Moving forward to freedom in the bedroom

Several years back, I wrote about the UK’s plan to block all pornography by default and, before that, mentioned their past treatment of BDSM activities. I can now say something positive about the UK as they have recently declared that several sexual acts, particularly BDSM related, are no longer classed as obscenity. This is a great step forward which resolves some oddities in UK law where certain sexual acts were fully legal to perform but illegal to show in pornography. It’s especially good as we should not be classing activities as illegal if they have no victim. It’s absurd to suggest that a legal activity becomes illegal once on film. Continue reading

Homophobia in Africa

It can be very depressing to read the news. The ethics and legality regarding homosexuality should be one of the simplest questions to resolve. No one’s personal autonomy is undermined and it has no negative effects on anyone who isn’t involved. It’s an entirely ethical practice and there is no reason for it to be illegal. Yet that’s the case in so much of Africa, with Nigeria recently making it illegal for homosexuals to even hold a meeting. A Ugandan anti-gay law was recently blocked by the President, which sounds like a positive step. However, it turns out that he blocked it because he thinks gays are defective and need to be helped to overcome it rather than being thrown in jail or killed. And, in Zambia, the government has rejected calls to provide condoms to prisoners to prevent the spread of STDs, asking, “What are they going to be used for?” The power of wilful ignorance. Continue reading

The road to hell

What is legal and what is ethical are two different things. It should be obvious but the two are often conflated. During Apartheid, certain beaches were reserved for Whites only and mixed marriages were illegal. At that time, something which was unethical was legal and something which was ethical was illegal. We are less inclined to look at the present and our own actions in the same way and, of course, even when we do we are unlikely to decide our own actions are unethical. We also seldom think through all the possible outcomes of a particular course of action and what effects it could have on other people. There is a reason we have the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Continue reading

Two years, still going strong

Today marks the second birthday of my blog. You can read about the first birthday celebrations here. Hopefully the quality of posts has improved since last year, although I know that the overall number has decreased from 100 to 68. There have been some special moments this year which I didn’t include in my top 10 posts are worth noting. Early in the year saw the first guest post (I had a second one planned but that seems to have fallen away) and, a few weeks ago, the publication of my first scientific paper. Continue reading

Gay marriage scientifically proven wrong… not quite

Chibuihem Amalaha has “scientifically proven” gay marriage is wrong. (Source: ThisDay Live)

Here’s something interesting that popped up on my Facebook feed. Apparently, Chibuihem Amalaha, a Nigerian student, is claiming that he has scientifically proven that gay marriage is wrong. This seemed really hard to believe and so I went to the original article. It looks genuine. It’s in the “Life and Style” section of “the preferred newspaper among the business, political and diplomatic elite” in Nigeria. While Amalaha may very well believe his work is a breakthrough, it’s really just heavily-flawed nonsense. Continue reading

The UK porn block and the concept of obscenity

I made a passing reference the to the UK’s new plan to block all porn but I decided that it, and obscenity in general, required a more thorough examination. In short, David Cameron feels that UK internet service providers need to block all porn by default to protect children. In short, again, that idea is stupid. It’s stupid partially because it will not work and partially because the mindset behind it is one that should not be accepted. Continue reading

One step backwards for rights in SA

South Africa is certainly a country with contradictions. Most obviously, there is the fact that part of the population lives in a first world situation while another part lives in a third world situation but, beneath that, there is also the sharp contrast between people’s views. For example when I spoke about the good parts of my home city, I mentioned that South Africa was the fifth country in the world, and first in Africa, to legalise gay marriage. In fact such a tolerant legal attitude was in stark contrast to many other African countries. Continue reading

Hate Speech

I said yesterday that there was some disagreement about hate speech and that I would offer my thoughts. The issue came up with regards to principle four of the Free Speech Debate project.

We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.

Jeremy Waldron expressed his support for legislation limiting hate speech on the grounds that it is harmful to people in vulnerable groups by lowering their status in the eyes of the public, creating a poisonous atmosphere and intimidating them. I disagree and think there is no place for laws that prevent hate speech, only for laws that are designed to emphasise reason and protect against calls for harm. Continue reading