This week in the United Kingdom, the laws regarding online pornography were brought into line with those that govern video porn.
In other words, the restrictions that keep members of the British public from seeing certain sexual activities depicted on DVDs they have purchased or rented now apply to those they see on the Internet.
The list of activities banned by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 seems entirely random. It has a "what happened to be on our minds today" vibe.
Indeed, I felt, awkwardly, as though I knew the legislators better after reading the list. I now feel as though I could order an entrée for them if they were running late. I think I know what to get them for Christmas.
This sense of intimacy with a bill's drafters is seldom a good sign when it comes to legislation – something one likes to think is impervious to whimsy.
Of course, Britain has no jurisdiction over what kink is concocted outside its borders – the bill applies only to pornography produced at home. So the government is merely drawing a line in the sand – the Internet is pretty much nothing but sand and lines, drawn and crossed and redrawn and trespassed daily – people will still be able to access all the naughtiness they desire.
The plan is, however, that there will be no more made-in-the-U.K. spanking. That is, unless the spanking is judged to be "gentle," but then that judgment is being made by the same body that has banned "face-sitting" for being "life-endangering."
Who among us wants to make that call?
None of this bodes well for the U.K.-based spanking-porn industry – and that's a loss that feels almost as culturally significant to the green and pleasant land as the loss of the production of Terry's Chocolate Oranges, now outsourced to Poland, or Burberry switching production to China.
There is also to be no more rough caning, according to the legislation, and to those raised on Victorian children's literature, it's just not England without rough caning, and custard, but mostly rough caning.
It feels wrong to raise generations on that stuff and then leave them hanging.
Urolagnia, otherwise known as "water sports," is also on the list. Although I assure you, if that's what people want to watch, they'll find a way to watch it and, if it can't be made in Britain, it will be made elsewhere and tailored to the U.K. viewer. It's not at all my cup of tea, but to each his or her own and, provided all parties are of age and consenting (images of children in sexual situations are not pornography, but evidence of a vile crime), I don't judge.
I can live perfectly well, knowing there are hours, indeed months, of film footage of people peeing on one another, but I admit I struggle with the notion of the new genre that is bound to emerge from this bill – and that is people peeing on each while speaking in really lousy fake British accents.
Think about it for a moment. Think about Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, but peeing. That's what will happen when they can't cast a Brit for the role.
For the love of all that is not holy, but is victimless, leave well enough alone, I say. And I question the decision to censor "female ejaculation." Why that's there, alongside a list of activities the legislators found likely to "impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of 18" (their legislation's stated purpose) is beyond me. Male ejaculation, in all its admittedly cinematic glory, gets a pass.
Various sexual acts practised predominantly in the gay community are less lucky – because they're yucky, I guess, although there's always some legal language to replace that word, and straw children to protect.
Attempts at legislating morality are nearly always as farcical as this one, as Canada just saw with Bill C-36, our new anti-prostitution law.
I happen to be in London at the moment, where the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 are much discussed, but I bring it up for larger reasons: Adults everywhere should be wary of censorship everywhere, and vigilant in protecting the few perks adulthood throws our way. The biggest one being the right to make choices, even when those choices involve naked people.