Friday, 6 January 2012

Registered sex offender Chris Langham to visit Bristol cinema


The Cube Microplex (an independent, community media centre in Bristol's Stokes Croft - an area known locally as The People's Republic of Stokes Croft due to its commitment to promoting community and artistic values) is a valued and treasured alternative media venue in Bristol. The Cube hosts all manner of exciting events, performers and puts on any number of interesting nights. As a Bristolian, I love The Cube. 

But I was really stunned to hear that later this month (January 30, 2012), they are welcoming registered sex offender Chris Langham to take part in a masterclass about filmmaking. I'm sure no one needs reminding that in 2007 he was convicted for downloading filmed child abuse pornography. I know there are a number of people in Bristol who are horrified about this event and have contacted The Cube direct to complain, myself among them - and I've pasted my email below in case anyone else wants to send it, or modify it and send their own version.  

The email address is cubeadmin@cubecinema.com.

--

I see on your listings that you are screening Black Pond for three nights, a new film featuring Chris Langham. And that he is coming to attend an event at the Cube on Monday, January 30.

I was really shocked to see that you are not only screening a film starring a convicted paedophile, but also that you are inviting him to your cinema for patrons to ask questions about filmmaking. It was only in 2007 that Chris Langham was found guilty and convicted on 15 counts of paying to download images and films of filmed child abuse. He did not attempt to deny these charges, and has rightly served time in prison for them as well as being made to sign the register of sex offenders. However, the fact he has spent time in prison for these offences does not make up for the fact that he committed them in the first place.

That The Cube can now sweep this appalling behaviour under the carpet and now welcome Langham into its cinema as if nothing has happened upsets and offends me. I had understood The Cube to be a community-minded venue with a conscience, so your decision to include a man found guilty of accessing filmed child abuse (a known sex offender) really grates with me.

Please could you let me know your reasoning for including a man who was found guilty, and admitted his guilt, of this despicable and hateful crime in your listings, and worse, inviting him to your cinema to take part in a masterclass?

I ask you to please reconsider having him or his film on your schedule, and I will certainly be thinking again before attending any future events at the Cube (a unique community arts venue that I treasure and value in Bristol), as clearly you don’t have the principles I thought you had.

That Langham has been included on your listings at all disappoints me. And if The Cube doesn’t address the complaints about his inclusion (and ideally act to cancel his film’s screening, and certainly cancel his personal appearance), I for one will be taking my custom elsewhere.

26 comments:

  1. Just one point about language - the term 'chil pornography' is actually v offensive to survivors of child abuse. it is a term coined by offenders to mainstream and normalise what is filmed child rape and abuse. Although i don't think porn necessarily means consent, in mainstream conversation it does, and there is no consent involved in the filming and distributing of the abuse of children. Child porn has become a popular term in the mainstream media, but it is both a lie and offensive. This isn't intended as a criticism of course, just a point about how we use language.

    Thanks!

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  2. Thanks, Sian. I've now amended the wording as obviously I wouldn't want to offend or upset any survivors. An unintentional oversight by me.

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  3. It's a mistake to say Langham is 'a convicted paedophile.' He was convicted of downloading obscene images of children, not of child sexual abuse. The trial judge stated that 'Paedophilia is not an issue in this case.'

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  4. It's incredible isn't it??? Alternative Stoke's croft, overlooks it's punter and now it's paedophiles....

    Shame on you. I wonder if as many who opposed Tesco will bother to turn up to this.

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  5. Langham has paid a very high price for downloading a handful of images. It's time he was given a second chance.

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  6. I am a cube member and volunteer but I'm NOT here to speak on their behalf; these are my own opinions and have nothing to do with anyone else at the cube. Please don't treat this post as anything to do with the cube, because it isn't. I cannot stress this enough. I'm also a BFN member but I'm obviously not speaking on their behalf either.

    I am also well aware of Chris Langham's crime and the harm he's contributed to. I'm not condoning his actions and I'm not an apologist.

    Chris Langham is a sex offender but that doesn't mean he can't be rehabilitated. He's served time in prison and signs the sex offenders' register. If you don't think that's enough then campaign for sentencing reform, don't take the law into your own hands by harassing anyone who works with him. That's Sun reader justice and as feminists we really ought to be above that.

