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All sides of the story?

Craig Oliver Craig Oliver | 12:00 UK time, Thursday, 31 August 2006

Recent audience research came back with one big message: "We want all sides of the story."

BBC Ten O'Clock News logoWe try to challenge the received wisdom on a daily basis - but one of the most interesting examples of this came in our coverage of the decision to make it illegal to view violent porn.

Teacher Jane Longhurst was killed by a man who was was obsessed with violent pornography (he is in the process of appealing against a murder conviction). The sites show torture, murder, gang rape…you get the picture. There's clearly a market for this kind of stuff, and yesterday Jane's mother won a campaign against it.

Our cameraman, correspondent and producer spent the day looking into the story. They discovered that much of the material is faked - though a lot is extremely convincing. As other BBC outlets told the story there was an interesting audience response that challenged the assumption of many that there would be almost universal revulsion.

Rod McKenzie, editor of Radio 1 Newsbeat
, sent round an e-mail letting us know the text messages that some of the station's listeners were sending in. They included:

• This is banning S&M
• extreme net porn is staged and consensual why ban it
• You can't say what violence is in porn, where is the line crossed ? Is a porn star who's not really up for it that day being treated violently?
• what happens between consenting adults shouldn't carry the risk of going to court
• there's nothing wrong with sexual experimentation S&M between consenting adults behind closed doors or online

Denise MahoneyIt was a response we hadn't entirely expected - and Denise Mahoney (right) reflected it in her item on the Ten O'Clock News (watch it here).

So, while it was important to give the police and Mrs Longhurst due weight, it was also important to use our position post-watershed to show as much as we could - within the bounds of taste and decency - and raise the questions: can watching this material really trigger murder? If it can't, should we really ban the stuff that is clearly faked and criminalise those who view it?


  • 1.
  • At 01:34 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Bloggs wrote:

Computer games have also been connected to violent crimes and murder. Will we see possession of these being made illegal also?

  • 2.
  • At 01:56 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Dominic wrote:

I can't quite see how 'violent porn' is going to be categorised and why adult entertainment that portrays 'violent' content is illegal - particularly if the people appearing in the movies are consenting adults.

There are plenty of 'mainstream' movies and television shows that depict gunplay, murder, rape and other violent acts that would never be made illegal for fear of censorship.

It sounds like the 80s 'video nasties' scenario all over again.

I would like to draw reader's attention to - a site dedicated to detailing the arguments against this proposed change in the law. (I can only assume their name is deliberately ironic... I am not associated with them.) I would also like to comment that, the news articles I have seen have ALL been phrased in a way which presented this proposal as law. In fact there are many stages to go through before that happens.

  • 4.
  • At 02:04 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • William Tomas wrote:

I think the BBC was absolutely right in its 10 o'clock coverage to question whether banning violent porn will actually prevent violence and the response by the criminal expert of a resounding "no it won't" was a good way to close the piece. However it would have also been worth investigating why the government - in response to the police initiative - seem to introduce legislation solely designed to limit the activities of its citizens. How about a Newsnight edition about this sort of thing given that we know banning doesn't work to prevent murders but is done to give the impression the authorities are "doing something."

  • 5.
  • At 02:06 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Iain wrote:

Of course the inherent danger of giving equal weight to both sides of the story is to actually give a false impression to the viewer.

The classic example being climate change. Whereas the vast majority of scientists say climate change is real. To "balance" the story we often hear from the tiny minority who say there is nothing to worry about. Hence the viewer can get the impression that many scientists think climate change is false.


Where are any lines drawn in consensual sex ?? Who on earth believes that they have the right and/or capacity to make any determinations as to the behaviour of others.


  • 7.
  • At 02:12 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Stuart Wilson wrote:


nice to see a more balanced view in Denise Mahoney's report.

I'm not part of any S&M circle, but I have had relationships with women who have liked and encouraged, how can I say, "rough sex".

Under these proposed new laws if I took photos of these encounters and had them on my computer, I would be branded a criminal?

Who is going to say what is decent and indecent between two consenting adults? Mrs Longhurst?

This issue needs a far greater debate before being made law.

As much as we abhor what happened to Jane Longhurst, the understandable but over-emotional reaction of her mother simply to ban almost everything which in her view is pornography is NOT the answer.

  • 8.
  • At 02:13 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ray wrote:

This is another scary step towards 1984-style thought-crime. How can anyone make a distinction that the violence and torture in a film like Reservoir Dogs is acceptable, yet punishable with 3 years in jail if there is a sexual motive behind the same scenes?

While it is entirely right to ban images that exploit children for example, what right does the State have to impose draconian punishment when all involved are consenting? Three years is more than hit-and-run killers get.

At best this is well-intentioned - but foolish and misguided - knee-jerk politics. At worst it is another element in this reactionary Government's nannying "we know best" campaign to ban things indiscriminately.

Look on the bright side 'though - no doubt this stupid law will be challenged (at the taxpayers' expense) as it might infringe the human rights of banged-up criminals wanting to view such material!

  • 9.
  • At 02:16 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

Perhaps it does the reverse (as others have suggested before), people who view violent images may either:

- Think that behaviour is acceptable, and attack people in the Real World
- Use it as an outlet instead of attacking people in the Real World
- A combination of both

As others have said, how do you draw the line? Sure, images of rapes and people being attacked should not be distributed, but what about staged porn containing such things? Why does the government think it should have a say over what people do in their sex lives? As long as it doesn't harm anyone and is consensual...

  • 10.
  • At 02:23 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Anthony Godwin wrote:

I think it's about time people took responsibility for their actions instead of blaming 'entertainment' [whether this be porn, music or a violent video game]. Porn, regardless of how extreme it is, does not create killers. Society and poor mental health create cold-blooded killers.
Violent people may play violent video games, but that doesn't mean to say that the violent games create violent people [it's fairly obvious that it doesn't]. Stopping violent games won't put an end to violence, just as stopping extreme porn won't put an end to twisted killers. All it will achieve is criminalising law-abiding people who belong in a different sexual sub-culture than the majority. If this man watched violent porn and then went and murdered this poor young woman then shouldn't we ask the question 'why did nobody realise he was a bit nuts in the first place?'. Porn doesn't kill, killers kill.

  • 11.
  • At 02:24 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Jonathon Evans wrote:

Naturally the material is faked. This ridiculous witchhunt harks back to the days when people thought snuff films were real. This is the same as blaming rock and roll or films for making people violent.

I'd like to see a wealth of evidence that something is harmful before we ban it. Rather than a load of waffle and fearmongering rhetoric from the lunatic fring being taken as evidence of a real problem. If viewing this material makes you dangerous, does the government also propose to lock up the police officers who have to investigate it, as surely they will become murdering rapists too?

  • 12.
  • At 02:28 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Russ wrote:

Whilst I have every sympathy for the family of the murdered woman, I think the logic of their argument is flawed. I certainly don't condone violence in porn (or out of it). But this is trying to build a causative link between a violent act and an unrelated item.

Applying this logic to all murders, we would ban any hobby or pastime that a murdered follows, in case it's a trigger to a violent act. As repellent as violent porn is, it cannot be said to be a direct link to a murder. The causes are more likely to be social disconnection, abusive parents or poor education.

  • 13.
  • At 02:29 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Zena Fisher wrote:

This kind of 'hysteria' response will criminalise many decent, law abiding members of the population- As Rod McKenzie says "its banning S & M.
As a sane, safe and consensual member of the S & M Community, I, and many others like me, will be breaking the law simply by owning images of 'kinky' activites in which we have been involved.

Isnt it time that that those in power got some persepective here? Whenever there is any kind of violent crime, media, be it video games, movies, porn, whatever, is blamed. Get real. There are some sick people in the world who will kill, maim and torture whatever they are exposed to.

  • 14.
  • At 02:35 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

I'm glad the BBC is trying to engage with the issue rather than simply adopting the position that violent porn is an abomination that should be stopped at all costs. In this context there is clearly a problem with the protection of vulnerable people amongst the subjects of the images, those who view the images and those individual's sexual partners. But is it necessary to criminalise the possession of the images?

Merely viewing a crime scene cannot equate with complicity in that crime. What purposes people put these images to is impossible to know, but the same could be said of any other image on the internet or elsewhere. We need to identify all the interests at stake - including the rights of expression of the publishers and viewers of the material - before supporting sensationalist policy proposals.

  • 15.
  • At 02:37 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Lynn Sharp wrote:


I have been following this story with extreme interest and quite frankly, puzzlement. I am fifty years old in about four weeks time, and, whilst I was growing up and until relatively recently, it was 'normal' and 'generic' to believe that it is wrong to want to hurt somebody. It was also believed that it was very wrong indeed to get any pleasure from hurting anybody. People also believed that anybody who enjoyed getting hurt needed help - not hurt.

I still stick by my morals - maybe because I believe that pain is not a good thing.

Best wishes
Lynn Sharp

  • 16.
  • At 02:39 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

This is completely stupid. A lot of people into S & M etc... do not see this as violent. There is nothing violent or homicidal about it, this is simply a sexual persuasion.

  • 17.
  • At 02:39 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Kevin Griggs wrote:

Porn was illegal when i was young (and i'm only forty) and sex shops and places of ill repute were raided and shut down by the police.Of course watching internet/tv influences people. Why are stars and frequently seen people on tv and internet asked to promote 'label' clothing and products, because people are influenced by what they see. And how long before the lines between acceptable and unacceptable behavior are blurred? especially in children and young adults.

  • 18.
  • At 02:45 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Dave McDonald wrote:

I seem to remember that an American serial killer - Joel Rifkin - admitted that he was inspired to carry out at least some of his killings after watching the rape/murder scene in Hitchcock's 'Frenzy'. This film was shown recently on FilmFour, I believe, and is still widely available for purchase throughout the world. It has by no means the most graphic portrayal of rape/strangling in the public domain (bit of a guess, that). Am I missing something, here?
We humans are an odd bunch. We have little control over our feelings (specifically, in this case over what 'turns us on'). Crucially, however, we have a great deal of control over our actions. Of course, there are exceptions and there is no excuse for not introducing a law if the stringent enforcement of it might save a life. However, (and leaving aside the problem of enforcement) the internet is only one shop window and if you want to hide the merchandise you have to board up all the windows (in every relevant shop).
Dave. (I feel better now).

  • 19.
  • At 02:49 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Pornography whether violent or non-violent appeals to the vulgr vice of lust. It demeans those who participate in it and those who view it. Of course, society as a whole should do everything in its power to suppress it.

  • 20.
  • At 02:59 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Chris D wrote:

I think this is indeed a very complex issue. Is there something wrong with people who seek sexual gratification through violence? I don't think so, so long as it is controlled and clearly accepted by all parties involved. The problem is the viewer.

Most viewers who watch violent porn will likely be "ok" with what they are seeing. The trouble is some "impressionable" people view these images/movies whatever and think that they are acceptable, but they question never occurs to them if the material is fake or not. If they find this material arousing, but never wonder if it is real, or dont care if it is or not, then problems may occur. Unfortunately, it is these impressionable few who sometimes make the news, when their desire for violent porn can no longer be sated by internet material.

The only possible option the government has i think, is to make the masses suffer because of a few. Stopping people from viewing violent porn would prevent a few deaths a year, but many more are killed in drug related crime, i think prehaps the government needs to think about cutting down mainstream crime rather than focus on smaller issues like this.

  • 21.
  • At 03:01 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • thevoiceofreason wrote:

This is an important issue, because it represents yet another step towards a fascistic nanny state. Sexual activities that are performed between consensual adults should be of no concern to the law or to the Government (and I won't even get onto the pot/kettle thing here), or indeed to anyone except for the consenting participants.

I would urge anyone who still believes in freedom of choice, freedom of expression, and the freedom to make up your own, adult, mind as to which activities, sexual or otherwise, you choose to participate in, to actively speak out against this, because if they get their way on this, then what's next?

The general public will now, thanks to the rabid ignorance of much of the 'popular' press, be fed the idea that safe, sane and consensual activites between adults are in the same league as rape, paedophilia and other grotesque crimes which, rightly, should be outlawed and the participants in them prosecuted to the full extent of the law (which for me doesn't go far enough, but that's another argument).

This is nothing but another form of censorship, and one that has the potential to ruin a lot of lives, many of which are led by otherwise 'normal', rational and intelligent people who just happen to enjoy something a little different behind closed doors with their partners. I personally oppose most forms of censorship, preferring instead to use my own intelligence to decide what I want to see or partake in (providing of course that it is consensual and legal, and does not involve children, animals or corpses).

Anyone who doesn't oppose this latest ridiculous knee-jerk measure by our woefully inept Government might as well hold their hands up and be counted as accepting that those in power don't think you're intelligent enough to make up your own minds on anything. Ask yourself the question - am I stupid? Am I unable to make up my own mind on what I want to indulge in behind closed doors? Do I happily accept that my life is going to be dictated to me by people who, frankly, are frighteningly unsuitable to rule us, never mind decide on what is 'safe'? If you're fine with the answer to any of those being yes, then go and bury your head in the sand, but don't shout when they turn their attention to something that impacts you, because it will happen, sooner or later.

If you have your own mind, though, and want to retain the ability to make your own decisions, then whether or not BDSM is your thing, you should support the fight against these draconian proposals. The choice is yours......for now.

  • 22.
  • At 03:01 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

From a technological rather than content point of view, I feel this is an ill-concieved act for one very good reason.

All the hosting sites of this material are outside the UK and as such it is the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and Police resources that trawl incoming net traffic to provide forensic evidence to identify subscribers breaking the law notably paedophiles.

The people with these forensic skills are in very short supply and their job has now been made a great deal harder to determine if subscribed images are consentual or non-consentual images as well as enforcing the law regarding internet paedophilia.

On this point alone, it is an ill-conceived Act of Parliament without the additional extra resources to police it.

  • 23.
  • At 03:03 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • a. tyson wrote:

What implications would such a law have for the disclosure of the Abu Ghraib pictures? They contained violence and sexual torture, no wonder governments are keen to have this kind of information suppressed.

  • 24.
  • At 03:05 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Darren wrote:

Violent pornography isn't the kind of thing that floats my boat, but if that's what turns people on, whats to say they shouldn't be allowed to look at it?

  • 25.
  • At 03:05 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Neil Small wrote:

Whilst I can accept that the films may have made the guy obsessed with violence, there must have been an underlying fault with him in the first place. People always want to ban anything they see as "unfit" for society, without really looking into the facts first. Jack the Ripper was exceptionally violent to women, yet porn was extremely limited then. Banning anything runs the risk of it going "underground" and can actually make more people interested in it. However, to balance this, ISPs have a duty to stop such material being shown if it is deemed overly offensive.

