SUPPLEMENTARY SUBMISSION TO THE BOARD OF REVIEW – Into the River

FAMILY FIRST NZ logo

30 September 2015

 

Film and Literature Board of Review
c/- The Secretary for Internal Affairs
Department of Internal Affairs
P.O.Box 805
Wellington 6140.

Into the River – by Ted Dawes
SUPPLEMENTARY
SUBMISSION TO THE
FILM AND LITERATURE BOARD OF REVIEW

SUMMARY

49. Please find below additional material to our Submission dated 22 September 2015. This Supplementary Submission responds to some of the Submissions made by other parties to the Film and Literature Board of Review regarding this book.

SUBMISSION OF THE OFFICE OF FILM AND LITERATURE CLASSIFICATION (“OFLC”), SIGNED BY DR ANDREW J. JACK, CHIEF CENSOR, DATED 25 SEPTEMBER 2015

50. The OFLC argues correctly in pars. 1-2 of its submission:

  • That if the book “Into the River” is to be restricted by age, under the Films, Videos, and Publication Act 1993 (“FVPCA” or “the Act”), it must be on the basis that the content of the publication is determined to be: (1) “objectionable” and (2) “is likely to be injurious to the public good
  • To be ruled “objectionable” the content must first fit into one or more of the five “gateways” defined in S. 3(1) of the Act, which it does as Dr Jack records in para 7: “The book deals with sex, crime, cruelty and violence“.

