Letters: Torture porn

Anyone with a social conscience should boycott this 'torture porn'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sir: Hostel 2, a film by Eli Roth now showing in British cinemas, is expected to outgross its predecessor in every way (Philip Hensher, "Hollywood is helping us learn to love torture", 26 June). One critic writes: "Unlike Hostel, which evoked pity for the victims, the sequel feels as if it is told from the killers' point of view; the violence we see does not disturb or even excite, but, like porn, it anaesthetises us to our own humanity."

Another says: "This stomach-churning torture fantasy follows the entrails-slathered template of the first film, but with three girls as unsuspecting victims. The blood-letting is so graphic and sadistic that only those with cast-iron constitutions will be able to endure every slash and slice."

In the past couple of months there have been the burning alive of a young Polish girl in St Helens, the imprisonment and torture to death of an epileptic man by a depraved trio in Worcestershire (filmed for their delectation), and the Virginia Tech massacre in America, almost a frame-for-frame re-enactment of the notorious Korean film Old Boy.

In the past couple of years, we have seen the sex killing of a young woman by a Brighton musician obsessed with violent pornography, and the banning of the video game Manhunt 2 after its predecessor inspired a 14-year-old to brain his friend with a claw hammer. Meanwhile, young "jihadists" are inspired to new depths of savagery and bloodlust by internet recordings of hostage beheadings, and here at home, "happy slappers" bully and humiliate their victims, exchanging mobile phone clips in the playground.

Is it too much to ask that the British Board of Film Classification exercise a modicum of moral responsibility? It's bad enough that they should give this kind of "torture porn" a certificate, but any cinema chain that screens it (or newspaper that promotes it) deserves to be boycotted by anyone with a social conscience.

ANDREW SCHOFIELD

LONDON SE17

Buses would ease the transport crisis

Sir: In many areas outside major city centres there is no alternative to the car (report, 18 July). This could be solved easily if the government funded large revenue schemes as readily as they fund large capital schemes.

Buses need revenue support; roads need capital support. Under the present rules, you cannot get funding for a big revenue-based scheme such as providing a frequent bus service. Funding for buses is limited to the Local Transport Plan packages. The whole integrated transport package - which includes cycling and walking, for the whole of Bedfordshire - is £19m over five years, whereas one bypass is costing approximately £50m and the schemes for the widening of the M1 will cost £5.1bn.

Buses have been shown to play a major role in reducing congestion, carbon emissions, and supporting social inclusion and regeneration. At present, many young people and elderly people are prisoners in their homes in the evenings and on Sundays because there is no public transport. Unemployed people cannot access work or training due to lack of transport. Parking is a nightmare at the railway station, yet the only way to the station for most people is by car because the buses are infrequent or do not run in the evenings.

South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth is working on two low-carbon transport projects; a development of 1,500 houses with a bus service every 15 minutes to the town centre and the station, and also a study into a low-carbon alternative to building a dual carriageway through Buckinghamshire countryside.

The main challenge of both projects is not the willingness of the county councils or local people to promote sustainable travel, but the impossibility of finding revenue funding. For the cost of a road you could be running free, fast and frequent bus services for many years.

VICTORIA HARVEY

SOUTH BEDFORDSHIRE FRIENDS OF THE EARTH, LEIGHTON BUZZARD

Sir: Nowhere in your report did I see a mention that most car journeys are under five miles and a large proportion under two miles. The best solution to our addiction to cars was invented more than 150 years ago: it's called a bicycle. The other part of the solution has been around even longer: walking.

Perhaps the heart of the problem is that we've just become lazy. The solutions are not expensive: a reduction of the urban speed limit to 20mph or less, a reduction of town-centre car parking, and perhaps a campaign of public ridicule for the idiot who drives two miles down the road in a toy lorry to collect his Independent?

