CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

When “Art” Covers a Multitude of Sins

Oct 6, 2008

There has been a lot of media attention and commentary on the latest outrage concerning Australian photographer Bill Henson. It turns out he scoured schoolyards to find very young children to be photographed in the nude. Since no one has asked this question, let me be the first to do so:

What is the difference between the following?:
-An “artist” who scours schoolyards to find young children to exploitatively use for his own purposes, including seeing and photographing them naked;
-A paedophile who scours schoolyards to find young children to exploitatively use for his own purposes, including seeing and photographing them naked.

Answer: not much, in my view. Now am I saying Henson is a paedophile? Absolutely not. Am I saying Henson is a bit of a sleazeball who seems to get his kicks out of photographing naked children and calling it “art”? You betcha. He is certainly exploiting innocent, vulnerable young children for his own grubby “artistic” ends.

After all, he is not doing all this for nothing. He makes his living out of such photography, and he is getting rich out of the use of naked children. In my book, that is exploitation and just not on. And I think most people would agree with me.

But leave it to our morally vacuous and intellectually bogus elites to rush to the defence of poor old Bill. A great case in point appeared in – and why are we not surprised? – today’s Age. Peter Craven argued that this whole episode is just no big deal.

Says Craven: “Bill Henson having a look at some kids in a primary school is as innocent and straightforward as a junior footy coach or a casting director of Neighbours doing so.” And to emphasise his point, he also says, “The fuss had been about nothing”. So there you have it.

Gee, it was terribly decent of Craven to sort out all this Bill Hensen fuss for us. I guess I and millions of others have been overreacting all along. I am glad that Craven has helped me to see the light. And there I thought that the well-being of children and the protection of their innocence should be our highest concern. But now that Peter has set us all straight, we can all stop worrying.

Indeed, it is we, the concerned parents and citizens of Australia, who are really at fault. After all, Craven informs us that we are nothing but “zealots,” “philistines,” “socially deranged,” and running on “hysteria”. Yes, we are the real monsters here. We are destroying society and bringing the West to ruin because we have so foolishly thought that children matter, that they are weak, vulnerable and easily exploited, and that they deserve our highest care and attention. Foolish us.

Isn’t it terrific that our cultural elites are there to guide us poor sots about our silly over-reactions. But wait, there’s more. Indeed, Craven is not finished yet. He makes it clear that our concerns are just abominable: “It’s sick, and it has to be resisted,” he says. We should all just “back down” he warns.

It makes you wonder: if our ruling elites like Craven ever got their way, they would probably think they are doing the world a favour in locking us all up. After all, it is not the artists who like photographing naked children who are the sickos here, but you and me: ordinary Australians and parents who want the best for our kids, and who are tired of their sexualisation and destruction of innocence.

All this is but one more example of the moral reformatting that is taking place in the West. We are bent on turning all moral values upside down, and calling what is good, evil, and what is evil, good.

But I guess there is really nothing very new about this. Some two and a half millennia ago a Hebrew prophet bemoaned the very same thing: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

We not only live in a world that is in a moral freefall, but we live in a world when any old clown can call himself an “artist” and then seek to do anything and everything, even though those things done by any mere mortal would probably get them locked up in jail.

But our artistic elites think they are above the law, and can do whatever they want to do. After all, “art” it seems covers a multitude of sins. Call yourself an artist and you can get away with murder. Do the same thing under any other banner, and you’re toast.

So I have an idea. The next time I run a red light, punch out a foolish Age columnist, or take a few liberties with a toddler, I will just plead the excuse of “art”. I dare any judge or court to convict me in that case. If they refuse to do anything about Henson, then they should surely leave me alone.

www.theage.com.au/opinion/no-nudes-today-zealots-rule-ok-20081005-4udi.html

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10 Responses to When “Art” Covers a Multitude of Sins

  • Regardless of differing views on the matter, you could use a simple chain of logic in dealing with an issue such as this.

    A. Are children precious? Yes.
    B. As a result, should we pretect them from any and all harm, as well as we can? Yes.
    C. Does being photographed naked help the child’s developement?

    If the answer is no, then perhaps, before delving into motives and the claim of ‘artistic merit’, we should simply stop and simply state that it is not in the best interest of the child. End of story.

    Dale Bates

  • Unfortunately Dale, these supposed beacons of moral guidance (Craven and Henson) would argue that such absolutes as we propose to protect our children are precisely what they have come to challenge.

    A bit like the old childish chant: “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own”.

    John Angelico

  • Craven by name, craven by nature?

    — Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  • My old boss used to say “When a society loses the courage to fight those elements which seek to undermine it, that society is doomed”. I sometimes wonder if we’re witnessing the early stages of the fall of Western civilisation. Yes, perhaps that is meoldramatic. Still … we murder our children in the womb, we abuse children and call it art … if “the children are the future”, as one songwriter put it, then our future is at the very least clouded.

    — Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  • Why is that a melodramatic statement, Stephen? Many, if not all, of the conditions for the fall of Western Civilisation are in place or soon will be in place – financial, social, spiritual, cultural and military. It may not be all western countries, and it may not be the way people expect it but all civilisations rise and fall and this one is definitely suffering a serious internal disease. It’s demise, as history shows, should come more from within than without.

    The world is changing and rapidly so. I don’t think it is a suprise statement to say that we are entering a period of massive upheaval, and it would be wise for Christians to realise that they will not be safe during this time – we may as well start fighting now while we still have many who agree with us, because if we wait until too late then we will again be marginalised and on our own.

    Garth Penglase

  • I’m glad that from Kevin Rudd down, and from the moment the issue was first raised, most of our politicians have dared to say it like it is, as Kevin said, ‘absolutely revolting.’ Perhaps there’s hope for Australia yet.
    Andrew Campbell

  • Does this mean that the parents now have no rights as to the upbringing or safety of their children? This may sound simplistic but there seems to be a growing attitude in our society that parents are not capable (but are answerable) for the raising of their offspring and that all methods are placed in the hands of the PC.
    Jim Sturla

  • Christians are told that they cannot hide behind their religion when making negative comments about how we should conduct sexual behaviour. but it is OK for Sir Elton John to hide behind artistic expression when putting on a performance at the Royal Albert Hall that is blatantly paedophile in its implications: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19991201/ai_n14271097

    However it is not just art that the promiscuous and predatory hide behind; it is education itself. Our children are being groomed on a massive scale because parents unthinkingly still believe that schools will exercise a duty of care with their children, when in fact education and schools are becoming the first entry point for secularism and moral anarchy:
    http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20081001/teen-sex-show-on-weekday-mornings/

    What happens when you combine an artistic and educational smoke screen, coming to a school near you?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/news/newstopics/celebritynews/3068490/Sir-Ian-McKellen-takes-gay-tolerance-message-to-schools.html

    David Skinner, UK

  • Bill, well said and keep up the good fight.

    John McMahon

  • Bill, you are absolutely right.

    As an artist myself I am appalled by what people are making… “in the name of art”. I took a school that taught me truly how to use my art, to glorify my maker, God. All art displays a world view, and in Bill Hensons case he is exploiting young children. These children need protection, and as a Christian it is important that we stand up for what is true and righteous now, before it gets worse. Thank you for making a commitment to standing up, and voicing out truth.

    Sara Freeman

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