The constitutionality of pornography

Van der Poll, Letetia (2001-12)

Thesis (LLD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2001.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The advent of a constitutional democracy in South Africa after the first non-racial democratic elections in 1994 and the subsequent adoption of a final constitution in 1996 introduced a legal order based on "democratic values, social justice and fundamental rights". The inception of a constitutional democracy in South African encourages an assessment of the possible constitutional ramifications of pornography, specifically within a discourse on women's interests in equality, human dignity and physical integrity. Under the strong influence of United States First Amendment doctrine, pornography is defined (and protected in the "marketplace of ideas") as a particular mode of expression, thus allowing pornography to be viewed as part of the fabric of an open, free and democratic society. Within this doctrinal context, the recognition and entrenchment of freedom of expression have firmly placed pornography on both the South African constitutional and political agendas. The objective of this study is to address specific aspects of the debate on adult heterosexual pornography (that is, pornography produced for and targeted at the male heterosexual market) in order to establish its constitutionality. This dissertation is not, however, intended as a discourse on pornography as a possible threat to the moral fibre of society, but rather about pornography as an invasion ofwomen's particular constitutional interests in equality, human dignity as well as security in and control over their bodies. To this end, Chapter 2 serves to establish a suitable theoretical framework that is capable of facilitating a woman-centred analysis of adult heterosexual pornography within the ambit of the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution. Consequently, the merit ofliberal feminism and radical feminist thought is critically assessed against the particular (constitutional and doctrinal) demands presented by a study of this nature. Chapter three - the first in a trilogy which seeks to evaluate the different conceptualisations of pornography in the United States, Canada and South Africa - critically reflects on the obscenity jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of the United States of America as well as radical feminist campaigns in Minneapolis and Indianapolis to re-conceptualise pornography and its harm. Chapter 4 entails a critical reflection on the capacity of Canadian constitutional jurisprudence to address adult heterosexual pornography either as a patriarchal structure which impacts on women's interests in equality, dignity and physical integrity or as a mode of expression which incites gender hatred. Chapter 5 traces the history of South African censorship law as prelude to a critical discussion of the current Films and Publications Act as well as the first decision of the South African Constitutional Court on the possible human rights implications of sexually explicit material. The chapter concludes with proposals for a suitable conception of the (constitutional) harm as well as a legal definition of adult heterosexual pornography for South African law. The constitutional implications of the proposed conceptions of pornography and harm are evaluated in Chapter 6 with specific reference to sections 9, 10 and 12 as well as subsection 16(2)( c) of the South African Constitution. Chapter 7 concludes the present study with some thoughts on the suitability of censorship as legal and political strategy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die koms van 'n konstitusionele demokrasie in Suid-Afrika ná die eerste nie-rassige demokratiese verkiesings in 1994 en die daaropvolgende aanname van 'n finale grondwet in 1996 het' n regsorde wat op "demokratiese waardes, maatskaplike geregtigheid en basiese menseregte" gegrond is, ingelei. Die aanvang van 'n konstitusionele demokrasie in Suid-Afrika moedig inderwaarheid 'n evaluering van die moontlike grondwetlike gevolge van pornografie, spesifiek binne 'n diskoers oor vroue se belange in gelykheid, menswaardigheid en fisiese integriteit, aan. Onder die sterk invloed van die leerstelling van die Amerikaanse Eerste Amendement word pornografie gedefinieer (en beskerm binne die "markplein van idees") as 'n spesifieke vorm van uitdrukking wat gevolglik meebring dat pornografie noodwendig as deel van 'n oop, vrye en demokratiese gemeenskap beskou word. Binne hierdie dogmatiese konteks het die erkenning en . verskansing van vryheid van uitdrukking pornografie stewig op sowel die Suid-Afrikaanse grondwetlike as politieke agendas geplaas. Die oogmerk van hierdie studie is om spesifieke aspekte rondom die debat oor volwasse heteroseksuele pornografie (naamlik, pornografie geproduseer vir en gerig op die manlike heteroseksuele mark) aan te spreek ten einde die grondwetlikheid daarvan te bepaal. Hierdie proefskrif is egter nie bedoel as 'n diskoers oor pornografie as moontlike bedreiging vir die morele stoffasie van die gemeenskap nie, maar eerder oor pornografie as 'n 'n inbreukmaking op vroue se spesifieke grondwetlike belange in gelykheid, menswaardigheid asook sekerheid in en beheer oor hulle liggame. Gevolglik dien Hoofstuk 2 om 'n gepaste teoretiese raamwerk daar te stel wat oor die vermoë beskik om 'n vroue-gesentreerde analise van volwasse heteroseksuele pornografie binne die raamwerk van die Handves van Menseregte in die Suid-Afrikaanse Grondwet aan te help. Daarom word die meriete van die liberale feminisme en die radikale feministiese denke krities oorweeg teenoor die spesifieke (grondwetlike en dogmatiese) uitdagings wat deur 'n studie van hierdie aard gestel word. Hoofstuk 3 - die eerste in 'n trilogie wat ten doel het om die verskillende opvattings oor pornografie in die Verenigde State, Kanada en Suid-Afrika te ondersoek - bevat 'n kritiese oorweging van die Amerikaanse Hooggeregshofse beskouing van obseniteit asook die radikaal feministies-geïnspireerde veldtogte in Minneapolis en Indianapolis wat ten doel gehad het om pornografie en sy nadeel te herkonseptualiseer. Hoofstuk 4 behels 'n kritiese oorweging van die vermoë van die Kanadese grondwetlike reg om volwasse heteroseksuele pornografie Of as 'n patriargale struktuur wat 'n impak op vroue se belange in gelykheid, menswaardigheid en fisiese integriteit het Of as 'n vorm van uitdrukking wat geslagshaat aanwakker, aan te spreek. Hoofstuk 5 speur die geskiedenis van sensuur in Suid-Afrika na as inleiding tot 'n kritiese bespreking van die huidige Wet op Films en Publikasies asook die eerste beslissing van die Suid- Afrikaanse Grondwetlike Hof oor die menseregte-implikasies van seksueel eksplisiete materiaal. Die hoofstuk sluit afmet voorstelle vir 'n gepaste begrip van sowel die (grondwetlike)nadeel as 'n regsdefinisie van volwasse heteroseksuele pornografie vir die Suid-Afrikaanse reg. Die grondwetlike implikasies van die voorgestelde begrippe van pornografie en gepaardgaande nadeel word in Hoofstuk 6 opgeweeg met besondere verwysing na artikels 9, 10 en 12 asook subartikeI16(2)(c) van die Suid-Afrikaanse Grondwet. Hoofstuk 7 sluit die onderhawige studie af met enkele gedagtes oor sensuur as gepasde regs- en politiese strategie.

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