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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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that pic

Well now I've finally seen a Henson pic and who would ever have thought it would be finally via Webdiary ?. I thought I would have to be invited to the Turnbull's for dinner to eventually view one !.

But aren't you , Malcolm B. analysing that picture just a little to intensely as a barrister would ?. Personally I noticed none of things you mention-slave bracelets and such but then I didn't linger too long. I just thought it was a snap of a girl asleep, albeit nude. As for trimmed pubes, I wouldn't have a clue about such things -radical that I am, I'm still quite prudish but don't believe others must adhere to my views.

So is that Henson at his worst, or best according to people's view?

I still really cannot see what the outcry is about. When I visited an old friend who had bought a hotel in the South of France and he drove me to the beach one day, he neglected to tell me that it was a nudist beach. Although in fact it seemed that that part of the South every beach was "clothes optional" so I was quite amazed upon arrival to see thousands and thousands of French familes totally nude enjoying the sea and sun.

Folk of all ages and sizes that included dozens of groups of male and female teens I would say were the age of a Henson model were seemingly completely carefree. After an hour or so it dawned upon me that nudity en masse is a great leveller and seems to remove, or at least completely diminish sexuality, far more than say, a day at Bondi.

Surely in the end it's in the eye of the beholder. What's important is that children ( and of course adults) should be protected from predators wherever possible ( and as always-the vast majority of child abuse happens within the home and by relatives of the abused) but does a picture like this cause abuse to happen ?.

 I doubt it. If a person is of that intent I'm not sure anything will prevent them, unfortunately.

I can see the reasoning behind this Henson pic-one of blooming sexuality I suppose but why is that so fearful ?. There comes a point in time all adults and parents must face the fact that their children are suddenly sexually aware, even if they ignorant of the actual mechanics and such, but it's a part of nature. Why is it so frightening and why is a depiction of it so frightening ?.

I would say the great art galleries of the world are full of similar works of that sentiment. To go back to the famous David statue (by Micahelangelo-not de Vinci as I previously said), what is it if not a celebration of the male body in the guise of a religious subject ? .

It's pretty clear to me the artist Michaelangelo ( and from all accounts he led a life of deep involvement with his apprentices and male models) quite simply adored the male form and David is homage to that adoration. And if the subject is truely based upon the David of bible fame then it really is a depiction of a young teen boy.

Considering that in those times there were no such things as legal ages of consent, then why do we allow such works to be celebrated today?.

Indeed, I was at an auction a few weeks ago and a small copy of David was on sale but with a fig leaf in place. A friend pointed out that the fig leaf was detachable and this was common in the Victorian era ( thus dating the statue) which could be attached when visitors called and removed in private.

As for saying young teens are incapable of giving permission or not understanding what they are doing by agreeing to pose, this is surely a furphy. We know, despite such things as the age of consent, that all young people are not equal. Some are far more wordly ( and active) and some more sheltered. Some are stupid and dumb and some far smarter at 14 than our best friends at 40.

Throw in the odd fact that the age of consent varies considerably around the world then although one might think the opinion a 14 year old is still that of a child, the entire Spanish nation, or Japan as examples do think the same.

Anyway, at least this is a way for me to knock Mr Turnbull yet again, for having very pedestrian tastes in art !.

Mr Henson invited to scout at swimming carnivals,change rooms..

Well Malcolm, thank goodness someone has finally spoken up for small animals .Hamsters must be terrified of masking tape.

Heck Kathy, that photo. I though the others were bad but there is that little girl lyind in darkness with a pervy old man focusing down on her bits for his sales profile. That should have been a private pose that none can stare at. I really do think that guy has a problem with his obsession with sexually orientated naked photos of prepubertal kids , but maybe it is as some already say, just exploiting for the great sales and publicity. After all , it seems such is beyond the law no matter how many enjoy themselves in their perverted way with his photos. . 

Funny he chose a primary school, not a high school. Guess he was selecting his under 12yrs shots. Presumably these wouldnt have been in the sexualised nake genre of the 15yr old targets he is better known for.  Just their innocent faces.

Are they still innocent after posing naked in dark beds for Mr Henson? What do they learn from that , i wonder. 

Ah well , have already said all in the prevous discussion about Mr Henson and his deliction for taking such photos with his unfettered lens. And have already noted how some around care about such things and others see no problem.

To me it seems an area that the law has been too lax in definition , just as malcom says, no masking tape on hamsters and no naked erotic shots until adult to give consent. Seems straight forward.  Funny how people confuse naked babies in arms  with sexualised dark shots of naked adolescents.Naked does not mean sexualised.

 I wonder if the headmistress knew abut Mr Henson before allowing him to peruse for subjects at her 12yrs and under Primary school....school. I wonder who else is allowed to peruse the students for talent untapped. Can Mr Henson also go to the swimming carnival? How exciting for him to further scout for his lens there. And why not? Why not scout in the change rooms, it is after all just for art isnt it? That makes it Ok doesnt it? And if their parents say OK , line them up naked for a parade to decide who gets fame , their body sold  for the wall in the name of art.If their parents say ok it must be ok, parents never let their kids be used do they?  Why not do it?

Why not indeed. 

Adult concepts for adult models, not  kids..


Nothing transgressive about Henson.

Thanks Tony for a considered response.  And thanks as well F Kendall for that sizzling little comment about how footballers and artistes deserve special consideration.  Deadly.

Now down to business.  Tony writes that one interpretation of Henson's work is that it is:

Then again maybe this is your point, perhaps you see it as another aspect of a raunch culture that is inherently and continously debasing and exploitative? Just a high art manifestation of this culture hiding behind the notion of art? Whereas I would see it as fragment of art holding out against raunch culture and the ruthless commercial imperatives that drive it, one instead offering pictures of humanity that can have sexual and sensual elements that are not simply based around the aim of (male) arousal to sell product.

Close, really close.  It is a supreme statement by a pet of the bourgeoisie about how commodifiably fuckable other people's children are.  I'd see it in other ways, in opposition to "raunch culture" if I could find any irony or any convention busting treatment of the subject. But there are none.

Henson merely turns his conventional masculine gaze from women (who are on record as objecting to such treatment in art - see below) to children who are not intellectually capable of mounting resistance.  

