By Alicia Dawn Peterpaul
In the R.V. Sharpe case exceptions were made by the Supreme Court of Canada, the freedom of the right to expression was infringed upon for the accused, but I believe that it was highly justifiable. The victim of the accused’s rights were infringed upon to a much higher degree. In this essay, I will discuss the R.V. Sharpe case and argue that the court’s decision was not only justifiable, but also necessary. I will discuss the correlation between child pornography and child molestation. I will also provide some statistics of the linkage between the two, while attempting to understand and illustrate the distorted thought process of child pornography viewers and pedophiles. Ultimately, I will argue that the Supreme Court of Canada’s final decision in the R.V. Sharpe case, was absolutely necessary.
In the R.V. Sharpe case the accused argues that he has a right to freedom of expression, and that includes the ability to obtain and possess child pornography for personal use. However, the Supreme Court of Canada did not agree and chose to prioritize the rights of the children being exploited, and I believe that it is completely justified. Clarity has been made on the controversial issue when Canada passed a bill for the ‘protection of children and other vulnerable persons’. This bill supersedes the rights to freedom of expression of child pornographic offenders, and protects the most vulnerable victims in our country, and I believe the bill has been passed rightfully so. (Johnson, 2006) In the Sharpe case the accused argued that the child pornography had artistic elements to it, but the Supreme Court of Canada reacted by creating a bill that would require accused offenders to prove the artistic elements. This does infringe on a person’s right to freedom of expression, however, these bills are necessary instruments in protecting our children. Child pornography is illegal, justifiably so, because it can distort the thoughts of the men that possess it into seeing the abuse to children as a sexual fantasy. (Johnson, 2006) The Supreme Court had important elements in the justification of their decision about child pornography: “it fuels fantasies that incite offenders to offend…children are abused in the production of child pornography involving real children…Criminalizing possession may reduce the market for child pornography and the abuse of the children involved.” (Supreme Court of Canada, 2001) I believe these points to be very justifiable reasons to override the defendant’s rights to the freedom of expression.
There is a direct link between child pornography and child molestation. The two crimes are related because child pornography requires a child to be both exploited and engaged in sexual activity. Although the accused’s rights were not being met per the Charter in the R.V. Sharpe case, the judge’s decision was completely justified. The child’s rights were violated enormously, far beyond the rights of the accused. (Pisegna, 2016) It is important for judges to create exceptions in cases similar to the R.V. Sharpe case, in order to protect our children from child molestation. Also, exceptions such as these must be made for the dignity of the young survivors, to not have recordings and photographs of their abuse distributed for the distorted minds of adults. An online study was conducted on the issue, data reveals that over half of the offenders of possessing child pornography have also attempted or committed child molestation. (Pisegna, 2016) It has been proven that most human actions take place because of something they have previously witnessed within society. Often humans commit crimes because they are recreating something that they have seen happen in society. Often, they will glorify the crime that has been committed and feel a sense of accomplishment, when they too commit the same crime. It is a distortion of thought. (Jung et al, 2012) The internet creates communities of every type, including a community for pedophiles to get together, learn more about child sexual abuse and how to attain child pornography. These online communities prevent the pedophiles from feeling like they are alone, that many other people are attracted to children as well, therefore their actions seem justified. These communities are pro-pedophile and do not only promote child pornography, but also being comfortable with their sexual obsession with children. (Jung et al, 2012) Pedophiles in these online groups get so caught up with other pedophiles making their actions seem normal, that after a while, they begin to believe that there is nothing wrong with their behaviors. Internet users of child porn have shown extreme levels of distorted thinking, that suggest children are sexual beings. These online forums indoctrinate their users to believe that their crooked ways of thinking are somehow positive. (Jung et al, 2012)
Child pornography offenders can have different motives as why they chose to possess this type of pornography. Many offenders will purchase, use or create child pornography to justify themselves, and that they are not the alone when they fantasize about children in a sexual context or as a visual image for something to masturbate too. Others use child pornography to condition their young victims to believe that it is a normal thing that adults and children do, then later to blackmail their victims from telling anybody about the abuse. (Rettinger, 2000) Criminalized possession of child pornography is important, because although it may infringe on personal rights to freedom of expression, it will discourage offenders from producing, owning or distributing the footage or photos. Criminalization of the possession of child porn is also very important because if it were legal, that would be opening up a door to a larger market for child abuse, whereas offences to possession make that market decline. (Johnson, 2006) As mentioned above pedophiles may use child pornography to show their victims that adults and children engaging in sexual acts is normal. Children who may have not wanted to participate in the acts of sex previously, may see the pornographic videos of children and adults and may be persuaded to participate in many different types of child abuse. If child pornography were legal, it would be condemning this type of conditioning to young children. A final reason that child pornography should be illegal as it is, is because children were abused in the making of it and distributing it will only undermine a child’s dignity. (Johnson, 2006)
Of the many different uses of child pornography that have been brought to my knowledge, there is a clear tie between any use of child pornography and child abuse, justifying the Supreme Court’s decision in the R.V. Sharpe case.
In this essay, I have outlined various reasons as to why I believe the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the R.V. Sharpe case were justified and necessary. I also distinguished the link between child pornography and child molestation. I have also discussed some statistics and attempted to illustrate the distorted thought process of pedophiles. I have ultimately argued, that the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the R.V. Sharpe case was justified.
Pisegna, N. (2016). PROBABLE CAUSE TO PROTECT CHILDREN: THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CHILD MOLESTATION AND CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice, 36(2), 287-318.
Rettinger, L., & Canada. Department of Justice. (2000). The relationship between child pornography and the commission of sexual offences against children : A review of the literature : A report (Research report (Canada. Department of Justice) ; 2000-5e). Ottawa]: Dept. of Justice Canada, Research and Statistics Division.
Johnson, T. (2006). Child Pornography in Canada and the United States: The Myth of Right Answers. Dalhousie Law Journal, 29(2), 375-411.