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Henson versus Hanson Land

Henson versus Hanson Land
by Tony Phillips

As I woke on Sunday to the changed clock I foolishly turned on the radio and was suddenly transported into a world of foofaraw. A bevy of Labor politicians and me-too Liberals were railing again in moral panic about that artist/fiend Henson actually being invited to a primary school in his quest for possible models. Had the clock actually gone back, like 50 years? Or just 4 or 5 months?

The Sunday Age even headlined Victorian Premier Brumby conducting a “probe” over the matter. Such behaviour certainly seemed alien to me. Like the PM I felt “horrified and revolted”. But not by the event but by this media report.

Briefly I contemplated the possibilities of succession. Could the inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, the civilised world, get out of this starkly Hanson Australia and make it to a Henson one? By civilised I mean civil, tolerant, secular and lacking in respect for ignorance. Able to distinguish between different spheres of human activity, knowing something about such human activities as art, and lacking in prurience.

This would not do of course, it was the heights of arrogance and ignorance to think it would. The inner suburbs are by no means uniformly civil, in fact possibly less so these days since the cost of entry is so high. Nor have I any reason for believing the middle and outer suburbs, and the regions, don’t have plenty of people who would also flee a Hanson Australia given a chance.

Yet this was another Hanson type phenomenon, the absolute downside of democracy with its race to the bottom. Populist poll driven politicians, yelling in chorus behind the pack, terrified of producing any sort of leadership for fear they might incur blame. A similar logic was evident in the United States all last week over the Wall Street bailout. In the Henson case it’s not about pollies appealing to the majority, the majority is in all likelihood made up in small part by those appalled at the philistinism and witch-hunting, and a larger group to whom the issue is of little real concern one way or the other. They see it precisely as a foofaraw. However, since Henson’s photography has been associated with “children” and “sex” it is a red button issue for the mass media and has resonance in swing voter land. This is an area that, if not exactly contiguous with Hanson land, overlaps with much of it. These are votes both sides of politics want and, as we can see, are willing to stoop down very low to get.

So Henson is vilified for pursuing his art and the rest of us disgraced just to pander to probably less than 10% of the population, the hysterics, the damaged, the ignorant and the superstitious. Led of course by the moralizers and wowsers always ready to demand a restriction of our freedom to their standards. As David Marr pointed out on Radio National on Monday morning, the issue of protection of children, which is a real issue, is one that the moral police gravitate to because it is one of the last areas where their demands might be heard. In such cases of moral panic the liberalism and the democracy begin to part ways as a media fed mob mentality rises.

What to do? Well first we can keep railing at ignorance, though it’s a never ending task. Second, turn the guns of liberalism on the outrageous remarks of the politicians. Henson has done nothing wrong under the law and for lawmakers to be carrying in this manner is actually an appalling dereliction of their role in our political system. Indeed arguably undermining of it. They need to be called on this, every one of them.

Apart from that, I note the big thing pollies all understand is votes, unfortunately only as geographically distributed. They need to be focused by the emergence of a Henson group of voters, who will be resolutely not voting for illiberal cretins in future elections. Which I guess brings me back, not very enthusiastically, to the inner suburbs. Perhaps we can hope that these seats can become much more marginal in future. Preferably they should be in danger of being a major-party-free-zone. For this to be effective it will have to include Liberal as well as Labor seats, otherwise the result will just be a return to the wedge politics on race and other Hansonisms so profitably pursued by John Howard. But I certainly don’t want to vote for the kinds of dickheads I heard making puffery on the radio on Sunday morning and I hope there are very many currently on both sides of the big Party divide who will agree.

Further reading

Marr in the SMH Monday 6 October http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/bdavid-marrb-rage-ignores-some-facts/2008/10/05/1223145173119.html

Peter Craven in The Age Monday 6 October http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/no-nudes-today-zealots-rule-ok-20081005-4udi.html

A report of Julia Gillard’s frankly embarrassing interview on the ABC website http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/05/2382327.htm

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Rubbish Michael

The claim that the left is conservative on the matter of sex, sexual relations and sexuality is not sustainable.

Read Herbert Marcuse  Eros and Civilisation.

Follow that up with Alexandra Kollontai's Sexual relations and the Class Struggle (1921) which is available at:


There is a libertarian position which has often been confused with a left position but the two are not the same.  If you want a considered account of what happens to libertarians have a look at Johnny Depp as the Earl of Rochester in The Libertine.  He dies alone in a puddle of his own syphilitic piss.  Fittingly in my view.


Hear, hear, Kathy Farrelly.

I've known a few Saffrons who are mightily embarrassed by their Mr or Mrs Edina Monsoon parent.

My comments, Malcolm & Anthony

Again, you are both drawing rather long bows on what may happen in the future.

Malcolm B, you say these photos will be around for a very long time. Perhaps – or they may be burned along with books or as in the Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden case where his works were mostly destroyed by Mussolini's fascists. But if these pics of Henson's models (and they are tame considering the absolute avalanche of pornography that has infested the internet) survive for 20 years then I say again, go back and look at pics of yourself at a young age. You will see a person frozen in time that is difficult to relate to and will in every sense, look nothing like you.

If such pics were used in anyway to damage the model, I would say the problem is with the person who is complaining. and causing grief to the model.

I can't really think of one profession today, let alone in 20/30 years where such a case would arise. Even if that 14 year old was applying for the job as president of the Country Women's Association, do you really and honestly believe a youthful indiscretion could be used against the subject?

If so you are cancelling out the very claim being made: that the child has been unwittingly used against their own choice but is being made to pay a price. It's, to stretch a point, almost like saying that a rape victim will at sometime, if the truth comes out, have their awful trauma used against them.

Justin Obodie mentions how easy it is to manipulate photos today but still urges caution. Why? Google any famous name from Prince William / Harry and Sarah Palin and you will find manipulated full nude photos of these people (I assume they are manipulated). It has been said that the actor Leonardo di Caprio complained about one such pic but only because he claimed a certain piece of his anatomy was far too small in this falsified pic.

Likewise the darling of a million teenage girls around the world, (and possibly boys) Daniel Radcliffe who starred as Harry Potter again complained about such a manipulated nude pic as he said that his mother was Jewish and the particular offending member didn't square with a certain snip that had taken place.

Likewise, the soccer player who has dazzled the world and been the subject of a million magazine covers, David Beckham, complained similarly when manipulated nude snaps of him appeared upon the net, that he also had a Jewish mum and, well, that snip that had apparently occurred when he was a baby proved these pics were manipulated fakes.

Note: none actually complained about the fact these photos were appearing, they were merely demanding for more accuracy. Then again, they are in Show Biz and the rules are different. There is no such thing as bad publicity etc etc.

If the future King of England (and Australia) King William isn't too fussed that purported nude snaps of him have now been downloaded a million times on computers, I believe the chances of a Henson model in 10 years time suffering any great trauma are very remote .

However, Simon Dennis brings us links to a discussion I happened to catch on ABC radio tonight. And that is the prevalence of underage teens (17 or so, not 13 or 14) filming each other in sexual activities on their mobile phones and either texting it to each other or showing it to their school friends, as teens do.

Kids being kids, really don't either understand the law or even think about it. To them it's the sort of stuff kids do.

I remember when I was at school something similar happened. But it wasn't sexual, it was when a lad brought along a magazine that showed the horrific results of the Soviet Russian tanks rolling into Poland in another era. The pics were of hideously mangled bodies and such. I was physically ill as I joined in the throng to view, not quite understanding what I was about to see, others were simply fascinated. This was real pornography. And what it was, was teens doing what they do – investigating life in their own haphazard and sometimes clumsy, embarrassing and irrelevant manner.