A good read on photographic conventions in the depiction of women is Daniel Chandler's "Notes on the Gaze" which is a treatment of the implications of John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" in which the former writes that the whole point of Berger's treatment of art history is to show how female flesh is arrayed, displayed, and exposed for the pleasure of the male gaze:


We've moved on, of course.  Henson does boys as well.  So modern.

Henson is no iconoclast, no revolutionary, no humanist.  An orthodox libertine making a dirty quid out of other people's kids but, significantly, validating the desires of the audience when they turn their gaze from the walls of the art gallery to "the wall" in Darlinghurst.  That is my point.  "High art" is hung on public gallery walls thereby legitimating what are illegitimate desires. 

Questions for a strong argument

A strong argument about the art of Henson Anthony. One I can find some sympathy with and one that demands to be taken seriously. I was impressed with Berger's work when I read some of it many years ago, unfortunately I've not seen the actual TV series. I will try and find some time to follow up the Chandler reading you suggest.

Briefly, let me still raise some questions - are you still not implying there is but one way to read Bill Henson's art, desirability of frolicking other people's children etc. ? This seems both overly loaded and narrow to me. It could be totalitarian to claim that one has the sole interpretation of a work and then condemn it on the basis of that interpretation. However, with only the power to condemn in argument, not through law or force, we are not in a totalitarian realm and I am not suggesting you are behaving like some sort of commissar. Just concerned about the implications once a Hetty hysteric type grabbed hold of your argument and was followed by baying right wing populist media and slack jawed pollies.

Secondly, and this question goes back to the context in which art is made and consumed, can you imagine a society, social conditions, where the art made by Henson would not have the implications you attribute to it? Or is it essential to the art itself, that his artistic subject matter is of itself part of the dark side...

And related to that - is the male gaze always bad, unwelcome? And if not, under what conditions could it not be a problem?

Not art - don't care - waste of time

I didn't find the photo at all disturbing. A naked young girl in a revealing pose, so what. Malcolm's observations may reveal more about Malcolm than the photo itself. I didn't even think about the girl's pubic hairs of bracelets for that all looked pretty normal for a girl of that age.

The image itself is a poor attempt at art, but I don't find it all all offensive, just unnecessary taking into account the values of contemporary society and my personal preferences. As such it is not the type of art I would waste my time with, bit like reading Gerard Henderson, Miranda Divine or watching Big Brother.

Nudity, in all its forms, has long been a way to get attention (and make money), maybe Mr Henson should reconsider using minors in his attention seeking and money making ventures.

I would hate to see my daughter photographed and publicly displayed like that, nothing to gain and too many potential risks and blow backs, much of which is ironically the result of do gooders; not perverts or sexual predators.

Funny old world but none of this really worries me at all. I've leave that up to others, for better or worse; besides, I am not my brother's keeper. There are many who would like to be.

Missed the point Justin

As I thought I made clear, I am an artistic philistine.

I was analysing the photograph from a legal point of view.

Then again, maybe that means you are right after all: it might say more about me than it says about the photo. 

It won't go away will it?

Tony, I am working on a  piece for Webdiary (slowly, slowly) that scrutinises Henson's work from and critical aesthetic perspective.  More of which later. 

For the time being, however, your argument by analogy regarding women who have been raped is unsavoury to say the least. 

You started it, though, so here goes.  You don't want to limit the freedoms of those in our society who are neither guilty of rape nor victims of rape.  It is one thing to limit freedoms and another, however, to accord a respected place in the discussion to the victims of sex crimes as to the impact on their lives of the crime they suffered.

I think it reasonable to accord similar respect to those who have been traumatized, by whatever means, and allow them a very special voice in any public discussion.

According to your logic you wouldn't ask or allow a soldier to talk about the horrors of war or the victim of racism to address the specifics of the practise of racism because their intellectual capacity is clouded or impaired by the very experience that grants them specific knowledge. Hmmm.  For my part if I want to know about war, rape, violence and predation against children there is no better source of information and considered views than those who have direct embodied experience of what they speak.

At a broader level "high art" contributes to and legitimises the dominant relations of power within any epoch and any society.  This is mundane in art theory.  Henson's photographs, for mine, precisely reproduce the relations of power that exist between the sexual predator and (usually) his prey.  These photographs, like all art, embody and embed those power relations within the image.  It is the embeddedness of this power to which people react so poorly when the subjects are children and that is because, as a class of people, children have no capacity to organise their own political self defence.

He doesn't photograph women in this way.  He doesn't photograph Aborigines in this way.  He doesn't photograph Muslims in this way.  Why do you think that is?

not unsavoury

I look forward to your piece Anthony, sounds like it will be stimulating. I think I understand the points you are making here but I also think I must still disagree.

First, I am not saying we should not hear the voices of victims and even accord them extra respect but you can't treat their experience and reactions to it as the norm on which to base rules for everybody. They are not the norm and thank god they aren't. We can't go through the world not speaking just because some people are struck dumb. (oh, and to clarify, the analogy wasn't with women who are raped but with how we make policy about the rape. I thought it a good analogy because it is another emotive area involving sex, power and trauma, speaking therefore to deep anxieties.)

Regarding the distinction between high and low (popular?) art I'm not sure I agree that it exists. But even if it does hold I would point out that "high" art, in the classic sense of high complexity, is often transgressive and not always in accord with the ruling ideas or ruling classes. It can be expected that some of this art will not be recognised as such at its time precisely because it offends ruling ideas. Contrawise just because something offends doesn't necessarily make it any good as art. That said, I see what Henson does as art but I don't actually see it as very transgressive. Then again maybe this is your point, perhaps you see it as another aspect of a raunch culture that is inherently and continously debasing and exploitative? Just a high art manifestation of this culture hiding behind the notion of art? Whereas I would see it as fragment of art holding out against raunch culture and the ruthless commercial imperatives that drive it, one instead offering pictures of humanity that can have sexual and sensual elements that are not simply based around the aim of (male) arousal to sell product.