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  7. Thanks for your comment, David. The Chris Langham visit to the Cube has caused a lot of strong opinions among people - either (like me) thinking it's completely inappropriate for him to be forgiven so easily, or (like yourself) thinking he's served his time and should be free to move on. I'm unclear about why you think I'm taking "the law into my own hands and harassing anyone who works for him", when I have simply (as a member of the Cube) written the Cube an email to express my opinion - the Cube have now written me a reply explaining their reasoning. I haven't contacted Langham or anyone who works for him, so quite what you're basing your rather patronising closing comment on I'm not sure.

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  8. Hello, I am a Cube volunteer, as you can imagine there's been much discussion about this among the volunteers.

    My personal view is the following . . .

    I do not think any cinema programming can be fully apolitical, and obviously something which is related to the most volatile subject possible can only be very political indeed.

    I do think, as an arts centre, the primary concern should be the worth and relevance of the film 'Black Pond' but don't feel that means being naive about the very serious wider context relating to it's lead actor's crime.

    This is something which I believe needs very serious consideration in deed.

    Having looked hard at all the evidence available - as hard as procrastinating finishing a tax return in January can be - which is pretty hard - I've come to the following conclusions about the contentious issue of Chris Langham, and/or a film with him in it, being at The Cube . . .

    I believe, based on what I believe to be reliable sources, the following: 1) he is not a paedophile 2) he did view images of abuse in the context of research, not sexual interest - which I do not mean to imply is mitigating, but is important to distinguish from the acts of someone who does have a sexual interest in children. 3) He has served official punishment in the form of a prison sentence 4) The toxic association of the subject, I believe, has meant mistreatment from the media, the public, and an exclusion from rehabilitation from fearful actors and industry 5) Considering 4 & 5 I do not believe it is the Cube's duty to exclude him as a form of unofficially sanctioned universal perdition 5) I believe he is a survivor of child abuse deserving of compassion, though, again, I do not believe that mitigates his crime. 6) I believe he is a very talented actor with an incredible creative track record, giving a key performance in an ambitious UK film with a D.I.Y. ethos politically aligned to The Cube ( which again isn't to forgive his crime - I don't believe what he did do should ever be condoned, for any reason - but do believe this judgement of creative worth is important in considering if it's someone we should programme, before then considering whether they are still appropriate when bringing in wider issues. This should be point number 1 really, because if it was Danny Dyer, for example, we wouldn't need to move on to a 2nd point . . . )

    These points considered, as a political act, I feel The Cube is absolutely right to host Chris Langham in terms of societal rehabilitation (which I believe is crucially distinct from any sort of endorsement for his crime).

    I also feel it is important that potential controversy is not exploited for The Cube's publicity, so - politically - I feel it is right to promote and list the film and Q&A without reference to the legal case or it's wider context, but we should be prepared to address any and every individual's concern related to the wider context in an manner appropriate if and when they are raised.

    I would also like to direct anyone interested in this to the film-makers' statement on why they cast Chris Langham, here: http://blackpondfilm.com/whywecastchris.html

    I would just like to finish by adding, thanks for reading and state these are my own personal conclusions at present and I do not wish to imply any other conclusions reached on and around this issue were, or are, anything other than valid.

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  9. I would also like to respectfully request the use of the particular wording "child abuse pornography" be replaced with a phrase such as "images of child abuse" in echo of Sian's point that, also in my opinion, the using the term "pornography" in relation to images of child abuse is highly offensive to survivors, and such language can be seen as a normalising tactic used by offenders and enabled by use in the media.

    I would also like to request considering rewording parts of the suggested email as I personally believe it is incorrect to to use the term "paedophile" in relation to Chris Langham. In the case the judge accepted double-verified expert advice which declared categorically that he has no sexual interest in children and is not a sexual predator. I personally find the idea - though not the expression of the idea - that The Cube would host a paedophile particularly offensive, so would be very appreciative of such an amendment.

    I would also respectfully request that you remove references to paying for images of child abuse as this, I believe, was not the case.

    To the best of my understanding, the specifics of his crime was the viewing of 4 images (the legal use of image does encompass moving images) and possessing a further 11 which were unviewed but present on his computer.

