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Project Sanctuary, child porn busts gone wrong, and the Dyde suicide

An open letter regarding Richard Dyde:

York researcher Richard Dyde killed himself on Dec 9. 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. 

Sincerely,

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

To add your name to the list of signatories, join the facebook group Citizens Concerned About Project Sanctuary.

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