New Zealand

Blasphemy down under

A 16 year old boy in Australia has been charged (via) with offensive behaviour under the Summary Offences Act 2005 for public nuisance for wearing a t-shirt. The shirt in question (pictured) is for English metal band, Cradle of Filth and claims Jesus is a Cunt.

Police have also conducted inquiries at Australia Fair shopping centre, where the teen said he bought the shirt, to find any shops selling it.

The incident has parked debate about Australias lack of a Bill of Rights. Lawyer, Bill Potts has pointed out:

One of the great problems with our country is that we talk about rights such as privacy and freedom of speech and the like but they are not enshrined or protected in any way as they are in America.

While there are always limits on freedom of speech, you cant incite violence or anything like that, it seems to be now more than ever that our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression should be protected.

A Bill of Rights which enshrines that protection is long overdue in this country.

And in New Zealand, the Chief Censor’s Office has permanently banned (via) the t-shirt. The ruling (inaccurately) claims:

A fair interpretation of the messages conveyed by this T-shirt is that Christians should be vilified for their religious beliefs, and that women, including chaste and celibate women, cannot stop themselves engaging in sexual activity.

Horrific censorship

Hostel Part II As, Im sure, most of you are aware, Eli Roths Hostel received a fair bit of criticism for its explicit violence when it was released. And, when the sequel came out, New Zealands Office of Film and Literature Classification felt it was a difficult film for the censors to rate, so they arranged a controlled public viewing of the film.

The people involved in the viewing represented a broad spectrum of the New Zealand public - not all horror fans - and most of whom would normally avoid such films. After the viewing, the audience was surveyed and 64 percent said the film should be given an R18 rating and released uncut.

So the censors demanded cuts (via).

Sony Pictures (NZ) says it is not financially viable to edit the film - which has been released uncensored in the UK, Ireland, Australia, the United States and most of the world - for a theatrical release in New Zealand, so horror fans in that part of the world are going to miss out entirely.

Censor, censor thyself

Heres a good one. Scoop (via) is reporting that New Zealands chief censor, Bill Hastings, has declined an application from to reclassify anti-gay Conservative Christian group, the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards (SPCS) Lesbian Cops.

Hastings dismissed the Societys concerns by arguing that There is no evidence of reluctance, coercion or power imbalance in the feature and there is very little in the video recording that bears any resemblance to the events to which the applicant refers [news stories about the alleged misuse of police batons by NZ police in sex and group orgies involving former NZ police members].

The Classification Offices decision on video Lesbian Cops notes: The feature mostly has an easy and relaxed tone, except the role-plays are simulating the stereotypical attitude of the tough cop. The rather humorous role-play often puts the police character in a position of dominance. The use of a police baton as a dildo (sex toy) is degrading too, as it presents an object usually seen as an authoritative weapon, as a penetrative sex toy a variety of wooden and plastic dildos are used throughout the sex scenes.

What makes this interesting is the SPCSs response in which they claim that Hastings has been watching hardcore porn for too long and should be removed from office by the Minister of Internal Affairs. They go on to say that he has been desensitised to the toxic and insidious impact of hardcore porn.

Im not sure that theyve really thought this one through because, if watching explicit films disqualifies someone from working as a film censor, then anyone who works as a censor would have to be immediately disqualified from their job because of their job. So, do the SPCS want to ban everything or ban nothing?

Update of the Blue

The previously mentioned film, Out of the Blue has received an R15 rating in New Zealand which means it can be by anyone who is fifteen or older. No issue there, then.

The reason Id mentioned it before was that the countrys chief censor, Bill Hastings arranged a meeting between himself, the Aramoana community and the families of victims of David Gray who killed 13 people in 1990. Out of the Blue attempts to tell this story.

The concern here, as expressed by Robert Sarkies, the films director, that Hastings decision to talk to the people involved is not only unusual but could set a precedent.

Fourteen of the survivors and family members of the tragedy had asked for the film to be banned completely.

Censored out of the blue

In 1990, David Gray, an unemployed gun collector living in Aramoana, New Zealand, went on a rampage in which 13 people were shot dead, before Gray himself was shot by police. The film, Out of the Blue attempts to tell this story.

The films director, Robert Sarkies, has already shown the film to those directly affected by the tragedy and now New Zealands chief censor, Bill Hastings has arranged a meeting between himself, the Aramoana community and the families of victims.

What we hear during consultation will be incorporated into the classification, and we want to talk to as many people as possible about this, he said.