    I would like to add, these "images" are reported as being of the most highest category of classification of this type of material - I personally found the short descriptions of them in the court reports absolutely horrifying, and, as I said in my previous comment I do not seek to present the fact they were accessed without payment, or in a context without a sexual intent, mitigating - I believe there is no acceptable reason to access such material.

    I respectfully request making these alterations as, in my opinion, I feel it is appropriate to present the specifics of the case as accurately and sensitively as possible to respectfully allow readers to arrive at appropriately informed conclusions.

    ( continues . . . )

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  10. ( . . . continues )

    I also have two further suggested alterations related to The Cube rather than the legal matters: I would like to additionally suggest a replacement for the use of the word "masterclass", and the reference to "Stokes Croft".

    I request this because I believe the term "masterclass" is misleading when used to described the Q&A session on the film. My reading of the Cube's text, which does feature this word, was that it referred back to the film / the filmmakers achievement as a "masterclass in low-budget filmmaking, rather than forward to the Q&A session, which is detailed in the next paragraph in the copy. I feel the use of the word "masterclass", could be interpreted as inflammatory, particularly in a text containing the word "paedophile". I would respectfully ask that his appearance could be described as "A Q&A session in relation to the film." to avoid misinterpretation.

    The issue of "Stokes Croft" I feel is a minor one, but I mention because The Cube has always made a point of it's being outside the official borders of Stokes Croft - it is technically located in "Lower Kingsdown". I do not believe the precise geographical position is greatly important, however I do feel it is inappropriate to align The Cube with "The People's Republic of Stokes Croft" which is a specific group with a political agenda which includes elements with which The Cube disagrees. I would respectful ask this is reworded also, if you agree it is appropriate to do so.

    I would also like to apologise for a minor error I made in my last comment - I appear to have made two number 5 points!

    As stated I would like to make it clear I would very much like the presentation of the information relating to such a sensitive issue to be as accurate as possible, which is why I draw attention to what I perceive as appropriate to alter for reasons of accuracy or ambiguity. However I will of course completely respect whatever decision you come to in regard to my suggestions, and would like to take the opportunity to thank you for allowing me to present my views.

    I would like to finish again with thanks for reading and state these are my own personal conclusions at present and I do not wish to imply any other conclusions reached on and around this issue were, or are, anything other than valid.

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  11. Mr Hopkinson, thanks for your comments. I respect your opinion that you believe Chris Langham’s film and talk should take place at The Cube, although I do not agree with you, but we are all entitled to our opinions.

    I’ve read your requests that I change the wording of my blog post, but I am not going to do this – my blog is my space to write about issues as I find them, although I welcome people adding their comments (as you have done) whether they wish to agree, add something, or put forward a differing view. However, I am not prepared to rewrite any of my posts to make them more agreeable to one individual. Sorry!

    After Sian corrected my choice of language a few days ago, I did make some amendments, but I do not plan to amend my post further. This email has also been sent to The Cube, who have replied, so it would be pointless my rewording it here now. I get the impression The Cube has had quite a number of emails on this matter.

    As for your request that I change the word “masterclass” (despite it being in The Cube’s publicity material) and references to The Cube’s nearness to Stokes Croft, I would need more information from you about what your connection to the event/venue is and why you feel so strongly about these small points on someone else’s blog (you aren’t Langham under an alias, are you – hence your continued interest in this post, awareness of the details of the case, and in wanting to amend my terms relating to his trial?!). The information relating to Langham’s trial was sourced from reputable news sites (including this one - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/6928288.stm), so I am not going to amend them. Thanks for your comments.

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  12. Hi, I wasn't going to comment as am sure Mr Hopkinson can defend himself, but I really felt I have to take issue with the last comment, esp as I have known MH for a long time and would call him a friend. Even meant as a joke it isn't fair to suggest that someone who disagrees with you is the person you are criticizing, esp when you have called the person a paedophile! I have talked about this issue a lot over the last week and am still not quite sure what I think of it all, but hearing the cube's reasons and MH's thoughts has been interesting and certainly encouraged me to think through the issue more. Also, and again I don't want to speak for Mr Hopkinson but he has repeatedly been very supportive of feminist activism in Bristol and was very vocal against Hooters which you campaigned on. Not that this matters and I would prob have left this comment anyway. I just feel that your response to his comments, by joking he is Chris Langham in disguise, was inappropriate and unfair.

