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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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David Marr

There's more Marr on SundayArts yesterday. He was speaking with Virginia Trioli.

In his book, Marr did not identify the school concerned, so he can not be held responsible for the young boy's plight. Fourth Estate anyone?

Thanks Kathy Farrelly for the Aaron Darc piece. I'd like for back-stories and personal gender anxieties to be put aside. There's more to Henson yet.

Anybody looked at  Mnemosyne ? Pages 233, and 298, in particular?

Peter Garrett shuts down leading Australian music academy

Talking about the arts, this is what the Federal Minsiter for the Arts has been up to:

"ONE of Australia's leading classical music schools is threatened with closure, following notice from federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett that its funding will cease.

The Australian National Academy of Music has been told that funding of $2.6 million will stop this year. The Melbourne-based academy has 55 students.

Previous graduates have gone on to careers with orchestras and other ensembles.

"For high-level students of classical music in this country it's hugely disappointing," says academy artistic director Brett Dean.

ANAM is a finishing school for young classical musicians between tertiary training and the beginning of a professional career."

Try shutting down the Institute for Sport. Or even a piece of crap like 'Rock Eistedfodd'.

Utterly irrelevant

Why, Eliot? What is the point of this?

Minister for the Yarts

It's a pretty good indication the way the Rudd government thinks about the arts, don't you find?

Also, it shows us what kind of fellow is Garrett, himself supposedly a musical artist. Closing down Australia's leading music academy!

Would make Les Patterson blush, this mob.

Anyway, these fools are making us a laughing stock around the world. This from the BBC:

Is the Rudd government about to erect a Great Firewall of Australia - introducing a form of internet censorship that will infringe upon the freedom of computer users to browse the worldwide web?

That is the concern of online civil liberties groups, as the Rudd government prepares plans for a field trial of internet service provider (ISP) filtering products, with a view to introducing them nationally.

Another good reference

A theoretically informed critical appraisal of Henson's photography, including critical references to his Mnemosyne can be found at:


The article at the site above was linked from another site with informed opinion at: Artwranglers which has reasoned critical comment of both Marr and Henson and which argues, convincingly in my view, that internet transmission of images has profoundly reshaped the context in which social valuation of photographs is to be undertaken:


It appears that there is a building argument against the Henson's aesthetic as well as his personal practices as an artist.

downloading right now

Thanks for that link, Susan. And more so as there is an interview with Steven Berkoff who is not only a fine actor but if he is in good form, one of the most amusing people on the planet.

"Moral panic" wins as I knew it would

I wondered why it took so long but I somehow knew it was inevitable (living with a psychic does rub off).

Finally the worst Attorney General in Australia's history, one who makes Sir Garfield Barwick look decidedly liberal, NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos has said "the Child Pornography Working Party would examine how best to deal with cases involving artists and journalists." So there we have it – in one sentence, art is meshed with "child pornogrpahy".

Make no mistakes about this joker (he and Bob Carr are the reason I tore up my Labor Party membership years ago – I am yet to forgive Carr for his revolting dissing of the very decent John Brogden – yes, there are good Liberals).

This is the law-maker who famously claimed recently that he had prevented crime by clamping down and denying bail to a whole new raft of persons appearing before the court.

Let that sink in.

A person on bail – or one denied it and incarcerated ,who hasn't yet appeared before a judge or magistrate on trial – is considered (or was) innocent unless proven guilty (not as most people mistake it, until proven guilty). This is sacrosanct, or should be.

This goat trashed all ideas of liberty and law for political reasons. And unlike Bob Carr, the most disgustingly illiterate premier in matters of law this state has ever had (even Robert Askin knew the law – just bent it) Hatzistergos is a trained barrister.

At least under the odious Carr, NSW had a very fine AG in Bob Debus who spent most of his time trying to prevent the excesses of Carr, a man who fanned the flames of racism as well as any would-be Pauline Hanson did, announced his pride in the fact, and regularly commented disparagingly upon cases before an accused had appeared in court – anything for the approval of Alan Jones or the Daily Telegraph.

How fitting that this bloke should end up the Macquarie Bank (and they must surely be reviewing that contract in the current climate – what on earth he could offer them is a mystery).

And true to form, the retired Justice James Wood is involved. Lest you forget, this bloke presided over the inquisition during the 90's over child abuse matters (turning it into an anti-gay crusade) that led to innocent men like Justice Yeldham committing suicide, the solicitor John Marsden having to eventually spend years of his life defending his innocence (and ultimately dying from the stress), who was so ignorant that he assumed the fairly unsavoury practice of "cottaging" amongst gay men actually meant they were seeking out young boys in men's conveniences.

