Pro-family forces are generally pleased with the recent Robin Sharpe (or kiddie porn) ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Canada. The court upheld most of the law. Where concerns exist is over the two exceptions provided by the court (in a 6-3 split decision). The concern varies, however, depending on who you speak to. The exceptions are for “any written material or visual representation created by the accused alone, and held by the accused alone, exclusively for his or her own personal use,” and “any visual recording, created by or depicting the accused, provided it does not depict unlawful sexual activity and is held by the accused exclusively for private use.”

Some, probably most, say the exceptions are inconsequential in and of themselves in terms of law enforcement. Nevertheless, the decision raises troubling questions in light of the growing trend in the media and wider cultural elite to desensitize people to paedophilia. First of all, the Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC) observed, the exception regarding the production of materials not involving children had to do with production, “an issue not on the table for the court to deal with in the first place.” The court was supposed to be dealing with the issue of possession.

Furthermore, since the ruling relaxes the law against paedophilia, even if the result is legislatively inconsequential, some people are concerned that it sends the message that the social stigma against child-adult sex is slowly lifting. Now that the law has changed, however, there are some legitimate questions as to whether or not it should be reinstated. These questions go to the issue of what the nature of the law should be and to what degree we want the government to build fences around the real offences we want criminalized. Much of the discussion to this point presupposes a uniform view as to the nature and purpose of criminal law. Such a consensus, however, does not exist.

Nevertheless, there is no question that people with influence in Canada and the United States are desensitizing Canadians to the idea of children and sex. The justice system barely raps the knuckles of child sex offenders today. We have seen another example of this just the other day with news that a homosexual pedophile in the Maple Leaf Gardens scandal in Toronto is being released this month despite evidence that he may still be a risk to people.

The sexual innuendos in television ads involving children today are also effective tools, whether intended or not, at weakening people’s attitude towards sex and children. Ikea has an ad in which a woman in her undergarments stretches in front of an open window after waking up. The ad then goes to an image of several elementary age children who are apparently watching her from the ground. There has also been an ad recently in which a collection of pre-teens make one-line comments that are clearly intended to conjure up sexual connotations. At the end of the ad we discover that they are talking about the value of reading books.

Another TV ad shows young children watching one of the boy’s mothers with binoculars. The script for one of the boys is intended to give the impression that they are watching her in a compromising situation. Then the camera goes to the mother and you see that the sexual connotation was only for effect.

Whether or not the children involved in the first three ads mentioned understood the implications of what they were saying is irrelevant. The ads were for the adult viewers and they show adults these children in sexualized situations. Frankly, this is barbaric, and it holds ominous implications for the safety of children in the future. Even if the broader Canadian population does not become significantly affected by the bombardment of this kind of message, we know that those in positions of influence have already been affected (at the very least desensitized), otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing the TV ads, judicial rulings and parole board decisions that we are facing today.

And this raises a legitimate concern in terms of law enforcement. In recent years we have seen how law enforcement officials, from police officers to judges to Crown prosecutors, seem to use changes in the law to gage public sentiment on the issue. As a result, if a law is repealed, it does not affect the enforcement officials’ view only of the behaviour applicable to that law; it also affects their attitude towards enforcing related laws. The homosexual issue is a perfect example. In the Toronto police force’s apparent desire to keep on good terms with homosexuals as the law has become fully tolerant of them, police officers won’t even prosecute men or women who participate fully naked in the city’s “gay pride” parade. This, despite the fact that public nudity is still a crime, and one which heterosexuals would definitely be prosecuted for committing.