The 90s was a particularly liberal era in terms of personal freedom. But soon after the turn of the new century, new morality groups began to pop up in the UK. Perhaps the first to notice this trend were strippers in East London, who found pickets outside their workplaces, and lobbyists trying to close the clubs down. These new moralists were not of the old, Christian, Tory kind: these groups were young, left-wing, and feminist. They were funded by social justice organisations and supported by the Guardian. Social conservatism, having faded on the right, was being reborn on the left.
Beginning with campaigns against strip clubs, pornography, “sexualised” music videos, and other forms of sexual expression, the pro-censorship movement grew, and broadened its scope. The old feminism and anti-racism messages of the left subtly turned into pro-censorship movements. Restrictions on “hate speech” morphed into suppression of speech that merely offended people. This new, quasi-fascist movement of the left took aim at fundamental liberal values of free speech, equality and reason.
Jerry Barnett is a technologist, entrepreneur and veteran activist. As an operator of adult entertainment sites for many years, he watched the rise of the porn panic, and saw much of the political left collapse into conservatism. Realising that the attacks on sexual expression were precursor to far broader attacks on free speech, he founded the Sex & Censorship campaign in 2013. His book Porn Panic!, was published by Zero Books in 2016 and can be ordered at http://sexandcensorship.org/porn-panic-the-book/
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