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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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We should all be gaoled

Anthony: "I see no difference between Henson's work and photos of some maggot buggering a 12 year old."

You may see no difference but I do.

With respect, Anthony, would you rather be drugged, buggered and photographed in secret by some maggot as a 12 year old (then have those prints published on the net for many a perve to see), or would you prefer to be simply photographed naked, whilst in the company of your parents?

Which is preferable (to you, Anthony), and which do you think would do more damage to you and your development as a human being?

I know what I would prefer.

Back in the 50's a friend of the family took photos of my brother (who was about 10 at the time) in the bath. OK, it was a bubble bath, but I'm sure today some would consider this wrong. As far as we were all concerned it was a photograph of a kid in the bath, nothing more nothing less.

Angela, this may be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. If Henson promoted the fact that his subjects we of tender years he would be considered a mongrel, a pedophile and worse.

If he simply displays his photographs without any warnings then he is dishonest.

The point that I was attempting to make (maybe poorly) was that there is a hell of a difference between someone who is willing to stand up and be counted for their commercial endeavours, endeavours that don't require the subject to be drugged and painfully abused in a brutal sexual nature, and someone who hides in the shadowy and disgusting underworld of pedophile networks and such.

The aforementioned police officer cum gallery owner made this point clear and he would have far more experience in this field than many if not all who contribute here.

Anthony may see no difference between Bill Henson and the maggots, but it would be interesting to know how Bill Henson's subject feels about her "ordeal" in comparison to the feelings of the poor lad I mentioned earlier.

What would you prefer?

The sad thing is that, if there is no difference between the public works of Bill Henson and the works of those maggots who tend their trade in camera, then there is no difference between those who view the works of Henson and those who view the works of the maggots.

It would follow that if the people who procure and view the works of the maggots, if caught, are put in gaol, then why not the people who procure and view the works of Henson?

If so, why did the police not arrest all those "perves" who spent time at his display or viewed his work on the net?

And if so, why is Malcolm Turnbull and others walking free? He defended Henson's art, art that (according to Anthony) is no different from the disgusting pornography I mentioned earlier. Should he be locked up along with Eliot, Scott, Paul, Fiona, Michael and me?

Based on Anthony's premise then we should all be gaoled, along with all others who viewed Henson's work.

It this reasonable?

PS. Eliot old chap, if we end up in the clink, please smuggle in that Haley Berry lunchbox.

Just honest art. See any warnings about the age of the models??

Justin: "Bill Henson's work is displayed honestly and openly (for commercial reasons) while the other is anything but... "

Just a point about that.

If the models were adult or even over 16 there is no legal issue, nor for many, any moral issue regarding child sexual exploitation etc.

Does anyone have any evidence that the galleries or exhibition blurbs EVER said the models were children under the age of 16 in ANY of the advertising or commentary about his work before this all came to the attention of the public due to a definite claim that a child was involved in naked work?

Was there ever a disclaimer to the age of the children? Then that would have made it honest.

If you see a gallery photo that is a sexualised image and the model appears young , then you would as I have in seeing his work in the past, thought "goodness, how young that (adult) model looks". ASSUMING that no one would so blatantly challenge society and its laws with children displayed thus.

Honesty is informing of what one is doing. When did Henson or the galleries do that?

Certainly not at the gallery nor the blurb that I saw and went to.

DO not say this creepy man has been honest with his audience unless you have evidence please.

I suspect it is the lack of honesty up to now that has enabled him to get away with it and to escape public condemnation.

Richard: Angela, this is going round in circles....

Not a sexualised image

Angela , it is not a sexualised image. How many times more times do we keep having to tell you. Once again, as a man, I tell you it is "limp".

Therefore it if its not porn, it is art, (good or bad), because "art" is the only applicable category left. Like the little angels in a Botticelli, or the like.

Therefore the age of the models hardly matters.

Richard reckons the thing has become circular. This is because one group keeps mistaking opinion (prejudice) for fact.

In the eyes of the beholder

Paul: "Angela, it is not a sexualised image. How many times more times do we keep having to tell you. Once again, as a man, I tell you it is "limp"."

Who are we, Paul? A few older men here at WD. Others here do think that the image is sexualised and erotic. Angela, Jenny, Ian, Anthony, Marilyn and, of course, me.

Leo Schofield in his interview with Henson referred to some of his pictures of young people as being in a state of "high eroticism" (Henson neither confirmed nor denied this.)

My own husband also says that in his opinion they are sexual.

Earlier I posted a letter from a man who likes Henson's work, but also thinks that the images are sexualised, simply because the poses adopted by these children are usually (sexual) poses adopted by adults. (Certainly a nude adult female on all fours is sexually suggestive!) Why not for a 13 year old girl? Justin at 16 thought his 14 year old girlfriend attractive and had sex with her. I would not like young males 15-20 to be seeing these photographs and assuming that these poses are normal for young girls. How can anyone say that these testosterone charged youths would not find those pictures provocative. The picture where the girl's budding breasts are evident and her hand is shielding her vulva,( with shading and muted lighting) would certainly conjure sexual thoughts in a red blooded young bloke I would think.

Check out Madonna's erotica clip , (I provided that, some posts back)you will see some similarities there. Of course Madonna is an adult though. There's the difference.

And, Botticelli's little angels are not posing in a sexual manner, in my opinion.

"one group keeps mistaking opinion(prejudice) for fact"

Indeed, Paul!

Hetty-style accusations

"Ah, Jenny, it seems to me that Michael and Eliot are having a little trouble understanding the fundamentals here: possession of a few kiddie porn photos is participation in their exploitation and degradation. It is no innocent act. "

I resent your accusation, Anthony Nolan - Eliot can speak for himself. I think it's you who doesn't understand the fundamentals of the law. I was pointing out fact-not stating my opinion. Facts that are used in court and determine sentence.

When police imply that a man is possibly responsible for robbing ten banks but he is actually charged with robbing one which is all than can prove, they are twisting the truth.

I certainly won't comment on today's news as these people at this stage are accused and are still innocent unless proven guilty and the source – the AFP – doesn't have a good track record. I'll wait and see how it unfolds.

Similarly is the senior detective arrested a few days ago where the media, police (AFP again) and politicians have demonstrated yet again a complete disregard for the man's right to a fair trial without a blaze of additional and sensational commentary that at this stage is simple tittle-tattle unless it's proved in a court of law.