  • 26.
  • At 03:07 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • ChrisR wrote:

While I dislike any violence, sexual or otherwise, I really worry about yet another instance of the internet taking the rap for the actions of a psychopath. It's such a soft target and 'doing something about it' always seems to restrict our privacy or personal freedoms. So, until someone can show me a tangible cause & effect I would rather not ban something.

Also, considering we are all subjected to violence on the news or TV dramas on a daily basis, and a very small percentage of us actually go on to commit violent acts, suggests to me that seeing violent images does NOT create violent people. On the contrary, the truth is more likely to be that people who already like violence seek out violent imagery - people who don't like violence are repelled by it.

  • 27.
  • At 03:07 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Christopher Teague wrote:

The Government's response was, we will legislate when Parliamentary time allows. This is a key point, and basically means: we won't bother - we'll just leave the carrot dangling until the public forgets about it.

And a good thing too: Heaven-forbid a Government making decisions with ill-thought out, knee-jerk responses.

  • 28.
  • At 03:12 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Pierre Yardin wrote:

My concern is that such far-reaching political decisions are being driven by special-interest groups: in this case, one specific incident. Yes, the killer of Jane Longhurst may have been driven by violent porn, but we need far more evidence than one murder to have grounds to ban it, especially when there is so much other violent material available. We risk going down the same road as the US in bowing to pressure from lobby groups.

  • 29.
  • At 03:14 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Julian wrote:

The question for me is how can you tell that anything on the internet is consensual or faked? With the trafficing of women a growing problem how do we know that this is the case? Unless these sites are independantly regulated you have no way of knowing.

I'm very pleased to see that the BBC has realised that these laws are badly misguided, although it is a shame that the early coverage (i.e. Radio Five Live in the morning) did not recognise this.

For example, Martin Salter MP's claims that extreme porn is real (it most certainly is not - it is *all* staged by consenting adult industry workers) went completely unchallenged by the presenter (Nolan).

It would be good if, before going "live" with a news items, editors took some time to make sure the coverage they were about to present was actually balanced.

  • 31.
  • At 03:22 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

It's easy to understand a bereaved mother's emotional response to her daughters death. It seems to be fashion for bereaved parents/siblings/children to get what they percieve to be wrong, banned. Violent images do not always beget violence. If this were true then surely we would not be fed a constant dose of war and reality TV. In my opinion reality TV is the most confrontational and violent thing at a psycological level on at the moment. Public belittlement of people and the undermining of self-confidence. Sounds like an ideal recipe. Ms Longhurst, if you want to ban something then ban reality TV.

  • 32.
  • At 03:24 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Vladimir Plouzhnikov wrote:


Has Jack The Ripper killed all those women because he was addicted to violent porn on the Internet?

I think the answer is obvious. I also am amazed at how obvious this case of (deliberatly?) confused cause and effect is.

Clearly, no amount of looking at violent pictures would make a non-violent person violent. However, a person of violent predisposition would, of course, like to watch violent pictures, but remove the images and the person in question will still remain violent.

Alas, this Government, being unable to do anything positive thoughout its term, is obsessed with bans and restrictions, none of which has made or will ever make any positive impact on the society.


  • 33.
  • At 03:24 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Yet again the government falls back on its habitual answer to everything, another ban.

From their first year in office they have banned handguns (with no reduction in gun crime), banned hunting, banned demonstrations outside Parliament, banned 4x4's from half the few rights of way they could drive and banned smoking in public places. I could go on.

Violent porn doesn't interest me but how long before they criminalise something that I am interested in? We forget Pastor Niemoller at our peril.

  • 34.
  • At 03:27 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mark Wilson wrote:

"Our cameraman, correspondent and producer spent the day looking into the story." - the best justification I have heard for looking at porn on the works computer.

  • 35.
  • At 03:27 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

As someone elsewhere wrote, what about films like the Shawshank Redemption. Are these to become illegal too?

This government has gone mad! A 'free country' is supposed to mean that people can do whatever they want, so long as they don't impinge on the rights of other people.

The question of whether or not violent porn could be banned is irrelevant, it will be attempted.

The real question is: should it be banned? The answer is a resounding "No!".

In the last ten years, many innocent pastimes have been unreasonably blamed for tragedies: gun groups, Airsoft players, the list goes on.

Each time, the voices of reason from these groups have been ignored, and the people who have done nothing wrong have lost their pastimes.

This is another in the list of bans that should never have been contemplated.

  • 37.
  • At 03:30 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

I'm confused here. Will this mean that it will be an offense to possess some mainstream hollywood films such as 'copycat' or 'hangman'?

  • 38.
  • At 03:31 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • E. North wrote:

I am in everyway a normal law-abiding, sane, responsible citizen. Perhaps I am slightly different in one aspect in that I am part of the fetish scene in my private life and often view pornographic material depicting S&M. All of this material comes from well-established suppliers of adult enterainment, and which has to adhere to mostly US and sometimes other national regulations. All material is of course between consenting adults, who would want anything else? Kinky we may be, mad psychopath killers we are not, thanks very much.

Do images of consenting S&M encourage harmful behavior? No - or rather, not unless you're a raving sociopath already. If we are going to life our lives in fear of setting mad people off can we please be consistent and ban all representations of violence from film, literature, TV and the radio?

How dare anyone threaten to legislate against my harmless behavior? What happened to English liberalism and 'live and let live?' Such authoritarianism cultivates only contempt for the law.

  • 39.
  • At 03:32 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

This is the exact same argument as the one against violent video games - that people won't do anything unless they are 'encouraged' by whatever new media is in the spotlight. As someone else has mentionde above, it happened with 'video nasties' and is happening again.

The moral majority seem to have this need to blame their hysterical rantings on something other than the actions of the person themselves.

If someone is predisposed to doing something bad, it doesn't matter what the trigger is, they will do something. If it's not a videogame, it'll be the internet, or camera phones or any other hip buzz word.

We can't ban every new thing that comes along, but we can teach people right from wrong.

  • 40.
  • At 03:35 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • David wrote:

I have viewed Star Wars without feeling compelled to create an empire, I have watched The Italian Job and have yet to rob a major financial institution. I have viewed what could easily be called violent pornography and feel extremely insulted at the suggestion that I am now somehow a danger to women.

The content of any pornography would be totally unacceptable if carried out on an unconsenting person. Should we now ban all images depicting kissing?

  • 41.
  • At 03:35 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Danny wrote:

Ted Bundy, an American serial killer and rapist who murdered numerous young women across the United States, claimed that consumption of violent pornography helped "shape and mold" his violence into "behavior too terrible to describe". Bundy said that he felt that violence in the media, "particularly sexualized violence", sent boys "down the road to being Ted Bundys".

Says it all really.

  • 42.
  • At 03:37 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

This will be bad law. Its lack of enforceability will bring the system of justice into disrepute.
It is analagous to applying resources so as to proscribe the personal use of a spliff of cannabis rather than toward spraying the crop fields abroad, or inspecting lorries that bring in 1,000 kilos at a time.

  • 43.
  • At 03:42 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Matt wrote:

Everyone who has commented against the proposed legislation seems to agree that content should not be banned if created by consenting adults. That is to say, the content is not bad, it's only wrong if someone was hurt creating it.

Those who mention it also concur that child porn is always wrong because children are abused and exploited by making it. But what if such content was created purely using computer graphics technology and no real child was involved? Would the liberal consensus still deem that to be acceptable?

  • 44.
  • At 03:45 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Edward Smith wrote:

I too was concerned about some of the reporting of yesterday's proclamation from the Home Office, especially as a public consultation process had been running for the past year and shows those against the proposals outnumbering those in support by a margin of around two-to-one. I thought a BBC "have your say" thread or an online poll on the subject might have been helpful; for a while I felt quite "gagged" on the subject!

It is vital that the public make themselves heard on this important matter and I would appeal to those expressing views here to lobby their MPs and the Home Office, before this ill-conceived nonsense becomes law.

  • 45.
  • At 03:49 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Gavin Drake wrote:

You say: "it was also important to use our position post-watershed to show as much as we could - within the bounds of taste and decency - and raise the questions: can watching this material really trigger murder?"

As you haven't (thankfully) shown the full range of material because you constrained yourself to "within the bounds of taste and decency" how can you legitimately go on to ask whether that material can trigger murder?

There have been several high profile - and not-so-high-profile cases of murderers and rapists copying out scenes from violent pornography - and even violent "mainstream" movies.

If I could protect my family from becoming the next victims then so be it - blow "free speech"; let's have some responsibility.

  • 46.
  • At 03:52 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • J wrote:

What is happening to the UK?

This political correctness gone mad! Almost of par with the hanging baskets!

The further the government attempts to “nanny” us into a sense of empathy, the further they push us towards the inevitable, to fascism.

I feel sorry for Liz Longhurst loss, but I fail to see how banning consensual, and feigned sexual activities of various natures is going to bring her daughter back to life. Or prevent future people from depraved acts of rape and murder, which I might add has been happening since the dawn of written history!

If the government cannot discern or draw the line between real “snuff” and just violent pornography, then why must the consumers, as usual, suffer? Would it hurt if the government would try harder to understand the difference, instead of damning everyone for the actions of the few, because ironically I thought we lived in a society where the majority rule, evidentially not… Knee jerk politics ftw!

For example, most pornographic sites have a compliance section where by the website is web trusted against applicable laws and statutes, or has been checked out by various agencies that the actors and actresses have been treated fairly and paid, and most importantly are over the age of 18 and that they were both consensual.

This is punishing people who like or enjoy;

Fetish sex
Or basically anything referred to as “kinky”

If anyone saw the brilliant, Human Trafficking series that was on television recently, would they be arrested? After all there was plenty of forced sex, violence and underage girls in that programme. This was a depiction of real violence, and not a computer in sight!

Perhaps the government could focus its efforts on punishing the disgraceful human being which is Coutts, making him suffer rather than the general pubic, filth like him desrves more than a prison sentence, do I hear the sound of a parol hearing already?

Perhaps harsh sentencing or prisons that aren’t like the Ritz would help.

I now seriously worried about making love to my fiancée now, the fear that if the police come round and I don’t have most of my clothes on, the aren’t lights off and I don’t look suitably bored, then I will be arrested, Orwell was wrong, its not 1984, its 2006, I hope not to see you soon Winston.

  • 47.
  • At 03:53 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Andy wrote:

Drugs are illegal, speeding is illegal, etc.

Does this stop anybody doing them?

  • 48.
  • At 03:55 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

The Home Office had a consultation on the preparation of these proposals and its response is here:
which, reading between the lines, makes it clear that they went with the largely restrictive desires of religious bodies and police representatives rather than either making "evidence based" proposals or supporting freedom of the individual. Dominic is right, it is video nasties and dangerous dogs all over again, a cheap way of making the Government look good in the tabloids.

  • 49.
  • At 03:55 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mary wrote:

Jane Longhurst's killer happened to have a penchant for violent porn. This is not only something her mother can mark out as a reason - it can be a target for her grief too. If he had been into violent computer games, or violent mainstream films, well, they're multi-billion pound industries, she'll never manage to attack them. But when it comes to sexual preferences... it's easy to persecute those who deviate from the norm. Ask any gay person.

  • 50.
  • At 03:56 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Andy GM Wood wrote:

I don't see what is wrong with just criminalising anything that isn't consensual.
This "catch all" covers any acts upon people against their will, and also any acts involving minors (who by definition cannot give consent) and animals.

What about violent sex acts in films?
Does this mean you could get 3 years for owning The Shawshank Redemption because of the male rape scene?
Interesting then, that this film has won awards from many prestigious groups and is possibly one of the finest films ever made!

I do feel for Mrs Longhurst and can understand her need to "do something", but this isn't actually going to help and just helps the Gov to continue to curtail our freedoms.
They need no such help!

  • 51.
  • At 03:57 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Jamie MacDonald wrote:

Congratulations to the bbc on not falling into the trap of following the mainstream "no reasonable person could disagree with this legislation" line.

The most worrying things about this legislation are its founding assumptions:

1) that material of this type is intrinsically harmful to anyone who views it

2) that making possession illegal will be effective in stopping people who are pre-disposed to committing similar acts from seeking it out

are both without evidence. Surely if the authorities belived in good legislation the first step would be to commission a criminalogical study into the long term effects of this material on a range of people.

As someone who enjoys bindage and sense play (I hate the term SM) as part of a loving long term relationship - i am extremely worried about the possible future effects of over zelous enforcement on my private life. Especially as the definitions in the legislation are so wooly.

Thank you for ensuring that your coverage was balanced and please lets continue the debate about where the state should draw the line in it's interference with peoples private pursuits.

The government should have realised it would score an own goal on this one. The 'consultation exercise' on this matter from the home office, which was very biased towards these proposals ended with an overwhelming majority of considered responses being against the proposals. It was even more overwhelming when you discount the mandated responses from the police and local authorities.

Could this be Blair's dangerous dogs act? Could this be 'back to basics' again?

I gain comfort from the fact that the government spokesperson on this was the inarticulate and unfortunately named Croaker. His predecessor the bumbling Goggins is now minister for toilets in Northern Ireland, I am sure he could do with an assistant.

Reading the small print the of the proposals shows that the real intent is to criminalise 'poor taste'.

You can go to prison for 2 years for watching some (but not all) types of Beastiality.Watching Oral sex with a pig puts you in Jail. Watching the Slaughtering of the pig means you are watching the Jamie Oliver show. If you watched someone slaughter the pig and then having sex with it then it is perfectly legal.

If it were not so serious it would be laughable. (by the way you better not have taped the BBC news item or you might end up in chokey)

The whole thing is a stupid sham based on ignorance and a disgusting attempt by a failing government to appeal to the gullible and ill informed.

I despair at the cost of this garbage. The cost to the police, the courts and the victims of this proposed law, and where did it come from The Home Office!

  • 53.
  • At 04:08 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Zeb wrote:

I heard it reported that this will make possession of "snuff" videos illegal. I've also heard it reported that there are supposed to be lots of beheading videos being passed around the Muslim community:

Presumably we can now expect this law to be used to lock up more of these sick individuals?

  • 54.
  • At 04:10 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Amy wrote:

I'm interested to note that the majority of people who have posted in this thread have traditionally 'male' names.

