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Kiddie porn, broomsticks, ruptured souls & spirits

28 May 2002

Libertarianz Party spokesman, Scott Wilson, has accused SPCS of being “obsessed with sex” and of falsely labelling the ‘banned’ film Bully as “kiddie porn” in its scoop news release of 11 May. SPCS President Rev. Gordon Dempsey responds by calling these claims “false and ill informed”.

Wilson stated in his press release of 23 May entitled “Why Are Films Different From Real Life?”

“SPCS is obsessed with sex and the regulation of people viewing it. That is one reason why they use the emotionally charged words “kiddie porn” to describe Bully, when it demonstrably is not”

SPCS never used the term “kiddie porn” in any of its press releases or public statements on Bully. This term was placed into a Scoop news descriptive note attached to our 11 May press release on Bully, by the Scoop editor(s), on the homepage. We did not request this, were not consulted on this matter, and would not have agreed to the use of the term in reference to Bully. The term “kiddie porn” implies the exploitation of very young children and we agree with Wilson that the term is “emotionally charged” and is totally inappropriate if used to describe the contents of Bully. The term “kiddie porn” cannot be found anywhere on the archived copy of our scoop press release.

The headline we gave our press release referred to by Watson was Banning Bully: “a paedophile’s daydream”. The term paedophile is also an “emotionally charged” term but we do not apologise for its use. Here we quoted Sean Axmaker, a respected film critic, who described Bully in his review as "A PAEDOPHILE'S DAY DREAM" and as resembling “a peek into the closet of a paedophile.” He was highly critical of the film's director Larry Clark, who, we noted, had also “directed the controversial film Kiddies”. This was the only mention of the term “kiddies” in our article on Bully. The quotation marks around the phrase “A PAEDOPHILE’S DAYDREAM” made it clear that these were not the words used by SPCS. Unfortunately these quotation marks were removed by the Scoop editor(s) even though we identified the quote as Axmaker’s in the release.

So what is “kiddie porn”?

A recent Dominion report entitled “Sexual abuser loses appeal on term” (24 May 2002, p. 14) documents a recent Court of Appeal case involving what could be called “kiddie porn”.

“A Southland man who sexually abused two children, and photographed one in pornographic poses, has lost his appeal against an effective 11-year jail term.

“Kenneth Warren Hawkins, 56, was jailed last year after admitting four charges of rape and 21 other charges of sexual offending involving two girls aged seven and six… The court said Hawkins was in a position of trust, and his actions involved multiple depraved sexual acts, including several rapes of one child. ‘It is well known that long-term effects of such serious crimes upon young children such as these can be profound.’

“The filming by Hawkins of himself raping one of the children and performing other indignities on her was particularly reprehensible. ‘It was further aggravated by his placing such photographs and images of the child on his computer, with consequential possible access by others to such material’.”

“The court said ‘it is clear that the defence of the charges would have been futile given the discovery of the pornographic images held by him on his computer showing him seriously violating one child.’”

One of the major preoccupations of our Censorship Compliance Unit in New Zealand, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs, is hunting down individuals who trade and supply “kiddie porn” via the internet or other means. Our laws treat those who have been convicted of having engaged in such activity, as criminals. The Courts have the power to impose jail terms and heavy fines for such offences and do so from time to time.

“Objectionable” publications are “likely to be injurious to the public good”.

Our censorship law, The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”) is focused on preventing the supply of publications deemed “objectionable” to those for whom “the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious”. This focus is still is the clear intention of Parliament.

The injury is understood in terms of injury to the “public good”. This term is not defined in the Act while the terms “public display” and “public place” are defined. The legal meaning of “public good” is bound to that aspect of a person or persons (who constitute the “public” at large), that can be injured as a result of exposure to publications deemed under the law to be “objectionable”.

The meaning of “objectionable” is clearly defined in section 3 of the Act. It applies to depictions of activities such as necrophilia, paedophilia and exploitation of children and young persons, or both, for sexual purposes. It follows logically that if material is deemed to be “injurious to the public good” under the Act, it must be censored via age restrictions, restricted screenings, excisions, or by banning it.

The placing of photographs of images of child rape (“objectionable” material) on a computer, as in the case involving Mr Hawkins, was considered by the Court of Appeal to be “injurious to the public good” because of the “consequential possible access by others to such material”. Such actions are ruled criminal acts even if the computer operator who downloads the image and stores it was not involved in the act of rape either directly or indirectly and does not directly pass the image on via e-mail or other means. The mere possession of such an image is regarded as a crime because of the potential for access by minors and supply to minors.

The film Bully contains graphic and sexually explicit material involving a teenager raping another teenager in the context of sexually arousing images (e.g. explicit footage of gay sex). The video format of this film has been classified R 18 with no other restrictions. Its ready availability through video hire for home use once released on to the market, means that minors can potentially access it in the same way that they can a stored computer file.