The Telegraph has even gone to the ludicrous lengths of running a story, by a former convicted crooked policeman, about the accused as though it's fact.

People may be clamouring to burn their chosen witches of the day – give them a fair trial first. Some may be innocent.

As to the net having any effect on the reduction of the abuse of children, only the most ignorant could believe so. Last year there were 200,000 reported cases of child abuse and negligence in NSW alone. Social workers simply cannot cope and the majority of cases just remain that – a report. Abuse means everything from sexual to neglect to mental cruelty or beatings.

Any one of these types of abuse can have long term damage on a child, and each one can be worse than the other depending upon the individual child.

But when the Hetty Johnstons of the world and politicians pander to the media that laps up a juicy sexual orientated stories like today’s which will run for a week or so until the public loses interest, then thousands of kids just remain in abusive situations. Cruelty to kids really isn't of much interest to the media or the public who show a decidedly unhealthy appetite for sexual related stories.

Add in the numbers of abused children who remain in abusive situations around the country. Then try to figure the numbers in the UK and USA which are beyond comprehension, and we have a system failing children worldwide.

I don't have the solution to this appalling situation but I do know whilst politicians and police concentrate purely on a sexual aspect only, and we have the precious resources and acres of print devoted to some nude photos by the Bill Hensons of the world, around 36000 are dying every day.

The system is clearly wrong.

Time to regulate the internet then...

The use of communications technology to increase and extend the distribution of photographs and films of criminal acts against children requires the regulation of that technology.  Looking at such images is deemed to be a crime as is possession of them.  This is because it is understood that each image is of a victim.  I'm belabouring the point here: child pornography is not a victimless crime.

The capacity exists to purge these images and to prevent their distribution on the net.  If Google and Yahoo can collaborate with the Chinese government to prevent the viewing of images of the Tiananmin Square massacre (and especially images of 'the shopping guy') from being viewed inside Communist China then there is no reason at all why they and ISP's cannot co-operate over the distribution of child porn images.

As for Henson...well so called 'high art' images of the tastefully arrayed flesh of children for the delight and delectation of the audience in no way diminishes the power relationship between the subject (the child), the artist, and the audience, which is one in which the children's bodies are exposed for the pleasure, the attention and the satisfaction of adults.   It is the relationship of power and authority that defines what is obscene in this instance.

I see no difference between Henson's work and photos of some maggot buggering a 12 year old.  One is less explicit than the other but the references are to the same thing - powerless children arraigned for the merciless pleasure of exploitative and degrading adults.  High art or not Henson's photographs contribute to a culture of exploitation of children in which the difference between his photographs and those produced by a psychotically deranged sadistic criminal is a matter of degree not kind.

Guilty until deemed innocent by a panic merchant

"The only parent of naked child model commented has no evidence their child was not harmed..."

That is my favourite twist in the whole witch-hunt.  Parents are expected to provide "evidence their child was not harmed..."  just to appease those accusing them of being party to child abuse.

What next? Child nutritionists popping around to the house demanding that parents provide "evidence their child was not harmed" by the lunch they gave them yesterday? Or those holiday visits to Uncle Arthur's holiday home in Forster?

How about those Boy Scouts camping holidays? Will they have to provide "evidence their child was not harmed..."?

Richard:  Last line deleted. Eliot, watch it, okay?

Angela, what's bothering you?

Angela, what is it really bothers you?

That some adolescent or kid is some how mysteriously harmed (how - through osmosis?) through the mere act of photography, as in the Henson case, since now harm was done to the girl?

Because that is what some people saying, in their confused posts.

Or the off chance that some hard up moron off a male has inadvertently stumbled across these images produced as part of an artistic discourse and somehow and unimaginably, given the lack of erotic power of the photos, been provoked to personal hand relief by them.

Deary me / tut-tut , such a naughty fellow, who probably doesn't even exist.

Should I suggest finger-printing for all males as part of the widened powers of your and Kathy's s*x police?

Ok, Ok, seriously, I' d accept that the photos are at the limit of what is acceptable for this sort of discourse. But the point is, what a ruckus over such a technical event, when so much of genuine suffering goes on in the world unnoticed.

Opponents of child exploitation could not have picked a worse example with which to argue their points, as to this issue.

Some things make you angry; others make you weep

Jenny: "If the net has done anything it has enabled law enforcement agencies to track and find child abusers."

That may be arguable, Jenny, for the net allows law enforcement to track some child abusers but in reality those in the thick of it usually know how to cover their tracks.

Those who do not understand internet protocols will be easily caught but the real bad guys have the game sown up.

As Eliot mentioned, many of those caught are simply perves with an obession while the actual abusers escape detection.

If anything this latest episode supports the views of the police officer cum gallery owner outlined in an earlier post from Fiona. The MO of hard core child abusers does not fit the likes of Bill Henson who may (arguably) play around the fringes but in reality the aforementioned police officer knows what he is talking about; today's story supports this.

Bill Henson's work is displayed honestly and openly (for commercial reasons) while the other is anything but.

As most thieves escape undetected so do child abusers; it is a sad reality that we have to painfully come to terms.

I remember in the early days of the net I accidently downloaded some child porn images from a newsgroup. I had no idea I had done so, there was no warning what the images were of, and the particular newsgroup had nothing to do with porn. Some stupid prick must have posted them for reasons unknown but somewhere in IT world there is an ISP log file with my IP address connecting me (or actually my account) with having viewed those images.

This made me very very angry.

From memory there were about four different scenes on the one image; the only one I can remember is an image of a young lad around 12 years old, who appeared heavily drugged, being sodomised by a man of around 50 years old.

I suppose that was the day I lost my internet innocence and realised that the internet, like progress itself, has qualities that are both good and bad. Motor cars are convenient, yet inefficient and deadly; they also save lives. Progress will always be socially ambiguous, there will be winners and losers, joy and sorrow. But that's what we do, move forward for better or worse.

I've said this before and I'll say it again; I think this world would be better off if pornography never existed (for many reasons). We don't need it, although sex therapists and the like find that it can help some, but that could be debatable.

However it is not up to little old me to be the arbiter or what people should or should not see: that is a personal choice. But in a democratic society we do have a say in what people should do and should not do.

We would all agree sodomising while photographing a 12 year old is definitely something we should not do; however, photographing a naked (and solitary) 12 year old (for art) is debatable.

Our current laws reflect this.

The debate will continue because of conflicting  personal values and boundaries, agendas and business interests, selfishness and ignorance; so too the sodomising of young boys and girls.

