It is now OK to say 'fuck' on French-language broadcasts in Canada, thanks to a new ruling by the country's TV censors.
The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that the word has become such a part of French-Canadian vernacular that it's no longer too vulgar to speak on air.
The CBSC note that the English word 'fuck' does not have the same vulgar connotation when used in French, the council said in a statement. The word can be exclaimed at any time of day.
The council made the change after it received complaints about two clips aired on the French-language Canadian radio station CKOI-FM. One of the clips featured Madonna saying fuck you during the Women's March in Washington, D.C., while the
other was an aired excerpt of a Green Day concert where singer Billie Joe Armstrong says, What the fuck?! I'm not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers!
There are still restrictions on the word during daytime broadcasts. The use of the word must be infrequent and the word cannot be used to insult or attack an individual or group.
A federal court in California has rendered an order from the Supreme Court of Canada unenforceable. The order in question required Google to remove
a company's websites from search results globally, not just in Canada. This ruling violates US law and puts free speech at risk, the California court found.
When the Canadian company Equustek Solutions requested Google to remove competing websites claimed to be illegally using intellectual property, it refused to do so globally.
This resulted in a legal battle that came to a climax in June, when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to remove a company's websites from its search results. Not just in Canada, but all over the world.
With options to appeal exhausted in Canada, Google took the case to a federal court in the US. The search engine requested an injunction to disarm the Canadian order, arguing that a worldwide blocking order violates the First Amendment.
Surprisingly, Equustek decided not to defend itself and without opposition, a California District Court sided with Google. During a hearing, Google attorney Margaret Caruso stressed that it should not be possible for foreign countries to implement
measures that run contrary to core values of the United States.
The search engine argued that the Canadian order violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes Internet services from liability for content created by third parties. With this law, Congress specifically chose not to deter
harmful online speech by imposing liability on Internet services.
In an order, signed shortly after the hearing, District Judge Edward Davila concludes that Google qualifies for Section 230 immunity in this case. As such, he rules that the Canadian Supreme Court's global blocking order goes too far.
The ruling is important in the broader scheme. If foreign courts are allowed to grant worldwide blockades, free speech could be severely hampered. Today it's a relatively unknown Canadian company, but what if the Chinese Government asked Google to
block the websites of VPN providers?
The recent attempt by Conservative MPs to label porn a
public health crisis in Canada
is part of a web of attacks against gender and sexual minorities -- and a diversion from necessary policy debates on ending sexual violence. Luckily, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health didn't go for it.
Just the title creates confusion. For example, separating out the social and sexual differences between children and adults would be a Herculean task. Then there is the fraught problem of defining "violent and degrading."
Remarkably, Canada decided not to follow in the footsteps of the United States and the United Kingdom in blaming porn for a wide range of medical and social ailments, from erectile dysfunction to divorce. Instead, the report acknowledged that
while pornography use may co-relate with some unhealthy and anti-social behaviour in some people, there is no credible evidence that pornography of any kind causes that behaviour.
The decision to emphasize evidence over moral panic is a hopeful sign that we are done with excusing abusive behaviour by men against women with false diagnoses like sex addiction or porn addiction.
Adult film performer, Chocolate Chip from the movie, Snapshot. (Courtesy of Pink Label TV)
As noted sex therapist David Ley, author of both
The Myth of Sex Addiction
Ethical Porn For Dicks
, has said: "It's possible to be an ethical, responsible person and treat oneself and others with dignity and integrity, AND to watch hot, no-holds-barred sex on screen."
Anti-porn advocates will remain unconvinced, as is clear by the dissenting opinion submitted by Conservative members of the committee. Why do some people cling to the notion that porn is a destructive force on the health of the nation?
Uncovering the answer reaches into the darkest corners of sex shaming, stigmatization, ignorance and fear that continue to characterize Canada's sexual culture.
Instead of personal stories of porn horror, we explored the difference between causation and correlation and the heteronormative bias in anti-porn research. We also looked at the slippery definitions often provided for "violent" or
"degrading" pornography -- especially when consent isn't considered a factor in the evaluation process.
Over one third of the briefs insisted porn use contributed to relationship breakdowns. Increased interest in sexual experimentation and casual sex were also frequently listed as a public health concern.
Not one of the briefs acknowledged lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or Two Spirited (LGBTQ2+) sexual expression. Some of them even listed "anal sex" as a violent-and-degrading consequence of porn. The deep-set homophobia of such an
argument cannot be understated.
M-47 came on the heels of a spate of legislation, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, to curtail access to pornography. The U.K. passed the
Extreme Pornography Act
, a draconian intervention on privacy rights that blocks pornography sites with national-based ISPs if they depict acts considered "extreme."
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Republican Party and eight states have already declared porn a public health crisis
. What might appear at first as absurd political grandstanding can have significant consequences on how sexual health is publicly supported, including sexual health curricula, access and privacy rights, research support and professional training.
What is so laudable about Canada's House of Commons report is it refutes the oppressive and harmful assumptions contained within the "public health crisis" argument. In recognizing the spectrum of gender and sexual diversity, and the
critical factor of consent in defining both "violent" and "degrading," the committee has set Canada on a long-overdue path to
developing a sexual health promotion strategy
"that would include, but not be limited to, sexual identity, gender equity, gender-based violence, consent and behaviour in the digital age."
Porn ground rules
To be sure, the House of Commons report recognizes there are "possible risks of exposure to online violent and degrading sexually explicit materials." This is fair and correct, as there are risks to individuals of any age who are
pre-disposed toward gender or sexual violence due to a host of social influences that breed intolerance for gender and sexual diversity and equity.
Thus, as we enter this new stage of the oft-battled-but-never-won porn wars, we would like to see more research on how the negative impacts of porn consumption could be mitigated by a more inclusive sexual ethic. Is there perhaps a way for
spiritual and sexual communities to work together for sex positivity?
"Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender,
colour, age, bodily condition, marital status or sexual orientation."
Their statement shares a lot in common with the growing international network of feminist and ethical porn producers to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for establishing the ground rules for consent-based sex.
If ecumenical societies and ethical porn networks can share the same sexual values, the opportunity to develop a dynamic sexual health strategy has never been better. Canada can become a global leader in fostering healthy sexualities through
consent-based education, sex worker support and gender and sexual inclusiveness.
The diversion into porn fear-mongering has resulted in not much more than a few cheeky, clickbait headlines. Now that we've had our laughs, it is imperative that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health return to the commitment made in
The Cayman Islands in the Caribbean is an autonomous British Overseas Territory. But the British
connections does not be achieving much in the way of free expression.
Sculptor Ronald Foots Kynes, based on Cayman Brac, was charged on 16 October 2017 under section 157 of the Penal Code for displaying an obscene object for public exhibition and intending to corrupt morals, related to some of his artwork displayed
on his property.
The sculptor, who is representing himself in court, pled not guilty in his first court hearing on 26 October and requested the case go to trial with a jury in Grand Cayman.
The sculptor was originally detained on 18 July 2017 after refusing to remove publicly visible sculptures that featured nudity, homosexuality and religious iconography that have offended the easily offended.
The pieces were on display for three months before he was arrested under the little-used section of the Penal Code that prohibits the distribution or public exhibition of obscene writings, drawing, paintings, or any other object tending to corrupt
On 12 August, two of the sculptures involved in the case were vandalized, and Kynes said that at least eight of his works have been damaged in similar circumstances since 2009. The artist also said he has received death threats and constant
harassment from the community.