Letters: Violent pornography

Violent pornography devalues the rights and desires of women
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The Independent Online

Sir: On the subject of prohibiting the possession of violent pornography, I agree with Christopher McNamara (letters, 7 September) that "matters of taste are no basis for legislation". But the model of social conduct that is expressly condoned and promoted by genuinely violent sexual productions definitely is.

Although violent pornography is largely consensual, the morals it propagates are a stark contrast to anything like valuing freedom of choice. All pornography, be it violent or otherwise, bolsters the ideology that women are objects and not human beings. From the most abhorrent sexual degradation to the British tabloid tradition of page 3, woman are valued solely as objects.

Because any traces of humanity are nullified, it is unsurprising that this transfers into the consciousness of society. Despite decades of women's liberation, they are still viewed by many as having nothing but a sexual value. In itself, this is distasteful and ignorant but it has yet further-reaching consequences. It is easy for a person to hit an object. It is not so easy to hit another human. It is easy for a person to throw an object against a wall. It is not so easy to do so to another human. It is easy to demand of an object. It is easy to use an object. It is easy to discard an object.

Violent pornography is among the worst aspects of a tradition that devalues women's desires and rights compared with that of men. This must be the basis for legislation.



Israel will face a deadly retribution

Sir: I cannot fully express my outrage at the treatment meted out by Israel to the people of Palestine ("A people betrayed by the world", 8 September).

Since 1967, these wretched refugees have endured the most inhuman and degrading lives at the hands of a barbaric and brutal Israeli government, a government encouraged and armed to the teeth by the biggest bully in the playground, the US, and by repeated UK governments.

I lose count of how many UN Security Council resolutions to desist which this artificially created state has ignored. Likewise, the 4th Geneva Convention has been cynically dismissed. Yet when these refugees find ways to express their anger - to feebly fight back by peaceful or terror means - they are labelled collectively as terrorists and punished with appalling collective cruelty.

It may have been hoped that a people who suffered so dearly at the hands of Nazi Germany would behave with compassion, and value human life, but the opposite would appear to have happened, with the Israeli army nearly rivalling the cruelties of the Third Reich.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians are imprisoned in their homes. Whole towns are now prison blocks, each home a cell. Agriculture and most jobs have been destroyed, power, water, food and medical care cut off. Many homes and official buildings have been razed. Political leaders are kidnapped. Thousands of civilians are held without charge for years. Random airstrikes and shelling maim and kill unarmed civilians, by night and day. Every day.

It is amazing that this puppet state of the US believes its actions will bring it peace and harmony, secure borders and everlasting economic growth. Palestine must survive. Can the Israeli government not see how it is worsening its own position by ensuring the hated of many, many generations to come in the Arab and Muslim world? If it succeeds in wiping out the Palestinians, how much worse will this hatred become? Can they not see that they are the lead player in the creation of a never-ending cycle of East vs West turmoil?

I am white, aged 53, married with children, and I have a good job and life in Britain. If I feel the way I do, then how must people feel in Palestine, how must their friends, relatives and those of similar backgrounds and faith feel? Does nobody ask why people are resorting to terrorism? Or why British governments do nothing, or even encourage this slaughter of the innocents, this ethnic cleansing?

There must be an immediate pullout by Israel to the pre-1967 borders. There must be full repair of the Palestinian infrastructure and society, and full support financially and spiritually by the "free world", and Jerusalem must be declared an international city. This will not remove the hatred, but at least it will help to stop the situation worsening. If Israel continues as it is, there is no telling how severe will be the retribution it is dealt by those who fight by unconventional means. A call for peace and justice is not anti-Semitism. It is humanity.



Sir: The smokescreen of "The Global War on Terror" slavishly adopted by the present government, with the convenience of parliamentary recess, means domestic attention has studiously avoided the plight of the people of Gaza.

The main casualty of the war on terror has been loss of adherence to the Geneva Conventions. The British and US coalition cannot guarantee successful intervention with Israel for delivery of relief convoys, safe passage of civilians, evacuation of the wounded, safety of journalists and implementation of UN resolutions.

President George Bush's recent admission of illegal imprisonment on European soil is to further condemn his allies in their complicity in the war crimes Israel is committing. To criticise Israel is not to be anti-Semitic. The Orthodox Jewish Rabbis of Neturei Karta regularly express their support for the Palestinian people and decry Israel's activities, in the understanding that Zionism perpetuates anti-Semitism .

Last month, Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli government, stated they had never intended to go into Lebanon because they were "totally involved in Gaza". He did not elaborate.

If we too do not become totally involved in the plight of Gaza, the fate of 1.5 million people will be a further stain on the collective British conscience. It is imperative that the British Government demand urgent and immediate cessation of Israeli atrocities and relief for the stricken Palestinians. This would make the Prime Minister's visit to Israel worthwhile.



Sir: The Independent has headlined a real concern which MPs should attend to, rather than the date when Tony Blair starts writing his memoirs.

In May, 97 MPs signed Early Day Motion 2041, protesting about the EU freezing of funding to the Palestine Administration. That statement was a prediction that an already impoverished population would be facing unprecedented hardship yet voices of reason were ignored and Israel has been allowed to act as it has, including bombing civilians, without a murmur from our government.

There is no justification for the imprisonment of a nation, and this government and the EU have to revert to aiding the Palestinian people, whoever they elect as their government, because the alternative is genocide.



