Friday, July 10, 2009

Extreme pornographic writing

The Guild has replied to The House of Lords' proposed amendment on extreme pornographic writing. The contributors were Tracy Brabin, Edel Brosnan, Isabelle Grey, Jayne Kirkham, Gail Renard, Robert Taylor, Andy Walsh:
Let us start by saying that the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is against censorship in general. The existing laws in this area are strict and extensive so that further development seems unnecessary. The proposed wording is also verbose and clumsy.

The Guild remains unconvinced that readers will copy so-called sordid details found in various writings. Or, to put it another way, “The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.” ~Tommy Smothers

Let us share some our writers’ comments with you:

"What is described here means that we have to go back to the days of closing the bedroom door. King Lear will have to be rewritten – no way can the blinding of Gloucester be seen as not being realistic. What about Casino Royale where Bond is tortured – very graphic and that is genitalia bashing."

"I’m sure most adults have imagination enough to come up with cruel and perverted ways of hurting people of their own, without needing a ‘how to’ book. It’s also worth noting that the vast vast majority of people, while having the capacity for nastiness, prefer to be kind."

"That rules out any Irving Welsh, Sarah Kane and I’m sure some of us have ‘enjoyed’ DH Lawrence, Joyce and the New Testament... Seems a retrograde step to me…doesn’t the best writing stir emotions and sometimes the groin? Who exactly would they be protecting when there are already laws in place with regard to pornography? Joe Orton’s battles with the censors are coming back to haunt us."

"[Also ruled out would be] Helen Walsh, Bret Easton Ellis, Nabokov, Valerie Solanas, Catherine Briellat, Chan-Wook Park, Jake and Dinos Chapman. This feels like a Canute-like attempt to stem the tide of internet porn, after the courts threw out a case against a man who'd written violent fanfic porn about Girls Aloud. Unless something contravenes existing hate crime or incitement to violence laws, we should leave well enough alone - creating a new category of thought crime is too Orwellian. We already have laws in place for hate crimes or incitement to violence - surely it makes more sense to enforce existing laws than to create new ones that stifle freedom of speech. Recent American experience has also shown that anti-porn laws designed to 'protect women' have a nasty habit of disproportionately silencing female writers, along with GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people) and other non-mainstream voices."

"Any move into this type of censorship is the start of the slippery slope. We fully back Baroness O'Cathain’s right not to read this material, we fully back her right not to like it and to talk of a higher moral plane, in no way can her attempt to limit freedom of speech be a good thing. These are words, they are ideas, they may not be to our liking, but this harks back to the social and intellectual superiority that some felt over Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The masses are not to be trusted. I am concerned at any attempt to limit the freedom of speech that generations have worked so hard to earn. The current labelling and marking of material to allow audiences to choose what they consume are adequate to allow a protection of freedom of speech and the right of audiences to avoid material that they personally may find offensive."

So we think all can see that the Writers' Guild of Great Britain would be against this amendment.


  1. Danny Collins5:38 pm

    As a true crime investigator and author does this mean I have to 'dot,dot,dot' violent murders and sex crimes?

  2. Um, I don't know if most of those writers read the "rules" properly. Though some of the writers mentioned may at first be seen as "extreme" by the amendment, the pornographic element would not cover any mainstream writers.

    As the amendment says, pornographic means the main reason it's written is to bring about sexual arousal. I don't think that was the purpose of King Lear, or even DH Lawrence.

    If you produce a piece of work that's not meant to be pornography, than it's not covered by the amendment.

  3. If a guy wants to get off on descriptions of buggering a dead sheep, bizarre as that may be, it's his business. If the argument is that reading such material might lead him to commit a crime in real life - well, we already have laws and punishments for real-life crimes. In a free democratic society it's not up to the State to start controlling reading material that *might* lead citizens to commit crimes. If the literature actually incites a crime, that's different - but again, we already have laws for that.

  4. Anonymous5:29 pm

    @ Dave Morris...

    Why does it have to be a DEAD sheep?

    Death, death, death... Lighten up will ya!?

  5. Well, these days, buggering a *live* sheep just doesn't seem that strange, y'know?


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