May 2005

No Bush on MTV

The Pop Culture Junkies reports that Nine Inch Nails will not be performing at the MTV Movie Awards due to a dispute over the backdrop.

We were set to perform The Hand That Feeds with an unmolested, straightforward image of George W. Bush as the backdrop. Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me, Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor said in a statement posted on the bands Web site.

MTV said in a statement: While we respect Nine Inch Nails point of view, we were uncomfortable with their performance being built around a partisan political statement. When we discussed our discomfort with the band, their choice was to unfortunately pull out of the Movie Awards.

The writer, Rob Thurman, goes on to highlight some of MTVs more odious output and observe that:

I guess MTV doesnt believe that theyre making any sort of political statement by creating programming centered around rich, beautiful, thin white people who live near a beach or are in a rock group or have been Miss U.S. of A.

And God bless you MTV for providing a haven of self-expression for those folks who will allow surgeons to hack off body parts until they look like MTV superstars who are incapable of not only expressing a political view, but in some cases, a complete sentence.

While I wouldnt dream of suggesting that MTV shouldnt show unadulterated dross such as Newlyweds or Cribs, these programmes do convey a set of assumptions and do promote a very narrow and commercial set of ideals. As such, it is hypocritical for MTV to use a bands political position to ban - or attempt to change - a performance.

Ontario ends film censorship

According to The Guardian, the Canadian province of Ontario has put and end to film ratings, after they were deemed to limit freedom of expression.

Movies will not now have to be classified before they are shown in cinemas, after the regional government yesterday passed a bill that stopped the practice. The act comes after Ontarios supreme court ruled last year that the law was flawed.

The one exception concerns adult films, which the provinces film review board will censor if they are deemed illegal - for instance, if they break Ontarios obscenity laws.

Bahraini bloggers charged with allowing free speech

The Guardian reports that three Bahraini bloggers are facing criminal charges, and up to ten years imprisonment, for running a web forum that allows free political debate.

Ali Abdulemam, who founded Bahrains first website,, in 1999, was arrested along with the sites two other moderators.

Although the state telecoms monopoly has been trying to block it since 2002, Bahrain Online is the countrys most popular website. It has has 26,000 registered users.

Many of Bahrain Onlines contributors attack what they see as government repression, corruption and religious discrimination.

The three were arrested ear lier this year, and detained on five charges including inciting hatred against the government.

They were later released, but still face charges.

Bahrain is witnessing unprecedented calls for more democracy. But the authorities want more control over new media.

The controls the Bahrani government is seeking include demanding that bloggers register with the ministry of information and a proposed bill to regulate the use of Bluetooth technology on mobile phones.

Mötley Crüe sues NBC

Index on Censorship reports that US rockers, Mötley Crüe, are suing NBC TV after its executives banned them from all the networks shows for swearing during a live televised performance last New Years Eve.

Increased volumes of complaints to the US TV regulators at the FCC and increased fines to match have made networks ultra-cautious about on-screen obscenity and indecency. But the band claim the decision has violated their right to free speech. In papers, filed 23 May, the groups lawyers state: This ban constitutes governmentally pressured censorship and violates the law the same as if the government itself had ordered the censorship.

According to the Mötley Crüe vs NBC fact sheet:

1. This suit targets unequal/unfair treatment. Mötley Crüe merely wants to be treated in the same manner as other artists who have also uttered an expletive broadcast on NBC (e.g. Bono, John Mayer, System of a Down).

2. Mötley Crüe is NOT suing to be able to utter a profanity on national television. This is about the pressure the FCC places on broadcast networks.

3. NBC President Jeff Zucker announced the ban while touting the network’s upcoming programming slate to the Television Critics’ Association. This action simultaneously placated the FCC and helped promote his network at the expense of the band.

4. This legal action was not taken until a similar incident involving System of A Down occurred on Saturday Night Live three weeks ago, when no comparable punitive measures were handed out.

Nikki Sixx: “This is about fair and equal treatment. We have a right to be treated in the same way as other artists who have made the same mistake.”

Caving in to terrorists

The Melon Farmers have picked up a story from the Calcutta Telegraph which could have ominous implications for a number of freedoms.

The National Commission for Minorities has decided to ask the censor board to ensure that any film that holds a possibility of triggering protests should be viewed by religious leaders first before being screened in theatres.

Singh believes that in a country like India, where people are extremely religious, it is essential to take such a step: Jo Bole So Nihaal would not have faced the kind of problems it is facing now if the censor board had taken the opinion of Sikh religious leaders

Er no. In a country where people put bombs in cinemas, it is essential for the police to find and prosecute the bombers.

Carnival of Chaos closed down over Tyrants Pants

Index on Censorship reports that Tripod has deleted the website - and terminated the account - of Istanbul based satirical artist, Michael Dickinson following the publication of his take on the furore following The Suns publication of a picture of Saddam Hussein in his underpants.

According to Dickinson:

After nearly three years Carnival of Chaos had become quite popular, sometimes with hundreds of visitors a day, making it necessary to pay for extra bandwidth every month.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I logged in on Sunday morning, only to find that the site had been removed. It was gone. Disappeared.