A major concern is the association that pornography can build between sex and violence, mostly towards women. Seeing as porn is often the first 'sexual' experiences of many young men, is it good to be associating sex and violence in their developing minds?

And where is the divide between violent and 'normal' porn? I went to university, had a lot of male friends and have watched my share of porn - I don't think I have seen any examples where the women look like they are consenting or are not being forced into the depicted acts. Healthy?

Of course, porn could just be another scapegoat like video games, Marilyn Manson and 'explicit' literature.

I can fully understand the victim's family and people who would find sexual violence disturbing, and suspect that the government, as usual, is going through the motions of 'being seen' to do something.

Sexual fantasy has been with us for years and no government could effectively ban it, and BDSM is part of that fringe.

Possession of drugs and paedophilia is currently illegal and people, when caught, sometimes go to jail for it, but the law against possession does not stop it. I believe that if this becomes law, it will further overburden the police to the point that either they won’t actually tackle the breach, or if they do, more serious crimes will go undetected.

A lot of resources go in to reducing drugs and paedophilia and I suspect the impact it is having is only the tip of the iceberg. With sexual violence, which I gather is a more accepted taboo as far as sexual fantasies are concerned, I seriously doubt that the law would have any noticeable impact whatsoever.

It will become another erosion of freedoms, an extra charge the police can add against someone to a list of other offences and no doubt one which the penalty will run concurrently with the others. So what is the point?

This proposal barks back to the Dunblane incident, where there is one nut with a gun, and everyone suffers.

The authorities owe the public at large and the victims more than a knee-jerk reaction like this.

  • 56.
  • At 04:18 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • John Bisset wrote:

Two sayings spring to mind : "Hard cases make bad law" and "Post hoc, propter hoc" Even if most of the general public baying, we are told, for blood don't understand, our parliament are elected to do our understanding for us.

Popular causes may go down well in focus groups but who wants to live in the 1950's again. No member of any minority that's for sure. Stay out of the bedroom or our castle will become our prison.

  • 57.
  • At 04:19 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Tony wrote:

In Japan, anime called hentai (translated roughly as 'perverted') often depicts extremely violent sexual acts, but its fairly widely accepted and read. It has been noted that around the time hentai emerged there was a drop in violent sexual crime in the country, supporting the notion that it may be used as an outlet by some.

  • 58.
  • At 04:20 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • John Ryder wrote:

The proposed new legislation will be impossible to police. I will soon be able to download main-stream films that I suspect would make me criminally liable because of their violent content. For example, the rape scenes in "A Clockwork Orange" and "Irreversible". Who will decide what is acceptable?

  • 59.
  • At 04:24 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Meg wrote:

Is this going to end up with the Karma Sutra banned and sex can only be had for reproductive purposes in the missionary position? Some people like their sex lives a little spicier than others.

I have visions of "Demolition Man". Sex is digital and reproduction is done in vats.

  • 60.
  • At 04:27 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Simon J. Tero wrote:

This was probably the only news report on terrestrial TV that I did not see yesterday, and it was probably the only one that came anywhere close to being balanced, and avoiding the scaremongering that comes about when such things make the news.

Thank you for giving this important issue some semblance of balance.

Whilst not wishing to cause offence, it should be said that one could use similar arguments of "inspiration to harm and kill" to justifying the banning of the most popular religious texts in this country, as they have been seen on a number of occasions throughout history to incite violence, whether or not it ACTUALLY says "kill the unbeliever" in that text...

  • 61.
  • At 04:28 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Joe Shaw wrote:

This case is quite disturbing in terms of how easily this has been made to pass into law. It's the will of an understandably very upset mother that will be responsible to the introduction of a very authoritarian law that won't actually solve any problems that may have attributed to her daughter's death. To put it simply it is quite stupid. To make the issue of one person having pushed for and achieved this change, she is not only emotionally involved but I question her knowledge of the issues: She refers to 'snuff movies and such' in her interview in a way that just makes me think she isout of touch with reality and calling for something on strong personal moral whim. FURTHER: What if her daughter DID die during a consensual sexual misadventure? This possibility makes me wonder if the matter also relates to her mother wanting to deny such a possibility for her own emotional reasons. She wants to think such a thing unthinkable and demonise other people.

The whole thing strikes me as a sickening accident on behalf of the government.

(Just lastly, I have never been into any of this stuff myself and suspect I never will be. Maybe a pair of furry handcuffs but I certainly do not find rape porn attractive... but I don't mind if others do so long as no one gets hurt etc etc.)

  • 62.
  • At 04:32 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

Until the dawn of the Internet, this type of material was only available within small circles, now I would guess it is viewed by hundreds of times as many people with similar interests. However, I am not aware of evidence that there has been any corresponding increase in the number of violent sex crimes.

  • 63.
  • At 04:33 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Chris Rogers wrote:

Does this mean that if some psychopath claims that he reads the Bible every day, that it should then be banned? It's nonsense - just another convenient excuse for deviant behaviour and yet another attempt to demonise the Internet, in order to promote censorship. Mrs Longhurst deserves all our sympathies, but it was a sociopathic criminal who murdered her daughter, not a picture on a computer screen.

  • 64.
  • At 04:34 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • John Gammon wrote:

Perhaps they'd like to ban tights (Jane was strangled with these) and storage companies (her killer kept her body in a room in one of these).

I have a lot of sympathy for the mother of Jane Longhurst, but it's very dangerous to give killers the defence that it was porn that was responsible for their crimes. Instead, we ought to be underlining to children and adults the importance of personal responsibility.

  • 65.
  • At 04:36 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Niall wrote:

I think it's high time that we reassessed the notion that watching video nasties or violent porn, or playing violent video games, does not make you violent.

Modern understanding of the brain puts this belief back into question.

The so-called "mirror neurons" are stimulated identically by "seeing" as by "doing" -- so if you watch someone do something, it feels like it's really you doing it. This, they tell us, is how we learn things like dancing. If you watch the same behaviours again and again, does reinforcement kick in? Do we develop a physical habit without ever once having performed the actions? If so, it is surely inevitable that one or two of us will act out these porn-led habits.

If not, someone had better tell the neuroscientists that this "mirror neuron" thing is all wrong....

  • 66.
  • At 04:37 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Alex Melia wrote:

There are real snuff films on the net - from Iraq, Afganistan and southern russia. They do not have a sexual motive but a political one.

Are these movies illegal ? And if not how come it is legal to see a man die for real and illegal to see a girl pretending ?

I'm confused.

  • 67.
  • At 04:47 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • jane m wrote:

please do not forget that in violent pornograhy the reciepients of the violence are overwhelmingly women, would violent acts predominantly perpetrated against any other group be so acceptable - because it is represented as sex it is acceptable to beat and strangle women. sites that glorify the beating of jews by non jews for sexual pleasure would be universally abhorrent - and rightly so. This is hypocrisy by apparently objective people.

  • 68.
  • At 04:49 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Steve Birtenshaw wrote:

It is just an easy out for the government, they can be seen to be 'doing something' with little effort, but may actually make the situation worse. This will take resources away from policing real internet crime, such as peadophillic images and child-grooming activities.

We have yet to see precise wording for the proposed legislation. For child material the possession offence is "strict liability" - the offence is made out if you are found in possession and you have to prove you fall within one of the limited offences "on the balance of probabilities".
Is it the intention to replicate this in the new offence?
Again, in child porn cases, the relatively simple issue is whether the person shown is a child (under the age of 18). But in Obscence Publication Act cases, the test is "tending to deprave and corrupt", a much more subjective test for which, over the years, juries have tended to refuse to convict unless the material was spectacularly disgusting.
The existing Obscene Publications Act can regard "publication" as including distribution by email as well as by website and peer-to-peer fie sharing service. The only "loophole" is the pure possesion offence, which is surely a private matter, provided there is consent by the original participants.
The analogy that the Jim Gambles and John Carrs of this world have been making with child material fails because whereas children cannot express choice and consent; adults can and do.
I work as an expert in digital forensics and have handled both child porn and Obscene Publication Act cases.
This is not an area where knee-jerk reactions and poorly structured legislation has a good effect.

  • 70.
  • At 04:54 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Bill wrote:

How will it be possible to prosecute anyone for viewing such images? Prosecuting police officers, lawyers, judges and juries would have to view any allegedly illegal material. They would therefore be committing the same offence if they concluded that the material was illegal to view...

  • 71.
  • At 04:58 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • A Dad wrote:

Am i missing something here. What sort of person wants to watch videos or look at web sites of people being violently sexually murderd be it real or fake. I am sure that after watching this type of video over and over again. Some unfortunate people will then belive this is an acceptable way to behave and the result is the tragic murder that has ensued.
Surley the wide spread internet advertising of such sites via pay per click is putting these kind of imgaes in front of a far wider and more easily influenced audience than thoes of the ardent S&M followers that may go and search them out. My children are banned from using the internet as a search for a barbie doll can expose my 8 year old daughter to Sex sites containing the most expicit pictures and videos. It is again the wishes of the few that are influencing the choices of the many

  • 72.
  • At 05:01 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

I find that at times after reading the latest reports about New Labour's actions I find my desire to commit violent acts rising - can I suggest that we now ban New Labour?

Or would I have to actually do someone physical harm before New Labour will knee-jerk into banning itself?

  • 73.
  • At 05:02 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Robert Goehlert wrote:

It's all a case of boundaries and where we should draw them. At all times decisions should be made after extensive discussion and analysis, not as a result of knee-jerk decisions as is the case here.

I enjoy mainstream pornography myself, as do many others. At the same time, I am repulsed by porn of the S&M kind. However, both forms of the genre involve consenting adults, and as such any decision on viewing such material should be up to the individual - not the nanny state.

  • 74.
  • At 05:03 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • JT wrote:

Well done BBC. At last someone has been prepared to do some decent investigation instead of trumpeting HMG or police press reports. Of course the vast majority of the sites concerned (certainly the commercial ones) are faked, often in a highly stylistic manner which is much less realistic than your average fare on "Silent Witness".

Just as well you looked at these sites now because, of course, if these proposals go through, you will have been guilty of 'making violent pornography', for which there is no defence. You are now about to serve a lengthy spell in prison and a pronloged (even indefinite) spell on the Sex offenders register, compulsory 'treatment' as a sex offender and quite likely a visit from social services.

Of course, thanks to the Internet Watch foundation and Cleanfeed which will strip these sites altogether from UK internet users, you may not have been able to do this research at all.

You will have to accept the press releases of HMG and CEOP as fact. No problem there, of course, police forces and governments never distort the facts, do they?

Exactly this debate is raging in the US:

In fact, the police do not need actual images - they have started bringing 'attempting to make' charges on the basis of suspicious Google search words, so don't even think of 'images off' searching.

No matter, you can still get this sort of stuff from P2P services like Kazaa. Just like your curious, hormonal teenagers, who, unless things have changed since my youth will be unable to restrain themselves from having a quick peek at that intruigingly titled video on Kazaa.

Pray that the police are not monitoring this activity (as they do at present) or your kid is going to end in the same fix. They do not need any actual images to get a conviction just the supposedly 'unique' hash belonging to each file and which is retained even if the image is securely deleted.

  • 75.
  • At 05:07 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Scott Rogers wrote:

I am a computer consultant dealing with setting up ISP's business from scratch. this includes all the email and web filtering and configuration you could ever imagine. I have been working with the internet for about 8 years now. In my time I have stumbled across pretty much most of what the internet has to offer, people tend to be so very quick to blame the porn, very few consider the extreme political groups and other dark aspects of the internet such as the gore sites. My job consists of setting up the mechanism that keeps this garbage out of peoples workplaces. so I do see a lot of unsavoury things. but I do not go home after work, beat my wife up and torment my kids. people just blame anything for their own injustices. People are accountable for what they do no matter what the reasons they might want to blame.

  • 76.
  • At 05:07 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

I cannot understand how any man could actively want to be buggered and the idea of it happenning to me physically sickens me at times.

The message here is that just because you don't like something doesn't mean it is abnormal in any respect.

I was so incensed by this that I could barely hold my thoughts together. I did manage to pen a blog post comparing such legislation to Operation Spanner.

I maintain that the state has no business whatsoever intervening in the sex lives of consenting adults of whatever persuasion.

The reason why this bit of legislation was enacted is very simple, and the logic behind it has been understood for many years: "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. Attempting to encode morality in law is always a bad idea; it never works. All it does is create a new class of criminal, and that's only useful to the government...

  • 79.
  • At 05:17 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mary wrote:

This proposal seems to be heading towards a legal culture which threatens to further marginalize a group of people who already have to struggle for acceptance in this world, from their own friends and family and now the state. This discrimination, for that's what it is, will almost definatley be reflected in the emotional states of those individuals who find it difficult to accept their own 'kink' and will discourage any tolerance from their surrounding community. It is important that everyone be allowed to learn to accept themselves and legislation should not be seen to stand in the way of personal development. It should also be noted that for many, these urges are as inherant as the ability to walk, talk or the need to visit the bathroom. Who are the government to say this is illegal?

They also neglect to consider the feelings of the person on whom the so called violence is inflicted. They need to be in the situation as much as the person inflicting the pain etc. and their needs and desires should not be overlooked or belittled.
Life as a pain freak is difficult enough without pressure from the state to conform for fear of prosecution.

So what does this mean for films like Deliverance, Scum and Irreversible that all have violent rape scenes in them. Does this mean I will be arrested for possession of a film where rape is a part of the story line?

If theres a problem, its with the small minority of individuals, not the majority. Why should anyone who wishes to view or take part in such sexual play be criminalised for what they do to their own bodies?

How much more can we take of a reactionary Government that seems to use the tabloids as a judge of the opinion of the country, rather than the people who vote for them?

To the people who are asking whether movies which show violent scenes like The Shawshank Redemption and Straw Dogs, will be banned, the answer is no they won't.

Any film which has been been classified by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) will not be illegal. Neither will stills from these films be illegal.

If this law is passed we will have the crazy and hypocritical situation where the Government considers that it is harmless to watch a violent scene in a movie, but if the same act is depicted in a picture on someone's computer, it is deemed likely to turn them into a homicidal maniac. Where is the consistency? Where is the reasoning?

I am against all forms of censorship, but if we are to have censorship, let's at least make it consistent. If it is illegal to have a picture portraying an act which appears as though it might cause death or injury, then surely movies which portray these type of images should be banned too. Of course, it would never happen, because that would affect the majority of citizens in this country rather than those with a minority sexual interest. It would also financially hit large companies who profit from the distribution of such classified movies.

