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Perverts in the shrubbery

Paul Walter is a longtime Webdiarist, self-described as middle-aged, who completed a Bachelor of Arts degree a couple of years ago as a mature age student. He has been masquerading here for the last two days as “Paul Walker” because of some email and password problems, which have now been resolved. However, his style was inimitable, so we knew who he was … Anyway, earlier today Paul made some comments about the brouhaha over Bill Henson’s allegedly pornographic photographs. I invited him to contribute a thread starter, and to my amazed delight he responded very promptly thus:

Don't know about a "small piece", but here are a few thoughts issuing forth at random concerning the time travellers’ return to the dark ages, also inspired by a visit to the Friends of SBS website an hour ago.

So, here it is. I think it's your debut piece for Webdiary, Paul - but whether or not it is, thank you. 

Perverts in the shrubbery
by Paul Walter

We shall dedicate the following to the now-sleeping Roland Barthes of "Mythologies" fame, as his famous tract continues its fifty-ish-ith anniversary.

At SBS, the writer discovered more concerning the perplexing stubborn ongoing refusal of the government to abide by election promises and remove deliberately intrusive advertising from SBS (has any one else been taken aback by the absolute lack of comment concerning ABC and SBS financing and independence over the last few months ... or the severity and rapidity of the decline of Fairfax and Murdoch?). So the theory that Rudd has spoken out of induced ignorance and resulting priggishness is strengthened, although the alternative theory relating to the damping down of a new front just opened by Devine in the Culture Wars on behalf of political allies encircled Stalingrad style still has much appeal. Now, I will add following thoughts.

The ALP is happy to inherit a dumbed down media surviving on prurience as factuality and where real issues are excluded, same as it is happy to inherit Howard's ASIO and weakened corporate law or IR provisions, for example.

For instance, the nerve shattering silence, except in terms of neo liberal boosterism concerning what the privatisation of NSW electricity is really about (Carr, "Vanuatu" Keating consultancies only mentioned in passing, etc ) – just one example. Thank heaven for Ian MacDougall’s exploration of this elsewhere. Richard Tonkin’s posts also constitute a long-term example posts of the forgotten art of broad sheet journalism, dealing with hard issues of equity, power and reality-shaping, ignored like the plague by mainstream press and media controlled by the likes of Ron Walker and Shaun Brown.

One sees Fairfax online following Murdoch subterranean of the gutter, now expending much space to urgent problems like the colour scheme of Myf Warhurst's knickers or the rampaging behaviours of female state school teachers vis à vis their male students.

In this sort of fevered environment, where "morals" are defined in terms of sexual behaviour exclusively, rather than through, say, financial corruption or moral sanctimoniousness, the Mirandas become rails runners for opinion dominance. And faux outrage over dubious artworks is just another obvious mode for distraction from real world issues.


I hear someone claiming that this writer is thus downgrading pedophilia as an issue?

No, just the opposite.

Of course it is not a minor issue. Therefore, it should not be cynically exploited as a culture wars stalking horse for other hidden agendas of political control through its (ab)use in the manipulating of the emotions and the offending the sensibilities of those with genuine concerns or who have been the real victims of abuse.

Look, this antic has provoked some intelligent comment in the op ed pages of the Age and SMH in response; for more involved investigation a visit is commended.

Back here, the Mirandas will have problems of contradiction as to their targets in what otherwise could have been a righteous war against commodification/reification of youth, as well as the separate problem of child sexual exploitation. But Dahvine painstakingly avoided mention of the lucrative field of endeavour in prurience worked intensely and daily throughout the media and press that also employs her, with her focus on a typical isolated soft "out sider" rightist target; the abstracted/abstract artist intellectual who is offside to "our" society by being more interested in examining its values than unthinkingly upholding them. Such an individual likely has intellectual concerns against prurience and such an attack is therefore likely libellous as well as misleading.

The one exception was Devine's helpful attack on Dolly magazine for its unconditional promoting of anal intercourse as a desired (de rigueur, if you like) behaviour option for thirteen year old girls, regardless of the health and pain/discomfort factors for participating fashionistas.

But even here, we ask are we examining an unexamined system and its underlying imperatives, or indulging in de facto legitimisation of that system by creating an impression that Dolly is just an isolated atypical example of component failure rather than the system exemplar?


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Anthony Nolan, thank you for your reply.

I would appreciate enlightenment on one small matter before taking our discussion further. Do you have qualifications in either or both of clinical psychology or psychiatry, and , if so, what are they?

Memo from head office

Marilyn Shepherd: "Why the f.....k are we still whining about a censored photo of a 6 year old on the front of a porn magazine when Ali Ismael Abbas and the horror of his injuries is a really meaningful example of pornography that we in Australia have been ignoring for over 5 years now?" 

Well, gee Marilyn. You seemed to have fairly passionate views about the photographs when this thread got underway.

For example:

"While some of the worst offenders here are supporting Henson and his weird art they are guilty of censorship and objectification of a young girl.

We grown up women fought back against the sexist bull we were subjected to for decades, hell I was branded a lesbian at 14 because I had a Mia Farrow crewcut, and still do. 

 Now we expect that our daughters and grand-daughters should suffer the same degradation because some wanker calls it "art"? "

-  Marilyn Shepherd on May 28, 2008 - 4:58pm.

So, how come you've changed your tune so suddenly?

Real pornography


Why the f.....k are we still whining about a censored photo of a 6 year old on the front of a porn magazine when Ali Ismael Abbas and the horror of his injuries is a really meaningful example of pornography that we in Australia have been ignoring for over 5 years now?    The pornography of dreadful injury, of death, of the destruction of a child's family.

If this pornography is not enough I will find some films of Qana and the massacre of babes that the Israeli's said was a lie.

Enough of this bullshit already.

Here is the difference.   The photo on the front page of the magazine was entirely harmless and seemed to have some sort of artistic point, even though it was in fact a copy of someone else's work with the child implanted in the picture.

It was the photos inside of Olympia on the floor, flat on her back, stark naked except for grannie's pearls and giving a come hither look or the one against the door frame saying come and get me.

And the pornographic content of the magazine.

knit one purl one.

I should thank Marilyn Shepherd for allowing one more view of the hideous photo of Ali Ismael Abbas; reminds that I am living in a real world rather than some waffly and weird Planet Janet, although that realisation brings little immediate joy. The bloody Ali photos make me shudder, to my utter core!

Have noticed a bit of attention given in the less salacious sections of the broadsheet press to the curious origins of the Nelson antic and Nelson's problematic relationship with Henson. Apparently, as Marilyn Shepherd points out, there were other photos of a more problematic nature and those in possession, including the tabloid press, who started up the ruckus in the first place, have seen fit to remove them from online.

Personally I blame the tabloid media for most of the upset. They have misreported these events for a cheap headline or rating spike. Nobody but a few arty types would have been bothered, but for the pathological delinquency of tabloid media in search of an easy rating spike.

Still, as Marilyn Shepherd reminds us, the six year old at least had the consolation of those pearls of Granny's.