But then an expert was interviewed on that ABC show to sternly warn that these teens, by photographing and texting each other these nude pics were facing possible charges and 10 year jail sentences. To me this is a real obscenity. And we have had a case already in Melbourne where a bunch of yobbo boys harassed and humiliated a mentally disturbed girl and filmed the event on their mobile phones. Obviously it was a horrible and nasty event and these boys were certainly little creeps. But should they face such damaging charges as having produced "child porn" and even further, police threatened anyone who had viewed the footage as liable for severe charges as well.

It seemed to me we had a bunch of kids that needed some serious counselling (and none more than the poor victim), but to be charged with what is considered a heinous crime that goes on file for life, I think not.

And if people think this is rare then consider that in the USA there are over 10,000 young people serving long jail sentences for similar and many for the "crime " of filming each other – couples who have been in a sexual relationship for 2 years or so and in a moment of passionate madness film themselves and text it to each other. As in one case which is by no means unique, a distraught mother realising her daughter is sexually active has informed the police and subsequently been mortified to find not only her daughter's boyfriend charged with producing child porn, but the daughter as well. Both charged, convicted, jailed and labelled as "sex offenders" for life.

Perhaps some on here agree with that course of action. I believe it's real child abuse of the most horrific kind.

Where does that leave us with Henson ?. He didn't coerce his models: he laid out the scenario and the model could accept or reject the offer. My life experience has been there are those who would find such a photo engagement extremely embarrassing and say a firm no (and I'm one, as I an an admitted prude) but the real fact of life is that this world is full of children, young teens who are far more adventurous than others.

As for the fact it may harm any future career, cast your mind back to some of the greatest film stars of Hollywood and those who appeared when desperate for cash in straight out pornographic films when it really could have killed a career but didn't . Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Heddy Lamar and a few male idols as well. They simply denied it was them – just someone who looked like them. An ideal out for a Henson model.

This really is a very difficult subject for me to tackle because I come from the left and for those who don't follow the history of the far left (yes you Eliot Ramsey) it is actually the Left who tend to be the most conservative when it comes to the subject of sex. However, freedom is certainly a subject I will always fight for and in this case, I am on the side of Henson even though I don't particularly like the one pic I've seen and the fact that Malcolm Turnbull is a collector.

And on that note Your Honour, I rest my case for the defence.

Silly stuff only a man would do

It's a weird and mostly wonderful world Ian, full of weird and wonderful people - and some who have too much time on their hands.

A mate told me about about his work mate who liked to make films for a hobby. He decided to turn himself into a porn star for a bit of fun. He took the trouble to splice himself into a porno movie. He did a good job and proudly showed it to his mates - they thought it was hilarious.

The silly prick showed it to his wife and had absolutely no idea why she didn't talk to him for the next three weeks.

I was photo-shopped

Malcolm mentions that photographs taken today and displayed publicly could at sometime be used in the future to the subject's disadvantage. This is a valid point and as Kath mentioned earlier that when all things are considered it is best to be prudent. In this day and age this is a wise choice.

However in this day and age it is also extremely easy to manipulate images.

In fact I have an image of a diabetic de-sexed feline, dressed in a kilt and bow rogering the almighty out of a french poodle. It's the real McCoy, I took it myself one afternoon as I was walking down Riley Street simply because it was such an unbelievable sight.

Maybe one day that image will find its way onto the internet. Imagine how the poor poodle would feel?  My advice to to her (I think it was a her but can't be sure) would be to say: "that's been photo-shopped".

In this day and age I could turn anyone into a porno star. Even a diabetic feline and a poodle of questionable sexuality.

Anyway that's gunna be my excuse if those images I allowed my lady friends to take, ever.......

The reluctant voyeur

Justin Obodie, reality will always beat fantasy, even photoshopped fantasy.

A prominent Sydney businessman of my acquaintance years ago lived in a flat in Elizabeth Bay. He and his wife owned a female Siamese cat, name of Maggie, and one of those small highly inbred poodles with pink skin showing through a sparse coat of curly white hair, name of Pippy. Pippy's nominal sex was male, but everyone joked about that because all and sundry believed him to be impotent. Even the vet.

That was until the day the couple got an irate phone call from the gentleman in the flat opposite, whose lounge room window overlooked their balcony. Apparently while they were out during the day, Pippy and Maggie were given to stepping out on the balcony and going hammer and tongs at it, completely ignoring the species barrier.

The reluctant voyeur on the phone said that it was the most disgusting spectacle he ever saw, and that he had finally had enough.

He never considered the contribution to photographic art he could have made using a camera with a good telephoto lens. Not to mention the postcard sales.

Life is truly a catalogue of lost opportunities.

Solving nothing.

Simon Dennis: 'I'd suggest we leave it to 'em  .... they are already way ahead of us ! "

Great idea ,Simon!

 What the hell would we adults know about anything, eh? 

All we have to offer is maturity, insight,and experience.. To name but a few  things.

 Pshaw.!  What would we know?

U.S. definitions of child porn

While noting that it had removed a site from a search, Google referred interested readers here.  


Answer: As defined in 47 U.S.C. 2256:
"child pornography" means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where?
(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(B) such visual depiction is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
(D) such visual depiction is advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Many courts apply the so-called Dost test to determine if a given image is considered to be "lascivious" under the statute. United States v. Dost, 636 F. Supp. 828, 832 (S.D. Cal. 1986), aff'd sub nom., United States v. Wiegand, 812 F.2d 1239, 1244 (9th Cir. 1987) set forth a six factor test:
(1) whether the genitals or pubic area are the focal point of the image;
(2) whether the setting of the image is sexually suggestive (i.e., a location generally associated with sexual activity);
(3) whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose or inappropriate attire considering her age;
(4) whether the child is fully or partially clothed, or nude;
(5) whether the image suggests sexual coyness or willingness to engage in sexual activity; and
(6) whether the image is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer.
See Dost, 636 F. Supp. at 832


Humane Obodie, that was no poodle that was my wife.

Really, dogs and small children (back on thread now). 

Oh, well done

Justin Obodie and Anthony Nolan, very funny.   Who would have thought that this thread could produce such profound humour?

Restores one's faith really.   What would Dr Yorick say? 

Oh I shall sleep easy tonight then.

Now that I know that "inserting one's penis in a loaf of bread for example, while unsavoury, probably isn't unlawful".

Savoury loaf? Unsavoury loaf? The Rogering Bakery? Petit force?

Ah, a self correcting Malcolm.

More exactly a self correcting Barrister.  The most expensive kind!

The point really was not so much to scrutinise the terms of the charter as to point out that it exists which means that the idea of children's rights (contrary to Michael) is not an obscure notion.  I daresay it is an imperfect document but it probably is a working thesis.  I also presume that it is most often honoured in the breach than by adherence.  A utopian lurch for humanity and so on. But it does exist and there is a debate around the issues raised. That is all.

Article 34

(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

There is no evidence of coercion whatsover in relation to Bill Henson's subjects nor are his activities regarded as being unlawful.

(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

None of Bill Henson's work involves prostition or unlawful sexual practices. If so he would have been charged.

(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

Bill Henson's material is not regarded by the law of the land as pornographic; otherwise he would have been charged.

What problem exists in relation to Article 34?

Is this all a mind game?

Children's rights in charter.

Michael also describes children's rights as an "obscure notion". Well mate, there is informed opinion and then there is mere piss and wind.   Read the following extract from the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Article 34

States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

 Now where do you fit in?


Just when I agree with you Anthony Nolan you get up my nose by mentioning the UN.

The problem with the UN is precisely piss and wind.   For all its high-minded platitutdes most of its member States are rogues.

Let's analyse the Article you have referrred to.

What exactly are lawful sexual practices when it comes to children?   If a member state legislates for example for compulsory clitoridectomy, is that a breach?    If  a mamber State legislates to legalise slavery and makes slaves property is it unlawful to have sexual congress with property?   Stikes me that inserting one's penis in a loaf of bread for example, while unsavoury, probably isn't unlawful.   Why should any other property be different absent any law dealing with bestiality? 

