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.”

Manchester Star Transfer Shock

With Apologies to Private Eye

The story that has been buzzing around the gay world for the last few weeks took a dramatic turn today with the news that Martin (“Whiz Kid”) Stafford had been transferred from Manchester CHE to London’s Nationwide Festival of Light. The fee involved is reported to be a sum not in excess of £5 (to cover the train fare), and I have it on good authority that Manchester CHE were more than willing to pay this amount.

Doing His Own Thing

Stafford’s manager at Manchester, Frank Ofarim, who was featured so much in the news recently, commented: “This boy should go a long way, already.” Other members of the Executive Council of the Manchester Club seemed to be in agreement. “I have lost count of the number of times,” confided one EC member, Glenys (Gay) Parry, “when Martin has taken leave of his senses during meetings of the team and gone off on his own. This move is in the best interests of the club as well as of Martin himself.”

Behind Every Man

I did manage to speak to Stafford himself as he boarded the train, and I put it to him that his recent actions were largely intended for publicity. His behaviour in Bristol and Holborn had hit the headlines, and his controversial views about the morality of footballers and their need to uphold the good image of the game similarly caused quite a stir. The only comment I could catch was “Balls” and I assume that was a reference to the two practice footballs which he carries around with him wherever he goes.

Porn Free

There was an obvious delight in Stuffer’s face when I mentioned playing with his two new colleages in NFL – Lord Longford and Mary Whitehouse. “They’re both very clean players” he said, “and I’m sure I shall fit in very well. I have spoken to them both already and was very impressed.”

Finally I asked him how the other NFL players would react to the size of the transfer fee, and his 8 degrees in Philosophy. “It might take me a little time to settle down with the lads, but as long as they’re not too friendly I should be all right.”

All references to Martin Stafford are entirely coincidental.

Lighters Strike Twice

SHEFFIELD: The city’s council is setting up a team of vigilantes, under the encouragement of Festival-of-Lighter Sir Ron Ironmonger, the council’s leader.

The vigilantes will be uniformed and will patrol the council’s housing estates in pairs. They will be able to use their power of citizens arrest at people they find breaking the law on Sheffield Council property.

At first, the council admits, the vigilantes will only be patrolling the flat-blocks to try to stop vandals’ damage to the buildings.

But the Labour-leader of the council, Sir Ron, is a self-confessed supporter of the Festival of Light, the moral rearmament group run by Mrs Mary Whitehouse and Malcolm Muggeridge.

Sir Ron told the Workers Press: “What we are faced with – and this is on a national scale, not just in Sheffield is a breakdown in law and order. A loss of respect for your neighbour and his property. Something needs to be done.”

He has given his personal endorsement to the creation of a private police force within the 500,000 population city.

What should worry Sheffield’s gays is whether Sir Ron’s enthusiasm for Mary Whitehouse will encourage him to extend the power of the vigilantes to become moral police. Generally his support for Mrs Whitehouse’s campaign brooks no odds. You either lend your name or you do not – it’s quite simple.

The Festival of Light is known to be violently anti-gay. And gays in other cities should start worrying about when their seemingly benevolent councillors will start a private police force along Sir Ron’s lines.

Gay News Christmas Presents

The Gay News collective is a generous bunch, and we would love to give gorgeous Christmas presents to everyone. But we’re broke. If we had the money here are some of the presents we would give, and the people we would give them to.

To London Transport
– the stock of exhibits from the Transport Museum at Clapham to replace rolling stock on the Northern line.

To Danny La Rue
– Liberace

To Selfridges
– an instant boycott by all the gay staff and customers of the store, which might make the bookstall manager think twice before telling us there would be no call for Gay News there.

To Lord Harwood
– an LP of Leonard Bernstein’s opera Candide, hoping it would inspire him to put it on at the Coliseum instead of another Merry Widow.

To Alexander Walker (film critic of the Evening Standard)
– a secretary, so that he doesn’t crack his nails on a typewriter, thus giving away the fact that he’s a … journalist.

To Bass Charrington
– vast profits from owning the majority of gay pubs in London.

To All Gays
– a “Welcome” from Bass Charrington.

To GLF
– lilies – and thanks for the laughs.

To CHE
– carnations and a computerised membership files.

To CHE and GLF
– the capacity to love and understand (if not to agree) with each other.

To All MPs
– a copy of Gay News, so they can tune in to the realities of the situation.

To F.I. Litho
– yet another cheque for printing Gay News

To Anthony Newley
– a nice modern theatre where he can stage all his shows – in Formosa.

To The Governor of Holloway Prison
– a big bunch of flowers for allowing Myra Hindley half an hour of light and air.

To The Festival of Light
– a power cut.

To The National Theatre
– the collected plays of Oscar Wilde to remind them of what they have been ignoring these past nine years.

To The GPO
– a two year work study programme of interfering with and losing so much of our mail and for indecent relationships with our telephone.

