case basis, preferring easy, blanket approaches which almost always miss the point. How on earth can we learn to mediate our relationships with images if Big Brother keeps opting for witch hunting instead of solving the genuine problems?


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