Canadian hate crime laws
October 16, 2000 11:07 PM   Subscribe

Canadian hate crime laws are trying to be applied to filmmakers. Sure they made fake snuff films and there are no victims. So far they have them on an obscenity charge and I thought we had free speech problems.
posted by skallas (5 comments total)
 
Canada has hate crime laws - this isn't a free speech issue as much as it is a hate crime issue.
posted by kristin at 1:06 AM on October 17, 2000


Not really, they're quoted as being unable to press the hate crime charges they desperatly want to press, but instead had to settle with obscenity. A fake murder is obscene? They must not watch many American movies.


posted by skallas at 1:16 AM on October 17, 2000


Heh. You "thought [you] had free speech problems." That's amusing.

Here in Canada, we actually let people keep copies of child porn, they just aren't allowed to make it or distribute it.

I'll be the laws in this case are quite similar. Posession of this sort of thing is fine, you just aren't allowed to make it here or distribute it from here.

Our art community also encouraged Kissed, a movie about necrophilia.

Oh, and words like "Fuck" are allowed on regular, broadcast TV. Well, after 9pm it is. None of the 3 big broadcasters we get from the states seem to have the same freedom as ours do.

Oh, and I hear swear words on the CBC on a fairly regular basis, when they're appropriate to the context. Clips from news quotes and stuff. And only a few weeks ago "fuck" appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail.

On the morning radio show I listen to, songs that have words like fuck or bitch or whatever, they aren't bleeped or scratched or blanked our or anything, they're just played, 'cause it's the music.

Generally speaking, our media and populace are allowed to a far greater amount of freedom than our American counterparts. Sure, there's some old cruftiness lying about, but (like the child porn issue last year) if this (the snuff film thing) were to be appealed and countered in court, the crufty old laws dictating it would probably be eased up. Found unconstitutional, in some way or another.

Oh, and as far as our hate crimes, there's that anti-semite guy (who's completely fallen below my radar) who's main offices and publishing facilities are in Toronto. What's that guys name? Crap. Ah well.

Unfortunately, the little blurb didn't say much 'bout whether or not they're challenging the accusation, though I imagine they will be.
posted by cCranium at 7:19 AM on October 17, 2000


cCranium, I'm not so sure that this one will be "eased up."

Obscenity law is a bit of a patchwork here in Canada, but the kind of obscenity they are talking about in the article is a matter of federal criminal law. Mixing explicit sex and violence is generally considered obscene and "harmful" in Canada. Until this past summer, even bondage videos were generally unavailable in Canada and routinely ceased by wonderful Canada Customs. However, I have noticed that bondage videos have started to appear in Quebec, passed by the video classification board. I am not sure if that is the case in Ontario at this point.

Obviously, most people in Canada don't understand the child porn issue. The existing law is quite restrictive, to the point where it has been used by police to seize serious erotic fiction and first person sexual narratives. Even if the Supreme Court strikes down part of the law, which it probably should, the federal government has the ability to set aside any court decision based on some parts of the Charter of Rights using a part of our constitution called the Notwithstanding Clause. It is, by far, the most dangerous weakness in the Canadian constitution: our human rights can simply be put aside by the federal government.

The Notwithstanding Clause has been used by the provincial government of Quebec to make English commercial signs for the most part illegal. Many members of the Alberta government wanted to use it last year to disallow equal status for same-sex couples. And now the Canadian Alliance wants to use the clause to nullify the lower court child porn decision before it gets to the Supreme Court. Dangerous stuff.

posted by tranquileye at 8:49 AM on October 17, 2000


That was a fascinating link, tranquileye, thank you.

As another aside, I used to work technical support for Revenue Canada, of which Custums is a subdepartment. I worked with a number of different departments, one of which was the intelligence department. One of my duties while I was there was to setup a DVD player on a computer in the office, so the porn officers could keep up-to-date with current pornography technology.

The porn officers were rotated regularily, because after a few months of some of the nasty stuff they had to look at, they weren't able to discern whether or not something had crossed the line-in-the-sand.

I had the misfortune a couple of times to view some of what they were watching. Let's just say stileproject doesn't come close to opening the doors to what's out there.

At the same time, I firmly believe that as long as the people are adults and consenting, go nuts. Just label those DVDs clearly. :-)

The thing about the Notwithstanding Clause that you don't mention though, tranquileye, is that the times it has been invoked, there's generally been media surrounding it.

Also, it's only effective for 5 years. While that does seem like a long time to me (it's more than a 5th of my lifetime!) the time limit acts as an escape valve on the escape valve the Clause claims to be.

Quebec's language laws were indeed terribly restrictive, but they're loosening up now, after a few years of bad publicity.

Also, according to the link, the clause has to be enacted by the government, our elected officials. Which means they aren't going to use it unless they're quite certain their constituency agrees with their view.

I agree it's a sticky, if fascinating, situation. My original point though, was that Free Speech is much more of a reality here (Canada) then in the states, and when it's become an issue in the past, our law-making process has kicked into gear and started resolving the situation.

It was a direct rebuttal to an interpreted (though probably not intended :-) slight from skallas. I think my knickers were a bit knotted this mornin'.
posted by cCranium at 1:27 PM on October 17, 2000


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