Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Canada Customs Polices Obscenity
The long-running legal battle between Vancouver's Little Sister's bookstore and Canadian Customs has centered around the tendency for Customs to seize gay and lesbian literature that is en route to Little Sister's. (The case essentially ground to an end more than a year ago, when government funding was denied for Little Sister's legal expenses; Little Sister's maintains a webpage devoted to the history of the case.) But lots of sexually explicit material is perfectly legal in Canada -- how does Customs know what to seize and what to pass? In part, it seems, they are instructed by a list of titles, with an indication of which titles are acceptable and which are verboten. How do I know this? Because Slate.com was good enough to publish excerpts from the list and the accompanying instructions for the fourth quarter of 2007. The distinctions drawn by the censors suggest a refined development of the casuistrical arts.
If you want to, you can buy Little Sister's for $675,000 (Canadian, presumably).