Family First Asked for Restriction on New Rating

Censor logoMedia Release 11 Sep 2015
Family First applied to have the classification of Into the River by Ted Dawes, as determined by the Film and Literature Board of Review, upheld at R14. Contrary to continued media reports, Family First did not ask for the book to be banned. But we also do not believe the book should be freely available to 9 year olds, for example, as determined by the deputy chief censor.

The full application for the Interim Restriction Order is below.

Key points:
“We would like to apply for an interim restriction order on the new classification (14 Aug 2015) of the book Into the River. We would appeal to the President to allow this interim order so that the new classification – obtained through a process which may have contravened the Act – can go through the appeal process..”

“…We are simply asking that the Chairman grant the interim restriction order until the decision and the process in reaching that decision are reviewed by the higher authority.”

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From: Bob McCoskrie
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2015 2:20 p.m.
To: Julie Wall
Subject: Application for Interim Restriction Order – Into the River

 

2 September 2015

 

Julie Wall
Senior Business Advisor
The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
PO Box 805,
Wellington 6140

Dear Julie

We would like to apply for an interim restriction order on the new classification (14 Aug 2015) of the book Into the River.

We would appeal to the President to allow this interim order so that the new classification – obtained through a process which may have contravened the Act – can go through the appeal process.

Background:

The Censor has weakened their original ruling on this book (Sep 2013), and then has rejected the subsequent ruling of the Board of Review (Jan 2014). The decision of the Board of Review was robust. ALL Board members took the view (contrary to the OFLC original decision) that the Book should be classified AGE RESTRICTED. Although the President issued a minority view, the board members approved a lower age restriction.

We do not believe that the Classification Office had legal grounds to review the book.

Section 42

Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993

Reconsideration of publications

(1) Any person may, with the leave of the Chief Censor, submit any publication to the Classification Office for reconsideration of the last decision of the Classification Office or the Board in respect of that publication if not less than 3 years have elapsed since that decision was entered in the register in accordance with section 39, and the Classification Office may alter or confirm the previous decision.

(2) Any owner, maker, publisher, or authorised distributor of a publication may submit that publication to the Classification Office for reconsideration of the last decision of the Classification Office or the Board in respect of that publication if not less than 3 years have elapsed since that decision was entered in the register in accordance with section 39, and the Classification Office may alter or confirm the previous decision.

(3) Notwithstanding that the period specified in subsection (1) or subsection (2) has not expired, any person may, with the leave of the Chief Censor, submit any publication to the Classification Office for reconsideration of any decision made in respect of it within the period referred to in those subsections if—

(a) in the case of a film, the film has been substantially altered since that decision; or

(b) the Chief Censor is satisfied that there are special circumstances justifying reconsideration of the decision.

The application for review breaches the 3 year period set out in S. 42 of the FVPC Act 1993.

The only grounds appear to be an appeal under S. 42 (3)(b) of that Act. However, it is highly arguable and subjective that there are ‘special circumstances’ – especially considering the robust consideration already given by the Review Board!

The OFLC made no attempt to ask parents or youthworkers what their view of the book is, and have once again based their judgment extensively on those with a vested interest in the book or its award – for example, the chief judge of the Awards, and those in the book sellers industry. Ironically, the NZ Association for the Teaching of English who they went to agreed with the R14 classification.

They fail to take in to account the widespread condemnation by many in the media including the NZ Herald editorial, and they also fail to acknowledge the massive protest to NZ Post calling on them to withdraw the Award given to the book, and that some bookstores refused to sell the book.

Most significantly, they have ignored the dissenting opinion of the Board President Dr Don Mathieson who agreed with Family First that the book should have an R18 rating and that the book, if not restricted, will ‘cause serious harm to at least some persons under the age of 18’, and that the book ‘describes physical conduct of a degrading or demeaning nature to such an extent or degree’ that it is likely to cause younger teenagers to be ‘greatly disturbed or shocked’.

Dr Mathieson refers to the ‘heavy use of offensive words’ which he believes is included in part to increase the notoriety and sales of the book! The c-word is used a staggering total of nine times – in a book supposedly targeted at teens. ‘F**k’ is used 17 times, ‘sh*t’ 16 times, and ‘c*ck’ 10 times, amongst others.

Other concerns with both of the Censor’s reports are attempts to minimise the issue of having sex under the legal age, illegal drug use, child sex exploitation and the sexual relationship between the student and the teacher, and violent assault.

The Censor has tried to argue that freedom of expression was not taken in to consideration by the Board and that this freedom trumps the protection of young people. They have completely failed to consider the content of this book and the young target audience who will be affected by this material.

We are also aware that the Censor has received over 400 emails of complaint about their latest decision from concerned kiwi parents.

We are simply asking that the Chairman grant the interim restriction order until the decision and the process in reaching that decision are reviewed by the higher authority.

Thanking you for your consideration

 

Bob McCoskrie
National Director – Family First NZ
P.O.Box 276-133,
Manukau City 2241
(p) 09 261 2426
(w) 09 261 2520
(f) 027 55 555 42
(m) [email protected]
(e) www.familyfirst.org.nz (w)

ENDS