Court Bans “Homosexuals And Such Like”

LONDON: Britain’s self-appointed arbiters of morals, the Festival of Light, has won an albeit temporary victory against the fair presentation of gay sex on television when Ross McWhirter, better known for compiling the Guinness Book Of Records and meddling in comprehensive education, managed to con the Court of Appeal into stopping ITV’s planned screening of a documentary by photographer David Bailey on Any Warhol, without bothering to see it.

McWhirter, perhaps in an attempt to win a record for stupidity, could not claim any greater knowledge of the programme’s content. He, too, had not seen the documentary made for the Midlands ITV company, ATV, before spending a day getting the law to rush through its due processes with undue, and almost obscene, haste.

He started with Mr Justice Forbes, sitting in private. Judge Forbes dismissed McWhirter’s objection to the programme. Within hours – not the months any mere mortal would have to wait – McWhirter was in the Court of Appeal conning three judges into passing an opinion on the programme none of them had seen.

Lord Justice Cairns said that he didn’t think the court had any right to stop the screening of the programme. But all the same he didn’t think it was the type of thing people should be allowed to see. The other two judges, Denning and Lawton, thought they could judge the programme and meddle in ITV’s schedules.

The trouble started when Lord Longford, whose self-appointed commission into pornography tried to silence sexual liberty, and other Festival of Light trouble-seekers decided they didn’t like the idea of a programme about the American movie-maker and artist that didn’t put him down.

Longford lashed out with his first broadside safe in the knowledge that he knew enough about porn to be able to criticise Bailey’s work on Warhol without moving his ass and bothering to see the film.

What he didn’t like about the movie he hadn’t seen was that he’d heard that the hadn’t seen was that he’d heard the movie Bailey had made for ATV’s documentary spot on the ITV network contained references to and the sight of “homosexuals, lesbians, transvestites” and such like.

“And on the strength of that it ought not to be shown.”

To make matters worse, David Bailey, who appears seemingly nude in bed with Warhol, who remains fully clothed, included footage from Andy Warhol factory movies. During this characters used the word ‘fuck’ four times, Lord Longford had heard. ‘Fuck’ is a word heard more than four times in the average AA-movie in the commercial cinema.

Just as the Festival of Lighters were sitting down eager to be shocked and disgusted by ATV’s cavorting around the New York movie factory the news came that the judges of the Appeal Court had come to the unprecedented decision of letting the Lighters have their way in getting the Warhol documentary banned.

The Independent Broadcasting Authority, the ITA as was, the authority that has the responsibility of making sure that all ITV output is ‘up to standard’, held out longer against the attacks from the Festival of Light than the BBC has of late in its brushes with the Festival and Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers’ Association, but in the end it was outmanoeuvred by the self-righteous moral guardians who managed to get the programme banned.

Where Longford and the Festival of Light with their usual under-the-counter tactics – usually so effective on Lord Hill and the BBC – failed, Ross McWhirter succeeded.

McWhirter is new to the business of being a clean-up television campaigner, and could be said to have done much to encourage violence by working for the BBC as a rugby commentator. In the past he has battled to get comprehensive school plans scrapped for Enfield where he lives waiting to be discovered for Parliament.

The position at the time of going to press was that the IBA was appealing against the Appeal Court’s ban. At this hearing the judge may actually see the programme instead of dispensing justice blindfold.

Critics in Fleet Street are unhappy about the ban, which they feel smacks of dictatorial censorship.

They are even unhappier that McWhirter got the injunction stopping the screening of the Warhol movie partly through his claims that television critics who’d seen the movie were shocked by it.

John Howkins of Time Out, Tom Hutchinson of the Evening Standard and Elkan Allan of The Sunday Times issued a statement dissociating themselves from McWhirter’s protest.

Tom Hutchinson wrote, in a remarkable front-page attack on the ban in the Standard: ‘Some of the objected-to words are in fact contained within clips from Warhol’s own films which the cinema-going public has already been granted the privilege of seeing or not.

‘Of course, now my appreciation of the film has accelerated. Bailey’s point has been substantiated beyond my first reaction. For it seems very true now, that as Bailey suggests, Warhol is what you make him and what you think he is – even without seeing him’.

When the programme was cancelled, Thames TV, the London week-day television station, was besieged with telephone calls. All of its 84 ones were blocked for 90 minutes, the IBA reported a bigger-than-ever response to any of the programmes the ITV companies had been allowed to show. All the callers were complaining that the documentary had been shelved. Mr McWhirter may claim to represent the silent majority, but the majority, in this case, were against his under-hand, old-school-tie censorship tactics.

Thames compounded the silliness, which Anglia TV had already added to by individually refusing to show the programme, when London viewers were told that there had been a programme change – just that – with no reference to the court battle that had forced the chanage.