  • 82.
  • At 05:45 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

All pornography in the end is harmful. Just as a junkie requires more and more of his fix to create the same high, so a pornography addict requires stronger and stronger material. Regardless of whether it is faked or not it provides a fix to the user, he (or she) does not ask themselves the question 'I wonder if this is real or not' whist performing whatever bodily function is required to enjoy this material. The Internet is a place for learning and communicating and has been hijacked by individuals that need psychiatric help, help in showing them that loving relationships are not based on fear and violence, not based on control and manipulation but on love, maturity and consensual behaviour. As the blame for war is not on the user but the manufacturer of weapons, so the blame for these sites is on the web developers and site maintainers who refuse to ban this information. If Google can censure political information from China so they can do it for perverted western tastes.

This is a piece of reactive, nanny-statist, authoritarian, repressive, pointless, 'seen to be doing something' legislation that infringes personal freedom unacceptably.

But if it saves just one Tory MP...


  • 84.
  • At 06:00 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • fig wrote:

this piece of legislation is well meaning but its going to trap loads of decent honest folk in its net if it goes through. Human sexuality is complex enough without attempting to legislate the grey areas.

Saying that possessing violent porn leads to real life enactment is like saying having sharp pointy knifes in the kitchen leads to murder.

  • 85.
  • At 06:02 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mr K. wrote:

The best point on this whole thread is post number 23. Forget Mrs Longhurst, I bet Tony invented this one by himself.

  • 86.
  • At 06:15 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Greg Walker wrote:

The recent film 'Hostel' got an 18 certificate and was released in the UK. That film is horrific and non consensual, dealing with mutilation and murder for money, but is legally on sale in my local supermarket. If it doesn't cross the line of this proposal, what does?
The key factors have to be legal consensual play, and a boundary on coercion. Films that depict horrendous coercion like rape, death and minors are the dangerous ones.

  • 87.
  • At 06:19 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Kevin wrote:

How many deaths has religion caused?
I'd like the Bible and Koran banned please, they are SO much more dangerous to society than faked violent sex.

  • 88.
  • At 06:20 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

I was also shocked by the BBC’s initial failure to represent my concerns, & many other people’s concerns, about the government’s new legislation against so-called “extreme & violent” pornography.

Mrs Longhurst has suffered the terrible loss of her daughter at the hands of a psychopath. However this does not give Mrs Longhurst, her friends in Labour, the tabloid newspapers, or the Christian fringe (“Mediawatch”) the right to imprison adults for 3 years for viewing other consenting adults (the proposed legislation makes no consideration of consent) engaged in the “realistic depictions” of sexual or violent acts which might sometimes, in themselves, be illegal.

In your interview with her, Mrs Longhurst based her argument on some off-the-cuff remarks made to her by a psychiatrist at Broadmoor. She has no conception (or concern) of how many people this Act will potentially criminalize.

The government’s own white paper makes it clear there is an “absence of conclusive research results” that viewing such material harms the viewer. Evidence has now emerged that Jane Longhurst’s killer, Graham Coutts, was already fantasizing about such behaviour before he started using the sites mentioned at his trial.

The kind of definition of “extreme & violent” pornography envisaged by the government can be glimpsed in the kinds of materials currently cut or banned by the British Board of Film Censorship:- children’s cartoon “The Ren & Stimpy Show” (comedic depiction of cowboy lynch mob removed), action film “Rapid Fire” (brief Nunchaku usage removed), “The Ruth Rendell Mysteries” (head butt deleted from a fight in a pub) etc etc. And that’s before we even get onto the porn.

Detective Inspector Ian Winton, of the Notts police has already indicated how illiberally this legislation will be used:- “This is a huge breakthrough for the police. Previously we have been unable to prosecute people for simply possessing more extreme pornography, such as material that shows the rape of women”. Hmmm, simulated “rape” wasn’t even mentioned by the Home Office.

I personally have no interest in such material, but the thought that someone could get 3 years in prison for looking at someone else pretending to have sex with an animal or a realistic-looking corpse would be ludicrous if it was not about to be passed through Parliament. Are we a nation being swept by necrophiliac ghouls or sheep-fancying perverts? As such material has no proven effect on the psychological well-being of it’s viewers, what is the purpose of this legislation? If it is a legislation against the tastes of a minority, since when did legislation on the grounds of taste carry a 3 year prison sentence & a life-time sentence on the sex offenders register?

The argument that this legislation is to protect children is ridiculous. If I accidentally left a bottle of bleach on the floor, which a child accidentally drank & suffered serious injury, I’d feel awful but face no state penalty. The government is proposing to imprison people in case children accidentally view something which their white paper suggests may do no harm – for 3 years, longer than if I accidentally ran a child over in a car, killed them, then drove away!

To me, this indicates the legislative, witch-hunting zeal of a political regime at the end of its tether. No other country in the western world has any comparable law, indeed, countries which have far less severe censorial legislation (ie Japan) indicate lower levels of violent sexual crime.

I am utterly sickened by the present government & will do everything I can to ensure they aren’t re-elected. I notice, however, even the supposedly libertarian Tories aren’t speaking up against this nonsense – clearly not something that would play well in the tabloids.

I hope that the BBC will provide a more stringent analysis of this piece of legislation before it passes through Parliament in the very near future, although I hold little hope that MPs will have the courage to reject it.

I’m sure my views are held by many other previously law-abiding, happily married adults like me.

  • 89.
  • At 06:27 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ken Broughton wrote:

I think this ban is far more misguided than most people realise. We are already the most sexually censored and repressed nation in Europe. And guess what, we also have the highest rates of sexual assault, teenage pregnancy, and almost every other sex-related problem around. Holland has the lowest. This is connected! Look at those in prison convicted of sex crimes, for example, and they are overwhelmingly from backgrounds where sex was taboo for religious or other reasons. Whilst well-meaning, further repression of the sort this ban intends will only worsen such problems and create MORE crime, not less. We need more liberal policies, where sexuality is openly discussed and indeed celebrated, such as in fact takes place in BDSM culture. This may all be counter-intuitive, and not soundbite-friendly, but it's true. Please BBC take this argument seriously and don't just follow the Daily Mail line that causes so much actual damage.

  • 90.
  • At 06:27 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Nicola wrote:

Guns and knives can kill - these have already been banned - and they are still killing and in greater numbers in spite of being banned.

The news channels showed violent happy slapping films from mobile phones, they show pictures of real sexual violence and degradation carried out by the forces in Abu Ghraib - will these be banned?

  • 91.
  • At 06:34 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Gary wrote:

Forget freedom or speech, what about freedom of sight. Were almost at the point of the film the Minority Report where people were convicted of a crime that they haven't yet committed. If all thoughts were turned into actions we would all be guilty of something terrible.

  • 92.
  • At 06:35 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Jack wrote:

I applaud the BBC for bringing to light an angle of the story that the majority of news outlets had not explored. I too am appaulled by the Government's decision. I hope the item on the 10 o'clock news caused people to think about the story in a different way.

  • 93.
  • At 06:37 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Robert Jackson wrote:

Life in the Uk is about being a member of a society... there's 60 million of us and it's a small island and we've got to work out how to live side by side. The vast majority of the comments on this issue clearly show that we're pretty crap at this. They're all about the individual's right to do whatever they want and to even break the law, so long as they don't think anyone will be affected. So, for instance, as a civilised society, we agree that you can't go around physically abusing other people... GBH, ABH or whatever - it's illegal, but for some reason, we want to allow people to do a bit of GBH so long as the other person doesn't complain/doesn't mind/enjoys it. It's a person's right to be beaten up if they want to be! What other laws can we break so long as the victim is cool about it and no-one else is affected? I could introduce you to any number of thirteen year old boys who would jump at the opportunity of being sexually abused by Keira Knightly, so, so long as it happens behind closed doors, that's cool! Come on guys, just think of the poor beaten up wife who insists that her injuries are all a part of her S&M sex life with her abusive husband... she's a weak woman lacking self esteem, but she lies to protect the one cnstant in her life -her marriage, in spite of the price she pays. Such people need the protection of the law, but they fail to receive it because in the midst of all the crocodile tears about sexual abuse, people are too self-obsessed to relise that there is no such thing as an act done in private between two consenting adults that has no impact on anyone else.
Oh, and as for porn... one man's freedom to express himself is another man's prison... why should someone who believes porn is wrong but finds himself lured by sex images, be forced to be confronted by his temptation merely by living in the UK - for goodness sake the Times ran a backpage add for Playboy the other day - is nothing to be protected from the great porn evangelists? Six year old girls wear Playboy hoodies, lending some kind of innocent credebility to a company that will try to persuade them to spread their legs for the camera in a dozen years time. And as for the 13 yr old lads (who fancy a night with Knightly) they all reckon most women are bisexual and just gagging for it because that's all they ever read in Playboy and it turns them on and they want to believe it.
Rights, Rights, Rights... to die for... because they're killing society!

  • 94.
  • At 06:41 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Eduard wrote:

Let's ban all violent movies, just in case anybody gets ideas and turns into a killer. While we are at it, also ban any movie involving killing, drugs and non marital sex.

This is non sense!

  • 95.
  • At 06:45 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Johnny wrote:

I note that the consultation paper for this proposal has somehow mysteriously vanished from the Home Office Website. Ashamed of it perhaps?

This is yet another knee-jerk reaction to a political lobby with an emotive single instance, with poor justification and poor research from a desperate government. Very unlikely to be enforced and enforceable, likely to criminalise innocent people, and diversionary from really important stuff. Tough on crime.... ughhh.

Perhaps we need legislation to ban legislation that makes people who are concerned about personal freedoms (balanced with the GENUINE needs of society) from foaming at the mouth.

  • 96.
  • At 06:51 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Does this mean that the movie "The Accused" will be banned? If not why not? This multi-award winning Movie, including Best Actress Oscar for Jodie Foster, included a violent gang-rape scene at the beginning. What about movies like "Fatal Attraction" where the whole plot is around violent, sexual games, "A Clockwork Orange", supposedly a classic (can't comment as I've never seen it) and features violent rape and of course don't forget "Erik The Viking" where during a rape scene she is accidentaly killed by Erik.

Does the fact that these are all big Hollywood Movies make them any less likely to warp an induhviduals (SIC) mind.

People will use any excuse rather than admit they are at fault, and as such liable for full extent of the punishment. And The Government will jump on any bandwagon which takes Joe Public's mind off their own failing!

  • 97.
  • At 06:57 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Adrian wrote:

Jane Longhurst's killer has always maintained that the death was a tragic accident. He is continuing the appeals process against conviction for murder. The murder trial heard from several witnesses that he had practised "breath control play" many times, perhaps on over 200 occasions. Given this evidence, it seems absurd that the murder case even went to trial. The defence of accidental death is certainly credible - especially as not a shred of motive for causing serious injury or death was presented. That is, apart from the viewing of violent pornography.

The entire justification for a new law seems to be based on this one case, which still in the appeals process. What of this new law if it's very foundation is taken away and Graham Coutts is acquitted on all charges?

Like the Sally Clark case, the conviction hinged on so called "expert witness" where use of terms from probability and statistics were introduced. Like the Sally Clark case, the expert was not an expert in statistical reasoning, nor, surprisingly, in the field of accidental strangulation - the whole epidemiology of which is totally different from the much more common intentional killing. The Graham Coutts case shows the same tell-tale signs of a gross miscarriage of the law and must be resolved before new "Jane's Laws" are introduced.

  • 98.
  • At 07:11 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • allan wrote:

At the end of the day
Mr Blair is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi citizens
but he chooses to criminalise his own people
I do hope he is able to speak to his god

  • 99.
  • At 07:15 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • ChrisR wrote:

It seems a little strange (incomprehensible?!) that while it will be illegal to own or view pictures of these acts, it will still be perfectly legal to actually do them (with consent, of course) and to take the pictures.

You can do this, but you can't see it!

  • 100.
  • At 07:18 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Eric wrote:

Could this be designed to stop UK citizens seeing videos about torture by rogue allied troops in Iraq?

  • 101.
  • At 07:25 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • mr.eric whitfield wrote:

Some years ago I was working offshore in a foriegn country in a men only environment. I saw a "slash movie" on a large screen, where a girl was killed horribly, not to go into any details, I came out of the room and was physically sick afterwards, as the scene was absolutley realistic in every way, and to this day I beleive it to be true, it was not set up at all. Some people get kicks out of seeing these movies, and most are made abroad, not to mention the people being killed. I would like to see laws put in place for this.

  • 102.
  • At 07:29 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mark Denny wrote:

Having read the consultation paper, you can see most individuals polled don't want the legislation. Yet, even though unworkable it'll go through.

Can you imagine any MP standing up and staying he or she's in favour of violent porn? Because that's what they'd be see as by the tabloid press.

It's totally unworkable. In theory I could be put in prison for having photos my myself and my partner on my own computer.

Total Madness!

  • 103.
  • At 07:31 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • josh wrote:

The person who quoted Ted Bundy saying that pronography inspired him should probably consider that by far the most "inspirational" text for serial killers in the Bible.

This kind of legislation of "thought crime" is terrifying. "violent" erotica is not real violence. Sometimes it might involve pain or the fantasy of non-consensuality but it is consensual. In fact S & M practices have a much, much more developed understanding of power and consent than mainstream sexual relationships - it's just not possible without incredible trust and understanding.

If someone causes another person physical pain - why is that a problem if the receiver wants them to do it ? If we made that illegal then surgeons had better watch out. If we are not careful we will be heading back to the days of the Spanner cases.

If a video depicts *real* rape, or real violence, then of course it is depicting a crime. The rape or violence is the crime - it has a victim - viewing the image can't be a crime. Go and catch the rapist and convict him or her. But remember that the crime is the act not the image of the act. In such a case, if the jury who were trying the rapist were shown the video, would they be committing a crime in watching it ?

Sven Tudor-Miles is currently awaiting sentencing for possession of a photoshopped image . - it wasn't even a real photograph, it was a picture he'd made himself on his computer. There is no victim there. No one has been hurt. When we start to make it a crime to look at images, or to think "unclean" thoughts we are really in trouble.

