By Don Hutchinson
“The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,” or so former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau infamously stated to the media at a press conference on December 21, 1967.
Last week, Canada’s Science and Technology Museum (located in Ottawa) finished setting up the exhibit “Sex:A Tell All Exhibition” in its renowned, taxpayer funded halls – bringing what perhaps belongs in the bedrooms of the nation into the halls of the state.
The museum hosted an advance showing for journalists and artists, which resulted in me receiving communications from one of each suggesting there were seriously offensive, potentially illegal, components to the exhibit. These were two trusted sources so I wrote the following note to Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore:
I am shocked to hear about the explicit sexual content of the exhibition “Sex: A Tell All Exhibition” that is scheduled to open May 17 in the federally funded family environment of the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
While I have not seen the exhibition personally, the comments received in my office indicate that there are pornographic images; some reportedly involving or depicting children (under the age of 18 years), potentially in violation of the Criminal Code.
I would be relieved to find out these reports are not true, just as I would be remiss in not bringing them to your attention if they are.
Since then, there has been a lot of media coverage as over 50 letters of complaint have been received at the museum (at time of writing as reported on last night’s local Ottawa news) and the Minister has viewed the exhibit, noting in the House of Commons on Thursday:
I believe in the independence of our museums and I also believe in sex education.
The director of the museum asked me to view the exhibit. ... I was asked for my opinion and, in my opinion, it is not appropriate for young children to be exposed to sexually explicit material without the consent of their parents.
I made my view known and it is up to the museum to decide now where it goes.
Before opening the exhibit to the public yesterday, the museum raised the age for attendance unaccompanied by an adult from 12 to 16 and removed some components of the original exhibit, notably the cartoon videos of young teens masturbating – which might have generated concern once consideration was given to the potential for being classified as child pornography under s. 163.1 of the Criminal Code. This suggests there were, and may remain, problems with the content.
We’ve had some media contact in the same process. Of course, interviews are edited to shape the intent of the journalist. To be clear, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has for several decades taken a firm stand in regard to the protection and well-being of children. The EFC was involved in having child pornography added as a crime to the Criminal Code (defending the section before the Supreme Court of Canada and then working to secure amendments recommended by the court); advocating for almost two decades to raise the age of consent to sexual activity with an adult from 14, which it was in 2008 to 16; convincing the government to implement Criminal Code provisions against the trafficking of women, children and men (described as modern day slavery) and supporting the most recent efforts of MP Joy Smith to establish minimum sentences for those who traffick in children in Canada and application of our laws to Canadians who traffick in children outside of our borders. I could go on, but think this is sufficient for now.
Our interest is in the protection of children.
Which is why, in my capacity as a private citizen, I also contacted the RCMP to ask that a member of the child protection unit view the display to assess whether there was evidence of an offence that might tend to corrupt the morals of a minor under the Criminal Code s. 163 or of child pornography. I don’t know if anyone went.
One person who viewed the exhibit was featured on last night’s CTV National News noting that there was nothing in the exhibit about relationships being a part of sexual activity. It was just about sex, primarily homosexual sexual behaviour. Another person I spoke with said they were impressed that the exhibit noted alternatives to engaging in abortion if pregnant, but disappointed that adoption was not one of them.
I was asked by an interviewer if I was going to go to see the exhibit for myself. I don’t think so. I’m now old enough to know that not everything must be learned the hard way. Sometimes we can acquire what we need to know through the experience of others, particularly trustworthy others.
Journalist Michael Coren has suggested in one article that “with some exceptions our leaders are indifferent, and those of us who criticize this nonsense will be condemned as frightened prudes.” Concluding, “Rise up, frightened prudes of the world, before it’s too late.”
Prude is not a label that has been applied to me before, but I say, in the best interests of our children “The bedrooms of the nation have no place in the halls of the state.” Parents, be warned that the current plan is school trips to the Museum of Science and Technology between now and the end of January 2013 will feature large groups of young children, accompanied by one or two adults, learning more about the mechanics of sex and watching “soft porn” videos than anything that has to do with science.