To Mary Whitehouse
– a pair of ear plugs and a sleeping shade.

To the BBC
– the retirement of Mary Whitehouse.

To ITV and London Weekend Television
– programmes as good as the commercials.

To Sir Gerald Nabarro
– more lady chauffeurs like his last one.

To Lord Longford
– a halo.

To Malcolm Muggeridge
– an airport at the bottom of his garden.

To Edward Heath
– a cabinet made up of ex-grammar school boys.

To Harold Wilson
– a political party

To David Bowie
– an appearance at next year’s Royal Command Performance.

To Larry Grayson
– some original jokes and a black mark for telling fibs.

To Chris Welch (of Melody Maker)
– a record player and a job on the Financial Times.

To The Daily Telegraph
– a losing law suit with Private Eye.

To The Sunday Telegraph
– Richard Ingrams as editor.

To The Evening Standard
– an ad in Gay News

To Private Eye
– a bathchair on the cliffs at Hastings.

To Martin Stafford BA
– A ‘Glad To Be Gay’ badge and a lifelong subscription to Gay News.

To Chelsea Police
– a dictionary to look up the words ‘obstruction’ and ‘malicious’.

To Kensington Police
– a manual on ‘How To Care For Your Camera’

Lord Porn Lashes Back

Pornography, Obscenity and Gays

19721001-01The law as it stands makes certain kinds of published material ‘obscene’, and therefore illegal, if, in the opinion of the jury, that material tends to ‘deprave and corrupt’ the people who might read it or see it.

There has been considerable dissention, not least in legal circles, over what depravity and corruption is, and how its effects can be measured. I would contend that propaganda which, in order to make a case for certain views, distorts what truth it sees where it does not ignore it outright, which would contain and condemn sexual expression within confines pleasing only to its authors, which seeks, in effect, to pervert natural, free and honest human sexuality in literature, art, the cinema into the narrow confines of heterosexual marriage only, is pornographic within that definition.

19721001-03The Longford Report on Pornography is just such a book. Although the enquiry was a totally independent one (ie set up by individuals not a government body), it has received assistance from government sources and has been aided (for which thanks are offered) by the police.

As regards gays, the book is a total distortion of the truth and perpetuates all the myths about us, despite evidence from CHE in the person of lan Harvey. The only suggestion offered as regards gays is that, if we are prepared to seek it out, we ought to be allowed our wank literature. We are one more ‘perversion’ along with prostitution, bestiality pederasty, sado-masochism, though none of these are explored, but accepted as such. Likewise, the terms ‘normal’ and ‘decent’ pepper the book without any exploration of their meaning or implication. They are taken to mean heterosexual intercourse within marriage and chastity before (despite the fact that more than one ‘witness’ underscores the impossibility of this).

The inquisitors themselves clearly state the propoganda intention of the inquiry, and therefore the book.

HOW FAR CAN WE GO ?

“These were the terms of reference of the committee: ‘to see what means of tackling the problem of Pornography would command general support’.” In short, they accepted the existence of a problem and the ‘need’ to do something about it. Their only concern was ‘how far can we go and get away with it.’ (my quotes). That alone destroys any confidence one might have had in any conclusion they might produce. This is not a serious enquiry into porif and its effects – it is a political exercise by a minority in an attempt to impose their views on the majority, and should be read as such. As should Mein Kampf, and Das Kapital. This is the Festival of Lighters handbook.

“Hard pornography is intended to appeal to the person who wishes to go well beyond simply acquiring some erotic literature. It builds its own market by appealing quite unashamedly to various groups of inadequate of sexually maladjusted people.” That, among others, is us, of course.

As regards children, they accept the common attitude that a child’s introduction to sex is the prerogative of the parent. They know, but hardly take account of, the refusal or reluctance of most parents to undertake this duty. They nowhere mention the obvious point that a child ought not to need ‘introduction’ to sex, but that it ought to be an open and freely stated part of his/her life from birth onwards. On the contrary, they seem to want to keep the child unaware of any sexual relationship between his/her parents, until the child becomes disturbed enough about his/her developing sexuality to want to ask about it. They stress sex as essentially a private and family matter, not a subject for public discussion or display. They want parents to have the right to keep the child in ignorance by withdrawing them from sex-education lessons.

Great play is made at one point of the fact that the BBC sex education series gave no stress to moral standards, to the point that the pregnant woman in the film wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.

In short, they want the right to pervert, repress, and distort a child to suit their politics. They would destroy a child’s right to freedom, development and love.

Their definition of pornography is wider than most of us would accept. They see no value or service in magazines such as Forum, since these do not moralise as they would. They see ‘sex-aids as a further ‘corruption’. They see the whole field of sexual education and pornography as an addiction, leading happily married men and women (who defines their happiness?) to experiment with other forms of sexual activity which, without porn, they might have remained ignorant of. They see it as ‘perverting’ children away from ‘normal’ (ie hetero/married) sex to experiment with ‘perversions’. They ignore the diversity and richness of the human-sexual spectrum, and would repress and confine human development.