Some things just make you angry; others make you weep.

Eliot , any evidence to the contrary that is relevent for once?

Nice point Kathy , how easy it is for some to misread when they have preconceived ideas of what people write and think.

Some further obfuscation is denying that porn and erotica are present in Henson's photos of children when there have been a large number of quotes and interviews with the man saying just that already. To use the recent arrests which exposed the furthest end of the spectrum where there is photographed penetration and suffering etc does not mean that such explicit content is required for an image to be sexually referenced.

Sex sells, as some say, and Henson types know it. If his work didn't include children in that sexual way and didn't involve him with them naked in a studio then I would just admire his work , which is OK, use of light ,blah blah .

Eliot: "The parents of Henson's models, and the models themselves, have publicly stated that they consented to the photographs, and feel they were in no way harmed by their experience, and that they were not forced into doing anything."

Actually wrong as related to the issue as:

1. No naked child model has come forward

2 No child is able to consent for naked photos

3. No adult is able to consent for naked child modelling in sexual context

4. The only parent of naked child model commented has no evidence their child was not harmed, has not said what payment was made nor whether they gave consent for sexually contexted photos to be taken nor whether anyone was present to know what happened at the time and is under investigation and may be charged .

So your comment is irrelevant to the issue to photography involving naked children in sexually referenced mode.

More charged with child sex abuse - hooray

Good morning.

 And good it is too since I read the Herald.  I'd say that this police action makes the point very well that there is no room for ambiguity in relation to the depiction of children.  Let me repeat that ... children.

Jenny Hume:  "Carole Pateman's book The Sexual Contract makes the point that globalisation is not merely economic but extends to the globalisation of particular patriarchal social values as well.  The salient point here is that the internet has globalised the capacity of reactionary men to drag economically and socially vulnerable women and children into a global sex trade.  Sex tourism in S-E Asia, sex slavery in Australia, child porn images traded on the net.  The global trade in the degradation of women and children is expanding with globalisation."

Ah, Jenny, it seems to me that Michael and Eliot are having a little trouble understanding the fundamentals here: possession of a few kiddie porn photos is participation in their exploitation and degradation.  It is no innocent act.

I'd say that Henson and the Oxleys are well and truly stuffed after this.


I sincerely hope, Anthony, that I detect no glee in "I'd say that Henson and the Oxleys are well and truly stuffed after this."

First, this has yet to come to trial and I doubt that it will but if it does have you thought about the consequences?

Until about a week ago I had never even heard of Henson and was completely ignorant of his work but now, having seen it and read a few of his utterances, I think I can guarantee that he would wear a gaol sentence rather than expose his models to the rigours of a trial in his defence.

I don't know if minors can be subpoenaed (is that how you spell it? Malcolm, are you still with us?), but if they can, you can be sure the prosecution will. Shall we subject these child/women to what will, effectively become a rape trial?

In previous posts I expressed concern for the models, I stated that I had to honestty question myself and said that my desire was that others did the same as to their motives.

So my question to you, Anthony, is this: what outcomes of this affair would you like to see? With the consequences to the Oxleys, Henson, the models and their parents, the outcomes cannot be inconsistent.

Have a hard think about it.

Fiona: No idea where Malcolm B Duncan might be, Scott, but I am now in tropical paradise and ready to lend a hand with spelling ...

Witch hunters' attacks on children

Paul Walter: "To compare Henson to the truly vile physical and sado stuff that turns up is not even laughable. These can and do have genuine victims, usually third world kids sold off to organised crime."

Now, that's power inequality. Their parents probably don't even know where those kids are, let alone consenting to their participation in pornography.

The point of the slanders against Henson and other targets for the witch hunters is to roll the two, distinct, activities in together.

To "equate" Henson's models with the victims of sex crime in the third world.

Apart from being an attack on Henson and people like him, it's effectively degrading and humiliating the models.

They become the "victims" of "child porn", denying them a voice in the cultural process to which they and their parents consented, thus disempowering them.

Ironically, Henson's models are victimised and degraded - not by Henson, but by the likes of Hetty Johnston.

Coven raided overnight...

Michael de Angelos: "This also relates back to the giant bust 5 years ago of 200 who were charged likewise and received a variety of sentences ranging from bonds to jail."

I remember that bust. I'm actually surprised that anyone went to gaol. Thanks for the update.

Anyway, the hysteria is in full swing again today...

 "To date, 70 arrests have been made across Australia. A further 20 people have been issued with summonses to appear in court where they will be charged with possessing child exploitation material. More arrests are expected in coming weeks and months."

I mentioned earlier the "fear of the internet and other ground-breaking technologies" which generates some of the panic.

Check this from today's Herald;

"It shows you the power of the internet as a communication tool," Assistant Commissioner Colvin said. "We are dealing with a medium where communication is so quick and so broad that something like this could happen. It is stunning that millions of people around the world can commit an offence and access child abuse images in one hit, at the same time."

Child abuse is deplorable, but does it really matter if the images, once taken, are passed around on the internet quickly, or slowly by more conventional means?

What, would it be better for the victims if the criminals used Polaroids and put them in brown paper envelopes?

And will arresting someone in Australia downloading freeware make the slightest difference to the child victims? Shouldn't police efforts be focused on protecting children instead of running around the suburbs confiscating some silly old pervert's computer hard drive?

The timing of this bust is unfortunate for Henson, too. You watch the comparisons that will start to flow...

Card tricks

You need to watch these case more closely, Anthony Nolan, as it was reported (correctly this time as it is court records) that the accused admitted possessing thousands of images that were in fact of legal aged teen boys which he claimed were the type of youth he was attracted to.

The police didn't refute this but of course when releasing a press release, it sounds far better (and is using tricky language) to say thousands of images of naked youths were found on his computer. Indeed they were correct – most of them legal except, of course, he also had some of the very worst.

It's just too similar to reports that a Melbourne photographer last week was showing Henson style images in defiance and to support Henson. Police visited and cleared the exhibition because in fact they were not like Henson's material in that they showed no private parts.

Distorted news, and the police play the game as well as the top PR firms do. And it’s also why the prosecutor concerned, despite the usual calls of "message must be sent to public etc" actually received a fairly light sentence (although undoubtedly hard for a man from his background) because the offensive material, no matter how abhorrent, was only a small collection. These things do matter when sentencing.