51. Family First contends that it is on very solid ground to have raised the issue of the need for an age restriction to be imposed on this publication by the Censors on the basis that the subject matter dealt with under some of these four “gateway” “categories” is described and expressed in such a manner that “the availability of the publication [to those persons under the age of 14 years] is likely to be injurious to the public good”.
52. Family First has never contended that the book should be banned. Nor has it ever contended that the contents should be deemed “objectionable” under s. 3(2) of the Act – that is, on the basis of any alleged promotion or support, or tendency of promotion or support – for any of the specific activities listed in this section (e.g. bestiality, paedophilia, sexual violence etc.).
53. Nor has Family First ever argued that the book should be banned under s. 3(3) of the Act based on “the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which the publication describes, depicts or otherwise deals with” matters involving – sex, crime, cruelty and violence.
54. Family First has consistently argued that an age restriction, not a ban, is appropriate for this book, (one that the author himself states was written for “young adults”, in particular males), given the manner in which matters of sex, crime, cruelty and violence are dealt with and the very real likelihood of injury to the public good if an age restriction to safeguard children is not applied.
55. Family First supports the Board’s robust and fair-minded decision which imposed an R14 classification for the book. As the OFLC submission concedes in para 5, under s. 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (“BORA”) which the Board did fully take into account, the right to “freedom of expression” was fully recognised. It recognised this “freedom” by not banning the book and instead merely limiting its accessibility to those aged 14 years and older.
56. The Board’s decision to classify the book R14 gave such meaning to (i.e. interpreted) S. 3(3) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Act 1993 (“FVPA”) so that it was consistent with the rights and freedoms of BORA. Under s. 3(3) as the OFLC concedes in par. 12, the Board “is required to give particular weight to the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which, the publication – describes, depicts, or otherwise deals with” … – a number of specified activities – listed (a) to (e) – which may justify the book being classified as age restricted.
57. The Board demonstrated admirably and precisely why allowing this book to be accessed by young persons under the age of 14 years “is likely to be injurious to the public good”.
58. Family First respectfully requests that each Board member during this review carefully read those sections of the book highlighted in its earlier submission (paragraphs 23 – 31) that we considers highly offensive, objectionable and likely to be injurious to the public good if the book is classified unrestricted and made readily accessible to young persons under the age of 14 years.
59. It is noteworthy that none of these offensive passages were highlighted or analysed in the OFLC submission.
60. The Board should consider the very real possibility that such offensive passages could lawfully be read out loud by teachers in any New Zealand school if the book is classified unrestricted. Children below the age of 14 years and adults will be able to lawfully read such passages out on national radio, on television or any other media platform. Newspapers and magazines will be able to lawfully reproduce such sections in order to stimulate debate on censorship issues or promote reading or help young people “discover sex”.
61. Family First does not believe for a moment that media outlets will allow this. Why? Because they know full well that such content is highly offensive and gratuitous even to most adults and when disseminated freely on these platforms is injurious to the public good.
62. The board made its R14 classification decision knowing full well that National Radio, National TV, newspapers and other media outlets will never allow any of these passages to be read out or published. Prevailing community standards recognise that there is immense injury to the public good – the potential offence caused and outrage – by the dissemination of such offensive contents – via our libraries, bookshops and schools to children for whom such content is totally inappropriate and offensive.
63. Dr Jack, writes in para 7 of the OFLC report: “The novel allows Te Arepa to discover sex.” This seems absurd. Dr Jack’s ability to reason coherently is called into question by a number of such statements he makes in the OFLC submission. The novel does not “allow Te Arepa to discover sex”. Dr Jack may argue that this novel is an ideal vehicle for boys and girls younger than 14 years to “discover sex” by reading the offensive and gratuitous descriptions of Te Arepa’s ‘discovery of sex’ as told by Ted Dawe. However, Family First believes this book in its treatment of sexual activity between children and children and adults and its normalising of drug-taking, exposure to paedophilia etc is injurious to the public good. Yes, Ted Dawe has discovered how to portray sex in a degrading manner, wrapping it in gratuitous words in a publication which his supporter Bernard Beckett claims is “marvellous and indeed a ‘moral’ book”.
64. Dr Jack writes: “… the [music] teacher is either a paedophile or creating images of young boys clearly for distribution.” [para 7] Is Dr Jack unable to understand that it is not necessarily an either/or situation as he asserts. Many paedophiles engage in the act of having sex with children and are also involved in distributing images of young boys (including naked ones).
65. When Bill Hastings was chief censor a book containing semi-nude black and white photos of young boys was banned by the OFLC because it tended to promote and support paedophilia. The person promoting this book in an Auckland bookshop argued that the NZ Bill of Rights entitled him to freedom of expression to market this book. The OFLC clearly disagreed.[1] 66. Dr Jack’s analysis is wrong. You cannot play down the activity of distributing images of young boys as though this is on the ‘lighter’ and ‘trivial’ end of some spectrum of broader paedophile involvement. Later in his report Dr Jack notes that the images referred to in Ted Dawe’s book that belonged to the music teacher and were seen by the children were all of naked young boys.
67. Family First is absolutely correct to argue that the themes of this book that deal with underage sex and paedophilia are totally inappropriate for readers under the age of 14 years. Just because we are receiving a regular diet of media reports on the seemingly growing problem of paedophilia in New Zealand, this does not justify as the OFLC submission appears to suggest, that such themes are appropriate to foist upon children in “unrestricted” books available freely in schools, bookshops and public libraries, and to be hailed as literary works that help semi-literate or poor readers to love book reading.
