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Lose the lad's mags - a quick analysis of their ideology.

If you follow this link you'll find a website designed to encourage a ban on some magazines. It prints out an automatic email to send to Tesco:
I agree with the shareholder who asked Tesco during your AGM on 28 June to lose the lads' mags.
Lads' mags like Nuts and Zoo are deeply harmful. By portraying women as dehumanised sex objects they fuel sexist behaviours and attitudes underpinning violence against women. Selling them is in contradiction to Tesco's commitment to being a 'responsible corporate citizen'.
Your Chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, said at your recent AGM that he was 'startled' by the content of these publications. Indeed, lads' mags are pornographic magazines that portray women as sex objects for the sexual gratification of male readers. Selling lads’ mags contravenes Tesco's own policy of not stocking 'adult' magazines.
Furthermore, exposing staff and customers to these images can constitute sexual harassment or sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Pornographic 'girlie calendars' would not be permitted on Tesco's office or shops walls, so sexist, pornographic lads' mags should not be on Tesco's shelves.
Please show leadership on this issue and prove that Tesco's commitment to 'always do the right thing, to inspire and to earn trust and loyalty from all of our stakeholders' isn't just talk.
Please stop selling sexist, harmful lads' mags.
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Notice first that pressure is being applied here, not by market forces (such as a lack of demand) but by rich shareholders. It is they who are being idealised as our new guardians. Those who have won the money game implicitly know best, and this follows because they are all so very clever and good, right?

If we extract the notion that ideas themselves are dangerous from the equation a magazine is one of the least harmful things I can think of that you can buy in a supermarket. Have a go and see if you can imagine anything less dangerous...

Unless you count paper cuts I'd be very surprised if there were any statistics to support the claim they have ever injured anyone let alone being "deeply harmful".

The reason magazines are seen here as being dangerous is because they might make people think. Some people believe this is incredibly dangerous for someone to do without the supervision and approval of the state.

Others are of the opinion that it is actions that are dangerous, not thoughts. This way of seeing things is common for most of the people who regularly read this blog. They tend to believe people are responsible for their own actions. This is an idea called "personal responsibility" and it does not form part of an authoritarian point of view.

Without question this magazine's readers can be said to be dangerous but, certainly in a legal sense, I think it's very important to blame those individuals for what they decide to do with themselves.

I find the notion of 'passing the buck' when it comes to "violence against women" deeply sickening and profoundly immoral. To say I was annoyed when I wrote this is an understatement because I am convinced there will be a number of people who will attach themselves to this particular cause because they're looking for excuses relating to their evil criminal acts.

However, despite this, I do not think rape apologists should be punished for their words, they instead need to be confronted and debated by those who understand the issues. The world will be a much better place when we, as a society, can eventually stand up to criminals and their excuses instead of supporting them with sympathy. 

The definition of pornography appears to have changed over the years if a lad's mag qualifies. Even in the pre-internet days of my teenage years I'd have been asking for my money back if I'd been given one instead of an actual porn mag.

Finally, the threat of legal action, gives us an insight into the authoritarian nature of this campaign and its real thoughts on state censorship. That they are so anxious, in this time of economic hardship, for Her Majesty's Government to get involved in attacking the business model of a huge employer shows you where they are really coming from.

In summary:

For me this is clearly a free speech issue with the perhaps unintended consequence of attempting to excuse the crime of sexual violence on the basis of provocation. Fortunately, in a legal context, this defence is currently only available when applied to the crime of murder.

Those who understand the issues from the perspective I've just articulated appear to be in the minority. On the other hand there are millions being herded in the opposite direction to us but I think this is an important debate to be counted in, even if it puts you in the losing team.

Please retweet, Facebook and spread this entry as far as you can or, re-write it into your own words on your blog.


Nick Margerrison

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