This ruling marks a step forward in personal freedom and civil liberties. The court has rejected the vague, paternal notion of "community standards" in favour of treating Canadians as adults. They've said, in essence, as long as all participants are consenting adults, there isn't a problem - and it doesn't matter what the neighbours think, because no one's forcing them to participate.
These letters about the ruling on the CBC News site show broad support and understanding, as well as a minority of misunderstanding and finger-wagging. That's exactly what makes the ruling so important. The finger-waggers can wag all they want, but they're not allowed to run other people's lives.
A quieter story involves a case more than 120 years old.
On a February night that was never fully forgotten among the Sto:Lo tribes of the Fraser Valley, a mob of 120 riders came north out of Washington State in 1884, took a native boy out of British Columbia police custody and hanged him from a tree.It is believed that as many as 10,000 people were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1964 (the majority before 1930). More than 4,700 cases have been officially documented, but that is likely a fraction of the total. This excellent site has a lot of information about the history of lynching in the US. I'm not linking to the most disturbing images - which were sold on postcards as keepsakes and mementos - but they're easily found, if you can stomach it.
It is thought to be the only lynching that ever took place in Canada -- and now, 121 years later, the State of Washington is drafting an official apology. The return to B.C. of a sacred Sto:Lo stone from a U.S. museum may also be part of the gesture of reconciliation.
At the same time, the province is expected to make a statement of regret for the B.C. government's failure to pursue the U.S. vigilantes who murdered Louie Sam, a 14-year-old Sto:Lo boy. [Globe And Mail story here.]
Earlier this year, the United States Senate apologized to lynching victims and their families for the government's failure to enact federal anti-lynching legislation. The vote to issue the symbolic apology was not unanimous. Guess who didn't cosponsor it?