July 2006

No news is good news

Pakistan has banned the transmission of Indian TV channels in the country.

India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunshi said the ban was enforced strictly on Indian news channels in particular.

Well, thats one way of dealing with difficult questions.

Yet another cartoon controversy

Against the background of the ongoing conflict between Hezbollah, Israel and the rest of Lebanon, Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet published a cartoon by Finn Graff on July 10 which depicts Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as the infamous SS Major Amon Goeth, who used to amuse himself by sniping at random Jews from his balcony in the Paszow death camp.

The scene was famously depicted by Steven Spielberg in Schindlers List and some people are not happy at the comparison:

In response, the Norwegian Israel Center against Anti-Semitism, an Oslo-based organization comprising Jews and Christians, has appealed to the government to speak out against hatred of Jews.

We have launched a campaign to get Norwegians to send letters to the minister of justice to make Norway a safer place for Jews, said center founder Erez Urieli by phone from Oslo.

We should not go underground. We have to take care of anti-Semitism before it becomes dangerous, he said.

According to the BBC, Israels ambassador to Norway has complained to press regulators about the cartoon claiming that it somehow went beyond free speech and would be open to prosecution in some countries.

Lars Helle, Dagbladets acting editor-in-chief, disagrees although the newspaper is taking the complaint seriously.

Cleanflicks quits

Following the ruling from Colorado judge, Richard P. Matsch that editing other peoples’ films and then selling them on is illegal, Utah-based CleanFlicks has decided to call it a day and are now selling off their existing stock.

So if you ever had a burning desire to see Kill Bill with all of the sex, violence and bad language remove, now is your chance.

Redundant and unnecessary legislation

US Congressman, Michael Fitzpatrick has responded to the moral panic surrounding social networking sites by banning everything.

The Deleting Online Predators Act tries to limit the access paedophiles have to the networking sites which have become hugely popular with minors.

Which is all very laudable. But there are a couple of issues with the legslation as it stands, which leads me to suspect that this is more a case of wanting to be seen to be doing something than anything else.

The act covers federal institutions that received funding for computers and net access via the US E-Rate scheme - primarily schools and libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) estimates that two-thirds of US libraries receive this funding.

It requires these organisations to put in place filters to stop children viewing social networking sites where they might be subject to unlawful sexual advances.

So the act does nothing about online predators and instead seeks to prevent children from using the internet in a public - and safe - environment.

The second problem with this proposal is with its broadness.

The act says the FCC should consider any site that allows users to create and modify a profile, chat to other users and post personal information.

Thats a lot of sites when you consider that the definition covers not only sites like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook but also Blogger, Amazon, Flickr, Wikipedia, Slashdot and many, many more. In fact, any site with a forum would be blocked if this law is passed.

Some MySpace users have created an online petition to gather support for protests about the act. The petition, called Save your Space, aims to gather more than one million signatures in a month.

Lying Imam Incites Burning Danish Flag. Then Hides Behind It

Ahmed Akkari, one of the Danish imams who helped whip up the Muhammed Cartoons Controversy by adding fake Muhammad cartoons to the original set, has been saved by the same degenerate and godless Westerners he attacked. He and his family have been evacuated from Lebanon by the same Danish embassy burned by rioters.

Ahmed Akkaris behavior in the above story is interesting. Why would he seek the protection of the same decadent, godless nation which he so recently incited violence against? Well, why do so many young Muslims who dont hesitate to espouse their hatred for the West and all the liberal freedoms which the West guarantees continue to live there rather than move to a more devout Muslim nation like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan?

The word hypocrisy springs to mind.

(via MediaWatchWatch)

More faith crime rubbish

Jesus did it for the chicks The National Secular Society (via) reports that police have told a Hampshire woman that she should take down a sign on her gate that reads “Our dogs are fed on Jehovah’s Witnesses”.

The message at the home of Jean Grove has been amusing neighbours and passers-by in Bursledon for more than 30 years.

