Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bill Henson, art and child pornography

Having finally completed a long post, Sunday Essay - The beliefs of a New England populist, I had absolutely no intention of writing another post. Then, as I often do, I checked Neil's blogs. He had another post on the Henson matter, the controversy that has broken out over a Sydney art gallery display of child photos.

Neil's posts on this issue will give you a feel. They are:

Now I don't want to comment on the imbroglio. I just don't feel strong enough. Instead I just want to make a short, very personal, comment.

Since we came down to Sydney in early 1996 I have been the primary child care person. Cooking, school, all that lot, while still working if mainly from home.

I was jotting down some notes because I thought that the experience might make an interesting, even useful, series. One thing I was going to refer to was the impact of our current obsession with child sexual abuse.

Putting this quite simply and bluntly, it really adds to the difficulty of any male taking on the primary child care role, especially where girls are involved. You have to guard what you say and do all the time to ensure that the most innocent actions are not misinterpreted.

Kids, especially primary kids, need affection and like cuddles. That's a no no. But how do you stop a nine year old friend of your kids who has known you for half her life from giving you a hug? Even swinging kids around in the play ground can, as it did in my case, lead to someone calling you a pervert.

Or what about cases where your kids want a friend to come home and the mother rings up to check that your wife will be there? And the kid cannot come because your wife will be at work.

It all makes things very hard.


Anonymous said...

It's awful, isn't it? In Grade 2, I had a male primary school teacher who used to give us hugs, but I don't think he'd be allowed to do that anymore. I don't think there was anything dodgy in his actions (kids know when there is). He just loved little kids, and was a really awesome teacher. I still remember some of the stories and lessons he gave us.

Jim Belshaw said...

One of the hardest things, LE, is the way all this affects my own perceptions and behaviour. As a simple example, instead of looking at something as art, I find myself studying it to try to judge whether or not it might be pornographic or, at least, seen as pornogrpahic by someone else.

A little while ago I listened to a radio story on a report that was trying to evaluate the impact of all this - the rules, public discussion - on our kids. The conclusion was quite negative. In trying to protect the one, the kid or kids that might be harmed,we have damaged the all, entire generations of kids.

Unfortunately I was driving and did not keep a record of the report. I now regret this greatly.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I suppose it instils a distrust into children (particularly a distrust of men). I was quite taken by a comment by Brian Walters SC on this matter, cited in an article in The Age:

"Mr Walters said it was important that the test for obscenity not be reduced to: "How would a pervert view this?" If that became the case, he said: "You wouldn't show anything."

He said freedom of expression was fundamental to democracy and a community's right to express itself: "That must mean the freedom to offend.""

That's the thing - we get reduced to thinking "how would a pervert view this" which is awful.

Jim Belshaw said...

Your last sentence really captured it all rather well, LE. As the matter evolves,one thing that I do find interesting is the way the whole thing seems to sit at the centre of a number of different Australian threads. I have a part completed post on this.

Anonymous said...

There are at least 300,000 active pedophiles in Australia, the number can only increase.

It'll never get better than that. The problem is that there is no longer a solution, it's too late.

Henson's material is only making issues which were bad to bergin with, less amenable to commonsense.

A little pokey niche in the net, hidden in Croatia, had more kits than the major Oz news web-sites, in a matter of a couple of days, thousands from Australia,

That's ( Operation Centurion) is not one percent. The FBI are saying publicly, that it is over, there's nothing that can be done, it's too late.

Jim Belshaw said...

My focus in the post, anon, was on the difficulties created by our current obsession with the issue.

I think that, so far as the web is concerned, you are probably right.

Anonymous said...

We need to separate the FBI and legitimate policing from the OZ approach, that way we can shelve Australia as per Japan, as an eyebrow raiser,

something to do later, eventually when the bad dudes take over one Oz school after another you'll be begging us to help because your parents will be on the streets.

(that's the way it gos, they take over schools, you may already have more active pedophiles than teachers, so you have a crisis)

The price to be part of our civilized club, is to review all the degenreates & criminals who were allowed to escape justice because of your pedo-friendly classification board nonsense.

For us, I just want Oz booted from the VGT and from 'equal' admin of FBI data, that way our police can say, hand on heart, they're not sanctioning the corruption in Oz, at the moment, the FBI have to lie to the US taxpayer about Oz.