A man in Western Australia has been arrested for receiving porn movies through the mail from overseas. His house was raided by customs officials who seized more than 100 DVDs and he is expected to be charged with breaching importation regulations for “pornography and objectionable material”, listed thus:
Includes computer games, computer generated images, films, interactive games and publications that describe, depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime cruelty, violence, terrorist acts or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.
ABC Online reports that “Customs says the DVDs featured abhorrent sexual practices including bondage.”
Yes folks, you heard it right. Bondage is an abhorrent sexual practice according to the people who know best in this country.
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I read these news reports with a mixture of horror, resentment and resignation. How is one to know if the DVD you buy overseas is going to offend against the standards of “reasonable adults”? You officially find out by submitting it to the wholly unreasonable conservative adults who run the classification board and paying a substantial fee – or it’s decided on a whim by the customs guy who happens to intercept your package.
The official Australian guidelines are rather vague about whether bondage constitutes illegal porn. According to the National Classification Code, an X rated film may:
contain real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults in which there is no violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence, coercion, sexually assaultive language, or fetishes or depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers, in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult
There’s no guidelines as to what constitutes a “fetish” but I guess you could take this to mean that bondage is out. Indeed, this statement can be read in such a way that the only legal porn in Australia should depict a man and a woman fucking in missionary position, preferably with the lights out.
What’s frightened me about this case is that the customs people were watching this guy’s mailbox. And the thing is, I’ve had a couple of review DVDs sent to me from the US that never arrived. These were movies I couldn’t download online and were indie productions that are not available in Australia. One was The Crash Pad, the award-winning lesbian film that no doubt offended the “reasonable adult” insticts of Mr Joe Blow in customs because it was full of scary dykes.
So for all I know the bastards are looking through my mail as well.
Maybe I’m next.
Edit: Perhaps the people at customs and the Classification board should look at Google Trends to see what “reasonable adults” are searching for in Australia. Google’s search statistics are being used by the defense team in a US obscenity case to question the idea of “community standards.”
So, here’s the Google Trends search results for “bondage” in Perth and for all of Australia. And here’s how “porn” ranks against the terms “recipes”, “weather” and “hotel” in Australia. I chose the latter three as examples of things people would commonly search for. Amusingly, the weather seems to win some days.
The US obscenity defense team have pointed out that people in Florida search on the word “orgy” just as much as “apple pie.” Here in Oz, “orgy” wins hands down.