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  13. Sian, Mr Hopkinson – I asked, as a flippant aside, if Mr Hopkinson was Langham as I suddenly had a paranoid moment that (due to Mr H’s three detailed comments, all requesting big rewrites) Langham himself might be commenting, and for obvious reasons felt uneasy about the idea. I don’t know Mr Hopkinson at all, having not encountered him online before or (to my knowledge) in person – however, if Sian knows you, Mr Hopkinson, then you’re clearly not Langham, so I’m sorry for my doubting paranoid mind! No offence intended.

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  14. Thank you MadamJMo for your reply, and thanks Sian for verifying my identity ( and hello! ),

    MadmJmo, as I said in my comments, I totally respect your decision not to make my suggested alterations, and thank you again for allowing my views in this section.

    As, I think, is clearly established by Sian's comment, I am not Chris Langham! ( and thank for your apology - no offence was taken as I didn't see the first comment before the 2nd had already arrived! )

    My name is David (Hopkinson), and, as I stated in the opening of my first comment, I am one of the Cube volunteers - this is the basis of my interest.

    Personally, I consider myself a feminist and to be supportive of feminist issues.

    When this issue came up at The Cube I wanted to ensure I was as well informed as possible on this very serious issue to arrive at what I could feel be an appropriate conclusion for me.

    All The Cube volunteers on the internal email list have seen your letter, and all had an opportunity to contribute to the collective answer, as a great many did.

    As detailed in the reply, The Cube is a non-hierarchical community co-op and volunteers hold many, and many opposing views so the compiling of the answer was quite involved and, I felt required further research of the specific "facts" (e.g. the court ruling etc).

    I am confident the issues I raised in previous comments are thoroughly researched and as accurate as is possible at this time.

    As expected with such an issue, The Cube has received letters - both in support of our programme and also calling for us to make alterations to our programme.

    Similar to the situation with this blog we respect if opinion is made that we should make alterations but - and I must stress this does not represent ALL volunteers - so far have disagreed that it is the right thing to do for specific given reasons expanded on in detail in the replies.

    I personally feel it is unfortunate for The Cube that what I believe are factual errors remain in an email text that has been presented as a set text for making complaints to The Cube . . . my feeling is that for potential replies to complainants that are using this text in the future, The Cube will need to address what is felt to be incorrect letter by letter, before being able to then go on to comment on the subject in what I believe to be an appropriately informed manner.

    I feel if the set letter expressed the situation in a way that both The Cube and the potential complainant were in basic agreement concerning the nature of the situation from the outset, this would be quicker and easier to enable the actual discussing of the stances on, and opinions about, that situation.

    However, as stated I respect your decision to leave the post and letter unaltered.

    Thanks again for reading, and giving an opportunity for these views to appear in this comments section,

    with respect,

    David.

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  15. Thanks, David, I appreciate your comment - and for clarifying why you felt the changes to my post were needed, which I now understand. I will give this some thought overnight (as I need to go out now) and have a fresh look at the post tomorrow. But no promises I'll change anything! All the best, J.

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  16. Thank you, I really appreciate that,
    all the best,
    D.

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  17. As two days have passed, I assume you have decided to maintain your original conclusion after a fresh look at my comments.

    As I have consistently said, I respect this decision.

    I am commenting again, because I just wanted to make absolutely clear, what I feel is a very important, issue, in terms of The Cube's reputation and my own.

    I am was at no point making a request that you change your expressed opinion or opinions. I would not like anyone to think this was the case.

    I was requesting amendments of words & phrases I felt inaccurate or misleading, upon which opinions could, would and should be made.

    My comments are not made in defence or apology of Chris Langham - they are made in defence of The Cube. ( And in the suggested use of the wording "images of child abuse" in support of survivors.)

    I believe The Cube has been falsely accused of the following: 1) hosting a paedophile, 2)hosting someone who paid for images of abuse 3) being aligned with PRSC (who have political views not shared by The Cube).

    Apologies for not being able to put this more succinctly - but my basic point is this: I am not objecting to the expression of opinion, I am objecting to what I see as false assertions.

