Jury rules Canadian punk rock record not obscene

OTTAWA -- In a landmark decision, a Canadian jury has found two records by the punk rock group DayGlo Abortions not obscene.

The jury ruled Thursday after eight hours of deliberation that the albums, 'Feed Us A Fetus' and 'Here Today Guano Tomorrow' are not obscene as charged under Canada's Criminal Code.


Convictions on obscenity charges carry maximum penalties of two years in jail and an $8,500 fine.

Charged were Toronto-based Fringe Product Inc. and its sister company, Record Peddler, which produced and distributed the albums.

The group itself was not charged.

The companies were charged in August 1988 after an Ottawa-area police officer overheard his daughter listening to a DayGlo Abortions album. There were no public complaints received about the albums.

It is the first time in Canada a record company has been prosecuted under Criminal Code provisions that have existed since 1959.

The albums contain tunes such as 'Argh F--- Kill,' 'Kill Johnny Stiff,' about a New York concert promoter the group alleges ripped them off, and 'Proud to be Canadian,' which compares Canada's treatment of its aboriginal population to anally raping an Eskimo.


Another tune draws a connection between the Star Spangled Banner and 'Nazi propaganda'.

The tunes are laced with four-letter words and describe sex, satanism, bestiality, rape, murder and suicide. The albums also carried warning stickers saying they were full of 'poisonous ideas and corrosive contents.'

Band members, with names like Cretin, Couch Potato and Jesus Bonehead, argue the songs are parodies intended to shock. One of the bandmembers is a longtime Canadian government employee.

At the opening of the trial Monday, the prosecution played the albums and handed out lyric sheets so jurors could follow the song's frequently unintelligible lyrics.

The albums have sold about 20,000 copies, considered a good sales figure since they received minimal airplay.

Ben Hoffman, owner of Fringe Product, told United Press International before the trial began: 'It's the kind of music that only appeals to a small section of the record-buying public.

'It is something you would have to seek out in a record store and if it's not something that appeals to you, you would probably go to the Milli Vanilli section of the store,' Hoffman said.

Hoffman said many DayGlo Abortions fans are attracted to the music itself, not the lyrics.


Hoffman said while the albums would probably offend some people, that's not reason enough to ban them.

Prosecutor Celynne Dorval told the jurors Monday that: 'You are 12 people representing the Canadian population.

'It is up to you to decide what the standard of tolerance is in the community,' Dorval said.

Hoffman said publicity surrounding the case boosted record sales only slightly.

Police in London, Ontario, recently charged a bookstore with selling copies of the 2 Live Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be. The store owner admitted he wanted to be charged to test the law.

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