Dizzy with Success

by Andrew Stuttaford

It seems that the EU parliament knows as much as about free expression as it knows about free markets as it knows about democracy.

The Daily Telegraph reports on what might be this almost always authoritarian assembly’s next bad move:

Controversy has erupted over next Tuesday’s European Parliament resolution “on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU”, meant to mark international women’s day, after libertarian Swedish MEPs from the Pirate Party spotted the call for a ban in the small print. While not legally binding, the vote could be the first step towards European legislation as the EU’s assembly increasingly flexes its political muscle within Europe’s institutions.

The proposal “calls on the EU and its member states to take concrete action on discrimination against women in advertising… [with] a ban on all forms of pornography in the media”.

Kartika Liotard, a Dutch left-wing feminist MEP, is seeking “statutory measures to prevent any form of pornography in the media and in advertising and for a ban on advertising for pornographic products and sex tourism”, including measures in the “digital field”. The MEPs are also demanding the establishment of state sex censors with “a mandate to impose effective sanctions on companies and individuals promoting the sexualisation of girls”.

Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party which campaigns for internet freedom and has MEPs, warned that there is “a clear majority in favour of this report, much because of its title and a belief that there’s nothing odd about it”.

“This horrendous attack on our fundamental freedoms of speech and expression needs action now,” he wrote on his blog.

“This isn’t the final vote in the legislative process; rather, it’s the first vote in the legislative sausage machine (‘what goes in, must come out’). Still, it is important to send a very clear message that this is unacceptable at first opportunity, or it will become a legislative proposal which is much harder to fight.”

The parliament has added insult to injury for the civil liberties campaigners by blocking a flood of protest emails that was sent to MEPs as news of the ban vote emerged.

This, of course, is also a parliament so divorced from the modern democratic ideal that some in its leadership recently gave serious thought to voting on the EU budget in secret. There are some things, you see, that it might be better that voters are not told.

And for those that thing that this is ‘only’ about porn, the Daily Telegraph adds this reminder about another  initiative from a different section of the Brussels apparat:

A recent EU report urged tight press regulation and demanded that Brussels officials are given control of national media supervisors with new powers to enforce fines or the sacking of journalists. The “high-level” recommendations, welcomed by the European Commission, backed the creation of EU supervised media regulators with “real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.”

Orwell’s Eurasia-slouching towards Brussels, well on the way to being born.

The Corner

The one and only.