I can accept that your argument that Henson's photos reproduce the power relationship of exploitation would be a powerful one (even if the photos are not made under such conditions, though this is another point of contention I suppose) but I don't see it myself. Rather I have seen such notions as a vision imposed on the photos by particular viewers. Perhaps by those who have been damaged and thus are still jumping at ghosts, but largely by the hysterics and wowsers to whom even a hint of sensuality arouses strong anxieties that are offset by a need to control and proscribe. I see them as a dangerous minority and I want them not silenced but certainly kept marginalised.

In terms of Henson's subjects, as I understand it he has many, including landscapes. You are suggesting he photographs young people for just one (sinister) reason and that the subjects he doesn't photograph are proof of this. Yet there could be many reasons for using young pubescent and pre-pubescent models and I see many in the pictures. Moreover, the way you note that he chooses one group as models and not others is just a rhetorical device, it doesn't prove anything.

And to return to the original point, it's an issue of no exploitation done, no damage done, no victims, and the importance of freedom of expression versus demands for repression and the subjection of the society I live in to an all pervasive fear (and thus at the same time the dominance of) the paedophile's and pornographer's gaze. I suggest we don't give in to it and withdraw support from any politician who does.

It certainly ain't art

Anthony Nolan: "He doesn't photograph women in this way.  He doesn't photograph Aborigines in this way.  He doesn't photograph Muslims in this way.  Why do you think that is?"

Why indeed Anthony? This thought has often crossed my mind too.

He does however photograph adolescent girls in provocative erotic poses normally reserved for an adult female. 

Here is a picture from Henson's Untitled 1985/86  'exploring adolescent vulnerability.' Be warned, the photograph is an extremely explicit one. I found it quite disturbing.


As you say Anthony:  "Henson's photographs, for mine, precisely reproduce the relations of power that exist between the sexual predator and (usually) his prey. " 

The photograph posted here exemplifies this.

No. It's art all right.

Kathy: Sorry. Wrong. It's art all right.

It's the art of provocation. It's the art of the stunt man. Few people could look at a photo of that genre and not react in some way to it.

I'm sure Bill Henson is an outstanding photographer technically, because I know a good photographer and she says that he is. But in thinking about your last comment, I cannot help seeing the similarity between Bill Henson and Andres Serrano, who got big front page splashes worldwide a few years back thanks to a work of his with the subtle title of Piss Christ.

On a google search for more on that, I came across an article by John McDonald on stunt art entitled Shows of Pretension.  From which:

So why is it that artists can be as radical as they like - can run around naked in public places, mutilate themselves, or exhibit their dirty underwear or samples of bodily fluids - and everybody thinks this is OK? Better than OK: by some magical association such acts are celebrated as politically potent gestures.

It is tempting say that is because politics happens in the real world, and art happens in a charmed, imaginary realm we call the art world. Rarely do these worlds meet, but when there is a momentary collision the results can be catastrophic. The political journalist Margo Kingston spoke recently of how she had been invited to talk on a forum about "The Art of Dissent".

She walked out after one of the other participants, performance artist Mike Parr, accused her of using "crass sentimentality as a device to sell more newspapers". Parr himself had recently sewn his lips together as a gesture of solidarity with asylum seekers - and not, of course, as a publicity stunt.

What is remarkable about the incident is that Parr had responded to Kingston's suggestion that, after the Bali tragedy, artists might be able to do something to help unify the nation, or to help us deal with our shared outrage and grief.

There you go, and Margo gets a mention too.

There is no theory or principle that does for art what, say, the periodic law does for chemistry. All art  judgement is subjective. I like what I like because I like it. Embellish that whichever way you like, but all art appreciation comes back to it in the end.

But unfortunately, art inevitably involves a scramble for prominence, and one sure route onto the front page is blowing a raspberry at something, preferably something not normally 'questioned' in the postmodern sense; something sacred to large numbers of people, something conventional, etc, etc. The Shock of the New rests on the new thing to shock. Serrano did it with a crucifix submerged in a tank of urine. Every true artist has a different gimmick muse.

Henson is not bad at it. One might say, a true artist.

Not art

 Kathy Farrelly, I know you warned us before looking at the photo, but I was appalled at what I saw. It could have been straight out of the Playboy Centrefold.

Perhaps this picture should be sent to every school principal so that they can show it to parents.

I cannot believe that anybody here on Webdiary would allow their daughter to photographed in that way. On the other hand I could be wrong.

As my last word on the subject, I shall be passing the pic on to my daughter who will show it at the next P&C meeting.

By no stretch of the imagination can this be called art.

Disturbing is not the half of it

I have kept out of this until now but I dips me oar.

One of the reasons that I got involved in the last Archibald case, Johansen v Trutees of the NSW Art Gallery is that, as a complete philistine when it comes to Art, I was the perfect objective counsel.   I detest "Art" but I like a good landscape or portrait.   The closer the portrait to a photograph the better in my view.

The photo you have posted Kathy Farrelley is more than disturbing.

I am passionately against censorship but I believe people should exercise self-censorship - I often do it myself although I know many of you will find that hard to believe.

I find a number of things disturbing about this photograph.   It appears that the pubic hair has been tailored for effect (by the artist, by the child or by its parents?).   The waif-like look on the face strikes me as more despairing than  vulnerable.   What really gets me is the jewelery, particularly the slave-bracelet.  Whose slave is she?    Was it posed costumery or does such a young girl wear it to effect?   Why the unadorned torso but not unadorned limbs?

I know artists assert the right to make statements but when the statement is as unclear as this (it ain't David), why can't the artist just shut up?

If the statement is about the vulnerability of young women, why can't he find one over 18?   After all, women aren't worth bothering with until their brains mature and that usually takes until 30.   SWMBO asserts it is longer for men.

Now before the artist lovers start carrying on, it is an accepted time-honoured facet of our society that we set benchmarks and cut-off points.    The law operates using them: no criminal responsibility under 10; no sanctioned sexual activity under 14 (or 16 depending where you are); can't vote until you are 18; no no-consensual sex, no fucking small animals and so on.   .  Could we try no photos like this until there is clear adult consent by the subject?

Well said Malcolm B Duncan

Well said Malcolm and also Alan.

And yes, benchmarks and boundaries is what it is all about, and we ladies here have been shouted down on that score ever since we argued that when the issue of Henson's propensity to photograph young and naked girls first came up.

At last, thanks to Kathy, we get to see just how far this man is prepared to go. That any mother would agree to her daughter posing and being photographed like that, let alone by and adult male, is completely beyond me.