If a Nazi law, properly and legally passed makes certain creatures "non-human", all bets are off right?    This is one of the most profound dilemmas any legal system can face and it has tortured jurisprudes (myself included) for decades.    There is no simple solution moral or otherwise and asking someone where he fits in in relation to a piece of UN waffle is basically unfair in my view. 


Michael writes:

Is it the sexuality of a child that is really what is frightening so many people?

But without comprehending that the sexuality of a child is the child's business.

It is not a fit subject for investigation or examination by any adult other than those with whom the child has trusting bonds.  The tragic rupture of those bonds by those entrusted with them leads to permanent psychological, emotional and frequently physical damage. 

Indeed, the logic of the abuser presumes that a child has a sexuality.  Sexuality. Like that of an adult.  I suggest that what children experience as they explore the boundaries of their self/body are the fine threads of embodied imagination, delicate, tender and fragile. Some of Henson's photographs hint at this delicacy of childhood.

But the mere act of rendering them using real under age subjects goes too far.  It is an obscenity in the true sense of the word. Not the legal sense but the old fashioned sense in which one says "But this simply isn't done".  

And a nice little earner it is for him too. 

Marx did write, did he not, of an epoch when "all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned"?  We are truly in it.

Well done Michael and all of the other contributors here who wilfully misread the objections of the child protectors.  You have finally managed to turn my resilient stomach.

Triumph des willen

Well said, Anthony Nolan.

Michael de Angelos, I have developed great respect for much of what you say but we will profoundly differ on this one.   The essential problem with the civil libertarian argument (and generally I sway that way) is that once one abolishes limits and standards it is open slather.

You seem to be saying that because no-one has demonstrated that any particular subject of Henson's photography has suffered manifest damage there cannot be any.   That is just not so.   Psychological damage can happen in all sorts of ways and  sometimes takes decades to emerge.

Those photographs will be around for all of those childrens' lives.   The damage they may do may not be inherent or universal but there is the potential for it.   That is why, as a society, we tend to protect children.   More importantly though, we tend to protect them because they are children: they have not yet developed into adults responsible for themselves (some of us never do).   That is why the limits we set will always be arbitrary.

I do not think it is necessary to demonstrate actual damage before one exercises self-restraint.   Indeed, that is an inherently illogical proposition because, once the damage has been done, there is no preventing it.

It comes down to an ounce of  prevention being worth much more than a pound of cure (there you go - I just breached the National Measurement Act).

While I respect your view and think you should be entitled to express it, I think you are wrong. 

Los trios amigos

Michael de Angelos: "I never thought I would agree with this man."

Yup. You, me and Paul Sheehan. Weird, ain't it?

I never thought I would agree with this man

Paul Sheehan has written an interesting piece in todays's SMH which I believe sums up much of what is happening today.

There are a hundred factors that are doing damage to our children - a nude photo is simply that - a snap of a point in time ( and again all those attacking Henson are yet to produce one single piece of evidence or proof that any child has been damaged). 

Instead they wrap the Henson attacks in a belief that children will be damaged by his work. Why? You can say it a thousand times that children must be protected but why that includes them being banned as an artist's subject is inexplicable (it just hasn't yet been explained by his detractors except for a constantly repeated mantra that kiddies rights have been transgressed).

Show me the proof and allow me to understand instead of just repeating over and over this obscure claim of children's rights. People are simply transfering their own beliefs into a unquestioned reality. They believe it so therefore it must be true and subsequently their beliefs enforced upon us all.

Why is a snap of a person at 3, 5 14 or 20 any different. Is it the sexuality of a child that is really what is frightening so many people? I believe this is so. Hetty Johnson for example, quite clearly has bizarre sexual beliefs. This is a woman who demanded the Queensland government introduce a law that prevented legally aged teens over 18 from having sex with a person over 21.

Apart from the sheer gall of the woman attempting to dictate to others how they conduct their private affairs and use their own bodies, every word that comes from her is about sex. This is an obsession.

More damage is done to children by the constant media and political shenanigans that infer there is a pedophile behind every bush and the language being used - such as Kevin Rudd's statements (and from a man I admire) that he found the work "revolting" - not very wise words to be using about photographs of children when the that word "revolting" could seep into the subconscious of the artist's subject so they take it as a person attack upon themselves.

Although Rudd had the right to his belief he should chosen his words far more carefully. Words can do far more damage than a Henson's pic. Rudd's and Iemma's attacks with such vicious language was typical of the fury this subject can inspire. Unthinking words that are basically unhelpful and terribly cruel.

Why not Claude also?

You mean it will take all three of you to kill an (almost) brain dead albatross? How delightful ;-)

Well, really

Claude is having a senior moment and we are just trying to keep Alphonse away from him.

We've discovered this new bird, not quite an albatross but seems  to be a new species: Fiona Allways it is called.  Pretty strange Latin if you ask me. 


F Kendall; thanks for clearing that one up. Cheers.

Nothing either good or bad? - need we ask these questions?

Kath, I scanned the article and it has absolutely nothing to do with this topic. A poor young girl controlled and traumatised by her perverted father and associates. Once again an unnecessary and irrelevant diversion.

It was my understanding that Bill Henson's subjects were not coerced into posing naked.

Yes Kath there are good parents and bad parents, but who is to be the judge?

So far the argument against Bill Henson's work focuses on the possible future psychological damage to the subjects. Speculation.

I hate to tell you Kath but psychology is a nebulous science and opinions are wide and varied. A bit like the study of economics - which in itself has to factor in the psychology of the masses- no wonder they get it wrong.

Proving psychological propositions relies, like any science, on evidence based experiments that produce the same or very similar results when repeated.

The science of the mind is far more difficult to understand and validate than the science of matter and the physical world. We can easily prove that by applying 451F degrees of heat to paper that it will ignite. It is far more difficult to prove that being photographed naked causes problems.

Nobody at this point in time has provided any evidence whatsoever that Henson's work has damaged anybody - other than offending the personal standards or values of some who judge it .

Yet photos of naked young kids have been taken since the gadget was invented. There must be many kids who have been photographed naked - my brother was photographed, as an 11 year old, by a family friend who asked if it would be OK. A naked kid in the bath. Maybe that's why my brother drinks six cans of beer a day - maybe that's why his marriage broke up, maybe.

I have an old school mate who having problems during his second marriage and sort help. After many hours of therapy it was established that his crises led back to a Sunday afternoon when he was 9 years old. His mum wouldn't let him play with his train set. I kid you not - it cost heaps to discover that. I suppose that's why he is now on his third marriage.

Psychology like climate science and everything else is a work in progress, as it should be.

So far the argument in acceptance of Bill Henson's work claims there has been no harm done and there is nothing material to discredit this argument. Allow those who appreciate his work, for whatever reason, to do so without having others preach to them about what they should be able to look at or not.

Maybe the psychs could do some surveys with kids who have been photographed from years gone by. There must be heaps - I'll get my brother to offer his experience as an 11 year old. Michael also mentioned someone earlier.

In my opinion (and I stress opinion) the discussion we have here is not really about Henson's art or the potential damage this type of art may do to his subjects. It is about personal values. What is good and what is bad. Or what is a good parent and what is a bad parent. Personal values that originated in the mythos and evolved over the ages to become hard wired archetypes of social and religious conformity.

I would argue in this particular case that: "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.."

And those who disagree may well say, rhetorically of course:"And what is good, Phaedrus And what is not good- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?"

Would I be wrong in suggesting that discussion we are having has less to do with the welfare of an unkown teenager (thousands of kids die every day from preventable causes, without even a whisper) and more to do with what we feel is an attack on our values?

Would it be wrong to suggest this discussion is more about ego and defending cherished standards and values than welfare?