This also relates back to the giant bust 5 years ago of 200 who were charged likewise and received a variety of sentences ranging from bonds to jail. The Sun Herald at one staged thundered a headline that "vile perverts" had escaped relatively free, sadly written by one of NSW's better and more respected writers.

Yet he hadn't bothered to investigate individual cases which included, as an example, an 18 year old severely intellectually challenged youth who had been accessing his parent's computer and downloaded a myriad of porn that included some indecent child images.

As the judge pointed out, jailing the person would be a crime in itself when he needs very intensive psychiatric treatment and put the lad on a bond ordering such treatment. Still, he has a criminal record which is unlikely to bother a pathetic person who has a mental illness diagnosed as one which will diminish his mind over the coming years and reduce him to a vegetable.

But when the state wants to create the image of Perverts in the Shrubbery, everyone becomes a useful target.

As Henson is finding out.

The terrrible extent of it

Some things I cannot let pass without comment.

Anyone in any doubt as to the extent the internet is used by perverts to access and distribute child pornography should read today's SMH article detailing the arrests of so many people in this country, with the usual number in positions of trust , and the extent of the distribution and downloading world wide. And that is as noted just the tip of the iceberg..

It the net has done anything it has enabled law enforcement agencies to track and find child abusers. But it has also allowed these perverts to spread their vile messages and images freely all over the world.

This is the very reason I think it is rather foolish for anyone to have their young child photographed naked in sexual poses, and yes I say sexual as do a whole lot of others, knowing they can turn up on the internet. And I note the perverts can play with the photos to make them whatever they want to. Pretty little face and body, so let's take that and play around with some of the other stuff on one's file. Add a few touches here and there and the sent it around the world. Who here would like to think it might be their own daughter's photograph they were playing around with?

It is not a case of going back to the wowser age. It is about recognising that in the cybernet age kids are much more exposed to the evil forces that inhabit societies world wide and we should do nothing that will increase that exposure. That may mean limiting what artists can do, and not do when it comes to photographing under age children naked.

We seem not to be able to stop the net being used for child pornography, while at the same time being able to dig up some dirt on Mars. So do we just lift the ban on it? Something to think about by those who think bans serve no purpose at all on the other thread.

Now reply by all means to this, but sorry, not engaging with anyone for the time being.

porn to bishop three

Well, regardless of Jenny Hume's willingness to participate or not, we are left with a question from her most recent post:

"Are all perverts men"?

To compare Henson to the truly vile physical and sado stuff that turns up is not even laughable. These can and do have genuine victims, usually third world kids sold off to organised crime.

To compare Henson's work to actual porn would be risable, if not for its ability to show up true porn even more, in the contrasting of the two.

No, we are not left with that question

Paul: "Well, regardless of Jenny Hume's willingness to participate or not, we are left with a question from her most recent post: 'Are all perverts men'?"

Er, no we are not, Paul.

Please read Jenny's previous posts carefully. She distinctly says that women can be perverts too, and that some are complicit with men in their dealings with children.

Nailed him Kathy - thank you

Kathy: "Er, no we are not, Paul. Please read Jenny's previous posts carefully. She distinctly says that women can be perverts too, and that some are complicit with men in their dealings with children."

F Kendall has faced a similar problem with Paul Walter's reading of others' comments, or should we say not reading? This was the second of mine that got distorted.   Starts to get monotonous does it not? Thank you for putting him right. I myself could not be bothered but as you hang in there on such a lost cause I felt I should thank you.

I agree with you entirely about the sexual nature of the photos, as do many others here, and beyond WD. Unfortunately the law is so badly written that no action will be taken over them. Maybe the law will be tightened up after this, especially in the light of today's arrests.  Cheers Kath.  

Richard: Jenny, many beyond Webdiary both agree and disagree with the sentiments expressed on all sides on this thread.  Why can't we all accept that we are entitled to our opinions on this matter?  I'm not singling you out, just talking about all of us.  It's more than obvious that nobody's going to change anybody else's mind. And that's after everybody has expressed their views heroically.


Now Richard, forgive me if I sigh... but I can't get with your note. I haven't challenged anyone's opinion in that comment. All I have done is agree with Kathy on her opinion and thanked her for putting Paul Walter right on my behalf.  I was just being courteous as I do not wish to engage with anyone, particularly Paul Walter,  further on this issue here, as I have made quite clear.

But since you have stirred me from my lethargy I will say to all that whether the censors pass the images or not does not change anything for those of us who are concerned about them. And the decision is not surprising given the sort of stuff they allow. Standards are appallingly low anyway as we get daily evidence of on our screens.

Those who dabble in child pornography and paedophilia will be happy, no doubt about that at all.

Richard:  The sigh is understood, and with sympathy, Jenny.


Jenny, you and Kathy are such clever-clogs.

How about you go to Scott Dunmore’s new thread, go to the link in my first post there and read what a Jesuit priest and academic has to say concerning the issue. I had hoped the thing to be in yesterday afternoon, but something inexplicable went wrong with the post, so Kathy later posted in understandable ignorance – not all her fault.

Of course the charges have now been dropped so, as with the Dr. Haneef case, where the gullible were also led by the nose through a hard right scare campaign, the clear and sober light of day demonstrates that all those who invested in contempt prior to sober investigation, are well and truly face-egged.

Who's the cleverest clog of all

 Paul, How about you go back and read my posts on this subject. I have not changed my views. Certainly, Jesuit priest (and he does not speak on behalf of the Catholic Church) and academic Andrew Hamilton is entitled to his opinion. An opinion that I do not share .

 As  Rodney Stinson commented : "Why is the consulting editor (the Jesuit priest) acting as an apologist? I do not recall him ever speaking out against child sexual assault in the churches or in his order."

Why is it so?

"... he was probably the foremost propagandist for space exploration and populariser of science of his day."

Which reminds me. Walt introduced the world to Dr Julius Sumner Miller. That alone probably entitled Walt to some special award from the Australian, Canadian and US governments for the advancement of science education in our three countries.

Hetty would probably want them both under arrest, though.

So, what'll we watch? The Disney Channel? Or John Tomlinson?

Paul Walter: "Disney had his dark side, as I understand it, but much remains noteworthy, also."

I'll say. Even before getting into the subtleties of analyses like No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior by Joshua Meyrowitz, it's probably difficult to overstate the cultural legacy of some of that early 1950s and 1960s Disney television and Walt's staggering animated features.