Sir: A year or so ago, an English Jewish journalist compared the treatment by Israel of Arabs in the Gaza Strip with the treatment of Polish Jews by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940-44. She was duly vilified by the Zionist propaganda machine.

I have just finished reading Beyond These Walls: Escaping the Warsaw Ghetto, a Young Girl's Story, by Jenina Bauman. Throughout her story of conditions in the ghetto, I was struck by the parallels with present events in Palestine, the progressive tightening of the boundaries, restriction of movement, destruction of water and electricity supplies, random killings, and restrictions of food supplies. It is long past time that this government, the United Nations and responsible governments throughout the world made it clear to Israel and the United States that this must stop.

I write as a half-American, born in America who was proud of this half of his ancestry until very recently. No more.



Sir: My dictionary defines genocide as "the policy of deliberately killing a nationality or ethnic group". This, it seems, is Israel's policy towards the Palestinians, who are being systematically humiliated, degraded, deprived of their livelihood, starved, and killed. It is revolting, and it is being done in front of the world.

Historically, Britain has a responsibility in this; we helped carve up the Ottoman Empire, and aided theft of Palestinian territory. No Balfour spoke for the Palestinians. Assuming responsibility and taking decisions lays the consequences of these actions on our conscience. Yet we continue to collude with Israel's policies, and allow Israel trading privileges and concessions with Europe, while denying promised financial support to Palestinians.

As for the arrogant and obscene decision to use Lebanon as bait, to try to provoke Iran and Syria to retaliate, shame on all of us.



Blair sacrificed party for his own aims

Sir: It is a bit rich of Charles Clarke to come out all guns blazing in his attack on Gordon Brown (article, 9 September) when he himself has been such a failure in any ministerial post. Tony Blair has single-handedly sacrificed his own party for his own aims, not those of his country or, his party.

The griping at the top comes from people who probably would not get into a Brown cabinet, but my belief has always been that Blair will shaft Brown again.

The Labour Party needs to wake up. Blair appeared the saviour but really it is the party's own failure to develop any real policies that left it vulnerable to people such as Blair, Mandelson et al and has let a large majority lull itself soundly asleep. Blair is still deluded enough to think that he can alter the way history will perceive him. That is a fatal mistake.

Being a prime minister is a job that will always end in tears, no matter how well you do it. It is time for Blair to fall on his sword because all the desperados around him are worried only about their own futures and will not sack him as they surely should.

When everyone goes on about how good the economy has been under Labour, remember that the Tories left office with it flying high.



Sir: With reference to the article "Unions promise to give PM a rough ride at conference" (8 September), may I suggest two methods by which the TUC could hasten Tony Blair's departure?

One, they could boo, heckle and slow-handclap him for the entire length of his speech (there will not be enough stewards to arrest all the delegates under the Prevention of Terrorism Act).

Or, two, as soon as he starts his speech the whole audience stands and leaves the conference hall.

Either of these methods would ensure Mr Blair experienced his "Ceausescu moment" in front of the TV cameras. I doubt if he would survive the humiliation for long.



Sir: Does the recently published document detailing a "Farewell Tour" for the Prime Minister constitute a conspiracy to use public money for the personal benefit of an officer of government?

Presumably the cost of producing the document and the implementation of the planned scenario would all be met from government funds. Yet, clearly, the purpose of the project is to the private benefit of Mr Anthony Blair. Should this not be investigated as an abuse of position?



Miles apart

When did the legendary "Irish mile" become a "country mile"? (Sport, 7 September). Legally, the Irish mile was much longer than the English mile which varied from place to place.



School for scandal

Sir: In addition to the Derechos Human Rights website referred to by Peter McKenna (letters, 6 September), the book by Frederick H Gareau, State Terrorism and the United States (Zed Books, 2004) gives unequivocal evidence that the School of Americas at Fort Benning was a School of Assassins. Briefly closing the place and reopening under a new name has not convinced its American critics that much has changed. Priests and nuns are among the people still arrested for protesting at the institution; two nuns, sisters, aged 69 and 88 were jailed.



Coop's my man

Sir: I fear Derek Haslam (letter, 9 September) has missed the point of the Cooper Brown's column, which goes from strength to strength each week and is definitely the highlight of Thursday's paper. With his references to "walking is for losers", and the desire for a handgun in one column, plus his inability to comprehend the subtleties of British etiquette last week, Cooper Brown single-handedly reinforces the Brit's view of a stereotypical American. It's brilliant. Keep up the spoof, Coop.



A no-brainer

Sir: Writing on animal research (letter, 7 August), Andre Menache, a veterinary surgeon and consultant to Animal Aid, implies I claim to have invented deep brain stimulation and states that it was the work of Professor Alim-Louis Benabid. Neither Professor Benabid nor I have ever stated this. It is sad that to support their flimsy case against animal research, animal rights activists spread such misinformation.



What's the point?

Sir: Hamish McRae asks if it is time for fiscal policy to be "taken out of political control" (Comment, 6 September). I presume he means democratic control. Ideologues of the New Right have always recognised the unfettered market is incompatible with democratic government, and the need to "legitimate through democratic institutions severe limits on the scope and content of democratic control of economic life". One wonders what, when economic issues that have dominated democratic politics have been removed from the equation, will be the point of voting?




Sir: One reader (letters, 8 September) is depressed that people eat Marmite on toast. Our chickens, Polly and Esther, although not readers, love Marmite on toast. The thought of serving them a fried egg on top (their own) does not seem right.