Rasmussen: Good day, please introduce yourself and tell us abit about yourself.
CAAN: Hi, I am National Convenor for CAAN (Consenting Adult Action Network). I'm a polyamorous, queer, disabled activist and single parent (well you did ask!).
Rasmussen: Well I didn’t ask like that I sure didn’t. Uh… guess you won’t tell me your name (second person in the past few months). So… uh… I’m going to nickname you Nat-Cee (phonically sounding like Nancy) for short (National Convenor). So if you may please tell us a bit about CAAN (Consenting Adult Action Network) and it's goals.
CAAN: CAAN came into being about a year ago in order to protest UK laws, which criminalize and discriminate against some people on the basis of their sexuality. For more about us see here http://www.caan.org.uk/
Rasmussen: That would include the extreme porn ban I take it. Tell us about the extreme porn ban passed Late January 2009 and it's present disposition now (Early May 2009).
CAAN: The law passed last year and came into force on January 26th 2009. Right now it is an offence to possess what the government considers 'extreme pornography' and the police may enter anyone's home to look for it, without prior proof that any offence has been committed. This isn't just of interest to people with a marginalized sexuality, this is a significant civil liberties issue and other changes pending mean that soon the government will be able to track anyone's internet activity as well. Other problems with this law are: nobody is entirely certain what is actually illegal to possess until the courts hear some cases and it does not differentiate between images of abuse and images of consensual activity between adults, it seems to be aimed at consensually made images. We don't need a law to make images of abuse an offence to possess - they are evidence of crimes, so they are already illegal to possess, and quite rightly so.
Rasmussen: How has the law been enforced to date, has there been mass arrests and unlawful imprisonments yet?
CAAN: Imprisonment for this offence would be entirely lawful, now the CJIA is in place (The criminal justice and immigration act, which contains the ban on possession of extreme porn).
Rasmussen: Uh, no it wouldn’t. Just because you made a fascist law making it “legal” on paper it isn’t legal in actual action… I’m going to start calling your Prime Minister Mr. Pope Puppet… that’s OK, right? Anyway please continue…
CAAN: We are not aware that anyone has been arrested for extreme porn yet and are ready to show public support if they are, alongside Backlash, who will be providing legal advice. Right up until the day it came into force, the government had not made it clear what measures it would be taking to use this law. They felt it was important enough to create the law in the first place, claiming that, despite lack of conclusive evidence, consensually-made extreme pornography causes people to commit crimes. As soon as the law came into force, the government announced that it would not be actively pursuing anybody for this offence, merely dealing with it where they came across it. Consequently, nobody is happy about this law, including the people who wanted it. They're not happy because they want the country cleared of this dangerous filth and we're not happy because police and government could choose to get proactive any time and will still use this law against people when they are asked to, and where they come across it.
Rasmussen: What has the reaction been of late after the law has been in effect for the past three months and counting?
CAAN: We think most people still don't even realize the ban is in place, and that those who do know, do not know how to stay within the law. Many who know about it don't seem to have taken any action to curtail their porn viewing, they think the law is stupid and feel it won't affect them. A small number of people are worried every time we click an adult link on the internet, because we can't control the content, even if we have ensured we have nothing deliberately stored which is illegal. Bizzarrely, those most likely to be playing over-safe with the law, are those most likely to have been law abiding in the first place. As with the gun ban, the law is policing those who didn't need to be policed, and doing nothing in respect of anyone who is actually potentially dangerous. This is one of the stupidest things about this law - it does nothing to actually stop anyone looking at the porn at all. It looks like the government have done something, while really they are doing nothing expect wasting a stack of time and money creating the law in a failed attempt to appease it's supporters, pretending it is somehow helping women to be saved from abuse - on both sides of the fence this is regarded as pretty offensive.