Summer is coming and no doubt I'll be seeing toddlers running around in the midday sun (as I do every year) - a pretty pink and a potential death sentence. Are their parents good parents or bad parents? - in this case I would agree with R M Pirsig - Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? Because the truth now stares us in the face - we know what lurks in the future for those who become pink - science has proved it.

It's a funny old world of displaced priorities, hypocrisy and beliefs held dear. Far too complicated for an old albatross to fathom, that's why I never allow religion, politics or sexuality to stand in the way of beautiful friendships.

Kath, bonne nuit mon amour.


SWMBO, Dr Reynolds and I are onto it.  We don't agree but, we're onto it.


Yes, very, by my use of "your's" rather than "yours".

Otherwise, certainly not, and no reason to be.  Although, I am beginning to think that Jenny Hume had something when she said that my posts were too cryptic.

Dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

This whole thread has been running on parallel lines.  Some here are talking about wowsers, puritans, witch burning, pornography, nudity censorship.

Others are talking about doing "the right thing" by children.  Two lines of arguments, destined never to meet.

That is why I mentioned the ages "5, 7, 9".  Would Henson's defenders have been as comfortable with their arguments if the child had lacked secondary sexual markers?  I wonder.  Perhaps they would.

"Did you throw that one in as a tacky way to associate me with pedophiles in Thailand?"  asks Justin Obodie.     Certainly not.  I wouldn't for a moment consider such a suggestion, let alone make it.   I certainly hope that no one else saw that as a possible innuendo, and if so, I apologise:  it was certainly unintended.    However, that the child was not damaged by the act is, I understand, a commonplace rationalisation by such; and to me, a poor one.

Was the child damaged?  Evidently not.   Was the incident neutral of consequences?  Unlikely - Is anything?   Therefore, it may have been advantageous.  As I suggested.  "A crude smear"?  In what way?  I would call it logic.

Prudence told me to leave this thread alone, but I seldom listen to her, more's the pity.


"Comparing Bill Henson with Orkopoulos is pretty bizarre."

Indeed Michael, this is a crude example of  the tactics used by the crusaders to advance their cause. It's called guilt by imaginary association. It does not matter who is destroyed in the process for their "cause" is all that matters.

Using such tactics only exemplifies the desperation of those who claim to be reasonable and yet they wittingly or in some cases unwittingly infer relationships that are bullshit in support of their prejudices.  

F Kendall associated my comments with Thai pedophiles; she has yet to qualify such crap. I would be embarrassed too, F Kendall, for such carelessness.

Anyway it looks as though it is unanimous. No harm has been done (other than that inflicted by those upon pedestals), no evidence can be produced of disadvantage, and not one subject has come forward to declare damage of any kind whatsoever.

So what is the problem?

drawing a long bow Anthony Nolan

Comparing Bill Henson with Orkopoulos is pretty bizarre. His crime was actual sexual contact and the supplying of drugs. With Justice Yeldham it isn't quite clear whether he actually committed any crime at all. It's said he supposedly propositioned a school boy.

In fact the tragic Yeldham suicide is an example of the terrible consequences that can result from this "moral panic". Not only was he blackmailed by the utterley corrupt and now disbanded Special Branch, he killed himself when he was about to be outed by an idiotic woman MP on a crusade fueled by the repulsive Bill Heffernan who takes no prisoners when the slightest poltical advantage can be gained.

You may also recall that same woman virtually forced her twin gay sons to flee abroad when a militant gay group was about to out them as both being sexually active before the then legal age of 18.

Tragedy all around, families destroyed and torn apart and nothing gained, except an eventual lowering of the age of consent.

What then is your position on the famous photographers from the early 1900's like Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden who photographed nude boys in Sicily. Although most seem like older teens there are most certainly many who look to be the age of Henson's models.

Yet whatever remains of his work are in major galleries around the world and one of his models who lived with Gloeden from the age of 12, eventually  married and had a family and became the Baron's curator of the works that remained after Mussoliini's fascist government tried to destroy the works. No complaint was ever voiced by a model.

I think people are expressing their own fears on nudity here and also the inability to comprehend that a photo of a pubescent teen is just that ,and not an "assault" upon the person-it is a photographic depiction of them. What some may do after viewing such a photo cannot be contained just as it can be contained when a person sees a topless girl on the beach.

As for cries that damage is being caused to children in these photographs-and still not one person has shown that it has-there is still the human factor that comes into being when a moment is frozen in time in photgraphs. Look back in 10 years at pics of yourself-or 20 and 30 years later and you will it very difficult to relate to the person you were then. Certainly it may bring back memories but that depends on what was happening at the time.

Tell Henson's subjects that they have been "abused" as such enough times and by the time they are 30 they may even believe it.

Kath - it's bleeding obvious

Kath; "Oh come on now Justin , WHERE is your proof of this "unneccesary psychological damage?"

Once upon a time those who placed themselves upon pedestals not only did psychological harm they also did physical damage. In fact they still do.

Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake, by those upon pedestals, for telling the truth.

The Spanish Inquisition is also a good example of the physical and psychological damage (of the worst and most insidious kind) inflicted by god fearing Christian zealots on the innocent people they considered inferior, or a threat.

I wont even wast my time providing contemporary proof from those who claim to have been damaged by religion and religious indoctrination. There is ample evidence to support same. As Harry would say: I'm not your Google slut.

Sadly Kath you claim that it is moi who is upon a pedestal - for saying that which is obvious and that which can be substantiated empirically.

And yes Kath, you are entitled to your opinion, as we all are. But at the end of the day your opinion, in this particular case, is based purely on emotion; it is in fact baseless.

I can remember watching a programme on SBS where Jenny Brock discussed the Henson issue with young models. I can't remember any of them saying they had been damaged by the experience, rather any ill feelings they had were as a consequence of all the negative publicity whipped up by the do gooders; by association the young models felt uncomfortable and why wouldn't they - well done do gooders. 

Comments such as this one offered by F Kendall support the above:

I'm quite sure that many involved in Henson's work may have been advantaged.  Offers may have poured in.

This would appear to be a crude attempt to smear those  she claims need protection. Maybe F Kendall would like to clarify her proposition.

Anyway the do gooders will continue their reckless crusade regardless of the bleeding obvious, the damage they inflict, and insist that no proof is needed to support their opinions and propositions - for when all is considered it is they who consider themselves the ultimate arbitrators of all that is good and all that is bad. It's a pedestal thing but they will never get it.

No more red herrings , please

Justin: "Once upon a time those who placed themselves upon pedestals not only did psychological harm they also did physical damage. In fact they still do.

Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake, by those upon pedestals, for telling the truth.

The Spanish Inquisition is also a good example of the physical and  psychological damage (of the worst and most insidious kind) inflicted by god fearing Christian zealots on the innocent people they considered inferior, or a threat."

Justin, I don't disagree with what you are saying, however it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It is just a red herring.

Justin: "I won't even waste my time providing contemporary proof from those who claim to have been damaged by religion and religious indoctrination.

 Er... Yes!

Now, that you have gotten that off your chest can we get back to the topic.

Somehow you have confused  the welfare and interests of our children with religious indoctrination and  Christian zealotry.

The fact is that many who are opposed to the Henson photographs are not in the slightest bit religious. I really do tire of the incessant ramblings of people who blame everything on religion these days.

Justin: 'Jenny Brock discussed the Henson issue with young models. I can't remember any of them saying they had been damaged by the experience, rather any ill feelings they had were as a consequence of all the negative publicity whipped up by the do gooders; by association the young models felt uncomfortable and why wouldn't they - well done do gooders. "

Didn't see that Justin so can't comment. I will say this however. Many psychologists have expressed concern at possible psychological damage that these young girls may experience in the future. I remember columnist Cheryl Critchley some months ago saying that she had spoken to three psychologists all of whom were concerned at possible  psychological damage to these adolescents who posed nude. So, we take a punt and hope that because we see no obvious effects now, that all will be well in the future. Sorry, I am not a gambler, Justin.

