Independent Arts & Media (aka Indy Arts) is presenting a panel tonight in San Francisco on the ever-topical subject of censorship in arts and the media. As outlined by the organizers, freedom of speech doesn't necessarily mean that we are completely free to actually say or print anything that we wish.
Tonight's discussion, which is free, will be moderated by V. Vale from RESearch Publications, and will include panelists Jennifer Joseph of Manic D Press, Jesse Townley of Alternative Tentacles, KALX, & 924 Gilman, and John Hell of SF community micro radio station Pirate Cat Radio -- all of whom will offer their insights and experiences with censorship issues.
Tonight what exactly it is that can and cannot be said will be discussed and analyzed. Further, the panel will examine if what we aren't allowed to say should be said or not, and if so, who should determine these things. On this same topic, a few days ago I finally got to the wonderfully revealing Kirby Dick directed 2006 investigative documentary on the US film rating system This Film Is Not Yet Rated (avail on DVD at Amoeba) which opened up my eyes to some of the ridiculous grey-area forms of censorship that take place just within film rating. Worth watching.
Earlier today I asked one of tonight's panelists, Jesse Townley, who was profiled in a recent Amoeblog, what specifics might be addressed this evening by himself and other panelists: "I think it's about personal incidents of censorship/prior restraint (hello FCC!) as well as the larger issues," he replied. "No one is 'pro-censorship' but I wonder if there'll be any discussion of the 'crying fire in a theater' test, or child pornography, or the video game you mention, etc. I think there will be... Vale will keep it moving and interesting, no doubt about it."
The video game I had discussed with him was the controversial new Japanese video game RapePlay in which gamers commit virtual rape. This shocking video game resulted in community groups and civic leaders vocally objecting to the sale of the game and putting pressure on retailers and online stores to stop selling it.
Reportedly the online megastore Amazon “determined” it wouldn’t sell the product anymore, but only after consumers complained and a British Labour MP had roundly “condemned” the game and those who “purchased” it. The game, which is still avaiable for sale, raises several free-speech and community standards issues. For example, if this game (which I am stunned was even made in the first place) should be banned, then, to be fair, shouldn't other violent video games that involve gamers playing the role of a carjacker or cop killer or murderer also be banned? No doubt these topics will be broached at tonight's free panel.
The panel discussion runs from 7PM - 8:30PM this evening, Thursday, February 26th, and takes place at Chez Poulet-- 3359 Army, San Francisco.