Thursday, December 08, 2005

Censorship, fundamentalist pressure and "Christian Voice"

You're almost certainly aware of this story, but if you're not, go here, here, here, here, here or here. If you don't feel the need to go to all of them, just go here and do as the lady says:
(And whether you live in my or not constituency - why not lobby your MP too? You can do so very easily at

The Chief Execs are: Justin King, Sainsbury's, 35 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT
and Trevor Bish-Jones, Woolworths PLC, Woolworths House, 242-246 Marylebone Road, NW1 6JL.
The emails received back from Sainsbury's and Woolworths quoted by Tim, Justin et al are exactly the same, barring email address and "Dear Mat," as the ones I got, copy/paste par excellance.

This worries me. No. It infuriates me. In the USA, the religious lobbies are so strong that many stores, including entire chains, refuse to stock films that 'offend', in some cases NC-17 films, classified as such purely due to content of a sexual nature, are completely barred. First site from Google gives me Oliver Stone:
"This is a new form of censorship that's come into being in this country," said Oliver Stone, whose director's cut of "Natural Born Killers" was banned by Blockbuster, Kmart and Wal-mart. "Essentially, it's the sanitization of entertainment. Studios like Warner Brothers won't even release a film rated NC-17. They point to economic pressure from Blockbuster and Wal-Mart, who won't carry these videos.
This is (supposedly) a free society. If you don't like a product that is legally released, properly classified and clearly labelled, simply DON'T BUY IT. You do not have the right to not be offended, you do have the right to go somewhere else. I wish to buy this DVD. I watched it when broadcast, and, for those that haven't seen it, the complaints are all about a dream sequence. Jerry Springer is depicted dreaming that Jesus is gay in a near death experience. I want to buy it, but I can't buy it in the store selling DVDs closest to my flat. Because of a small number of complaints made by the lunatic fringe.
Methodist minister and ecumenical development officer for Churches Together Martin Newman said censorship was not the answer.

He said: "I think there is a fine line to be drawn between graduation offence or blasphemy and mockery which uses strong language to make its point.

"If there are Christians who don't want to be exposed to strong language or such mockery I would advise them not to go to watch the performance. I do not intend to go, but I wouldn't join a protest against it.

"The Christian faith is robust enough to deal with this kind of performance."

Write to your MP. Tell them you want them to stand up for your right to make your own choice about what to watch. Tell them we cannot afford to allow this sort of pressure to stand, else we'll be stuck, like many Americans, with local stores that refuse to stock products that some think may "corrupt" others. It's not for any self appointed pressure group to tell me what to do, this is a democracy. It's your Parliament's job to ban stuff if they feel it's too extreme, not a small band of letter writers and shouters.

Oh, if you live in Torbay, don't worry, Adrian replied to the email I sent him this morning when I got into the office by the time I'd left, he's going to talk to Lynne and get involved. Write to him to say you support him in doing so instead, regardless of whether you normally support him on other issues. colleagues at work are writing to the other local MPs.

The attempts made to block the broadcast on the BBC in January annoyed me, but at least then they, as licence payers, had a small point. I disagreed with them completely, but the argument had a small degree of validity. But denying me the right to make my own choices about how I spend my money? Attempting to shout down those they object to? Blocking the tour and attempting to prevent theatres from showing it? That's wrong.

Until they change their policy on this, I'll not be going into a Woolworths or Sainsburys except to complain. I urge you to do the same.

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