Kids, war, pornography, crocodile tears and outright hypocrisy

Since this thread has finally degenerated into swapping pornographic photographs of children, here's a snap that was extraordinarily popular among people like Paul and Marilyn, and much of the Western media, a few years ago.

But that was when they were falling over themselves to blame the IDF for the shooting of twelve year old Mohammed al-Dura. The picture has lost all its popularity now that it has been established beyond any doubt that the boy was killed by Hamas gunmen, and that the shooting was very likely an act of cold blooded murder.

Hi Fiona...

Well...OK...I showed my son 'edited' photos which is to say that I showed him what I thought fair to expose him to while explaining that the other photos were considerably more explicit.  He wanted to know what the issue was about and I thought it my responsibility to inform him and allow him to inform himself.

As to my daughter...no, there is no breach in my view...it is like the classifications on films...they are recommendations (for parents) but legislated limits (on cinemas).  So it is illegal for a cinema to accept an under age patron for shows rated M but acceptable if accompanied by an adult.

She generally makes up her own mind about things but rarely without engaging in ferocious debate with me as a preliminary to decision taking.

The difference between my kids (as some sort of audience) and the children who were subjects of the image makers I thought would be obvious.  One set of children has had their physical and psychological integrity compromised before the age at which they might reaonably consent.  The other asked me to inform them about what the issue was about, so I did.

My children, in my view, have their integrity compromised on a daily basis, in my view, by the media.  We can only guide them.  At fourteen I was watching film of US Airforce B52's pouring Agent Orange over Vietnam.  At 11 my own son watched the documentary on the Tiananmin Square massacre.  His view of totalitarian Chinese rule: "Motherf*ckers" in his own words.

Plus ca change?

Dignifying the debate. Really?

Antony, very sensible way to deal with the issue with your children. But I would not expose them to Art Monthly. The extract below from the letter by Melinda Reist addressing Olympia's father's suggestion that we must have faith in art, to which you linked earlier, gives us a good example of where artists set the boundaries and why we should not have faith in art as the standard bearer.

Melinda wrote of two of the artists' work in that edition: There's his slumped, bound schoolgirl picture and an image of a woman with her clothing stripped back, the ropes squeezing her naked breasts and contorting her into a pose that displays her genitals. A third uplifting work depicts a woman on the ground, strained forward, her naked spreading backside to the camera.

Faith in art?

A little further into the magazine you come upon the work of David Laity. What offering of truth and beauty does Laity give us? An image of a woman being bound with the tentacles of an octopus as it performs oral sex on her. That's some dignified octopus. Then there's an image of a woman bending over so we can see her … Well, you get the picture.

The photographs of Olympia need to be viewed in the context of the images positioned around her. On their own, the images that show Olympia reclining naked, her pose and look more that of an adult, can be seen as sexualised. But surrounding her with these other images superimposes a further, more sinister, meaning on them.

Says it all really and they think they were bringing some dignity back into the debate. Maybe they should start by putting some dignity back into the magazine and start publishing art that is not so devoid of dignity.

I would not let my kids see that magazine if I were you. They just might lose faith in more than art.

And Fiona, I think May Gibbs would be very offended should anyone put her in the same class as these sort of smut artists, if one could call them artists. They hardly dignify the profession in my humble opinion, but I know you will disagree.

Can people really see no difference between May Gibbs's illustrations of gumnut babies and the sort of stuff portrayed above and the inclusion in such publications of the pictures of those little naked girls? I don't recall any illustrations of bound schoolgirls in my edition of Snugglepot and Cuddelepie. And while some perverts do get turned on by babies, and do abuse them, which is utterly gross, by and large it is little girls who get molested, and little boys of course. And babies are generally in their mothers arms where one would expect them to be reasonably safe, but little girls and boys are far more exposed. Let us not expose them to risk any more than we need to is all I say.

Don't pander to the perverts and make it easier for them to indulge their fantasies and fuel their desires through explicit pictures of naked posing little girls on public display or on the internet, and in pornographic magazines posing as art magazines.

Michael, I agree with you, the mob behaviour over Ferguson is a problem. But then I ask myself if I had a little girl going to school and he lived just down the road would I have anything to worry about. I think I would. It is not as if the police don't think he is a risk. They clearly do or they would not be trying to get the discharge of the latest charge against him overturned, or be keeping him under such close supervision. So what do you do with him so that he is safe and so is the community?

Maybe they could take him to that open farm, set up recently to accommodate and rehabilitate addicts rather than put them in gaol for petty drug related crime, and give him work there and a safe place to live.

screws in the art world, in all degrees

Guess we can’t buy it until it is classified and, if the other artistic expressions are as said, well, maybe they need a sealed section like Cleo. Then those with no talent but still aiming for "impact” with passé sexualised images needn’t hit one unawares. Boring art, but worse, poor art. No wonder they are targeting kids in sexualised context or surrounded by porn art – lack of talent needs something to get attention.

Well, as we are mentioning qualifications how interesting is the "artist" photographer's.

On her CV we have her starting a PhD in"2006 – and in defence of her photos she declares that PhD was "all about the issue".

In another article it is said that she has her PhD...by 2007.....! This is from Monash. And now we read that the father of her child is also an academic there. How lovely: "subject's father is the art critic and academic Robert Nelson (Monash U)." Must make PhD work like home. I hope he wasn't her supervisor or assessor/examiner.

So Fiona, while we are talking of credentials and academic rigour and gaining or otherwise of degrees and doctorates like you and Anthony, does anyone have a record of that PhD by the photographer that is "all about this issue" and confirmation that one can get a PhD from Monash in one year? Wow. Where is the roll? Remember that "arts degree take one" sign that used to be over the loo roll at Uni (ouch), well maybe they meant "FineArts Doc take one". No, jokes aside, actually it would be interesting to read but I can’t seem to find it published anywhere yet.

Anyway, the art world certainly seems rather mired in sex fantasy issues of all persuasions. They say that when TV soaps lose creativity and talent they fall back on the old sex sells belief to cover other failings. Guess it applies across the board.

Guess also it beats that white canvas piece at Canberra gallery. What a screw that was! Or was it thus another sexual fantasy?


Maybe just dreaming Angela

Angela, the PhD? Maybe she is just dreaming. Who knows? Sounds like one of those useless PhDs anyway.

As for qualifications and all that stuff, nice to have letters after your name but quite often useless in the real world from my experience. But the years spent getting the paper, now they are fun.

Brilliant psychologist I know. Counsels students these days. Managed to gamble the family home out from under the family and is still at it. Must be interesting counselling sessions if the student in the session has an addiction problem.

But they say doctors should never treat themselves. Seems some take that seriously. 

Talking of letters, just because I say the alphabet starting with Z and not A, I am considered a bit odd around here. zyxwvutsrqponmlkjihgfedcba. Don't ask me to say it from A though. Would have to learn it first. Maybe I should consult Fiona about my problem. Nah. I learnt it that way as an act of defiance in school.  Artistically though, it looks better my way don't you think? Maybe I could put it on white canvas and flog it to the NGA. Beats that straight black line they paid a fortune for. How do I know they paid a fortune? Well would they hang something in the main foyer of the Nat if it cost peanuts?  I guess if they were stupid enough to buy it they probably would.

