Did you know that Canada doesn’t have a law against any kind of pornography?
For two dreadful weeks in April of 1985, when the Supreme Court of Canada threw out the obscenity laws, a veritable flood of pornography entered Canada. The government needed the consent of all parties to act, which it fortunately obtained. And it quickly put out an interim measure from the cabinet reintroducing controls on the importing and distribution of pornography. In the absence of a law, that is all that exists in Canada today.
According to Sergeant Bob Matthews, who heads up Project “P”, the Pornographic/Hate Literature Section of the Joint Forces of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Metro Toronto Police, this cabinet directive is the only “law” his anti-pornography unit and the Prohibited Importation Directorate of Canada Customs operates under.
The job of Matthews’ unit is to investigate the manufacture and importation of obscene magazines, books, videos, records, etc. He was speaking at the seventh annual seminar recently in Toronto, organized by Canadians for Decency, an umbrella group of 65 anti-pornographic organizations.
Three hundred thousand dollars worth of obscene materials were seized this year, Matthews said, three times as much as the previous year, and 91 charges were laid. The great difficulty, he continued, is determining what violates community standards. There is even a conflict between the Ontario and Quebec Supreme Courts as to what violates them. For example, Playboy magazine is considered pornographic but not obscene!
One pornography store in Toronto does a million dollars a year, often selling books which they buy for $1 or $2 for $4. A fine of $2,500 is of no consequence to them, he said. Over 500 magazines and sexual paraphernalia, worth $160,000, were seized recently from The Times Bookstore. Matthews urged all those in attendance to call Project “P” at 965-1736 if they come across any blatant pornographic magazines or videos, and his unit will lay charges.
To circumvent the 5,000 customs officers trying to prevent the importation of pornographic materials (97 per cent is imported), couriers are often used, and if they are questioned they claim not to know what is in the video. Matthews described a recent attempt to smuggle $109,000 worth of pornographic materials into Canada from Texas on a fruit truck; but the truck was found to be overweight and the cache of pornography is now in the hands of the customs department.
At the conference, Rev. Hudson Hilsdent, a Pentecostal minister who heads an inter-church committed on pornography, urged those present to form social issues committees in their churches or organizations to attack pornography in their communities. He quoted a judge who said that a video wasn’t obscene until it was shown on a screen.
Rev. Arnie Coones, a Pentecostal youth pastor, who was a rock and roll musician for ten years, conducted a spirited attack on pornographic and obscene rock videos, tapes and records, displaying disgusting covers of Iron Maiden, Venom and other rock groups and stressing the strong tendency towards devil worship in their “music”.
Rob and Kelly Shannon told their personal stories concerning pornographic addiction; until they succeeded in overcoming it, it was destroying their marriage. They recommended five practical steps to fight pornography, including knowing your problem, preparing yourself mentally, watching what you watch, and getting rid of involuntary thoughts as quickly as possible. Linda Murphy and Margaret Gillies, senior personnel with Canada Customs, described the difficulties they face in screening 120 pornographic magazines a month, determining what should be banned outright and what should have pages excised – all in the light of “accepted community standards.” Canadian standards regarding pornography, they maintained, are higher than those in the United States.
Mona Lehman, a Toronto TV producer and broadcaster, contended that the church had absented itself from the marketplace; to make an impact, it would have to become involved. Ninety-five per cent of battered women in transition homes, she reported, admit that pornography was involved. She stressed the power and value of prayer.
Any discussion of pornography is bound to remind us of the experience of Ted Bundy. Before dying in an electric chair in Florida, this serial killer said that as a young boy he first encountered “soft-core” pornography in the local grocery and drug stores. Then he graduated to pornographic literature of “a more graphic, explicit nature.” The most damaging kinds of pornography, he stressed, are those which involved violence – especially sexual violence. It is important to notice, however, that the less violent led him to the more violent.
The wedding of sex and violence, he said, “brings out the hatred that is just too terrible to describe.” He did not blame pornography for his actions, but still he made it clear the pornography conditioned him to do what he did.
How many more Bundys and Olsons, killing dozens of young girls and boys, will it take before the community clamps down on what is obviously a contributing factor to violent crimes? Bundy wept when he thought of all the suffering of his victims’ families; never, he acknowledged, would they recover from their grief.
Pornography, soft or hard, is not just self-destructive. It destroys the whole community. Some people say, “I would never buy that, but if that’s what you want go right ahead.”
They are very much mistaken. It sounds a bit like, “I don’t believe in abortion myself, but…” These people should have seen the poster at the Canadians for Decency conference, which read “Pornography – Acid rain to the brain.”
In 1984 pornography was estimated to be an eight-billion-dollar industry in the United States, 95 per cent Mafia controlled. There were 400 pornographic magazines, 800 “adult” movie houses and 400,000 pornographic video cassettes sold. More than 200 million people in North America view pornographic movies each week.
In 1983 the New York Telephone Company received 500,000 calls a day for it Dial-a-Porn message, earning the company $25,000 a day and the message maker $10,000 a day.
At the time, the top retailer of pornographic magazines in the U.S. was the 7-11 convenience stores chain. Bowing to the public outrage, it has since then pulled pornographic materials from the racks.
Sad to say, 80 per cent of local variety stores sell pornographic material. Next time you are in one, tell them what you think of them doing so. Twenty-four million people read Playboy and Penhouse on a regular basis.
Worst of all, a 1984 study by the U.S. Advisory Board for Social Concerns estimated that 70 per cent of pornographic magazines end up in the hand of minors. Did you know as well that there are 275 magazines published monthly dealing with child pornography, with children from three to fourteen on display?
Still federal Justice Minister Doug Lewis only talks about doing something about child pornography. His government’s previous Bill C-54 lapsed when the parliament recessed. The entertainment industry had succeeded in confusing the public, identifying the legislation with censorship and claiming that it infringed on civil liberties. Libraries told outrageous lies about how the classics would become unavailable, and curator of art galleries said they would have to cover up many of their pictures. Somehow they glossed over the fact that the bill contained an exemption for works which had artistic merit or education value.
What happens now? Rev. Hudson Hilsden thinks that the problem of pornography should be attacked in stages: “This time around we should tackle child pornography. The enforcement people would welcome that and I think even those concerned about censorship would have little trouble when it comes to children. “The second stage, he thinks, should deal with sexual violence. He considers that legislation outlawing it would come through “relatively intact.” He knows very well, however, that the question of sexual explicitness, the third step, will arouse the same backlash as Bill C-54 produced.
One important point needs to be stressed: soft-core porn leads to the hard stuff. The goal of left-wing feminists, in the recent controversy over the federal legislation, was to suppress violence and the degradation of women. They maintained that the depiction of obscene actions, such as mutually consenting explicit sexual scenes in movies, magazines, and videos were perfectly acceptable. Ted Bundy might have told them that these “perfectly acceptable” actions may lead on to hard porn, and to the risk of violence against innocent people. Too bad we can’t have him come back and give his expert testimony.