Thursday, April 20, 2006


Ask A Censor

A while back, I brought you news of fines levied against American network TV stations for airing 'obscene' programmes. One of the principle reasons for the large number of complaints had turned out to be a ComplainBot run by a group called 'The Parents Television Council'.

This pressure group is run by a man named L Brent Bozell, which might just be the funniest name I've heard this week, and I was somewhat surprised - probably naively - to discover that he has a political column. How wonderful it was to have my prejudices about censors reinforced so thoroughly. The man is an odious wretch.

Shorter Brent Bozell: 'I really enjoyed reading 'Catch-22' in college, so wouldn't it be fun to turn illegal immigrants existences into a live-action version?'

Meanwhile, his site continues to be unintentionally hilarious. Consider this, from their recommendtions list (sorry, that should say 'Worst Of The Week'. Freudian slip):

'More than the other incarnations of Law and Order, SVU continues to distinguish itself as being the most violent and upsetting. The terrible images of the brutally murdered boy and graphic descriptions of torture and sadism are tremendously disturbing and too intense for just about anyone to handle, let alone children.'

Too hot to handle, eh? 'Let alone children?' Erm, you could try sending them to bed. Or how about:

'While the lives of the characters on The O.C. certainly have little to do with that of the average teenager, their behavior can be influential. The average teenager is not physically or emotionally developed enough to handle the responsibility or potential consequences of a sexual relationship and the complexity of Summer and Seth’s coupled with the recklessness of Ryan and Marissa makes for programming that does a serious disservice to its audience.'

Wow! You mean to say that most American teenagers don't get to spend all day lounging around in the pool house pouting? I'd never have guessed. Teenagers aren't physically developed enough? Lady, people can get married at sixteen. Baffling.

L Brent Bozell seems a particularly detestable character, for his constant interfering, prurient interest in sex and violence, and above all his ghastly facial hair.

I had to do it. After all, 'the children' might be looking.


While on censorship news, I meant to mention that eBay deserve a black mark. Someone there decided to arbitrarily end auctions for 'Box of the Banned' DVDs, an Anchor Bay box set that contains some of the better - or at least more noteworthy - 'video nasties'.

Quite apart from the fact that, as the update on that Melonfarmers post points out, eBay let no end of violent stuff get sold on the site (including a current auction for an uncut version of 'Anthropophagus' that must presumably fall foul of the Obscene Publications Act), the 'Box of the Banned' can be bought not only from Amazon, but also from Virgin and HMV. What, really, is the point of blocking sales of that, but not of items that are actually illegal?

Illicit materials.

Among other things I run a store-front eBay consignment shop.

In order to sell a vintage (read:pre-1980) pornographic magazine we must post it as an "Adults Only" item which requires a credit card on file to view the auction.
We are also PROHIBITED from using PayPal to receive payment for adult-related merchandise.
And--and this is the best part, for me--we are not allowed to mention that we aren't allowed to accept paypal. We must silently remove PayPal as an allowed payment method and remove any mention of PayPal from the auction.

Are there exceptions, SafeT? Yes. You are allowed to sell Playboy, Penthouse and Playgirl magazines older than 1980 without putting them in an adults-only category.
BUT-we must still refrain from using or mentioning PayPal in any way, and we aren't allowed to show the cover of the magazines--even if we blur out the bad parts (of which there are damn few on such old magazines).

No other magazines are allowed outside the adults only category. No Hustler, Oui, Club, nothing.

If we slip up and transgress--even once!--they will suspend our account for three days, and will remove our auction from eBay without refunding us our fees. If we transgress in this or ANY OTHER content restrictions three times within 90 days our account may be permanently exiled, no matter that we have a positive feedback level of almost 1200.

(our eBay id: AuctionItToday3)

There are no restrictions on selling Fangoria or horrid pictures of dead people (we had a fellow sell pictures of Rosa Parks from her viewing. The weasel snuck a camera in)
We aren't allowed to sell ammunition for hunting rifles, but we are allowed to sell wicked looking compound bows and samurai swords.
We can't sell a live animal, regardless of what method of transport we arrange. If we have an animal put to sleep and stuffed by a taxidermist, then we can sell it, no problem!
Well, most of those rules are just barmy. Why do Paypal wish to be disassociated with it all? It doesn't make sense.
They got angry when I asked.
Said, "You agreed to our rules when you created your user account."
It's enough to make me want to throw things. What do they have PR departments for if they're not even going to try and be civil to their users?
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