Despite the confusion in the evidence, and the examples of the American report and the Danish experiment, they cannot accept that pornography can suffer from over-exposure, and that it might in the process do some good. They point out that, since pornography is ‘bad’ (which they have failed to prove), it must have a bad effect.

After all, they say, who can argue that what people see and read does not affect them? Why else, they ask, do advertisers spend millions of pounds on television time and display space? Why do parents and the state spend so much to educate a child? Because all these have an effect.

Firstly, as I have noted, they have failed to prove any conclusive effect one way or other in the majority of cases.

Secondly, advertising is designed to persuade – porn, along with other kinds of depiction, merely shows. Of course literature has an effect – there would be no point in writing it otherwise. But if a display of pornographic material affects someone (ie arouses them), that arousal or offence is their reaction, it comes from them, not the porn. It does not create that person’s sexuality, simply exposes it.

As a second line of defence. they point out that even the people who deny the corrupting effect of pornography agree with the sanctions preventing the ridicule and abuse of coloured people, so doesn’t that prove ‘an effect’? They ignore the fact that such sanctions exist to prevent damaging lies from creating a damaging effect on the way people live together. Do they regard the depicted sex-act as a lie? Even if a woman wears a wedding ring?

Perhaps the nastiest and most unreasonable part of a thoroughly nasty and unreasonable book is the attack that Malcolm Muggeridge, disguised as the Sub-Committee on Broadcasting, perpetrates upon the BBC. The report itself, in other sections (notably Frank Gillard’s refutation of the Sub-Committee report) shows up the lack of investigation, thought or concern for truth of Mr Muggeridge, so I do not propose even to discuss these lies. Unfortunately, they are well-phrased;

“‘Family viewing’ (the practice of placing more adult programmes after 9pm), therefore, like family planning, more aptly describes a
process which is destructive of family life.” Need I say more?

The result of this superficial and prejudiced ‘enquiry’ is a proposed Bill to change the law on obscene publications. These changes would appear to have been discussed with the police beforehand.

A publication (or programme, or film) would become obscene if “its effect, taken as a whole, is to outrage contemporary standards of decency or humanity accepted by the public at large.” In other words, once more publishers will not be able to discover whether they are breaking the law or not until the jury decides. Thus the police will have an even freer hand to close things they do not like. To them, the existence of a gay newspaper could be an outrage.

It would remove the defence of literary merit or public good – on the grounds that if it is well written it must be more effectively corrupting!

It would increase the penalties for everything.

If it ever became law it would be an artistic disaster.

I note with apprehension that shortly after the publication of this report the police chose to raid the least offensive of porn – the Paul Raymond magazines.

The only thing I can say in conclusion is that the report continually equates porn with Nazi anti-semitic propoganda. I would have thought that this report itself was open to a not unsimilar charge. More than that it is not necessary to say.

Name Dropping & Festival of Light

19720914-03There were fifteen of us gay revolutionaries, and fifteen hundred of them, on that grey September Sunday in Trafalgar Square, that Sunday showground of political ping pong. Both sides wore their badges avidly and made regular appropriate sounds: – “Gay is good,” “Jesus is great”. There were religious pop songs and recitals from J. Christ’s holy scribblings, but Messrs. Longford, Richard, Muggeridge and Whitehouse were nowhere in evidence at this Nuremberg Rally 1972. Perhaps they were too busy riding round the Circle Line, planning how they could give Edwina the Jesus Christ image.

Outnumbered us gay liberationists may have been, but we certainly made ourselves heard. The famous Maurice Tasker, bastion of the London GLF office suffers from a sore throat to this day, and as for that Martin Corbett, Gay News’ butch queen and beer gut, he was going around asking every pretty male Festival of Lighter, when they last had it. There were certainly some red faces, and later on in the evening after the rally, there were some red ends too. Myself, I treated the occasion very seriously and had several discussions with Jesus freaks, who all said exactly the same thing, as instructed by headquarters. I am a sinner according to the Bible; I’m as good as dead because I don’t love Jesus. That sounds rather monotonous and I tried to say that religion was and still is one of the greatest oppressive forces, especially for gay people, since it preaches encouragement of the family structure. If Jesus loves us why is half the world starving, and why is the Pope telling women not to take the Pill, thus aggravating the population explosion. None of them seemed to take much notice of me though, so it was quite a relief when four radical feminists arrived. They really put the whole afternoon in perspective as they sauntered into the square, looking like opera singers, wearing beautiful togs by “Bona Lallies” of Colville Terrace. The afternoon was beautifully rounded off by some rather pretty festival of lighters throwing lumps of stale J. Lyons white bread at everyone in sight. Silly me, I ate it and was constipated for three whole days, after which I started shitting plastic crosses.