So finally time for me to give the full account of the Rally for Free Expression at which Richard Dawkins spoke and then directly afterwards I spoke (eek!) and then I spoke to him and all that stuff. So firstly here's my speech. It's cut off a little at the beginning. What you miss is "Hello, great to be here. Those few of you who already know me probably know me from a viral internet video called Atheist Bitchslap. After that video went round I received hundreds of threats of violence, mostly rape, which goes to show that..."
And if you want to see what Dawkins himself said then that's here:
There were tons of other great speakers - you'll see the links to them at the end of either of those clips.
Afterwards I spoke briefly to Professor Dawkins. Proof! Proof!
To be honest I was just hoping to get a photo with him but he asked me about the story I told at the end of my speech and asked if he could quote it on his website. Of course I said yes. You'll see it here. Interestingly (but not surprisingly, Chinese whispers effect) as the story has been retold the woman in question has gotten younger and younger and both Dawkins and other commenters refer to her as a "girl". In fact she is considerably older than that and though she talked about my parents being angry if I didn't go to church I imagine that what keeps her trapped in the strictures of religious practice is a wider pressure from her whole family, her community, even her own children.
Several people have commented to the effect "no, free expression must apply in ALL cases, including for pornography". That's a rather silly point of view. No-one is shouting "what about free expression for child pornographers?". The thing is YES I fully support your right to engage in whatever weird and wonderful fully consensual sexual practices you and your adult friends so desire. And if you want to invite the neighbours round to watch too - fine by me. HOWEVER free expression does not include the freedom to make a profit from whatever activity you choose. As soon as you start making money from this - whether through direct subscription or ticket sales or through internet advertising and data collection - I think it starts to cloud the consent issue. Where big bucks are concerned it's also clear that it creates a need for manufacturers of pornography to seek out more extreme, more addictive images all the time. The impact on the consumers is nothing to do with freedom to hear a range of human views and opinions - it's all about manipulating a younger and younger consumer into parting with more and more money. This is not freedom of anything! These people are not talking about free expression but about free markets and unbridled capitalism. And there I take the view that we should regulate, that we need full and effective checks in place to ensure exploitation does not happen of participants and of consumers. And if you'd spent as much time as I have working with survivors of the multi-billion pound global sex industry, you'd understand why I feel so strongly that the current more or less non-existent regulation isn't doing the job and big change is needed.
Mostly though I am just bragging that I met Richard Dawkins and then he wrote about me and about what I said! Yippee!