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In this month's LM Online Sara Hinchliffe is shocked to discover that she is a 'domestic abuser': 'I am one of the women making men's lives a misery. Domestic violence has been redefined to include not just serious assault but also "shoving, pushing and grabbing". I've lost count of the number of times I've slapped, pushed and pinched partners. What about the time I hit one former boyfriend over the head with the hoover in the middle of a furious row? Surely that falls into the serious category, "use of a weapon"?'

Brendan O'Neill looks at how the literary community and feminists have welcomed with open arms the late poet laureate Ted Hughes' attempt at 'emotional openness'. After refusing to talk about his life with Sylvia Plath for over 30 years, Hughes finally opened his heart in Birthday Letters last year, his best-selling collection of poems which has scooped many major literary prizes. 'After his death', writes O'Neill, 'the literary world seem well pleased that they finally managed to drag Hughes into the bullring and "teased and pricked and goaded" him into "vomiting up" his secrets'.

John Fitzpatrick criticises Jack Straw's increasing determination to punish racist motivation in crimes: 'This is bad law in principle. In practice, it is a recipe for the sort of inquisition into people's minds that brings to mind, well, the Inquisition.' Fitzpatrick argues that the problem with taking into account racist motivation when considering a crime is that it belittles the gap between what a person thinks and what a person does, making New Labour a new kind of thought police.

Also: Bugwatch, the regular column on scares about the Millennium Bug - why the nuclear superpowers are more afraid of the bug than they are of anti-Bomb campaigners, and how Oasis are using the bug to excuse the fact that they won't have the first number one of the year 2000.

Plus: the what's NOT on guide - Andrew Calcutt's regular look at what has been banned, from Linda McCartney's expletive-ridden pop single to Hospital Doctor magazine which wrote a spoof article about a doctor trying to seduce an 11-year old girl with vodka and marijuana

Reproduced from LM issue 118, March 1999

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