I can see why some would be upset by the tshirt. The words on the tshirt would shock and offend any Christian - but then if there was a tshirt that said the same about Charles Darwin, Ayn Rand or myself, I might be shocked, but I wouldn't want it banned. I'd think less of the person who might wear it, but that's it. Hardly a reason to make it criminal. Words on a tshirt that are not defamatory (sorry Christians, Jesus isn't alive by any objective legal definition) should not be banned - they are words, they offend but do not harm. The Society for the Promotion of Community
(of Christian Fundamentalists') Standards (SPCS)said the words are "grossly obscene and blasphemous language directed at the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is worshipped, adored. praised and revered as the central Person of Christianity". As Stephen Fry once said "so you're offended? So fucking what?"
I am offended daily by the vileness of the actions and words of individuals and governments, I'm offended by people who don't wash and use the tube, I'm offended by foul mouthed yobs at 1am shouting outside our flat randomly, I'm offended by the BBC wasting money it took from me by force to pay exhorbitant salaries to people on commercially oriented programmes, I'm offended by restaurants that don't give me what i ordered. The world does not exist so governments can protect you from being offended.
The question I want to know, is that if it is illegal to have those words on a tshirt, is it illegal for me to even have them on this blog? Well US law protects me I expect given the hosting of this site - but if you can't write that phrase, then it has serious implications as to where the line is drawn on offending people through writing!
So what about the image? Was the woman in the image (I believe it was a photograph) forced to pose that way or reveal herself? If so, then there is an issue of assault and she would be a victim. If not, then let's think carefully - could she pose like that in someone's premises legally?
The answer is yes. There is no crime in a woman dressing as a nun, exposing herself and masturbating assuming she consents and is of age, which appears to be the case. So again, we are just talking about people who would be offended by the image. So let's deconstruct this. The person depicted on the tshirt isn't offended. The person buying or owning the tshirt isn't offended, but others not involved at all in the tshirt, except seeing it - are.
So we are to protect people from being offended from seeing an image that, in real life, would be perfectly legal to copy. This is rather unlike child pornography, where you are in serious criminal charges for attempting to undertake those activities in real life.
So why ban it? Well it appears the OFVLC is protecting Christianity and chastity, which seems rather strange as I didn't think it existed to do that. SPCS quotes this statement from the decision:
"The injury to the public good that is likely to be caused by the availability of this T-shirt originates from the manner in which it associates an aggressive and misogynistic meaning of the “harsh, brutal and generally unacceptable” word c### with Jesus Christ, and depicts an image of a chaste woman engaging in sexual activity. A fair interpretation of the messages conveyed by this T-shirt is that Christians should be vilified for their religious beliefs, and that women, including chaste and celibate women, cannot stop themselves engaging in sexual activity."
So there is injury to the public good simply by using a rude word with Jesus Christ? What if I say Kim Il Sung is a cunt? That will offend millions, but so fucking what?
The "image of a chaste woman engaging in sexual activity" is a curious description of something "bad". For starters the woman may not have been chaste, but was simply a model for the t-shirt. Secondly, the first sexual activity of all women is presumably when they are "chaste".
Does the tshirt say or imply Christians should be villified? Hardly. It is anti-Christ (careful use of the word), and depicts nuns as being sexual - which undoubtedly some are, and funnily enough the law doesn't criminalise them if they do or don't. However it isn't seeking oppression of Christians, it offends their primary prophet, but it is a stretch to say it villifies them. Does it imply that women cannot help themselves engaging in sexual activity? Well it implies the one on the tshirt can't, maybe some nuns can't, but then again, so what if it does? Would a tshirt that says "slut" and depicts a woman masturbating without wearing nun gear be criminal? Would a woman wearing a tshirt that says "i'm a slut" be criminal?
Let's be clear. I wouldn't wear this tshirt, I wouldn't listen to this band. I wouldn't be impressed by someone who did wear it, but the idea that you can be imprisoned for wearing it is frankly absurd and offensive.
I know many Christians will cheer this decision - but some of them wouldn't cheer if they faced the same offence for a tshirt that might say "gays carry AIDS" or something else that reflects their own beliefs but offends others.
Censorship law should simply not exist because people get offended, it should only exist to protect victims of real crimes. No crime was committed in the production of the tshirt design, so it should be nobody else's business.
You can ban anyone from your own property from wearing the tshirt and I have no objection to a mall owner or any other private property owner telling someone to leave if they wear the tshirt. That should be your right. However, to ban possession of the tshirt generally, across the board is absurd.
So in New Zealand, wearing this tshirt in your own room is a crime. However you can have a woman doing exactly what is depicted in this tshirt and it is wouldn't be.
By the way this tshirt caused an issue in Perth, WA recently. A 16yo has been charged with "offensive behaviour" for wearing it. Yes, the Police have their priorities right, and of course the Christian right is cheering on the prosecution.
Don't believe for a moment National would change this, or even ACT. Yes I know there are "higher priorities", but think about it. If someone in your family had criminal charges for owning this tshirt, buying it off Ebay and it being intercepted by Customs and the like - and presumably even downloading the image from the internet - would you still not care?
oh and what's to be banned next?
Hattip on this case to no less than the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, forever cheering on the suppression of tshirts with dirty words and bare breasts.