Thursday, May 31, 2012

Body-parts murder video not obscene; and that's ridiculous!

One of the most surprising (to me) aspects of this case is the website. Apparently the murder went online (I gather users can post their own videos) and the murder/dismemberment went unnoticed as 'just another' brutality.
That's pretty appalling. What's more, as of earlier today the murder video was still posted.
Horror and gore sites are not obscene within the meaning of the Criminal Code.
Why? Because they lack sex -- they are merely gore and horror.
Section 163(8) of the Criminal Code of Canada defines obscenity as "any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely crime, horror, cruelty and violence".
Here is how a 2007 summary prepared for the Canadian Parliament explains the current legal definition of obscenity:
"Whether there is "undue" exploitation is almost invariably determined by reference to community standards, i.e., if a dominant characteristic is the exploitation of sex or of sex and any other enumerated quality, the trier of fact must determine the community standard of tolerance. Would the community tolerate the presentation, publication or distribution of the material as presented or published? If not, the material is deemed obscene."
R v Butler [1992] 1 S.C.R. 452 said the obscenity law is constitutional but note the required connection to sex. Pure horror cruelty and violence is not obscene. Sex and horror cruelty and/or violence can be obscene.
Stepping back that makes little sense. What is objectionable about sex AND horror cruelty and/or violence is not the sex but the horror cruelty and/or violence. In modern Canada we should drop the sex aspect altogether and, if we are to have obscenity laws at all, direct them to horror cruelty and/or violence.
But if anything is obscene these gore sites are -- here is something that genuinely could use a change to the Criminal Code:
Luka Rocco Magnotta is believed to have travelled to France over the weekend, after the brutal killing of a man in Montreal and the shipping of at least two body parts by mail to political parties in Ottawa, sources say.
Montreal police believe that the macabre murder and dismemberment was captured on video and posted on a website that specialized in gore, gaining widening circulation as the extent of the crime became public Wednesday.
"It is a video of the murder," a Montreal police official confirmed to The Globe.
On Thursday morning, the video was still available, buried deep within the site.
Police warn that not all of the murder victim, a male, has been recovered but refuse to say whether they believe more pieces of his body are still in Canada Post's mail system.


Anonymous said...

Sex acts were performed on the dismembered corpse and with the dismembered limbs.

Anonymous said...

This entire act itself is clearly about "sex". Whether it is a perversion or a fetish can be left to others to decide I suppose but no reasonable person could believe that this was not for, in part anyways, sexual arousal. How our laws don't make this link is unfathomable.

James C Morton said...

if there are sex acts then we clearly have obscenity.

Stephen Downes said...

I think the point is that the video would be obscene even without sex acts. And with this I am in perfect agreement.

The Rat said...

So we all agree it's obscene and therefore we can censor it. What's even cooler is that now that we have social conservatives in power we can finally ban all that obscene gay porn that comes into the country and then the straight porn, too! Obscenity is really easy to define, I know obscenity when I see it, so why not just run it all past me first. You can trust my judgement, right?

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