A ridiculous and malicious trail involving 'extreme
pornography' resulted in acquittal by jury this
week in England.
Webster had been charged under the cynically vague
Extreme Porn laws that were introduced a year
ago. His crime? To have downloaded staged images
featuring models from Drop Dead Gorgeous
on the Necrobabes site. The prosecution
accepted that the images did not show real violence
or harm, but prosecutor Darron Whitehead told
the jury "The question is whether it
is realistic or portrayed in that way. You have
to be satisfied the people in those images are
real. Plainly they are. The intentions of the
persons within those images, the actors and actresses,
are irrelevant. It is what is depicted in those
images which is material."
added, "Why is there a need for this
new legislation? There is a need to regulate images
portraying sexual violence, to safeguard the decency
of society and for the protection of women."
decency of society? How this was under threat
from a man downloading a couple of photos to his
hard drive is hard to fathom.
defence were supported by campaigning group Backlash,
and called expert witnesses professor Feona Attwood
of Sheffield Hallam University and Dr Clarissa
Smith of the University of Sunderland, who have
written a study of the law. Attwood compared the
images - a knifing and a drowning - as similar
to a 1970's Hammer Horror film (of course, thanks
to the wording of the law, a still from a Hammer
film could well be classed as 'extreme porn' if
a jury could be convinced that the person possessing
it gained sexual pleasure from it!).
jury thankfully understood the difference between
fantasy and reality, and brought in a 'not guilty'
verdict. It would be nice to think that this verdict
- the first time the law has been tested before
a jury - might make the powers that be think again
about this unnecessary and repressive law, or
at least restrict its use to cases of genuine
abuse and torture. But that, I fear, if wishful