ROB ARCHER

KING'S LYNN, NORFOLK

Sir: If the Department for Transport's idea for reducing environmental impact is to encourage biofuel use in public transport, then I hope the relative cost of such transport continues to rise.

Biofuel can make a small difference to climate change, but a big difference to global extinctions. Like many tropical species, orang-utangs have survived major climate changes over millennia, yet could be wiped out in decades by deforestation. In Britain, recovery of species (such as woodlark) is threatened by expansion of biomass fuels.

Climate change is reversible, extinction is not. As an ecologist, I would urge those concerned about climate and wildlife to boycott any transport using biofuels, which compete with wildlife for habitat and with people for food.

CLIVE HAMBLER

OXFORD

Sir: I was interested to read your report that highlighted the government's green policy in relation to transport.

My partner and I intended to travel by train from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, to Liverpool. I contacted the ticket office and was informed that there were no discount tickets available. The standard return fare is £56 each. This does not compare favour-ably to the same journey by car, which costs £40 in petrol.

We would prefer to choose a more environmentally friendly mode of transport to support the battle against climate change. But the exorbitant train prices offer no incentive or encouragement to do so.

STEVE WOODS

ABERGAVENNY, MONMOUTHSHIRE

Truly proud of our BBC

Sir: Hurrah! I thought it was just me who was out of step with the complete over-reaction and vindictiveness being shown to the BBC by various media outlets. The Independent (20 July) is to be applauded for bringing a true sense of proportionality to the whole affair.

Yes, the BBC have been daft with some of their day-to-day operations, but if we all assume this is the End Of Things As We Know Them, that would be a shameful day indeed.

The BBC is a media outlet to be truly proud of, a world-class organisation, but, things will go wrong from time to time. Risks must be taken in the BBC, otherwise there is stagnation. There must be creativity.

I cannot imagine a world without the BBC. Can we say that of some of the snipers? I doubt it.

ALAN DOREY

VERWOOD, DORSET

Thomas was happy to leave Wales

Sir: Ian Gardner's letter (16 July) quoted a lot of Dylan Thomas lines from Under Milk Wood, a load of twee rubbish for Welsh ham actors, and commented that Dylan would lament that his beautiful native hills are now covered in wind turbines.

In fact, this is a further lot of nonsense, for did he not say "Land of my fathers, and they can keep it"? In his time and mine, many of the surrounding hills in South Wales were covered with coal tips.

People remember him here in the Mumbles for two things: his drink-cadging and posh accent, and this, despite the ever-growing Dylan industry in Swansea, was the place he was only too glad to get out of.

VIV GRIFFITHS

MUMBLES, SWANSEA

Chalk vandalism insults Paganism

Sir: There have been several recent examples of vandalism to, or adjacent to, chalk figures in the English landscape (report, 17 July). These figures are protected by law and are highly symbolic to members of the Pagan community.

The perpetrators are demonstrating a total lack of respect towards a reasonably large and gentle group within our society. Pagans have been charged with lacking humour; but would it be found funny to show a similar lack of respect towards other philosophies by, for example, using the figure of Christ upon the cross in Y-fronts to advertise underwear?

It would help if those who should know better reflect upon the hurt being caused before this sort of desecration becomes a common occurrence.

MIKE JOHNSON

FALMOUTH

Britain must beat its mistrust of Europe

Sir: Adrian Hamilton (Opinion, 19 July) realises the limits of British power in foreign affairs and the lack of allies. These become evident when considering junior partner status in Iraq, lack of leverage in the Middle East and the latest spat with Russia. But he does not consider Europe as a natural ally, since the EU is divided and unsure where it is going. This is a sad but typical British misconception.

Most Europeans hope to define common rights and goals within Europe, including human rights, democracy and anti-terrorism measures. Hence the importance of a common "constitution". A EU foreign minister would have more leverage than a British one trying to punch above his weight.

A constructive contribution from the British government to shape European foreign-policy goals would be welcome. The question is whether Britain can overcome its Murdoch-fed mistrust of everything European and become an important partner in EU politics, working for common European goals.

