We have interesting case this week out of Canada that raises the limits of free speech and the use of decency or morality laws. The Canadians have criminally charged the owner of a website for the posting of a horrific video showing the murder of an individual by Luka Magnotta (left) and then sexual relations with the corpse of Jun Lin (right). The concern is that the site owner is being charged with “corrupting morals” a largely undefined crime and has traditionally been used to impose and enforce the moral values of the majority on people who do not share them. It is the natural extension of laws prohibiting the publication or possession of obscene materials, a long controversy in this country as well.
Malek’s site is disgusting and his posting of the video is disgraceful. However, he is not being charged with complicity or conspiracy in the crime. The 38-year-old owns and runs the bestgore.com website. In a truly unnerving twist, he bills himself as a wedding photographer. However, his website appears to specialize in images of death and dismemberment.
Since police believe that Marek knew it was a real murder, it was deemed obscene. If you are going to prosecute obscenity, this would certainly seem to fill the bill. The question is whether governments should prosecute obscenity or simply restrict it in terms of forums and times.
This case began with the killing of Jun Lin and his dismemberment in May 2012. Soon a video appeared entitled “1 lunatic 1 icepick.” Parts of the body were found around Vancouver including his head found in a park. Ironically, it was the video that allowed the police to find the culprit.
Marek clearly caters to a sick crowd who love to see grotesque images from accidents, war zones, and crime scenes. Marek’s computers were seized and police say that he was “evasive” with no known addresses. They are also considering hate crime charges because of alleged racist aspects of the videos and pictures.
I think that we can all agree that Marek and his site regulars are the lowest forms of human existence in relishing scenes of death and misery and torture. The question is whether it should be a crime. If these photographs were legally obtained and these people were not co-conspirators or involved in the crime, should this be a crime? Clearly the operators can be sued civilly for any privacy or other civil violation. Moreover, if this involves child pornography, it can be a crime. However, if these pictures are evidence of crimes or scenes for war, there remains a free speech issue. It is often hard to discuss such issues in a grotesque case of this kind. Few people have anything but disgust for Marek and his followers. However, Western countries have spent decades trying to draw a line of where obscenity begins and simple bad taste ends.
Finally, there is the question of newsworthy videos. Can these videos are legitimately shown on a site that covers legal or political controversies? If so, you have to draw a line between people who say they want to watch it for fun and those who want to watch it for news. Taken the execution video of journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. That was the same type of gruesome video but many felt it was news and left it up to the viewer to decide whether to watch.
Do you believe that immorality or obscenity should still be prosecuted as criminal acts? If so, would you make any exceptions?
Source: The Star