Words – too powerful to publish say Tories

Words have the power to open new levels of understanding, to make people more aware of the people around them and the ability to change lives. According to the Tories, they should also be banned – if they are construed to be in any way pornographic that is.

Turns out that the banning of pictures of children deemed to be indecent – giving the comic book community a whole lot to worry about – isn’t good enough for some people and Conservative peer baroness O’Cathain amended the Coroner’s and Justice Bill to include “Dangerous Writing”. Sometimes I want to cry.

The Register says that writings which portray life-threatening acts, acts likely to result in serious injury to anus, breasts or genitals, sexual interference with a human corpse or sex with an animal (dead or alive!) are the ones likely to get you in trouble if the bill is passed. However, this will only apply if the writing is deemed to be pornographic – how this will be determined I don’t know. How many books about serial killers have sexual overtones? I’d say a fair few at a guess.

Chances of this making it through parliament may seem slim, but that’s not the only point – just the fact that people, people with some modicum of power, would suggest such a thing is scary enough. All I can say is – use your words wisely and make sure every one counts – because you never know when you might find your use of them restricted!

Comic creators fight censorship

The UK government is proposing a Coroners and Justice Bill that has ignited fears in the hearts of many law abiding, comic-book-creating citizens. Why? All because of some rather vague and circumspect wording.

The trouble is that the sections of the Bill that cover child abuse are unfortunately written in such a way that they appear open to interpretation – and the argument is that open interpretation in the hands of people who don’t necessarily understand an art form is just asking for trouble. According to Politics.co.uk, GM Jordan, editor of Comic Shop Voice, says that sections 49 (6) and 52 (3) are the ones striking fear into the hearts of UK – and worldwide – comic fans.

They specify that images cannot depict a child’s genitals, an act of intercourse with an animal or an ‘indecent pseudo-photograph of a child’ – and when you are specifically thinking about porn this makes sense, when you are thinking of ground breaking comic books, not so much. Basically this linguistic looseness means that it’s possible that a large number of comic publications, artists, writers and collectors could unwittingly fall foul to a literal translation of the law.

Censorship is a dirty word these days, and so it should be, and although artists and creators understand the dangers and responsibilities or creating art that deals with contentious issues – especially those such as pornography in relation to children – they also understand that art should be beyond certain restraints. Obviously this means walking the finest of fine lines sometimes and that’s when the responsibility firmly lands on the heads of the creators for better or for worse.

There’s a good reason for this Bill, it’s designed to combat the growing problem of cartoon porn that’s available on the net, but the way it’s been handled has ensured that fears that artistic expression will be stifled are rife.

There are plenty of books out there that I find abhorrent, and probably plenty of comic books too, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to exist. Banning subject matters from artistic spheres is a dangerous road to take even one step down – as I’m sure many people agree.

Luckily plenty of people from the comic book industry aren’t taking this possible threat lying down – not when books that have won high acclaim in the industry could be at risk. Leah Moore, daughter of now legendary Alan Moore, has set up an organisation called the Comic Book Alliance. An alliance that hopes to ensure that only the correct, indecent images and publications are targeted under the Bill, not artistic erotica – and it’s already gathered the support of prominent comic writers like Neil Gaiman, John Reppion and Bryan Talbot.

Good luck to them I say, no one wants to see art ‘accidentally’ curtailed. So now I’m off to sign their petition.