The fact is, whether these kids say they are okay with it or not, is not the point. They are still minors under the guidance of their parents. And, there are good parents and not so good parents. Many kids often  do things to please their parents and to gain their approval. Sometimes parents do not always do things in the interests of their kids.

Here is the story of a young girl who was made to conform to a standard that  caused her much anguish and at times despair, by her misogynistic and controlling father. This young woman, Collette, shows great perception and strength. Please read it Justin.

"Men have defined women's psychology, sexuality and spirituality, also deciding when, where, and to what extent women shall or shall not wear clothes." Collette Marie.


For me it all comes back to  trying to do what is best for our children, until they are old enough to make their own decisions. When they turn eighteen they can do as they wish.

And to be honest I see nothing beneficial for the adolescent being photographed in the manner that Henson does. Of course Henson benefits greatly in that he makes a good deal of money out of it.

Justin: Anyway the do gooders will continue their reckless crusade regardless of the bleeding obvious, the damage they inflict, and insist that no proof is needed to support their opinions and propositions - for when all is considered it is they who consider themselves the ultimate arbitrators of all that is good and all that is bad. It's a pedestal thing but they will never get it."

Unfortunately Justin me old albatross I don't think that you really get it yourself. Many people have expressed concern at that pic of Henson's. All that I have shown the photo to, said that  they would not allow their daughter to be photographed in that manner.  (Christian agnostic and atheist.)

What damage is being inflicted here? Have you proof that Hetty railing against Henson 's pics is somehow having an adverse effect on his subjects?

Justin: "And yes Kath, you are entitled to your opinion, as we all are. But at the end of the day your opinion, in this particular case, is based purely on emotion; it is in fact baseless."

I could well say the same thing of you Justin. That last paragraph of yours is highly emotive unsubstantiated opinion.

We will  just have to agree to disagree Justin.

Innocence just a phone call away

Michael de Angelos: "That is the real life-not the fantasy espoused by the moral panic merchants as expressed on here and by the idiotic Hetty Johnsons of the world."

Partly it's because the audience Hetty panders to has a very naive idea about "childhood innocence" abd adolescents.

On Sydney beaches, teenaged girls have taken to advertising their mobile phone numbers in zinc sunscreen on their backs so potential dates can call them...

"Writing words on your back with zinc is nothing new on the beach, but five girls, all aged between 14 and 15, took this one step further yesterday by putting their mobile phone numbers on their backs."

"Samantha, 15, said she and her friends had made the journey from western Sydney and they hoped by having their numbers on their backs they could meet more boys which is one of the reasons they come to the beach. "

Really, the Hetties of this world think they know what's going on, but they're fools in fact.

David Marr's talk...

I'm going into the lions den on Monday night to hear David Marr's views on the matter of Henson.  Seymour Centre, Sydney Uni, 6.30 pm. 

I'll be the one in the battle fatigues and flack jacket.


The Book Show

My session timed out, hence no chance for circumspection.

Robert Dessaix spoke to Ramona Koval about his new  book "Arabesques" , on The Book Show,  October 7, Radio National. He ventures into the Henson thing with some insight. You might like to listen to it .

Nonsense Michael

In particular to this from you:

Children are more resilient than we care to think and that's an unpalatble fact many don't like to accept.

If it were true I'd be delighted but it just ain't so.

There is a significant difference between treating child and adolescent sexuality as a fitting subject for art and the normal risks of kids being perved on by deviants in public places.  With regard to the latter parents can (and do) teach their children how to exercise vigilance for their own safety and welfare. 

My point all along has been that he is free to produce images that address the subject of child/adolescent sexuality so long as he doesn't actually use legal minors  in the process. 

Ah well.  I cannot convince you.  Have you considered the possibility that one of the things that went wrong for Milton Orkopoulos is that he couldn't tell the difference about who was "fair game" for his sexual advances and who wasn't?  This inability, the same sort of difficulty that Frank Arkell and Justice Yeldham seemed to suffer, may have been in part the result of confusion in the minds of the powerful about the difference between a child and an adult. 

It is easy enough to find out if you look for what the law says.

And yes, no prosecution case against Henson for the following reasons:

 i) prosecute and find "not guity" opens the door to any sleaze pornographer claiming the defense of "art" for their work;

 ii) prosecute and find guilty means Australians look like total cultural idiots.

So a wise decision not to prosecute. 

Or do you think that the advice within the DPP was given by an associate of the lawyer who got pinged for having child porn images on his hard drive?  But oh no, of course, the DPP is above reproach in such things.  As is the entire judicial system in Australia.

Yeah, right.

Lot #214

I wonder if anyone has taken the time to flip #214 as I indicated.

 I'm not ON the internet, so have little time or inclination to trawl this thread.

If you had , you might see now a (to my minds eye), a very different  picture.

Gravity suddenly appears: there is an up and a down. It is sleep that anchors the girl to the bed.

The camera has retreated to a position beside the bed, and is at the level of her head , not  lingering directly above her etc etc

Most importantly, you must admit to yourself that her legs are in a natural repose, her right foot tucked under.

The girl has quite a tan. Under-exposure of the negative and manipulation during printing has produced a harlequin  effect, but that's just me.

Time is short so I must close.

I hope you see the picture in a different light now.

It is a much better look than Lot #214

A girl who spends a lot of time outdoors wearing a one-piece costume.

But Anthony Nolan..

Anthony Nolan: You make some very valuable points but again some are unable to be proved and I doubt, ever could be.

Take this statement :" the right of children to enjoy their childhood free from the prurient prying eyes of a public audience. ". At it's best it's a nonsense (no insult intended). Unless you intend for people to lock their children away in the house until they are adults ,it's an impossible task.

An example-yesterday I had to queue at the local CES office to take care of some matter for my elderley sister's pension. Gazing about for something to occupy my mind, my gaze falls upon a large poster in front of me-a montage of photos of "Aussies" the department assists. They ranged in all colours, races and ages but one was a young boy in a swimming pool. It immediately brought this thread to mind (and thankfully whilst contemplating the questions of how the boy's parents had been contacted and whether he agreed to be snapped etc-I was at the desk being attended before I knew it).

Children are out there-in parks , swimming pools , carnivals , beaches and so on. What is going through the minds of those whose gaze may fall upon them is anyone's guess.

Was my grandfather's childhood stolen and was he abused by being photographed at 10 years old and used in one of the old Soviet Union's posters as the ideal Pioneer's children's movement members ?. Afterall it was a quasi political movement (although nothing like the Hitler Youth). No. He cherished the memories and handed over his Pioneer badge (which is of Lenin's face) to me as a souvenir and mourned the fact he had never actually obtained one of the posters that adorned street hoardings.

Children are more resilient than we care to think and that's an unpalatble fact many don't like to accept.

I doubt Henson's ability to find new models has frozen-in fact I would bargain the opposite has happened. I doubt he would ever have to approach a schooyard again and the queue to be in his snaps is a mile long.

It's been decreed by the powers that be that Henson hasn't broken any law. If people don't like that then they must petition for the law to be changed. They should also provide the proof that Henson causes damage with his work. To date everything being said is from an adults perception that he has. But not one iota of proof of harm has been presented-just assumptions by outraged people.

There is one thing adults should avoid-if you tell a child for long enough that a certain activity is evil and harmful-from a nude photograph to a game of football-you risk filling them with hang-ups for a lifetime.

One thing Henson has done as artists do-he has challenged the thinking of people whether he intended to or didn't. This is a success on his part.

There you go Jenny

F Kendall;"Would you have the same arguments if the girl were3? 5? 9?  Quite possibly:  I understand that your's are the arguments used in Thailand et al."

Kathy; "Because, like a Doubting Thomas they would not believe without the proof."

