The government continues its move towards policing thought itself, with its attempt to criminalise virtual reality:
This week Parliament will discuss a new Bill which will make it a criminal offence to possess cartoons depicting certain forms of child abuse. If the Coroners and Justice Bill remains unaltered it will make it illegal to own any picture of children participating in sexual activities, or present whilst sexual activity took place.
The Ministry of Justice claims that the Bill is needed to clamp down on the growing quantity of hardcore paedophilic cartoon porn available on the internet, particularly from Japan. But critics of the legislation say the current definitions are so sweeping that it risks stifling mainstream artistic expression as well as turning thousands of law abiding comic book fans into potential sex offenders.
Let me just make it clear. We’re not talking images of real abuse, we’re not talking reality, we’re talking drawings, which could then be considered child pornography. Imagine that – criminalising the imagination, defining what was acceptable to see and not to see, to possess and not to possess, without those images involving a single solitary human being. I think it’s terrifying; that it’s unnecessary should go without saying. The police and CPS are terrible at judging the difference between what’s morally acceptable and what is not with photographic images – to give them free rein on drawings would be the thin end of the wedge. Jenny Willott, Lib Dem MP for Cardiff said of the proposals:
“The problem I have is that the definition of what constitutes and image and a child is incredibly broad,” she said. “The Government considers almost anything to be an image, from a painting to a private scribble on a piece of paper. At the same time they have defined a child as something that looks like a child even if it isn’t.”
But hey in the ‘protection’ obsession, we clearly even now have to ‘protect’ ourselves from the ‘dangers’ of art. Comic author Neil Gaiman said:
“If you accept – and I do – that freedom of speech is important then you are going to have to defend the indefensible,” he wrote. “That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don’t say or like or want said. The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don’t. This is how the Law is made.”