injusticebusters logo

Freedom of speech use it or lose it

The Don Smith Obscenity Trial

Sheila Steele Editorial June, 2004

Warning: Anyone sensitive about bare boobies or fake blood should be careful about scrolling down this page ...

The police not only failed to serve and protect Don and Lorna Smith and their children but actively participated in setting them up for false charges and community shunning

Don Smith family

Don Smith, formerly of Fort Francis, Ontario, set to appeal obscenity conviction

Don Smith phoned the office of the registrar in B.C. to make sure there had not been appeal on Judge Low's decision in R. v. Price (the Steve Sweet pornography case). He was told there had not been an appeal within the 30 day period but that a judicial review had been requested. Could anybody enlighten me about what this means (as you are aware, Smith has been banned from the Internet and the Ontario government has seized the copyright on his creative material, satirical experiments with special effects - all of which was tamer than the Sweet videos -- no genital nudity, no sex.)

Brian Greenspan, who is gaining a good reputation as a civil rights attorney is handling the appeal for Don Smith.

Don Smith, a soft porn video artist, was convicted after a stunning series of violations of his basic charter rights by OPP cop Scott Gobeil. The persecution of the Smith family happened against the backdrop of a community with way more than your average number of fundamentalist Christian churches per capita and was preceeded by a smear campaign which almost tore the family apart.

Smith, who had suffered severe back injuries which prevented him from working at most jobs for which he was qualified. He needed to make money and he wanted to make movies. He learned his skills and produced several small videos which spoof violence against women. He hired models, paid them, and developed his own special effects techniques to create pierced arrow wounds and other obviously impossible images. No one was under age in any of his videos.

Smith was given no help by the Winnipeg lawyer he hired. Darren Sawchuk seemed to be ashamed of his client, although he didn't hesitate to take Smith's money. He missed the dates for filing important documents. He failed to get experts, although Smith was able to secure two excellent experts himself, at the last minute.

Howard Leibovich and Christine Bartlett-Hughes, a prosecutor who breathes some understanding into, if not justification for the term feminazi blew into Fort Francis to prosecute the case. The truth was not in their quiver of prosecutorial arrows. The jury lapped up their innuendo and it was left to circuit court judge Helen Pierce to deliver the coup de grace, a guilty verdict and a punishing fine.

It doesn't matter that she is brain-dead: she appeared to be asleep through much of the trial. She woke up long enough to drone on at length about the harm Don Smith had done to women, although no hurt women had been presented to her court. She was going to make an example of him, she said.

She refused to accept the expertise of two men with doctorate degrees, claiming they knew no more than an ordinary person. She also ignored the testimony of two of the models who appeared in Smith's videos and told the court they had been well treated and well paid.

Although there is cartoonish violence in Smith's work, there is no genital nudity and no sex.

Greenspan appealed Smith's sentence in April, 2003. The appeal was denied, based on an understanding that the appeal on conviction would proceed quickly to court. The Crown also presented to the court two precedents for sentencing which were not accurate; in fact, they were stretched to the point of falsification. It would seem that any suggestion of harm to capital W women -- that imaginary monolithic half of the population so fragile it cannot be trusted to think or speak for itself -- signals stern vengeance.

Thirteen months ago, I wrote an editorial: Naked: The truth stripped to the skin, verging on a screech-rant, linking the Smith case to abuses in Saskatchewan and Iraq. (Warning again -- more skin and blood). How much or how little has changed...

Rémy Couture

F/X wiz on trial for 'corrupting morals'

Thirteen months later, the appeal has not yet proceeded. Meanwhile, Smith continues to endure harsh restrictions, which include having his whole family prohibited from having the Internet in their home. His children (shown above in a picture taken five years ago) are home schooled.

Smith and his wife continue to be harassed by members of the OPP. The case has cost the family hundreds of thousands.

Last month, a B.C. judge acquitted a B.C. man on 20 counts which are arguably more serious than those Smith was convicted for. His well-reasoned 26 page decision is posted here. [OFFSITE]

The appeal has finally been set for February 8, 2005. Some expediting! [He lost]