Wednesday, March 28, 2007

UK: Jane Austen Invoked as Porn Defense

WWJ(ane)D? Probably not condone violent & pornographic
images of women being raped and murdered


UNITED KINGDOM -- Jane Austen seems an unlikely standard-bearer for those who defend the right to look at images depicting women being tortured and raped.

The novelist was quoted during a conference at Durham University this week, which debated proposed legislation that would make possession of “extreme pornography” a criminal offence carrying a three-year prison sentence.

The decision to introduce a new law followed a long campaign by a mother whose daughter was killed in 2003 by a man who was said to have been a obsessive viewer of violent porn sites.

Supporters of the new sanction, part of the Criminal Justice Bill that is due to be brought before the Commons in the next few months, see it as a logical extension of laws against child pornography.

The proposed offence covers explicit images of bestiality, necrophilia and serious violence, defined as “acts that appear to be life-threatening or are likely to result in serious, disabling injury”. Such material must have been created solely or primarily for the purpose of sexual arousal, and must show real scenes “or depictions which appear to be real acts”.

It is already illegal to publish or distribute such images in Britain. The Home Office argues that making their possession illegal will give added protection to the young and vulnerable. Opposition among politicians to the new law is likely to be muted. Brave or foolish would be the MP prepared to defend publicly the material shown on a website such as Necrobabes. The site promises users “tastefully erotic death scenes through asphyxia, shooting, knives and more”.

A sister website, Asphyxia, lures browers with the slogan: “Sexy strangled, suffocated, hanged and drowned babes. It takes your breath away.” What sane person could defend the rights of someone who gains arousal from the sight of women being humiliated, degraded and — apparently — murdered?

Step forward Austen, or rather the eponymous heroine of Emma as she remarks to her father: “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” Those words went to the heart of the debate during the conference at Durham, “Positions on the Politics of Porn”, which drew together a range of groups — from law professors to bondage aficionados — with a special interest in the proposed new offence.

The argument went something like this: I may not understand your sexuality, indeed I may find the images you like to view grotesque and repugnant, but is that sufficient reason to criminalise the act of viewing? All parties agreed that possessing internet footage of, for example, a genuine strangulation should be unlawful.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT TimesOnline.co.uk

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