There is I am sure much to criticise about Disney, but he doubtless filled a whole generation or two with an abiding love of nature and wildlife; inspired countless artists and film-makers; and he was probably the foremost propagandist for space exploration and populariser of science of his day.

His major detractors from the 1970s, like John Tomlinson ( 'Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction'), etc, just look like lugubrious cranks today, but Disney's masterpieces still delight millions.

And who wouldn't have taken Hayley Mills for a spin to the Haunted Mansion on the Peoplemover?

Eliot, many thanks

Eliot, many thanks for the comments and links.

Uncle Walt

Paul Walter, et al. Don't know why the Annette Funicello link doersn't work your end.

She pops up here as a fine, strapping, young speciment of Italo-American womanhood complete with helmet-like hair-do and percussion instruments at the ready.

I bet Uncle Walt took every opportunity to personally tour her through Adventure Land and Fantasy Land between takes.

Richard: Sometimes I wonder if Walt was that generation's Michael Jackson.

my era

And so much more, Richard.

Thousands and thousands of people also got their intro to a new genre - the TV documentary later perfected by people like Attenborough, who might ne'er have got the chance had Disney not popularised the genre. Religiously sitting down on Sunday nights after dinner in front of the old 19" B and W and every bit as miraculous as broadband is today.

Probably, when you think of Fantasia, Snow White, Donald Duck, Mickey and all the animal, science and wildlife stories, the Spielberg rather than the Jackson; a person as profligate of the gift of his own talent as Jackson equates more to Donald or Goofy.

Disney had his dark side, as I understand it, but much remains noteworthy, also.

Hey Eliot

It was crap anyway; what on earth possessed you?

Richard: Michael Jackson?

Box office

Michael de Angelos: "Sorry Eliot, if a prosecution was succesful the very worst that would happen is a fine and a bond for Henson and the others."

A detestable result regardless. And what if Henson then continued to practice his art in his present way? A "repeat offense"?

I've got the feeling the various governments involved are hoping to sweep it all under the carpet and wish that it will all go away.

A prosecution, regardless of the outcome, would be a world wide media sensation and a disgrace to the nation.

state of play


Well, Richard,  I'm none too keen to see an actual conviction against Henson.  What, fining artists?  Oh, I hope not.  And not gallery owners either (although numerous visual artists would probably enjoy that spectacle). But I cannot see how a conviction could be avoided once at trial for the reason I mentioned which would be the ensuing problem of unambiguously pornographic material involving children being presented as 'art'.

 And ... Michael, you write:

NB: incidently, regarding the police prosecutor charged whilst possessing (as you say) thousands of images- the vast majority were perfectly legal, a minor fact that is never mentioned and a favourite police tactic used against one of their own this time.  His real crime was that some of the material he had was of the very worst type with very young children being assaulted by adults.

Hmmm, I'd want to see a credible source on the suggestion that 'the vast majority were perfectly legal'. 

Such a quandary

I agree with your analysis, Anthony Nolan, to a point.

You have forgotten the outraged comments from Morris Iemma, even whilst he was in China and having never viewed the pics in question but reassured by a staffer (presumably) that a stern tone was appropriate.

Combine this with Kevin Rudd's spontaneous shocked statement with badly off the cuff language (ie: revolting shouldn't have been used in this context about photos of kids – not very nice for those in the pics).

But what about the current battle between the DPP and the NSW Labor government thrown into the mix?

Nor do I have much faith in the right wing zealot AG John Hatzistergos, recently seen on a "charity" walk in Hyde Park with some good folk trying to raise funds to help those who lack funds for legal help. Surely one of the walkers didn't see the irony of having one the worst offenders who with my favourite ex-premier slashed legal funding to those in real need so they can virtually bankrupt themselves in the courts even though innocent, whilst the same government spends hundreds of millions on adverts.

With police eager to prosecute, a DPP who I think is the most genuine character in the coming charade, politicians of all stripes frothing at the mouth for action and continuing embarrassments like the Woolongong shenanigans, a top detective charged with drug offences – I see pressure from many powerful forces to prosecute.

On the other hand, the Oxleys are no slouches themselves when it comes to powerful connections and, at least, are loaded enough to employ the finest legal minds in the land to defend.

Poor Bill Henson really is just caught in the middle. It must be having the most terrible effect upon him.

NB: Incidentally, regarding the police prosecutor charged whilst possessing (as you say) thousands of images – the vast majority were perfectly legal, a minor fact that is never mentioned and a favourite police tactic used against one of their own this time. His real crime was that some of the material he had was of the very worst type with very young children being assaulted by adults.

Sorry Eliot, if a prosecution was successful the very worst that would happen is a fine and a bond for Henson and the others. As it goes, it would probably send the price of his previous work soaring in value. Nothing succeeds like infamy. Hetty will certainly receive a rash of new donations and basically all will be winners, except the concept of law.

If it fails, hopefully Morris Iemma will look like the goose he is and Kevin Rudd can still maintain his conservative Christian cloak of respectability.

BTW Jenny

We still love you sweetheart so don't get lost down that beaten track now. And yes the respect is mutual. Thanks and I look forward to your return no matter what you wish to write.

Rest assured Justin me lad

Rest assured Justin me lad I will be lurking in the shrubbery - silently. Would say the loove is mutual but that might upset Kath, and in any case, it might get you worried that two now ageing (sorry Kath) 15 year olds had come back to have a second go.

No promises I won't get lost. Just yesterday managed that just two streets from here - and ashamed to say have had this place 17 years. The Scot was predictable - never should have listened to you - as he led us home. Says he has never known anyone with such a poor sense of direction - enough to make old HH turn in his grave.

Bye for now me lad - need to find my way home and,

If you meet me down the track

'Twill be up to you to lead the way back.

See, poets can lurk in the shrubbery too. So next time you are accosted by two young lasses, forget Willie Shakespeare and use some imagination. Bye bye for now.

Margo: Hello Jenny. Great to read you in such good form. 

Sex sells

This thread has been alive for just over a week; so far it has attracted some 228 comments.

Now what does that tell you?

Maybe we all need therapy - or a bloody good shag.

Kath, I didn't happen to mention the two 15 year olds who thought I was fair game when I was eighteen, did I? The sister of a mate and her girlfriend ganged up on me. All I could do was close my eyes and think of Shakespeare, Hamlet and "country matters".

I don't know what motivated them to exploit me in such a manner but it certainly wasn't porn (or the Bard).

Drawing lines

Ian: "So I would ask you Justin, and those of a stance supporting yours, where you would draw the line."

