Although Bill C-114 died when the Mulroney government prorogued parliament in September, the following critique is highly relevant as the federal government intends to introduce legislation to curb pornography. The critique is written by Katherine de Jong, a law professor at the university of Western Ontario; Michael Dwyer, a seminarian at St. Peter’s, London; J.K. MacKenzie, Q. C., President of Christians Against Pornography; and Inspector John Robinson of the London Police Force.

There has been a great hue and cry from civil libertarians, feminists and the media (censorship, denial of rights, a return to the Victorian era, etc.) about Bill C-114 proposed by the former Minister of Justice, John Crosbie, to amend the Criminal Code. The criticism has been unfounded. Furthermore, at the other end of the spectrum, for Christians who have supported the Bill, it is a Trojan horse.

What have been overlooked are the defenses that the Bill makes available. Respecting theatrical performances, which would include moving pictures and live shows, it would be legal for a theatre owner to present a performance “that involves actual or simulated acts of vaginal, anal or oral intercourse, masturbation or group sex” if he or she could prove that “the performance is a work of artistic merit.”

If the Bill is passed, no court could hold as a matter of law that such acts could not be works of “artistic merit.” It will be left to the skill and ingenuity of writers and producers to conceive the factual setting.

Neville Avison, Senior Criminal Justice Policy Coordinator with the Department of Justice, in commenting on the Bill stated: “What this is designed to do (to allow) erotica, which is depictions of intercourse, masturbation and those other things within an artistic context…those who are interested in producing gentle, caring, mutual consenting erotica will come forward…that’s the intent of the legislation.” This is quoted in The London Free Press, June 12, 1986.

Consider the following: husband and wife approach a gentle stream surrounded by beautiful grass, flowers and shrubs. Under a large Oak tree, the wife commences to feed their infant. The husband proceeds to gently touch and kiss his loved ones. After the baby falls asleep, and lunch to finished, the actors then, with a background of romantic music, participate in the utmost tender, caring and loving foreplay ending in vaginal intercourse, whether in one or more positions. Who could deny that such was “a work of artistic merit?”

Furthermore, those so inclined will be able to enjoy “a performance that involves actual or simulated acts of sexually violent behavior, bestiality, incest, necrophilia, bondage or any act in which one person attempts to degrade himself or another,” and even a performance where in a sexual context “actual or simulated permanent or extended impairment of the body of any person or of its functions” is caused or attempted, as long as in each case the movie or play has “artistic merit.”

In dealing with the depiction of such acts (except group sex) plus others by way of picture books, magazines, video tapes, television and computer images, the Bill also provides the defenses of the “a genuine educational purpose” and “a genuine scientific purpose” as well as “work of artistic merit.” For example, would it not be easy for the publisher of a book that purports to dispel the myths surrounding masturbation and to inform young males and females about alleged advantages to their mental and physical health by participation in such an act, to prove the book would come within “a genuine educational purpose?”

Some day the Supreme Court of Canada will have to answer various questions concerning the Bill, one of which will probably be “Under what circumstances will vaginal intercourse be considered to be ‘a work of artistic merit’?” Madame Justice Wilson of that Court in the Towne Cinema case said “There is nothing wrong in the treatment of sex per se but there may be something wrong in the manner of its treatment….it may be presented in a way which harms no one in that it depicts nothing more than non-violent activity in a manner which neither degrades nor dehumanizes any particular individuals.” If the other members of the Court are of like opinion, a very liberal interpretation will be given to those words, thus opening the door to the rapid increase of moving pictures or stage plays plus other forms of pornography involving all of the above mentioned sexual acts

However, leaving aside the anti-social effects of what the Bill will permit, the greatest concern is the answer to the following question. “Whatever the purpose, could the performances of such acts or the making of their visual representations ever be justified from a Christian perspective?” Dealing with “straight sex,” vaginal intercourse, the actors would be committing fornication or adultery, or if married and volunteering their services for “the good of society,” Their acts would definitely be a source of temptation for others. Would a man who has been married for several years not be affected by the sight of some beautiful female performing as his wife has never performed? Would he not contrast her firm and full body with that of his wife’s distorted by the birth of several children? “…if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”(Mt. 5:28-29) Would he not be tempted to seek out someone in that age group? Would not a wife be subject to similar thoughts and desires vis-à-vis the male performer?

Anal intercourse and bestiality are intrinsically evil acts and are forbidden by Almighty God. “You must not lie with a man as with a woman…you must not lie with an animal.” (Lev. 18:22-23)

What was the view of Pope Paul VI concerning obscenity? “Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that men – and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation – need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.” “Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men’s baser passions and encourages low moral standards, likewise every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency n the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities.” Quoted from Humanae Vitae.

In summary, could a Christian support legislation that would allow, by means of the aforesaid defenses, the performance or depiction of immoral sexual acts or sexual acts that would be moral viz: sexual acts between spouses, but which would be occasions of temptation for the audience or viewers? The irresistible conclusion is “No.”

Moreover, the Bill is not supportable for further reasons including:

It repeals the present Criminal Code prohibition against the dissemination of “obscene written matter” and crime comics. The filthiest written words could be printed and distributed to anyone over 18.

It is only violence “in a sexual context” that is prohibited, subject to the defenses.

The defenses of  “a genuine educational of scientific purpose” plus the defense of “due care and diligence” apply to theatrical performances viewed by persons under 18 and to books and magazines, video tapes, etc. sold or rented to such persons.

More importantly, because of s further defense of “the classification system,” each province would be given complete authority to determine what printed words, picture books and magazines, films, video tapes and live shows could be read of viewed by persons under 18, with resultant lack of uniformity respecting pornography laws concerning such persons.

Persons under 18 would be allowed to view the same programs on T.V. that persons over 18 would be permitted to view.

Some lewd dancing and lewd exhibition of the breasts, buttocks and genitals in a theatre, club or bar would be legal.

There is no prohibition against the use of the mails for the purpose of transmitting or delivering “pornographic material” prohibited from being sold or rented to persons under 18.

A university of public library (“an institution established strictly for an educational, scientific or medical purpose”) could legally import for use at such institution pornographic material prohibited by the Code.

A judge sitting without a jury has jurisdiction to pre-determine by declaration that “a thing imported” has “a genuine educational, scientific or medical purpose or to be a work of artistic merit,” and the right of appeal is only, with leave of a judge of the Federal Court, to that Court and only on a question of law.

As witnesses to Christ, concerned Christians are urged to write to Brian Mulroney and to their local M.P., Parliament buildings, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6. (no postage necessary) demanding that the following be done:

  • There be a prohibition against the dissemination of pornographic written matter and crime comics.
  • All defenses be withdrawn
  • All pornography, whether actual or simulated, be prohibited and barred from importation.
  • “Violence, crime, horror of cruelty” be prohibited.
  • Lewd exhibition and lewd touching of the breasts, genitals and buttocks be prohibited.
  • That use of mail for transmitting or delivering any pornographic material be prohibited.