JÖRG SCHUMACHER OXFORD

We need people to do simple jobs well

Sir: Deborah Orr has a point in that prosperity doesn't automatically equate to happiness (Opinion, 18 July). I agree that we need to be careful about instilling ambition and encouraging aspiration; there is nothing wrong with living locally, or working as a cleaner, or being a stay-at-home mum or dad.

There are many young people whose height of aspiration is to get an apprenticeship or a job collecting rubbish or working on the till; fantastic, we are crying out for people to do simple jobs well with commitment and pride.

Unfortunately, there is an underclass that zones out on skunk and watches day-time TV, cosseted by an army of do-gooders. These people do need sufficient aspiration to get them into an employable state, to get off drugs and booze, to develop some meaningful relationships, and to achieve some measure of happiness. This is not a few young people at the margins of society but 10 to 15 per cent of the population.

MARIE EAST

CAREERS ADVISER, COLD ASH, WEST BERKSHIRE

Sir: In these carbon-conscious times, a "lack of aspiration" should by now be seen to be an environmentally sound concept. As long ago as the 1970s, the folk-rock band the Strawbs sang, "God bless the unemployed and shame on those who work, for they it is who spoil the earth and not those who shirk".

ROB DUNFORD

SWINTON, MANCHESTER

Floating a good idea

Sir: Could I suggest that C Aylin (letter, 20 July) read up on climate change. Then he will realise that rising temperatures will raise sea levels and also increase rainfall. He lives in Huntingdon, adjacent to the Cambridgeshire fens, so perhaps a three-storey house with boat-mooring facilities would be more practical than a normal house with a cellar.

J W WRIGHT

CALNE, WILTSHIRE

UK blunders in Iraq

Sir: Margaret Jay's article ("With UN help, Britain can do a lot for Iraq", 15 July) is a masterpiece in colonial-style hypocrisy, and a thinly veiled plan for the continued corporate takeover of Iraq. Having destroyed the country and its infrastructure in 2003, neither the US nor the UK should have any future role there, other than making massive reparations to the Iraqi people for the misery they have wreaked. The owner of the china shop would not want the bull to stay on to rearrange the pieces.

ANNIE MCSTRAVICK

PARIS

Parity for male drivers

Sir: E Chambers (letter, 20 July) thinks it unfair to penalise young female drivers. Blaming all young male drivers for the reckless behaviour of a few is just as unfair. Any insurance company that plucks out a demographic of society based purely on gender may as well be doing it by race or sexuality. The same could be said regarding issuing licences. One rule for all please.

DAVID WILLIAMS

LONDON SW11

Birmingham bonus

Sir: Like a naughty child, Birmingham is usually news only when it's done something bad. But in The Independent (18 July), our ship has come in, with a generous tribute to our poet and physician, Edward Lowbury and, in the property pages, a delightful prospect in Edgbaston, highly convenient for a trip to Sarah Bond's excellent bookshop in Harborne village which features in the business pages. Come to Brum!

JANE BARRY

MOSELEY, BIRMINGHAM

The unflown flag

Sir: Your article about the International Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia, set up to deal with the Israel-Palestine conflict ("The guardians of the Road Map", 19 July), was illustrated with the flags of the US, the UN, Russia and Nato. Why not the European flag? Is this a sly way of indicating where the power really lies at this level of diplomacy?

TOM LINES

BRIGHTON

Sir: On your front page of 19 July there is a picture of Tony Blair looking at a map which has the word Palestine over the territory of Israel and the word Israel in the sea. Is this the road-map to redemption?

TONY PEARCE

LONDON NW11

Drink to science

Sir: The graphic on the cover of your Science booklet seems to depict a bottle-opener. Is this considered the quintessential tool for a scientist?

RON SHUTTLEWORTH

COVENTRY

Comments