CAAN Interview
Interviewed by David Rasmussen


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?

CAAN: See our reports linked here:
http://consentingadultactionnet.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!C5CCF94F23E0484D!315.entry
We found new supporters and fired up existing ones. We made links with
other civil liberties campaigners.

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).

CAAN: The part of the act concerned with sexuality only covers people
where the sexuality issue is gender related (ie that they are gay,
lesbian or bisexual). The equality act covers various other matters,
such as race, disability, age, and so on. see the legislation
here:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmbills/085/voli/09085i.2-8.html

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
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