In the shifting sands on the water's edge; that's where I draw lines, then watch as the tide ebbs in and washes it all away.

Boundaries are personal and can be easily revised; however, the primary rule I live by is to simply do no harm (both physical and emotional) - I suspect most of us feel likewise.

I'll leave it up to others to work out their boundaries but at the end of the day it is adults and parents, with their enterprises and agendas, who exploit children, who in turn become just like us.

Sorry I could not be more helpful Ian, but thanks anyway for asking.

This is a red hot situation...

The more I think on it there are some serious surprises involved for many of the players...

1.  The DPP, with a track record of one senior prosecutor convicted for posession of child pornography (30,000 images, remember)  will be very hard pressed to avoid mounting a prosecution.  A failure to prosecute would prejudice public perception of the impartiality of the Office of the DPP.

2.  In decision making any judicial officer is obliged to take account of the social consequences of their decision.  Deciding that Henson's work is not:

a) pornographic 

 b) obscene or

c) a breach of the Crimes Act by using minors as subjects ...

will be a very tricky business because...

if the grounds for not finding Henson or the Oxley's guilty are that the right to artistic freedom of expression  excludes the application of rules pertaining to a, b, c then the door will be left open to anyone who lays claim to the stature of 'artist' to present any kind of image of children as art. 

No judge is going to make a decision like that.

If the case goes to hearing it must produce a conviction of some sort in order to close off the door to child pornography masquerading as art.

So, the only chance of averting the disaster is to stop the case at the point of the DPP.  But that office is in a bad spot for the reason noted above.

Which means, in the end, that Henson really has only himself to blame for creating a situation where the judiciary are about to set precedent on what is and is not acceptable subject matter for art. 

Richard:  See Fiona's earlier posting of the legislation Anthony.  Will the prosecution be able to prove that the pictures were taken for pornographic purposes?  Your assumption on which way a judge might go could be a tad premature.    Also, on trials that must produce a conviction, I refer you to the Guantanamo debacle.  There ain't no such animal, it's to be hoped, as a trial that has to convict.  That's called a kangaroo court.

There's confusion at the heart of every moral panic

Michael de Angelos: "The way anyone daring to attack Henson's pics are being labelled "philistine" by the self appointed arts community reps is quite amusing.  One on crikey.com.au obliterates all including the PM and gives dear Malcolm Turnbull credit as being the "only MP" to make a sensible statement."

It's tricky, isn't it?

If you support Henson, you could end up looking like you are critical of at least three Labor governments and their police forces. God forbid.

If you don't support Henson, it looks like your opposed to free artistic expression - and share at least some common ground with Malcolm Turnbull. Oh. My. God.


I don't think anyone's suggesting it's "philistine" to critique Henson's art. The problem's with the police turning up at the gallery door, confiscating the works, threatening the artist with prison and harassing the models and their parents who, far from claiming to "own" their children, actually consent to them posing as artists' models if that's what they choose.

Then Hetty arrives...

Bongo drums beating out sensual rhythms

Kathy Farrelly says;

"In his opinion the images are sexualised."

Probably not as much as Annette Funicello in this shot. Actually, can anyone tell me what teenager isn't sexualised?

Richard:  Your ninth for the day, Eliot.   Oh, and that shot... sexualised?  Because she's playing bongos?  The head looks like a photoshop job anyway.

Gawd, Eliot! You love a stir

Gawd, Eliot! You love a stir, don't you ? Annette Funicello (btw your link doesn't work for me honey) was in her twenties when she did all those beach flicks. Unless of course you are referring to her other saccharine Disney shows when she WAS a child!

Richard: "As Eliot has pointed out Kathy, it's impossible to prove something that hasn't happened yet!"

I agree, Richard. However, I do not believe that a 13 year old girl is mature enough to give consent to having her naked body photographed in such poses. Just as I do not believe that a thirteen year old girl should vote, drive a car, or see an "R" rated movie.

Can a 13 year old girl possibly foresee the ramifications of her actions in years to come? I don't think so.

Do we risk it?

Something else to be considered here. Forget about paedophilia for a moment. What about all those testosterone charged youths aged 15-20. Do you think that artistic merit would be uppermost in their minds when viewing those photographs?

Even that old sexy albatross Justin admits to a youthful tryst with a 14 year old girl when he was just 16 years old.

Richard: I think we've covered a lot of this ground, Kathy. Are her parents old enough to give consent for her? As far as "do we risk it?" it might come back to "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

And isn't it time that you wrote a piece for Webdiary?

blame the victim

Kathy: "Can a thirteen y.o. girl possibly foresee the ramifications of her actions in years to come?"

Well no, not with predators like Miranda Devine or the newspaper mentioned on Media Watch this week, all ready to do their prurient, irresponsible tabloid beatups, regardless of any harm done to the subjects of their exploitative smut, whatever pious declamations to the contrary.

No exploitation involving the so-called foundational institutions of our society? Please don't tell us this was a "story" worthy of a genuine newspaper, else we never left the seventeenth century.

BTW, Hardly the girl's fault when media "sisters" want to do a cheap circulation spike for their own gain nakedly at her expense, regardless of any facts involved.

If you are concerned about the girl’s "reputation", why not finally expend some time on our vulgar media and its pervy public who so desperately avoid reality in the headlong rush to the reading and writing of this sort of rubbish?

Btw, Richard, will you be about your "office" in the near future, can you give us ping back?

pps, link for Annette did not work - was a big/little fan back in Mickey Mouse Club days, although dug Princess Panda and Patti McGrath and Nancy of Magic Circle club, too.

Very sus of Bill the Steam Shovel and Mr.Squiggle, though.

The Stalinist arts community

The way anyone daring to attack Henson's pics are being labelled "philistine" by the self appointed arts community reps is quite amusing. One on crikey.com.au obliterates all including the PM and gives dear Malcolm Turnbull credit as being the "only MP" to make a sensible statement.

Although he carefully side-steps Turnbull's gutless qualification that he only owned two Henson " non-child images" and his mad statement that art galleries should be exempt from raids.

I've since been badgering my New Zealand pal, former owner of an adult shoppe in Kings Cross and subject to the "pedo panic" raids just before the last state election where "child porn" was supposedly found by the crateful (except there was none and all charges evaporated) that he should ignore the police warning not to re-open as "things are changing around here" and now call his empty shop an art gallery.