68. In para 14, Dr Jack says the book content is “without salacious tone or intent“. This is a highly questionable assertion. The sheer rawness and crudeness of the descriptions of sexual activity could be argued to be salacious and titillating content to a teenage boy and/or a paedophile. Dr Jack argues that the use of the word “penis” for male organ qualifies the sexual encounter description as “neutral”, “raw” and non-titillating. It is hard to really know what he is alluding to here when he argues the content is appropriate for children under the age of 14 years.
69. Dr Jack dumbs down the impact of the description of the sexual episodes recorded in “Into the River”, stating: “The sex merely occurs. It is consensual, spontaneous and not predatory“. However one cannot just remain passive and neutral to the manner of wording used to describe this activity as Dr Jack asserts. He may be able to remain professionally ‘neutral’ as a Chief Censor with vast experience dealing with a wide range of objectionable and offensive sexual content (although here the question of possible desensitisation could be raised.)
70. We invite Radio New Zealand producers to read out the problematic passages from Into the River highlighted by Family First and see if mature adult listeners find Dr Jack’s analysis plausible. The so-called ‘neutral’ listeners in will certainly react (many with outrage).
71. In para 16, Dr Jack concedes that the illicit drug taking is “normalised” to a large extent. Family First agrees, and for this reason any argument that the book should be classified “unrestricted” must be dismissed. S. 3(2) of the FVPCA highlights the real concerns censors should have over any promotion and/or tendency to promote or support specified activities – including criminal activities e.g. paedophilia and drug-taking. The normalisation of an illegal act when directed towards readers under the age of 14 years is unconscionable.
72. In paragraph 25 Dr Jack draws very heavily on the adulation given to Ted Dawe by Bernard Beckett who he emphasises three times is “an award winning author and playwright and long-serving secondary teacher of English/Drama and Chief Judge.” The OFLC submission draws heavily on comments from such persons with a vested interest in supporting Ted Dawe and the lobby groups supporting him who have also been encouraged to make submissions. But as noted in our earlier submission, they have made no attempt to consult with family and parent groups.
73. As noted, it is not at all surprising that Dr Jack highlights Beckett as stating on his blog on Into the River – “It’s a truly marvellous and indeed moral book.” But is this really true? Family First seriously questions this viewpoint as do many parents and caregivers concerned about what their young children read and fill their minds with and who have examined the book. They have a right to be concerned about the “moral” impact of its content.
74. In paragraph 41 Dr Jack writes: “Most of the intended readers of Into the River will regard the content as commonplace, they are highly unlikely to be shocked or disturbed …” [Emphasis added] 75. Here is where Dr Jack’s analysis is again flawed. In general, the Classification process under the Act, when it is correctly applied, can only take account of special categories (classes) of persons based on age. The OFLC cannot for example restrict a book to a category of person based on race, religion, street-wise experience or familiarity with offensive language or any combination of these.
76. The OFLC cannot determine the classification of a publication under the Act, when it is deemed to require an age restriction; based only on its intended readers. All persons within the specified age group for which the publication is to be made accessible must be taken into account, with respect to the “likelihood of injury to the public good”; not just the intended readers (as perceived by the author)
77. To illustrate this point – Hardcore XXX porn aficionados are hardly going to be shocked or horrified by any mainstream adult R18 theatre films, as their diet is made up of more extreme material. This latter dietary fact cannot be used as a justification for the OFLC or Board of Review to choose not to ban a film that is deemed “objectionable” under s. 3(2) of the Act, merely because it was only intended to be viewed by Hardcore XXX porn aficionados; and would not therefore offend those NOT in this category because they were NOT the intended audience and would therefore not attend! But this type of fallacious reasoning, is the same used by Dr Jack, and rests on the false premise that non-aficionados of hardcore porn would never go to such R18 films and therefore would not be offended. The R18 category is put in place to address the safeguarding of the “public good from injury” for ALL persons in general 18 years and over, not just an “intended audience” category of those 18 years and older.
78. Dr Jack is wrong to try and argue that the Board got it wrong to impose a R14 classification on “Into the River” because it allegedly failed to consider its “intended readers
79. In paragraph 44 the OFLC highlights the book “Home Boys” which it claims is “taught at Year 10 in some schools ..a book that includes descriptions of masturbation … and “explicit sex scenes“. This book, published by Random House, is by the same man, Bernard Beckett, who was Chief Judge of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2013 that awarded Ted Dawe’s “Into the River” top award in the Young Adult Novel section. Beckett is quoted numerous times in the OFLC submission supporting the “unrestricted” classification of “Into the River” by the OFLC. Again Family First points out that “Into the River” (like “Home Boys”) was written for “young adults” – not children under the age of 14 years.
80. Family First urges the Board to carefully consider paragraph 50 of the OFLC submission. The OFLC refers to s. 3A of the FVPA 1993. S 3A(3) is quoted by Dr Jack.
81. Family First contends that this section of the Act provides in itself sufficient basis for restricting “Into the River” as R14. The fact is acknowledged several times in the OFLC report that many children and young adults would find the content of the language in Ted Dawe’s book “Into the River” to be highly offensive and shocking, as would many in the general public.
82. Under s. 3(3) of the Act the Board was fully entitled to, in fact obligated, to give particular weight to the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which the publication dealt with activities involving sex, horror, violence and crime
83. Family First concludes that the Board got it right in its robust and comprehensive analysis of the book, in classifying it at least as R14.

