Thursday, December 22, 2005

Swing And A Miss

The Supreme Court's decision to decriminalize so-called swingers' clubs on the basis that the test for indecency should not be community standards, but actual harm, sinks Canadian society deeper into the moral morass.

Changing the test from community standards to actual harm suggests that the ordinary Canadian public should have no say in deciding what is indecent, and by extension, their elected representatives as well. Supposedly courts, with their superior wisdom and forensic ability to determine what is actually harmful, claim a clearer insight into man's moral nature and the effects of individual behaviour on society.

But if it is actual harm the Supreme Court wants, I can suggest three such possible harms:

Encouragement of adultery: Decriminalizing this activity removes another barrier to maintaining marriage vows. Society has a legitimate interest in discouraging extra-marital sexual behaviour, because of its social and economic costs. Even in an era of no-fault divorce, sexual infidelity remains a major cause of divorce, with all the cost that it entails in breaking up marriages and families.

Exploitation of minors: The age of consent remains at 14. Consequently, they can be permitted to participate in group sex clubs and no one, not even their parents, can do anything about it. The psychological effects of participating promiscuous sexual behaviour with older adults who make up the membership of these clubs are just too dangerous to permit such activity.

Public health: The spread of sexually transmitted diseases has never been higher. The sex trade's quest for profit, even where it is legalized and regulated, drives it to ignore public health regulations such as mandatory STD testing. Sex clubs will almost certainly be no different. Our public health care system will have to bear the cost of treating those who catch STDs at these clubs and the longer-term effects such as infertility in women.

But of course, our learned Solomons would say that the above are simply potential harms, not actual, and thus irrelevant. Waiting for actual harm to take place, however, is like waiting for a forest fire before banning open fires during a drought.

The elimination of the community standards test will eventually be used to strike down laws allowing municipal and provincial governments to regulate other parts of the sex trade. Sex shops, strip clubs, and massage parlours will be free to operate, not behind frosted glass windows, but with blatant display for all to see.

All because the Supreme Court thinks that it, and not the people, know what's harmful for them and their communities.

Source: CBC

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