Thursday, 12 December 2013

Lenore Zann's dangerous gamble

The CBC ran a story tonight [link] regarding an upsetting run in Nova Scotia MLA Lenore Zann had with a 17 year old victim of the patriarchy. In case you don't feel like giving the CBC a clickthrough, Zann was an actor before entering political life. You may have seen her on the L Word or as Rogue on the X-Men cartoon. She has done some nude scenes over her career and we now face the unfortunate fact that it is being used against her.

In its most recent surfacing, an image of Zann was posted by a 17 year old two weeks ago, and much drama ensued. Many have cried sexism and brought up the patriarchy, and rightfully so. To treat Zann differently and attempt to demean her using sexual innuendo or messaging in my opinion is deplorable and immature, to say the least.

Had Zann and her supporters taken this opportunity to educate the public on the impacts of the patriarchy, that's probably where this story would have ended. But Lenore Zann made one critical mistake: she called the police.

Was Lenore Zann the victim of tacit sexism and mean spirited behavior? Absolutely. Was she bullied? It could be argued.

So then why was it wrong for her to call the cops?

Cyber bullying laws in spirit are meant to protect people from life crippling harassment. Intimate image laws are meant to protect people from 'the angry ex' who might publish an image that was intended to be private, as well as horrible situations like that of Rehtaeh Parsons. 

But the picture in question originates from a scene intended for public consumption. Zann appeared nude on camera with the intention of other people seeing it. The fact that she's a politician in my opinion makes this a case that is fraught with risk to freedom of expression.

As I asked in July when this came up last time, what if Rob Ford had been nude in the crack video? While a disgusting thought, in theory he could prevent said video's release. Hell in theory he could have prevented the release of the real one considering how broad some of these laws are.

In a democracy politicians have to be willing to face the public regarding the decisions they have made. If in that context Lenore Zann was a victim of cyber-bullying then so too was Rob Ford, and for that matter everybody who has ever worked in the political-media complex.

Our political representatives have a duty to be thoughtful in their proposal and application of the law. The kind of precedent this could have set honestly frightens me. Joseph Howe fought this fight 200 years ago for us, to ensure we could always tell the truth about a politician no matter how vile. Thank goodness the police had the sense to see that despite how the law was written, even if Lenore Zann didn't.

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