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Issue 17 - December 1973
Fuck The New Porn Bill
There’s a big joke going around Parliament at the moment called The Cinematograph & Indecent Displays Bill – the only thing that’s not funny about it is that it seems well on the way towards becoming a law of the land.

No doubt the answer to the Prayers of Mary Whitehouse, Cliff Richard and their likes, the Bill threatens to make it an offence for chemists to display contraceptives and sex aids, for art galleries to exhibit paintings of nudes, for publishers to advertise books whose titles refer to sex (such as Terry Southern’s ‘Blue Movie’ or even ‘Pornography – The Longford Report’), for newsagents to display girlie magazines or papers with risqué joke covers, for booksellers to put on open show books like ‘Ulysses’ or ‘The Naked Lunch’, and for people to blow raspberries or break wind loudly in public places. The penalty for such misdeeds could be as much as two years’ imprisonment.

With the definition of obscenity under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act - “having a tendency to deprave or corrupt” having come under increasing criticism over the past few years, Robert Carr is resting all his hopes on the new legislation which this time hinges on the word “indecency”. The legal definition of “indecency” is “something that offends the ordinary modesty of the average man”. Lord Chief Justice Parker laid that down in 1965, and his view that the naked human body should be considered “indecent” still holds.

If the Bill does become law, newsagents will probably resort to setting up special departments for pinup publications which members of the public will have to pay to enter, whether they end up buying anything or not. Newspapers and record companies will tighten up and censor material before putting it out. Theatre companies will not be able to perform in full plays containing nude scenes or sexual innuendos or references unless all the moments in the presentation which could conceivably be thought of as “indecent” are listed beside the box office. There will be an increase in the number of sex-obsessed vigilantes bent on courtroom crusades to inflict their own prudish viewpoints on the rest of society. British institutions such as the “what the butler saw” machine and the naughty seaside postcard will be driven underground. And people who fart loudly will have to stay indoors!

The Bill also safeguards against the public, in the form of juries, having their say on the subject, as happened when the ‘Nasty Tales’ mob was acquitted of obscenity charges to the obvious displeasure of both the judge and the police. It will be up to the prosecution, not the defence, to decide whether the case is heard by a magistrate or jury, and in most cases you can bet they’ll plump for a magistrate – how many of those can you describe as your “average man”? Neither will there be a “public good” defence: paintings of nudes cannot be argued as possessing “artistic merit”, nor will defendants be allowed to call evidence of current community standards.

This new “Porn Bill” forms just one part of the backlash which our so-called “permissive” society is experiencing at the moment. Its aim is to sweeps man’s sexual instincts under the carpet, pretend they don’t exist. The legislation will, in fact, increase our society’s hypocrisy over sex – it will encourage deceitful book titles and deceptive book advertising so that more people will be unwittingly exposed to explicit sexual descriptions.

Society will only be truly permissive when the naked human body is regarded and respected for what it is – both beautiful and sexual; when nude pin-up magazines are easily available for both men and women; when contraceptive machines are supplied to schools (whether you approve or not, kids do experiment with sex and the safer it is the better for them); when newspapers like the News of the World, thriving on publishing things which they make out disgust them, are no longer needed; when material showing sexual intercourse is available at reasonable prices for those who want it; when the way in which words are sometimes used make them obscene, rather than the words themselves; and most of all when sex is treated as just one facet of life and not the be-all and end-all of our existence.

The bill currently going through Parliament is a step into the past – back to the days of “original sin” and Queen Victoria. It does not do people justice.

(By the way, under the Bill’s legislation, the cover design of the front of this copy of Muther Grumble could possibly be prosecuted for its sexual nature. We wish to apologise to all of you who bought this issue under the impression that there was more sexual content inside.)