Archive for April, 2005

Anti-abortionists jump on censorship bandwagon

Responding to a couple of speeches at this week’s Royal College of Nursing annual congress (see below), UK Anti-abortion charity Life is reported in The Times as saying,

The Government has a responsibility to monitor the media, particularly TV and magazines, for inappropriate content for children. Magazines aimed at children as young as 12 often contain sexually explicit information and TV soaps are no better.

The press release concludes,

The Government owes it to our young people to stop throwing condoms at the problem and to deal with it in a life-enhancing way that really works.

Censorship being a life-enhancing step in the right direction.

Upcoming repulsions

Spurred by the Mediamarch petition (see below), MWW delved into their website and trawled up a .pdf newsletter which has details of some interesting depth-plumbing by Channel 4, and “More attacks on UK life”.

Alongside the predictable condemnation of The Sex Inspectors, they complain that Channel 4 is planning, with the support of the Science Museum, to broadcast an educational documentary showing the decomposition of a human body, Dust to Dust. No explanation is given why this documentary is deemed by them to be unacceptable.

Cinematic outrages include the 18 certificate given to Anatomy of Hell which shows “explicit sexual acts which have hitherto been illegal, as well as extreme blasphemy”, and also the 15-Rated Kinsey – a film which “attempts to rehabilitate this much discredited ‘father’ of the sexual revolution”. The American sex-researcher and founder of the Kinsey Institute clearly occupies a special place in their Hall of Infamy.

To Kinsey, religion and morality were the hated enemies of sexual freedom. His father is the main religious figure in the film, and with the exception of one scene, he is stereo-typically [sic] portrayed as overly strict, mean spirited and anti-sex. The film implies that sexual deviations of all kinds (especially homosexuality) are wide-spread.

Ban it! Ban it!

TV and internet to blame for “daisy-chaining”

The Royal College of Nursing talks about a new teenage activity called “daisy-chaining” aka, group sex. (It’s actually just a new term for a very old activity). This coincides with a rise in sexually transmitted diseases amongst teens.

Unsurprisingly, John Beyer jumps at the chance to grind his axe, blaming it all on the media. “Speaking today”, he says:

With news yesterday that millions of youngsters are viewing pornography on the Internet it is hardly surprising that so many youngsters are sexually active and engaging in the sort of practices commonly portrayed. Something must be done by Parliament to strengthen the law against pornography otherwise this tragic state of affairs will simply get worse. It is not good enough for politicians to ignore this problem nor is it good enough for the TV regulators to benevolently turn a blind eye to the growth of the pornography in the media.

He then finishes up with an uncharacteristic burst of eloquence:

One pornographer’s “freedom of expression” is another child’s sexual infection!

Thus cleverly linking two dubiously-related phenomena with a neat little rhyme – the effect only slightly spoiled by the self-congratulatory exclamation mark!

Mediamarch petition Premier

According to Mediawatch-UK’s news snippets, smut campaigners Mediamarch handed at 121,000 signature petition to 10 Downing street yesterday. Co-founders, Pippa “Think of the Children” Smith and Miranda “Stop Polluting my Mind” Suit, were there, as well as Beyer, and representatives from the Muslim Council of Britain and CARE.

The covering letter expressed “shock and disappointment” that no major political party was making an issue about smut and violence in the media. One of their major complaints was:

The BBFC (funded by the film industry) no longer believes in censorship but in giving adults guidance so they may decide what they want to watch.

How awful.

They also complain about Ofcom’s inability to “protect” viewers, and the “largely unregulated” internet, which is “causing particular harm”.

Behzti started it all

Neal Foster, manager of the Birmingham Stage Company has spoken to The Stage about the need for the theatre industry to stand up against the forces of censorship.

He suggests the violent-but-successful Sikh protest against Behzti at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre was the inspiration for later protests against the broadcast of JS:TO.

The Rep made a terrible mistake when it cancelled that show. The whole Jerry Springer debacle – I felt it was a direct ramification of the events in Birmingham and hardline groups feeling they could affect the decisions of arts organisations. I can’t believe that the protests around Jerry Springer – the Opera would have happened before Behzti.

Official organisations need to be involved to help theatres make the right decision. The staging of Behzti is the first thing that needs to happen – we lost the battle and we are now suffering the effects. The artistic community put up its white flag – now we need to support whatever organisations are suffering the consequences.

Foster was quick to step in and offer to stage Behzti at his theatre after the Rep cancelled the production, but had to withdraw after a plea from the author, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, who feared for her life.

Religiously offended top ASA complaints list

The Advertising Standards Authority today releases its 2004 report, the first to include broadcast adverts in its remit. Offences against religious sensitivity top the charts, taking the number one and two spots in non-broadcast ads, and the number two in broadcast. The Guardian has a report.

Here is Number 1 in the non-broadcast, a poster for Channel 4’s Shameless:
shameless ad
As you can see, it looks a bit like Da Vinci’s Last Supper, so it is obviously a breach of copyright held by Christians on the master’s work. Oh wait, they don’t own the copyright on Da Vinci’s work. The complaint was rejected.