But come, all Henson supporters here - what do you think of that photo? Bill Avent had a lot to say as I recall, plus a few others.

Now today at the National Gallery was some really creative and beautiful photography in the Wild Australia exhibition. That and Floriade over the bridge makes a nice change from Henson. 

I doubt Kathy

I doubt Kathy that Henson would show that photograph to the head of a primary school when asking for her permission to look for child models in her playground. And can't you just see the reaction of a parent if he said: Here, this is an example of my work. I'd like permission to photograph your daughter for my next exhibition?

Maybe all those here who think Henson's work is not explicit and sexualised could favour us with their opinion on that particular photograph.

I think the photo is appalling.

Nope not appalled

Sorry but no, I don't see the photo as appalling at all. It looks very well composed, I see a lack of vulnerability, a great deal of naturalness and I think it has much beauty. I don't find it erotic despite the provocation that the girl's open legs might imply. That it avoids such a cliche it probably a testament to the artist, both the naturalness of the pose, yet at the same time the art of the composition. I just see, am shown, a beautiful natural form, indeed it reminds me in its form of the sort of wonderful photo natural history photographers sometimes produce. Could there be some male or lesbian somewhere who would just see it as an aide to masturbation? Undoubtedly but someone somewhere is probably doing the deed over a department store underwear brochure. Why should the rest of us be hostage to them and their perversity?

I think the photo is much less disturbing than some of his other work I've seen, which displays some of the darkness of the adolescent world.

Might I also note that, according to David Marr, part of what Henson does is to refer parents and prospective models to sites where his work can be viewed before they make a decision to work with him.

And I can think of parents I know who would not regard that photo as a reason to object to him photographing their child. Au contraire.

We're goin' to hell in a handbasket!

It is certainly a sad indictment on our society when some accept photographs such as this one as the norm. Never mind as art!

Tony: "I don't find it erotic despite the provocation that the girl's open legs might imply. "

If one were asexual, one  could possibly agree.

I'm not, so I don't.

Most people aren't.

A  naked girl with her legs open? What do you think a young bloke would reckon?

I'll give you two options. See if you can pick the correct one.

1. What a beautiful photograph. So natural.Exquisite.

2. She's hot mate!  Asking for it! Just love to give 'er one!

The simple fact here is, that no one would have such a picture adorn their loungeroom wall!.

I wonder why, Tony?

Who the hell would be proud to hang such  a photograph on the walls of their home ? Particularly if it were their own daughter?

Get real.

Handbasket? What about a garbage truck?

Things are definitley going to hell in a garbage truck. 

I see that novelist Frank Moorhouse has weighed in to the public controversy over the new things to shock. ('Dangerous' new protocols curtail artistic expression. The Age 10.10.08)

 ONE of Australia's leading novelists has warned that there is more to fear from the new puritanism in Australian politics than from any potential threat to children and adolescents from artists.

Responding to the moral panic surrounding photographer Bill Henson and his depiction of adolescents, award-winning author Frank Moorhouse denounced the "crude" response of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Henson's work and the Federal Government's instruction to the Australia Council to establish protocols for the depiction of children in art.

Moorhouse described the creation of these funding protocols as "the most dangerous movement in the arts in my life time". "Creating protocols is itself an infringement of freedom of the arts, especially when they form part of the guidelines of the central, publicly funded, arts funding body.

So there you go. Into the compactor and off to the tip.

Artists are notably reluctant to either praise or criticise one anothers' work, so it is left either to professional critics, or else to somewhat less prominent practitioners, such as those of the school represented by Kathy Farrelly.

A  naked girl with her legs open? What do you think a young bloke would reckon?

I'll give you two options. See if you can pick the correct one.

1. What a beautiful photograph. So natural.Exquisite.

2. She's hot mate!  Asking for it! Just love to give 'er one!

Here we have a juxtaposition of  two possible viewer responses to the artist's work, presented in the context of a universal dichotomy: cool vs hot; ice vs fire; the eternal negations arising from antagonisms between pairs from the catalogue of the classical elements: earth, fire, air and water. The suggestion of natural coolness as in a mountain lake, the allusion to the Coleridgesque "... As if this Earth in hot thick pants were breathing" deriving  from the Ancient Mariner's earthless and landless expanse of time, burning sun, and windless sea . It compasses in one daring brushstroke the entire history of art, and of thought for that matter. In short, everything. So what more can be said?

Much more. The challenge to the reader has been bluntly thrown down. For there is also a subtext, unstated but unavoidably implied: Is this a naughty photograph?

This existential artistic dilemma is readily resolved, fortunately in the negative. It is not a naughty photograph. Rather, it is a pre-naughty photograph, as suggested by the subject's knees, which are provocatively, one might say invitingly, placed wide apart in an invitation to passionate union. The critic Farrelly thus points to a second challenge, this one thrown by the artist directly out of the printed medium and into the face of the viewer: are you going to be in it? Are you going to tolerate the dichotomy between observer and observed? Is that to prevail, or will be you who breaks with convention and overthrows it?

Henson's next challenge to the viewer's imagination is the most difficult of all, but is found through all art media. It lies not through what is said, but what is not said; not through what is shown in the work, but through what is left out of it and clamours to be let in, in both the non-Freudian and Freudian senses. By having the question thus posed, the viewer must rule out the possibility that this is a post-naughty photograph. As this hypothesis is readily dismissed from the position, qua position, of the subject's knees, the viewer is reduced to one of two alternatives: remain as an outcast, a voyeur or (if only in his or her mind's eye) a despised 'Peeping Tom', or become involved, however willingly or unwillingly, as a participant. The boundary between observer and observed is abolished, at one click of the shutter.

A concluding note: This is only a preliminary statement of a thesis I will expand upon at length in future posts.

a heaven in hell's despite

Oh dear Kathy, I'm sorry butI I think you are wrong in your perceptions of the picture and in your view of the young. The philosophical issue of not letting possible views of the picture by others be the rule of public policy I've already dealt with in previous posts. But let me also say that I can think of plenty of people who would have that photo on their lounge room wall, perahps as part of a set in a hallway. For me it would depend on the style in the room and who might be coming into it. I am aware  that some people do get deeply shocked by nudity. they are entitled not to be confronted by it. I just don't want them proscribing it via some sort of fatwa that applies everywhere for everyone.

