January 25, 2012 12 Comments
Proving that the Leveson Inquiry has become a magnet for every campaigner who wants to tame or censor the tabloids, yesterday’s line-up before his lordship included a bevy of feminists angrily railing against Page 3 in The Sun.
For some women’s rights activists, Page 3, with its scantily clad ladies making philosophical comments in speech bubbles, represents everything that is wrong with tabloid culture.
It is sexist and offensive, they say, and it contributes to a climate in which women are looked upon as fleshy objects to be ogled by goggle-eyed blokes. It must be banned, they demand.
Harriet Harman has joined this shrill chorus calling either for the outright banning of Page 3 or for The Sun at least to be put on the top shelf in newsagents, next to porno mags. And yet in her next breath, Harman has the gall to declare: “I am going to be a champion of press freedom.”
That she cannot see any contradiction between campaigning to crush Page 3 and claiming to be a defender of freedom of speech not only highlights the severe irony deficit in New Labour – it also says a lot about the weird politics of the anti-Page 3 lobby.
The fact is that shutting down Page 3 would be an assault on press freedom. If you are committed to true freedom of the press, to the age-old idea that newspapers should be free to publish what they believe to be true or interesting or fun, you can’t then add the caveat “Oh, except for Page 3 in The Sun – that page has got to go.” Read more of this post