    Thanks again for reading, and giving an opportunity for these views to appear in this comments section,

    with respect,

    David.

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  18. just to clarify a couple of things here though too, from another cube volunteer (myself)

    Indeed it would be wrong to say the cube are: 1) hosting a paedophile, 2)hosting someone who paid for images of abuse 3) are aligned with PRSC (who have political views not shared by The Cube).

    But it would be perfectly right to say the cube are: 1) hosting a registered sex offender, 2)hosting someone who obtained and viewed some category 5 images of child abuse, 3) not aligned with PRSC specifically (as they have political views shared by some but not everyone at the cube).

    I add this because even though it is right to correct the false statements, the arguments are not entirely based on the specifics of the facts stated, and as has clearly been pointed out, most at the cube do not object to the expression of any opinion.

    I point this out because I feel this is a very important point in terms of the cubes reputation and my own.

    Also there are few 'facts' I feel should be added to the letter of response that was sent from the cube to people who complained about the event, which are listed here:

    1. Chris Langham was also found not guilty of the charge against him of rape of a minor (14 year old). Her evidence in court was dismissed as she was an unreliable source of information due to her mental health issues.
    2. He didn't view the majority of the 15 videos he downloaded, they were category 5 images. The worst kind. A significant point.
    3. The police officer in charge of the Chris Langham investigation was of the opinion that Langham was a paedophile after the judge had ruled him not to be. A fact worth noting as the police would have have been the best informed people on all the facts of the case, although most likely not the most professional to make this judgement.
    4. There is no evidence both for or against Chris Langham having undergone an official rehabilitation programme in his 'short' time in prison. However since his release he has upheld the belief that while he does accept that his charge was correct, he doesn't seem to accept that his excuses for obtaining the images are entirely unjustified. This would also suggest he has not undergone any official rehabilitation programmes. I mention this mainly opinion as a lot has been said in the cube about his rehabilitation. While prison is punishment it is in no way specific rehabilitation, also while he could have received private psychotherapy (other than the stuff for entertainment on TV) this would also not be seen as official rehabilitation on a sex offenders programme and again while he will have been assessed for his mental condition this is also not specific rehabilitation.

    I recognise that some of the comments here may spark further comments and even need for more corrections, however I uphold that it is my opinion that the additional points should have been added to the cubes letter - even though I didn't raise them at the time and they may well have been included, I am not suggesting that they were ignored just that the letters had already been sent before I decided that I thought they ought to be included.

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  20. Hi microfilm, thank you for the reply - only correction I would offer is in regard to your point 4.

    Hope this correction (below) is useful. I will refrain from addressing points of nuance, as personally really don't wish to go into more back & forth *commenting* as exchanges elsewhere with MadamJmo have concluded with agreement to disagree (or, indeed, agree) depending on specific *conclusions* and *understandings* of the researched facts, as separate from the facts themselves.

    In that spirit, I would like to offer a correction to the following, based on my research:

    "However since his release he has upheld the belief that while he does accept that his charge was correct, he doesn't seem to accept that his excuses for obtaining the images are entirely unjustified."

    According the research I have done, this is incorrect.

    Possibly you are thinking about his admission that at the time he thought he was justified as a survivor and an artist to access the material, but he has stated he *is* apologetic and ashamed of his arrogance in believing that could have been the case, and agrees with the majority conclusion that there is no justification at all for viewing such images.

    This position is referenced in the directors statement on why they cast him:

    http://blackpondfilm.com/whywecastchris.html ( Paragraph 9 )

    I linked to this statement in my 1st comment on this blog.

    Re: the opening of the same point (4),i.e.

    "There is no evidence both for or against Chris Langham having undergone an official rehabilitation programme in his 'short' time in prison."

    I haven't researched evidence for or against his official rehabilitation, but would assume that such evidence surely *must* exist!

    I assume anyone placed on the Sex Offender's List would be obligated to partake in professional rehabilitation.

    I sincerely hope so.

    I think it's important that readers can clearly distinguish between professional rehabilitation (i.e as an offender), and his rehabilitation in *his* profession (i.e. as an actor)

    The Cube's role being the latter. Personally - if I can let a little comment in ( with the sincere hope of it not escalating into an never ending dialogue ) I don't feel anyone *has* actually presented the latter as an *alternative* to the former.