During the safe replacement documentary on a Nottingham craft centre – a programme which had been shown before – the BBC had The Old Gray Whistle Test on BBC2, including David Bowie’s Andy Warhol track, from the Hunky Dory album – played in sympathy?

QUOTES: Andy Warhol (in New York): “How quaint. How old-fashioned. Maybe they should see my movies.”

Jimmy Vaughan, Warhol’s European agent: “This is a terrible blow – it is censorship of the worst kind. Surely people have a right to decide what they watch.”

The National Council for Civil Liberties: “While a minority has a right to persuade, it does not have the right to impose its views with the blunt weapon of censorship. The NCCL urges the IBA to show this film at the earliest opportunity and let the viewing public decide on its merits or deficencies.”

Peter Thompson, secretary of the Festival of Light: “Thank God for men like Mr McWhirter.”

David Bailey: “I am amazed that the judges can make the order stopping the film without having seen it. Hitler used to burn books he hadn’t read.”

Welfare Man Jailed

LONDON: A 23-year-old welfare worker from Hackney was jailed for two years at the Old Bailey after being tried for having sex with five boys in his care. Justin pleaded guilty to charges of committing eleven sex “offences” against the boys who were aged between 12 and 15 years.

He also pleaded guilty to charges of ‘counselling’, ‘procuring’, ‘aiding’ and ‘abetting’ another man, Sidney, to commit a ‘serious sexual offence’.

Sidney, a hospital porter of Eltham, didn’t appear to stand trial and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Justin, it was said, was employed as a house master at a Twickenham school for difficult boys. He had no training. Later he worked as a senior parent at a special reception centre run by Hackney borough council, then as a deputy warden of a hostel in Hounslow.

When he was arrested last May he was employed by the Inner London County Council as an educational welfare officer, according to the Hackney Gazette’s report of the trial, which failed to mention that there is no such thing as the Inner London County Council.

Mr Stephen Mitchell, prosecuting, claimed that, in 1969, on a caravan holiday in Canvey Island, Justin slipped a boy a tranquiliser in his cup of cocoa and “when he fell asleep sexually assaulted him”.

Then, in 1970, Justin met two brothers aged 13 and 14. He introduced himself to their parents, who “were totally put off their guard because he was working for Hackney borough council. As a result they allowed their sons to meet” Justin.

The prosecution claimed that one of the boys was shown a copy of the ABZ Of Love, into which Justin “had stuck obscene photographs. When the boy complained of a headache” Justine “gave him three sedatives and then, when he became drowsy, indecently assaulted him”.

Justin, it was said, had taken the same boy to see a “friend” – the Hackney Gazette’s quote-marks – in Shepton Malet jail, but the prison authorities refused to allow the boy in. The man they’d gone to see was Sidney, who later jumped bail.

Mr Mitchell said another of Justin’s victims was a young boy who was having difficulties in settling down at school after being indecently assaulted abroad.

When he was arrested on May 25, Justin said: “I do feel terribly ashamed and guilty for all the anxiety I have caused to all those whose trust I have betrayed. I am glad these children have been relieved of the awful burden I have placed upon them.”

Judge Corcoran listened to all this, then he jailed Justin for two years. He said that Justin was someone said to have a bright future in the social service. He went on: “You embarked on these employments with a certain flair which you undoubtedly have for this sort of work. But things went wrong because you had no training in any social studies. There was no period when people could supervise you in training before you actually did the work and when your particular failing may well have been spotted.

“You may have been saved what happened to you and the boys under your care might also have been spared. It is a pity.

“You met five boys in the course of your professional work. There is no doubt that you excited them sexually by showing some of them photographs. Certainly in the case of two of them you gave them tablets which acted as a sedative. You may well have put them in a position of not being able to resist what you intended to do to them.

“The majority of the boys were in your care because they were difficult, maladjusted and disturbed.”

The actual sentence came as something of a surprise after the judge had blamed Justin’s actions on the council for not training him, and his sham at liberal thinking.

The Four Minute Kiss

Photograph: David Hart

LONDON: The Campaign for Homosexual Equality held a promising sounding conference on New Ghettoes for Old, with Lord Arran, Maureen Duffy, Brian McGee and Chad Varah speaking on sexual liberty and the struggle for it.

Lord Arran let on that he was in touch with higher spirits, who, like him, didn’t like the idea of gays kissing in public.

Brian McGee and Maureen Duffy dealt eloquently and informatively on the problems of Gay Liberation for men and women respectively.

Chad Varah said he found it difficult to accept modern ideas of sexual relationships and liberation that belonged, perhaps, he said, to another age.

The possible high-spot was an unplanned speech by a demonstrator in women’s clothes, who used the microphone loudspeaker system in the Conway Hall to tell the audience that sexual liberation could only be achieved after the destruction of capitalist ideals.

For this he got an earful of abuse from Ian Harvey, the meeting’s chairman and enthusiastic applause from the audience. After his speech the radical demonstrator left the stage and kissed a GLF member for four minutes.