Few would dispute that the welfare of our young people should be of paramount concern when it comes to considering what is and is not “injurious to the public good”. Those in this group are more vulnerable to the influence of “objectionable” publications and have a right to be protected from exposure to such material. They also have a right to be protected against those individuals with proclivities to carrying out depraved sexual acts (paedophiles, rapists and purveyors of objectionable material) and whose appetites are stimulated and partially satisfied by the ingestion of this depraved material. Their parents, caregivers and guardians also have rights to ensure that laws protect their loved ones from exposure to such material via films, videos and other readily available publications.

The Court of Appeal (see Dominion report quoted above) and our judiciary generally have no difficulty identifying “depraved sexual acts” and recognising the “profound” and “long-term effects of such serious crimes upon young children”.

To illustrate the sombre truth of this fact we need only consider the words of Justice Gendall…

Enter the “broomstick school boys”, as the media has dubbed them…

When Justice Gendall spoke of the teenage victim who was sexually violated (anally) by his six peers in the Taradale “broomstick case” (Dominion, 25 May 2002, p. 1), he stated:

“What I think is really significant, apart from the injury to his body, you more seriously ruptured his soul and his spirit … it leaves scars that will last for many years.”

He said the attack was the degradation and humiliation of a 17-year old – an act of “group thuggery”.

Lawyer Russell Fairbrother, counsel for one of the defendants, argued that “because the crime was not sexually motivated, the offence should be amended to wounding or injury with intent”. He thereby sought to reduce the sentence of 2 ½ years’ jail imposed on his client.

But Justice Gendall disagreed. He said the jury was satisfied the crime contained all the ingredients of sexual violation. He reiterated what he said at the sentencing of Castles, when he noted that most rapes or sexual violations were not about sex but power and violence.

Our censorship laws also focus on the motivations of “power and violence” that lie behind much “sexual violation”. Publications that depict “sexual or physical conduct of a degrading or dehumanising or demeaning nature” and “sexual conduct with or by children, or young persons, or both” are defined as “objectionable” under the Act. Publications that tend in any way to promote or support such activities are deemed “objectionable” under s. 3(2) of the Act. This means that no ‘counterbalancing’ arguments based on perceived “literary, artistic, social, cultural, educational, scientific, or other matters” (see s. 3[4] of the Act) can be used to negate the classification as “objectionable”.

Just as Russell Fairbrother unsuccessfully attempted to redefine (and downgrade) the offence of “sexual violation” to “wounding or injuring with intent”, by denying that any element of sexual motivation was present; so-called “freedom of expression” advocates try and downgrade the “objectionable” elements in films like Baise-Moi by denying that the filmmaker was motivated by a desire to offend or do injury to the “public good”.

However, the claimed absence of certain ingredients in both cases (sexual motivation and motivation to offend, respectively) is beside the point.

In the “broomstick case” the claimed absence of sexual motivation, even if proved, was irrelevant, as Justice Gendall noted. Rape and sexual violation is more about power and violence, he said, than gratifying sexual needs. Both of these ingredients – power and violence - were present he noted in the act involving anal penetration.

In the case of Baise-Moi the claimed absence of proof of motivation on the part of the filmmaker to cause the offence and injury to the “public good” that is said to be crucial to establishing that it is “objectionable”, is beside the point. It is the presence of “objectionable” elements that is of paramount importance and considerations of the effects of such material on the “public good”. In this case both of the main actors have expressed publicly that they delight in angering audiences by their depictions of sexual violence and criminal activity.

Baise-Moi, with its explicitly sexual and pornographic depiction of gang rape and relentless parades of gratuitous graphic violence juxtaposed with explicit sex is defended as having “artistic merit” by the Chief Censor, Bill Hastings. Using the same fatuous argument, a film depicting gratuitous depictions of a simulated and realistic “broomstick” sexual violation by teenagers on a fellow teenage victim could be defended as having “artistic merit”. The depiction of explicit sexual violations of this kind in the film story line could be ‘justified’ on the basis that it provided insight into the motivation that led to a subsequent revenge killing spree engaged in by friends of the victim.

Likewise, explicit depictions of simulated sex acts involving a Kenneth Hawkins look-alike, the convicted kiddie porn producer and child rapist, could be ‘justified’ by Mr Hastings based on “artistic merit”. It could be argued that such depictions provided a “gritty and realistic insight into the mind of the paedophile” so that the activities of those like Mr Hawkins could be better understood. Such incredibly strange films could be box office hits in the next “Bizarre Incredibly Strange Film Festival”.

This brings us back to Bully, that “unrelenting freak show of parading teen flesh and debauchery”, to use the words of the Beck’s Incredible Film Festival propaganda. Why shouldn’t a filmmaker give us an uninhibited “peek into the closet of a paedophile” via a parade of teen flesh, voyeuristic yet realistic “crotch shots” and teenage sex scenes? Surely exploiting teenagers for the purpose of sexual arousal can’t be that bad as it serves the higher ‘good’ of exposing the nihilistic mindset of a lost youth generation? Anyway, such a film’s focus is not really sexual arousal at the expense of teenagers per se, but rather the lofty goal of providing ‘insights’ into the extent of the sexually arousing debauchery teenagers indulge in. It’s really just “recreational sex” and the filmmaker is entitled to indulge himself in the ‘selfless task’ of bringing to the mature public the joy of the free-spirited orgies of delight he hankers after. The problem is that he is too old and too stuck behind the camera lens as the peep show voyeur, to freely participate.