Certainly, some of the objects he sold are considered great works of art by some – including politicians as we found in the UK when one was found slumped over a table asphyxiated with an orange stuck in his mouth , a black leather mask covering his face, zippered, and backless leather panties revealing a large d***o shoved in an inconvenient spot.

Police style grainy photos of that scene I can guarantee would be an instant sell out in a New York Soho trendy gallery, with a bejewelled uptown crowd, and draw huge praise from Manhattan art critics – possibly with the police photographer hailed as "new genius discovered"!

Eliot Ramsey still confounds me though – he supports my hero Germaine Greer but I think he's wrong about Marilyn Shepherd's comments.

By just giving birth, parents do not own their children but they are responsible for their welfare and I do not see that it's the parents right to give permission to anyone for an activity like this.

Whether harm has been caused – I doubt it though even with this controversy and the way things are today – she is probably being pursued by model agents galore.

But is the naked body non-sexual at any time? I don't think so even though a million naturists will say otherwise. When they congregate in the thousands at times in the South of France they say that total nudity reduces all to the same status – an admirable and egalitarian sentiment, and very French. But does every single one of them walk around and banish sex from their minds or simply ignore sexual thoughts when they see what they think is a highly attractive body in front of them? I doubt it (especially given that scientific studies supposedly state that men think of sex roughly every six seconds).

Moreover – as sunbathing is one of activities – a form of making the body more attractive to others – and nudists claim that their activity is healthy and leads to a healthier sex life, surely one cannot divorce the naked body from sex.

Divorcing it from pedophiles is what we ideally want but I'm not so sure hiding images even does that – perhaps exposing them to images may do the opposite and prevent them from acting out their desires.

So many arguments and so little time. Henson must be congratulated for doing something. In fact the controversy he has created is a fine piece of art in itself.

Richard: Did you ever come across, Michael, the John Cage piece with the taxis? The effects have been reminiscent.

Meanwhile, in Texas...

"The parents are ecstatic at having a shot at getting their kids back, finally," said Robert Doggett of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, the lead attorneys for the children.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled last week that the seizure of the children was unwarranted and ordered Judge Walther to lift her April order granting their custody to the state.

Now, there's a fertile territory for Hetty Johnston..

The abuse of power - and reductio ad absurdum

"Greer missed the point completely in her article you linked to, because she failed to address the power aspect which is behind the law on adult-child sexual contact, and thus of associated issues like art relating to it whatever way"

The parents of Henson's models, and the models themselves, have publicly stated that they consented to the photographs, and feel they were in no way harmed by their experience, and that they were not forced into doing anything.

The abuse of power is by the police, politicians and fear mongers who raid the galleries and harass, bully and intimidate the artists, the models and their families.

What? Are we to believe now that Germaine Greer supports the sexual exploitation of little girls?

We are resolute on the issue

Henson's photography has long lingered on the margins of aesthetic and ethical acceptability.  Not all art critics are as convinced of the value of his work as recent public comment would suggest.  One such (linked below) is Dr Robert Nelson of Monash University whose 2005 review  would shed considerable light on the current fracas.  Nor are all members of his public audience convinced of either the ethical acceptability or aesthetic value of his photographs.  Had Henson listened to his earlier critics he may not have persisted with his approach.  As it is, persist he did, and now his critics have mobilised their resources to engage in a dialogue with the artist in which the imbalance of authority between the artist and the audience has been addressed via the crude mechanism of the law.  So be it.

Art is as capable of legitimising social practices and power relations as it is of criticisng them.  Henson's work can be read as legitimising the objectifying gaze of the adult sex predator.  His critics are saying this is an unacceptable position given what we now know of the terrible consequences of child sex abuse.

Therefore, we should welcome rather than complain about the current debate as an opportunity for the artist, the arts community and the community in general to clarify their respective positions on the treatment of children in Australia and elsewhere.

As for the issue of paedophilia ... Henson's aesthetic presentation of sexualised images of children as bruised industrial waste or children in the process of 'grooming' is nothing more than an expression of a paedophilic impulse.  He is the spokesperson for that impulse as are the 'high art' photographers of the top end fashion magazines. 

Dolly Dunn, convicted paedophile, misappropriated classical civilization to justify his sexual depravity in the same way that Henson appropriates western art heritage to jusitify pandering to his wealthy market.  It is a mere gloss and fools no-one with the eyes to see.

The accusation of paedophilia as a weapon

Marilyn Shepherd says:

"I do not want my grand daughters photographed in the nude for wankers to wax over about the lighting."

Well, then I am sure your grand-daughters will respect your wishes.

As I understand it, Bill Henson's models had the consent of their parents and if their own public statements are to be believed, the models themselves were consenting and claim to have benefitted from the experience.

So, clearly, no harm was done.

And as Germaine Greer pointed out below, images of naked children are nothing new in western art, including representations of the naked, full frontal Christ Child displayed in cathedrals throughout Christendom.

Also, there appears to be no evidence whatsoever that such images promote child sexual abuse or any other kind of abuse, which happens regardless of whether the vicims of such abuse are clothed or unclothed.

So, plainly, the entire matter is an obvious moral panic, the real meaning of which may have more to do with generalised anxiety about children left in the care of strangers, the anomic impersonalism of big city living, fear of the internet and other ground-breaking technologies, or other social factors.

Scott Dunmore says:

"The meaness of spirit which I think I detect stems from the fact that the "moral majority" here seem hellbent on proving that a crime has been commited; with crime comes punishment."

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the underlying panic about 'paedophiles' in recent years has made the mere threat of being accused of being a paedophile a particularly potent weapon with which to slander, harass and intimidate people.

In fact, I'd say that is the chief reason paedophile hysteria is whipped up in our society. It empowers those at the margins of 'respectable society' in a way not otherwise available to them, by allowing them to manipulate anxiety about child sexual assault.

I have personally witnessed the slanderous and baseless accuastion of paedophilia directed at people with the deliberate intention of destroying their reputation, and I have seen the threat of such an accusation used as an instrument of moral blackmail.

It works in much the same was as the threat of denunciation as a 'witch' worked in previous, equally culturally primitive times as our own.

Not cut-and-dried

An interesting letter in today's SMH by Alex Holmes, an admirer of Henson's work - Pursuit of art regardless of the vulnerable is cultural self-indulgence.

In his opinion the images are sexualised. He writes:

Why? Because no matter how well lit, beautiful or tasteful, the young teens involved have been made to assume poses body language and expressions that we understand are sexually charged to varying degrees. While the images are not crass pornography, they are sexualised. If you accept this, as I suspect most cultural critics would, you must also accept that this poses a legitimate moral dilemma.