Rasmussen: From everything you’ve said about this law it’s a paper tiger that will only cause more problems than anything else. Basically un-enforceable (as it will no doubt set off a firestorm of protests if it is enforced), and possibly un-removable (as it will probably set off another firestorm of protests from the extremely conservative right if it was)… so where’s the win in the situation? Where is the point where both sides just walks away from this and allows it to become just a footnote in history (another law on the books nobody wants to touch or even acknowledge)?
CAAN: It's not unenforcable, it's law. What might happen is it can be softened via individual cases, more likely people will go to prison for up to 3 years if they possess images the court considers to be extreme porn. Re footnote in history - in Scotland they are drafting the law so at the moment the law is continuing to spread, rather than slipping away. The extreme porn ban only covers England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It is too early to say what is really going to happen.
Rasmussen: You’re not understanding… it’s UNINFORCABLE because, really, the law is near draconian in it’s extreme measure, coming up to dictating morality instead of stopping the root problems it was supposed to stop. I… well, let’s sally forth. If the UK Government really wants to help women (and not make this a photo op moment in light of how you told me this law came into being and why) why doesn’t the government increase efforts to stop the sex slave trade? Increase investigation, arrest and punishment of those trafficking in women brought into the country to engage in forced prostitution for instance?
CAAN: Government is looking at that to tighten existing trafficing laws right now. You need to see the International Union of Sex Workers site for more information about what mistakes Government is making on that front though, as there is some campaign work going on around how many other sex workers will be affected by badly written legislation.
Rasmussen: Well if Government is good for anything, it’s writing crappy legislation (anything written by a Republican here can usually be considered crappy legislation). Seems to me tackling the real dangers against women is more important (or should be more important) than petty grandstanding for the media (and for the Conservative Right’s support come next election season)… and really, must more trees (or cyberspace) die for crappy legislation to be born?
CAAN: Absolutely. There's lots of laws already which would tackle real dangers against women, wonder why they are drafting new legislations instead of getting out there and using the one they have. We defer to women's groups on the issue of what the government should be doing re dangers to women - we're a pangender group.
Rasmussen: March's Convention on Modern Liberty. Tell us abit about that and what was achieved during that convention?
Rasmussen: Speaking of Backlash since you brought them up a few times, what is the group Backlash and can you tell us abit about them?
CAAN: You'd be best to see their website for that. Backlash, in short is an organization which has been lobbying against the extreme porn ban since its inception.
Rasmussen: The late March revelation that the Home Secretary is a closet porn fan. What was CAAN's reaction to this, and (in your opinion) was this an isolated inncident or do you feel that it's just the tip of the iceberg (that more and more of the very politicians and government officials who voted for the ban are, in fact, into porn themselves)?
CAAN: We cannot condone any politician frauding money, but the media focus on the sexual content is irrelevant and we have offered support to the individual concerned in that respect. See our blog about it here (feel free to quote) which includes a press release and a letter to the press about it. By the way our Home Secretary is a woman and it was her husband who looked at the porn: http://consentingadultactionnet.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!C5CCF94F23E0484D!332.entry Rasmussen: Sorry. My bad… I’d apologize to her but I’d be insincere (Politicians and the people at FIXED NOISE (FOX NEWS) don’t get apologies from me). Well then moving on now… (hmm)… nah, I’ll keep all my Home Secretary is inadequate in bed jokes to myself… anyway what can you tell us about the Comic Shop Alliance, are they really going after adult comic books as well (or any comic with adult content of any level)?
CAAN: Government is drafting a piece of legislation which will make it illegal to possess cartoon porn which features people who appear to be under 18. You will need to ask Comic Book Alliance about the details of their campaign. We perceive two problems: First, it is clear that the government has not really looked at the cartoon spectrum but simply drafted a law based on the worst and most abusive imagery. As a result a great deal of wholly unrelated material - from Audrey Beardsley to Alan Moore - will be scooped up by this legislation. Second, although the government has a particular target in mind, it has totally failed to show that these measures would in any way reduce the incidence of abuse. There is a strong case to suggest it might even increase the abuse of children.