The Obsession with Sex

The SPCS committee believes that it is the Incredible Film Festival programme that demonstrates “an obsession for sex violence, paedophilia, necrophilia – every weird … activity that degrades and dehumanises human beings” (see The Evening Post, 14 May, 2002, p. 2). It has described the festival as a “litany of depraved acts”.

Listener editor Findlay MacDonald recently suggested that the Society secretary’s use of the term “depraved” in this phrase meant that it was a natural ally of “extreme theocratic fundamentalism” and “at least on the same continuum of intolerance” (Listener 25 May 2002, p. 7). Such assertions are fanciful and ironically reveal a disturbing propensity to name-calling (“extreme fundamentalism” is a pejorative term) and intolerance towards those whose views the editor cannot accept.

SPCS is critical of those who seek to downplay and trivialise the critical issues it seeks to highlight by indulging fanciful speculation, name-calling and intolerance. It seeks to shed light on the true nature of ‘entertainment’ involving gratuitous depictions of simulated acts involving graphic and explicit sexual violence, necrophilia and paedophilia.

Justice Gendall, (presumably not a Calvanist pushing a theological agenda), used exactly the same phrase as SPCS – “depraved sexual acts” - to describe the actions of kiddie porn producer and child rapist Mr Hawkins (see above). Perhaps the next Listener editorial could explore the ‘fundamentalist theocratic tendencies’ of Justice Gendall’s utterances. Mr McDonald might like to consider whether Justice Gendall meant “depraved” to mean “morally corrupt” in a theological sense linked to “original sin”. If this link could be established then Justice Gendall no doubt will be presented by the Listener as a purveyor of “fundamentalism”.

Section 3 of The Films, Videos and Publications Act 1993 makes it unlawful for publications to promote or support degrading, dehumanising and exploitative depictions of sexual acts involving young children and young persons. If SPCS is to be labelled as having an “obsession with sex” by Scott Wilson, then those who administer the law in terms of censorship of sexually explicit material, and those who are empowered to ensure that the law relating to controls on such material are complied with, should also be charged with the same ‘offence’. Why has Wilson not highlighted this ‘addiction’ for sex shared by the staff members at the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) or those in the Censorship Compliance Office of the Internal Affairs Department? These ‘sex addicts’ are funded by the tax-payer. Surely this ‘scandal’ should be highlighted by libiteraianz like Scott Wilson.

Every month the List of Decisions from the OFLC contains over 100 classification decisions on films, videos and other publications, the vast majority obsessed with sex. Titles like “The Best of Girls Who Suck C**k and Eat C*m”; “Ultra Kinky #57 C**t Craving Cuties”; “Slurpee Sluts Suck Dees Nutz, Spike & Mikes Sick + Twisted”; “Killer Pussy #4”; “Lesbian Lust at Maxine’s; “The Amazing G-Spot and Female Ejaculation”.

Wilson should be upset to learn that the first publication listed was banned by the OFLC in its April 2002 List of Decisions The Libertarianz should pull out all stops to proclaim this decision an outrage against free speech. The cuties involved in these consensual frolics were doing nothing unlawful according to the OFLC report in terms of the Crimes Act. Where is the legal challenge from the Libertarianz Party to this abuse of freedom?

Libertarianz must also be outraged to learn that 100’s of publications with titles like those listed above are classified R18 each year, depriving curious and sex-obsessed 16 and 17 year olds of their ‘rights’ to embrace the ‘sensory wonderland’ of these stimulating acts. They must be outraged to learn that the Classification Office under the leadership of Chief Censor, Mr Bill Hastings, deprives so many young people of the precious chance of accessing these ‘sexually liberating’ and ‘instructive’ publications.

SPCS is not obsessed with sex. Rather it is committed to safeguarding the rights of those who have been subjected to sexual violation, those who wish to be safeguarded against such abuse, vulnerable young persons and children and all those who detest being offended by having to see women and young persons exploited, degraded and dehumanised. The rights and freedoms of those who wish to indulge in such material are already well served by the ever-increasing volumes of hard-core porn violence that is being classified R18 by the OFLC. The rights of women to walk the streets in safety is constantly being eroded by the tidal wave of sexually explicit publications that enter this country each year.

It seems bizarre that the Libertarianz are so obsessed with preserving the “rights” of the public to see sex-violence films like Baise-Moi and Visitor Q when there is already more than sufficient material like this available. Furthermore, they do so while claiming to be opposed to violence.

Long live the rights of individuals to freedom of expression tempered by respect for others and the need for social responsibility!


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