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SPCS Critical of Censor's double standards

SPCS Critical of Censor's double standards over Rape Publications

2/02/06

The Society is incensed that the Chief Censor Bill Hastings and his Deputy, Ms Nicola McCully, have been directly responsible for the clearing of brutal rape films like Baise-Moi, Irreversible and Visitor Q for public screening and yet fail to see that such decisions that have set new low benchmarks in the gratuitous and depraved depictions of sexual violence; cannot be reconciled with their recent decision to ban CRITIC.

Baise Moi features a four and a half-minute explicit and close-up depiction of a women being brutally raped and sodomised and an orgy of sexual violence as never seen before in NZ cinemas. Irreversible features a nine-minute depiction of a young pregnant woman being sodomised by a drug-crazed homosexual who fantasises that he is raping a young boy.

Visitor Q features a lengthy depiction of the brutal rape of a young woman, the sexual violation of the corpse (necrophilia), sexual violation in association with human excrement and the mutilation of a corpse for sexual titillation. All these films, which the Society was unsuccessful in getting banned, degrade, demean and dehumanise women to a very high degree.

The same is true of the huge numbers of hard core obscene DVDs and videos that Mr Hastings and his Deputy Ms Nicola McCully clear for adult (R18) home viewing 'entertainment' every month. If CRITIC is to be banned, and the Society says it should be, then all these films should also be banned or cut.

These depraved and offensive publications feature explicit and lengthy depictions of objectionable behaviour.

The Society cannot understand why it took almost three months for the Chief Censor to classify CRITIC 'objectionable' when his Office regularly classifies hard core porn films in a matter of a few days when friendly distributors get his assistance to fast track the process.

The OFLC has failed to provide any reasonable explanation to the public or media for why it has taken so long to classify CRITIC. Clearly the OFLC does not consider it a top priority to promptly outlaw the dissemination of material containing hard core porn and promotes sexual violence and is freely available to very large audiences. The tardy response of the OFLC sends a very clear signal to the public and distributors of sexual violence.

The Society has called on the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Hon. Rick Barker, to promptly replace the Chief Censor and his Deputy whose statutory position has already expired (16 September 2005). The Chief Censor's three year term of office expires on the 19th of October 2006.

In a decision dated 31 January 2006 and signed by the Chief Censor of Film and Literature, Bill Hastings, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has ruled that the Otago University Student Association's Magazine CRITIC TE AROHI (Issue 23, Sept 19, 2005) is 'objectionable' in terms of section 3(2)(b) and 3(2)(d) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 ('the Act'). The Society formally submitted this obscene and offensive publication to the OFLC for classification on the 23rd of September 2005, a few days after it was published by Planet Media Dunedin Ltd. and began to be distributed freely among university students at Otago University. The Commissioner of Police (NZ) and the Drug Rape Trust (NZ) also submitted the magazine for classification.

It is an offence under s. 125 of this Act to supply, distribute, exhibit or display any publication that has been classified 'objectionable'. A person convicted of such an offence is liable to a fine of $3,000 and a fine of $10,000 applies to a body corporate. It is also an offence under s. 131 of this Act to 'possess' an 'objectionable publication' like CRITIC (Issue 23).

An individual can be liable to a fine of $2,000 and a body corporate $5,000, once convicted of the offence of 'possession'.

Under s. 131 (3) there is no defence to a charge of possession of an 'objectionable publication' based a defendant's claim that he/she had no knowledge or no reasonable cause to believe that the publication to which the charge relates was objectionable.

About 5,500 copies of CRITIC (Issue 23), that demeans, degrades and dehumanises victims of drug rape and women in general, were distributed free around the Otago University Campus and throughout Dunedin city last year. The magazine' editor Ms Holly Walker and her editorial team brazenly promoted the issue, refusing to concede that it was 'bjectionable'in terms of the Act. Ms Walker received wide publicity in the media over the controversy and never once offered a genuine apology to the victims of rape and the many people deeply offended by the publication.

The OFLC ruled that the magazine 'ends to promote and support the use of violence and coercion to compel any person to participate in, or submit to sexual conduct'and 'promotes or encourage criminal acts to a large extent. It also contains an article that describes the victims of sexual violence in a degrading, and dehumanising manner, taking the perspective of a misogynistic drug rapist.'

The publisher (Planet Media Dunedin Limited) made a lengthy written submission to the Classification Office defending the Magazine. Its submission that was received by the Office on the 7th of November 2005 and was late (the publisher had been granted a two week extension to a deadline for submissions that had been firmly set at 21/10/05 by the OFLC. The revised deadline was 5 p.m. 4/11/05).

The Society's submission to the Office on CRITIC is available on the homepage of its website (www.spcs.org.nz) in PDF format.

The Society is very pleased that CRITIC (Iss. 23) has been classified objectionable for the reasons it presented in its submission. Two other community organisations, The Drug Rape Trust (Inc.) and Rape Crisis Dunedin (Inc.), also made submissions to the OFLC on the publication, contending that it should be classified objectionable.

ENDS


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