I suppose there is art, and then there is art that is passed off as art. Seems all you have to do is tell some people something is art, and they will believe you. No matter how gross or ridiculous it is. Black line on white canvas for heavens sake. Obviously these art experts think we are all fools. Well some are fooled, but not all. Trouble is it is our money they are spending on such stuff.

Says what all, really?

Jenny Hume: 'So what do you do with [Ferguson] so that he is safe and so is the community?'

Well, you can take him to the nearest river and give him a twenty minute baptism, for all I care. But there are penalties for that. So you might consider telling your kids to keep away from him, because he's a nasty man. Kids are not as stupid as you seem to think.

a hard kick in the tentacles

Bill Avent, "Kids are not as stupid as you seem to think."

Neither, it seems, are Octopuses!

My children right, artists' children wrong

Anthony Nolan: “By contrast … my own children (f: 16; m 11) were deeply unimpressed by the use of children in the work of both Henson and Papantrou.”

I find your statement interesting for two reasons. First, if, as you have maintained with some vehemence on this thread, you regard Henson’s photographs as child pornography, how do you justify exposing an eleven-year-old child to such material? In what way can you maintain that you are exercising your parental responsibility to protect your son? Moreover, accepting your judgment that your sixteen-year-old daughter is "politically and personally astute", she is still a child in terms of the legislation that you have cited (and which is not directly in point anyway) and you are, in your own terms, in breach of your parental duty to her.

Secondly, you find Henson’s and Papantrou’s models statements that they have no problems with photographs of themselves being on public display to be dubious. (If I remember, your wording was to the effect that “they would say that, wouldn’t they?”) Yet you find your own children’s assessments of the works to be credible. Interesting, to put it mildly.

Of course their children are right, Fiona

They live in Lake Wobegone. Where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are all above average.

They don't have any artists there. Artists are narcissists, and their children are all screwed up.

Only in America.

Michael de Angelos: "Right now I'm watching the ABC's 7.30 Report and images of those outside the infamous pedophile's home – they are quite hysterical, scary even."

Mind blowing, wasn't it? Burning effigies. Nooses. The blonde woman shrieking and on the verge of tears, ranting the most hateful nonsense.

Very good point by the reporter on the responsibility of the State government there in first whipping up this sort of panic and now having to deal with the consequences.

It's fairly certain, judging from the ABC 702 PM programme the other night, who leaked the location of the house, too.

Pandering to people like Hetty brings its inevitable blow-back.

Worst red-neck uprising in Mississippi I can recall.

It was Mississippi, wasn't it? Or was it Alabama?

The child's view...

By contrast Michael my own children (f: 16; m 11) were deeply unimpressed by the use of children in the work of both Henson and Papantrou.  My son, on being shown Henson's images asked "what is wrong with that guy?" meaning  what is wrong with Henson.  We then had a long chat about what he saw as the inappropriate interest shown by Henson in children's bodies.  He took an extremely personal view of the matter.  He is a kid who has been raised with the freedom of his own body and he is very delicate about protecting his own privacy around the house; as someone who is given the respect he wants around such matters he was uncomprehending about how any parents could consent to their children being used the way some parents consented to Henson's use of their children.

My daughter is politically and personally astute and her comment has been, all the way through, that children used as subjects by artists and photographers are so deeply enmeshed in powerlessness within their respective families that any suggestion that they may have given consent is an absurdity.  She mentioned Franz Fanon's notion of the "internalisation of oppression" as well as Gramsci's theory of "hegemony" to argue that children cannot assert independent points of view about themselves unless they are encouraged to do so...so she felt that the family politics of all of the subject children were pretty suspect.

My own experience with artists is that they tend to be narcissists and that their children have little opportunity but to become narcissists themselves and this is a consequence of a lack of attention paid by artistic parents to children except in so far as the children reflect the essential narcissistic needs of the parent. 

We could all be spared some pretty shithouse art if the artists did therapy instead of working their issues through in public.

So there is the truth

Richard Tonkin's daughter unexpectedly shows us the truth – that children view things differently (and are so wonderfully innocent) than us adults – who put the worse possible interpretation on almost everything.

In his blog, the girls' father says as much: that the photo really challenges us adults and how we perceive children. It's like it's impossible for some to not view the little girl being in a provocative pose (again – an insight into the viewer’s mind – and not everyone else’s).

Andrew Bolt has predictably gone to town on the dad yet the girl, even though she is now only 11, sounds far more intelligent than most who have publicly commented.

Kevin Rudd says he hates this stuff (showing a real wowser side of himself), and people like Hetty Johnson can't get past sex as her first impression. You do have to worry about where these people's heads are at! But remember, Hetty was demanding a law in Queensland that proclaimed girls over 18 were not allowed to have sex with men over 21 (can't remember if the reverse was allowed). Hetty seems to have a problem with sex.

Heaven help some of these people if they travel to Spain where the legal age of consent is 13 – they'd expire from a heart attack.

Right now I'm watching the ABC's 7.30 Report and images of those outside the infamous pedophile's home – they are quite hysterical, scary even. Personally I couldn't give a stuff who lives beside me (nor do I know who they are, except there's a nutter above who seems to have problems with the constabulary once a month) but I really couldn't care if this Ferguson bloke is beside me – I'd really worry if those appearing on the 7.30 Report were next door!

Intelligence and maturity

Michael: "Andrew Bolt has predictably gone to town on the dad yet the girl, even though she is now only 11, sounds far more intelligent than most who have publicly commented."

Intelligence is not a substitute for maturity, Michael.

Yes, I am sure that the girl is very intelligent, so's my own 12 year old daughter. But nevertheless she (my daughter)  is still very immature and  needs guidance and nurturing.

I don't think that Rudd is a wowser either. Just a caring parent. (He does have a fourteen year old son.) Unfortunately too many people forget (or have never experienced) what it is like having a child  growing up (and on the brink of puberty),  particularly in this day and age.

 I don't have a problem with sex either.

However I do have a problem with the exploitation of children.

"...the real issue was not pornography or paedophilia, but the lack of ethical integrity in exploiting children for adult purposes." (my emphases).

This sums up my objections precisely.

Mine too, F. Kendall!

And for the record I do not think that the picture of that little girl is offensive.

I do, however, think that Art Monthly have been particularly provocative and offensive in procuring a picture of an innocent 6 year old to suit their own  purposes.

Certainly most unedifying in my opinion.

It's 'out there'...

Bill Avent says:

"They're beginning to convince me. I was wrong. Boundaries should be set not by artists, but by contol freaks with bees in their bonnets."

They usually have a 'theory'.

What God told them. What is 'right' according to 'nature'. Something 'necessary' according to 'history'.

Values exist 'out there' in the way the laws of chemistry or physics are independent of us and exist 'out there'.

These values are 'self evident' and only a 'dill' would deny them, so 'stop whining'.

