By John Freedom

In November 1991 Psychic News ( the world's only independent Spiritualists Weekly Newspaper), printed two articles about the harassment which Psychic Stephen O'Brien was suffering during his psychic demonstrations. The media in Hull were particularly critical and in signing a new contract with his existing publisher Stephen had found unusual clauses which gave the publisher the right to re-write portions of the book which they disagreed with.

Stephen could not agree to these impositions and changed publishers. Subterfuge censorship of psychic and occult matters is occurring at an increasing pace and in such subtle ways that occultists and psychics are unaware that they are being made outcasts from society.

In an attempt to give a wider perspective and show just how Psychics and Occultists were being manipulated Chris Bray wrote an article for Psychic News Readers. The articles in PN 3102 about Stephen O' Brien's treatment by the Hull Daily Mail is an excellent example of how unfair contrived anti-occult censorship is occurring and is being misinterpreted by occultists as simply over zealous criticism. The editor of the Hull Daily Mail newspaper, Mr Wood, has conducted a continuous anti-occult campaign against all aspects of the psychic world. He was responsible for supporting and promoting Dianne Core's now discredited allegations concerning the imaginary threat of Satanic Child Ritual Abuse.

During a six month period in 1988 (when the Satanic Abuse hysteria had not yet hit the national headlines) Mr Wood published over FORTY articles attacking and defaming various aspects of psychism and occultism which involved the promotion of Dianne Core's unsubstantiated allegations.

The local antagonism became so bad that, in order to escape the persecution, one of the area's spiritualist churches actually took out a display advertisement in the paper to say that Spiritualism had nothing to do with Satanism. When the S.A.F.F. challenged Mr Wood for his bias during a complaint to the Press Council we pointed out that he had not once given psychics and occultists an opportunity to reply. His response was:

"The gist of your complaint is that I am pro-Christian and anti-Occult. I am happy to confirm the accuracy of your assessment."

In 1989 the S.A.F.F. produced the first ever Occult Census using a sample of 1500 people throughout the U.K. The results showed that most occultists and psychics are responsible and contributing members of society , holding influential positions and with a better than average intellectual ability.

We wrote again to Mr Wood and challenged him to print those facts. Mr Wood wrote back:

" A survey about the occult carried out by interested parties has little validity as a serious social document".

The S.A.F.F. immediately accused Mr Wood of hypocrisy and prejudice. We pointed out that he had printed statistical information by Dianne Core which was anything but a serious social document so no matter what he thought of the Census there was no reason for him to censor it.

Mr Wood then asked psychologist Keith Hearne, who is based at Hull university, to do an independent review the Census. When he had done so Mr Hearne kindly observed protocol and automatically sent us a copy of his review at the same time he sent the original to Mr Wood.

The review turned out to be excellent - but Wood never printed it.

Conspiracy of Media Self Interest

The Press Council (a voluntary body set up by the newspapers to police themselves) told us that under their code it was perfectly permissible for an editor to promote his own views to the exclusion of anyone else's and that Mr Wood was under no obligation to give those he criticsed a platform to reply.

The Hull Daily Mail has continued to carry anti-occult articles about Halloween and the visit's of psychics to the area. Small wonder then that an unfavourable report of Stephen O'Brien's demonstration appeared in that Newspaper.

The S.A.F.F. can only see this as a continuation of the anti-occult campaign which Mr Wood has historically perpetrated and we cringe at the gullibility of well-meaning local psychics who, in their ignorance about how their beliefs are being denuded, still think that they can obtain fairness and/or a balanced platform to communicate their beliefs to the local community which is continually being kept in the dark by the Hull Daily Mail.

This is not an isolated circumstance. There are many more instances of the victimisation of psychics' beliefs through censorship in publishing and the media. And the frequency of them is increasing.

There are continuous rumours from authors of occult and psychic books that their manuscripts are being rejected due to the present anti-occult climate.

Many insist that certain words have now become taboo.

Several pagan authors of my own aquaintence have stated that they were told not to present manuscripts with the word 'witchcraft' in them.

Stephen O'Brien, quite rightly refused to sign a contract which gave the publisher the right to change words, terms and phrases in his manuscripts.

Titles are being changed to make them less provocative. "The Black Arts" had been published with that title for years even though the content was in no way 'black' however it was re-issued as "The Magical Arts". Arthur Edward Waite's "Book of Black Magic" (a historical review) became "Book of Ceremonial Magic".

