Norway’s Supreme Court cleared editor Stein-Erik Mattsson on pornography charges, ending Mattson’s three-year long battle to modernize Norway’s censorship practices. Importers are now gearing up to flood Norway with porn, but authorities may still keep it out.
Right: Stein-Erik Mattson with his issue of ‘Free’ Aktuell Rapport, which dropped its price tag and censorship bars and started the legal process that ended Wednesday.
PHOTO: ERLEND AAS/SCANPIX
Mattsson flouted Norway’s insistence on putting black censorship bars over images of ‘genitalia in action that may offend’ by printing up an uncensored but far from sensational magazine called Frie Aktuell Rapport. He not only gave it away, he sent a copy to every Member of Parliament and waited for trouble.
The long legal process that resulted nearly broke Mattsson. After first being acquitted, prosecutors appealed the verdict but the appeals court unanimously rejected the appeal. The Oslo district attorney then took the case to the Supreme Court, but having lost his job in the interim, Mattsson offered to pay his fine in order to put an end to the matter.
But he had no choice once the case was on the Supreme Court agenda. Instead, he made a convincing argument, showing judges a lengthy montage of film sequences passed by Norway’s board of film censors on artistic grounds that was far more disturbing than run-of-the-mill sex without bits covered.
The Supreme Court couldn’t stand watching it all, and agreed that standards had changed since the law’s inception.
“After a collective assessment I have concluded that the threshold for what today is deemed to be offensive – and therefore punishable – cannot be said to have been transgressed,” is how first-voting Supreme Court judge Ole Bjørn Støle ruled, and the decision was unanimous.
Mattson said the ruling finally upheld his view that he had done nothing wrong by showing ‘regular sex’, uncovered, and he sent his thanks to Socialist Left Party politician and porn hater Lena Jensen, for bringing the original complaint against him.
Norway’s porn industry is ready to open the floodgates for uncensored material, but doubts remain.
“We are waiting to push the button, first we just have to make sure exactly what is legal,” said Finn Engnes, manager of Erotic Wholesales, who has so far specialized in importing sex toys, oils and lingerie. Engnes said he expects a green light and is already lining up producers from Europe and the USA.
Leif Aage Hagen, Norway’s major player in the sex and porn industry in Norway, said he had been planning for this day for 30 years.
“A Norwegian version of the American “Hustler” will be launched as soon as possible, maybe already before New Year’s,” Hagen said.
Film channel Canal + said they had no immediate plans to drop the black bars that obscure the action on their late night erotic films.
“We interpret the ruling to apply to the printed medium and not film. We conduct ourselves according to Norwegian law and so will not be changing our programming offering because of this ruling,” said Canal + managing director Bjørn Stangjordet.
Meanwhile, politicians are ready to respond by introducing new and more specific legislation to keep porn at bay. Parliamentary members of the governing coalition signaled that they would push for a new examination of censorship legislation, and they can expect the enthusiastic support of the Christian Democrats.
Aftenposten’s Norwegian reporters
Kristian Skalland Moen, Gudmund Bartnes and Lars Ditlev Hansen
Aftenposten English Web Desk
This is an article from www.aftenposten.no.
Updated: 08. desember 2005 kl.19:32
It can be found at this address: http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1174517.ece