Ban the lot ...

... including Anne Geddes?

Anne Geddes, MNZM, (b. September, 1956) is an Australian-born photographer, clothing designer and businesswoman who now lives and works in New Zealand. She is known for her stylized depictions of babies and motherhood. In most of her work, babies or young children are dressed as fictitious characters such as fairies and fairytale creatures, flowers, or animals like bunnies. Her subjects are extremely idealized; babies in her photographs are almost always sleeping or staring into space, as if still in utero.

Geddes' books have been published in at least fifty countries. According to Amazon.com she has sold more than 11 million books and 15 million calendars.

(My emphasis.) Nah, doesn't count as exploiting images of children for adult purposes.... After all, Ms Geddes' biog on her own website (self?) describes her thus:

One of the world’s most respected photographers, Anne Geddes creates images that are iconic, award winning, internationally acclaimed, and beloved. Like no photographer before, her imagery singularly captures the beauty, purity, vulnerability, and preciousness of children, embodying her deeply held belief that each and every child must be protected, nurtured, and loved.

Yet she would seem to have trousered quite a bit of cash over the years - or was that an unexpected, and unintended, consequence? 

I showed my nine year old daughter the picture

She'd already seen the censored version on the news. She had no problems with the uncensored version at all.  Very specific (unsolicited) opinions on what kind of environment she would allow a picture to be taken, and its availablity for perusal, but otherwise she thought it was hunky dory.

I found her thoughts on the matter to be quite balanced and healthy.

We've been carrying on this debate thinking we're doing so over our children's heads. It's a dangerous assumption at the best of times, and does no credit to their intelligence.

Not such a long bow

F Kendall, in that piece Moira Rayner also wrote:

"Though society may well value art for art's sake, works of art, publicly exhibited and offered for sale, have become articles of trade. They are compromised. The market has no morality."

May Gibbs' illustrated books were also articles of trade, and as such - if one accepts Ms Rayner's arguments - also amount to an exploitation of children for "adult" purposes. 

So we return to something that I argued at the beginning of this thread: if we accept that position (which I do not) then we should also accept that no images of children (in whatever state of dress) should be available for public view. And, possibly, that children themselves should not be seen in public ....

excellent letter...

My own view of the photograph on the cover of  Art Monthly is that it is inoffensive and, through the imposition of the photograph of the girl on a background of a painting by Lewis Carroll, makes a point that I was asserting regarding Henson's work which is that the perception of the subject by the artist is embedded within the image itself.  Papantrou's depiction of her daughter is very distinct from the sort of depiction that Henson presents of his subjects:  Papantrou's image is non-sexualised while Henson's is profoundly sexualised; Papantrou shows childhood while Henson presents his subjects as smeared, soiled, sexualised and dirty.

That is why Henson's works are offensive and breach decency in so far as they actually rely on the use of illegally young subjects to manufacture the image.

On the other hand here is a link to a letter in today's SMH which I think an excellent statement on the problem with Art Monthly and what it has done:


As for Professor Nelson, well, it was too good to last!

Artists set the boundaries - bloody hell

Anthony, I don't often swear but that report on the sort of art that does pass for art in Art Monthly sure shows us why artists are not fit persons to set the boundaries for the rest of us.

The depth of depravity artists like to plumb knows no limit it seems.

I suppose the little girl was allowed to view the magazine. That would be OK I guess to some here, while to the same people Dolly is definitely in poor taste for kids. Inconsistency abounds again.

Ban the lot of it I say. Dolly too. May Gibbs? Babies as gumnuts. Hardly in the same league at all.


They're beginning to convince me. I was wrong. Boundaries should be set not by artists, but by control freaks with bees in their bonnets.

Gee, this thread is a hoot, ain't it? I'm cackling like a treeful of kookaburras. Don't know what this is going to do for my ulcer…

I've got two artworks on my office wall. Coloured pencil and crayon. They're drawings of me, done by two little kids. Adult exploitation! How dare they?

Weird reactions

Art Monthly did what it's said that artists should do every now and then – challenge conventional thinking. It's amazing how some have reacted – like the MCA's Liz Anne McGregor who a month ago was defending the Henson pics but is now attacking Papapetrou's picture.

I find it fairly disturbing that many people (or those most vocal) are saying that in the pic of the little girl she is in a "provocative" pose – that's not what comes to mind to me. But I suppose it’s all in the mind. And that's the point, isn't it?

What are these people saying about themselves? Freud would most likely have a field day with this one – are they unconsciously revealing a factor about themselves they are frightened of?

There is an extraordinary cowardice being shown by many art critics – they went on the defensive over Henson but have backed down about Art Monthly but it seems because it was another step too soon.

But for Art Monthly not to have published as they did – if they believe in their actions just shows how the so-called "moral" crowd will attack relentlessly and viciously. They have to be challenged in return if this nonsense is to be stopped.

There are far-reaching consequences. The popular gutter media fuels these scares just as they are with the perpetually moving released pedophile in Queensland. It first locates and identifies the man (as it has in the past with him and others), whips up a storm and has the local drongoes out in force with their placards and a noose (one wonders whether these people have a life!). The man moves and the actions repeated. Paydirt for the media.

But he has to live somewhere and unwittingly Hetty Johnson finally reveals the truth of her own contribution to the hysteria – that she now believes there will be no chance of publicly available lists of where pedophiles live – something she wished for so dearly and similar to US laws.

But in the US these laws – brought in by attention- and office-seeking politicians – are now getting to ridiculous levels. Alabama has introduced a law saying sex offenders must wear a t-shirt in public stating they are one – and have a placard in their front lawn proclaiming the same. As a consequence now those in the same street – who so viciously wanted this action – suddenly find the value of their houses are dropping (a nightmare with US house prices everywhere plunging).

Suddenly they live in a street in which their house becomes unsaleable. As the Peter Allen song goes;

"don't wish too hard for what you want cos then you may get it "

In WA they are introducing a law (and making it retroactive) where sex offenders must register with police their email details and websites visited which leaves it to the police to investigate where they may. Heaven help those who get "spammed" with unwanted websites (which happens to me often) or get redirected inadvertently to a viagra site – and they haven't registered it. Their best chance to avoid breaking the law is to simply list tens of thousands of websites and leave the police to do what they can, if that's what the clown of the WA Minister wants – dozens of police constantly surfing the web.

Alternatively these police could be out on the beat and assisting in real live abuse cases.

In the UK this is called "trawling" an action police claimed they didn't do (and which goes against all policing good practice) – that of identifying a person and then back tracking and trawling for a "crime". It worked for a while as dozens of people were jailed in state children's home cases.

Except most have now been released on appeal and heavily compensated as it has been revealed police approached potential "victims" and clearly spelled out the amount of government compensation available (around $150,000 or upwards) – many willingly stepped forward and rushed trials saw innocent people banged up. The final result – police "trawling" is now banned .