  • 104.
  • At 07:47 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Anthony Williamson wrote:

I am surprised that there can be 'two sides to this story' and for those who argue that they are not affected by violent porn, well enough. But there are many that potentially can be. Unfortunately I have met many such characters while hospitalised for depression. As for consenting adults in many cases one of the adults would rather not consent but feels obliged to suffer violence to please a sexually sadistic partner. Many sadists I believe may never develop a sexually violent need if not tempted by explicit pictures and films through the Internet. And of course these scenes will occasionally 'pop up' while viewing other innocent content. And if there are two consenting adults to any kind of sex why on earth do they think that others would want to view their activities? Those who are against a ban on sexual violence on the Internet are obviously ridiculously ignorant of the human mind and how many can be encouraged to behave violently, because they are encouraged to see this as acceptable, as 'understandably' others enjoy it! There they are on the Internet these people, proof enough! A warped mind yes, that is easily affected. But sadly there are warped minds aplenty, or minds that have the potential to become warped. As for the rest of us who do not have such a tendency would we not feel safer for ourselves and our loved ones to know that S and M content on the Internet is not freely available to those who believe that their joy in inflicting pain and harm is a human right simply because it brings them happiness and satisfaction. No matter what misery it inflicts on others. And how anyone can think that for some who view this kind of content could not be encouraged to murder, to satisfy an insane need, these well adjusted fair minded fools with this opinion are very ignorant indeed about the dark side of human nature. It needs to be banned if just for the sake of parents who want to feel safe about their children surfing the Internet. For these people to simply place their activities on the Internet to me, seems an infringement on the rights of people who would rather not view them.

  • 105.
  • At 07:54 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Steve Birtenshaw wrote:

Why are we so eager to give adults excuses for what they choose to do?

Ted Bundy claimed 'porn made me do it'. As it turned out police found no porn whatsoever in his home, they found some cheerleader magazines (magazines for cheerleaders), which, even by softcore standards, were pretty lame.

This law smacks of the 'thought police' to me.

What I find most surprising is that the BBC were expecting this proposed legislation to be welcomed - I wrote about this on the Guardian's CommentIsFree site this morning, all bar two or three commenters opposed the ban, just as commenters here have. Is the BBC a little worried that they have so little understanding of popular opinion?

  • 107.
  • At 08:01 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Low wrote:

So this man who killed Jane Longhurst was perfectly normal, average sort of guy. Then he watched some violent porn. So then he against his own volition, killed someone as a result.

Well how about soldiers who fight in wars and actually DO kill or watch people getting killed? When they come home do they against their volition continue to kill because they have seen it happen?

If these sorts of causalities exist, then next time we need to invade some poor and relatively defenceless rogue state, perhaps a law should be passed to make our soldiers wear blindfolds so they can't witness acts of violence else who knows what dangers we all face from them when they return from war.

Basically anyone who kills someone else or acts in such a way that severely risks that happening is sick of mind, and letting them or not letting them watch violent porn ain't going to alter that.

Don't waste statute time on this nonsense.

  • 108.
  • At 08:03 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Anon wrote:

I write as a former Home Office official responsible for the law of obscenity.

The proposed test of criminality is very tough and will catch only very extreme material which it is *already illegal* to publish or distribute. So, nobody except specialist pornographers and a handful of consumers of illegal violent porn need worry.

In fact, as usual, the whole media and public debate is a storm in a teacup generated by a political desire to look tough. Remember the 1980s?

  • 109.
  • At 08:15 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Graeme, UK wrote:

Same stupid Government. Just like the gun laws were a reaction to one nutter. If someone wants a gun, or nasty porn they will be able to get it.
I think it just gives an impression that they are doing something to the masses when they are powerless to do anything. Has gun crime declined NO, every criminal has one.
Sadly making it 'illegal' will get more people into it.

  • 110.
  • At 08:23 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • russell dudley-smith wrote:

there is no credible statistical evidence suggesting a relationship between watching images of violence (sexual or not) and committing violence - on this the experts are agreed (numerous tv and radio reports, not only on the bbc, have agreed with this - the academic literature is absolutely clear on the matter).

so where does this leave us? michel foucault (who found his own kind of anti-therapeutics in consenting s/m) had the last word i suspect. the oneirics of (to be) 'free' life and blood is the imaginary dream of the subjects who find themselves regarded as having the legitimacy in politics to legislate what is acceptable to a decent 'society' (itself a peculiarly incoherent idea, and one which blogging is, perhaps, beginning to erode).

this has been true since the C19th - think of the moral panics about masturbation, and, particularly, the racist delusions of those who dreamed of genetic purity by murdering, i.e. spilling the blood, of the other. Or, indeed, worrying about the propensity of poor mothers to give birth to already disposed to be criminal children.

And then think of the current dreams of order to be implemented by pure negation, e.g. in terms of the 'war on terror'. Here, we simply are not allowed to see the real consequences of the delusion: the bbc for example, believes it is beyond 'taste and decency' to show children fragmented by 'liberating' bombs.

any parody of this dream of order, for example the fantasy of s/m, is therefore to be expunged.

  • 111.
  • At 08:33 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Jason wrote:

Some points to consider;

- How will this law be enforced?
Will the govt investigate the hard drives of every PC in the land on an ongoing basis? No.
If possession of images is outlawed, and the usual rights of citizens apply, then this law is likely to be enforced only when the police already have access to someones residence due to suspicion of something else. It seems likely that this would lead to a law that is enforced in an unequal manner. 'Suspected terrorists' beware.

- How will abuse of the law be checked?
If a PC is taken from a home, and the images added, how easy will it be for the average citizen to prove in a court of law that this was the case?

  • 112.
  • At 08:40 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Vicky wrote:

I'm concerned that this will just be the beginning....what will they decide to ban next. Horror films, computer games, will there be raids on S&M clubs?

Who will be defining what is acceptable and what is not? What moral agenda might they have? What criteria will they be using?

And all this with little or no scientific evidence.

  • 113.
  • At 08:58 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Craig Oliver blogged: ...It was a response we hadn't entirely expected ... it was also important to use our position post-watershed...

Its a real shame that none of the editors who put out the earlier material that was not informed and not balanced have seen fit to blog on this, or reply here.

In a country where the government and parliament is clearly driven by the tabloid press to enact instant initiatives that frequently are quite disconnected from concepts of human rights or traditional legal protections, the BBC is almost our only potential protection. Having no obligation to run with the pack. And yet many of the BBC's reporters and editors still do join the pack. Why is that? Is it inevitable because of where they have been recruited, or trained? Do appointment panels even consider this issue?

If it required three members of staff to do extensive research before they realised there might be some pitfalls in the announced proposals, that has to say something quite devastating about BBC newsrooms. Either you have a very narrow range of people, or there is a climate of fear wherein people who have, or even know of a different perspectives dare not raise their voices. Or both.

That then means that the BBC is not equipped to act as any safeguard. Not only against pressure for instant and irreverible changes of rights and laws, but also, far more widely important, against the steps that might harm a few directly, but harm far more by bringing democracy into contempt, by making people feel they, or their children are protected when the laws in fact are useless, by enacting window-dressing that surplants or postpones changes that would be effective, by draining funds from more useful activity, etc..

We don't need more laws banning stuff that might prompt the disturbed to commit crimes, we need better diagnosis and handling of the disturbed, ideally at a stage long before they are dangerous. When perhaps they might be enabled to lead "normal" lives. A wider understanding of abusive and psychotic characteristics. An end to the confusion of excusing, even praising some of them. Sweeping "under the counter" everything that might give clues to how they are heading might well be the opposite to helping in that.

  • 114.
  • At 09:09 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Mally wrote:

I can be done for watching Susan George get raped in Straw Dogs, but it is OK for me to watch 90% naked, 1% alive famine victims dying before me on a documentary or two people holding hands as they throw themselves off a skyscraper on the news. I know that Susan George being raped is fiction, but I know that that baby taking its last breath and those people jumping off the WTC is for real.

The immorality here is us watching these images and going back to our daily lives via the flick of the channel button.

The way (post dot com) the law has been going, is to penalise people for making obscene images via their computer as a result of their actions downloading and displaying on screen.

In the uk adult entertainment market, a backlash has started. No obscene material (please define), is really legal in the UK to sell via distance selling means (i.e. a computer). A purchaser has to go into a shop and there and then buy it. It is a way for the powers-that-be to get easy convictions - thus being able to be seen to be 'doing something' easily.

People will soon be getting arrested for pornographic works of fiction on their PC's - if the authorities go one step further and start trawling people's pc's online. And if the authorities turn up to any medium sized private sector company and take a look at most 18-40 year old individual's p.c's-at-work then they will find a plethora of images to arrest people with. I can recall the ladies of the office sending each other movies of men getting their testes kicked by women, and pictures of men getting their penises nailed to a table. It seemed that it was funny somehow if it was a woman doing it to a man. The comments on the email were of the 'here's how we will keep them in check' variety. (Remember a car advert where a woman throws a man out of the upstairs window - 'ask before you borrow it.')

Anyway this is all part of a wider problem.

Our society post dot com has become a surveillance society and the authorities have become distant and seem to be there only to punish us. Often remotely. We are increasingly becoming alienated from law makers and law enforcers, as they are seen not to be there to help - but to enforce, punish and take ££fines - via available technology. There was a time if you were speeding, a policeman would pull you over and ask you what the problem was. If you had a pregnant woman in the car giving birth, the policeman would more than likely have given you an escort to the hospital. Nowadays there will be no policeman. All you will get is a computer generated letter on your doormat asking you to pay £60 and send in your licence for computer generated endorsements. We are living in a tick box society - all computer generated, no right of reply. If technology exists to discover convictions it will be used. Laws are increasingly being made on the hoof, and vast swathes of the population are finding their actions being branded as criminal.

We all have a problem.

  • 115.
  • At 09:11 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Dan Dare wrote:

the problem with this really is the ambiguity of the phrase "violent porn" -snuff movies, as referred to by Mrs Longhurst, in the news report on this website are very different to consensual BDSM/sadomasochistic activities.

We have to distinguish between "abhorrant" and "dangerous". Cum hoc ergo procter hoc... A correllation between men who commit violent sex acts and men who view violent porn does not equal causation. A similar correlation might be seen between those same men and soap but one would not dream of leaping to the conclusion that soap inspires men to commit crime - as another contributer to this site has written "it's like the 80's 'video nasties' scenario all over again".

It is always very tempting to ban those things that we find abhorrant, but freedom and democracy are characterised by acceptence of those things that we disagree with or dislike. While there will always need to be limits to this, by using such an ambiguous term as "violent porn" there is a real danger that this act will simply become a catch all.

  • 116.
  • At 09:22 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ash wrote:

When I heard this story initially I was shocked- I would have assumed GENUINE images of GENUINE rape/sexual abuse were illegal- then I realised that the ban will not attempt to differenciate between acted and real violence. How could this ever work?

Google came up with 402,000 results for sites on "violent rape" - no I`m not keen on visiting them, but I know that rape is a common fantasy among both women and men. To try to categorize such sites in the same way as those promoting terrorism and child pornography is yet another irreversable step to the Nanny State the government are so keen on.

  • 117.
  • At 09:24 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Leah wrote:

Whether or not viewing violent porn leads people to commit violent acts, I just can't accept that it can be ok to watch women (or anyone else) being raped. How can this be healthy in any way? I can't believe that it has no ill effect on the attitudes of the people who watch it, whether or not it actually affects their actions. I also find it interesting that most of the people commenting are men, who are generally (but not always) not the victims of violent sexual acts. I'm not saying that banning things is the answer, I just worry that saying it is ok to make or watch violent porn is a way of saying that violence, particularly sexual violence, against women is ok. I know this may be seen as a simplistic view, and I know that for many people violence is part of their happy sexual life, but for women who are subjected to sexual violence against their will it's a very different story.

  • 118.
  • At 09:26 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

The police will not use ISPs to track people's downloads. What they currently do is to use their rights of arrest and search based on an "anonymous" 'phone call. They apparently don't need any other evidence, allegations, or a judicial search warrant.

When the police make a mistaken arrest for ANY offence then they appear to attempt to cover themselves by automatically taking away a person's PC to search for even ONE image that they can argue is illegal in their eyes.

The fact that a jury often disagrees with the police/CPS interpretation of an "illegal" picture says much for the mental corruption of the law enforcement agencies, and politicians, by single-issue pressure groups.

The ludicrous situation already exists that you can own a legal UK published book - but pictures from it on your PC are "illegal porn".

By the same legal considerations a DVD of "Clockwork Orange" would be legal - but a copy on your PC would be illegal.

  • 119.
  • At 09:27 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • talia wrote:

Why must i be criminalised because of my sexuality? Threatened with imprisonment and ruination because there are pictorial records on my computer commemorating special moments shared by two people within an adult, caring and fully consensual relationship?

It beggars belief, it really does.

  • 120.
  • At 09:30 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Ed Manning wrote:

Balance is an interesting question, should we hear the views of Nazi's on why the holocaust was not so bad afterall? Of course not. There are facts as well as opinion, if everyone in a phone-in voted that 2 plus 2 equals five it would not make it true.

That does not mean that we should take the strictly scientific view. When John Gummer fed his daughter beef saying there was no scientific evidence of contamination between BSE in cows and humans. He was at the time correct.

Similarly consenting adults can be a misnomer when some research points out that many strippers and prostitutes have been sexually abused when young. Too much of what passes for consensual sex, is not when all the facts are considered entirely consensual.

The news needs to explore the issues and challenge people, I do not want "balance" I want the truth.

  • 121.
  • At 09:30 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Graeme Smith wrote:

In the USA you wouldn't stand a hope of banning something like that - consensual, staged items of any type.

It is called free speech and in the USA has been repeatedly protected in court under the provisions of the First Amendment.

S&M was around long before the Internet. Don't blame the Internet, of photographs, or books, or oral traditions or any of the myriad ways we used as the prime means of communication in the past.

The USA may have problems but boy the UK seems to be turning into a real nanny state. As Scott at post 75 says - people are accountable for their actions.

  • 122.
  • At 09:30 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Marshall Woods wrote:

I'm heartily sick in general of the idea that it's worth any amount of social or economic disruption to gain even a marginal amount of safety. We tend to overlook that by going to extreme measures to possibly save a single life, we're stealing away bits and pieces of millions of lives.

  • 123.
  • At 09:47 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Dave W wrote:

I noticed that your reporter commented that the police would use similar tactics to 'Operation Ore'. If that example is what we can expect, there will be many people being unjustly ruined or even driven to suicide because they just looked at 'normal' porn but a website may have had a link to now-illegal images at some point. See Duncan Campbell's investigation at,,2092-1669131_1,00.html

  • 124.
  • At 09:48 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Gerry wrote:

Charles Manson did not view internet porn, nor did Adolf Hitler or Atilla the Hun.

