Perverts In The News
by Pat Califia
From Issue 1.9 - July/August 1995
Queer Lawsuit vs. Canada Customs Awaits Verdict, Donations
Little Sisters is a small queer bookstore in Vancouver which is suing Canadian Customs to get them to stop seizing gay, lesbian, and feminist books at the border. Canada has an extremely broad and vague definition of obscenity, based in part on the "feminist" antiporn movement's belief that all sexually explicit material degrades women. S/M material has been heavily targeted by censors at the Canadian border. Thanks to delays by Customs attorneys, this lawsuit has dragged on for three years and has cost the bookstore more than $100,000. The case finally went to trial last year. The judge has not yet issued a verdict. It is especially urgent to raise money for the bookstore now, to help them pay their legal bills so they can afford an appeal if needed.
So far, the Operation Spanner case in England has garnered more publicity and support from the American leather community, but the Little Sisters case is becoming more well known. Donations can be made directly to the Little Sisters Defense Fund, 1221 Thurlow, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6E 1X4.
Operation Spanner Update
The European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg has heard the application by three of the 16 defendants in the British Operation Spanner case to have their convictions for assault resulting from consensual S/M activities overturned. The Commission voted to forward their case to a full hearing of the European Court of Human Rights. This hearing will probably take place during the second half of 1996, with a verdict expected a few months later. The 18 members of the commission heard papers by the applicants' lawyers and by attorneys for the British government who argued about whether the applicants' right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights had been violated.
Concurrently, five other people had filed an application with the Commission claiming that S/M activities put them at risk of prosecution. This challenge was rejected, but the Commission will not issue their reasons for doing so until February. Since the original Operation Spanner arrests, no one has been prosecuted in the United Kingdom for assault when consensual S/M was involved. However, police have stepped up action against fetish clubs, using "disorderly house" laws to harass them.
A benefit for the Spanner defendants will be held Sunday July 30 in San Fracisco. Spanner now has a web page where you can find out more information about the history and current status of the case (http://www.csv.warwick.ac.edu/~esrhi/spanl.html).
That's Scout Master Sir!
A Boy Scout leader in New York allegedly initiated boys into his own secret club by paddling their bare buttocks. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson claims that more than 100 photos of bruised buttocks were found at David Weister's home. Weister has been charged with assault, hazing, and child endangerment, and has been suspended as assistant troop leader. It is further alleged that Weister charged $10 a month dues to join his "CB Mafia." In a totally unrelated news item, South Africa's Constitutional Court recently banned whipping as punishment for youths convicted of crimes such as shoplifting or murder.
Cybersex may be Criminalized
Senate has passed a sweeping reform of the nation's telecommunications industry which consumer advocates say will result in higher rates for cable television and electronic information services. Also passed was an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jim Exon (D-Nebraska) which would make it illegal (with two-year prison terms and $100,000 fines) to post "indecent" communications on computer services such as BBSs and the Intenet. Civil libertarians and computer experts have indicated that the proposal is vaguely-worded, will be difficult to enforce, and is probably unconstitutional. Despite widespread opposition from net-heads, it seems likely that some form of Internet censorship bill will pass this year. Besides the Exon bill, there's a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to make it a crime to put information about how to make a bomb on the Internet. Critics have pointed out (in vain) that the same information is readily and legally available in any public library. Several other senators and representatives have promised to author anti-cybersex bills. Click here to find out more.
Canadian Fetish Magazine Banned in U.S.
It seems that censorship cuts both ways across the Canadian/U.S. border. Boudoir Noir, Canada's largest nonfiction fetish magazine, will not be listed by Broadcast Interview Source. This is a Washington, DC-based publisher of the Yearbook of Experts, Authorities and Spokespersons. Publisher Mitchell P. Davis refused to explain his reasons for declining the listing, stating only that his company had the authority to do so. Both Playboy and Penthouse are listed. A Canadian media guide used by television and radio stations has listed Boudoir Noir since last year.