Still, the victims of 30 year old sex cases find they receive their compo way ahead of those in the army and retuning from Iraq with terrible injuries who must fight a debilitating battle with government departments for even the smallest amount of compo – despite the war's architect Tony Blair promising the alternative. (Blair also dramatically proclaimed " Afghanistan – we will not forget you!")

Critics of US laws also point out that it's only a matter of time before politicians also seize upon the idea of bank robbers, drunken drivers whatever – also wearing the right t-shirt or having the appropriate placard on their front lawn.

Of course they could make it much easier and devise a series of coloured stars which identify each offender. It's been done before and templates already conveniently exist.

Drawing a long bow there, John

An excellent article in today's Eureka Report:

"...the real issue was not pornography or paedophilia, but the lack of ethical integrity in exploiting children for adult purposes." (my emphases).

This sums up my objections precisely.

And mine too F Kendall

F Kendall, and mine too. But you will have a hard time convincing those on the other side there that you are not just engaging in moral panic.

The lack of ethical integrity in exploiting children for adult purposes. Sums it up very nicely. It is all about boundaries.

Standards and boundaries. None on the other side of this debate has been prepared to say where the boundaries should be set. But one at least says let the artists set them. Well we know where they set them don't we? Others seem to think a thirteen year old child knows best where they should be set.

Children don't know, least all those in early adolescence, which is why they are often the subject of abuse and unable to do anything about it.  Too often they think what is happening to them at the hands of trusted adults in their lives must be the norm. And we adults know it is not.  That is why we have to set the standards high and protect them till they are able to make informed judgements.

Is a thirteen year old still a child. I say it is. Yes. It is. But of course using the word it reveals an unappealing attitude on my part towards human beings. A lack of respect if you please.  Spare me from the English pedant class.

Gumnut Babies wouldn't pass the censors today.

The Australian Classification Board will review an art magazine that featured nude photographs of a six-year-old girl on its cover.

Art Monthly's controversial cover comes in the wake of intense public debate over artist Bill Henson's photographs of a naked teenage girl which were confiscated from a Sydney gallery.

Are we turning into a nation of prudes?

Does anyone remember the Gum nut Babies?

May Gibbs would have trouble getting past the censors today?

The babies were all nude.

Nothing to 'see' here

Richard: "If I had seen it without all the crap I wouldn't have blinked."

Yeah, precisely. With minimal googling one may find Polixeni Papapetrou's work showcased on her webpage.

Many of the images involve child subjects. And, shock horror, they're overwhelmingly clothed or presented in a non-sexual context. Probably the only thing remotely 'sinister' about the image in question is its connection with Charles Dodgson's (aka, Lewis Carroll) notorious photography.

Pervs may find Papapetrou's work quite underwhelming. Meanwhile Art Monthly Australia may perhaps for the first time in its existence have its latest number sold out. Thanks to the Messrs Rudd & Nelson, it's worked a treat.

Protest or art

Angela Ryan, you wonder "if, when an art magazine publishes a naked picture as a protest, whether that is still art."

Well, it wasn't a protest — nothing to protest about — it was an amusing little nose-thumb at the hysterics of the censorship brigade, and their failure to have their way. But whatever it was, how can a picture which has hung on a wall for years, as a work of art, change to something else when it is published in a magazine? If it is meant to make a political point, so what? The principle of free speech applies to political issues more than anything else. To be sure, there are many who would have everything with which they disagree or don't like never said, heard or seen; but they can go wallow in their fascist crapulence all by themselves. Or together with each other.

Jacob A. Stam has hit the nail on the head. The politicians are trying to outdo each other in the moral-panic stakes. Racing each other to jump on the hysterics' band wagon, apparently to show the world what protective paternalistic Big Brothers they are. They'll even protect children from their parents. Whether they need protection or not. As for children who do need protection — usually from state-based authorities who are supposed to be under politicians' control — the less said about them the better, it would seem.

He's turning out to be a bit of a worry, our Kev. If this aspect of his character we are seeing is real, and not just a facade, then that is an even bigger worry. Remember that kerfuffle when he had to admit to getting drunk and going to a strip club? That revelation was meant to alienate his supporters, but it turned out to have the opposite effect — maybe there was another side to his character than the Tin-Tin portrayed by Bill Leak. We always knew he was by nature a bit of a control freak. From some of his recent comments he seems to have a bit of a complex. A quite unmagnificent obsession. Looks like he needs to spend a few sessions on a couch, and get himself sorted out.

Jenny Hume, you ask we who have opposed calls from the noisy minority to censor artists where we would have them set the boundaries. Well, speaking for myself, where the boundaries are is fine. No artist that I know of has produced anything even approaching child pornography. Let the artists set their own boundaries, as they always have. They have managed well enough so far. No one anywhere has said there should be no boundaries. When you say they have you are just being dishonest. Not a good look.

You say you found the magazine cover charming. Personally, I found it, unlike Henson's works, to be rather too twee to really be art at all. But such things are a matter of taste. Taking into account your approval of the photograph on the one hand, and your disapproval of it on the other, I am left wondering where you are coming from. Should children simply not be allowed, ever, to be the subject of art works? Or only if they have clothes on? In which case, how much clothing should they be obliged to wear? Would you have it measured in square metres, centimetres, or what? I am sure far more "sexualised" pictures of non-naked children have been produced than those unclad ones which have been condemned recently. Can you still not see how confused and irrational your contentions have been from the start?

Clearly the insulted kid is not too young to understand what Rudd was actually saying and meaning at all. Of course we can expect her to understand the broader issue that Rudd was alluding to. Naíve little child? Less naíve than those who would dismiss her understanding on the basis of her age, it seems to me. And far more intelligent, too. Kudos to her for speaking up. And a bucket of manure to Rudd.

Art Monthly and that cover photo...

Hello again,

it is just as well to stick to the facts here ... if you want to look at an unedited version of that photo it is available here at the Art Monthly site:


Richard:  In light of the current situation, readers pleased be warned that some will find this picture offensive. 

I note that the photographer has superimposed a photograph of the child on the background of a painting originally done by Lewis Carroll who acquired a certain infamy because of his sexual interests in young children.

It seems to me that the photo of the girl is distinctly different treatment to the sort that Henson uses and that it is therefore plausible to suggest that the photographer is making a point about childhood, sexuality and the vision of the image maker.  In other words, the point is that the sexualising of the subject (or the presentation of the subject in non-sexualised terms) is dependent on how the photographer sees the child.  This in turn depends on the social position of the photographer ... the gendered and classed position of the artist.

Inside Art Monthly is an article that is apparently a critique of Henson.  I hope to read and report on it in time. I guess that what this all highlights is the difficulty of legislating limits on debate...but I do agree with Rudd that debate is limited to those who can take part as agential ctizens (ie, adults) and regret that the artiste and publisher have seen fit to take such an inflammatory course instead of simply engaging in argument.  But then that is artists for you isn't it?  They like attention as much as any default narcissists.

In the meantime, please note that the subject's father is the art critique and academic Robert Nelson (Monash U) whose critical position (2005) towards Henson is linked much earlier in this thread.

