Tuesday, November 23, 2004

STEPPING TOO FAR?: We're not entirely sure we like where we end up if we follow through the implications of Brighton & Hove's plans to introduce a voluntary "ban" on homophobic albums. It's part of the Outrage campaign against homophobia by some dancehall artists, and while we can see they might argue that removing access to the records is no different to denying the artists a live platform, we can't help but feel there's a major difference: when you look at the proposal for what it is - a council seeking to ban publications it disagrees with - and then apply the principle to bookshops, you start to get a worrying vision of where the precedent could take us. We're also a little uncertain as to why the council even feels the need to get involved, if Peter Tatchell is right when he says:

"Records that incite murder are criminal offences, and it is illegal for record stores to promote this music," he said.

"If the stores refuse to remove these CDs we will be pressing the police to prosecute them."

So: it's already illegal to stock these records under British law? Then why does the council need to pass any resolution at all?

Green Party councillor Simon Williams says:

Brighton and Hove is regarded as the gay capital of England. We decided we should take a stand against the record stores," said councillor Simon Williams. "Whilst freedom of expression is valid in most cases, it ceases to be valid when you are talking about incitement to murder people."

... in which case, would Brighton and Hove Council called up newsagents not to have carried The Guardian on the day Charlie Brooker's column suggested we might seek deliverance from George Bush at the hands of a Lee Harvey Oswald?