Sunday, May 25, 2008

Throwing Out The Baby With The Bath Water

It's rare that one finds oneself in agreement with members of the 'arts' community but when Oz magazine's Richard Walsh describes the furore over photographer Bill Henson's pictures of naked boys and girls as 'an overreaction to whipped-up moral panic', one has to shrug and wonder if he's right.

NSW Police have raided an art gallery and seized pictures and Henson will probably face state charges. The art gallery may face federal charges over its web site, presumably for previewing the photos online.

I haven't seen the pictures in question to make a judgement for myself over their content and probably no one will be able to now. They have been stripped from the web and to go in search of them might now attract suspicion of being that most heinous of modern monsters, the paedophile.

Make no mistake - I regard all paedophiles as dangerous threats to the safety and well-being of children. Let me repeat that: I regard all paedophiles as dangerous threats to the safety and well-being of children.

Why the repetition? Because when it comes to paedophilia, it appears there is no other word in the language more likely to instantly turn an otherwise intelligent adult into a spitting ball of anger whose outrage renders them deaf, dumb and blind to all appeals to reasonable thought and judgement.

One wouldn't like to be in photographer Henson's shoes right now - we celebrate gangsters who execute their rivals and give their exes TV gigs but even if Henson is found innocent of the charges against him, he will likely have to move lest his house be firebombed. And why shouldn't the baying mob feel entitled to burn the monster when at this moment hysterical Hetty Johnston of Bravehearts, Prime Minister Rudd and the Leader of the Opposition are all queueing up to call Henson and his work revolting?

Is it revolting? Like I said, I haven't seen the pictures but one's better half did on a newspaper web site before they were expunged, presumably for fear of also being swept up in the net that snared the Sydney art gallery. Nora is of a slightly more sensitive disposition that oneself but she noted that although the photos were definitely 'provocative', only one could have been thought 'possibly pornographic at a stretch' and none raised a definitive, immediate red flag.

Nonetheless, the New South Wales public prosecutor and Australian Federal Police are probably about to charge all concerned.

I'll say it again: I regard all paedophiles as dangerous threats to the safety and well-being of children.

However, the 'paedo paranoia' that is gripping our society is also dangerous.

Witness today this news story:

A parliamentary inquiry is examining whether it is appropriate to have unclothed babies in commercials after it was revealed they are the subject of regular complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB). ASB chief executive officer Alison Abernethy said images of babies in advertisements for nappies, Pull-Ups, baby wipes and bath products has raised the ire of sections of the community. "The nappy advertisements top the complaints in the category about sexualisation of children," she said. "Members of the community are concerned that those images will encourage pedophiles."
Just last week, I was happy to vehemently criticise school dance and drama teachers who train nine year old girls to bump and grind like rap gangsta hos just to win rock eisteddfod competitions.

But look, I don't know - it feels like overkill to send in the cops to raid art galleries. And it damn well is overkill to see a nappy ad on TV and be mortally fearful lest the image excite some sicko somewhere.

In fact, it's not simply overkill - it's a sickness in itself. We have reached a point where, whipped relentlessly into a frenzy by the media over this issue, we are seeing paedophiles lurking behind every tree and shrub so we don't let kids play outside or walk to school and we've banned parents from videotaping school pantos because we're afraid the tapes could fall into the hands of 'paedos'.

Even hysterical Hetty called the possibility of bans on nappy ads 'just ridiculous' during a radio interview but we've only reached that point of ridiculousness thanks in a large part to her in her role as Media Go-To Gal for a meaty quote on all matters paedophiliac.

And having reached this level of hyper-hysteria, one can only suggest a certain course of action.

Get up right now and go look through your family photo albums. If you have any pictures of your children in the bath, burn them immediately. They may not fall into the hands of paedophiles but may nonetheless be seen by friends who may report you on suspicion.

The same goes for any videos you may have of your children in any state of undress, particularly if, as many apparently do, you keep your tapes in the bag with your camera. People routinely place forelorn ads telling break-in merchants to keep the camera they stole but begging for the return of sentimental recordings of weddings, parties, etc. But beware - those same scroats who think nothing of breaking into your home, stealing your property and crapping on the carpet may suddenly become deeply moral if, while quickly scanning your tapes in prurient hope of discovering a bathing babe, they spot a bathing baby and they may dob you in.

Further, to all U2 fans - dispose of this album cover immediately:

You sick, sick bastards. They should castrate people like you then hang you.

-- Nick

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