July 24th, 2008


loose ends (2)

Those of you with slightly shorter memories, and slightly lower thresholds of boredom, will recall a few months ago I mentioned that Max Mosley, the head of the FIA, was caught by a News Of The World sting as he took part in an afternoon with five working girls.
Instead of slinking away into a corner to watch his life drain away, as so many others have done in similar circumstances, Max took the NoW to court for breach of privacy and the fact that the paper said the `orgy' had `nazi overtones.'
I thought it would take ages for the case to reach court, and once again I was wrong because the case ended today, and Max won.
I actually began to warm to Max during the case. His evidence was devastatingly candid and he spoke movingly of the effect of the media circus on his wife and sons. Although he seems not to have been thinking about them very much while he was having his little bit of, as we say, slap and tickle.
Anyway, he won, and the judge awarded him £60,000 in damages. The NoW will also have to pick up the legal tab, which altogether will see it having to shell out in the region of a million quid.
Predictably there have been cries of `freedom of the press' and `freedom of expression' and `public interest,' mostly from the kind of papers who carry out this kind of shabby reporting, and there's currently a bit of a debate about how the case will impact press freedom. When papers like the News Of The World talk about press freedom, what they mean is the freedom of the Press to do whatever it fucking well wants. My own feeling is that it won't impact it at all. I said before that the NoW, which specialises in this kind of stuff, is consequently a lot more careful than some papers about standing their stories up. This time, I think, they got carried away. If they'd stopped at reporting that Max had taken part in a sado-masochistic session, they would probably have got away with it. But because of who his father was, they couldn't resist the `nazi' thing. The News Of The World, and other papers like it, will be back doing this kind of thing again.
I am, of course, massively in favour of Press freedom. I'm also massively in favour of the right of private - and public - citizens to their privacy. The Press constantly have to walk a line between the two, and I'd like to think that, by and large, we keep our balance. Where press intrusion is justified, it should be allowed; where it's not, it should be punished. Where it's just to titillate the readership and boost circulation, it should be punished to the limits of the law.
I've got no reason to be an apologist for Max Mosley, but I'm glad he won. If he makes one editor think twice about some sloppy project, it'll have been sixty grand well-spent.
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a child called violence

I've had cause to wonder, today, what in the name of humanity is going on down in New Zealand. Apparently there's a fashion there for giving your children weird names, as evidenced by the recent case of Talulah Does The Hula From Hawaii, a nine-year-old girl who was recently taken into care so that her name can be changed.
New Zealand law doesn't allow names more than a hundred characters long, or ones that can cause offence, but beyond that it seems that local registrars have a certain amount of latitude. Among names turned down by registrars are `Yeah Detroit,' `Cinderella Beauty Blossom' and the twins `Fish' and `Chips' (remember, these are names that parents wanted to call their children.) On the other hand, names that have been allowed include `Violence,' `Number 16 Bus Shelter' (and I can only imagine that this is in commemoration of the place where the conception occurred) and `Benson' and `Hedges' (twins, again)
We live in an increasingly absurd world, I know, but this is just a little ridiculous. On the other hand, I'm toying with the idea of sticking a New Zealand character into Europe In Autumn. I just have to think of a daft enough name for them. Although `Violence' would do...
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