Child sexuality article proves legal minefield for magazine

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A Saskatoon art magazine will censor itself to avoid possible criminal charges over famous photographs they intended to use to illustrate an essay on child sexuality and censorship. Four of Blackflash magazine's volunteers on the board of directors resigned before the decision to leave out eight photographs of children from the upcoming winter edition. The board reversed an earlier decision because two printers refused the job, saying they couldn't risk the cost of a lengthy legal defence.

The images include two well-known photographs of young girls with their genitals showing. The photographs drew a warning from the magazine's lawyer, who told them the current child pornography law is vague and broad ranging and could include the pictures by Robert Mapplethorpe and Charles Dodgson, who is better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll. [...]

"All of the images are part of legitimate art and library collections. We purchased reproduction rights for all of them, so you can see the framework we're working in," said managing editor Lissa Robinson. The circumstances in which photographs are taken and displayed are important, said Isobel Findlay, the former board chair who resigned on Oct. 23. "It's not the image itself. It's what values and attitudes you bring to bear in viewing it, what is happening in the contemporary context in society." [...] It is difficult to discuss the issue without showing the photographs referred to in the essay, she said. [...]

The article, titled The Last Taboo, Child Sexuality and Censorship, was written by Kyla and James Legard, an Oxford educated couple who taught art history and sociology at the University of Calgary. They are moving to England and didn't have an appetite for a long legal battle either, Robinson said.

source: Article 'Child sexuality article proves legal minefield for magazine' by Betty Ann Adam; www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/local/story.html?id=808b6f70-eb1b-44d3-92cd-7725e86aaae3&p=1; The StarPhoenix; 2 November 2006