Rasmussen: You have a petition up on site calling for a certain someone's resignation (if I read it right), can you tell us who and how the rest of us can join in on shaming this blighter out of office?
CAAN: No we don't. This must be a mistake.
Rasmussen: Are you sure? I’m pretty certain it called for someone’s resignation.
CAAN: What you mean is unclear here. Can you find the quote you are referring to, then maybe I can expalin it?
Rasmussen: But since I brought up the topic who would you like to see removed from office for allowing this law to come into being?
CAAN: This isn't about removing someone from office, it's about fighting the bad laws politicians are making. The MP previously referred to Martin Salter has already stated he is changing jobs, we're glad he'll be gone.
Rasmussen: Let’s narrow it to a Keith Olbermann “Worst Persons in the World” top three list. Who is Worse, Worster and Worst UK Politicians in the world (in CAAN’s opinion) and why? (And if you’re going to play Switzerland and not ruffle political feathers then we’ll just move on, thank you.)
CAAN: We don't have such a top three list.
Rasmussen: You’re killing me here, stop it… (usually logic dictates in order to get rid of bad law you must remove bad lawmakers lest they find ways to resurrect bad law… we do that every 2 to 4 years when we realized we voted monkeys into office, allegedly). Off the topic of vermin removal then, in your opinion what was the driving force behind the ban in the first place?
CAAN: The driving forces behind the ban were the death of Jane Longhurst and campaign headed by her mother Liz and MP Martin Salter. Lot of references to these on internet you can look up. Jane was killed, by a man who looked at extreme porn. We sympathize with Liz Longhurst but we feel that unfortunately the law she wants can't achieve the effect desired. We also think that to blame images for causing abuse or murder, is providing dangerous criminals with an unforgivable excuse, when we should be making them take responsibility.
Rasmussen: So blame everything but the guilty one for his actions, I heard that defense before (video games, movies, TV, twinkies)… anyway what will it take (in your opinion) for consenting adults to tell these cloak and dagger powers that be behind it to f(bleep) off and remove the ban?
CAAN: Continuing campaign work, and a strong fight in the courts when someone is finally put on trial for this victimless crime. We think the campaigning we have done since the Bill received Royal Assent has contributed to the government's decision not to police this proactively, as it's pretty clear that if they do, there is going to be a massive backlash. People need to keep encouraging each other to stand up for ourselves when we are being persecuted because of our sexuality, and keep looking out for each other in the case of those who cannot come out yet.
Rasmussen: You keep mentioning “Extreme Porn”… well, sorry, but working in the porn industry as a reviewer I am probably woefully desensitized to it so… if you may… what is “Extreme Porn”?
CAAN: Here's the legislation: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080004_en_9 note that the images only need to be realistic not real and things only need to 'appear to be' what is listed. For example this means the part which refers to necrophilia would apply if it is pretend/staged (which would cover some gothic horror type porn - see Satanic Sluts modeling work, for example).
Rasmussen: Can you tell us abit about the "CAAN Playbook"?
CAAN: There is no such thing as a CAAN Playbook. Can you clarify?
Rasmussen: You never played Madden… oh, right, of course. Never mind. Anyway what efforts is the group undertaking to slowly widdle down lawmakers and politicians until the law is deemed unconstitutional (aka your “Playbook“ of strategies and tactics),
CAAN: We are continuing to talk about it at every opportunity. We are fighting the creation of the same law in Scotland, which is being drafted now. We are ready to take to the streets in protest the first time a harmless citizen is arrested for possessing consensually made adult images. We are talking to the Equality and Human Rights Commission about why some sexualities are protected but not others. We are continuing to seek allies in other movements and LGBT groups. Mainly what we need to do is continue working towards a critical mass of supporters and keep showing the government that people are not happy with their sexual behaviour being dictated by lawmakers.