Checking out my Site Builder I found the following message: You are no longer an authorized member of Tripod. You have been removed because your web site violated our Terms of Service

I wrote to Tripod asking them to explain the reason for the removal, but so far have only received this auto-acknowledgement: Thank you for writing to the Lycos Abuse Team. We have received your email and will be reviewing it shortly. Please be advised that due to the volume of emails we receive, this may be the only email you receive from us regarding this matter.

During its three year lifespan Carnival of Chaos has carried some fairly disturbing and/or amusing images reflecting the interesting times we live in, but Tripod bravely allowed all to pass.

Images such as Mother Teresa teaching birth control; Donald Rumsfeld performing a ceremony with the decapitated head of an Iraqi child, Jesus throwing up at the Apartheid Wall in Occupied Palestine, Blair being lobotomised, and Sharon assassinating Arafat.

but Bush, apparently is a butt too far.

Dickinson goes on to point out that he has features nudes in the past - including Ariel Sharon, Condoleeza Rice and even Laura Bush. He also goes on to suggest that the authorities are finally getting their act together with regards to internet regulation, suggesting that controlling pornography is being used as a trojan horse to restrict other content.

You can see the full size image by clicking here. Other Dickinson images remain online here.

High Court Ruling: Sex bad, violence good

The Guardian reports that the high court has ruled that Hardcore pornography cannot be sold by mail order nor on the internet.

Lord Justice Kay said: We have no doubt that one of the main reasons for the restriction is to ensure that the customer comes face to face with the supplier so that there is an opportunity for the supplier to assess the age of the customer. It is a disincentive to a visibly under-age customer to seek out the forbidden material.

I find it strange that the authorities are so determined to ensure that a sixteen year old cant lay his hands on images of consensual sex given that they are quite content for the same teenager to watch as much violence - and sexual violence - as he likes, as can be seen from the fact that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, Irreversible, Baise-Moi and I Spit On Your Grave are all available through Amazon.

Censorship by terrorism

According to the BBC at least 16 people have been injured in bomb blasts at two cinemas in the Indian capital Delhi.

A loud explosion shook the Liberty Cinema in the crowded shopping district of Karol Bagh.

About 15 minutes later, another blast went off at the Satyam cinema in the west of the city.

Both cinemas were showing a film which has been criticised by Sikh religious leaders for denigrating their faith, reports said.

The bombs were apparently planted near the screens, Junior Home Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told the Associated Press news agency.

Indian authorities are currently shutting all cinemas and have put the security forces on high alert.

No sex please Were Swedish

According to SwissInfo, Swedens Prime Minister, Goran Persson, has been lashing out against scantily clad women in the media.

Sweden prides itself on the work it has done to narrow the gap between men and women, for instance by having generous paternity leave and welfare allowances which encourage men as well as women to stay at home and look after the children.

It also has strict rules against pornography and prostitution. Persson indicated this was not enough.

TT quoted Persson as saying he hoped the press would regulate itself on this matter, but that if it did not then he would consider legislating against it. He said an enquiry would be held to see what form such laws would take.

Tabloid, Aftonbladet, has responded robustly to this threat of press censorship.

Limits on the freedom of speech and what should be printed in the media are not compatible with our democratic values, Afotnbladet editor-in-chief wrote on the newspapers website

(via The Melon Farmers)

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Linda Grant has this to say on moves to boycott Israeli artists.

A couple of years ago, the head of a Belfast arts centre was pressured to call off a tour by an Israeli dance company. The subsidy they received from the government of Israel which allowed them to travel to Belfast was regarded as proof of their complicity in racist state policies. They were asked where they stood on the occupation. They issued a statement saying they opposed it and pointed out that every shekel the government spent on ballet was a little less out of the budget for bullets. Finally came another test. It was not enough for them to oppose the occupation, they had to say whether any of them were reservists in the Israeli army.

The director of the arts festival put her foot down and despite pickets and protests the dance company’s performances went ahead. The same director wrote to me a few months ago to enlist my name in opposing the successful threats against the production in Birmingham of a play which was said to offend Hindu religious sensibilities. There are never any good reasons to censor art, in the name of either politics or religion.

If the campaign to overturn the AUT’s boycott resolutions fails on Thursday, the boycotters intend to move on to the next stage, the full cultural boycott of Israeli artists. To some extent this is happening informally already. A representative of one well-known theatre told me that she personally did not wish to have cultural links with Israeli artists but recognised she was unable to implement that policy in a publicly-funded theatre. Nonetheless, nothing has appeared on that stage since we had that exchange of views a year ago, despite the availability of a new play by the award-winning Israeli writer Joshua Sobel, about the reservists’ protests.

The attempts to boycott Israeli writers are already serious, and organised. Boycotters attempted to put pressure on PEN a few years ago, after it issued a speaking invitation to the novelist and co-founder of Peace Now, Amos Oz.

I suggest you go and read the whole aricle, but her final paragraph is worth repeating:

There is no place in culture for political loyalty oaths, boycotts and injunctions on subject matter. We have every right to refuse to read a work, or see a play, or listen to a piece of music. I have never read a novel by Stephen King and one Quentin Tarantino film was enough for me. But when an official boycott policy against artists is implemented, you truly know you are at the beginnings of the road to hell, one in which subversion hardens into official policy, then dogma, instead of the artist’s struggle to find a language in paint or words or music to say something we have not heard before.

I have read several Stephen King novels and have watched all of Quentin Tarantinos films. Apart from that, I thoroughly agree with her.

(via normblog)