Yasmin Alibhai Brown in todays Independent argues for limits on freedom on the basis of this case:
Libertarians and free expression campaigners were jubilant last week. An obscenity case was due to be heard against Darryn Walker, a 35-year-old civil servant who had posted an essay on a website, titled Girls (scream) Aloud, imagining the sexual torture and mutilation of the each of the women who make up the pop group...
She carries on
...In his fantasy, they are slashed and dismembered and, according to Don Grubin a consultant psychiatrist, the singers "are sexually aroused in spite of and, indeed, because of the humiliation, pain and domination". This apparently modern erotica known as "popslash". Cool, man.
The case was dropped and is celebrated as another important knock-back for censorship. Sadly I felt unable to join in with the good cheer. Something is deeply troubling about the validation given to Walker and those who think they have the right to say whatever they wish and excitedly share with others the thrills of extreme violence against women.
The formidable Geoffrey Robertson QC (who rose to fame fighting the case brought against Oz) is very pleased indeed. Jo Glanville, editor of Index Against Censorship (an organisation I support but not blindly) righteously asserts: "The prosecution should not have been brought in the first place. Since the landmark obscenity cases of the 1960s and 1970s, writers have been protected so they can explore the extremes of human behaviour. This case posed a serious threat to that freedom."
And then a fascinating shift:
Hmmm. Is that so? So If Walker had written, say, the same fantasy but on the sexual torture of Anne Frank, would Index have backed him? Or if a wannabe Muslim fiction writer had done the same, would he have the right to "explore the extremes of human behaviour"? I hope the answer to both these hypothetical questions is No.
From Girls Aloud to Anne Frank. I am not sure of the rhetorical term for this kind of contextual shift but the argument is chosen for a reason. Anne Frank? Jewish, wasn't she? Gets special protection for reasons we all know. The case regarding the Muslims takes off from there. Jews protected: Muslims persecuted. Now, how did we get here?