Australian Cardinal George Pell was convicted in Melbourne this week on five counts of child sexual abuse. This made him the most senior official ever found guilty in the Catholic Church’s apparently endless child sexual-abuse scandals. The judge in the case, Peter Kidd, immediately subjected news of Pell’s conviction to a suppression order, the Australian equivalent of a gag order, on press coverage. Australian courts impose such orders to shield defendants from negative publicity that could prejudice future jurors in upcoming trials, and Pell faces another trial next year on a separate set of abuse charges dating to the 1970s. Of course, the more the public knows about how many predator priests the Catholic Church has facilitated, covered up for, and allowed to prey on children, the safer it is. I am not convinced that this suppression of news isn’t a sop to the Church. Judge Kidd told defense and prosecution attorneys that some members of the news media are facing “the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment” if found guilty of breaching his gag order
Never mind: the web, social media and the Streisand Effect foiled the judge. Pell and the charges against him were quickly the subject of thousands of tweets and shared posts on Facebook. The posts included links to websites and blogs where the news was available, including NPR, the Daily Beast and the National Catholic Reporter.
The Washington Post reported the conviction, but the New York Times did not. The Times’ deputy general counsel, David McCraw, gave the excuse that the newspaper is abiding by the court’s order in Australia “because of the presence of our bureau there. It is deeply disappointing that we are unable to present this important story to our readers in Australia and elsewhere. . . . Press coverage of judicial proceedings is a fundamental safeguard of justice and fairness. A free society is never well served by a silenced press.”
So don’t be silent then.
The Associated Press and Reuters news services also did not report Pell’s conviction. Both services have bureaus in Australia that could face potential liability. Tell me again about how courageous news organizations are.
During a December 3 performance of “Conversations avec mon pénis” (“That’s “Conversations with My Penis”) at the Premier Acte theatre in Quebec City, two health inspectors issued a $500 fine for smoking in a public place after actor Marc-André Thibault lit up a fake cigarette—they don’t have tobacco–on stage.
Because its the idea of smoking, you see. I contended with this insanity while running The American Century Theater, where we used real cigarettes on stage when it suited the action, the period, the character and the script. I used to enjoy watching audience members start coughing the instant a cigarette was lit, even when they were a hundred feet away from the stage.
The theater will go to court to protect its “freedom of creation,” arguing that “you can’t violate provincial anti-toboacco rules when there’s no actual tobacco involved.” Here’s the scene where the fake cigarette was deemed offensive:
(Yes, I first thought it was Mr. Peanut too..)
In Great Britain…
Adverts showing a woman struggling to park a car or a man refusing to do housework while his wife cooks dinner will be banned from next year as part of an industry-wide crackdown on sexist stereotypes. Under the new rules, British companies will no longer be able to create promotions that depict men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities, amid fears that such depictions are contributing to pay inequality and causing psychological harm.
Adverts will no longer be able to show a person failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender, such as a man unable to change a nappy or a woman unable to do DIY.
The rules will also ban adverts that suggest that transforming your body will make you romantically successful, while also clarifying rules on the sexualisation of young women.
The Advertising Standards Authority will enforce the new code from June 2019. Members of the public will be able to report adverts to the regulator if they feel they breach the code.
The ASA’s Ella Smillie, who helped to devise the new rules, said: “We don’t see ourselves as social engineers, we’re reflecting the changing standards in society. Changing ad regulation isn’t going to end gender inequality but we know advertising can reinforce harmful gender stereotypes, which can limit people’s choices or potential in life.”
“We don’t see ourselves as social engineers…” Translation: “We see ourselves as social engineers. The more we can control what people see and hear, and the ideas that can and cannot be expressed, the better we can mold how people think, indoctrinate us into our superior beliefs, and, eventually, use them to cement our power.”
Looks like the Brits took the lesson of countryman George Orwell’s “1984” the wrong way…