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Censorship

Comment 22nd August 2010

 Repeal or reform all law which facilitates censorship based on prejudice. For example aspects of the broadcasting acts, Video Recordings Act 1984, Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981.

Protect freedom-of-speech by requiring censors to provide an accessible and single route for appeal. This must apply to all censors that operate in the UK including overseas corporations.

Require censorship to be founded on evidence of harm and set legally enforcible minimum standards for that evidence.

Why does this matter?

 

The only way to distinguish justified restriction of freedom from prejudice is evidence of harm. Freedom of expression is an important human right so censorship can only be justified if the balance of harm and benefit is clearly in favour of the censorship. Harm due to a person's own prejudice, “It is causing me harm because I don't like it”, does not provide any justification for censorship.

Most censorship is characterised by secrecy and there is seldom any practicable means of appeal. For example we know that many local authorities, at least some police forces and probably most schools censor anything to do with nudity and hence the British Naturism web site. That prevents many professionals from doing their jobs adequately. It is completely impracticable to pursue this censorship through every individual council, through every ISP, through every mobile phone operator, every broadcaster and through the numerous US corporations that are imposing their prejudices on us. There must be a single organisation that provides an accessible means of appeal.

The present censorship encourages the assumption that the body is inherently sexual and the misapprehension that the body is inherently offensive. The attitudes encouraged result in widespread and often serious harm. The correlations are strong and the mechanisms are well understood but there is incredible reluctance to face up to the facts. It is not coincidence that the more prudish countries have such appalling outcomes across a wide range of indicators when compared to the least prudish. Most indicators are at least several times worse and some, for example some sexually transmitted infections, are tens of times worse. Age at first intercourse, promiscuity, use of condom and contraception, teenage pregnancy, teenage abortion, sexually transmitted infections, breast feeding, body dysmorphic disorders, the demand for cosmetic surgery and many others. The pattern is the same. More prudish, worse outcomes.

We suspect that the same pattern repeats for child sexual abuse. If children and photographs of children are treated as if they are inherently sexual then people will come to perceive children as inherently sexual.

Censorship has been vastly more effective at preventing young people from knowing what people really look like than it has at preventing them from accessing pornography.

British Naturism

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