As for the, all young blokes would just think phoaw... What a sad view of the world. The young men of my acquaintance, while naturally having the pretty full on sex drives that are part of the territory, are not some sort of out of control one dimensional monsters. Moreover, somewhat regrettably, they have grown up in the over sexualised world of late capitalism with its always on soft porn and ever available hardcore internet porn. I doubt they would be human males if they hadn't seen at least some manifestation of the latter. Probably a lot. And that means they can easily tell the difference between porn, advertising, sexist music videos and that picture. Now I presume you have seen plenty of advertising and music videos. May I suggest perhaps you also need to view some porn in order to more clearly to spot the difference between that photo and something designed for something else.

As for the young men I know, having left high school the "she's hot mate give her one" attitude, if it ever existed outside the bravado of 14 year old virgins, has largely packed up and left as far as I can tell. They are civilised in other words, as many people are. I would prefer they continue to live in a civilised world where they can continue to expand their appreciation of the manifold aspects of life, including those that art has to offer. A picture like that, in a context of discussion of art, might indeed be part of them moving well beyond the baseness you imply is their fate.

If all this makes you anxious well that's a shame but please realise the world is full of people to whom your views are just as weird and outrageous as you appear to find theirs. To me it's you who seem almost unreal. I am willing to respect your right to that unreality, I just don't want to have to live in it.

Decorum and decency.

 Oh dear Tony, where have I ever said that I am shocked by nudity?

I do find erotic pictures of young girls nude or clothed rather disturbing and distasteful, however.

Tony one does not  necessarily have to be nude to be photographed in an erotic way. A look ,a gesture, will often suffice. There is a difference between most erotica and porn.

May I suggest you also need to view some erotic pictures. Have a look at this video.(I have posted it here before)


Now I would consider it inappropriate if an adolescent adopted some of the erotic poses in that video clip. I also think that Henson's erotic picture of that young girl is inappropriate.

I do so find it rather sad and pathetic  that someone would want to put an erotic picture of a young girl on their loungeroom walls. 

Oh, and I do realize that  there are people who share your view Tony, I am just not acquainted with any of them.

However , I too am willing  to respect your right to your unreality.

 And most certainly have no wish to live in it either.

I can agree

Hi Kathy, we are obviously not going to get over our difference of interpretation of the photo. But are we agreeing that I don't think you or your family should have to be subjected to such photos being placed unannounced in public places (so in galleries but certainly not on billboards, front covers of magazines on public display etc) and that you don't think that I should be banned from seeing such photos? Moreover, that such photos can be made if the parents and minors in them agree to them? Or are you still worried about their ability to choose (a serious step away from the assumptions underpinning our liberal democracy - who is to choose if not them?) and concerned over the reaction such photos might (for you, will) evoke? If so we remain pretty stuck.

On the question of playgrounds and access and the rules that should apply, that is precisely an issue for larger discussion. A discussion concerned with care, information, protocols etc. Moreover, since schools are a community institution it will probably have to be decided by processes of demcracy and here the level at which democracy applies will be important. Prima facie many of the parents at St Kilda Park primary are not upset, indeed the opposite. Leslie Cannold put a strong parental argument in yesterday's Age. So should it be left to individual schools? Would that be too divisive? Or do the current protocols actually work quite well? On what I've read so far I suspect the latter but as David Marr said, it will be good to have an enquiry to bring it all out.

A grave sin?

Tony: It would be good to have Leslie Cannold's opinion of the Henson photo linked to by Kathy; the one which has caused such controversy here. In particular whether Cannold would mind his daughter being the subject of such a photo.

Unfortunately, Cannold does not supply an email address with his article, unlike some writers of Age opinion pieces. Otherwise I would write and ask him myself.

However, I notice that nobody has commented on my suggestion that Bill Henson could show his bona fides by publishing a series of full on full frontal snaps of himself when starkers. Then again, perhaps I have committed the grave sin of lese artiste, and everyone is too embarrassed on my account to mention it.

Cowardice under fire.

Ian, are you the moderator tonight? Is it you who edited out my last post?

That would be very cowardly, given my refutation of Jenny Hume's claim that I had not responded to her irrelevant question, when Kathy Farrelly, for one, had already replied, indicating that Hume does not even read others posts?? But if you are the one responsible, you would know that already.

You should open your mind, stop taking sides to the extent of suppressing peoples replies and moderate rather than sabotage, lest a huge question remain as to your integrity.

A moderator's moderate moderation under fire

Paul Walter: Your temperate comment directed at me, entitled Cowardice under fire reads (in full):

Ian, are you the moderator tonight? Is it you who edited out my last post?

That would be very cowardly, given my refutation of Jenny Hume's claim that I had not responded to her irrelevant question, when Kathy Farrelly, for one, had already replied, indicating that Hume does not even read others posts?? But if you are the one responsible, you would know that already.

You should open your mind, stop taking sides to the extent of suppressing peoples replies and moderate rather than sabotage, lest a huge question remain as to your integrity.

I assume you are referring to your comment of 8:01 pm last night entitled 'too ignorant to read' which opens with the question: "Look, are you a complete idiot, Jenny Hume?" That question by the way, sets the tone and standard for its other three paragraphs.

So I draw your attention to the following:

From Webdiary's Editorial policy in About Webdiary at the top of the home page: 5. Robust debate is great, but don't indulge in personal attacks on other contributors.

From Comment moderation:
In particular, any comment that contains anywhere within it any commentary - explicit or implied - on the intelligence or honesty of another Webdiarist, will simply not be published...  Notwithstanding our preference against removing published material, we will also remove anything that slips through that is reasonably complained about by the target of a comment.

From Online abuse: making the case for civility.
A point made by Guardian Comment is Free editor Emily Bell:

But there is a lurking important point about how we conduct discourse, not just on blogs, but everywhere: in politics, in the street, in our homes and in the media. Condescension, bullying, lecturing and abuse are all bad things, and discussion is a good thing. Sometimes, however, we have all spent so much time indulging in the former that we forget how to do the latter.

So in answer to your first question, yes it was I who 'edited out' your post, for thye simple reason that it did not comply with editorial guidelines.

