Is it art or is it pr0n? Australia decides it's ALL filth
Won't someone think of the pictures of children?
Australian painters and photographers may soon need to watch their step, as an overhaul of child pornography laws in New South Wales looks set to remove the defence of "artistic merit" from the statute books.
The issue arose when Police raided an exhibition of works by Melbourne artist Bill Henson in May 2008. They were responding to a public outcry over the picture of a naked 12-year-old girl featured on an invitation to the exhibition. The exhibition was closed, and 32 pictures were seized.
However, the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, QC, declined to prosecute, while the Classification Board declared the images were not pornography. The controversy was taken up by the State Government, which instructed the Child Pornography Working Party to review the existing laws and to create a clear distinction between child porn and art.
This they have now done with the simple recommendation, contained in a report presented last Friday, that art cease to be a consideration when determining whether an image is or is not pornographic.
This conclusion has been supported by NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, who said that any new laws should apply to the production, distribution and possession of child pornography. He added: "The fact that it is art cannot be used as a defence. The report recommends that once such material has been found to be unlawfully pornographic, whether or not it is intended to be art is irrelevant."
This conclusion has been welcomed by Hetty Johnston, chief executive of Child protection group Bravehearts. She said: "This makes the intention clear that legislatively the mood is to change on child sexual exploitation.
"The arts community might be concerned about the loss of their rights but I'm more concerned about the rights of children."
She also expressed the hope that the legislation, would be replicated in other parts of Australia, such as Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
This issue goes to the heart of what is considered pornographic, with a growing tendency in some legislatures to regard nudity – particularly nudity of children – as sexual and therefore, by definition, pornographic, irrespective of the content of the picture.
Back in October 2008, a New York art gallery responded to the Henson controversy by deleting images of naked adolescent girls from an online promotion of a new exhibition by that artist.
In autumn 2009, the Tate Gallery removed a picture of a young Brooke Shields from public display after the police suggested that it might fall foul of laws on child pornography.
Whilst it is easy to understand the intention behind this proposed change to the law, it is less easy to see how it will work in practice. In the UK, the Obscene Publications Act 1959 specifically exempts material produced for artistic, scientific or literary purposes. Removing these exemptions would see huge swathes of material – from books on medieval art, to modern medical textbooks – at risk of prohibition.
Even the extreme porn laws much criticised by libertarians within the UK make it plain that whether material is deemed to be pornographic or not will depend on the purpose for which it was created (i.e., material created for purposes of sexual arousal is likely to be deemed pornographic). Whilst this is not a full-blown artistic exemption, it is clear that the scope exists within the legislation for the courts to build one into the law.
Assuming that the NSW government gets its act together on these proposals, they could be brought before the State parliament within the next month. ®
I'm expecting a ban on 'Lady Chatterley's Lover to be reimposed any day now.
I have to live in this IQ-forsaken hole that's called New South Wales. It's a timid, risk-averse, conservative society in the grip of a moral panic, caused by an irresponsible media and a 40-year systemic failure of the education system. Attitudes are plummeting us back to Victorian times.
Australia has always suffered from what's known here as a 'cultural cringe', a highly tuned inferiority complex based on the correct assumption that culture is better just about everywhere else, especially Europe.
Australians has one of the most conservative populations on earth, you only have look at the voting trends since federation (1901) and you'll see it's voted conservative for about two thirds of the time. And, if you consider that the so-called left (Labor Party) is also extremely conservative then that covers most of the past 100 years or so. We lead the earth in small-minded petty thinking.
Take the current Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, he's supposedly on the political left but in fact he's a conservative, bigoted Trojan horse who's undermined the party which he heads. Moreover, his religious beliefs are just about to manifest themselves in an Australian Internet Censorship. Right, this democracy will be the first country to have internet censorship outside totalitarian states such as China. Think of Rudd as a pip-squeak version of Tony Blair with self-aggrandisement chevrons on his arms and you'll get the picture.
Unfortunately, the other side of politics isn't any better. Not long ago we chucked out Prime Minister John Howard, he was the conservative of conservatives, devotee and loyal follower of George W. Bush Jr, and warmonger--he sent Australian troops into Iraq.
That's how Australia is: a country full of intellectually-moribund, sport-obsessed tragics who keep getting involved in other people's wars. This mob would never have the gumption to put into power anyone of intellect. For starters, we'd have difficulty reconsigning intellect if we fell over it. Even when we finally do so, we then ritualistically chop intellect down in what's known here as the Tall Poppy Syndrome--put your head above the average and you'll be soon cut down to size.
We don't manufacture or build things in Australia anymore, all of our trades-based industries have been sold off to the Chinese and our trades jobs are going the way of the dodo. Training here has gotten so bad that the average bloke has enough difficulty working out one end of a screwdriver from another let alone the complexities of say a woodworking hand plane.
Our once-free university education system, the envy of the world in the 1970s, is now kaput. $100,000 or so might get you a degree if you're lucky. Lucky enough to get in, as our universities have been 'sold-off' to overseas students who now buy their degrees with extra money and lots of plagiarism courtesy of Wiki.
You would think the architects of this latest anti-porno/censorship bill was actually the New South Wales Government--that wretched dishevelled rabble of pathological liars and sycophants who couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery--but you'd be wrong.
For many years now, Australia's governance has taken place through lowest-common-denominator talkback radio, it's hugely influential here. Thus, in the dying days of a very unpopular government, any loony or popularist cause will get up when the radio squawks loudly enough. Zealots, the Right, the Religious Right, and corporate interests are Australia's rulers.
It's little wonder that were now making international headlines about the triviality inconsequential. I'm expecting a ban on 'Lady Chatterley's Lover to be reimposed any day now.
Oh, BTW, we're very good at digging minerals out of the ground and flogging them off raw and unprocessed. Processing, what's that I hear someone ask?
The lady (or gent) doth too much protest, methinks...
This kind of witch-hunt nonsense makes me wonder more about the state of mind of the lawmakers rather than anyone else. They clearly have serious and hugely suspicious problems about their own and other peoples' sexuality. Perhaps THEIR homes and computers ought to be the first to be checked out?
Is it just me...?
It does seem like the world in general has started down a scary conservative path in the last few years. It is no longer rational law but extremist or fundamentalist law. Perhaps it is harder to see it as it happens because such laws are truly meant to be for the good of others. But, often it seems that instead of making a conservative law for rational reasons, they make a radical law for conservative reasons. The worry is, once started down such a path it is hard to stop. What is next to be censored? When does it end? After we burn the libraries? When the only people who are free to think and act are the ones willing to break the law?