If your knees are trembling it may be the beginnings of a knee jerk reaction. Stay calm. Or maybe you want to be down on your knees in front of a member of the Buggering Brothers?

It's a beautiful picture

Totally marred by the black box and contextual profiling.  If I had seen it without all the crap I wouldn't have blinked.

Thanks Anthony.  Now that I know what's going on I find it more disturbing that such conversations about it are being held, and that our PM is involved.

The shape of the rock she is sitting on may be symbolic of a Venus shell, but that's the only thing that I can find that might imply adult femininity, or its as-yet-unshaped  future.  That's about as contentious as it gets.


It's about as sanitised as it can be.

I can't believe people can get their knickers or nuts in a knot over that photo. Not when you look at the endless exploitative smut devoid of contextual relationship to plot, let alone limitless mindbending advertising, on the  teev.

Kyle and Jackie on the radio?

Not when you look through the deliberately vicious commodifying stuff in the weenie mags, or the utter sludge in the women's mags in the doctor's surgery.

And not when you think of the genuine obscenities occurring by the minute in the real world, starting with child abuse and ending with genocide.

et in arcadia ego

But your mother has run  this suggestion past you as  an adult, Fiona, and it is the adult you who consents.

Like many parents, I have engaging photos and movies of  my own naked children innocently romping with the naked children of friends.  As it goes, people drift apart:  we haven't seen or been in contact with some of those children for years.   Some of them have public positions.  Am I free to publish those images, knowing that their uninhibited childish selves would have agreed at that time?   Or should I seek the permission of their adult selves?  

 Some people would see a 78 year old body as non sexual - your mother might make an interesting point if she posted a nude picture of herself.

Read the transcript

Marilyn, the issue proper is the culture of impunity that Pell's actions in the matter have helped to perpetuate, in this case apparently also involving molestation of an 11 year old boy. Such actions and such a culture serve only to disempower victims and, worse still, enable the perpetrators. I'm frankly surprised you missed that angle. And hey, it shouldn't matter whether it's god-botherers or whoever.

Culture of denial

Jacob: I think the culture of impunity does not just exist in the church but I would see it as being more represensible given the message that the church is claiming to preach. The State has not even acknowledged the terrible abuse suffered by children in its care or under its control in its various institutions and those children in their adulthood are suffereing just as much through that denial. Some of that abuse was very physically violent as well as sexual. Cover up of sexual abuse and bullying is nothing new to organizations of many types. Closing ranks against the individual to protect the organization - we hear of it quite often.

I am frankly appalled at the level of abuse that actually does go in our society. Bullying, especially verbal is a very subtle form of abuse which over time can have devastating consequences for its victims. Look at that report this morning of the young mother in Cowra who suicided after on going abuse by her colleagues in the Cowra ambulance service. It seems bullying is just as much a part of the workplace as it is the schoolyard.

I do not understand why people set out to deliberately hurt others through words. It is not true that words can never hurt me. What you see on the internet is reflective it seems of a broad problem in society generally. It detroys one's faith in human nature.  Why cannot people just behave in a decent manner toward other people?

I trust your form improves if the problems are health ones.

Richard: A teeny cut.  Well I will just have to get the editor in the house to have a word in your hot little......then again, that would be a lost cause too. 

My view about adults putting pictures of themselves as naked children on the internet? Well, it would depend very much on the photo. If it was in any way sexualised, or could be seen as such, I wouldn't myself do it. I do not believe in feeding the appetite of perverts. I think most people can distinguish between a sexualised photo of a naked child, and one that is not. Many parents I know take photos of their kids in the bathtub while toddlers, but only as toddlers. I have some of my grandchildren but I would not post them on the internet and I know my daugther would certainly object if I did.  I am not aware that is a habit of many parents to take sexualised photos, or indeed any photos at all of their naked children past the baby/toddler stage. Let alone put them on the internet.  And I think a lot of kids would think it odd if their parents did start photographing them in naked, especially in naked  poses as they matured. I don't know if that answers your question or not. Let it just be said that I would err on the side of caution.

Now I am being instructed to get off this and check whether there is enough money in the bank to meet the cheque for the new guitar. Why do musicians buy their toys before asking their wives to check the bank balance?

Richard: Some say it's that altruistic desire to achieve the perfect note, Others..

Jacob, it has been investigated

If you had bothered to watch Lateline you would know that the matters had been investigated and sent to the police.   And it all happened years ago, one was a grown man and I am not excusing the priest or Pell but why on earth are you pretending that Rudd should say something else about such well known behaviour in the god botherer places?

We can all scream and yell as much as we like but what on earth has ever changed.

Good form?

Jenny Hume, I've little real interest in this latest artsy scandal over naked kiddy pics. Not that I have any particular care to defend flakey arty types in their questionable actions around this so-called 'issue', but...

Personally I'll be convinced about Messrs Rudd's & Nelson's desire to "protect the most vulnerable among us" when they decide to make some poltical waves over this real scandal.

When Mr Rudd declares he "can't stand" what was perpetrated against that young man, and when Mr Nelson determines to send the Australian Federal Police in to investigate, then maybe their posturing over the naked kiddy pics can be taken seriously.

The Pell story has yet to play out, but at this stage it seems on the one hand a case of beating up on arty-types, who are always easy game, but softly-softly on power structures like the Catholic Church, as personified by Cardinal Bloody Pell.

Furthermore, when this thread decides to get real about all that stuff, maybe then it too can be taken seriously.

Anyway, thanks for the remark about my being "in good form", I just wish I felt as good as I apparently seem...

The Bell of Hell will knell for Pell

Jacob: Also, a good leader in The Age on the issue:

And it is not the only bad publicity the church must contend with in the lead-up to World Youth Day. Changes in the law in NSW will allow police to arrest and fine anyone deemed to be causing "annoyance or inconvenience" to those attending World Youth Day events. In effect, this gives police broad powers to prevent even peaceful protests. It is a shameful infringement of free speech, and Cardinal Pell ought to have advised the NSW Government that the laws are unnecessary. In the wake of the revelations about Cardinal Pell's handling of Mr Jones' complaint, the likelihood is that there will now be more protests than might otherwise have been the case.

Intervention/sacking imminent?

Jenny Hume: "What I do find disturbing is that it was used to make a political point..."

Was it that, Jenny, or was it to (as they say) stimulate public debate about art, pornography and society?

If the latter, then I'd say it's worked a treat, considering the sudden re-animation of this thread, and earnest declamations and tut-tutting all over the 'net.

This latest affair even has the PM and his opposite number trying to outdo each other in the moral-panic stakes. While Mr Rudd declares he "can't stand" this image — which you've just described as "in fact quite charming" — Mr Nelson wants to bring the Feds in.

It won't be too long before the PM personally intervenes by either sacking someone high up in the food chain or de-funding some arts body.

Of moral panic, abuse and the Catholic church

Hi Jacob, see you are still in good form. The publishing of the cover photo I believe was a deliberate attempt, not to stimulate debate of the issues you name, but to basically thumb the nose at those who do not approve of the use of children a la the Henson photos. I think it was a blatant act of defiance, and the publisher used a naked little girl to push the point. Inappropriate use of a child in my view. 