CASE STUDY: LOST GIRLS (R18)

84. Family First requests that the Board consider the fact that as recently as 2014 a precedent was set by the Auckland City Libraries to have a book that was “widely acclaimed for its literary and artistic significance, and its call for the freedom of the sexual imagination”, submitted to the OFLC to have it classified age restricted[2] (See Appendix for the summary from the 2014 OFLC Report).
85. The book “Lost Girls” was consequently classified R18. The book had wide appeal for young adults seeking to learn about sexuality, and features as its three main characters, the young heroines of classic works of fiction: Alice, from Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland; Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz; and Wendy from Peter Pan. These beloved characters, truly adored by young adult readers 14 to 17 were presented as adults and like Ted Dawe’s “marvellous” and “challenging” novel, dealt with challenging “moral” issues such as sexual molestation and incest.
86. The book was considered to be “intended” for adults, and the OFLC imposed the R18 classification. It was convinced that its content was “objectionable” if read by persons under 18 years of age and if read by such persons was “likely to be injurious to the public good”.
87. While it is true that each classification is carried out on a case by case basis, neither the OFLC nor the Board can possibly ignore this decision issued last year on “Lost Girls”.
88.
We draw your attention to the reasoning for the book being rated R18:
The book is clearly intended for adult readers. There is a consensus amongst the public of New Zealand that children and young people should not be exposed to explicit sexual material intended for adults until they reach a level of maturity and experience that would allow them to cope with such material. In particular, young readers should not be exposed to images and text that they would be likely to find extremely shocking and disturbing. The availability of Lost Girls is therefore restricted to adults. Given how explicitly sexual the book is, the classification does not greatly interfere with the right to freedom of expression set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. In light of the book’s intended adult readership, the decision is a reasonable and justified limitation on the freedom of expression.
89.
This is the exact argument of Family First and the many families and parents who have expressed concern about what their children may be exposed to, and the important role of censorship in New Zealand. There is a consensus amongst the public of New Zealand that children and young people should not be exposed to explicit sexual material intended for adults until they reach a level of maturity and experience that would allow them to cope with such material. This position of course runs contrary to most of the opposing submissions from groups with a vested interest in selling books or promoting the book industry.
90. Are the submitters arguing, on the basis of their submission regarding “Into the River”, that books such as “Lost Girls” should be freely available? Are they arguing that the many books that have been banned for good reason should be freely available?

AUCKLAND LIBRARIES

91. It is highly ironic that Auckland Libraries are expressing horror at an interim restriction on a book while it is reviewed and are arguing that no book should have a restriction, when they themselves submitted “Lost Girls” for classification, and then happily accepted the R18 restriction placed on the book.[3] Where was the furore then? Have they objected to other books that have either an R18 restriction or a ban placed on objectionable material?
92. They also argue that public opinion is in favour of open access and that “with the exception of Family First, public opinion has conveyed abhorrence that New Zealand may be banning books.” Of course this is a highly emotive response without substance. The book has been restricted R14 since December 2013. There was no furore then because it was an appropriate decision by the Board of Review – one which they accepted, just as they have accepted the R18 on “Lost Girls”.
93.
Most of the commentators and many in the media including newspaper editors have been highly excited and misled by the purpose of an Interim Restriction Order, and have treated is as a “ban” on the book. They should know better. They may disagree with the way a review of a publication takes place, but to misrepresent that the book has been banned suggests a level of manipulation clouded in a vested interest and a desire for an emotive headline.
94. The Auckland Libraries submission also argues that “Into the River” is necessary in order to getting boys to read. We refer you back to para 43 of our original submission where we referred to the 2015 “What Kids Are Reading” Report[4] which analysed the reading habits of over half a million children in over 2,700 UK schools. The report included a list of “Books that Struggling Readers Read Most Often: Year 9” – young males around the 14 year old age range.
95. They include such books as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney, “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, John Boyne’s “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas”, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Stone Cold“ by Robert Swindells, amongst others.
96. We agree with Auckland Libraries that we need to encourage young teenage boys to read, but as Jock Anderson summed it up so well (para 37): “Liberally sprinkling a book aimed at youngsters with foul language – of a kind that not so long ago would have led to arrest – is no way to increase anyone’s literacy. Certainly not that of teenagers. Writers have plenty of perfectly good expressive words in the English language to choose from, without reducing literary and language standards to the lowest common denominator. While bad language may be the norm in the playground, you can bet it isn’t tolerated in the classrooms of teachers marching to the freedom-of-speech drum. And why are young males from “educational deprived backgrounds” taught that swearing is a good way for them to communicate? Does this mean they are written-off as knuckle-dragging proles? Youngsters need inspiration, guidance and discipline if they are to engage fruitfully, communicate decently with each other and make their mark.”

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES?