There were several mass market editions of The Complete Magic Primer when it was originally "Magic an Occult Primer", and so on.

Perhaps the worst example was during April 1991 when Penguin Books caved in to fundamentalist pressure and made a corporate decision not to reprint Aleister Crowley's book MAGICK and at the same time scrapped existing plans for a paperback edition. Love it or hate it MAGICK has been in print almost continuously since 1929 without any repercussions like this. Those people who want to know whether what the fundamentalists say about Crowley is true, can now never find out. The ramifications of such censorship is immense and the above example is particularly illuminative in that it was Penguin books who stood firm against death threats from Islamic fundamentalists for publishing Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses.

It would seem that censorship is only censorship when it concerns principles which the publishers' themselves adhere to (Rushdie is of course a member of the literati and in protecting him the publishing world is also protecting itself). Those principles carry little value, it would seem, when they concern a minority such as spiritualists and psychics.

The end result of caving in to such censorship is often missed by the ordinary person in the street. Once a publisher or the government gives in once to unnecessary censorship in this way then it becomes easier to obtain more censorship until it becoms a matter of rote when dealing with black-balled subjects.

In April 1985 Christian Evangelical Magazines started a campaign to ban occult books. (and please understand that whey they say 'occult' they mean spiritualist books too - even the day-to-day astrology magazines are in their sights). The fundamentalist network targeted libaries, children's books, book clubs, W.H. Smiths, all major publishers and individual occult bookshops whose owners were harrassed in various ways. You will be aware perhaps that the S.A.F.F. was born from the ashes of the Sorcerer's Apprentice Bookshop in Leeds which was burned to the ground by religious fanatics in 1989.

In 1990 the viciously anti-spiritualist REACHOUT Trust Christian Activist Group attempted to press W.H. Smiths into refusing to sell the monthly 'glossy' astrology / psychic magazines. Reachout claimed that magazines like Prediction and Horoscope were 'doorways to the occult' and proclaimed in their literature that they had pushed W.H.Smith's into making a corporate decision to put all 'occult' magazines on the top shelf alongside the soft-porn magazines.

Such a decision, linking the sincere beliefs and sacred intent of many genuine philosophies with manipulative pornography, would have been a gross insult.

The S.A.F.F. wrote to the chairman of W.H. Smiths about the matter. He replied that they had NOT taken any such decision and that the positioning of magazines was up to the individual store manager. However if you go into Smiths you WILL usually find those magazines on the top-shelf because locally fundamentalists will complain if they see them anywhere else so the effect is the same as capitulating to them.

Turning to today's censorship we are not simply talking about sporadic skirmishes by grass-roots locals. An indication of the ability of fundamentalists to push large organisations about using moral blackmail is exampled by the recent U-Turn by the BBC on their decision to screen the film LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.

Fundamentalists in the U.S.A. made this film a cause celebre and antipathy to it was spearheaded in the U.K. by David Alton MP, one of the leaders of the Movement for Christian Democracy.

Alton personally intervened with Marmaduke Hussey the then BBC chairman who reversed the decision, stopping the film from being shown.

Now you need to think about this to get the full gist. Over-sensitive Christians may have indeed been unnecessarily offended by scenes in this film (even though they had the choice not to tune in) but we are not here talking about pressure to cut scenes or change the viewing time. We are talking about censoring an entire film because of the spiritual terrorism of a large lobby of religious activists.

I've never seen Last Temptation of Christ. I might find it offensive and dislike it; or I may perceive it to be a valid work of artistic interpretation. Whatever, I reserve my right to exercise my choice in the matter and come to my own conclusion. It is that right of choice which the fundamentalists want to deprive us all of.

The S.A.F.F. was formed to keep track of subversive changes like this and to act as a pool of information exchange so that occultists and psychics and New Agers can be informed about the fundamentalist campaign and how it is successfully suppressing their beliefs. Anyone can contribute information or cuttings.

People who become members of the S.A.F.F. get regular information bulletins, benefit from collective support and volunteer help in situations where they are victimised and are eligible for our legal aid line

(c) world copyright holdler: The Sub-culture Alternatives Freedom Foundation (S.A.F.F.) Leeds, Yorkshire, U.K.

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