David Webb (1931-2012), anti-censorship activist

Although not an A List actor, David Webb was no stranger to film or television, but he will be best remembered as a tireless activist in the fight against censorship.

David Webb (1931-2012).

I never met David Webb and as far as I recall I spoke to him only once, many years ago, to pass on or take a message from a third party, or something equally trivial. He was the founder and director of the National Campaign for the Reform of the Obscene Publications Acts, known by the acronym NCROPA. I actually joined the organisation back in the 1990s, but never went to any of its meetings. I was though very impressed by the blurb from its membership application form, which he probably wrote, as for the most part NCROPA was a one man band:

“Individual freedom is daily being eroded in this country and in no area more insidiously than that concerned with freedom of expression and censorship. The highly organised, vociferous pro-censorship factions, in their role as self-appointed ‘guardians of the nation’s moral’s’, have, for far too long, succeeded in forcing their minority opinions on the much more liberal-minded, tolerant majority, often using highly emotive, dishonest propaganda to spread their repressive and bigoted doctrines. More recently they have been joined, in an ’unholy alliance’, by feminist extremists who, just as dictatorially, wish to force their equally repressive, authoritarian demands for more censorship on everyone else. Parliament has hitherto paid heed to these two dangerous factions out of all proportion to the numbers they represent or the soundness of their logic...”

I was in fact so impressed with that statement that I once quoted it piecemeal in a speech, but that’s another story. In spite of the profoundness and universality of that statement, David Webb was concerned primarily with sexual censorship and sexual freedom, and he had considerable success getting his message across. Libertarian Alliance Director Sean Gabb worked with him, and has touched on this in the obituary published on his blog.

In spite of David Webb being NCROPA’s driving force, it wasn’t entirely a one man band; my colleague Mark Taha was active in the organisation, and recalls him, among other things, picketing courts, and on one occasion confronting both Mrs Mary Whitehouse and then Home Secretary Douglas Hurd.

It is unclear what will become of NCROPA now, but at best it will certainly be less active; there is though, less need for it, because the work of David Webb and people like him has stimulated the anti-censorship movement greatly, something that is more necessary than ever with the ongoing attempts by all manner of agenda driven special interest groups to police the Internet.

David Alec Webb: born March 6, 1931, Luton; died June 30, Trinity Hospice, Clapham, South London.

[The above article was published originally July 3, 2012 with this photograph. NCROPA was not a one man band as suggested here; you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about it at the third linke below, and about David Webb at the second].

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