It's Monday April 19th and this year marks the 15th
Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster,
when 11 million gallons of crude oil wreaked havoc
on Prince William Sound, resulting in the world's worst
Currently, former Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood
is once again transporting large quantities of oil
- from the fryer to the dumpster, at the back of the
This is the Current.
Art and Porn/Cronenberg
Politics and artistic expression usually sit growling
at one another from across the room. But this week
they crowd together in bill C-12, the government's
attempt to tighten child pornography laws. In its words,
it's designed for the quote "protection of
children and other vulnerable persons from sexual exploitation,
abuse and neglect".
It's parliament's answer to the work of Vancouver
writer John Robin Sharpe. Two
years ago the B.C.
Supreme Court ruled that some forms of child pornography are
legal if they are judged to have artistic merit.
We broadcasted some of the reaction to that ruling
starting with John Sharpe. The last voice was John
Dixon of the B.C.
Civil Liberties Union, and before
that Renata Aebi of the Alliance
for the Rights of Children.
Most Canadian artists are likely very uncomfortable
with the work of John Sharpe. But they worry about
the language of Bill C-12. You might expect a film-maker
who's turned men into insects and explored the erotic
potential of car crashes not to turn away from the
controversy. And he hasn't. Canadian Filmmaker David
Cronenberg joined us in our Toronto studio.
Maybe artists don't vote as a block. If they did,
there might be someone to take their side in Ottawa.
Because Bill C-12 appears to be moving through parliament
without opposition. One of the supporters of Bill C-12
White. He is the Conservative Member of Parliament
for Langley-Abbotsford. He was in our Ottawa studio.
Banned Films Factboard
Canada's history of censoring artists goes back at
least to 1914. Balzac's
Droll Stories - about life
in 16th century France - was considered unfit for Canadians.
Its banning was followed by D.H.
Lawrence's, Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1930, and James
Joyce's Ulysses in 1933.
In 1918, the first film censors snipped away in Manitoba,
where all comedies were outlawed for being frivolous.
The Academy Award-winning German film "The
Tin Drum" was banned in 1980. The adaptation of the
novel by Gunter Grass was first cut, then banned as
child pornography by the Ontario Censorship Board.
In 1994, Saskatchewan's film censors briefly kept
Exit to Eden out of cinemas. The comedy starred Rosie
O'Donnell and Dan Aykroyd as police officers investigating
an S and M resort.
The Maritime film board banned the theatrical AND
video release of Angelica Houston's film, Bastard
Out of Carolina in 1997. The film examined incest through
the eyes of a sexually abused girl.
Two years ago Ontario's Film Review Board censored
the coming-of-age movie Fat
Girl-- but reversed its
decision a few months later.
Listen to The Current: Part
The Current: Part 2
It seems wherever you stand in Iraq there’s
a different ditch to die in. The US coalition fights
rebels, police fight insurgents, Sunnis and Shia kidnap
relief workers. The Kurds bide their time.
Behind all the mayhem however, more subtle battles
are won and lost. The Iraqi loot is being divvied up
and the Iraquis themselves haven’t had much say
in where it goes.
One of the great critics of the way corporations bend
public policy has been watching a very different war
than the one shown on television. You probably know
Naomi Klein for her book No
Logo – it made her
a reluctant spokesperson for the anti-globalization
Activist Naomi Klein just returned from a month in
Baghdad. She was in our Toronto studio.
Listen to The Current: Part
The Current: Part 3
Exxon – Fisherman
It was a big tanker and a big spill that became a big
lawsuit and a 15-year wait.
It's been 15 years since a drunken captain ran the
Exxon Valdez into the rocks of Alaska's Prince William
Sound. A few extra ounces of alcohol in the bloodstream
led to 11-million gallons of crude oil in the Sound;
11- thousand workers were needed to clean it up. Exxon
says it spent $2.2 billion on the cleanup, another
$900 million in settlements for environmental damages.
But in 1994, an unprecedented development. The courts
awarded a $5-billion (US) penalty against Exxon in
a class action suit involving 32,000 claimants. All
said they'd been economically injured by the spill.
However, they're still waiting to cash their cheques.
In subsequent rulings the award was overturned -- then
reinstated. It is still tied up in appeals.
Arguably the community most affected was the remote
fishing town of Cordova, accessible only by ferry or
plane. Kory Blake's family has lived in Cordova for
three generations and he's one of the claimants in
the class action suit. He joined us from his current
home in Wasilla, outside Anchorage. Fisherman, Kory
Blake is from Cordova, Alaska.
Exxon – Spokesperson
So from Alaska it looks as if Exxon
Mobil is dodging
its responsibilities. The view from Dallas -- where
Exxon has its head office -- is quite different.
Tom Cirigliano is a spokesperson for Exxon
Exxon – Legal
At the time of the judgment in 1994, the $5-billion
award in the Exxon Valdez case was a record sum for
any civil lawsuit. It's also the kind of case that
A. Kagan worries about in his book "Adversarial
Legalism: The American Way of Law." Professor
Kagan teaches political science and law at the University
of California at Berkeley.
Oil Spill Factboard
If it's a massive oil spill involving Exxon you're
looking for, you don't have to go as far from the madding
crowd as Alaska to find one.
The largest urban oil spill in the history of North
America has been quietly percolating beneath the feet
of Brooklynites for more than 50 years, underground
and mostly unnoticed.
The volume has been estimated at 17-million gallons
-- 6 million more than the Exxon Valdez. As of last
year, less than a third of the oil had been recovered.
Meanwhile the oil is leaking into a local creek and
has contaminated the aquifer that used to supply Brooklyn
with well water.
No tanker hit the rocks to cause the Brooklyn spill.
In fact the source of the spill isn't clear. It might
have been the result of a 1950 explosion at a Rockefeller
Standard Oil facility. Exxon Mobil, the successor to
Standard Oil, says the spill was only discovered in
1978 when it was spotted by the coast guard and the
state ordered a cleanup.
Compared to the billions of dollars in cleanup costs
and compensation already paid by Exxon for the Valdez
disaster, penalties in the Brooklyn oil spill are predicted
to reach a comparatively cheap $50-million. A lawsuit
initiated by the environmental organization Riverkeeper
is just getting underway.
Earlier on the show, we spoke to David Cronenberg
about why he opposes the new child pornography legislation,
Bill C-12. He pointed out that works like Lolita might
never be published if the bill was law.
Ah Lolita, the most controversial 12-year-old in literature.
Although she'd be 61 today -- Lolita was published
in 1955 -- she can still cause a stir just sitting
on the shelf. Lolita is making trouble for her author
again because it looks as if Vladimir Nabokov could
have copied the story. No one's suggesting Nabokov
consciously plagiarized -- but a recently discovered
German short story collection is raising questions.
Among the stories, an 18
page tale called --- Lolita. It's about an older man
bewitched by an underage
girl. Nabokov apparently lived in Berlin during
twenties and thirties -- did he read the story and turn it into a three hundred
page book? We ended the show this morning with an excerpt from Lolita. Actor
Jeremy Irons read from Nabokov's controversial classic.
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