CAB Violence Code
Commentary Re Clause 9: Violence Against Animals
In CHCH-TV re The Ricki Lake Show (CBSC Decision 95/96-0105, April 30, 1996), the broadcaster aired an episode of the talk show with the theme “Help me, my friend won’t stop hurting animals”. The complainant challenged the show on the grounds that it was not an attempt to educate or inform the public about the abuse of animals but was rather aimed at disgusting the viewing audience and teaching young people how to hurt animals. The Panel found that it did not violate the provisions of the Code relating to animal cruelty:
[T]he Panel does not consider that this show constituted a visual “how-to” tool. It is true that unpleasant examples of animal abuse were mentioned but these were neither portrayed in video form nor described in any graphic detail. Moreover, in terms of the Clause in question, no viewer of the show could reasonably conclude that the program sanctioned, promoted or glamorized violence against animals. Not only was the host clear in her position against animal abusers, but her guest expert from the Humane Society also reflected that perspective. He even drew a link between animal abusers and serial killers of human beings, the implications of which are strongly negative in terms of the show’s attitude toward animal abuse. Finally, it was quite clear from all of the audience interventions that there was not a single voice sympathetic to the abusive activities of guests on the show.
CKCO-TV re Kazan (CBSC Decision 96/97-0226, February 20, 1998) concerned a Sunday matinee movie which told the story of a canine, part dog/part wolf, named Kazan whose personal challenge was to decide whether he belonged in the wilderness or in the company of humans. His choice was complicated by the fact that many of the humans he encountered were undesirables. The movie contained scenes depicting the beating, shooting and near drowning of Kazan. The Ontario Regional Panel ruled that the movie did not sanction violence against animals.
[T]he Panel considers that there was no more encouragement of the issue of violence toward animals than there was of any other forms of violence. While the movie did portray animal abuse, abusers were depicted as “the bad guys” over whom “the good guys” prevail in the end.
In The Comedy Network re The Tom Green Show (CBSC Decision 98/99-0291, June 17, 1999), the Ontario Regional Panel dealt with a complaint about an unconventional comedy skit which involved the use of a dead pigeon as a “prop” to humiliate an unsuspecting pedestrian. As to the use of the “poor dead animal,” the Panel found that
there is no way that one can reasonably conclude that the program segment involving the dead pigeon sanctions, promotes or glamorizes violence against animals. The pigeon was, after all, obviously dead before being used as part of the stunt. Moreover, the Panell notes that the air of disgust on Laurie’s face as she held the dead bird went a long way towards negating any glamorization of the bird’s fate. There is not, in fact, any reason to assume that it was a violent act which even resulted in the death of the bird. In the end, the issue relates to the use made of the dead bird and that is, if anything a question of taste, rather than any issue of violence to animals.
In Showcase re the movie Caniche (CBSC Decision 01/02-0032, May 3, 2002), the National Specialty Services Panel examined a film that contained scenes of bestiality and incest, and also visually implied that the main characters ground up dogs to use as food for their own poodle. The Panel found no breach of Article 9.1 and made the following observations regarding the substance of the movie:
Caniche falls into the category of art films and, as is sometimes the case with such films, its themes are unusual, to say the very least. There is sexuality, indeed bizarre sexuality (in the form of incest and bestiality), which is clearly intended for adults. There is almost an implication of the destruction of dogs as food for Eloisa’s dog, Danny. Of all such scenes, it could be said that the themes are disturbing; however, there is nothing overt or gratuitous, or glamorized or positively promoted in the film nor, in the view of the Panel, is there any issue relating to the substance of the film that involves any possible Code breach.