(I remember when this shit went down. I think a few of my friends in Nepean were friends with the police chief’s daughter who was at the center of this case. In light of much of the nonsense happening in the world today, I felt it was interesting to look back at the politics of being a free-thinking artists in this world. I do remember the flack this band took over this, and frankly, it only made them more famous. – FATS)
A precedent setting trial was held in an Ottawa court on November 5 for obscenity related offences. Opening statements were heard from Crown Attorney Celynne Dorval who pleaded with the 12 jurors to rely on common sense in deciding the fate of Toronto record company Fringe Product Inc. and its distribution arm Record Peddler. They faced charges of distribution and possession for the purpose of distribution of obscene material.
The prosecution was centred on 11 of 37 songs by Victoria, B.C. band DAYGLO ABORTIONS. The songs are from 2 albums entitled “Feed Us A Fetus”, which shows a painting of Ronald & Nancy Reagan in front of a baked human fetus on a plate, and “Here Today, Guano Tomorrow” which shows before and after pictures of a hamster sitting atop a box of chocolates being blown away by a gun. Several hundred copies of the records were seized in 1988 following a four month invest-igation by Nepean, Ontario police after complaints from an officer whose daughter had brought home a copy.
The charges were the first ever in Canadian law under obscenity provisions that have been in the criminal code since 1959. However, the Ottawa jury, originally deadlocked, were ordered back into deliberation before returning nine hours later with a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict. Fringe president Ben Hoffman said the verdict sends a message to the record industry that some caution must be used “but, reinforces what the record industry has always believed – that people should be able to express themselves the way the want.”
Charges against the band itself were dropped early in the case; Canadian law does not prohibit the creation of obscene material, only the selling or distributing of it. Band member Murray Acton said the verdict “reaffirms my faith in the average citizen of Canada.”
A Roman Catholic official, however, said the jury’s decision that rock lyrics emphasizing perverted sex, suicide, rape, incest and murder are not obscene shows that obscenity laws must be tightened. He called on crown prosecutors to appeal the acquittal to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary. The Renaissamce Intern-ational Church echoed that appeal.