Here’s number 2, a poster for the morning after pill,
immaculate contraception ad
The words “immaculate contraception” are quite similar to the words “immaculate conception”, which is a doctrine made up by the Catholic Church (something about the creator of the universe keeping his mother sin-free from the moment her father’s sperm fertilised her mother’s ovum). This similarity was deemed unacceptable by the ASA, and they upheld the complaints.

Number two in the broadcast chart was another one concerning Jesus’ mother. Mr Kipling’s mince pies were the offenders this time. The TV advert showed a woman called Mary giving birth in a Church hall nativity play (a dramatic reconstruction of the unlikely story of Jesus’ birth). Christians complained that the scene mocked the birth of Jesus, and the ASA once again upheld the complaints.

UPDATE: Only The Church of England Newspaper had the idea of asking Beyer for a quote:

Since Jerry Springer the Opera, believers have become much more aware when religion is being ridiculed. Jerry Springer was a watershed: it showed people that they can make their voices heard.

he commented, witlessly – forgetting that these complaints were made in 2004, before his imagined Springer “watershed”.

Christians crusade against Christian crusade film

According to The Sunday Times, conservative Christians are up in arms against the latest Ridley Scott film, The Kingdom of Heaven.

After a special preview for religious journalists, one thin-skinned critic from Plugged In Film Review complained that the film depicted Christians as “mean spirited”.

The Bishop of Jerusalem is a coward who deserts his flock, and most of the crusaders are driven by greed rather than piety. This is not how Christians I know see each other, nor will we want to see this film.

Driven purely by piety, the generous-spirited US religious press will urge American born-againers, of which there are an estimated 80m, to avoid the film.

Quite right too. Anyone suggesting that the crusaders were anything but patriotic Americans doing their duty to God and country must be a Christian-hating liberal elitist. Let’s hope our UK campaigners take a similar stand.

UPDATE: Reaction to the film from the Muslim community seems generally, but not exclulsively, positive. “We have Christians who think this movie is pro-Muslim and Muslims who think that this movie is pro-Christian,” says Egyptian actor Khaled el-Nabawy, who plays an imam in the film. “It will make both go and see the movie.”
(Thanks to Bartholomew)

A party for Massah John

John Beyer’s disappointment at the three main parties’ lack of interest in violence and porn (see below) led Mediawatchwatch to wonder where the poor chap might be best advised to lay down his cross (so to speak) come election day. Thanks to the Melon Farmers, we think we might have found just the ticket.

Look at this:

In particular, we need to take notice of the close correlation between the promotion of pornography and the prevalence of sexual violence and predation, which has been clearly established by researchers and police forces over the last few decades, as we shall see. Pornography has been normalised in Britain mainly by the mass media, and in particular by the newspapers corporations, through the casual use of pornographic photographs in newspapers. At the same time newspaper shops have stocked rows of clearly pornographic magazines in clear view of women and children. Moral standards have gradually but consistently been eroded and television companies now broadcast channels wholly devoted to pornography into British homes. If governments allow media tycoons to morally corrupt the population, then we cannot be surprised if our women and children are not safe.

I think you’ll agree, it could have been written by the man himself. You can read the rest of it at the party’s website. For those without the time or the stomach, here is the final paragraph:

We in the British National Party can assure the British people that when we have taken our country back for them, we will take a much dimmer view of pornographers and their destructive trade. Holly and Jessica, we will do it for you.

There you go, John. They might even bring back The Black and White Minstrel Show if you ask them nicely.

(Thanks to Dan Factor)

Violence, pornography, and the election

John Beyer, the Black and White Minstrels fan who compares himself to St Paul, is complaining that there is not enough violence and pornography in this year’s general election campaign. According to his latest news release, he has written to the three party leaders to ask them where they stand in relation to his opinions on the media.

Parliament legislates on a range of social and moral issues and these have yet to feature very much in the Election campaign. Many people care deeply about standards in entertainment and are concerned about the portrayal of violence, the use of obscene language and the display of nudity and sexual intimacy on television

He goes on to demonstrate the fundamental fallacy which underpins his obsession:

The latest statistics on the portrayal of violence on television again show that violence involving firearms is the most common followed by violent assaults – precisely those crimes that are on the increase.

Spooning heck! Talk about confusing correlation and cause.

There is more – calling for the G8 to stop pornographers abusing the internet, complaining that parents have to take responsibility for the protection of their own children (!) – all presented as a call to protect the “weak” (TV viewer, internet user, Christian) against the “strong” (TV and film industries). I wouldn’t recommend it.

Da Vinci Code wins Book of the Year

Dan Brown’s controversial best seller has won the WH Smith book of the year title at the British Book Awards in London. The novel is based on the premise that Jesus married Mary Magdelene, they had children, and the bloodline survives to this day. Perhaps because it is a book it hasn’t yet stirred up much response from our religious media watchdogs. But that is set to change next year when it is released as a film starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, and Sir Ian McKellen.

Only the Vatican has been actively condemning the book, with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa particularly worried about “people of simple faith and unsophisticated culture“.

It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies […] The Book is everywhere. There is a very real risk that the people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true.

(He was talking about The Da Vinci Code. Stop sniggering!)