Police said they were concerned people would find it “distressing, offensive and inappropriate”. However, even a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hampshire said he was not offended by the sign and described it as “stupid”.

Mrs Grove remains defiant and was unintimidated by the visit from the thought police, replacing the notice as soon as they had gone. She said her late husband had erected the sign after Jehovah’s Witnesses had anti-socially banged on their door one Christmas Day. She admits that her Jack Russell dog, so tiny she has named it Rabbit, is carnivorous, though.

So, no-one has complained and yet the police still feel the need to demand that the sign is taken down on the basis that someone might decide that their feelings are hurt.

Gay porn causes Kaos in Turkey

According to the Kaos GL Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association, the latest issue of their magazine - Turkey’s only gay magazine - has been confiscated by Ankara 12th Justice Court because it has been deemed “pornographic.”

The issue contained a feature in which pornography is questioned and contributed by the figures who are experts in their fields.

Judge Tekman Savas Nemli decided on the confiscation and seizure of Kaos GL after Republican Prosecutor Metin Sezgin claimed the content breached “general morality.”

The decision of the Ankara Chief Republican Prosecutors Office Press Crimes Investigation Bureau uses the expression that some texts and pictures are against protection of general morality. But this expression does not state which pictures and texts should be banned on which grounds.

The magazine has been in publication since 1994, legally since 1999 and according to a statement from the publishers:

It is the first time that our magazine has been banned on the same day it was delivered from the printing house, even before it was distributed to bookstores.

As part of its application for membership of the European Union, Turkey is expected to allow greater rights including freedom of speech and press and greater rights for the gay community.

Dont mention the war

The repercussions of the US indecency legislation that was signed into law last month are becoming increasingly Pythonesque. This law allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose fines of up to $325,000 per violation on any broadcaster that transmits any indecent material. Indecency is rather vaguely defined as language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.

As a result, no US broadcaster dared transmit the now infamous Bush/Blair conversation.

And now Ken Burns, the head of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is warning that the same legislation could prevent World War Two veterans from sharing their stories in an upcoming TV documentary series.

Karger said she had unsuccessfully tried to get advance clearance for the documentary from the five members of the Republican-controlled broadcast regulator. But the FCCs policy is not to deliver an opinion before a broadcast.

Via MediaWatchWatch which observes that it seems a little strange that people who apparantly fought for freedom, do not have the freedom of speech to express their views in the way that they wish to.

Brick Lane: Filmmakers back down in face of threats

Film Four, the production company behind the film adaptation of Monica Alis book Brick Lane last night abandoned plans to film on location after threats from some members of the community.

According to a spokesman from FilmFour:

As we would with any film, we have taken advice from police and have decided to film the remaining Brick Lane scenes at other locations.

Their concern was for the safety of cast and crew after a small group of activists threatened street blockades, and worse, if the company filmed on location.

But the lead convener of the Campaign Against Monica Alis Film Brick Lane, which was officially launched on Wednesday and now has nothing to do, has decided to continue protesting regardless of where the movie is filmed. Abdus Salique threatened to burn Alis book at a rally today because hes an ignorant bigot.

Behzti protester discovers that threats are still a crime

The use of anti-social behaviour laws to break up a protest by Sikhs against the play Behzti worked well, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Pritpal Singh, of Coventry, brought a legal challenge after he was arrested for failing to leave a protest against the play at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. His lawyers claimed that a lawful protest should not be restricted by police use of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act.

The judges disagreed on the basis that Singhs protest was far from lawful:

Lady Justice Hallett, giving the lead ruling on Friday, said Mr Singhs argument paid scant regard to the rights of those who wrote and staged the play and those who wanted to see it.

They too had the right to freedom of expression, just as the adults and children who were at or near the theatre that day had the right to go about their business without being subjected to scenes which were unnecessarily frightening, intimidating and distressing.

The theatre - which refused to censor the work - eventually cancelled its run based on health and safety grounds.