Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Notes from Discussion 2 "In the Realm of the Censors" 2004

I attended the second talk in a series of four talks associated with the (minimal) exhibition "In the Realm of the Censors" yesterday...

The talk was by way of a conversation between David Marr and Frank Moorhouse and was vigorous in tone and in language.

Some brief notes I have scribbled include: (apologies for any errors)

Reference to "The State Within" a term I haven't heard before which indicates that we carry inside us the will of the state whether we know it or not and "The Church Within".

Reference was made to an analogy of "hahas" (hidden ditches) which I understand are trenches used in lieu of fences. (I'm not sure of the spelling). It was noted that much censorship isn't visible due to the fact that although there are no visible fences there are "unseen hahas". A "Lord of the Manor" may look out over his land and see nothing but "freedom" as the "hahas" are invisible. Censorship is like that. We don't know that it's taking place.

Reference was also made to "it's all but over now" where each generation believes that censorship is coming to an end which has never been and probably never will be the case.

There was some reference to the struggle between the Christian religion and other forms of philosophy noting that in Christian thought - fucking is alright provided it's done in the name of the reproduction of the species and not for pleasure.

Reference was made to some controversial necklace worn by some Wendy person which read "I have been fucked by God's steel prick" which it was alleged may have been a religious statement of some kind. I'm not sure of the reference but the quote was seemingly edited in the press such that nobody could understand it.

The trial regarding "Portnoy's Complaint" was discussed. It was stated that the book was deemed "obscene" in every state (except NSW) however in New South Wales (unlike other states) it went before a jury. The defending lawyer was noted as having a long pointing finger which he used to advantage.

Some mention was made of the Gary Glitter "child porn" case noting that press reports indicated some tens of thousands of images of children. It was questioned "what sort of images of children were these ?". The reporting of number somehow implies that an offence or alleged offence is bad. I have a CD from 1992 which allegedly contains 28,000 erotic images. If subject to litigation I have no doubt the press might report "Mr X was found to be in possession of 28,000 erotic images" despite the fact I purchased the disks when they were legal to sell and do not contain child pornography of any kind (which was illegal back in 1992 almost everywhere).

There were comments made along the lines that if the state chooses material to censor then it also decides and is responsible for what not to censor which places it in an arguably difficult position.

The flow down effect of the elimination of violence from "X" rated films was noted.

A comment was made in respect of the film Ken Park that a lot of noise was made about a wanking scene but no comments were made that later in the film one of the children murders his grandparents with a knife.

(in passing I had images from Ken Park and Baise Moi on a censorship page for a while and one self appointed "liberal" ("I'm very broad minded") noted in a forum that he agreed with Fred Nile that "we don't want this sort of stuff in the country" and that the Prohibited Import Regulations to the Customs Act were as good a way as any to hinder it's importation.)

I believe it was Frank Moorhouse who suggested the term "anti-censorship" shouldn't be used and that the term "uncensored people" was more appropriate. I would like to consider myself an uncensored person but sadly find this is not the case and that those who would censor me are often those who claim we have rights to freedom of expression and that often those who claim to be "liberal" or "broad minded" often prove by their comments that they are neither liberal nor broad minded.

I believe it was David Marr who noted that he could quote the addresses of a dozen or so stores which sell "legitimate X rated movies" in contravention of state laws, noting that it was a belief that "some public official is being corrupted" and that (possibly) "somebody's on the take" which I believe he may find unacceptable (as I do).

An honest uncensored person does not (IMHO) find corruption or possible corruption an acceptable alternative to censorship.

And BTW around 30% of the titles marked "X" on sale in Sydney are not and have never been rated "X" by the OFLC.

The name of journalist Piers Ackerman was mentioned a few times although in what context I can't recall.

There was mention that one way of imposing censorship was by placing restrictions on the technology that creates it with comments that printing presses at some stage in history had to be licenced. As a personal comment moves to hinder expression via technological means are currently well under way - call it Digital Rights Maintenance or Region Coding (or whatever).

There were around 50 people in the audience and about two (possibly three) people raised questions from the floor.

It appears that the exhibition is regarded as highly controversial in some quarters and appears to relate to publications rather than video material.

Copies of the OFLC guidelines for publications were freely available.

"In the Realm of the Censors" was held in Sydney in 2004. These notes are from those sessions.

posted by Bob Bain

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