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Man wrongly arrested for watching tiger porn hits back at U.K. law

tiger

Can you tell the difference between Tony the Tiger and an actual tiger? These British police couldn’t.

Nearly 250 years ago, the poet William Blake penned these immortal lines: “Tyger tyger, burning bright/In the forest of the night.” We’re not sure, but we think Blake’s poem was referring to the case of 51-year-old Andrew Holland, a U.K. bus driver in who was arrested for possession of illegal “tiger porn,” only for the charges to be dropped when authorities learned the video was not, in fact, of an actual tiger, but of a man having sex in a tiger costume.

In a plot twist straight out of a Monty Pyton sketch, Holland was arrested and charged with possession of extreme pornography after authorities learned he had been sent a video of what they thought was a woman having sex with an actual tiger. (He claimed the video had been sent to him by his friends as a “joke.”)

When prosecutors actually watched the video with the sound turned up, however, they were surprised to hear not the sounds of grunting and whining and guttural mewling (I mean, I’m just assuming that’s what a tiger having sex sounds like), but a human actor saying the Frosted Flakes catchphrase, “They’re grrrrrrreat.”

Although authorities dropped the case shortly afterward, Holland appears to still be traumatized by the incident. He says that while he was out on bail, he was the target of an extreme vigilante campaign, with people calling his house and threatening his life every night. He also says that because of his arrest, he was prevented from seeing his daughter for more than a year, and suffered a heart attack as a direct result of the stress caused by the incident.

Now, Holland is teaming up with British anti-censorship activists to protest the extreme porn law with which he was initially charged. He’s partnered up with the British civil liberties organization Backlash to lobby the government to change the law, arguing that it unfairly targets ordinary citizens like Holland and infringes on their freedom of expression.

“This law threatens anyone with a sex life they want to keep private,” Backlash spokesperson Jon Fuller told the Mirror. “It threatens ordinary members of the public who exchange dirty jokes by phone and over the Internet. Potentially criminalizing millions of people is a disproportionate consequence of a law not based on harm and with no clear benefit.”

Enacted in January 2009, Britain’s extreme porn law (which is technically referred to as Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act) makes it a criminal offense to possess pornographic images that appear to depict bestiality, necrophilia, acts “which result in or are likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts, or genitals,” and acts which “appear to threaten a person’s life.”

The law is a source of controversy in the U.K., in part because it draws little distinction between consensual and non-consensual or simulated and non-simulated sex acts: It doesn’t matter if the sexual acts in question are real or staged, only if “a reasonable person looking at the image” would think it was authentic. It’s unclear if Holland’s story will have any effect on the public perception of the extreme porn law, but either way, it seems pretty clear that the British police who arrested him need to take a refresher course in basic zoology.

H/T The Mirror | Photo by Keith Roper/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 
EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.