UK Press, Anti-Porn Activists Exploit Shocking Murder, Call for Censorship

LONDON — Several anti-porn activists and editorialists in the U.K. have attempted over the last few days to shift the conversation about the killing of a woman by a man  — later revealed to be a member of the Metropolitan police who falsely arrested her and abducted her — towards a condemnation of all “online pornography” and a renewed call for state censorship.

33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard was murdered on March 3 by 48-year-old Wayne Couzens, who used his authority to detain her. The U.K. media covered the sequence of events in a sensationalist manner, starting with the “missing person” search of Everard, the finding of her body and the revelation that the killer was a member of law enforcement.

“Prosecutors said Couzens, who was on the Metropolitan Police force at the time, handcuffed Everard, drove her far outside the city, and then raped and killed her,” the Associated Press reported Thursday, the day of the sentencing.

Couzens, who immediately before his crime had completed an overnight shift at the U.S. Embassy, pled guilty.

“You have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales,” Justice Fulford told Couzens.

In the few days since the sentencing, however, a number of U.K. newspapers — from the salacious right-wing tabloids to the supposedly “progressive” The Guardian to the top establishment paper The Times — began using Couzens’ sentencing to publish editorials, news “reports” and opinion pieces by religiously motivated activists trying to reroute the popular condemnation of Couzens as a deranged cop availing himself of the power of the state to victimize a member of the public in the direction of a call for state intervention in the supposed “problem” of adult content online.

The immediate excuse for this latest all-hands-on-deck attempt to pass some form of yet-unclear censorship legislation is that during Couzens’ sentencing, the Crown mention his predilection for “violent pornography.”

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, told the BBC that some colleagues had nicknamed Couzens “the rapist” for years before Everard’s murder and that he “also had allegedly a reputation in terms of drug abuse, extreme pornography and other offenses of this kind.”

‘Brutal, Sexual Pornography’

The U.K.’s historic establishment newspaper The Times led the story on Thursday not with any condemnation of the law enforcement system — which did nothing to prevent one of their own from using his authority to rape and kill — but with this sentence: “Wayne Couzens was a debt-ridden user of prostitutes who was attracted to ‘brutal, sexual pornography,’ the Old Bailey was told.”

The judge seems to have indeed used the obviously redundant phrase “sexual pornography” to double-down on this angle that implicitly exculpates fellow state institutions.

The Times then claims that “in February, a month before he kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard, Couzens, 48, was in contact with an escort with username ‘escourtbabygirl’” through an online escorting site. They repeatedly refer to Couzens “using prostitutes,” in a manner that is derogatory and stigmatizing to sex workers.

“While his colleagues at the Metropolitan Police knew him as a family man, he was using escorts and had set up a false profile on a dating website,” The Times continues.

According to The Times, “at the end of the hearing Lord Justice Fulford asked the prosecution if evidence that Couzens was attracted to ‘brutal sexual pornography’ had been deliberately omitted. Couzens’s defense team said it was an account from a former colleague in 2002, when Couzens worked at a garage, that is ‘almost impossible to examine now.’”

The judge deliberately attempted to tie a report from someone who knew Couzens in 2002 about his supposed “attraction” to “brutal sexual pornography” into the 2021 crime. The information was so unreliable in legal terms that Couzens’ lawyers successfully managed to exclude it.

Anti-porn tabloid the Daily Mail, however, had no such legal qualms and wrote the following days before the sentencing: “The court heard in chilling evidence how earlier on the night Miss Everard was abducted her killer — who was ‘attracted to brutal pornography’ [—] had spent two hours driving through central and south London — prowling Kensington, Lavender Hill and Earls Court for a lone young woman to abduct.”

Perversions and Deviancy

On Sunday, three days after the sentencing, the Evening Standard — quoting reporting by Ruport Murdoch’s The Sun — headlined “Shocking Details Emerge about Wayne Couzens’ Preference for Prostitutes,” quoting anonymous police colleagues trying to change the conversation from their responsibility towards Couzens’ supposed engagement in commercial sex.

These nameless cops claimed that they “were stunned when [Couzens] arrived at the hotel party with a prostitute as everyone expected him to turn up with his wife. Speaking to the Sun on Sunday, they said: ‘He was quite open about her being an escort. He said, “My wife can’t make it so I’ve brought this brass with me.” He was laughing about it and said to me, ‘You know how it is, sometimes you have to pay for it.’”

The Evening Standard then refers to consensual sex work as part of Couzens’ “perversions.”

On Saturday, and based on no actual evidence whatsoever, the Metro newspaper imagined Couzens to be a modern-day Jack the Ripper.

”A criminologist believes ‘bullying’ Wayne Couzens’ behavior profile suggests he could have killed sex workers before his murder of Sarah Everard,” Metro writer Sam Petherick wrote. “The 48-year-old was a serving Metropolitan Police officer when he kidnapped, raped and strangled her to death in March. He was known by colleagues to enjoy violent porn and was in contact with an escort on the dating website match.com.”

Another tabloid, the Mirror, weighed in with “Wayne Couzens, sentenced to a whole-life term on Thursday for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, was a sexual deviant — and a police officer.”

