An ill conceived law hiding behind the excuse of giving succour to a grieving mother.

I’m sure that some of you by now have guessed that I’m “Kinky”, what you may not know is that I’m active in the UK BDSM scene as both a respected player and a passionate educator… hence my involvement with Unfettered and Kinkfest.

As such, this proposed new law will affects me and quite a few of my close friends.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
Benjamin Franklin

This is as true now as when he said it.

If you aren’t interested, simply move along now…
Weebls

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The proposal of this law came about because a mother lost her daughter to erotic asphyxiation and apoxia and decided to create the Jane Longhurst Trust and with Martin Salter MP, petitioned the Government thusly:

“We the undersigned object to the presence of extreme internet sites promoting violence against women in the name of sexual gratification. We note the recent horrific murder of Brighton school teacher Jane Longhurst was by a man who had become an avid user of corrupting internet sites such as ‘necrobabes’, ‘death by asphyxia’ and ‘hanging bitches’. We support the call by the family of Jane Longhurst for the Government and Internet Service Providers to take action to block access to these sites; for an overhaul of the Obscene Publications Act to make it a criminal offence to possess such images; for better international cooperation to close down sites hosted abroad and for internet images in the UK to be included in the remit of OFCOM.”

50,000 people signed this petition, and on the face of it, this sort of petition appears to “probably be a good thing…”

However, the facts of the case should make any intelligent person question Mrs Longhurst’s actions, if not her impeccable and most understandable motive.

It appears that Miss Longhurst consented and encouraged Mr Coutts in using a pair of tights to strangulate her whilst they were fucking. (and yes, I used that word intentionally… plain language for plain speaking)

According to Mr Coutts, even though they had had an extensive discussion before hand about the risks and various safety aspects, it all went horribly wrong and Miss Longhurst lost her life. At trial, he admitted that he had a neck fetish, had used tights as a ligature with 3 previous consenting partners, and about 5 years after he started strangulating women for mutual pleasure, he started surfing the internet for asphyxia related pornography. He denied using the internet to look for “necrophic” related pornography, although he admitted that some of the sites he visited had these sorts of images. He also hid her body for 6 weeks in a storage facility and then tried to burn the body to dispose of it, rather than heading straight for the Police once the accident had occurred.

These last two facts secured a Murder conviction (ie proved he had intent to kill Miss Longhurst), rather than Manslaughter.

Erotic asphyxiation is the act of holding your breath during erotic stimulation. A great many people actually do this involuntarily, without even realising they are doing it, or that what they are doing has a name. Basically, hypoxia (restricted oxygen to the brain) intensifies orgasm. A large proportion of people, both men and women, hold their breath without thinking abut doing so as they approach climax, and even couples that profess to abhor “all that kinky stuff” may well play with silk scarves and hands over mouths during their love-life. It’s is simply part of life’s natural experimentation in the pursuit of sexual happiness.

There is also strangulation of the carotid artery, which whilst not asphyxiation, still deprives the brain of oxygen, and so carries the same care protocols when playing in that field. However, strangulation is far more likely to cause apoxia, (total lack of oxygen), rather than hypoxia, and therefore is exponentially more risky.

Both breath regulation and strangulation can be “risk minimised” with good education, however, any form of hypoxia causing situation, even the unconscious self regulated kind, will always remain pretty much the most dangerous of activities.

Reading the Judge’s Summation, I can only guess that neither Mr Coutts or Miss Longhurst really considered that sometimes accidents do happen, however risk aware you are personally, and however many times you have performed the same act before.

So, were am I going with all of this education?

I’m going here: Mrs Longhurst has my deepest sympathies, however, her cause has been hijacked by 2 MPs in the name of “Morality” and the knee-jerk reaction to the petition has turned Mrs Longhurst’s possibly sensible proposal into a very badly drafted Bill.

Should the Bill become Law, it would effectively create “thought crime” for the private lives of people that have a consensual BDSM sexuality and use a PC to look at, or save their own consensually created images of BDSM Related acts. The Bill proposes a 3 year prison term, and having to sign the Sex Offenders Register as punishment for such acts.

It is estimated that people having a BSDM sexuality is approximately 10% of the population, and approximately 40% of the population “play kinky games” at sometime or another. Please note that 10% is the same proportion as Homosexual sexuality (Of course, there is a crossover, so the percentages aren’t absolute!)

BDSM sexuality is already in a gray area in Law, as the “Offense Against the Person Act (1861)” makes any form of “physical assault that leaves marks” (ie a heavy strike, love-bite or pinch that bruises for longer than a week or anything that breaks the skin) specifically administered to give sexual pleasure illegal. The offense carries a 3 year prison term. It also considered that by consenting to receiving those marks, you have aided and abbeted your own assault, wiht an 18 month Prison term attached.