97. The Chief Censor, Dr Jack, in a Notice of Decision under s. 42(3) of the Act and dated 1 April 2015, stated the factors he considered necessitated a reclassification of the book by the OFLC. These factors which he accepted constituted “special circumstances”, are set out below with each one followed by a rebuttal [in italics] by Family First.
98. The capacity of public libraries to mitigate the injury to the public good which might but for the restriction, flow from unrestricted access to the book.
99. Access to the book by persons under 14 years of age is most effectively achieved by means of the restricted classification notification regime and enforcement which together are the mechanisms prescribed in law to prevent injury to the public good. Classifying the book as “unrestricted” on the basis that library staff can adequately restrict younger persons from accessing the book, is naïve and contrary to the safeguards we have in law under the classification laws. It is inconsistent given that this approach is not applied in the case of R18 books stored behind the library desks and only accessible to those who can prove they are adults (library cards contain birth date information). A reliance on library staff to monitor all displays of this R14 book in order to enforce it is off limits to those for whom the book contents are inappropriate, cannot be an alternative to the remedies set out in the Classification Act related to the imposition of restricted classification(s) and restricted access.
100.The shared views of librarians across NZ, in particular the 63 public libraries run by local government authorities.
101. No clear or compelling evidence has ever been provided by the OFLC that there ever has been such a wide consensus that the book should be classified “unrestricted”. On the contrary submissions made to deputy chief censor Nic McCully from those she approached for comment ,indicate a deeply held view that the book is totally unsuitable for those under 14 years of age and for most under 16.
102. The impact that the restriction had on the value of the book as a teaching resource
103. This argument is flawed as it begs the question that an “unrestricted classification” is the correct one in law and that such a classification will transform the book into one that will make it a valuable teaching resource. A good number of submissions to Nic McCully rule the book unsuitable for young persons under the age of 16 years.
104. The significance of the book as an aid to countering issues in NZ about bullying
105. This argument is flawed as it incorrectly assumes that the greatest redemptive quality of this book is supposedly its ability to counter issues in NZ about bullying. But this is an exaggerated assertion. So far neither young people or teachers have not taken to this book with any significant numbers. There are many other good books that address the issue of bullying effectively without being infested with gratuitous and offensive descriptions of sexual encounters involving children and adults, sexual grooming, rape, the normalisation of drug use etc.
106. It is interesting that the Chief Censor in his submission to the Board has made no mention of the reasons why the book was allowed under “special circumstances” to be reviewed under s. 42(3).

FEEDBACK RECEIVED BY DEPUTY CHIEF CENSOR

107. (The emails referred to in this section have been correspondence gained under the Official Information Act.)
108. Chief Judge for the NZ Post Children’s Book awards, Bernard Beckett, states in an email to deputy chief censor Nic McCully dated 12/07/15 that Melvyn Burgess’ book “Doing It” is “an excellent point of reference” for “Into the River”. He considers both books to be like many in the Young Adult genre, in that they contain “an awful lot of violence, language and sexual content” that offends and shocks.
109. Family First wants the Board to appreciate that the book Beckett highlights as an equivalent toInto the River”, in terms of its crude and offensive language, gratuitous descriptions of sexual activity and ‘challenging’ themes, is itself so extreme that reviewers consider it totally inappropriate for young adults and younger readers.
110. The Board may wish to compare the two books in the light of a review of “Doing It” by Children’s [book] laureate, Anne Fine, which is entitled “Filth Whichever way you look at it[5]. Fine believes that “Doing It” should be published by an adult imprint – if at all.
111. So if this book as Beckett argues is indeed an “excellent point of reference” to evaluate “Into the River”, then both are not appropriate for persons under 16 years of age. Family First sees Beckett’s comments as confirmation that the Board’s classification of “Into the River” as R14 is justified under the FVPC Act 1993.
112. Beckett adds concerning “Into the River”: “I am certain the sexual content and language will shock no teenagers“. He considers it is appropriate and will be mostly used at year 11..” its natural home.”
113. However, an unnamed Library Manager wrote to the deputy chief censor in a letter dated 10/07/15 that “some kids would be shocked” by “Into the River”.
114. Dr Libby Limbick, Chair, Storylines Children Literature Trust of NZ, is unable to give the name of a single young person’s book that is the equivalent of “Into the River”, in terms of offensive, disturbing and gratuitous content related to sex, violence etc. She considers the target readers of “Into the River” to be 14-16 year olds, principally boys. If she is correct, the Board’s classification of R14 cannot be viewed as infringing the rights of Ted Dawe, its author, or those excluded from access to the book under this R14 age restriction.
115. Dr Limbick notes: “In public libraries, it has been noted by librarians that a display of the book’s cover, with an invitation to ask for the book at the desk, has generated little or no response from library users“.
116. This observation in large part was used by the Auckland Librarians to successfully lobby the Chief Censor and his deputy, that under s. 42(3) the book needed to be reclassified, despite the fact that three years had not elapsed since the Board issued its R14 classification.
117. Dr Limbick’s report on the apparent lack of interest in the book due to librarians’ perceived ‘display-marketing problems’ is far from convincing. Young people regularly choose books based on the dust cover description of its contents and cover notes (which can be provided even under an R14 classification) and media reviews. Furthermore, they are very experienced at choosing suitable DVDs from libraries and DVD stores based on descriptions on the empty DVD boxes, so clearly they can use these same skills to select a book, even when they cannot read its complete subject matter.
118. Answers received by deputy chief censor Nic McCully on the question of the age appropriate status of “Into the River” – did not support a case that the Board had got its R14 classification wrong. Rather they confirmed that it was the right decision.
119. 1st response: “The content would make me wary of teaching it to students under 16
120. 2nd response:   Readers to be given access to the book. Answer: “nothing below Year 11… Rape scene not pleasant. Sexual grooming by male music teacher reasonably graphic as well”.
121. 3rd response: “Not aware of any books of similar/content [to “Into the River”] used in school curriculum. We have however stopped teaching it [“Into the River”] due to objections from the Board of Trustees concerned about the issues of rape, sexual abuse and murder.”
122. 4th response: “I would not however be comfortable giving it [“Into the River”] to a student under the age of 16 years. Yes, I think it would greatly shock and disturb readers under 14 years of age.”
123. “I would not be comfortable about my 15 year old son reading it and would not give it to students.
124. Family First contends that all these responses can be fairly interpreted is contrary to a classification of “unrestricted”, but rather supportive of an R14 classification. These are the responses highlighted by deputy chief censor Nic McCully to justify her decision to reclassify the book “unrestricted”. Given the depth of feeling expressed in opposition to the release of this book to readers under 16 years of age, it is unconscionable for the deputy chief censor to have overturned the decision of the Board.