Couzens, the Mirror continued, “led a warped life, with a court told he was attracted to hardcore porn. The former officer has also admitted using prostitutes, was suspected of taking body-building steroids and joked about being into “kinky stuff.’”

After all these incredibly loaded characterizations in the reporting, the opinion articles started pouring in, claiming this “monster” (according to a widely quoted remark by the victims’ family), this pervert and deviant, was but a symptom of something much larger in “the culture.”

‘He Liked Violent Porn’

“WHY WAS HE FREE?” the U.S. edition of Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun editorialized in all caps. “Wayne Couzens’ colleagues called him ‘The Rapist’ & KNEW he liked ‘violent porn’ after ‘incidents’ — so why was he free?”

U.S. Sun writer Ben Hill later explicitly mentions “liking violent porn” as a proposed arrestable offense.

This framing of the narrative was tailor-made religious anti-porn crusaders. The podcast for TWR (Trans World Radio) — which describes itself as “a multimedia organization, assisting the global church to fulfill the command of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all people” — hosted Nola Leach, CEO of CARE, which they describe as “a major Christian campaigning group.

CARE is now “calling on the government to curb internet pornography after it was revealed that Couzens had viewed what has been described as ‘brutal pornography’ before he committed his crimes.” No such thing was alleged in court and the one reference to “brutal pornography,” which was not allowed as legitimate testimony, is from 2002, a full half a decade before the rise of the free tubesites and at a time when video streaming was in its early stages because of bandwidth issues.

 CARE, however, claimed that these “revelations” shine “a spotlight on the role pornography plays in inspiring sexual violence.”

“The case of Wayne Couzens is an unspeakably awful example of what porn obsession can lead to — brutal sexual violence in the offline world,” Leach told Trans World Radio. “Couzens enacted what he had seen dramatized on screen in videos that are easily accessible to any person with the click of a button.”

“If we want to avoid more ‘Couzens’ in the years ahead, the government must stop men accessing content online that glorifies rape and violence, and fuels deeply sinister ideas about women,” she added, calling for full state censorship of sexual expression and adult content. “They must curb the porn industry and stop children accessing porn sites.”

A Predictable Poll After the Moral Panic

SkyNews polled 1657 adults in the UK in the last few days — after the media frenzy surrounding the case — and the survey indicated that “the majority of Britons support greater restrictions on internet pornography — and close to half believe sexually explicit content increases levels of violence against women.”

However, the YouGov/Sky News survey also “exposed a significant divide between the views of British men and women on a number of issues. While 80% of women would back tougher regulations concerning pornography on the web, just 46% of men said the same.”

According to the poll, 64% of women think that graphic videos and photos posted online contribute to violent incidents, but only 31% of men agreed.

‘And Then There’s Pornography’

Lastly, supposedly “progressive” news outlet The Guardian — which, as XBIZ has been reporting, has shown consistent stigmatizing bias against sex workers, routinely platforms SWERF and TERF voices, and has farmed out most coverage of sex work and adult content to a shadowy U.S. non-profit that only covers those topics through the lens of “human trafficking” — published yesterday an opinion piece by a Durham University academic that shifted the topic to “What is it about our culture that is enabling some men to abuse women?”

Assistant Professor Fiona Vera-Gray thinks that “pornography” is one of the key things to be discussed in the context of the brutal rape and murder of a London woman by a member of law enforcement.

“And then there’s pornography,” Vera-Gray sentences. “Here it’s not just about how women are represented, but about what is done to them and what they’re seen as desiring. It’s almost impossible to comprehend just how much internet traffic is directed at accessing porn. It has been claimed that porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.”

“We know that men are the majority of consumers (and producers) of online porn, but my own work has found that women’s use may be much higher — and more complicated — than we think. Research from the UK suggests that porn use begins during the early teenage years, though first-time viewing can be much earlier. And the kind of porn that everyone is seeing should be worrying us all.”

Vera-Gray then quotes the much ballyhooed — and easily debunked on clear methodological grounds — that “one in every eight titles on the front pages of the UK’s most popular porn websites described sexual violence against women and girls.”

“This isn’t sexually violent porn hidden in some dark recess of the internet, only accessed by a few bad men,” Vera-Gray continues. “This is mainstream pornography on mainstream sites with the mainstream message that sexual violence is sexy. And there are companies behind it making millions.”

Ceci N’est Pas Un Moral Panic

Stunningly, Vera-Gray then claims that the above statements are not “a call for censorship or a ‘moral panic.’” (Her quotation marks.)

But then she follows that incongruous sentence with a call for censorship, in an article written in the context of a moral panic and published by SWERF-championing editors: “The fact we found so much of it on the front pages shows that these companies have no real intention of regulating their own platforms. This is just one of the reasons why the amendments to the online harms bill currently being campaigned for (such as ensuring the big porn sites are within the scope of the bill), are so important if we’re to hold porn companies to account.”

Vera-Gray’s last sentence is a nonsensical utopian statement of belief that both trivializes the ordeal of victims of violent crimes of all genders and sexual orientations, and a blatant call for content policing by the state. “We could be the generation that ends violence against women and girls, if we start with changing not women’s behavior, but the stories we tell about them.”

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