Edward Ashbee

TBA_C05.qxd 12/02/2007 12:00PM Page 137 5 Obscenity and indecency The nomination of former Missouri governor and Senator, John Ashcroft, as Attorney-General on 22 December 2000 led to celebrations among the groups associated with the Christian right. There were few doubts about Ashcroft’s faith or his politics. Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, backed his confirmation in forthright terms: John Ashcroft is a man of high integrity and respect for the rule of law . . . I join today with the representatives of millions of

in The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda
Author: Edward Ashbee

This book considers the policy of the George W. Bush administration towards issues such as abortion, sex education, obscenity and same-sex marriage. It suggests that, although accounts have often emphasised the ties between George W. Bush and the Christian right, the administration's strategy was, at least until early 2005, largely directed towards the courting of middle-ground opinion. The study offers a detailed and comprehensive survey of policy making; assesses the political significance of moral concerns; evaluates the role of the Christian Right; and throws new light on George W. Bush's years in office and the character of his thinking.

Swedish Sex Education in 1970s London
Adrian Smith

In 1974 the British Board of Film Censors refused to grant a certificate to the Swedish documentary More About the Language of Love (Mera ur Kärlekens språk, 1970, Torgny Wickman, Sweden: Swedish Film Production), due to its explicit sexual content. Nevertheless, the Greater London Council granted the film an ‘X’ certificate so that it could be shown legally in cinemas throughout the capital. This article details the trial against the cinema manager and owners, after the film was seized by police under the charge of obscenity, and explores the impact on British arguments around film censorship, revealing a range of attitudes towards sex and pornography. Drawing on archival records of the trial, the widespread press coverage as well as participants’ subsequent reflections, the article builds upon Elisabet Björklund’s work on Swedish sex education films and Eric Schaefer’s scholarship on Sweden’s ‘sexy nation’ reputation to argue that the Swedish films’ transnational distribution complicated tensions between educational and exploitative intentions in a particularly British culture war over censorship.

Film Studies
Paul R. Deslandes

to police not only the boundaries of propriety but also the expression of queer political sensibilities and subjectivities. In its final section, this chapter focuses on evidence collected by the 1977 Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship to illustrate how gay men conceptualised the place of pornography in their lives and its role in the broader struggle for the freedom, in the words of Sean Barker, an Emmanuel College, Cambridge, man, ‘to create beauty in any form, … to be obscene and excite lust, … to witness obscenity and to be excited by it, … to speak

in British queer history
The Progressive League and the quest for sexual reform in British politics, 1932–59
Janet Shepherd

, marriage reform, the legalisation of homosexuality and reform of the obscenity laws. Lesley Hoggart has argued that ‘visions of sexual liberation’ may have seemed remote during the rise of fascism in the 1930s.12 Undoubtedly, fascism dominated most political agendas, including within the FPSI – an organisation founded at a time of factionalism in the labour movement following the Labour Party’s catastrophic 1931 defeat.13 In the ‘greatest landslide of British democratic history’, Labour was reduced to fifty-two seats and only septuagenarian George Lansbury from the old

in Labour and working-class lives
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Peter J. Smith

the same time, pioneering ecological modes of waste disposal and husbandry with which we have lately become urgently familiar. Chapter 4 contrasts what it identifies as ‘innocent scatology’, characteristic of English literature of the mid-1650s (and earlier), with the caustic and malevolent obscenity in that composed following the Restoration. The chapter argues that

in Between two stools
Scatology and its discontents in The Miller’s Tale and The Summoner’s Tale
Peter J. Smith

of expurgation or censorship. The second: for the Marxist literary historian, Lee Patterson, the ebullient low-life of Chaucer’s literary world represents the rebellious agrarian peasantry whose revolutionary ardour precipitates the decline of feudalism. Scatology and obscenity function to destabilise the prevailing feudal norms and problematise class relations or, if that

in Between two stools
Female body hair and English literary tradition
Carolyn D. Williams

literature from the Middle Ages until the mid-twentieth century, is the product of a society where nearly every woman past puberty is covered with hair, but a conspiracy of silence renders it culturally invisible. This chapter will begin by examining the erasure of female body hair in general from polite literature, followed by the special status of pubic hair, and the means by which writers seek to convey its presence without incurring charges of obscenity: where appropriate, ancient Greek and Latin sources will be cited. There follows an examination of more direct

in The last taboo
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Scatology and its representations in English literature, Chaucer to Swift
Author: Peter J. Smith

This book investigates the representation of scatology (humorous, carnivalesque, satirical, damning and otherwise) in English literature from the middle ages to the eighteenth century. The 'two stools' stand for two broadly distinctive attitudes towards scatology. The first is a carnivalesque, merry, even hearty disposition, typified by the writings of Chaucer and Shakespeare. The second is self-disgust, an attitude characterised by withering misanthropy and hypochondria. The book demonstrates how the combination of high and low cultures manifests the capacity to run canonical and carnivalesque together. This makes sanctioned and civilised artefacts and scatological humour frequently co-exist in the works under discussion, evidence of an earlier culture's aptitude (now lost) to occupy a position between two stools. The book considers the history of bowdlerisation of Chaucer's fabliaux and reflects upon the current state of scatological commentary. 'Innocent scatology', characteristic of English literature of the mid-1650s, is contrasted with the caustic and malevolent obscenity in that composed following the Restoration. Just as in The Miller's Tale, the fart, in 'the bum-centred comedy' of The Summoner's Tale, is a long time coming. Cavalier scatology is infused with a political specificity which is less pronounced in that of the earlier period. The common characteristic of most examples of Shakespearean onomastic bawdy is their localised essence. The relationship between anality and sexuality, central to the work of Rochester and of essential importance to Freudian theory, is explored in one of Jonathan Swift's comically excremental poems, 'Strephon and Chloe'.

A conceptual history
Author: Kirsten Haack

This book provides a critical, conceptual-historical analysis of democracy at the United Nations, detailed in four ‘visions’ of democracy: civilization, elections, governance and developmental democracy. ‘I know it when I see it’ were the famous words of US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on defining obscenity. It is with the same conviction and (un)certainty that liberal peacebuilders and democracy promoters have used democracy to achieve both the immediate goals of peacekeeping and the broader, global mission of the UN. Today, democracy may have gained an international dimension, yet its success as an organizational practice depends on how it has been defined. Drawing on political theory and democratization scholarship, the book questions the meaning of this well-‘known’ idea. It analyses the way in which the UN, through its Secretary-General, relevant agencies and organizational practices, have thought about, conceptualized and used democracy. The book shows that while the idea of democracy's ‘civilizing’ nature has played a prominent part in its use by the UN, an early focus on sovereignty and self-determination delayed the emergence of the democracy agenda until the 1990s. Today, a comprehensive democracy agenda incorporates not only elections but a broad range of liberal-democratic institutions. Despite this, the agenda is at an impasse, both practically and philosophically. The book questions whether an extension of the UN democracy agenda to include ‘developmental democracy’ is feasible.