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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

disillusioned « Previous | |Next »
May 29, 2008

The Rudd Government's response Bill Henson scandal confirms what I'd suspected before the election. This is a right wing socially conservative Labour; one that had appealed to the intellectuals by going on about the Brutopia of the free market that was arising from those awful Hayekian policies of the free market think tanks. The intellectuals fell into line. A new day was dawning with Rudd Labor.

Garrett naked.jpg Alan Moir

Now we have police raids on Sydney galleries, artists in the dock, attacks on contemporary art as the thin blue line goes searching for the dirt and filth under the bedclothes of art. Art is sexualising our children, harming the young, fostering paedophiles intone the various Labour MInisters, whilst accepting the sexualization of kids in advertising, television, beauty pageants and talent shows as entirely normal.

This, remember, is from a political party that has defended the sexual offenders in its own ranks. Remember how they closed ranks around Milton Orkopoulos in Sydney and Bill D'Arcy in Queensland? Isn't that revolting? Condemning public erotica in the form of art as offensive and harmful, accepting it in advertising, and spinning the secrecy masked as decency in its own ranks.

It's the hypocrisy of the social/moral conservatism in federal and state Labor that I find so galling, not the social conservatism per se. This is concerned with the problems of moral disintegration in the context of the breakdown of the binding structures of the traditional order and it sees these traditional moral meanings as the guarantors of social cohesion in the nation-state.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:17 AM | | Comments (16)


Bill Henson is Australia's cosmopolitan Australian avant garde photographer. His studio may be in Melbourne but the prices of his photos ($25,000) are those of someone working within the global market.

A lot of the attacks on his work is driven by a dislike of cosmopolitanism and an affirmation of traditional national (community) standards.

yeah, Melbourne is a marginal place in the global market for an avant garde to create new meanings about our lived separation between being atomized individuals reduced to passive consumers of images, and the shallow moments of false unity when consuming alienating spectacle on mass television , or civic consensus, or duty-bound

Many of the social conservatives in the ALP are religous and they are deeply concerned with the
loss of the religious-metaphysical background to our social practices. They are defending relgion as morality of family values.

'Artists' in the dock: that will never do. They should be immune from prosecution like judges and other untouchables.

I hate to say "I told you so", but I told you so. I said all along that The Luvvies would be Rudd's Useful Idiots. Whereas Keating was cactus without them, Rudd knows he simply does not need them.

You big fibber Mr Greenfield. You love saying 'I told you so' as do we all.

Rudd may not need arty types, or environmentalists, or pensioners, or economists, or refugee advocates, or any of the other people he's so far managed to make cranky. But they seem to be adding up.

I do not practice religion and as such have no religious input. In my view if a photo of a child if on my computer could land me in hot water, even prison, then I do not accept that an artist can avoid the consequences of law.
It is not relevant if the artist did or didn’t have inappropriate intentions, all I am concerne3d about that legislative provisions must be enforced against all people equally.
For the record, I neither approve of the television add showing naked babies, as once you accept something then where will it stop.
While many may hold that the photo is art work, anyone can snap it up on a mobile phone camera and then have it going the rounds on the Internet. Years from now the child, then being an adult, may have the consequences of any prospective employer being able to access the photo.
If an artist needs a child to be naked to be able to call it art then it no longer can be deemed art. A competent artist can produce a photo art work with a child that is appropriately dressed, at least that is my view!
One has to ask if the artist was so selfish as to be only concerned about his kind of art rather then the long term wellbeing of the child?
Why would it have been any lesser an art work (if you want to call it that) if the person had been an adult? Perhaps it had to be a child to attract people to it and as such the issue was not about art but the exploitation of a child under the guise of being art.

At the moment Rudd can do what he likes, the other side is composed of the village idiots. If the pollster asks you Rudd or Nelson, what are you going to say, the best you can do is neither.

it is not just the hypocrisy of the ALP's social conservatism. Federal Labor are not looking good on reforming re global warming---making the switch from transportation to public transport. They are spinning a lot on this --infrastructure fund, helping the states, hybrid car etc---but there is little money going into rethinking urban transport. Most of the money is going into urban freeways yet in Sydney the price of petrol and the tolls combine with interest rates and inflation means there is less room in the budget h Something has to give---people are turning to public transport.

It's also disappointing to see Rudd providing commentary on everything. Sure he has to answer the stupid questions the media put to him, but does he have to do it so willingly?

is naive. The best interpretation of thr campaign against Henson is that the Iemma Government used the media beat up on 2GB (part-owned by Alan Jones) by Ray Hadley who has been a pack leader in witch-hunting Henson on 2GB to throw a veil over former Cabinet minister Milton Orkopoulos just being sentenced to 13 years’ jail for depraved sex and drug offences involving minors.

The spinners needed to deflect the mounting questions about a political cover-up and the savage treatment of the whistleblower Gillian Sneddon.

So they decided to join withe the conservative commentators, activists and media to shoot Henson by describing this photographs as “offensive and disgusting”.

when there's a moral panic being run by the conservatives and tabloid media the forces of social control step up to the mark to do something about the perceived threat. That soemthing is law and order and punishment.

Then the politicians seize an opportunity to align themselves with the other groups against the perceived threat.

Rudd and Garrett simply fell into their allocated place in the script.

Has Garrett actually said anything on this or has he been locked in the broom cupboard again?

In the face of a US-style campaign of bullying and harassment tactics, which has led to a climate of moral panic and hysteria over the sight of child/teenage nudity in any form, Garrett say that artists must operate inside the law and that artistic freedom should be respected.

He lacks the courage of a Malcolm Turnbull, but then, as Garrett is a Christian social conservative, he doesn't need to be kept locked up does he. Still as the Arts Minister should make it very clear that there is a difference between Bill Henson and a pornographer.

On Garrett, some of the fondest memories and beliefs of the best bit of my life are falling over. It's like finding out Moving Pictures were kidding when they wrote What About Me? Very hard to reconcile.

I get the impression you're right about Turnbull's courage when it comes to both populism and his own party. Man to watch, that one.

Lyn, I get the impression you're right about Turnbull's courage when it comes to both populism and his own party. Man to watch, that one.

Turnball acted like a proper back-bencher too offering alternate tax/budget policies until Howard put him under executive discipline by making his the secretary for water.