Child pornography and art are different things, Hetty

Another of the Nude Teen Pictures under debate by Bill Henson
One of the exonerated Nude Teen Pictures from 2008 by Bill Henson.
Picture by the Daily Telegraph

Bravehearts executive director Hetty Johnston has written to the Baillieu Government asking it to crack down on images such as those created by controversial artist Bill Henson.

But artists say they should not be censored and current guidelines for art are adequate.

A Senate committee has recommended classifications be applied to all media, including art in galleries.

It also called for a review of child pornography laws and for the “artistic merit” defence to be axed from child pornography offences.

Ms Johnston said her group did not oppose art or photographs showing children in real life, but set-up shots of naked children for “artistic purposes” should be outlawed.

“It crosses moral boundaries, and we believe it puts children at risk and it could exploit children,” she said.

[From Call to ban art with nude children | Herald Sun]

Australia’s classification laws are under review and under attack once more.

Hetty Johnston and her band of fanatical cohorts are still not satisfied after Bill Henson’s confiscated works were reviewed by the clssifications board and deemed to be no more hazardous than PG. clearly it isn’t their views that are at fault, but the classifications board itself. when you don’t like the results- change the law. Clearly the problem with child pornography in Australia stems from artists. absolutely without a doubt.

I do believe, however, that the classifications rules do need to be reviewed and repaired. they are exceptionally ambiguous and are not helping us artists in our defences any more than they are helping Hetty. if anything they are already heavily on the Hetty side, but are so ambiguous that it comes down to the preferences and opinions of the board. characteristics such as breast size should not be a factor – breasts do not make a woman. they may as well choose testicle size as an indicator.

While a ban on the sexual depiction of minors will have strong community support, there’s a much greyer area involving adults or even animated characters who look young. Most adult movies (online or DVD) come from America and carry official government statements guaranteeing that all participants are over 18. These cut no ice in Australia. Furthermore, Hentai Manga (Japanese sexual comics) are so popular in Japan that they are freely available for browsing in 7-11 convenience stores and read openly on trains. But they are RC in Australia – potentially a rude shock for Japanese tourists visiting with such comics in their luggage.

Note too, that over the past year, the Classification Board has started using breast size as a criterion in defining child pornography: a less than precise indicator

[From ABC The Drum – Secrets of obscenity: the classification riddle]

I also believe that, more than the classifications system, the constitution of Australia needs to be reviewed, amended and honored. how many Australians even know there is a constitution here? who knows what’s in it? The US Constitution is one of the most powerful pieces of writing in the world. freedom of speech is one of the most honored of the freedoms and is celebrated. yes, occasionally it is abused, but it is such a sacred right that it cannot be denied. it seems to me that Australia needs some inalienable rights of it’s own.

artistic merit should not become a goto excuse for pornographers, that harms us more than it harms Hetty- but it must be allowed. we cannot create under a blanket of censorship and we cannot be the artists we need to be without freedom to create. art has the power to challenge our views, to make us think and and to change the world. I believe that the arts are one of the most powerful forces of humanity and should never be denied.

7 thoughts on “Child pornography and art are different things, Hetty

  1. I have known grown women who are flat chested and young ladies in their early teens whose breasts were rather large. So is the older flat chested a woman proof of pedophilia while the large breasted girl is open for photography?

    Hetty is a dangerous joke.

    • Agreed, it’s the most ridiculous premise on which to assess things. Hetty frightens me, she has too much power for her knee jerk politics.

    • Sadly you’re right Todd, everywhere has problems accepting nudity as it is. We all have bodies, and we’re all the same, it’s such a simple concept to grasp and yet…

      But at least freedom of expression is constitutionally protected in the US, there is no such thing here and there needs to be. Thanks for your good wishes! I think we are going to need them…

  2. When I first arrived here at the site I thought that it was an old posting; the story hasn’t changed! It seems that all we hear anymore coming from Australia is about more restrictions being placed upon it’s citizens.

    You hit the nail on the head, Jennie, when you said that art “has the power to challenge our views, to make us think and to change the world”. That is exactly what conservatives fear the most: A world that changes without them controlling it. They do not want views challenged or people thinking; that threatens the status quo.

    • I think you’re exactly right, but ‘the status is not quo’ and dammit those conservatives need to accept change! It’s not like we are asking for much, just basic liberties enjoyed by most of the free world.. /sigh

      I’m tired of posting the same thing, I look forward to the day when I can say yes! Australia accepts freedom of expression!

  3. Pingback: Too rude? Speech part two – adolescent nudity in art « Jennie’s Palette

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