June 06, 2007

Piss poor policy

A Wellington man was convicted last week of importing DVDs which contained banned scenes of what the newspaper report coyly called "urophilia". I could see the Wellington matronly paper readers reaching for their dictionary and choking on their morning tea when they found out that it simply means watersports, or piss sex.
When a previous Tory Government re-wrote the censorship laws in 1993, they included a list of sexual activities that could never be depicted in videos with impunity (not even the "art" defence was allowed for). You have to imagine how this policy was put in place: the PM asked all cabinet members to list the sexual activities they found yuckiest, and hey presto, a new law limiting the freedom of expression was written.
Never mind that piss sex is actually not a crime in real life, unlike putting it on film - in sharp contrast to a whole list of crimes, from fraud to fashion disasters and murder, which can be portrayed with impunity on nightly television.
It's what you get when you vote in Tory Governments with an authoritarian and illiberal streak. It was no surprise Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson were part of that Government. They especially enjoyed pissing on the poor.

I got this back from the NZ Censor's Office after checking with them:
You may be interested to know that this Office, Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Justice proposed removing this clause from the list of automatically objectionable material when the law was amended in 2005. The reason was that since the activity was not a crime in real life it did not belong with a list of serious real life crimes (child abuse, rape, torture). The government introduced the amendment but Parliament rejected it.

The select committee report read:

"Use of urine or excrement in publications

We recommend the deletion of clauses 4(2), 4(3) and 5 to preserve the status quo. Clause 4(2) sought to delete section 3(2)(d) of the Act. That section ‘‘deems objectionable’’ a publication that promotes or supports or tends to promote or support the use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising conduct, or sexual conduct. Instead, this matter was to be inserted by clause 4(3) of the bill into section 3(3) of the Act as a factor to be given

‘‘particular weight’’ in determining whether a publication is objectionable.

The relocation of section 3(2)(d) in the bill as introduced was based on the fact that the matter it describes is not in itself a criminal offence, unlike all the other matters listed in section 3(2). While we can see the rationale for this, we consider it in the public interest for a publication to be deemed objectionable if it contains a matter or matters in the existing section 3(2)(d). Clause 5 is no longer required due to the deletion of clauses 4(2) and 4(3)."
The full report here

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