(This column was published in the North Shore News on Jan. 20, 1999)


End easy ride for pedophiles in B.C.

By Leo Knight

LAST week's decision by Mr. Justice Duncan Shaw in B.C. Supreme Court striking down the section of the Criminal Code dealing with child pornography is more than a little troubling.  


The case involved accused pedophile John Robin Sharpe, who has been the subject of previous discussions in this space.  


Now, I say accused pedophile because he is currently before the courts on charges relating to a seizure of child pornography at the Douglas border crossing in April 1995 and a subsequent search warrant execution on his Kitsilano apartment a year later.  


But Sharpe is an admitted pedophile, a true believer who describes his predilection as "inter-generational love."  


Last Feb. I interviewed Sharpe following his preliminary hearing in Surrey. The 65-year-old divorced father of two is quite open about his activities. He described to me the "only two real loves" he has had in his life. Both involved young males barely into their teens.  


Just so we understand what exactly Sharpe's mindset is, here's a quote: "God does not make boys horny so they can build up their will power by abstaining, but so they can learn about sex by experience."  


So, back to the decision by Shaw.  


"The invasion of freedom of expression and personal privacy is profound," Mr. Justice Duncan Shaw wrote in his 33-page judgment. "The intrusion into freedom of expression and the right of privacy is so profound that it is not outweighed by the limited beneficial effects of the prohibition."  


In other words, the protection of children from pedophiles is not as important as the law infringing on the rights of pedophiles to have personal privacy with what they read, look at and fantasize over.  


Shaw wrote in his decision on Sharpe's argument, "Books, diaries, pictures, clothes and other belongings are personal and private expressions of their owner's beliefs, opinions, thoughts and conscience."  


"The simple possession prohibition deals with a very intimate and private aspect of a person's life and, in my view, that fact should be given considerable weight. I find that the limited effectiveness of the prohibition is insufficient to warrant its highly invasive effects," said the B.C. Supreme Court Justice.  


In so doing, Shaw has now made it legal for pedophiles to possess any type of vile material their sordid little hearts desire.  


The difficulty with the way the decision is worded was demonstrated in the Sunday Province. Its lead editorial on the subject was strong in its condemnation of kiddie porn, but supportive of the judicial decision because of the ramifications in the "free speech" debate.  


Not so shy about the decision was the police officer in charge of the child pornography unit of the Ottawa Police. Sgt. Keith Daniels was disgusted when he heard of the decision  


"If this judgment is upheld in higher courts, I will simply retire," he said.


In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Daniels said, "This absurd decision came from way out in left field."  


He characterized the judgment as belonging in the "Dark Ages."  


"He (the judge) can't have considered that every image, by its very existence, implies the sexual exploitation of children who are totally scarred for life by such experiences."  


And there's the rub.  


Shaw was trying to be true to his belief in the protection of privacy and to the constitutional provisions for the freedom of speech. But he seems to have lost whatever perspective he may have had on the issue of protecting children.  


He said the law was intrusive and unfair to "collectors who are simply interested in pornography, but who don't harm anyone."  


Shaw appears to support a theory that pedophiles use pornography to masturbate and "relieve the pent-up sexual tension" and are therefore not a threat to children.  


"Whether or not this cathartic effect outweighs the harm caused by the possession of pornography is not known, but it is nonetheless a significant factor to take into account," wrote Shaw.  


But clearly he did not consider the obvious fact that by its nature child pornography objectifies kids. Photographs and videos of sex with kids is certainly abusive simply because some kid, somewhere, was abused to take that photo or make that video.  


How then can we allow the possession of that material?  


To render the possession "legal" creates a market for those who will inevitably supply that market. In order to supply the market kids must be victimized in the process.  


This follows logically as sure as day follows night. Yet, for some reason Judge Shaw either failed to see it or failed to consider it as a significant reason to the prohibition of the material.  


Equally, the judge seems to have ignored a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the case of HMTQ vs Butler in which the late Justice John Sopinka called the law a "reasonable restriction on freedom of expression."  


Sopinka's decision said, "(child pornography) ... appeals only to the most base aspect of individual fulfilment" and didn't merit constitutional protection.  


Liberal MLA Barry Penner called for the attorney general to immediately appeal the Shaw ruling. It's difficult to see how such an appeal could not succeed given the Butler decision in the highest court in the land. But as of this writing, the AG, Ujjal Dosanjh has yet to announce an appeal.  


West Vancouver MP John Reynolds was outraged at the decision. He called it "crazy" and "nuts."  


"Anyone involved with child pornography has something wrong with them," said Reynolds, the Reform Justice critic.  


"Any system that allows it has something wrong with it," he concluded.  


Sharpe based his case on the traditional arguments of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). This is the same organization trying to get the age of consent lowered in all jurisdictions in order to legitimize their loathsome activities.  


In my view, the only people who can possibly agree with those arguments are themselves true believers.  


The William Bennest case demonstrated that B.C. is a pedophile's paradise. This latest case underlines it. But there are many, many more such cases. It is time for the AG to ignore the "true believers," including those who may advise government, and take a stand.  


The easy ride for pedophiles has gone far enough.





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