If one killing as a result of one disturbed individual is to result in the criminalisation of myself and many of my online friends, why are people still allowed to drive after having even one drink?
Yesterday, millions of people worldwide viewed internet porn and did NOT rape, torture or kill anybody. Can drink-drivers say the same?

  • 125.
  • At 09:55 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Caoimhin Saile wrote:

So how then does the proposed law fit in with this then?

To obtain this category cuts of 0m 9s were required. The cuts were Cuts for Category. Distributor chose to remove scene of sexualised asphyxiation in line with BBFC policy and Guidelines and in order to achieve the requested `15`. An uncut `18` was available`.

Yet this requires a compulsory cut at R18.

Does the left hand know what the right is doing?

  • 126.
  • At 10:01 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

It is wrong for a liberal democracy to base laws on a single crime, with no basis of proof. This law is in response to one womans death, and a case that is still being appealed against. How can this be right?

I find it impossible to believe that anyone can be "pushed over the edge" by watching any kind of pornography, just as watching violent movies doesn't make you any more prone to committing violence. And what of video games? Are we bringing-up a generation of potential killers?

This should be dropped before it becomes law.

  • 127.
  • At 10:03 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • HB wrote:

The government's tentacles draw ever closer around the neck of free speech.

In proposing this legislation, the government has crossed an important line - it can ban the depiction of acts between consenting adults.

A child or an animal cannot consent and the acts are rightly illegal. Adults can and do consent and the govt. should keep out.

How can this be enforced? For every paedophile out there there must be at least 1000 S&M followers and their fetish is legal.

Will people be arrested for having a copy of The Accused (Jode Foster) or will the judge decide what acting is arousing and which is not? This is one step too far by the government and a classic example of populist ill-thought out legislation.

I can understands the revulsion people have to such violent images. After being dangerously exposed to Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, I went to grammar school where I read Stanley Gibbon's magnificent Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Then I had the misfortune to hear the Sex Pistols singing Pretty Vacant on an unguarded radio and I decided to go to University.

Once I completed a degree and a post grad I decided it would be wise to avoid further violent images or my
skull might explode with too much education.

Of course I do watch Fox's coverage of the war in Iraq/Lebanon/Dafur/anywhere else and I can feel a doctorate looming.

People as individuals make choices that involve actions that have nothing to do with anything other than the fact that they are either good, bad or mentally ill. Television has no more to do with the model than the Colesseum had to do with the Splendour and the Barbarism that was Rome.

Would it not be more purposeful if the people obsessed with these surreal concepts of cause and effect paid slightly more attention to economics and how the dynamism of the West does little to affect the levels of poverty and corruption in places such as Africa? Might I be allowed to suggest with all the sympathy I can for the tragedy that inspired this action that the people who are involved in this faked, violent pornography are of the same class as the people who believe that inert images, rather than poverty or madness are the source of all criminal actions?

I used to live in Miami City where they have a concealed weapons law: you can carry a hidden weapon. No one disturbs you in a bar, and no one harasses you. That's because Miami has one of the highest stats for middle aged women shooting dead assailants, with a small handgun - the Lady Colt. Perhaps it would be much more effective policy to restore the possession of handguns to the uk but only for women. In fact, we might consider making it compulsory.

Did our parents and grandparents ban Nazi propaganda in the face of defeat in 1939? No, they fought like lions If we wish to have a society free from such horror then we too must fight like lions but we must fight against the real enemies and not some shallow paper tiger that is anything on the net. The barbarian tyrant Mao Tse Tung summed this up very clearly when he attempted to paraphrase Tsun Tsu with "Political truth springs forth from the barrell of a gun".

Images mean nothing. Bullets mean death.

  • 129.
  • At 11:01 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • miika wrote:

Gary in post 91:

Since Tony Blair thinks he can identify troublemakers before they're actually born, according to , it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the principle of "pre-crime" intervention, prosecuting people before they've committed any crime, isn't lurking somewhere in the man's mind.

This law, like most other ones Blair has pushed ahead with, will serve solely to criminalize the innocent, and create an even deeper cloud of fear hanging over every citizen's head. The tabloids won't start screaming about it until page 3 gets censored, but by then it will be too late.

Tony Blair's legacy is going to be absolute control the likes of which Orwell would have flat out disbelieved could be possible.

Welcome to totalitarianism, sheeple.

  • 130.
  • At 11:08 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Alison wrote:

I feel poorly-qualified to comment on this forum, as I'm not a computer forensics expert or S&M practitioner. Personally I am not a fan of porn, so you'd think I'd be in favour of the proposed legislation, but I'm genuinely surprised and impressed by a lot of the arguments put here and I find myself thinking about this topic in a new light, so thanks bbc & participants. I do believe what consenting adults do is up to them, but I'm slightly worried by the perception that everything on the web is consensual. If that were true, there wouldn't be any child abuse images would there?

  • 131.
  • At 11:08 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

I remember reading in some pyschology book 1 in 33 people have an interest in S&M activities thats roughly 1.8 Million UK citizens, I remember Durex doing a survey that showed 1 in 3 couples enjoy 'kinky' sex.

How will these couples know if they've downloaded something that's 'too violent'?

If this law goes through, will the government build more prisons to accomidate the huge influx of people?

Or perhaps they'll just reduce the sentances of those commited for rape and murder to make room!

Actually perhaps spending 3 years inside for having a few pictures on your computer to be protected against the murders on the streets doesn't sound all that bad after all...

OK now I'm being silly... but not any more silly then the government for wanting to criminalise a large number of law abidding UK citizens.

It's time the BBC did a show to see the impact this law would have on life in the UK, including the suicides from innocent people who's computers have been used by backdoor trogens to store pictures they knew nothing about!

  • 132.
  • At 11:18 PM on 31 Aug 2006,
  • Franco wrote:

Actually, the whole story covered by the press is beside the point. Everyone has fallen for government spin. The initial proposal in August 2005 was extremely harsh and unworkable. It was destroyed in the consultation. The new proposal of 30 August 2006 only outlaws explicit pornographic violence likely to endanger life or cause serious, lasting injury. In reality this would only apply to asphyxiation. However, encouraged by government spin the media reported that this was the old porposal which would ban rape pornography and anything deemed 'abhorrent'. Read the current paper. It won't. The reason government chose to sound tough was to avoid a drubbing from the tabloids who backed the Longhurst petition. In reality government caved in to sheer common sense.
Even the current law is bad, as it simply picks on a small sexual minority. But it is not what was sold to us in the media on 30 August 2006. Once again, read the government paper. It's there in black and white.

It's an infringement upon many peoples sex lives, for that and many other reasons this is very wrong.

Prohibition of porn works like prohibition of drink, driving the price up and creating a new blackmarket for a very corrupt group of criminals.

Nonconsentual material will then be more likely to to find a niche in the market. There is no snuff movie market, there is no pornography available that shows nonconsentual S&M, fetish, or even run of the mill missionary sex.

I've owned a fetish shop for a couple of years and hosted a fetish club for as long and believe me if it was there, I'd have seen it.

The truth is that there are no shortage of female and male paid participants for this genre of work. And of course nowadays a very high number of people are using cheaply available technology to make their own.

Any death is a tragedy. Losing a child is a disaster. Losing a daughter under these circumstances must be a living nightmare.

But I'm afraid that poking government legislation in to the bedrooms of the nation is misguided because it is a big step backwards in this day and age, unnecessary because it's going to infringe upon a consentual act between a million or more adults and an over reaction because it follows the preferences of a well supported grieving mother.

I wish her all the love in the world but the poor lady can hardly be expected to have a balanced opinion on this kind of thing. Neither can politicians, so thank you to the bbc for featuring the kinky community and thank you to backlash for at least trying to stop this ridiculous law getting this far because it quite clearly shouldn't have done.


  • 134.
  • At 12:25 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

The number of comments here against this legislation indicate the large no of individuals who feel the government ignored their views during the consultation on this. Only the views of the consulted organizations were considered, &, frankly, can you imagine any publicly funded body (or political party, for that matter) having the balls to question something with the lurid title of this Act?

Anyway, my particular point is the continual use by sponsors of this Bill (Mrs Longhurst, MP Martin Salter) of the term "snuff film". As far as I know, no snuff film, in the sense of murder performed for the entertainment of weirdos, has ever been uncovered anywhere in the world. (See the Wikipedia entry or the David Slater book "Killing for Culture"). The use of the term by sponsors of the Bill is a flagrant attempt to mislead the public as to its aims & scope.

Thanks to the BBC editors for allowing this debate to continue here, & I hope such views are reflected in news coverage once Labour break cover & try to whisk this through Parliament in the dead of night.

  • 135.
  • At 02:16 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • shaun hollingworth wrote:

To readers in general, but in partucular the anonymous Home Office official, "formerly responsible for obscenity" in who wrote in post #108:

"Nobody (with few stated exceptions) shoud worry" ?

Like we really believe you ?

The way the Home Office is carrying on, they simply cannot be trusted to be fair, and this is a licence for the police etc., to go on a complete witchhunt.

It is completely unjustified.

If there's a "storm in a teacup", you government people are the ones who have created it, with your repressive intentions, against free people (?) without giving us a shred of proper evidence that such draconian action is at all necessary, and despite the majority of respondents, to your so called (now vanished) "consultation document" being completely against this proposal.

Democracy ?

That seems to be a thing of the past nowadays. We are clearly living under some bizzare kind of dictatorship.

If you are unaware of the real views of the public,then PLEASE learn something from these replies here, and in future, DO YOUR JOB PROPERLY before you sink into even worse disrepute than you currently find your self in.

  • 136.
  • At 02:46 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Anon wrote:

If a killer who enjoyed looking at images of fish, and then proceeded to murder someone with a pirahna, force the government to ban anyone else from ever looking at fishes?

  • 137.
  • At 06:13 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

Is all this exclusive to the internet?

It seems strange to me that in the media of film - we see acts of violent and extreme porn all the time, A Clockwork Orange was banned at the time but is now widely available; Jodie Foster I believe won an Oscar for being graphically gang raped in 'The Accused', the list of films with such content is staggering - am I to be condemned for owning the Stanley Kubrick DVD Collection? Or would I be just condemned if I had the same films stored on my hard drive?

  • 138.
  • At 09:53 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

So violent porn is to be banned because one (1) person used it as justification for a murder, even though we have no idea how many people watch it without having any negative reaction.

So by the same logic we should ban religion, as it was used as justification for mass murder on more then one occasion e.g. the London bombings.

After all if one person who reads a holy book can turn into a mass murderering terrorist then they all can - or does that thinking just apply to porn?

  • 139.
  • At 09:56 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • John wrote:

Over 1 million people in the UK enjoy mild restraint in their love and sexual relations. The law would make it illegal to possess any image of a person being restrained.

So no pictures of people in Ann Summers furry handcuffs, no pictures of people being tied with rope or bound with chain, no pictures of people being spanked, no pictures of people wearing a gag or mask.

Possession will result in three years imprisonment. Is that why the Government is releasing real criminals to find jail space for enthusiasts of alternative pursuits?

This entire legislation is badly thought out. Next they'll want to ban anything not in the missionary position, although I did notice the news stories today saying sex causes cancer. So maybe they just want to ban sex altogether.

If you cannot present both sides of the argument pre-watershed then you do not present either. That's called being unbiased, and is supposed to be the principle governing every BBC news item.

  • 141.
  • At 10:26 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Sean wrote:

If the goverment wants to ban violent porn, then they need to do the same for violent movies, music that talks about killing and any other format that violence can be depicted. If they do not, then they are basically being prejudice against porn. Then everyone who wishes can pursue a legal course against the goverment. They need to realise that it is either everything or nothing as there have also been cases of people acting out violent acts after seeing them on TV or film.

  • 142.
  • At 10:55 AM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • des currie wrote:

"behind closed doors or online" seems a bit like "behind clear glass doors".
Des Currie

  • 143.
  • At 12:04 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Ank wrote:

Criminalising material created by consenting adults, for consenting adults, in this way is criminalising a valid, legal, sexuality. It's equivalent to making gay porn illegal, and equally as bigoted. I don't speak lightly here - many in the S&M scene see real parallels between their own non-standard sexuality and homosexuality, and concepts like "coming out" as a sadist or masochist are well understood and commonly used.

I'm also interested in where the line is drawn. Would an erotic story with violent content be illegal? Would a violent, erotic comic? If this law does get passed, I look forward with interest to the courtroom reports on the first test case.

  • 144.
  • At 01:23 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Robert wrote:

As the webmaster of adult sites myself (though mainstream, not violent) I was concerned to hear Mrs Longhurst refer to 'snuff movies' in the report. Almost without exception all this content is faked and I was surprised she didn't know that.

This all seems a bit suspicious. The law will probably end up being misused to persecute mainstream adult sites and consenting adults. Just as the terror legislation has been used against protesters and the protection of children is being used as a tool to effectively restrict access to porn by adults.

I consur with the majority of people objecting to the censorhip of images but I am also scared of the possibilities for enforcement of this horrendous law.

A single stray image on a PC in for repair could result in your front door being smashed in at 5am.

If the police get on your case for whatever reason, they will surely scan your PC for anything that may possibly threaten you with 3 years.

It may even be easier for them to do you for a stray image rather than try and prosecute you for the more serious crime that they were looking for in the first place. (which was probably less than 3 years prison anyway)

I consur with the majority of people objecting to the censorhip of images but I am also scared of the possibilities for enforcement of this horrendous law.

A single stray image on a PC in for repair could result in your front door being smashed in at 5am.

If the police get on your case for whatever reason, they will surely scan your PC for anything that may possibly threaten you with 3 years.

It may even be easier for them to do you for a stray image rather than try and prosecute you for the more serious crime that they were looking for in the first place. (which was probably less than 3 years prison anyway)

  • 147.
  • At 03:44 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

So I can legally watch the most extremely graphic violence at the cinema or on TV (Hitchcock, Elm St, whatever) and happily munch popcorn as I do so; yet at the first hint of sex or porn being involved, the government want to start putting people in prison for even viewing the material? This is fatuous, discriminatory and oppressive. To be honest, I would be very surprised if any of this stuff, on commercial websites let's not forget, shows real abuses.

For the first time in my life, I am going to write to my complain about this nonsense.

  • 148.
  • At 03:50 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Sophie wrote:

While I truly feel for Jane Longhurst's mother I believe her quest to ban violent porn is misguided and that a ban would make little or no difference to violent crime.

