Forum discusses censorship

Issue 

Forum discusses censorship

By Kathy O'Driscoll

SYDNEY — In response to a move by the chief censor to ban a film from the recent Mardi Gras Film Festival, festival organisers Queer Screen held a forum on censorship and the media on February 25.

David Webb spoke about the history of film classification and legislation as well as new legislation now being discussed. He saw the future as bleak, with personal views regarding what should be censored prevailing, rather than censorship legislation reflecting the views of the wider community.

Cath Phillips argued that censorship was concerned with ideas and power. Her own experience of censorship as a writer of lesbian erotic fiction emphasised for her how power is used to rationalise the personal positions of those in authority.

Rod Phillips, a censor for SBS, noted that more conservative views have emerged over the past few years, "whipped up in the wider community by politicians".

Jane Mills, editor of The History of Erotica, examined how definitions of such terms as pornography and censorship reflect changes within the community. She noted that censorship legislation and its implementation were subjective. She emphasised the need to recognise class issues, and she also examined feminist responses.

Some speakers emphasised that a general lack of consciousness around such issues as freedom of speech was a major factor in the conservatives having more of a voice in favour of censorship.