In January, a judge of Alberta’s Court of Queen’[s Bench ruled that “sexually explicit films in which women are degraded or dehumanized”, are obscene. In March, a Maritimes judge criticized recent court decisions on obscenity as being too liberal and said, “one really has to rack one’s mind to conjecture an act, or depiction of that act, that would be designated obscene.”
In the Alberta case, Mr. Justice Mel Shannon fined a video store owner $1,000 on two counts of possession of obscene material for the purpose of distribution on January 17, 1985. The judge noted that this was a light sentence because it was a test case.
Judge Shannon ruled that seven video movies were obscene because they showed undue exploitation of sex and “present crime, horror, violence or cruelty in association with the sexually explicit activities or portrayed the participants in a degrading or dehumanizing manner.
An eighth video that depicted homosexual acts between consenting males was ruled not obscene. Presumably, this video did not “degrade and dehumanize” men.
In Fredericton, Judge James Harper convicted two video store owners of distributing obscene material in renting the video, Joney Throat. Sentencing will take place early in March.
Judge Harper criticized many courts’ interpretation of the Criminal Code provisions for obscenity based on “current community standards” “It goes without saying, “he said, “that judges, by virtue of their occupation , are hardly in a position to have their fingers on the porno pulse of Canadians from to coast.
Honey Throat, the Judge said, “has no plot and the script is mostly grunts and groans that are supposed to sound like unrestrained ecstasy but is more reminiscent of the noises of a group of starving piglets at feeding time.”
Section 159 of the Criminal Code states that a publication is obscene if a dominant character is involved in the undue exploitation of sex. Judge Harper said the wording is “plain and unambiguous and any attempts to distort them is an abuse of the power of the court.” (Globe and Mail, February 13, 1985)
It boggles the mind to think that a court should ignore the simple import of the words in Section 159 and accept the preposterous presumption there’s a Canadian standard of tolerance, “he said.