I have been around on Webdiary since 2003. In that time I have witnessed more than a few debates start winding up from a single snide remark to the point where the epithets are really flying and the battle is on, and where not only the judgement but the integrity of participants is under attack. As such exchanges never resolve anything, and are against policy, I prefer to nip them in the bud rather than let them wind up into a full throated roar. Every comment has to be judged on its own in the light of policy, not against the background of what has gone before, lest we get into an interminable secondary argument over the series of exchanges leading up to it. Sooner or later a line has to be drawn.

Again, policy is quite clear on abusive comments: editors are not required to spend time tidying them up.

Richard, if his comment critical of Jenny this morning is anything to go by, may disagree with my decision to mark your comment DNP (do not publish).

If he wishes it to be published in full and unedited, he is entitled to go ahead and do so. This puts it on the record as his decision if he does.

Another moderators take

Paul, you and I usually agree on stuff. I've had a look and sorry but your post most definitely falls into the abusive category. I wouldn't publish it any more than I'd buy into this debate again.

another moderators take.

Are you sure, Scott, you have considered the back ground to the situation ? Are you sure you have the thing in context. Have you considered whether the same standards that apply to me should apply to others?

I have just sent off my take on this-  if it, too is not censored. You may find I had ample cause for complaint and in that light the post was perfectly explicable.

 Am not asking you to agee with me, just consider all the evidence only  fairly and apply the same criteria that are applied to othersand vice versa.


In truth  Paul, no I haven't.

In an email to my fellow moderators just flicked off, I stated that I don't know who was responsible for putting up this post but they should have had better sense after our experience of the first one. Highly emotive, people not sharing the same reality etc.

I have no interest in it whatsoever having said all I had to say months ago.

I should tell you all that I have my own situation going on that by and large has taken me out of Webdiary and my presence here will continue to be fleeting.

Sorry Paul, I do agree with you but that post was abusive.

Whoops, just caught up with some of your other stuff.

Boy, this is getting seriously ugly; behind the scenes as much as on screen and I'm giving you the same advice I gave to Richard and Ian.

Take cold shower, dry off and take a walk outside with a stiff drink or joint and get this in perspective. If I knew how and had the authority, I'd wipe this thread completely.

I'm now going to approve my own post; something I never do except in the most innocuous of circumstance, having broken a confidence but to hell with it all. Paint me as I am, warts and all.

The rules are the rules.

"Look, are you a complete idiot, Jenny Hume?"

Hmm, you may in your opinion have had ample cause for complaint, Paul. However, I do think that calling someone an "idiot" constitutes abuse, and is therefore in contradiction of Web diary rules, as Ian  states.

Paul: "Have you considered whether the same standards that apply to me should apply to others?"

I am sure the same standards are employed  for all, Paul. Moderators are only human don't forget, and their's is  often a hard job.

 Now, I am curious as to where Jenny or anyone else has been abusive to you and called you names like "idiot", or cast aspersions on your character by saying that you were "dishonest"?

Paul Walter - when an answer is not an answer I suggest

Paul Walter, a read of the endless personal attacks on me by you give I would think any objective moderator cause to DNP you. Ian can however deal with your allegation of cowardice and bias.

But since you make such an issue about it let us look at your so-called answer to my very relevant question as to whether you would allow a daughter of yours to pose for Henson a la the photo posted by Kathy, and have the photo put on public display.

I will let others decide whether that constitues an answer as you claim, but it certainly does not for me. Perhaps you would like to clarify your  'answer' with a decisive Yes, or No.

I incline to wonder why people equivocate on the issue and are not  prepared to answer outright. Justin did and I respect him for that.

But here everyone is Paul Walter's 'answer' to the question. Mind you he did not bother to address the comment to me, just put it up unaddressed assuming that I would take it as his answer.

I at least address the person by name to whom I am responding to around here. I do not refer to people as you in comments, or put up unaddressed comments in that way.

From that unaddressed comment: 

"Will not be answering your so called question a) because it's irrelevant !

b) Because you and Kathy, exclusively never , respond meaningfully to points I try to raise in my posts, so it's only right that I respond in kind to your emotive claptrap, as I've indicated over a number of perplexed posts over today (Alan's replies cannot be dignified as such).

If I could not have a daughter who avoided both, I would rather have a daughter who thought for herself and was thoughtful, no matter how nude she was, than someone weighed down with prejudice, ignorance and arrogance."

Now if anyone knows what he means by that last para, please let me know because the parts that are not waffle are gobbledegook. And it certainly does not constitute an answer to the question, not for me anyway.

But if that is his answer, the answer he says he will not give, do others here read it as a 'yes', he would agree, or 'no' he would not? Have I missed something there? The question I repeat is straight forward. Either one would, or one would or would not, agree to their under age daughter posing like that for Henson and allowing the photo to be put on public display.

Any conditions they may put on their consent is irrelevant. The photo was taken, it is what it is, and it was displayed for the public eye. That is the bottom line and those are the facts that underly the question I put.

Yes or No Paul?

I am sorry Paul, but I am still confused as to  what your answer is too.

Could you please clarify. Was that a yes or a no?

Perspectives on perving

I'd like to be able to say that this thread has been totallly denigratory of the mindset of males, but then I think of Channel Ten broadcasting women's netball at eleven on a Saturday night.

Perhaps this needs banning too?  After all, the boys tuning in at that time of the day aren't doing so for their appreciation of the sport...   

IWhile Iknow many titilatted by women's netball and tennis, I  can't think of any male I know who would find that Henson picture erotic.  To me there's more of the reverse psychology involved.

Honestly ladies, the level of generalisation going on here is well and truly below the belt, and much more offensive (to males) than anything I've seen of Henson;s.

Different perspectives.

 You are giving your view from a male perspective Richard, and I am giving mine from a female perspective.

A young girl naked, posing with her legs open, and photographed in shadowed lighting ain't in the same ball park as women's netball and tennis. 

For starters, many young girls play tennis and netball. Sport is a big part of their lives. It's a normal part of everyday life.

How many young girls do you know  who   pose naked  legs  apart and are photographed by some old guy, eh?

Definitely not a normal occurence. 

