Is there a need or even a justification for censorship of adult material in 21st century Australia?
Today I caught up with a coffee and a chat with my mate Paul aka “Gonzo” from PolyEster Books.
PolyEster Books in Melbourne has been on a mission “TO PROVIDE THE FREAKIEST UNDERGROUND BOOKS, MAGAZINES, FILMS AND COMIX” for 20 years. In the process, the store, has become a Melbourne icon.
On the 16th November 2005, Polyester was raided and searched by several police officers with a search warrant. Several hundred videos and dvds – with an X-rating or deemed un-rated – were confiscated. While legal in Canberra and the Territories, X-rated material is considered illegal in Victoria. And while anyone over the age of 18 with a credit card can order this same material from international corporations like Amazon, a Melbourne businessman is facing (at best) serious fines and (at worst) even jail. His business could go under.
The issue here, as I see it, has nothing to do with porn.
As Helen Vnuk, a former editor of Australian Women’s Forum and author of Snatched: Sex and Censorship in Australia said in this well-written article in 2003:
The ease with which a banned film can be downloaded and viewed raises the question of censorship’s relevance in the age of the internet. But strangely enough, in the few years since Australians have had access to the net and been able to call up anything from Ken Park to The Anarchist’s Cookbook to farmyard porn, censorship guidelines in Australia have been tightened.
The same principle is at stake – that adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want – but while plenty of people are prepared to defend art-house films and books, few want to be seen defending X-rated videos and adult magazines – or, as they’re more effectively labelled by their opponents, filth and smut.