Saturday, October 04, 2008

One for the writers.

Whether you write fiction, or you're a journalist (much the same in the UK these days) or just an ordinary blog-babbler like me, this article might be of interest.

Some points:

- I haven't read the story in question and I'm not going to. It sounds like tacky porno to me. Not interested.

- It wasn't on a blog. It was on a porno story site which, I assume (hope!) is members only with safeguards concerning the age of members. Not a public-view blog that anyone could happen across.

- The guy is not a blogger. He's a writer. Possibly a severely twisted writer, but a writer nonetheless.

- It is illegal (in the UK) to write stories including real, living people without their express consent. He hasn't been arrested for that. The band he wrote about have not complained. I'm guessing they knew nothing of this until the story broke.

- He was arrested because some self-appointed watchdog group were scanning the site, looking for something to complain about. I'm afraid we have far too many of these professionally offended types here now.

So he posted a (presumably very unpleasant) story to a (presumably members-only) website, one of the professionally-offended found it because they were looking for it (therefore they must have joined the site), and now he's prosecuted.

What he did was illegal. He wrote about the torture and killing of people who are currently alive, who are in the public eye, and there are individuals out there who are deranged enough to try to act out that fantasy. They might have tried anyway, but his story gave them a specific target and therefore put specific people at risk. He should be prosecuted for that, not for the content of the story.

Although, if the moderators of the site were any use, they should have spotted the legal implications of the story and pulled it at once, then sent him a note to the effect that if he rewrites with fictional characters, he can put it back.

What makes me uneasy is the way in which it happened. His story was not on public view. Someone had to get into a site to see it. A site that only a certain kind of person would be interested in joining. That 'someone' was not just a member, shocked at the story, but was a person who had joined the site with the specific intention of looking for something to complain about.

I'm not interested in porno sites. I'd never have joined this one so I'd never have seen the story. Neither would anyone else who doesn't share that particular interest.

I'm not much interested in Western gunslinger stories, although I enjoy films of that type. So I wouldn't join a line-dancing group or a country and western club or a website set up to cater for those who are interested in the Wild West types of thing.

That does not mean I think such things should be banned. I don't want to see them. All I have to do is not go to those websites, those clubs, those places which are not interesting to me. I would never dream of infiltrating a line dancing group with the intention of seeking out some health and safety risk that would get them shut down.

Okay, nobody could possibly get offended by line dancing. It's completely inoffensive. Just dull.

That, however, is what these self-appointed moral guardians are doing. They are joining clubs they don't like for the specific purpose of looking for things to report to the police.

The police do this sort of thing for legitimate reasons. They watch sites known to be used by terrorists and paedophiles and often catch dangerous people as a result. It is, however, a matter for the police. Not for Web-based vigilante groups with their own ideas of what should be illegal.

It's an underhand form of censorship by self-appointed censors that could have serious repercussions. If they win this case then nothing they disagree with will be safe, whether fiction or reality.


Just_Me said...

Censorship seems to be a growing problem everywhere. Not just like this, but in the UN there's a law being voted on that would make it an international crime to insult a religion. Which would mean what, exactly? I can't say I disagree with another religion? Or that I believe in deity X rather than deity Y because it might offend someone?

Books are being pulled from production and publishers attacked because their books are deemed offensive to a small portion of the population. Deemed offensive without anyone EVER READING THE BOOK!

Airports and stores pull down holiday decorations, because they might offend. People want to ban the American Thanksgiving, because it's intrusive and unfeeling to the needs of those who don't feel thankful this year.

Everywhere you turn there are people trying to force their ideas on other people by not letting other people voice their opinions. Under the banner of "I'm offended!" free speech is getting murdered.

Sorry.... off the soap box now... it's a bit of a hot topic for me. There are a lot of things I don't agree with. But the only way I can ensure that I have the right to worship, think, and act like I want is to give everyone else that right too.

Southern Writer said...

The world has always been full of people with nothing better to do than cause trouble for other people. We used to call them busybodies. I got onto an old man in my neighborhood about it just last week. He's proud to be the deacon of some church he goes to, but he's the damned neighborhood gossip; as bad as any old woman or teenage girl I've ever known. Why can't people just mind their own business and leave each other alone?

Anonymous said...


Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the Church's' morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business.
Several members did not approve of her extra curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.
She made a mistake, however,
when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon.
She emphatically told Frank (and several others) that everyone
seeing it there would know what he was doing.
Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment then just
turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny...
He said nothing.
Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of
Mildred's house... Walked home. And left it there all Night!!!

You got to love Frank!

tom sheepandgoats said...

HA! Agreed. You got to love Frank!

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