Lyndon Hood - Peeved, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Few Thoughts

Gah! Aggh! Grr!

And so on.

I didn't actually expect, and I do not like.

Funny, I can't seem to find my copy. No, seriously.

Which is why I can't tell you if Hasting's description of this profiled porn merchant (Where did that come from anyway?) in the next article, whoever he is, is a bit extreme. 'Unicritical'? Not according to someone I know who actually remembers. 'Sarcastic', possibly? Note to self: readers cannot be trusted to work out when someone is a seedy bastard merely by description. Always include sentence along lines of "Remember kids, masterminding the flying of full jet airliners into the side of office buildings is wrong".

I actually found the whole press release kind of weird. I'd have expect something more like the Commerce Commission's work - saying what the ruling is, summarising reasons, etc. Here's Chief Censor Bill Hastings providing quotes. Makes him look keen, but. Also seems more like an endictment than a judgment.

Which goes to show how subjective the interpretation of the tone of piece of writing is.

In his favour, it's quite possible that the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards is more annoyed with Bill Hastings than I am.

Me, I'm cautiously for banning anything solely there to feed inhuman sexual fantasies. Anything else I'll have to think about.

Vouching for the intentions of those involved - that it was meant to raise awareness. And critically, it did. Because it was provocative. I worked at Critic when we published I think more than one straight article about drug rape to absolutely stuff all response.

Also, that it was not meant to be funny.

Not that it doesn't do people good just purely to be offended every once in a while. Keeps the intellect from stagnation. Note that offensiveness it not, per se, censorable.

From a note on Farrar - just because someone was getting confused:
Offensiveness is not a criteria in the law for banning stuff and it hasn't been cited here. The question is whether it's "injurious to the public good". It does get more specific than that. See http://www.censorship.govt.nz/censorship_law.html

A lot of people consider the high court ruling about those anti-gay videos to have specifically made the point that being offensive is in no way ground for being objectionable (and to have smacked down the censor acting different). Protection of offensive speech is in fact what protection of free speech is all about.

That said, the regime as it is does still fall prey to the slippery slope thing (it is expanding is some shifty-looking ways)and the question of how much good it does in the first place.

Here's the Stuff article, complete with the effusive praise recieved by Critic on winning last years ASPA awards.

It's only just occured to me how elusive the critical question of fact - whether a particular publication actually is "injurious to the public good" - can be. Given that its effect arises from the nexus of the actual content, its surface meaning, its percieved attitude, its audience and its social and historical context... I don't actually know what they use for a standard of proof, but it's a wonder the Censor's Office makes any decisions at all. And this - it's not like this is one of those non-murky cases. Give a magazine a break!*

I probably know enough to write some notes on legal issues for NZ bloggers. Now would probably be an apposite time. Plus we can talk more about the whole censorship project. Y'know, as if we can't think for ourselves. And how much longer your mum'll be allowed those naked toddler photos in your family album. Something to look forward to.

*Update (8:00am, 2/2) - On Nat Rad (no doubt up on the website soon) I discover that the submitters included Greg Newbold - like, an actual criminologist. As in, someone who might know. Submitting in favour of Critic. Though he did accept the Censors had some 'strong arguments'.

Another One: Remember what I said about the Society For Promotion Of Community Standards?
SPCS Critical of Censor's double standards over Rape Publications