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.

VIOLENT ALICE

19720914-04Poor Alice Cooper is in trouble, they/him have run foul of Mrs Mary Whitehouse over their latest single, “School’s Out”. The television film which was shown with the playing of the record on ‘Top of the Pops’ was also damned by Mrs Whitehouse and her flock, the National Viewers and Listeners Association.

The dear lady has been telling tales to the Home Secreatry about the naughty Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Norman Skelhorn, who apparently has taken no action over Mrs M’s heated complaints about Alice and his/their record.

It’s all the DPP’s fault though, according to our moral-protector. His office is grossly understaffed to cope with the growing volume of complaints about violence and sexually perverted material she reports, and goes on to say that Alice’s record “held violent and anarchistic connotations”. The DPP being so busy that he didn’t even try to see the ‘Top of the Pops’ film was something else she told anyone who would listen, in this case the Home Secretary’s office. She further stated that the police were powerless to act because of the DPP’s ineffectiveness.

Amidst all the obscenity, and the “permissiveness of the DPP’s office” taking place at a furious pace all around us, Mrs M is fighting a long and hard battle to stamp it out.

Other interests of hers include a ‘healthy’ involvement in the crusade of the Festival-of-Lighters. That streamlined organisation is well
known for its anti-gay tendencies. One of their earlier accomplices is the star of Sunday television religious hour, Malcolm Muggeridge. That gentleman is infamous for his now epic remark “1 don’t like homosexuals”. This ‘delightful’ phrase was delivered as a result of him forgetting his lines, amongst other things, during a speech he was making at the Festival-of-Lighters opening ceremony at the Central Hall, Westminster, in 1971.

If you ask me Mrs M is suffering from a bad case of ‘wet and twisted knickers’