Jenny; "I would point out in passing that any harm that might ensue for the girls in question might of course not be apparent for many years, and even then difficulties they might face in life later on may not be recognised by them as resulting from that experience, even if they were."

Do you see a pattern emerging here. We have contributors rationalising their arguments based purely on unsubstantiated speculation. They think they know what we think, how others feel and have the ability to look deep into the souls of others to see trauma and difficulties, where none exists.

None of the above quotes are supported by fact.  And in Jenny's case she hedges her proposition by claiming even if the girl knows it or not she'll be damaged.

It would equally valid (using Jenny's logic) to  say that religious indoctrination causes harm to others (many in fact claim this), that may not be apparent for years to come, and even then difficulties others might face in life later on, may not be recognised by them as resulting from that early indoctrination, even if those difficulties were.

I've known many people to leave the church in disgust so I would argue that my take on Jenny's logic has a lot more validity than Jenny's take on Henson's work.

Anyway now that we have dealt with the mind games allow me to attempt an answer to:

Jenny; "And if you would not agree to your daughter being so exposed, then I assume you believe there is at least potential for harm to be done to her as a result of the experience.  Is that right, and if so what sort of possible harm could she suffer?"

I agree with you Jenny for there is potential harm. The harm that may arise is most definitely psychological, but not inflicted by perverts, pedophiles or unknown observers who may use such imagery for self abuse in private.

The harm that may be inflicted will not arise from the activities of those you abhor but those who choose to use such imagery to belittle, cast judgment or make spurious claims that their opinions and values are the true ones; opinions and values based not on fact  but on emotion motivated by religious and social conformity.

In fact my daughter has been photographed in a sexual pose directed by me.  My lifelong mate, a professional photographer, took the image and it was most definitely and intentionally a sexualised image. He was not comfortable taking it, even though she was fully dressed,  but did so at my request, .

My daughter was 15 at the time (now 29) and beautiful. The image was disturbing, challenging, beautiful and artistic, as intended. I spoke to my daughter last night and asked her if she still had it. Unfortunately she didn't know where it was but would have quite happily had it posted if she could. No worries.

In short it is not the sexual perverts that I fear; but the unnecessary psychological damage caused by those who sit upon their pedestals, looking down upon those whose values are supposedly inferior.

And that leads to a whole new discussion.

Justin, thank you.

Thank you Justin for your considered reply.

I don't agree with you that the harm is more likely to flow from the way people like me comment on the issue. With respect, I think that is just as much unsubstantiated speculation.

I would make just two points.

1. The girl in Henson's photo was stark naked: unlike your daughter was for the photo you say you had taken of her, fully dressed. I think that is the most important point. You have already stated you would not agree to your daughter being photographed naked. So clearly you set a boundary for yourself in regard to your daughter when she was underage. I am not clear why you set that boundary, which I was generally interested to know. But never mind.

2.  "And in Jenny's case she hedges her proposition by claiming even if the girl knows it or not she'll be damaged."

No, that is not what I said. I said that any damage might not be apparent for many years and even then difficulties they might face in later life may not be recognised by them as resulting from the experience, even if they were.

To clarify. Many people suffer extreme psychological dysfunction in their adult lives while at the same time having no idea what the underlying causative experiences might or might not have been.  Psychologists make a living out of trying to identify such.

I did not claim that those girls will be damaged in Hensons photos whether they know it or not. There may in fact be no damage at all. Children have all sorts of experiences in life, many very negative and suffer no damage whatsoever as a result.  Others are damaged permanently by very minor incidents. That I think is why we should exercise caution in the boundaries we set.

And yes, your religious analogy is valid. It is making exactly the same point I was trying to make, and indeed I agree some people are damaged by experiences at the hands of religious zealots and such like in their childhood, and not even necessarily by zealots. 

Kathy: Thank you for your objective assessment of my comments.

Richard Tonkin:  I make it quite clear I make no judgements whatsoever about how you raise your daughter.  

Paul Walter: I have nothing further to say to you. If the moderators want to publish any comments by you that were DNPed as being abusive of me, then they can do so. But if they do I will not be responding to them. 

Anthony Nolan: What you have to say I value highly. I think you have the best grasp of the issues here.

This is about boundaries in terms of how you use and portray children as Malcom B Duncan pointed out.  My unchanged opinion is that Henson has crossed the boundariy and I believe that most in the community would agree with me.

And I certainly do not believe Henson should be allowed into primary schools to seek his models.

Isn't it ironic?

 Justin : "In short it is not the sexual perverts that I fear; but the unnecessary psychological damage caused by those who sit upon their pedestals, looking down upon those whose values are supposedly inferior."

Oh come on now Justin , WHERE is your proof of this "unneccesary psychological damage?"

Justin: "None of the above quotes are supported by fact."

 Don't you see the irony here? You yourself are engaging in the same sort of  unsubstantiated speculation that you accuse others of.

In the end, we are all entitled to our opinions, as F. Kendall pointed out.

 If you don't agree fine.

Now, I do believe that your pedestal maybe just a teensy bit higher than mine, old mate.

Strewth. The cudgels are out.

I go away for a few days and come back to find the Web Diary board looking like the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden.  It seems I missed the main rounds.  Oh well, nothing to do but go 'round and finish of the survivors.

First - we don't pay school principles to pimp our kids for any purposes.  Not for fast food outlets or artistes. 

Second - there seems to be peculiar kind of consensus operating among some contributors by which they think that, as parents, they are free to sell their children's services for whatever purpose they see fit ... as child models for Henson, child actors and so on.  In the past this has been the case but this is changing especially as the early childhood movement becomes more influential.  It is no longer the case that parents can reasonably give consent for their children to be nude models for Henson.  This is what at stake her.  No-one needs to prove actual harm.  The boundaries are set.  It is true that no prosecution has been launched but I'll warrant that the current controversy has set some significant limits on Henson's capacity to find under-age models.

 BTW - the early childhood movement is not, as I'm sure some here will immediately imagine, a moral crusade of Queensland Nationals determined on ruining other's pleasures.  It is a school of knowledge around the significance of cerebral development in the period of nought to about 5 years.  The results of their research have far reaching implications and can be extrapolated to later years.  Look it up.

Third - with great weariness I point out that the controversy is around Henson's work as a symbolic site of struggle.  Art is like that. 

There are many more harmful people and events in the world to children than Henson.  However, as a pampered princeling of the bourgeoisie, no enfant terrible is he, he is a more than suitable symbolic target for those who want to challenge an overarching culture of unending exploitation and moral depravity.  Agreed, American foreign policy is more morally depraved but we have no leverage on that.  We do have leverage in our own back yards. 

Aboriginal health? Yes, worse.  Aboriginal cultural collapse? Immeasurably worse.  But I've earned my spurs on both those fronts as well as others and lay claim therefore to every legitimate political right to tackle the unethical practises of an artist as well as any other social issue. 

Fourth - freedom of speech.  There are limits to freedom of speech and expression.  They exist.  They are real.  They are already on the statute books.  Hate speech, speech that vilifies by race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity is illegal.  We have added another one in the name of a worthy cause for democracy - the right of children to enjoy their childhood free from the prurient prying eyes of a public audience. 

The valiant defenders of freedom of speech, among whom I count myself, have lost the plot if they think that merely by banging the anti-censorship drum they can win the debate without advancing a single argument as to why Henson's right to photograph naked minors and represent children in undoubtedly ambiguously sleazy ways represents a freedom worth defending.

It doesn't. 

Passolini's Salo- banned when it shouldn't be even though it uses actors who look like children in deeply shocking ways.  Where is the campaign to unlock that film?  Nowhere.  And why?  Because it is a searing attack on the bourgeoisie the like of which Henson will never, ever make. 

I'll defend not anyone's right to any form of expression.  Doing so  is a libertarian nonsense.  I'll defend those speech acts (including the visual arts)  that are within the boundaries of democratic respect and mutual recognition.  Henson's aren't but only because he is in breach of the law in using minors as subjects.  He stops that and he is off free to do what he wants.

