Bill Henson is getting a public flogging for the depiction of semi-naked girls in his Sydney exhibition. Rumours abound that he may even face criminal charges. Is this fair?
Larissa Debriski writing in The Age challenges us to ‘find an image of a naked 13-year-old beautiful, moving or thought-provoking’. Here’s another delightful aritcle from the lovely Larissa on why she loves the word ‘cunt‘. Memo to Larissa – if you’re an adult male and you find photos of semi-naked 13 year-olds ‘beautiful’ or ‘thought-provoking’, then you need help.
Michelle Grattan, in the SMH, thinks it’s all a big publicity stunt by Kevin Rudd to win back some votes. Andrew Bolt responds to Michelle here.
Miranda Devine, on the other hand believes that artists, perverts, academics, libertarians, the media, advertising industries and the porn industry have ‘successfully eroded the special protection once afforded childhood.’ In no libertarian handbook that i’m aware of does it condone exploiting minors, Miranda.
So who is right? Are Bill Henson’s photos of 13 year-old girls, naked from the waist up, art or kiddie porn?
Whilst art may be in the eye of the beholder, child porn is child porn, even if people like Larissa find it ‘beautiful‘.
The main argument being touted by the ‘ban it’ brigade are that these photos might end up in the hands of kiddie-fiddlers. This is ridiculous. Henson rightly replied that such a person could head down to Bondi Beach and see a lot more child flesh on display if they so wished. Alternatively they could spend a Saturday night at the Manly Hotel and watch not only semi-naked teenage girls but drunk ones too.
The central issue is whether a parent has the right to consent on the behalf of a minor to show nudity. Personally i cannot understand why any parent would give such consent. Is there anything they wouldn’t do for a quick buck? But if both parents and daughter consent, should that be the end of the matter? I personally don’t believe it should. Thirteen year olds cannot and do not think like adults. That’s why they are not granted the vote. They are unaware of the consequences of their nude bodies being Googled around the world.
Until they reach adulthood (say, age 16), their naked bodies should remain in the home.
nb – the photo above is much tamer than the ones causing such heated debate. the word ‘p*rn’ is asterisked to avoid the spam filter melt down. (censorship is the only thing not liberally applied round here.
Update I: Art certainly is in the eye of the beholder 😉
Other opinions from Kim at LP, and Helen Dale looks at some of the legal ramifications for Henson.