Rasmussen: So, if it ever came down to it and people were rounded up and arrested for even the most minor porn related offense, will things ever get as bad protest wise as… say… the on and off again rioting that the French seem to like to engage in every few years (where some group or another unilaterally go off their meds and start violently rioting for some reason)?
CAAN: We doubt it.
Rasmussen: Has any groups (like for instance the UK version of the ACLU) given hope that the law can be taken to the judicial system and declared unconstitutional by reason that in encroaches on freedom of speech?
CAAN: See Rabinder Singh (on Backlash website). We do believe this law is against human rights. Liberty (our equivalent organisation) is not taking it up. We don't have a constitution, so it cannot be declared unconstitutional. Backlash have been declaring this is against Human Rights since the idea of this law first came up, but the government doesn't care.
Rasmussen: The last news update on your Facebook page was the end of March, has anything significant happened in the month or so since that report,
CAAN: Yes since then we have been working hard in Scotland and have just submitted evidence to the team dealing with the extreme porn law there and continued our dialogue with the Equality and Human Rights Commission. We need to update our facebook page and I'll try and do that later.
Rasmussen: Anyway what has been happening of late since the revelation of the Home Secretary's interest in porn? Has he… ok, SHE… been... ah... "asked politely to step down" by his fellow sharks (party members)?
CAAN: The Home Secretary is a woman.
Rasmussen: Yes, yes, I just found that out now… you so not going to let me forget that one aren’t you.
CAAN: Don't know about colleagues, but the public seem to want her to step down judging by the facebook groups!
Rasmussen: On a more porn related front. Some months back the news reported that there was a possibility that the porn industry of the United States itself was in need of a bailout, and went to Washtngton DC for just such a thing. Given your knowledge of the industry does this seem at all plausible, and what can the porn industry do to right itself if it is facing economic straits?
CAAN: CAAN doesn't really have an opinion on this matter as it doesn't relate to the remit our supporters.
Rasmussen: …uh… right. (sigh) And, well, how is the UK porn industry doing in light of the new law? I take it they're not having it good with the ban and all.
CAAN: Porn makers are not being criminalized in the new law, the new law only criminalizes possession. Some porn makers were already struggling with the legislation they have to meet here (OPA Obscene Publications Act) and some of our porn stars who are in CAAN already work a lot abroad - for example Cristian Torrent features in films that cannot be sold here. Most of the porn viewed in the UK is made abroad, a lot of it in the US. We have not had reports of how or if this has affected UK traffic to those sites. Given that most people don't realise extreme porn is banned, we suspect it has affected it very little.
Rasmussen: What can you tell us about The Equality Bill. Is that a cureall for the ban? Or a step in the right direction?
CAAN: The Equality Bill excludes everything relating to sexuality except the gender of our partners.
Rasmussen: That’s it? The Equality Bill is just about gender equality? Really? Well… how is that bill doing? Any progress?
CAAN: No it's not just about gender equality.
Rasmussen: But you just said it excludes everything but gender… oh I give up… (sigh)… go on, go on. Forget I implied that (I already did).
Rasmussen: I think, if I remember right, I learned the phrase “Nanny Nation” from the UK because it seems to like to be the Government that is everyone’s nanny… so, in your opinion, will the UK ever grow up and stop passing laws that treat it’s adult population like underaged children (or worst yet be two steps shy of the ultra fascist religo-conservative regime seen in the movie “V for Vendetta“?)
CAAN: We hope so, because right now we are under ever increasing control in many areas - activists in a growing number of groups round the country are campaigning on various matters relating to this and trying to encourage people to fight, we're just open of them - you might be interested in No2ID for stuff about that ;-)
Rasmussen: Any final words for our readers?
CAAN: Keep spreading the word about the extreme porn ban. Speak out for consenting adults rights to express their sexuality whenever you have the chance. Sign up to CAAN's statement about the freedom of consenting adults, wherever you live: http://www.caan.org.uk/statement.html - and see here for what else you can do to support CAAN : http://www.caan.org.uk/WhatYouCanDo.html