This whole thing is a load of tosh

So many words about some snaps of youngster as though the ceiling is going to fall in.

This is the reality as we see in a story into today's SMH as a 20 year old Aboriginal man shoots himself dead after escaping police custody when he had been arrested for having an affair with a 15 year old girl.

That is the real life-not the fantasy espoused by the moral panic merchants as expressed on here and by the idiotic Hetty Johnsons of the world. These "Hetty's" drive this panic where this young man would be labelled a "pedophile" and police recourses are vindictively used against a young man because he and his girlfriend were follow nature's course-and as if human feelings can be dictated by the law.

One day I shall inform you of one of Hetty's fellow travellers and pals who rails against men just as Hetty does and garners headlines accusing all and sundry of all sorts of evils. The day she physically groped me on a Qantas flight in a drunken stupor after she had bored me witless about her campaigns chasing "pedophiles" in Asia ( which seemed to consist of staying in a series of 5 star hotels and attending "conferences" whilst yapping to locally AFP officers who tell local police how to act in their own countries). She and Hetty share a mutual admiration society. Do as I have done and contact "BraveHearts" as an exercise and request help. You'll receive a series of pointless pamphletts and a request for a donation. What the hell this woman actually does except indulge in a hunger for publicity is anyone's guess.

Of course I should have rightfully reported my assailant to the police upon arrival back in Sydney-she is a menace and I doubt I was the first unfortunate bloke to have their privates sqeezed by this creature when they are stuck next to her for a 9 hour flight. ( and I still ponder whether I should-she is a sex offendor who receives government funding ).

Instead I demanded to be moved by the flight attendants who claimed  the plane was full ,but  moved quickly when I said I was being assaulted by the passenger beside me and they better move pretty damn quick if they didn't want to face a law-suit. At least the last 4 hours of the flight was in peace in first class.

Johnson has in the past made ugly comments about men who have been charged for offences but committed suicide before they reach court that "at least they aren't around to offend anymore". Apart from her distasteful habit of ignoring a person's right to be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty she is a person who revels in other's deaths as long as it fits her moral framework.

Perhaps I should paste a load of links to naked children on the web that I have unfortunately viewed-but sadly these are horrific photos as they are pictures of children killed, maimed or hideously burned and disfigured by our santioned bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the photos that should be hung in galleries so we can all witness what Australia has been party to for the past few years.

I think the lot on here railing against this ludicrous beat-up about Henson ( whose pics I have no interest in) should out up or shut up.

So far we have a series of people's own moralistic viewpoints and demands that others in society conform to them-an arrogance beyond the pail. Not one has produced an iota of proof that a single child has been harmed by Henson's art.

Give us some real life cases where damage has happened or get off this rediculous campaign being fed to you by the tabloids about Henson and his schoolyard excursion which is a pointless and exagerated beat-up.

Quite franky-this thread is making me feel ill.

Catch ya later Jenny & thanks

Jenny, a simple "no" was all that was required, in reality.

To date those, such as yourself, who find Bill Henson's (poor attempt at) art abhorent can only speculate as to the impact it may have on his subjects. Their speculations are not, as they see it, speculations but truth itself. Yet it is not truth for truth is supported by evidence, at this stage there is nothing, either deductive or even inductive (in this particular case) to support your concerns Jenny; yet in your heart and soul you know, you are right.

"Sorry if that is too many questions. Do not feel obliged to answer."

I'll have a go Jenny but the candle burns dim; I'll get back tomorrow after lunch when I've had a good feed of  farm yard and ocean creatures (I know) at my favourite Chinese restaurant, a gut full of beer (I know), a big fat joint (I know) and an afternoon nap, you may be suprised to find that: I agree with you - for all the "wrong" reasons.

Jenny, wan an , zuo ge hao meng

So many red ones - so few words - well done and thank you

F Kendall; I was under the impression we were (in this particular case) discussing the works of Jim Henson and if his subjects have been disadvantaged. 

I'm quite sure that many involved in Henson's work may have been advantaged.  Offers may have poured in.

Would you like another crack at that one, as I'm quite sure I may be confused. I'd be less confused if you were just "quite sure" and maybe could prove it.

How well you reflect our market economy, Justin Obodie.   Would you have the same arguments if the girl were3? 5? 9?  Quite possibly:  I understand that your's are the arguments used in Thailand et al.

What have three year olds got to do with the subject matter of this thread and who mimicks my arguements in Thailand pray tell, and who in Thailand knows Bill Henson anyway (thanks to you lot I'm quite sure there  maybe many more); or did you throw that one in as a tacky way to associate me with pedophiles in Thailand?

And what has the market economy got to do with me, my points of view, Thailand and 3, 5, 9 years olds?

You are not a bird.  Birds, like women, understand what is right and what is wrong.  Birds have no bloody idea what is right and what is wrong. Once again the observer's mind and imagination creates that which does not exist in the real world.

Such a short post and so many red ones along with a bit of nasty stuff as topping. I'll wash the topping off, but I'll gobble up the red ones. Thank you kindly F Kendall  - and now for the feast.

Thanks to the classificaion board and their suffering

HI Tony, I did indeed already catch that speech at the Young writers festival . Have you listened to it in full. It certainly displays all the usual illogical emotive and manipulative arguments used by the Henson protectors-trying to link child protection with censorship and loss of freedoms, trying to scare us that protectign teh vulnerable somehow contains freedom of expression of the arts, which apparently is some unalienable right.

Here for those who wish to discuss are some things he said-my typing didnt always catch it exactly and  I had no transcript so feel free to listen yourselves and correct any mistake I make:

Frank moorhouse lecture

About the Depiction of children in art and protocols for such as proposed by the Australia Council.

Mr Moorhouse intriducs the topic emotively and expresses his concern about this intent of the AC and the necessity to comply if artists want government funding(yes, our taxpayer money ). Of course there appears to be no such limitation for non-taxpayer funded art so this is hardly teh great boogieman of censorship anyway.


So , if you want money from teh government for your artwork you must respect the protocols as regarding how children are used and protrayed in art. Some how this sends Mr Moorhouse into an apoplexy  that doesnt let up.

 There are four criticial issues that the AC has invited submissions upon:

1. Ensuring the rights of the child ren are protected throroghout the artistic process from  the time the work is created to when it is shown.  2. Ensuring those viewing havea n aprotriet underatanding of the nature and artistic content of the material

3. \Protefcting images of children from being exploited including beyoid th eirginal control of the work

4.  Role of AC .....in  promoting and upholding the  freedom  to practice the arts etc

Sound so terribly evil and dangerous to our freedoms dont they? Just have a listen to his twisted illogicla arguments against each proposal.

Some of the highlights:

For 1, basically says not necessary as Childprotection legislation alraedy in existance to protect children from working in mines etc...forgets conveniently the clauses excluding art work in the act.  Also goes on about sports being so harmful to children and implies that is where we should be worrying....forgetting again that a broken arm heals whereas child pornography scars .He also seems to think that there is no need for any oversight at all anyway if the Agent, parent and artist are all happy with what is being done with the child. Really? 

 For 2, he really rales away.

He mocks this  by sayig would need a little test when he knows full well this clause  is about warnings and classifications etc.when all that is needed is warning and classifications for art .

 And then he rales about Classifications for other media like film etc and the Board as if it is some kind of bogeyman antiart fiend and further mocks such ;. “classification system ignores any aesthetic value” yea it is meant toand notes whether the art form" “depicts abhorrent phenomena:...yep that is what it is meant to note, duhhhh.