    In the spirit of calling out the presentation of disinformation I felt it was appropriate to point the above out.

    This offer of a factual correction based on research is *not* intended as personal, or a comment on any conclusions drawn.

    I hope it is clear the offer of this correction is not intended to be tendentious in relation to whatever conclusions may be drawn, by you or anyone reading this.

    As ever, however you wish to react, my respect and thanks for allowing such corrections to be offered goes to you, and madamjmo as blog host.

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  22. Comments under this story are now closed. And I am refraining from replying to the most recent comments, simply leaving them there as statements from their authors. Thanks.

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  23. "I assume anyone placed on the Sex Offender's List would be obligated to partake in professional rehabilitation.

    This is not the case - a relatively small amount of UK prisons offer the official rehabilitation programme, and whether the offender is obliged to take part depends on their specific sentence, the minimum sentence an offender must be on to receive rehabilitation is 3yrs - although exceptions can be made, the course is longer than CL's 3and a half Months time served. info I got from the CPS website - sorry no direct link but it's a very interesting site. And apologies for saying there is no evidence of his rehabilitation, what I meant was no one has put forward any evidence in any of the cube statements made about his rehabilitation.

    And you are perhaps right (perhaps as in I think you are right and for the purposes of this discourse I will believe you are right), no one at the cube has suggested that community rehabilitation should be an alternative to official rehabilitation, but people at the cube have said that they believe he has been rehabilitated and therefore he should be allowed to continue his rehabilitation socially, part of which would be his attendance at the cube. Having not seen any evidence myself of official rehabilitation I have concluded to disagree.

    And in terms of his acceptance of what he has done, I haven't seen a specific example of a quote directly from CL that convinced me he was fully accepting that his excuses (both that he was an abuse survivor and that it was research) for obtaining the videos were so inadequate as to not be even brought up in his discussion of his offence. But the main point here again is that it is my opinion, having read as much as I have to date on the subject, that he does not seem to have accepted his excuses are entirely unjustified. It being my opinion, it does not stand to be corrected. So we are also free to agree to disagree on this point which I am happy to do so.

    There are so many facts about the case we could never base our judgement on them all as we do not have access to them all. We can only make our own judgement of his offence based on what we have read and researched and our own observations and experiences. Agreed those facts should be as accurate and detailed as possible.

    I do not take anything personally as I understand you are trying to make your point based on as much evidence as you have currently. As am I. I full respect your right to your opinion.

    I decline your offer of a correction as I believe I can make my assumptions and interpret the facts we have at our disposal, into my opinions, in the same way we all do. I did state that point 4 was mainly my opinion, which I have based on some evidence I had gathered from several of his statements both past and recent.

    I am mainly taking this opportunity to let as many people possible know that there are several sides to this argument, all of which are relevant, and importantly many of them have been discussed at the cube to enable an informed majority decision to be made by the cube on this event.

    However, I, as an individual who happens to be a cube volunteer need to distance myself from the majority decision for my own personal / political / moral reasons. (not to suggest I think the cube is immoral just that our politics / morals differ on this occasion)

    Thank you

    Chris

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  24. hi madamjmo

    can i ask why you have closed your comments? - i would have thought that there was a lot more that needed to be said on the issue and i thought the comments were all very gracious, although i have seen you have come under a little unfair comment on what is an emotional issue..?

    of course you have no need to answer me but i would be interested to know why you have closed down the argument with the comments not quite being balanced out..?

    thanks

    chris

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  25. Sorry to write again, but I just wanted to ask a favour and allow me to publish my response to Mr Hopkinson. I only ask, as the final couple of lines are a public distancing of myself from the cube politics and morals on this issue... and that even though I don't wish to boycott the cube over this issue, rather I want to try and motivate people form within to become a little more politically active and aware - I do want to make my feelings known in opposition to their point of view.

    So if at all possible could you please publish my first comment made after you closed the thread and not this one or the other one immediately before this. well you can if you like but they are pretty boring!! :)

    last time I will write I promise - and thanks for being such a good host!!

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  26. I have published the final three comments as requested by their author, but comments really are CLOSED on this now! I am not publishing any further comments under this post.

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