I notice no one on the other side of this discussion has yet been prepared to set out where he or she thinks the boundary should be in terms of depicting naked children.  All we get is accusations that our concerns are simply moral panic.

And yes Paul Walter, there is and has been an appalling level of terrible abuse of children in this country, committed by people in all walks of life, and it seems to be growing by the year. Which I am quite sure is of great concern to a large number of parents. And they recognise that abuse of and harm to a child can take many different forms. Sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is just one form of abuse. Other forms can be far more insidious.

I have yet to find a mother of a young child amongst the broad circle in which I move: farmers, child psychologists, teachers, artists, actors, theatre directors, musicians, professional photographers, cleaners, gardeners, plumbers for a start - most of them mothers and fathers - and not one to date when asked has said the Henson photos were acceptable in their view. And my associates are not a mob of old church going wowsers - quite the contrary. Most of them never step inside a church to my knowledge.

No, I think the views of those supporting Henson are highly likely to be in the minority.  

Angela, thank you for your comments. I would be the last person to stand up for the Catholic church and frankly find the Catholic faith not really my cup of tea.. Its bureaucracy has a lot to answer for in terms of the way it covered up abuse by priests. I have always in my own life separated faith and religious belief from the church bureaucracy. One can retain the former while being appalled at the conduct of the latter.

But the church is not the only organization to have covered up abuse of children. The State governments ran reform schools when I was young and the abuse there has never been acknowledged, nor any compensation ever paid to state wards and children locked up in state institutions. As for any apology to those victims of State subsidised abuse  - they will die waiting.

What is it about institutions that they seem to allow the worst side of human nature to expose itself is such ugly ways?

As for the T shirt brigade, it is about manners and treating people with respect. Some people just go out of their way to be objectionable, nasty and provocative for the sake of being provocative. I don't have a problem with those who oppose the rulings of the Catholic church on such issues as the use of contraceptives and on abortion voicing their opinion with T shirts or verbally, so long as they allow the young people to have their celebration in relative peace.

As for the current Pope, well clearly there are some in the Catholic church who think he was not a wise choice. At least in the Protestant church, if we don't like the Minister we can get rid of him. My great great uncle in fact led the 1842 Disruption in the Presbyterian Church that made sure that the patronage system (under which the rich noble class decided who the congregation got as a minister) ended. As Moderator he led 400 ministers out of the Assembly to form the  Free Church of Scotland which did away with patronage, giving the congregation the right to chose who ministered to it. The two churches existed side by side till the early 20th Century when they re-united but to this day the congregation gets to call the Minister of its choice.

I would not make a good Catholic. Roman Catholic for Malcolm's benefit. I would not like my religious life and faith controlled in any way by a church bureaucracy or by all that ritual. But each to his or her own.


People in glass houses.......

Indeed Jenny, child abuse has been committed by people from all walks of life. In fact 85% of child abuse is perpetrated by family , friends, neighbours and babysitters. The press however have tended to focus (unfairly) on Catholic clergy.

This from


"A Baptist-published brochure states that 35% of ministers surveyed "had engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior." It also states that Protestant clergy are "sexually exploiting their parishioners at twice the rate of secular therapists." (Broken Trust, published by the Christian Life Commission of the BGCT)

Other studies "have shown no differences" in the frequency of clergy sexual abuse "by denomination, region, theology, or institutional structure." Thus, "the problem of clergy sexual abuse is not just a Catholic issue - the problem extends to Protestant denominations as well." (Ministerial Ethics at 162*) Penn State professor Philip Jenkens reported that between 2 to 3 percent of Protestant clergy are pedophiles. His same study reported that less than 1.7 percent of Catholic priests are pedophiles. There is simply no reason to think clergy child molestors are solely a Catholic problem."

And please remember, everyone, that protestant ministers ARE allowed to marry, so it would appear that being celibate is not the real issue at the heart of child abuse.

. http://www.catholicleague.org/research/abuse_in_social_context.htm "SEXUAL ABUSE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT: CATHOLIC CLERGY AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS." certainly puts this all into perspective.

Whilst the conduct of a small minority of clergy is abhorrent and the subsequent cover- ups totally reprehensible, it must be said that Pope Benedict is trying to address this grave issue admitting past wrongdoings and offering help and solace to victims.


"Benedict has spoken repeatedly about the abuse crisis during his first trip to the United States as pope.

He called the crisis a cause of "deep shame," pledged to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood and decried the "enormous pain" that communities have suffered from such "gravely immoral behavior" by priest.

He told the nation's bishops that the crisis was "sometimes very badly handled," and said they must reach out with love and compassion to victims. At an open air Mass on Thursday at Nationals Park, he also urged Catholic parishioners to do what they can to heal the wounds caused by the sex abuse scandal. "

Jenny: "there is and has been an appalling level of terrible abuse of children in this country, committed by people in all walks of life, and it seems to be growing by the year. Which I am quite sure is of great concern to a large number of parents."

Agreed Jenny. Certainly our focus should be on trying to arrest this dreadful and often insidious situation , endemic in many areas of our communities.

Richard: I've put a church abuse thread up for anyone interested in continuing on this path.

trust no one

Jacob, good comment.

Unlike one previous, from someone who I had credited with more nous and more character..

Tricky ethical road, freedom of speech without harm?

Hi Jenny, sensible comment as usual, but I wonder if when an art magazine publishes a naked picture as a protest whether that is still "art". Surely that is then "political" and therefore no longer under the protection of the legislation. Just a thought.

Also, the woman who took the photo seems to have gained the fastest PhD I have ever heard of. According to her CV started in 2006 and awarded 2007. Impressive. Can't seem to find the thesis on line anywhere which is unusual. PhD, quick time formula, wow, Time to apply to Monash for a roll of them.

I suspect it is the usual quick grab for publicity. Hardly the dark sensual sexualised images of Henson's perverted images of naked children, but again using/exploitation of naked kids, her own, for her photos. No comment about them at all. Ahem, and how bizarre to presume children to know the complexities of such portrayals into the public eye.

I think if the legislation had a clear no profit for photos clause is would stop most of this. Those with genuine family photos obviously exchange them without gain and those with less honourable motives involve monetary gain somewhere. But I do not envy those drawing up the legislative changes, and how pathetic that our society cannot protect our children from such exploitation without it.

As for the T-shirt....if one says such things aloud it is against the law, if one records it and replays it, is it still so? If one records it in writing and displays it is it the same? If one finds an image for it is it still so? If one finds an ambiguous image metaphor for it is it still so? If it is in a language that none around are expected to understand is it still so? Tricky. Hmm.

I find no problem with an offensive T-shirt myself, or someone even swearing whatever or rude pictures etc. Only when there is exploitation and victims, or potentially a shock to those vulnerable and unaware of the presence. Guess that is what manners are usually about, knowing when to say FK and when not to, for the sake of those around who are really upset by such and are vulnerable, such as a very elderly person or a person harmed in the past by something still painful. Again, that is what manners really are, and I guess because it is hard to know how vulnerable the stranger may be to your barb, it is why one is more careful in public.