"Honestly ladies, the level of generalisation going on here is well and truly below the belt, and much more offensive (to males) than anything I've seen of Henson;s." 

Please point out where I have offended the males here Richard. I really am curious to know. 

Quite a few derogatory, presumptuous and condescending comments have been directed towards me, but  I ain't squealin', I'm a big girl, and it's water off a duck's back to me.

Net ball or nutball!!


On telly??


Palinesque minds

Kathy, am just  wondering what could be acheived if you (and others) applied your time and energy to investigating and advocating on problems of genuine gravity.

One last plea- clean up your Palinesque minds and get yourselves into the real world of horrific injustice and suffering.

Start with three hundred million people in India living on thirty cents a day, or the refugees starving and freezing up in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Practicing what one preaches?

I could take offence at your presumptuous condescending comments, Paul, but hey, I'm a Christian so I will turn the other cheek mate.

I am puzzled though, as to how  having an opinion about Henson and his disturbing photographs, could somehow preclude me from being active  and aware of the sufferings and injustices endured by many in this oft selfish and indifferent world.

If I do indeed have a Palinesque mind,  I am most certainly in esteemed company. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard come to mind

They have been vehement critics of Henson's photographs, labelling them disturbing and inappropriate. Both were outraged and disgusted at reports of Henson scouring a children's playground for models.

Will you be dropping Kevin and Julia a line then, Paul?

Just wondering.


Kathy  Farrelly, I just wonder what could be more "presumptuous" than someone who has never been a man, claiming to know what is sexually arousing to a man. The photo, from my (a male) point of view has been posed in such a way as to paradoxically remove its erotic potential.

Perhaps that's where the artistic  content of the thing lies, as a means for representing or questioning the means and nature of communication.

Now, enough comments from men have been posted here to indicate that other men here also find the photos to be utterly devoid of erotic  power.

And please don't come the ageist crap.  If blokes here are the same as me, they are well capable of responding to something of genuine erotic merit.

I say again, clean up your mind(s) and return to the real world.

As  Dylan says;

"if you can't lend a hand,

then just step aside.

For the times

they are changing".

Still preaching?

 Sorry to have upset your applecart  Paul,  however where have I said that I claim to know what is sexually arousing to a man?

I am speaking generally. Personally I think erotica is more of a turn on than hard core porn, where the participants are always  naked. Hard core porn is usually made for the male market.  . Men gang banging a woman in all orifices is not my idea of a turn on. Nor is it for any of the women I have discussed this issue with.

Furthermore there are men here who also disagree with you Paul. 

 My own husband also  believes that the picture is erotic, and inaproppriate.

 I do think that you are confusing  erotica with porn, here.

 Btw, did you drop Kev and Julia a line about cleaning up their minds and getting on with the important job of running the country?

An authentic hard-on?

An authentic hard-on? for that?

Your husband, Kathy, I mean?

Well, now you know your solution to any future erectile dysfunction problems, don't you?

Must be a funny marriage but, that's all I can say...

Hard to make headway here.

Oh dear, here we go again.

Paul : " An authentic hard-on? for that?"

"Your husband, Kathy, I mean?"

Please read carefully  what I  write Paul, I said that hubby agreed that the picture is erotic, and inappropriate. Never said that it turned him on or that it gave him a hard on. In fact, never at all mentioned what turned him on!

 Do you get a hard on every time you see a sexy looking woman Paul?

walk through the door ten times.

Kathy Farrelly:

"Do you get a hard-on every time you see a sexy woman,  Paul?"

Kath, how  I can aswer that when you're not here?

Smooth talker.

I bet you say that to all the girls Paul! (winks)


Only the cute ones, Kathy.

Sorry, kiddies

I think the essential question here is "informed consent".    Under current law, if I frolick you up the anus and you consent it is no crime ... unless ... if you are under 10, it is always a crime.   If you are under 16 it is always a crime, if you are under 18 and a male, in some jurisdictions it is a crime.   In some jurisdictions, if you are female it is not a crime.

To some people, it is always unacceptable whatever your age.

If I take a photograph of you which does much the same and you are of an age where the law does not allow informed consent, what difference is there?  I didn't penetrate you? 

I find these images profoundly disturbing.   Why does anyone need to confront them?

Accepting all that has been said about teenage sexuality (and I think we all go through periods of confusion about it and maturing), accepting that arbitrary cut-offs are arbitrary, how does one operate otherwise?   Does anyone here think it is acceptable to have sexual relations of any nature with a child under ten?   Under 16 (and there are circumstances where that is legally permissible) ?   

Does anyone here think that, with the permission of the parents,  a child of 10 could be put up for sex with an adult?  A child of 16?

That is the border between what we are seeing and what we deem pemissible.    No-one in loco parentis has the right to make that decison for the child and the child, if not of age cannot make the decision itself.

I still think it is a matter of self-censorship for the artist and I reckon this bloke has gone well past the pale.

I don't have children so it doesn't come down to anything personal for me but, as the law stands, while he may not have breached specific sections of the Crimes Act, I think Henson has breached the child's privacy and those publishing his work (including peole providing links here) are probably breaching the Telecommunications Act.   Once breached - ever tried to repair a mental hymen? 

Tar and feathers make great art, and very saleable

Hi Malcolm,


I think that is why we have child protection laws. Some parents are not up to it.

One difference, Paul,  between what happens overseas that is bad , and yes we can still make objections and protest about such too,  and what happens here that is also bad, is that here we can make a difference. We can tell Mr Henson what we think of him and his actions to his face. We can also hope Child protection laws catch up with his actions just as they are with child porn/sexploitation  elsewhere.  We can perssure out politicians to write proper laws that protect freedom of expression and still protect the rights of the child to not be exploited adn exposed in sexualised images for sale.

Now Malcolm,a deep legal qustion: are rotten eggs considered assault and battery? Even if free range? I suppose tar and feather is also out of the question. Alas the old fashion methods of sorting out such artistic vermin are just not permitted. Still it might make a good photo. Art for art's sake. Good composition, skin tones, feathers ruffled, I bet  it would sell well.  :) Does that make it OK?  We could even band the leg, artistically arrange the feathers and tar the parsons' nose.