Do note that it is perfectly legal to knock nine-bells out of someone in the Name of Sport (Boxing, Karate etc etc), or to have have your body pierced or tattooed in the Name of Art or Performance. If you are mugged, you are the victim of Assault, but you are made a criminal if you consent to and enjoy a spanking at home with your Assault committing partner! However, also note that Judge Rant in 1993 clarified what would be considered Assault between a BDSM practicing Heterosexual Couple as “Marks that are no more than transient or trifling.”

If you are more interested in the structure of the current law, and how it effects people, The Spanner Trust is a good place to start.

Possibly the most famous of successfully prosecuted consensual BDSM related cases, “Operation Spanner” was the prosecution of a group of gay guys who, thought it would be a good idea to get together one Saturday and have a bit of BDSM fun. As part of their scene, one of the group nailed another’s foreskin to a plank of wood. The Group was fully risk aware and consenting, no coercion took place and so effectively, no threat to anyone, however, their mistake was that they took pictures.

Of course, the pictures somehow got out, the Police became involved and the Nailer and others involved were sucessfully prosecuted for GHB under the above named act. The twist in the tail is that when the Nailee spoke up to the police that he had consented to the Nailer’s acts, he was then successfully prosecuted for aiding and abetting his own Assault.

The Bill that has spun from the back of Mrs Longhurst’s seemingly sensible petition to limit access to “generally abhorrent pictures of sexual violence” is drafted to make looking at any pictures depicting “Extreme Violent Pornography” downloaded from the internet and/or held on computer illegal.

There are obvious flaws in the draft, as there are already Films and Art that would contraveine the Act. This is dealt with by simply deeming anything that currently exisits to be exempt. However, whist you could go to a Cinema and watch Films such as Clockwork Orange, even go to a shop and buy prints of stills from the Torture scene, which is very sexual in nature, if you were to save the same stills onto your PC via the internet or a scanner, you would have broken the new law, as it is considered to be a new creation of Old works. This Bill would also make showing Old works in exhibition technically dodgy, if not illegal as well.

This also means that if a consensually loving BDSM orientation couple take video or still pictures of their private BDSM activites, not only could these pictures be used as evidence of Assualt under the old laws, they would also break the new law as soon as they put it on their PC to store or edit them. However, if they printed the pictures directly to paper, or put the Video directly to tape or CD, that is not breaking the new law.

There are of course complexities that I’m not going into, this essay is long enough as it is, however, as you can see, even from my simplistic rendering, the Bill is very badly drafted, and will make criminals of generally law abiding people!

In my personal opinion, and that of a large number of my friends, Consensual and Loving BDSM should not be viewed as having “comparable abhorance” by wider society as either the current culture of Disrespect, Violent Films and Computer Games, Gun Crime, Knife Crime and other Violent Crimes or of Child or Animal Abuse (sexual or otherwise).

I believe that all teh above is far more damaging to society as a whole that a touch of slap&tickle between loving and consenting partners in the bedroom for their own mutual pleasure.

In fact it’s quite something when people in the States express concern about the increasing threat to free expression and speech here in the UK. Really makes you stop and pay attention.

Backlash - the Organisation created to oppose the Bill

3 thoughts on “An ill conceived law hiding behind the excuse of giving succour to a grieving mother.”

  1. Given the content of this post I am hoping you would be the perfect person to tell my discovery that mis-spelling “shibori” as “shibari” and then googling it gives you a whole new perspective on tiedye!!! LOL Take care, Sal x

  2. LOL! Indeed, that would give a whole new perspective on Shibori!

    Good to see you are still around, you should give us at least a half term report on your ‘blog, I want to know how your degree is going!

  3. My name is Graham and I’m the person who started the petition, signed by one thousand eight hundred people, on the Number 10 Downing Street website http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Violent-Porn/ calling on the Prime Minister to abandon these plans to create this “thought crime” based on the idea that “if they don’t see it, they won’t do it”.

    Ironically, I, like Mrs Longhurst and everyone in the BDSM community, would in no way support non-consensual violence against women (or men, for that matter).

    Unfortunately her petition says these websites “promote violence against women in the name of sexual gratification.”

    The problem is that there’s absolutely no proof of such “promotion” and, in fact, the credible evidence on the subject (ie that not based on flawed research methods, biased samples or simple anecdotal claims) shows that pornography actually *reduces* sexual crimes, rather than increasing them. See, for instance http://www.omaha-neb.com/experts.html

    Not only this, but the proposed law will justify censorship based solely on subjective opinion.

    The Consultation document on these proposals was itself badly flawed, because it made repeated and irrelevant references to child pornography, even though Graham Coutts was never charged with or convicted of such offences. It admitted that there was no evidence to support the claim that this material lead to violence against women, but then proposed that there was material that was “so abhorrent” that it shouldn’t be allowed anyway.

    It also suggested that anything that “appeared to risk serious injury or death” should be outlawed, but that, again, is entirely subjective and one viewer’s opinion on what is “at risk” is not going to be the same as another’s, so how can someone even *know* if they are risking breaking the law!

    Laws are supposed to be based on “evidence of harm”, yet the “evidence” backing up these proposals is distinctly lacking, if not entirely non-existent.

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