Scratch this

A thought arose of late when considering a recent Italian court decision that apparently makes it illegal for a man to scratch or adjust himself in public.

The Italian ruling clubs together all forms of “crotch-scratching”— prompted by discomfort or by superstition — as offensive. Certain actions are considered inappropriate for public viewing. They not only offend the “average man” — a useful alibi for legislators — but also taint the sanctity of the public sphere. The issues raised by the Italian ruling go beyond the obvious question of violating an individual’s right to touch himself. Suddenly, this behaviour becomes as suspect as a range of other ‘uncivil’ activities — spitting, peeing or bathing on the streets — which would be severely condemned in any Western society ….

…. There is nothing inherently dangerous about crotch-scratching. Unlike spitting or peeing publicly, it does not ‘pollute’ in any physical sense. It is rather like a moment of unconscious intimacy with oneself, like biting fingernails or tugging at one’s hair. The West remains unmoved by unabashed public display of sexual affection, but is perturbed by a superstitious habit.

The Italian legislation is the outcome of a history of sensibilities that is unmistakably Western. These sensibilities have been formed as much by increased awareness of civic norms as by a heightened self-consciousness (as in the flatulent woman on the plane). It is unlikely that India will ever have a law that forbids men to touch their privates in public (in which case, every second man would have to be fined by the minute.)

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Little Chimp’s not-so-great Hong Kong adventure

(Note: Cross-posted from the Southern California Writers’ Conference weblog.)

The illustration website Little Chimp Society reported last week that a Hong Kong company has plundered its artwork and published the images and a number of artist interviews conducted by Darren DeLito in a $100 book without permission.

DeLito, on his personal blog, notes,
'Colorful Illustrations 93°C' - Do Not Buy This Book!

The book is available online and in book stores and every image in it has been stolen from my community website and the websites of the illustrators featured – with the interviews being the backbone of the publication. Before anyone asks – the internet is publicly accessible not public domain, copyright still applies.

“The worrying thing is all images are included on a CD in the back. This seems to give the impression that all the featured images are clip-art or copyright free which is certainly not the case.” – Jonathan Edwards

The images’ file-names on the CD have not even been renamed in anyway, so you can see exactly where they were taken from. The interviews are word for word with all the typos and switching between English and American grammar. Also according to the Book the interviews were produced by the Art Director Bernadette J with no reference to the LCS.

DeLito has posted a gallery at Apefluff showing the extent of the alleged plagiarism, and it appears to be a disaster. He also has updated (1, 2) the situation a couple of times in his quest for information: “If we find the source, then we have someone to sue.”

A tip of the hat on this to artist Mark Kauffman, from whom I lifted the above image, and who has also noted, “I know I no longer snicker when large multi nationals like Microsoft or Time Warner bitch about piracy.”