Cathartic but , as you said previously , legal only with consent. So, is that a YES Bill?  Heck , one cannot account for taste but one should have suspected it. . The things people want on their walls! Lot 7, Available in most numbers through to two thousand.

Janet Albrechtsen, eat your heart out! Ayatollah Angela can outdo Palinesque Wannabees anyday! Just imagine what can be done with a Hockey stick to the perverts of the nation! If they havent already done it themselves. Now where are those dino bones with the Nike prints across them..? Only abstaining from thinking bad thoughts or really thinking anwything  really works. Palin is living proof! In fact I bet she'll supply the Alaskan tar (from Valdez) and freshly plucked feathers (from her dinner , some balding eagle just waiting to be phlucked). Love the babe. First she'd burn Henson, then she'd bomb Iran, herself, from Anakara. It is South i'snt it? Who needs balance and moderation when one can be Palinsque?!  All or nothing. 


 Why stare at a Henson photo of naked kids with spread legs and dark beds when one can have a Sarah Palin poster on the wall and really feel powerful!That is what I want to buy. Imagine if she ever made it to the Whitehouse! Geroge Bush in lipstick!


Ian M (Ed): "Imagine if she ever made it to the Whitehouse!"

Imagine also if she never made it to the outhouse. The mind boggles! 

I beg your pardon

Who finds the picture of that girl sexy?   Kathy, I think Paul's making a pont about the level of assumption being made here.

I still find it interesting Kathy

I still find it interesting Kathy that is mostly the male posters here, with the exception of one of two like Anthony, Ian and indeed even Malcolm, who think that photo presents no issues. The mothers here,almost exclusively, see it differently as they did with the earlier works.

One presumes those who see nothing wrong in the photo would not object to their own young daughter or granddaughter posing like that and being photographed by the man and seeing it put on public exhibition and posted on the net.

I suspect however they would be in the minority in terms of where the community at large stands.  

I admire your perseverence here on this issue.  Good luck!


Deja vu

Jenny Hume: "One presumes those who see nothing wrong in the photo would not object to their own young daughter or granddaughter posing like that and being photographed by the man and seeing it put on public exhibition and posted on the net. "

We discussed this notion on the "Perverts in the shrubbery" thread.  I gave you my answer then, and it still stands. My decision could only be made from the specific set of circumstances  relating to such a situation.

Round and round in circles... we must be due to get into consent.

Yes and no, Kathy

Last time round Fiona asked what my rugrat''s opinion of  that "Arts Monthly"(or whatever it was) picture, and my little darlin' gave her point of view. 

She would never agree to appear in such as a picture as the one you've linked to.  Never   

That'sall I need to know.

Well there you go Kathy

Well there you go Kathy. Some answers of sorts.

Richard it seems would allow his daughter to make the decision. If she said yes, then he would agree - well that is how I read him and he can argue against that interpretation if it is wrong.

Justin flaps around the issue but my sense is he would say yes. Again he can correct me if I am wrong. 

Alan, Anthony, Malcolm and Ian's position is pretty clear. A big loud No.

As for Paul, well he just makes excuses for not answering.  

I don't often agree with Marilyn but as I recall she gave the best answer of all. If anyone attempted to photograph her daughter or granddaughter like Henson did in those seized photos she would simply call the police.

I notice no one accused her of being a puritan. Oh well, on this issue I am quite happy to be labelled as such. And I would call the police too, even if my daughter was a willing model.

It really is a cut and dried issue. If the underage person had no objection to being photographed like that and you as a parent supported Henson in this sort of work, then you really could not in all honesty object to your own daughter posing for him like that and allowing the photo to be put on public display.

You cannot have one rule for your kid, and another for someone elses.

Now I suspect some parents would say No for the wrong reasons, such as fear of social condemnation of themselves by their peers and other parents.

And that is probably the real reason some here are not prepared to answer  the very valid question. In fact the only valid question for which there can be no equivical answer. It comes down to a flat Yes or No. No ifs or buts about it.  

Quite worng, Jenny

Jenny: "Richard it seems would allow his daughter to make the decision. If she said yes, then he would agree - well that is how I read him and he can part argue against that interpretation if it is wrong."


We have already had this part of the conversation several months ago. There are numerous factors that would have to satisfactorily meet my requirements. At such a point that I felt comfortable with the situation, I would allow my daughter to decide for herself.

 I would appreciate in future if you ask me a question instead of putting such words into my mouth, espencially in such an instance where you have alreeady been informed of how I feel.

Richard, Justin and Kathy - three in one.

Richard, I asked a very valid question on this thread of Paul Walter, but agree did suggest other pro Henson supporters might respond. The question specifically asked whether Paul would agree to his daughter or granddaughter posing in that way for Henson to photograph and for the picture to be put on public display..

The that way specifically refers to the photo Kathy posted here which many think is even worse than those that were the subject of the other thread.

Now, you chose to answer. No one forced you to, but you simply referred back to your position in regard to the other photos, where your answer it seems was not a categorical No. I read you as saying that if your daughter agreed, and you were comfortable about it, then the answer would be Yes. I do not believe I put words in your mouth by saying that.

You cannot have it both ways. It is either yes, or no. Most I suggest would read your position as a Yes, albeit a considered yes but still a yes. I do not make any judgments about you on the basis of that by the way. In fact, if you do not think Henson's works pose the issues that others raise here, it would be dishonest of you to answer otherwise - in my view.

Justin. I accept you made your position clear on the other thread as a No. I did not trawl the other thread. After all it has over 300 comments so I think it is valid to ask the question on this thread again, particularly in the light of the nature of that particular photo.  But thank you for taking the time to clarify.

As for Paul, well he says he will not be answering, as the question is irrelevant etc etc...... Irrelevant?

Kathy: "Prejudice , arrogance, ignorance, dishonesty, disengenuous, waffle, emotive claptrap, Palinesque mind." Anything else you'd like to add, Paul?

Oh I think if I could be bothered I could trawl the comments to me and find a few more - he specialises in comments loaded with adjectives of that sort. and wonders why I do not trespond.  Yawn.

Good points you make all the way through the thread Kathy and I admire the way you keep going through such a barrage of misquoting and misinterpretaion of what you write by at least one poster here but I see you are quite capable of dealing with that.

As for me I cannot be bothered. The book progressed heaps today as a result.

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