..He then shows his complete lack of understanding of reality when he notes that "the dozen or so people on this board ,,,they sit there.. all day they watch this, they’re not hurt, they’re not hurt..”   as if this somehow vindicates any abhorent phenomena on the media adn makes it ok for all to see and appreciate.  ONE CAN SEE HOW LITTLE THE CONCEPT THAT YOUNG MINDS MAY BE HARMED BY SUCH IS A FOREIGN CARE TO HIM, INDEED ANY SUCH CONCERN FOR THE YOUNG IS PUT ASIDE IN THIS SPEECH For the greater glorification of ART and some perverse right to shock anyonethat it has.

These calssifications R, M, etc “sends a signal there are somethings really wild and bad here..” yes that is the idea of classificiation.....adn then he bring the Bard into  it.... "a Shakespear play can be degraded by warnings ....” how so? Yes warnings that the following are there  :“...(violencemutiliation  rape)"....and  conveniently our artist forgets that these plays and movies  are indeed usually rated M .”   

His main objection to classification seems to be ARROGANCE ITSELF some inalienated right of art to do what he says it must or must have the right to do...:“ classification robs art of the power to shock  surprise and  offend and some art is meant to ..that is part of the western tradition..”

The western tradition? I seem to remember a western tradition steeped in beauty and magic and loveliness that allures and enchants. And if one does not want to be shocked and offended does one not have the choice and freedom in this Artistic Ruled Nightmare Zone of this artist to choose not to be so abused?  it seems there is freedom of expression for the artist but not freedom of informed choice for the public , the bourgoise as he calls us. His is the dictatorship of the Art Dogma. even above any rights or protection of children, inwhat they participate in and what they see.

 And 3 is more difficult, yet it is what artists most strive to do to protect their copywrite and income. I am sure Henson is the first to call his lawyer if someone prints off his photos for postcards. Our speaking artist is yet again being disingenious.

and finally his somments on the 4th category for submission, that of the AC aim to promote freedom to practice the arts. This he laughs at with scorn, and we already know from his words just what he thinks about anyone trying to limit his way of the arts...naturally "should be controlled only by the artist 's own judgement and  imagination...and the imagination makes it's own rules..."

Well that IS pretty much what the AC just said. Just with a bit more pragmatic direction and less prose and puff.

So we see this is an artist who sees no role for either the pretection of children who may be vulnerable to exploitatin by those who would profit norfrom what art can do to them by limiting their exposure to children classified material. Nor any role for the Board of Classification limiting the shock value that can come from abhorent art to any of the public in any medium, all is art and art is all.

Lucky for us, this is not someone who actually makes policy nor is seriously listened to, although I am sure his art, whatever it is, is read by the artistic amongst us who long to be shocked and enjoy abhorent art. Lucky we do have freedom of speech here to really here what illogical selfish deviate thoughts artists can have and try to promote and how thankful we should indeed be for the Classification Board who can guide us away from such abhorence should we , or our children , deem it not appropriate. That is real freedom. The freedom to choose , informed.


A question for Jenny

"Now tell, me would you allow your daughter or granddaughter to be photographed by Henson like that and put on public display. If not, why not? I ask that also of the others here who think the photo is innocuous and acceptable."

Jenny, now that you know my answer to your above query would you care to answer the following question?

Could you name one, just one, participant of Bill Henson's work who claims to be disadvantaged, in anyway whatsoever, by the experience?

Of course others are welcome to have a go, except me mate who gives good lunch box, thanks for the reply Eliot.

Justin - No

Justin, to your question I answer No. I do not know the girls, or the parents of any of the girls in Henson's photos. Nor am I likely to.

I would point out in passing that any harm that might ensue for the girls in question might of course not be apparent for many years, and even then difficulties they might face in life later on may not be recognised by them as resulting from that experience, even if they were. 

But whether harm is evident or not to those particular young girls is not really the issue. Not for me anyway, and clearly not for many others around here either.

It is, in recognising that underage children do not have the foresight to know whether they may suffer psychological or physical damage in the future from choices made by them, that society sets certain benchmarks in order to protect them as far as possible until they are more mature.

So for me, this issue is about where the boundaries should be set in terms of how children are used or exploited, be it for art, or for profit or for pleasure or what.  Tony has now sought to bring the discussion back to that issue.

Boundaries on some issues that have been moved too far are now having to be wound back. For instance: Children do not understand the dangers of junk food and are easily influenced by advertising.  Our society has allowed junk food advertising in prime time when children are watching. Now society is trying to restrict that advertising as we now know the harm done to children from such foods. We are trying to reset a boundary because we now know the harm in its being moved in the first place. 

Now I assume those who do support Henson believe there should be boundaries in the depcition of naked children and adolescents, though I might be assuming too much from what some have written here.

I read you as saying you would not agree to your underage daughter posing for Henson in that way and for the photo to be publicly displayed. Now you may have articulated why in some of the hundreds of comments on both threads somewhere, and if so, I apologise for asking you again, but could you briefly explain to me why.  Am I right in assuming that for you, that photo has crossed a boundary?

And if you would not agree to your daughter being so exposed, then I assume you believe there is at least potential for harm to be done to her as a result of the experience.  Is that right, and if so what sort of possible harm could she suffer?  

Sorry if that is too many questions. Do not feel obliged to answer.

Some thoughts

F Kendall I think you've inadvertantly misquoted me by rather extrapolating my comments on the photo. But I'm not going to re-visit it, people can read it for themselves (its headed Nope, not appalled). I take your point about my initial comments about hysterics and this perhaps setting a wrong tone. I was not a happy camper when I wrote the thread starting post. However, this discourse while heated has, and I must admit I missed most of it yesterday, stayed civil. Another triumph for the aspirations of Webdiary.

I think I have been prompted to consider my position by Malcom B's point about setting a line and Jenny's well made point about we can't always have parents in charge, that social limits do have a place. But I remain for now unresiled from my position that those in an uproar about Henson are usually relying on imposing one view of his work as the only possible view and then stating that since that view is corrupt it is also corrupting and the work should be stopped. Moroever, they also perhaps distrust the process by which the art is made. They think the choice is not parents and adolescents can make by themselves. I don't accept this position and of course as can be seen I am not alone, Paul, Eliot and Justin have made similar points I think. In terms of something we can discuss, since this is now in something of an impasse, how about we go back to Malcom's point about boundaries and ask, how do we set the line and who sets the line?

I continue to see more damage done in this case by those who would censor than in the effects of the censored.

But I really appreciate all the comments.

No natural creature you, Albatross

I'm quite sure that many involved in Henson's work may have been advantaged.  Offers may have poured in.

How well you reflect our market economy, Justin Obodie.   Would you have the same arguments if the girl were3? 5? 9?  Quite possibly:  I understand that your's are the arguments used in Thailand et al.

You are not a bird.  Birds, like women, understand what is right and what is wrong. 

Birds like women understand....

F Kendall, I loves ya!

 If only I were as eloquent as you, my dear. 

 Hey Jen, thanks mate! Glad you have made progress with the book. A very productive day for you, eh?

You are right Kathy

Kathy, your are right. It took a lot of flush Malcolm B Duncan out of his burrow, but that photo did, and to make a worthwhile comment as usual.  Had you not posted it you would not have focused the discussion in the way you have. All you would have got would be reference to those that were cleared by the censors and which pale into insignificance compared to this one. This one shows to what depths the man will go in his so called art.

I'd love to see the reaction from the mothers of the kids in that primary school if he held that one up to them as an example of his work. I wonder if he showed the head some of his best samples when he sought permission to scan for models in her playground?  

And yes, F Kendall. She'd be good value in the midst of a battle if the cause was just..

As for you my dear, you would be on the white charger planting the flag. Me? Well lousy shot that I always was, I'd just pass the ammunition.

Acutally, one of the rellies way back did just that - Protestant battle against he French catholics. When the ammunition ran out he ran forward in the midst of battle with some in his hat. Not sure I would go that far for you.

Cheers and yes, a very productive day. Time better spent than reading abuse of one's good self here on this site.  

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