Mr G pointed this article
out to me yesterday, and whilst I was a little incredulous at the time, the implications of it have started to sink in a little.
Basically, what is described in the link is the guy in question writing some [pretty distasteful, by the sounds of things] RPF. In it, he fantasised openly about kidnapping the members of Girls Aloud and then killing them. There is no link to the story/fantasy and probably no way that this could be found even if I wanted to, but it raised a number of interesting questions for me.
This is the first time that I've heard of someone writing what is essentially RPF being called out by any kind of authority for doing it, but this wasn't just a ticking off. The Criminal Prosecution Service thought there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the writer under the Obscene Publications Act and, whilst this was unsuccessful, it raises questions about when something that someone finds offensive crosses the line and becomes an offence.
I've written some stuff that I've considered to be pretty harmless fantasy that references real people, and read plenty more than I've written. I can totally understand that what I've written might be considered offensive by some, but it comes clearly labelled as fiction, as fantasy, and as intended to be inoffensive. But the fact that this guy's piece was on a website for fantasies seems not to have dissuaded the CPS from taking out a prosecution against the writer.
The fact the CPS decided to take out this case might be more due to nature of the piece, in which the author fantasised about kidnapping and killing these girls. It could be that the concern was that this showed an expression of some kind of intent rather than something less sinister. However, they chose to prosecute under the Obscene Publications Act rather than for a perceived intention to cause harm. I've come across quite a few pieces of fiction in the RPF arena that concern the death of real people who aren't actually dead; talk about kidnapping or holding people hostage; or graphically describe rape or other sexually or non-sexually violent acts. I wonder whether the issue was that he was describing the fantasy in the first person and it was that which made it seem dangerous enough to require him to be arrested and tried for it. But again, I'm not really sure since the original source material is clearly not available.
I'm unsure how I feel about this. I've always been pretty clear that RPF to me is all about fantasy and nothing to do with reality. I like to write and read about people I find attractive and their relationships with other people I find attractive, and the details of their real lives are important to me in the same way as canon is important to me in fiction about TV or movie fandoms. I know that some people find it unpalatable or creepy, and that's fine. But prosecution? I'm not quite sure how I fit that into my perspective.