Sex-doll case hard to figure

Brian Jones
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If you’re curious about how Kenneth Harrison obtained the “child-like sex doll” he is charged with sending through the mail, you better be careful if you look into it, just for interest’s sake, of course.

Brian Jones

If you Google “sex doll,” you could become a child-pornography suspect, because you might have broken the Criminal Code of Canada’s S. 163.1, which prohibits any “visual representation” of sexual activity with a person — real or depicted — under the age of 18.

You better hope the state never has cause to seize or search your computer, because you could find yourself charged as a child-pornographer.

Child pornography is a nasty bit of business. Some conservative creeps might defend it because it creates jobs in Asia and boosts the tourism industry, but generally the broader public sees it for the cruel scourge it is.

That said, child-pornography laws are so expansive they encompass not just actions, but thoughts and fantasies. The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits versions of Orwell’s thought-crimes.

(Granted, it has become a cliché to deride something as “Orwellian,” but that is because so much of George Orwell’s gothic vision of an intrusive and dominating state has come to pass, three decades after 1984.)

You won’t see pictures of Harrison’s alleged child-like sex doll in the media. As far as I know, the RNC has never circulated such images, but even if it did, any media outlet that published or broadcast them would be — you guessed it — in contravention of S. 163.1 of the Criminal Code.

The police, on the other hand, would be immune from prosecution for disseminating child pornography because S. 163.1(6) of the Criminal Code thoughtfully exempts such an action that “has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice.”

Was Harrison’s child-like sex doll homemade? Is there a factory somewhere in China that mass-produces sex dolls? If so, do they make child models as well as adult models? Do they come in 11-, 13- and 15-year-old versions? Do they, as you’d suspect, make more girl models than boy models? Do they produce a gender-neutral version?

For goodness sake, don’t Google it. Whatever pops up on your screen will almost certainly put you in contravention of S. 163.1.

Let’s be clear. Sexual abuse is a crime. Perversion in your own head is not.

Sexual abusers must be stopped. Perverts being stopped … well, that’s much more tricky. When the long arm of the law is granted authority to reach into someone’s mind, well, we’re back to talking about Orwell.

When it was introduced some years ago, Canada’s child-pornography law was immensely controversial, for the reasons cited here, as well as others. Unfortunately, the controversy has faded away, although the law’s faults remain. The country’s legal community seems to not be bothered by the fact there are people being jailed despite having hurt or harmed no one.

The standard argument is that if the police can nab a pervert before he — and it is invariably a he — actually molests or abuses a child, then the law is valid. Orwell could smash that supposition to smithereens in a sentence or two.

I can’t, but let me suggest a scenario to put the tactic in context. Police often announce they have caught an “online predator.” Usually, a cop poses as a kid online and trolls for perverts. A creep looking for sex chats up the “kid,” arranges a meeting and boom — busted. Such entrapment is deemed justified because it supposedly prevents a real child from being victimized.

And yet, we don’t see preventative policing to stop, say, robberies. Police aren’t setting up fake convenience stores or pharmacies to entice dirt bags into them, thus protecting real convenience stores and pharmacies.

It comes down to this: never mind the perverts. Arrest real abusers.

Brian Jones is a copy editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at

Organizations: Google, The Telegram

Geographic location: Canada, Asia, China

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Recent comments

  • ted
    October 18, 2016 - 22:19

    So what happened in this case?

  • good article
    January 15, 2016 - 14:41

    A very good article Brian & thanks for having the guts to say it. It's way past time. That old man accused of being involved in a crime he didn't commit is a perfect example of uneducated red necks run amok. He actually looks like a gentleman compared to his persecutors! What ever they use to help themselves keep their hands off real people is a benefit to potential victims & all of us.

  • Finding balance
    January 15, 2016 - 13:47

    I commend Brian for having the courage to wade in on topic that most columnists wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. It's easy to take on the establishment when popular opinion is on your side; much harder to stand up for someone whose thoughts or behaviour are universally disgusting but who are nevertheless entitled to a measure of fairness under the law. There is a large body of science that says pedophilia is incurable. The only thing we can do - must do - is to prevent pedophiles from acting on their instincts in a way that harms children - for example, any activity that involves children in the production and sale of materials aimed at the gratification of sexual deviants. But does that include sex toys that don't directly involve children? Some cite the risks of inciting the pedophile to commit some other overt act against children. Others say the opposite: that it might act like a relief valve. Heroin use, for example, is illegal and yet governments and courts have seen fit to allow injection sites on the basis they provide a measure of protection for the addict and the public alike. There is concern that the sex doll thing could be the start of a slippery slope. It raises issues we might see taken up at some point by Canada's supreme court. In the meantime I can't fault police for doing what they are doing - at least until the courts rule otherwise.

  • martina
    January 15, 2016 - 12:29

    Agree Brian. Any society that allows it's citizens to be arrested & jailed for their thoughts is moving backwards. Victims should be real, raising a doll to the level of a victim is foolishness & dangerous to society, it's a slippery slope. I would rather a pervert with a doll than a perverted criminal with a real victim any day.

    • roy206
      January 15, 2016 - 13:35

      good comment on a nice piece....and I dolls on this week for $469.. available to any one with a credit card. Drop the case, it was poor judgement to get involved in the first place.

  • Karina
    January 15, 2016 - 10:56

    I'm very glad the RNC is present online as well as on the "street". The Internet, being a different platform than the street, brings a different set of challenges in ways to catch "creeps" who have the intention of hurting a child. Thank you for your work, RNC!

    • RNC
      January 15, 2016 - 13:55

      How we know you're not a pedophile? Answer either, 'YES' if you are a pedophile or 'NO' if your'e denying the fact that you are a pedophile. (the SWAT team is on its way)

  • EDfromRED
    January 15, 2016 - 10:24

    Very thoughtful article. A few years ago I was watching one of those "To Catch a Predators" programs, and they were using as a lure a twenty year old actress who looked and sounded like she was a very young teen. I wondered to myself if she had a boyfriend could he be considered a "Pedophile"? I would not be surprised if a Right Wing Prosecutor and Judge found anyone in a relationship with her, guilty of a "Thought Crime".

  • John
    January 15, 2016 - 08:13

    Brian, you can't compare potential child abusers to potential store robbers. Would hate to see your internet history!

    • Connor
      January 15, 2016 - 20:22

      And I suppose if the average Joe buys a Playboy magazine, that makes him a potential rapist?

    • QuebecCityOliver
      January 16, 2016 - 11:08

      I read a story about a clerk in Chicago who shot and killed two teenager would be robbers earlier this month. I think store robbers can be considered serious criminals. There are plenty of stories of clerks being killed or shot even in Canada. The shooting in Edmonton, less than a month ago springs to mind.