He sums up:

While I think Henson's Images are extremely effective artistic works the more I think about the "but it's art " argument, the more selfish it seems.

Henson's supporters should ask themselves: does his art have a right to exist? That is, if you create art that is about the sexual awakening of teens and involves them as naked sexualised subjects, do the cultural positives of such art outweigh the negative psychological effects it may have on teenagers?

Now Eliot, whilst you may say that " no harm was done" you, nor anyone else can say for certain what may happen down the track as a result of this child having posed for these pictures. It's just not that "cut-and-dried"

My own mother had a nervous breakdown as a result of events that happened in her childhood, but surfaced years later when she was married and had young children. She found herself unable to cope, became an alcoholic (like her father), and ended up in hospital, then later in therapy.

Sometimes things aren't always what they seem.

Richard: As Eliot has pointed out, Kathy, it's impossible to prove something that hasn't happened yet!

A scandal beyond scandals

Admittedly Barrie Kosky is an extremely talented man, Angela Ryan, but is he always right?

I remember years ago, whenever it was my favourite pollie Bob Carr handed over the wonderful Sydney Showground - now Fox Studios, to Rupert Murdoch for $1.

I attended what was supposed to be a rather glitzy opening ( which is a matter of taste) co-ordinated by Kosky and Baz Lurhmann. I called it a shambles as I still vividly re-call that international media had flown in for the event but those who handled the media had been told by the organisers to concentrate on giving News Ltd outlets preference with celebrity interviews which was rather crass given that the NSW taxpayer had just handed over property worth a fortune to a billionaire.

The reason I remember is that international stars were directed in a steady stream to be interviewed by august publications like the Adelaide Advertiser before being directed into the depths of the "Entertainment Centre", while a host of foreign reporters just looked puzzled except one dinner suited important looking man who I later learnt had flown in from Brazil with a 6 man crew and apparently hosted a TV show viewed by 100 million people in South America. He grew more and more distraught. and after an hour literally sat on the ground and burst into tears without a single interview.

Then I seem to get caught in a shuffle of media people who I followed into a large room where we were treated to an hour of superlatives by both Kosky and Lurhmann who basically told us we were now on hallowed ground etc whilst an American newspaperman near me said "who the hell are these 2 w***ers and when are they going to shut up ?"

Scandal beyond scandal ?. Rather an exaggeration like that day when Kosky and Luhrmann told us the Fox Entertainment Centre was about to rival Disneyland in popularity. Given that the "Titanic" ride sank within months, along with most of the other "show biz" attractions, perhaps if news of them had ever reached the 100 million South American viewers-and others all over the world, the place night not be the sad ghost town it is now. Not Barrie's finest moment.

Should we blame the Bard?

Jenny, it would be easy to conclude that pornography is the direct cause of sexual abuse. Maybe there is empirical data to support this, I'm not sure, but from my experience I have learned one's sexual journey in life, like any journey, has a beginning; the first step. And in one's sexual journey it is that first step which is critical; for that first step quite often determines where that sexual journey will lead.

I think this is why we, as caring adults, want our children to have an introduction to their sexual lives in a way that will be tender, loving, honest, sincere and open up playful and exciting lifelong avenues of joy for them to share with another - hopefully. Sadly for many this is not the case.

The point I am going to try and make here will be obvious to many of us I'm sure, for we have all taken that first step.

I've known "deviates" of all types over the years, both men and women; yet none of them has claimed pornography was the cause. The pornography of their choice simply reinforced and entertained a sexuality that had already taken shape. Many of those deviates did reveal however their very first sexual encounter was powerful and like a switch turned on a lifelong passion.

The first step of our sexual journey can (for many) be the one that wires the brain so to speak.

There have always been pedophiles; our fathers of democracy will attest to that. And there has also been sexual abuse, at least since man had a dick.

But as human kind embarked upon their collective journey we simply created ways to celebrate and fuel our diverse sexuality; ways to keep it alive when no other means are available, ways to share it with people of like mind and so on.

I once knew a man who claimed he abused his daughter because he was under the influence of speed. He took the stuff to keep him awake as he was a cab driver. He also admitted that as a child he was sexually abused by his mum. The problem had more to do with his mother than speed, but he blamed the speed.

In a perfect world boy meets girl, they connect, talk, laugh, play, touch and when the time is right they make love and quite often such a relationship becomes the template for their future relationships.

Unfortunately this is not a "perfect" world and maybe each and every one of us carry the genetic memories of our primeval sexuality in all its beauty and all its ugliness. All it takes (maybe) is that first step to switch our brains on to that which lurks within, for better or worse.

Fortunately for moi, I live in a "perfect" world. My first step was beautiful, special and tender. And over the years "Lolita" and I have on occasions caught up and rejoiced in what we both now consider the most passionate and tender time of our lives.

I was 16, "Lolita" was just 14 and absolutely gorgeous. It happened after we saw Romeo and Juliet at the movies.

Did mother nature simply decide it was time for us to begin our passionate journey; or should we blame the Bard?

board and pestle rather than bored and slush

Off to other activities when just noticed this from a few days ago:

"..The Prime Minister also came under fire from Berlin-based theatre producer Barrie Kosky, who called the drama "a scandal beyond scandals"....

Well now there's an appropriate defender. Anyone who saw The Lost Echo a couple of years ago in Sydney and a few other offerings, seemingly not appreciated by the public as expected, might understand how the almost-accused-child-porn- photographer-man might appreciate such an gem behind him. Such art is just not appreciated by the philistine public. And the rubber penises were so jovial. Ah well,, there's always vaudeville or Berlin.

Do we actually have any real talent out there in the art world ? Sometimes I think it is those we don't hear about much that may have the greatest talent and skill.

Anyway, 'tis not about art. 'Tis about the child.

But when we start to look at where our taxes go in supporting "arts" perhaps we may wonder at a bit of a wasted opportunity to just build a new lavatory block somewhere.

the lens rules as usual

Comment noted, David R.

Jenny, relax, you fought the good fight as they say. Clear conscience is worth a thousand wittily written laconic, succinct advocation for art and the right to unfettered sexual expression penetrating all manner of preschools at the expense of the child. Bring on the lustily undressed child for sacrifice at the altar of the almighty extendable lens. Capped or not.

Comment ignored, eh? :)

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