The obvious problem is where to draw the line. S&M is hardly a niche fetish, and as long as both parties are willing participants I don't see what the problem is. Also, when is a film 'violent' enough to fall under the new law? I don't think it is possible to set up a subjective measure for this. I saw an interview where the mother mentioned snuff films, which would obviously be a candidate. However, snuff films have been debunked as an urban myth, with all the ones 'discovered' so far turning out to be faked.

There is obviously something terribly wrong in the psychological makeup of the perpetrator of this crime, and he possibly took some ideas from films he watched. However, this does not mean that everybody who watches these films shares the same propensity for real-life violence. The people who *do* share that propensity will undoubtedly be able to get hold of violent porn whether it is legal or not.

This attempt at legislation reminds me strongly of the Prohibition legislation in the US, and I think it is destined to have the same results: an increase in illegal activities, resulting in the repeal of the law.

  • 149.
  • At 05:21 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Jezzer wrote:

Your article says that it is currently legal to view material that is hosted in other countries. Often these countries are the United States and other European countries, where it is all legal. Why? Because they regard censorship as a greater evil. European countries are sensitive to censorship because many have lived under totalitarian regimes and in the US, of course, they have the right to free expression which we do not have.

This is a censorship issue and I am really surprised that journalists seem to be colluding in what is state-sponsored censorship because usually jounalists are very sensitive about that.

Yes, Ted Bundy did blame porn for his crimes, but he also had a twisted childhood - he was brought up believing that his mother was his sister. I haven't seen a childhood biography of Graham Coutts yet (although maybe I have just missed it).

I really feel let down by the media over this, but it's nothing new really. Hardcore porn was legal in Europe and the US for almost 40 years before it was legalised here. Why is our government so different to the governments of other countries over free expression?

  • 150.
  • At 07:14 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

To those saying that watching acts of violents has influenced these killers. If you REALLY believe this and not just using it as a vehicle to censor porn why are you not campaigning to reduce Coutts' 26 year minimum sentence. If he was so badly influenced by the internet (as he claims) then surely he is a victim of this and the sentence is draconian. You cannot have it both ways.

Killers like Coutts (the internet) and Huntley(insanity) will claim anything they can to try and reduce a life sentence. We should not then let what these people say be used as a vehicle to pass laws that would not get passed through the normal way.

There have been many cases of this happening with horror films/video nastys. Violent video games and now violent porn. The problem anyone will have if faced with this justice system is what is defined as life threatening.

Im sure i could find a doctor that says that any electricity passed through the body above the waist is life threateningly dangerous. Electricity at low levels is used in consensual play I expect this will be one of those arguable cases. Surely it is cut and dried you say, however currenty Brainiacs are seeing how much a celebrity can take whilst strapped to a mock up electric chair (which goes up to a level of a cattle prod) much more than i would ever wish to subject anyone to. One is on mainstream television the other could get you 3-years and entered onto the sex offenders list along with rapists.

  • 151.
  • At 07:16 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

I would love to see the BBC investigate this consultation…

1. How it came about – pandering to the press.

2. How the questions were biased to receive a ‘yes’ vote.

3. How the consultation paper repeatedly and unjustly uses a child porn spin to promote the reasoning behind this consultation ignoring the concept of consent.

4. How the selection of ‘interested organizations’ was chosen to maximize a ‘yes’ vote.

5. How responses from individuals ‘brave enough’ to share their private interests were ‘filtered’ by the home offices email system.

6. How human rights concerns were simply ignored.

7. How few people wished to have their name and address given to a government department whose main objective is to have those people thrown into prison!

7. How a resounding ‘No’ vote from the general public was ‘ignored’.

8. How millions of Britain’s must now live in fear of their front door being bashed down and being dragged to a cell, awaiting ridicule from their peers as their private lives are splashed around the tabloids for millions to read about.

9. Perhaps make mention that the UK police forces now have details of millions of credit card transactions from ‘non child’ porn sites in the USA, awaiting the day this new law is passed.

I believe as a law abiding and TV license paying customer, the BBC must show the British public both sides of this unjust and biased campaign, before this right to witch hunt begins.

  • 152.
  • At 07:50 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

My major concern is that the proposed legislation is far too vague. What constitutes 'violent' sexual images. Since seeing your article on the news I have trawled the internet looking for the actual proposals and have come away more perplexed than when I started, though I have found some references which simply raise issues of interpretaion.

For example one extract which I found read. "We mean violence in respect of which a prosecution of grievous bodily harm could be brought." Correct me if I'm wrong but if both parties are consenting then a prosecution of GBH would never be brought.

What about Hentai and other forms of animated sexual violence, are these to be made illegal also, despite not actually causing physical harm to anyone? In many cases these 'cartoons' are far more graphic than staged scenes between two 'real' adults.

One thing I thought I had been able to clarify was that this law would only ban images that were intentionally erotic. Does this mean that sexually violent images which are not intended as erotic are allowed? Surely these are more dangerous because by lacking the erotic intention they lack the implied sexual value that most people would place on real sex requiring consent from both participants.

Exactly what pornography WILL we be allowed to view?

If a person is not turned on by 'Straight' (ie. non-SM) sex are they to supress their sexuality? Surely it is better that these people play out their fantasies through pornography than through real acts of sexual violence and leave the law to deal with those real sickos that can't tell the difference between reality and fiction.

Prohibition does not work. Make something criminal and it invariably drives honest industries (which could be giving money to the government in the form of tax) into the hands of criminals.

With regards to your news report I have many issues: firstly I was appalled by the comparison between this consentual fictitious porn and child pornography which is a completely seperate issue entirely though I understand the similarities there is a world of difference between the two activities and we should not be lumping one together with the other.

Secondly Your report also only appeared on the later edition of the news. Where is the balanced reporting in that? Especially when compared to the many more people who viewed earlier editions of the news?

Lastly the report failed to go into any detail about what was meant by 'Extreme pornography' it wasn't until I took to the internet that I learned that this bill would also cover images of bestiality and necrophilia (Sexual acts which for the record I am against). I still do not know whether erotic images of bondage are acceptible or if the person in the image actually has to be having sex or be experiencing physical pain. What if the person in the image enjoys or is turned on by pain?

Finally I would like to suggest that the government knows full well what it is doing when it challenges our own individual freedoms (fox hunting and smoking being among these). By deliberately targetting a large minority group in society (an oxymoronic phrase i know but nevertheless true)they ensure that we are too busy fightng for our own individual freedoms to care what issues the government is trying to divert our attention away from?

  • 153.
  • At 08:25 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Marie Harrington wrote:

"Ted Bundy, an American serial killer and rapist who murdered numerous young women across the United States, claimed that consumption of violent pornography helped "shape and mold" his violence into "behavior too terrible to describe".

In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, 'Well he would, wouldn't he?"
It wasn't poor Ted's fault, it was the fault of all that nasty porn. One of the things that annoys me most about this kind of knee-jerk legislation is that it abolishes freedoms so cheaply. It's far quicker and easier to ban possession of images than to actually research what DOES cause people to become sexually violent. These proposals, if they become law, will have no effect whatsoever on the levels of rape and murder in the UK, but they makes it look as if the government is doing something. Research would take time and investment and not show instant results, so there are no votes in it.

  • 154.
  • At 08:40 PM on 01 Sep 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

My question is simple...
I have a friend who loves BDSM...he loves to get pics so he has a record of his exploits.

The proposed law says "violence that appears to be life threateneing or likely to result in serious, disabling injury".

How will anybody be able to tell if what was done to him was likely to result in serious disabling injury???

He is already disabled and lives in a wheelchair......

  • 155.
  • At 12:07 AM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

As I see it, under the new laws it is legal to own the uncut version of (say) Death Wish 2, but if you copy it to your computer and delete everything but the gang rape scene this now becomes illegal and punishable by 3 years inside?

  • 156.
  • At 12:38 AM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Jade wrote:

A number of posters have pointed out that the page on the Home Office website, where the document could be read, was returning a Page Not Found notice.

The document "Consultation on the Possession of Extreme Pornographic Material: Summary of responses and next steps" can currently be found (in downloadable PDF format) at

My personal concern is that the introduction of this proposed new offence will neither lead to the prevention of violent sexual crimes nor to the prevention of injuries being sustained in the course of acts of a sexual nature. It will however lead to the criminalization of adults who are well able to keep fantasy as fantasy and who simply enjoy looking at pictures (of other adults) portraying scenes representing that fantasy. This proposed new offence is also likely to lead to fear and confusion among viewers of erotica/pornography as, without very clear guidelines, it will be difficult for them to know if what they already possess, or are about to download, is illegal.

Questions to ponder:

How easily could you decide whether an image was (a) pornographic, (b) explicit, (c) real or appears to be a real act and (d) appears to be life threatening or likely to result in serious, disabling injury? Does looking at such pictures really make people more likely than they otherwise would be to copy the act portrayed? If the pictures looked at were all of the above but not pornographic would that make their viewers more or less likely to copy the act portrayed?

My own answers would be:

I think I'd find it very difficult to make decisions on (a) and (d). I do not think that looking at pictures of an act makes people more likely to carry it out and I do not think that it makes a difference whether or not the pictures are pornographic.


  • 157.
  • At 01:42 AM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Graham wrote:

Consider the following:

1) A photographer hires a model (male or female) to pose nude - This is not a criminal offence.

2) The photographer has someone put a (blunt) knife to the model's throat or hold a rope around their neck - This is not illegal.

3) The photographer presses the shutter on their camera and gets three years in jail for possessing an image of something that is not illegal!

If you think this is as ridiculous as it sounds, write to your MP via and tell them that you will not support someone who would support such a ludicrous piece of legislation.

  • 158.
  • At 01:59 AM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Allan wrote:

How soon can we get rid of this mad
control freak of a government.

  • 159.
  • At 07:26 AM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • David wrote:

I am a priest. When this legislation was proposed one of my congregation told me that she finds herself erotically excited by fantasies of being murdered, and has downloaded film clips which excite her.
She has no desire for the reality portrayed but neither she nor I have any idea whether this proposed Act would criminalize her behaviour or not. This worries both of us, particularly since after many years as a priest I would be extremely surprised if she were unique.
She is by the way a grandmother and a prominent public figure whose life of service could be destroyed very easily.

  • 160.
  • At 02:16 PM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Louise wrote:

There are several issues with this law:-

1. There is no evidence linking exposure to violent porn to violent sexual crime.

2. The proposal shows no clear line of what actually is violent porn. It will all come down to perception. People best throw away their ann summers catalogues, burn several music videos (im thinking madonna as well as several rock groups), filter their movie collection, throw out a range of magazines including Bizarre (available in WHS Smith and many good retailers) and several magazine on Tattoo and body modification. Oh and for safe measure several graphic novels as it says images which could including graphics as well as photos.

Will this proposal really save lives or ruin those of many innocent individuals who have a valid place in society and are in loving relationship. Not to mention it will put a strain on our police force, a strain on our prisions and tarnish many adults as sex offenders for simiply watching consenting adults in pornography.

  • 161.
  • At 03:04 PM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Monkey wrote:

What an insane law - and a knee jerk reaction.

This will criminalise thousands of decent people. Most won't stand up and say anything as S&M is still stigmatised somewhat.

It won't stop the psychos.

  • 162.
  • At 06:20 PM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Colin Russell wrote:

This is absolutely true - the only time I have ever felt violent or debased after watching anything, is when I have seen the likes of mary whitehouse or the interfering god botherers insisting they've got everyone sussed and we are all stupid and gullable.

I can't believe we are taking a retrograde step through a petition signed by a teeny amount of the population, who simply don't have the brains to know what's applicable to the argument from human sexuality to the smorgasboard nature of some websites.

BTW, Many people have been abused by Catholic priests due to their enforced chastity and lack of outlet.
Watch out, the government will be banning celibacy next.

  • 163.
  • At 06:47 PM on 02 Sep 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

This is a deeply disturbing piece of proposed legislation, and one that has moved me to comment in public like this for the first time. It will also lead me to vote firmly against this government when the time comes. I think I can see where people are coming from when they try to distinguish between faked unconsensual violence for pure entertainment (i.e. almost every film in the cinema) and faked consensual violence for sexual entertainment - but the distinction is truly flawed.

Firstly, as others have noted, all sorts of media (including films) have been blamed for "creating violence", and not been banned. Secondly, the measure is supposed to cover the depiction of extreme acts such as murder, but in fact the proposed scope covers frankly trivial things that go on between thousands of loving couples around the country. Thirdly and most importantly, the government's own report noted that there is no demonstrated link between pornography of any kind and sexual crime.

Pretty much all right-thinking people are in favour of banning (and banning the showing of) truly unconsensual acts, for example including children. But as this page shows, most people are also against injecting politics into an adult's consensual activities. This is interference in human rights and (apologies for the cliche, but there's no better way to put it) the start of a steep, slippery slope. Reactionary, troubling and something that will detract attention and resources from the far more serious abuses that go on. How can we reintroduce some sanity here?

  • 164.
  • At 12:09 AM on 03 Sep 2006,
  • hmmm... wrote:

Lets all move to Holland, Germany Sweden and Norway etc before UK self destructs and you need a retina scan for authorisazion to purchase an errent digestive biscuit with a slightly sharp edge! Failing that 3 years in nice safe Jail will do me nicely while all the Real criminals have been released onto the streets to make room for these "Evil sexual minorities"

Zut alors!, Im talking with humour here but really this stuff is not funny.

  • 165.
  • At 07:52 AM on 03 Sep 2006,
  • Martin10 wrote:

It is clear from the response the news item has generated that most of the public were completely unaware of the 'public' ' consultation', and that as a result the government heard mainly from special interest groups with a strong prescriptive agenda. It is a pity that the news media didn't treat the opening of the consultation as news- that might have actually allowed people to feed into the drafting process.

  • 166.
  • At 03:48 PM on 03 Sep 2006,
  • sid wrote:

How can what goes on between CONSENTING adults be classed under the same laws as paedophilic material?

Should those CONSENTING adults decide that they want to photograph or record such acts for posterity then that is their choice, this has nothing to do with non consentual rape, abuse or murder, purely people of likeminded tastes enjoying such.

Whilst we all are sympathetic to the families of people who have suffered great loss, we all need to show some sanity here.

Rapists & murderers exist, viewing such images does not create them or in any way fuel them, even the governments own research admits this as fact.

Bringing in such laws won't change them, but it will lead to wasted political & police time as well as taking the country towards a 'nanny state' without any freedom of expression.

