Nutty, absurd - and dangerous

From Brongersma
Jump to: navigation, search

Federal Justice Minister John Crosbie recently presented to the Canadian Parliament a bill which, if passed as it stands, would surely be one of the most reactionary anti-pornography laws of any western democracy. Pornography is defined by the bill in such a way as to include the visual depiction of any sexual activity - including heterosexual intercourse between consenting adults - unless a 'redeeming' artistic or educational justification can be found. The selling or distribution of such material would be a criminal offense, though as I understand it, mere possession would not. With regard to the depiction of sexual activities involving children, however, possession would incur a jail sentence and/or fine. And in this case the depictions referred to are not just visual.

Written descriptions of such activity are also included, and even material which advocated 'child sexual abuse' or treats it as normal. It has been pointed out that under these provisions the Nabokov's Lolita might be illegal. Certainly, if the bill passes as it stands, the legality of the NAMBLA Bulletin in Canada would be questionable.

Alongside the measures designed to deal with 'child pornography' are new measures to crack down on 'child sexual abuse'. Some perceived gaps in the law are filled, and maximum jail terms for those involved in sexual activity with children are set very high. Canadian sentences in the past have tended to be relatively light, but this new bill may well bring them inti line with the standards of brutality prevalent in the States. These provisions concerning children basically follow the unenlightened, punitively-oriented recommendations of a government commission chaired by Toronto sociologist Robin Badgely. The parts of the pornography bill dealing with 'standard' porn depicting adults have been met with some derision on the part of many Canadians and they may not survive intact. But what of the parts concerning children? Although eyebrows have certainly been raised at provisions that would apparently make Lolita illegal, the general feeling seems to be that the 'child abusers' are going to get what they deserve.

The fact is that some of the measures are distinctly questionable even in terms of currently accepted ideology. Pedophiles who are trying to conform to age-of-consent laws may perhaps be helped to do so if they can find relief through 'kiddie-porn'. Indeed, I believe it has been shown empirically that at least some pedophiles 'offend' less when they have access to written 'child pornography'. Yet the mere possession of such material would now be illegal. So ironically, it may be that the anti-possession clause will lead to more 'sexual assaults' on children, an effect presumably contrary to what the designers of this legislation intended. And of course, to say this is not even to touch on the criticisms that can be made of this miserable bill from outside the anti-child-sex ideology that inspired it.

source: Article 'Nutty, Absurd - and Dangerous' by Stephen James; NAMBLA Bulletin, vol. 7, n. 7; September 1986