I doubt there are any coming or in Sydney who are not aware of the paedophile scandal rocking the Roman Catholic church and perhaps it is more the victims of such that are the vulnerable and being highly offended by the public money spent of such a criminal group visiting as the paedophile protection executive visiting and the posters proclaiming such a visit and welcoming it. Just another way to think of such things. And what were Bnai Brith thinking having the ex Hitler Youth member visit? How does that make their holocaust survivors feel, another victim group that seems to have been forgotten in all the glitz? Remember, this is the Pope who wants to go back on Vatican 2 and visited Auschwitz and made a speech without mentioning Jews.

Sensitivity, protection of the vulnerable, and respect for those who suffer. One might say true Christian values, none of which this executive leadership of the RC have shown.

FTP as all good Irish lads say. :)

Media relations

Fiona Reynolds: "My 78 year old mother, Jenny Hume, has seen the photograph in question and thinks that Mr Rudd has lost the plot."

Perhaps your grandmother is not of sufficient maturity or lacks the life experience to properly understand Mr Rudd? Kidding.

Talking about hysteria, I was staggered to hear this disclosed on ABC 702's PM program last night:

"Dennis Ferguson's new home is a government-owned low set brick house on acreage at Logan, just south of Brisbane."

Needless to say, this morning's television news had vision from last evening of a crowd of hysterical fools gathered outside the house in Logan, behaving like a pack of excited red-necks, baying for Ferguson.

I hold no brief for Ferguson, but what is this country coming to when the ABC could pander to such a backward mentality by disclosing where he was while under police protection.

Hetty featured in the report, showing uncharacteristic moderation - after it was disclosed she'd been in contact with Ferguson's neighbours.

"Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston says Ferguson's new neighbours contacted her this morning."

The ABC's Nicole Butler had this to say in the report:

"Last week, Ms Johnston was furious that Ferguson had been released from jail."

"This week she's pleased with how the Government is dealing with the court's decision."

Butler also reported:

"Journalists, cameramen and photographers are staking out the suburb of Logan, desperate to get a glimpse of the paedophile."

Yeah, right. But Butler already knows it's "a low set brick house".

Gee? Who tipped off the media pack to the actual address, I wonder?

Unthinking adults

My 78 year old mother, Jenny Hume, has seen the photograph in question and thinks that Mr Rudd has lost the plot. She is proposing to have a photo of the infant me in the bath - and very much in the rude nude - scanned and put up on the net. Fine by me.

The girl in question sounds like a highly intelligent young person. Both my husband and daughter agree.

Is intelligence what it is about?

Fiona. I don't doubt that child is intelligent, but that does not mean she is not naive and immature when it comes to understanding the reason the public has concerns about this whole issue. Nothing from the brief interview with her suggested to me that she had any insight into that. 

But I will be honest, I was not particularly disturbed by her on that magazine cover.  I think it was in fact quite charming. What I do find disturbing is that it was used to make a political point, saying in effect: We in the art world will do what we like with pictures of naked children and so cop this. So is this just the start? Where will the boundaries be set, and by whom.? The art world? I think not. Naked children as political pawns? Again, I think not.

And even more concerning I think was for those parents to identify themselves and their child and show where they live. There are some very nasty people in the world and frankly I would be very concerned if that were my little girl and I had done that.

As for you mum posting pictures of you in your naked babyhood on the net. Well you are an adult now and can give informed consent.

Just as I published in a book pictures of me and my siblings all stark naked playing under a well pump on our farm in 1945. We hardly wore a stitch of clothes before the age of five, so all our photos outside are of us naked. Mind you we lived far away from any prying eyes so we were pretty safe. Two of us are now dead and I have no problems in my adulthood of those photos being seen in a book. I doubt, however, my mother would have published them on the internet had it been around in 1945.

But on balance I think that magazine photo is less concerning that those of Henson which were clearly deliberately sexualised. Mind you, I have not seen the others of the little girl that are reportedly in the art magazine so I won't comment on them.

But tell me all those who are troubled by the opposition to Henson. Where would you set the boundary in terms of the publication of pictures of naked children. Where is the line to be drawn in your opinions. If at all. 

perversely dishonest

Jenny Hume: "...those who are troubled by the opposition to Henson".

Nah, we just think there are other more serious issues (such as actual abuse) others studiously avoid. Name of Pell ring a bell?


Paul Walter, you seem to specialise in comments that are perversely obscure. Who are you inferring is perversely dishonest - me or the Cardinal?

And as for your last on this thread to our Jacob - who are you inferring had more character and more nous? One assumes the good mother of six. Who, is that you ask?  Go figure as you seem to expect others to do around here.

BTW I note you are not prepared to state where you would see the boundaries being set in regard to the depiction of naked children for public display.  Do I take it then you see no need for any boundaries at all?

Richard:  Sorry, a teensy crop, Jenny.  A question while I'm here though: what is your opinion on adults giving permission for photos of themselves as naked children to be published?

Get down Kev! Whaddya reckon Fiona?

I am beginning to warm to our esteemed leader, more and more each day.

From Nine News:

Don't use kids in art/porn debate: Rudd

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has urged those debating the art world's use of naked children in photographs not to engage children in their arguments.

Children were not able to make responsible decisions for themselves in the matter, he said.

An image of six-year-old Olympia Nelson, taken by her mother Polixeni Papapetrou in 2003 was published by Art Monthly Australia magazine this month in protest against the recent furore over Bill Henson's photographs of a naked 13-year-old girl.

Olympia, now aged 11, has said she is "really offended" by Mr Rudd's criticisms of the photo.

She does not believe the photograph of her amounts to abuse and is upset with Mr Rudd, who earlier said he "can't stand" the shot.

Mr Rudd was unmoved by Olympia's comments and said on Tuesday his attitude on the issue had not changed one bit.

"The protection of children, and the innocence of children, is of fundamental importance," he told reporters.

"Secondly, if people want to make a political point in opposition to me, I don't think it's right they use underage children to make that point.

"They can engage the political debate as much as they want. It's a free country.

"But when it comes to the protection of children, I say that should be a foremost responsibility for each of us."

Mr Rudd posed the question: "How can you credibly expect a six-year-old girl to have made their own independent decision about this matter in the beginning?

"We have a view about what constitutes a responsible time for people to take decisions for themselves," he said.

"Children, I don't think, fit within that category."


Chick-a- boom,  chick-a -boom, don't ya just love Rudd

Chick- a- boom, chick-a-boom, don't you just love him

Remember that one Fiona?


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Recent Comments

David Roffey: {whimper} in Not with a bang ... 12 weeks 6 days ago
Jenny Hume: So long mate in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 8 hours ago
Fiona Reynolds: Reds (under beds?) in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Justin Obodie: Why not, with a bang? in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Dear Albatross in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Michael Talbot-Wilson: Good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Goodnight and good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 3 days ago
Margo Kingston: bye, babe in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 9 hours ago