Monday, December 13, 2010

Citizens concerned about Project Sanctuary

December 13, 2010

Open Letter re: Richard Dyde

York researcher Richard Dyde killed himself on December 9th. It was the day after police named him and 56 others in connection with Project Sanctuary, their child pornography probe.

We have serious grounds for questioning the legitimacy of this probe. In past years, Ontario police departments have launched similar investigations – Project Guardian in London, Project Truth in Cornwall, among others –that were later revealed to be little more than opportunistic sex scandals. Often relying on dubious allegations and perjured evidence, many of the cases related to these investigations collapsed in court. No matter: a witch-hunt mentality prevailed, jobs were lost, families and reputations were destroyed, and several men likewise took their own lives.

Police have admitted to journalists that one of the most inflammatory charges Dyde faced, “making child pornography,” may actually refer to “putting it on a different type of medium.” Does this mean saving a downloaded jpeg as a pdf? This blurring of crucial distinctions seems calculated to foster hysteria, not informed opinion.

We do not know the specifics of Richard Dyde’s case. All we know are the screaming headlines, which presumably drove him to take his life. All we know are sickening feelings of déjà vu as we witness a police force trafficking in maximum sensationalism, a complacent mass media cashing in on the frenzy, and a legal system perpetuating and enforcing questionable laws that equate representation with physical molestation. The public identification and shaming of these men, before any court process, is an intolerable injustice of which Richard Dyde is only the most recent victim.


Mary-Louise Adams, associate professor, Kinesiology and Health, Queens University

Brenda Cossman, professor, Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto

Richard Fung, associate professor, Faculty of Art, OCAD University

John Greyson, associate professor, Film, York University

Gerald Hannon, writer

Peter Kingstone, artist/lecturer

Gary Kinsman, professor, Sociology, Laurentian University

Tim McCaskell, writer/activist

Matt Mills, editorial director, Xtra

Alan Sears, professor, Sociology, Ryerson University

Rinaldo Walcott, professor, SESE OISE University of Toronto

Tom Waugh, professor, Film, Concordia University

For more information, check out the facebook group Citizens concerned about Project Sanctuary.

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