CCLA is pleased that a jury has acquitted Montreal special effects make-up artist Remy Couture of charges of corrupting morals. Couture was charged because of films he made and posted online. The allegation was that the material combined sex, violence and gore in a way that the law defines as obscene. The Crown argued that the images Couture created and displayed online were harmful and that they encouraged imitation and incited violence and, in particular, violence against women. Couture argued that he is an artist, that the images don’t depict any actual violence, and that his freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects him from facing criminal sanctions for his art.
CCLA is pleased with the acquittal, which is a victory for freedom of expression. While we all have different levels of tolerance for images that are disturbing or frightening, the viewing public should have the right to choose what they want to watch and this should not be a matter for the criminal law. Freedom of expression does have limits, but censoring based on hypothetical reactions by hypothetical views may lead us down a very dangerous road. Moreover, this kind of prosecution wastes court time and limited resources and is not an effective route to curb or prevent violence against women.