GRANT McKENZIE: When common sense fails

I’ve never been a fan of creating more laws — especially when common sense should make it unnecessary.

I’ve never been a fan of creating more laws — especially when common sense should make it unnecessary. However, common sense seems to be a far rarer commodity than I give it credit for.

In the wake of another very disturbing teenage suicide, the government of Nova Scotia is championing a new “cyberbullying” law that would criminalize the distribution of “intimate images” without consent.

You may recall that 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons recently hanged herself after allegedly being gang raped by four boys and having images of the assault broadcast throughout her peer network.

It’s difficult to imagine that anyone would think the distribution of humiliating sexual images of a vulnerable teenager was even remotely legal in the first place; and to think that it was a fun thing to do and talk about at school, is even more revolting.

That these same alleged perpetrators are even now trying to blame the victim through a series of rallies and “Support the Boys” posters distributed throughout the maritime town — including along the victim’s street — sickens me.

Although we can’t make it illegal to be a malicious asshole (although we can hope he/she gets his/her comeuppance), the Internet has made it so that the distribution of photos and bullying taunts is far reaching, powerfully damaging and everlasting.

A new law isn’t the complete answer (that comes through education, including what sexual consent is), but it’s clearly something we need. M

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