SUMMARY

125. Family First position fully endorses the original R14 decision of the Board with respect to “Into the River”. Its case is manifestly sound in the light of all the arguments highlighted above exposing the flaws in the OFLC submission. The evidence presented using the “Lost Girls” OFLC decision precisely seals the Family First case as robust and thoroughly consistent with NZ censorship law and the NZ Bill of Rights Act.

Thank you for your consideration

Bob McCoskrie
National Director

 

APPENDIX

Book: Lost Girls

Classified R18 in 2014

Summary of reasons for decision: Lost Girls is a graphic novel with text by Alan Moore and images drawn by Melinda Gebbie. The book was submitted for classification by Auckland City Libraries. Its creators describe it as a work of pornography and its contents are explicitly sexual. The book’s three main characters are the young heroines of classic works of fiction: Alice, from Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland; Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz; and Wendy from Peter Pan. The story presents the three characters as adults who meet by chance at an Austrian hotel just before the outbreak of the First World War. Dorothy and Wendy are drawn into sexual activity by Alice and the three women share stories about their early sexual experiences, which include sexual molestation and incest. Other notable elements in the book are pornographic pastiches in the style of authors and artists of the period, including Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde.

Lost Girls is a challenging work that contains problematic material. However, the book has been widely acclaimed for its literary and artistic significance, and its call for the freedom of the sexual imagination. The book has a serious purpose: author and artist intend it as “good” pornography that reasserts pornography’s potential as art and therefore, its socio-political possibilities as an antidote to repression and violence. It is likely that most readers will experience some discomfort at images and text that appear to challenge strong social taboos. However, the publication as a whole does not promote or support, or tend to promote or support, any of the activities shown.

The book is clearly intended for adult readers. There is a consensus amongst the public of New Zealand that children and young people should not be exposed to explicit sexual material intended for adults until they reach a level of maturity and experience that would allow them to cope with such material. In particular, young readers should not be exposed to images and text that they would be likely to find extremely shocking and disturbing. The availability of Lost Girls is therefore restricted to adults. Given how explicitly sexual the book is, the classification does not greatly interfere with the right to freedom of expression set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. In light of the book’s intended adult readership, the decision is a reasonable and justified limitation on the freedom of expression.

http://www.classificationoffice.govt.nz/PDFs/2014-OFLC-Annual-report.pdf

[1] http://www.censorship.govt.nz/DDA/Pages/Screens/DDA/PublicationDecisionInformationPage.aspx

[2] http://www.classificationoffice.govt.nz/PDFs/2014-OFLC-Annual-report.pdf

[3] http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/books/9304502/Fairytale-sex-off-the-shelves

[4] http://whatkidsarereading.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/what-kids-are-reading-report-2015.pdf

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/mar/29/featuresreviews.guardianreview24