Surely police time would be better spent cleaning up the streets, rather than law abiding peoples hard drives?

Sign a similar stupid petition to the one on extreme porn

  • 168.
  • At 01:03 AM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • H. Morris wrote:

Thank you BBC for giving honest law abiding people the opportunity to comment on these proposals.

Surely it cannot be considered morally acceptable to view images of violent rape and murder at the cinema, while a loving married couple would face a prison sentence of up to three years for keeping photographs of themselves taken during consentual BDSM play!

I have no idea what the actual figures are, but I understand that this "kink" is extremely common. How many people could these proposals criminalise?

  • 169.
  • At 03:45 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Eric wrote:

Colin McLean-Campbell wrote:
"After being dangerously exposed to Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, I went to grammar school where I read Stanley Gibbon's magnificent Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

He read 'Stanley' Gibbon? Wow! That should have been stamped on :-)

Edward Gibbon, on the other hand was a great master of English prose.
As was John Milton, whose 'Areopagitica' made the case against censorship even more eloquently than the posters here.

  • 170.
  • At 04:00 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • David wrote:

Two further thoughts:

1)My lady friend uses the same computer as her husband to download her clips and pictures. Is it possible to tell which is the 'guilty' one? If not how will the police decide who to prosecute?

2) Way back in the United States they amended the Constitution to make alcohol illegal, based on convincing evidence of lives destroyed. As I recall from my history there were rather a lot of unintended consequences of that decision leading to the eventual repeal of that amendment.
I suspect the potential for unintended consequences is there in this proposed law as well.

  • 171.
  • At 06:37 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Fenella wrote:

I must add my thoughts on this matter.

Clearly all like-minded adults must object to material portraying necrophilia and cannibalism, one would say?

Yes, I agree.

But it turns out that many of the sites mentioned are no more than crudely staged fantasies, with little that could really worry an adult!,gates,70911,24.html

Is this material as great a threat as it may seem?

Clearly not.

Less of the knee-jerk, please!

  • 172.
  • At 03:01 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • hmmm... wrote:

Hi its me again, the guy whos on no. 164

Im sorry I just cant hold it in, Ive been crying buckets on and off over the last few days.

Ive been crying for the millions of those poor souls who died in WW2. What did they watch their best freinds dismembered limbs fly in front of their face for? Freedom, Freedom of expression and not to be repressed by fascist regime. Its a basic premise in the European human right law that people can do what they want no matter how it may not be to others tastes so long as they arent harming anyone.

I now feel guilty for somewhat taking those poor souls for granted until now. Only recently has it hit home for me the intense deepness of the phrase 'Lest we forget' and Im in tears. It seems like some people have already forgotten.

Im having bizarre mighmares of those poor souls turning in their graves, rising from the dead in droves and taking to the streets in protest at whats been going on in this country.

From now on I will not only just stand silent there on the rememberance day, I will think more deeply and emotionally about it. Anyone who laughs at me I will say 'They died for your freedom to laugh'.

Lest we forget.....

  • 173.
  • At 07:56 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • hmmm.... wrote:

This law could potentially lead to more serial killers and dead women. Heres why.......

A while ago there was little to no BDSM scene, people where afraid come out because of social status quo norms and fear of societal reprimand etc. It was more underground. This meant that the scene was not united and as public thus people where not as accountable and pshychopaths with malicious intent could lurk in the shadows undetected. You really want the blood on your hands? Cos thats whats going to happen.

  • 174.
  • At 04:37 AM on 07 Sep 2006,
  • miika wrote:

"He read 'Stanley' Gibbon? Wow! That should have been stamped on :-)"

He never said that it had a -positive- effect on his memory :)

  • 175.
  • At 01:33 AM on 08 Sep 2006,
  • but..... wrote:

Those who claim that exposure to pornography causes sexual abuse should give close thought to the fact that, in so doing, they offer criminals a 20th Century excuse to support pleas for leniency, regardless of the fact that sexual abuse has been occurring since long before the invention of the camera.

I try to avoid responding to a particular poster, but to number 82 Niel

I have been viewing porn since I was a teenager, I am now 45 and find viewing porn to be boring, did I move on to stronger stuff?, no its not my thing, so your hypothisis does not fit me and I would ask respectfully that you do not put everyone in the same box.

This proposal is a kneejerk reaction as said by others, they do not care about my thoughts or yours Niel and I a certain if this proposal goes through that it will be just the beginning and soon they will find something that affects your liberty.

I've noted with curiosity that the majority of posters are against the ban.

Where are those for the ban, do you feel your argument is so weak?

Or are you rubbing your hands together in glee because our leaders are doing the talking for you?

If its the latter then I say thats a sad state of affairs, unable to stand up and speak for yourselves, you are supposed to be the moral majority.

Here is something for people to digest...

Now I can hear you saying that its not God who is responcible and you would be correct, those people are responcible for their own actions, just as people who view extreme porn are responcible for their own actions.

To my mind if extreme porn is to be banned on the pretext that it creates rapist and murderers then the same must apply to religion.

  • 179.
  • At 10:34 PM on 11 Sep 2006,
  • sjlewis wrote:

All this law does is leave in the hands of the judge to decide what is pornographic. If a judge decides that viewing images of a naked man impaled on a cross with blood streaming from his hands and limbs - is violent porn, as a result of, for example a copy cat killing - then possesion of an image of Jesus Christ also becomes a criminal offence under these proposals.

In other words this is a law that if brought in will take away yet more civil liberties. Not only is the goverment trying to tell us what we can look at, it's now trying to tell us how to think.

Is this what 'democracy' in Britian has come to?

Think about it: what is the definition of pornography?

I'll explain:

Porngraphy/violent pornography can only be defined by the individual, it is a subjetive taste.

All we have here is proposal by the government under the guise of so-called morals, to control how we think.

Looks like 1984 just came true in the UK.

Miss SJL

  • 180.
  • At 01:34 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • hmmm wrote:

So this is supposed to protect women by stopping people looking at consentual rape play?.....

So what about a male who likes to be pinned down by a load of women who have their way with him? Does he need equal protection seeing as its the same act. Or is it some kind of bizarre technicality that if a man WANTS to be dominated its ok cos hes a man but if a woman does she cant give her consent by the virtue she is female. This is really patriarchy under the guise of 'we care about women'....No you dont, your sexists who want to control them by treating them like children and making decisions for them like people like you have in the past all throughout the oppresion against women. At least if/when a woman asks me to be mean to her I do it to please her and not because I think shes an inferior vessel incapable of her own decisions unlike these silly pro legislation people.

  • 181.
  • At 06:51 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • hmmm wrote:

OK, if someone can answer this question I will give you a million pounds:

How can a man who likes to be tied up by women be a danger? Is it like Im supposed to force them to tie me up then once Im all tied up, the woman better watch out cos thats when Im really dangerous, you know when Im all bound up and cant move.

  • 182.
  • At 06:57 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Johnny wrote:

Have been thinking about this terrible proposal since I posted 3 weeks ago, and it gets no better, just worse. Although the scope of the proposal seems to have been narrowed, it's not really any better in principle.

As 150 noted, if this proposal becomes law, you have just diminished personal responsibility and liability: since the law would validate that the material has a substantive effect on someone's likelihood of committing violent crime, you can just imagine that the defence lawyer has a peachy gambit here - my poor client saw this stuff before it was made illegal m'lud, and that's what made him do it.

The notion of banning images whilst leaving "normal" film, tv and written material free seems irresponsible if it really is likely to lead to serious offences.

The notion of anyone knowing what's really on their PC hard drive and who put it there is just laughable.

In retrospect, my cynical fear is that this legislation (apart from being a sop in fear of the tabloids), is actually a jolly wheeze to allow governments and police to inspect anyone's hard drive.

The biggest issue for me out of all this class of legislative frenzy discarding our freedoms is that there is no constitution protecting these freedoms - the only thing there is the Human Rights stuff, but that's very unwieldy and lags a long way behind. Contrast the situation in the US which would have thrown this stuff out.

  • 183.
  • At 12:22 PM on 09 Oct 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

It is time that this story was brought once agin to the forefront. We are told that our prisons are filled to bursting point and that some prisoners may be released early or moved to less secure open prisons.

This law, if passed, has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of additional criminals overnight. People could be sentenced to up to 3 years in jail, just for owning a photograph of their completely legal sexual play.

Where is the sense in this? Do the general public really want to see people put in prison for owning a picture, which harms nobody at the expense of freeing violent criminals early and put them in less secure open prisons?

Are the architects of these proposals related to Pontious Pilate at all? Are they about to repeat the same mistake which saw Barrabas freed at the expense of Jesus Christ?

  • 184.
  • At 10:43 PM on 08 Nov 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

Tonight's Panorama programmme ("Bail Hostel Scandal") made me again think of this new legislation - presumably due to be announced in the Queen's speech next week.

If our prisons are overflowing & our bail hostels full of extremely active paedophiles, burglars, shop-lifters, & violent drug addicts, then why is the government proposing to imprison (for 3 years) previously law-abiding adults for looking at images of other adults pretending to do strange things?

  • 185.
  • At 07:49 PM on 09 Nov 2006,
  • cairo wrote:

YES, it's immoral, and to think it doesnt affect actions is idiotic. We are sexual beings and porn only creates more lust than we already have. Criminalizing simple porn may not be the answer, right now, but a real civilization stimulates the intellect not it's limbido.

  • 186.
  • At 11:45 AM on 15 Nov 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

"A real civilisation stimulates the intellect not it's limbido" [sic].

Oh, like ancient Greece you mean? Where prostitution was legal and openly carried out by both sexes, & pederasty was an educational institution?

Mind you, the ancient Greeks had a democracy, so I suppose that's a major difference.

  • 187.
  • At 01:16 PM on 15 Nov 2006,
  • Paul Langston wrote:

We don't want a balance of views nor do we want the obviously tendentious views that are often served up as News.
When a contentious issue appears on the news agenda what we want is the evidence.
It is undeniable that people's behaviour is influenced by what they see on television, otherwise why the billions spent on Advertising?
The only question is the extent of that influence and its consequences for Society.
Would it be too much to ask that the BBC tells us about the current state of research into the subject rather than conducting yet another cheap, space-filling debate.

  • 188.
  • At 03:12 PM on 15 Nov 2006,
  • cairo wrote:

Whoever said the ancient greeks were civilized? Institutionalized perversion doesnt necessarily mean civilization.
wherever you treat women no more than pleasure objects you will see a savage society. Islamic societies may get heat from femenists for 'putting women in their place' but they do so in an orthodox way. A women has her place in society but it isn't in brothels or Porn movies.

  • 189.
  • At 11:53 PM on 15 Nov 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

"Whoever said the ancient greeks were civilized?" could try reading "The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization" by Paul Cartledge (Professor of Greek History, University of Cambridge) - it accompanied the BBC series of the same name... If that doesn't convince you, maybe try John Reid's favourite civilisation, the Renaissance - Spanish Inquisition & all that?

Still. As long as women are put in their place in an orthodox way, that's the main thing. Poor dears. Fortunately the Labour government totally agrees with you.

  • 190.
  • At 03:27 PM on 19 Nov 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

It seems likely that that our beloved government are going to try and go through with this insane new law. When I see how the overwhelmingly negative public consultation response was ignored in favour of the views of unelected do-gooders and the police, it makes me very angry.

To the poster of #187; if the current research on this subject area was having any influence over such things at all, this legislation simply wouldn't see the light of day. Far from being a "cheap, space-filling debate", this is a sadly rare opportunity for people to have a rational say on this matter, away from the ill-informed emotive hysteria of the tabloid press.

  • 191.
  • At 12:53 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Edward Smith wrote:

There is a petition against the legislation to the PM at

Those who have contributed so eloquently here, please take a moment to support it!

  • 192.
  • At 02:00 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Allan wrote:

All the political parties will have clauses in there policy statements about not discriminating on the basis of sexuality, and yet that is exactly what the Labour party are intending to do.
We have already had the admission that the material in question has not been proven to be harmful. So what is left is a crime against anothers subjective sense of taste/individual morality. How could anybody regard that as just?
The people who want to enact this legislation are nothing but modern day gay-bashers and witch burners, baying for the righteous persecution of another vulnerable minority. And the sickening aspect of it all is that they'll probably succeed.

  • 193.
  • At 06:13 PM on 27 Nov 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

For those following this proposed waste of public funds with interest, there is a petition on the No 10 Downing Street website -

Hopefully it's not too late to make the government take a U Turn before it adds thought crime to the ever growing list of knee jerk policies.

  • 194.
  • At 04:11 PM on 18 Dec 2006,
  • Chris mankey wrote:

Danny wrote-
"Ted Bundy, an American serial killer and rapist who murdered numerous young women across the United States, claimed that consumption of violent pornography helped "shape and mold" his violence into "behavior too terrible to describe". Bundy said that he felt that violence in the media, "particularly sexualized violence", sent boys "down the road to being Ted Bundys".

Says it all really."

What does it say exactly? Most of the police believe that Ted was merely telling James Dobson exactly what he wanted to hear on the eve of his execution simply in an attempt to save his life. I don't think you care though danny, if it serves a political purpose. Who cares if it's true?!

  • 195.
  • At 11:46 PM on 26 Jun 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Just been reading through the dangerous pictures part of the Bill, the government have gone completely insane…

For example –

“BBFC classified material exempt, unless single picture/scenes extracted solely for sexual arousal.”

So this means, you’re watching a Hollywood blockbuster on good old BBC 1, and you record the ‘juicy’ bits of a film to video rather then the whole film, the government wants to lock you away for up to 3 years and place you on the sexual offender’s registry.

Now we know why they want to release muggers and thieves early, too make room for the hardened couch potatoes with a liking for S&M.

  • 196.
  • At 10:39 PM on 17 Jul 2007,
  • james wrote:

All sides of the story? That would be good. I've just been watching the 10 O'clock news. The lead is a Scottish billionaire giving £1 billion "to charity to help the poor". Great, but it might have been interesting to know a bit more detail about where this money is going and how it's going to help. Then the Russian dead dissident saga, with the report saying the British have not met Russian requests for 20-odd extraditions. The fact that in the Litvinenko case the crime was on British soil and the request came from the police, not government, might have been worth a mention. Then Huw Edwards spoke to some Russian who stated that since Litvinenko was Russian the trial should be in Russia. As far as I'm aware Litvinenko was a british citizen yet this wasn't challenged.

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