According to Harris, this was prompted by a letter from a family member of one of the victims and this is the problem. It does look very much like the people affected by the tragedy are using their position to try to prevent a film from being shown, as some of the quotes from the residents clearly indicate:

[Rosemarie] Clouston, of Christchurch, said she had told Sarkies the movie should not have been made after seeing a preview.

The story itself is disgusting and I dont feel making a movie about it and bringing it back and putting it in peoples faces is right, she said.

According to Hastings:

People are still alive that have had to deal with the original event – its not as if its a film about World War 1. Its a live issue, so it presents an unusual situation.

But its not that unusual, as the current spate of 9/11 films so clearly indicates. The danger here is that as soon as you start banning things on the basis that people are still alive that have had to deal with the original event you create - at the very least - a very dangerous grey area for every contemporary documentary.

Absurd Catholics spitting blood

Catholic Bishops in New Zealand are appealing to the High Court against a ruling by the Broadcasting Standards Authority that the South Park Bloody Mary episode is too absurd to be offensive.

The authority did not uphold the 35 complaints it received about the show – including one from the bishops, saying the show was “of such a farcical, absurd and unrealistic nature” that it did not breach good taste standards.

Reservoir Dogs banned in New Zealand

The Reservoir Dogs computer game has been banned in New Zealand.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification has classified the computer game Reservoir Dogs objectionable.

The objectionable classification means that the game Reservoir Dogs it is an offence for anyone to import, possess, copy, supply, advertise, exhibit or distribute the game in New Zealand.

The Classification Office says it made the decision because the game promotes the infliction of extreme violence and cruelty.

The game has also been banned in Australia.

Its an anti-miracle!

According to the Melon Farmers the call from bishops in New Zealand to boycott the Bloody Mary episode of South Park has resulted in a record audience there for the cartoon.

The episode was seen by 210,000 viewers, according to Rick Friesen, the broadcasters chief operating officer. In the past month, he said, an average South Park episode typically draws about 32,500 viewers to the networks C4 youth channel.

Catholics bullied by Bloody Mary

Bishops in New Zealand have called for a boycott of a TV network over an episode of South Park which features a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary.

The proposed boycott will come as a surprise to many Christians around the world who are big fans of the series in which Jesus Christ often appears.

Anti-abortion campaigners, Family Life International, however are not fans of the show and have even set up a website to complain about being bullied by the programme.

(via MediaWatchWatch)

Scientologists sue over Tom Cruise

Tom and Katie Cinematical reports that the Church of Scientology are bringing their hurt feelings to bear against a ScienTOMogy - a website that parodies Tom Cruise’s increasingly bizarre behaviour.

The New Zealand based site has been served with a cease-and-desist letter threatening lawsuits of up to US$100,000 if the domain name ownership is not transferred.

Although the site starts with a disclaimer (Obviously this website has ABSOLUTELY NO connection whatsoever with the Church of Scientology, its affiliated organizations or, needless-to-say, Tom Cruise. It is designed for commentary and criticism within the limits of Free Speech. All content should be treated as opinion and all trademarks/copyrighted material herein are owned by their respective trademark owners. ) the Scientology lawyers are claiming that the word ScienTOMogy is a trademark violation.

This is not the first time that the Church of Scientology have tried to gag its critics. It previously made headlines when it used the USs Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove www.xenu.net, a site critical of Scientology, from Googles listings. In the past the church has been accused of suing all those who oppose their views rightly or wrongly simply as nuisance suits aimed at eventually driving the critic into silence.

And, on the subject of nuisance

Apart from Avas numerous emails and faxes about their trademark claims re http://www.scientomogy.info (which I do not consider harassment), it seems the local chapter of the Co$ has decided to begin a non stop barrage of phone calls, emails, and visits to my home - at any hour day or night.

The phone calls are always from a prepaid cellular phone and theyve used plenty of different numbers, normally at night from 8pm till midnight. The first few I was stupid enough to answer but now they just call and call and call. When I did speak to a church member here in Auckland he kept insisting over and over that we meet to talk about my vendetta with the church I explained that my site is about Mr Cruise not the church and that was extremely clear - and all correspondence was to be through my lawyers and Ava - there was nothing else to say.

Then the visits to my home started. Now I have security cameras stationed at my front door and driveway entrance so I have never answered the door and therefore cannot be certain it is the church but they have my home address and in 8 months of living here never had unsolicited callers - especially almost daily!

Though when I do meet these guys at least Ill know them from the footage! Interesting thing is Last census showed only approx. 200 Scientologists in the whole of NZ!! So, I wonder whats next???