"If the human body's obscene, complain to the
manufacturer, not me."
-- Larry Flynt "[O]ne man's vulgarity is another's lyric."
-- John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court
"What is freedom of expression? Without the
freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
-- Salman Rushdie
"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a
steak just because a baby can't chew it."
-- Mark Twain
In a truly effective democratic system,
citizens should feel free to exercise their
rights without fear of persecution or
In Canada, it is the duty of our government to
protect the rights of all members of society,
including the right of society to be protected
from hateful or obscene material.
Sometimes these rights can collide....
Offences Relating to Corrupt
According to the Criminal Code Sect. 163:
(1) Corrupting morals – Every one commits an offence who
(a) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the
purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter,
picture, model, photograph, record or other thing whatsoever; or
(b) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells or has in his possession for the purpose
of publication, distribution or circulation a crime comic.
(2) Idem – every one commits an offence who knowingly, without lawful
justification or excuse,
(a) sells, exposes to public view or has in his possession for such a purpose any
obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing
(b) publicly exhibits a disgusting object or an indecent show;
(c) offers to sell, advertises or publishes an advertisement or, or has for sale or
disposal any means, instructions, medicine, drug or article intended or represented
as a method of causing abortion or miscarriage; or
(d) advertises or publishes an advertisement of any means, instructions, medicine,
drug or article intended or represented as a method for restoring sexual vitality or
curing venereal diseases or diseases of the generative organs.
What is Obscene? Obscenity
According to the Criminal Code of Canada,
any publication is considered obscene
One where the dominant characteristic is the
“undue exploitation” of sex, or of sex and violence;
One which depicts degrading or dehumanizing sex
that is likely to cause harm, or increase the
likelihood that harm will be caused; however
What might be considered obscene to one person
might be acceptable to another.
When laws regarding obscenity are interpreted
and implemented, the fine line between what is
or is not obscene can become blurred,
depending on perceptions, interpretations, and
Many factors can influence an individual’s
personal values, and therefore one’s perception
of a definition of obscene, including:
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH OBSCENITY?
When it has been determined that something
is obscene, it is either banned, challenged in
court, or censored (removed from society).
Banning, Challenging, and Censoring
What's the difference between "banned" ,
"challenged“, and “censored”?
"Banned" means that the publication was
successfully removed in its entirety.
"Challenged" means that the publication was
objected to, and may or may not have been
“Censored” means the removal or suppression,
either in part or entirely, of books, film, or other
material considered to be morally, politically, or
Examples of Censorship - Books
Banned in 1998 in Prince William
County for being “rife with profanity
and explicit sex”
1999, So. Carolina - Challenged
because of the “serious tone of death,
hate, lack of respect, and sheer evil.”
1991, Altoona Wi, banned for
the use of the word “ass” and
for parts of the book dealing
with wine, tobacco, and snuff.
1989 Wichita Ka., banned for
being “blasphemous to the
1930, Boston Ma., banned on
grounds of obscenity
1992, Mobile Al.,
for “profanity” and
1981, Warren In, banned for
racism under the guise of good
Censorship – T.V. And Movies
In Canada, all movies are It is unusual for movies to be
subject to a complex rating banned in North America due
system controlled by all the to our belief in freedom of
Movies are usually classified Only films containing
on the basis of language, use prohibited material (such as
of violence, presence of child pornography) or under
nudity or sexual activity, and court order (such as libel or
graphic horror that may have copyright infringement) are
psychological impact banned in Canadian
Classification categories: Provinces.
Parental Guidance (PG)
Adult Accompaniment (AA)
Several movies have been banned in other
countries where this right is severely limited.
Seven Years in Tibet
South Park: Bigger, Linger & Uncut
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Memoirs of a Geisha
Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make
Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Bruce Almighty Scarface
The Matrix Reloaded Pet Sematary
The Da Vinci Code Last Man Standing
Scarface Bruce Almighty
Saturday Night Fever Austin Powers
Boogie Nights Team America: World Police
South Park Sin City
Zoolander Hustle & Flow
Fahrenheit 9/11 Saw
The 40 year-old virgin Hostel
Brokeback Mountain Rent
Da Vinci Code Brokeback Mountain
Borat! United 93
Censorship of Music
Can be partial or total;
Uncommon, however the censorship of particular
words deemed profanity is still common.
1956 U.S.– Billie Holiday’s “Love for Sale” because the
lyrics are about prostitution;
1977 – U.K. – Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen”
1984 – U.S. – Frankie Goes to Hollywood “Relax” because it
was determined the lyric “when you’re gonna come”
referred to sexual climax;
1987 – U.K. – The Beastie Boys “Fight for your Right to
Word censorship – 6 formats:
For example, Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”
repeats the word “shit” 38 times and was
Kanye West’s “Golddigger” repeatedly says
“niggas” and has been extensively censored.
The total censorship of a song is often
reported in the mass media and results in the
song gaining attention
Additionally, the censorship of a word can
highlight it to such a degree that it makes
what the singer says more obvious
Sometimes, actions having a high impact on
society can cause censorship.
For example, following Sept. 11/01, Clear
Channel, who owns over 300 radio and 40 Tv
stations, released a list of songs with
questionable lyrics that stations may not want to
Though never a policy or a directive, Clear Channel
may have avoided using the word “banned” so that
they could not be accused of censorship, but it was
clear to Clear Channel DJs that it was a suggestion
meaning “you will be fired” if you play it.
The list includes 165 songs, some because of certain
words in their titles, others because of the content.