We will never know the actual number of terrified men who committed suicide because of this witch-hunt, but there were plenty.

This is all so horribly political that it should alarm all (but it won't). It's an attack on Nicholas Cowdrey the head of the DPP who has valiantly defended his independence against the ugliest assault from Labor politicians for years. Cowdery has refused to lie down and become a political pawn for these bozos.

So the "panic" has worked and the hysteria has won the day. What will be achieved is a mystery.

But you want "child pornography" and "child abuse"? I'll give it to you. Go here and see what is happening on the USA – and if you don't believe it won't eventually happen here you have rocks in your head.

Watch this story about a 12 year old "uncontrollable" boy being led in handcuffs from a jail. It sickens me to the stomach. And before you jump on your high moral wagon, it's just one of thousands of incidents in the USA where 7 year olds have been arrested in a classroom and taken off, handcuffed.

Remind me again – just which is the pornography, a handcuffed child or a photo?

PS: although she was fairly ineffective and bailed out with a life-time pension, it wasn't Reba Meagher who buggered up NSW health. That honour lies with the former NSW Health Minister – John Hatzistergos.

Increasingly bizarre comments

I take the view Michael that the only person experiencing a moral panic is yourself as your increasingly bizarre comments on this subject certainly indicate.

Herewith other media comments from a different source on the matter of law reform to remove the defence of "artistic purposes" from some images of children:

Stressing the reform had nothing to do with the Henson case, Mr Hatzistergos said removing the defence would only apply to work that depicted children as the victim of torture, or physical and sexual abuse. The child nudity so controversial in Henson's work would not be affected by such a reform. Henson ignited a national debate earlier this year when his nude photographs of a young girl were removed by police from an exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Paddington, in Sydney's east. However, the police investigation collapsed and the artist was never charged.

''The important thing to remember is that artistic purpose defence did not give rise in that particular case,'' Mr Hatzistergos said.

''In the DPP's [Director of Public Prosecutions] decision in relation to the Henson matter, nudity did not constitute something that would cause offence in a reasonable person.''


Well he would say that wouldn't he?

To use Christine Keeler's famous quote about a politician.

No, the moral panic is not spread by me but it's a tool used effectively by politicians to further their own ends as a  "pedo behind every bush" works nicely along with the "war on terra".

A nice example is here in the beautiful city of Bath where, ironically, a Catholic school successfully defeated a bid to build an ice-rink on the grounds it could be a "grooming " spot for pedos. That's quite apart from one English local council successfully banning men from entering public parks whilst unaccompanied.

Or more alarmingly, as it shows just how some Americans will sign anything without reading the small print as a Republican voter registry worker is arrested for getting citizens to register as voters on the pretense they were signing a petition for toughen penalties against child molesters.

I see however David Marr agrees with me and  picks up on my Carravagio claim (you will always read it first on Webdiary in my new series how the media works !). And I point again to my post about the Sunday Telegraph's absurd tale that a Sid and Doris Bonkers removed their child's photos from Facebook for fear of "pedos" despite the ironic fact that the same newspaper and MySpace - a Facebook clone - are both owned by the same organisation.

That's one couple out of the reputed 100 million users. A major news story indeed!

And the sad fact? None of what is proposed does a single thing for the reported 200,000 abuse calls made to DOCS in NSW alone. That's calls about child abuse - sexual, physical, mental and from neglect - that go unanswered as social workers are overwhelmed and underfunded.

But let's get our prioriites right - to be seen to do something is far better than actually tackling the problem.

Never thought I'd thank Eliot

Death of the Virgin I like! (But was she a virgin?)

I can now see another aspect of the times - say for instance Caravaggio. Perhaps he was producing works as were required for certain buyers, as opposed to today where an artist will work on a collection and have an exhibition. I mean there weren't a whole lot of art dealers and galleries around in the 17th Century, were there? Everything was basically commissioned.

So a suitable work could be produced for the church, and another for a private collector - say a bit more risqué. I think it's also legitimate to equate photographic "art" works with paintings before cameras existed. That was after all, the only way people could access an image and it reflects the thinking of the time.

I take on board your comments Anthony Nolan but I was commenting more on the fact that Caravaggio’s works are now in the world's greatest collections , and would sell for untold $millions and therefore, why the furore over Henson ?. Except for the fact that his "art" is exciting passions one way or the other and I think most artists would claim that as a victory (and my dog doesn't have his bo**ocks anymore). If we attack Henson then why stop at just him?

Were children not valued during Caravaggio’s time? Or was it more a case of being seen and not heard? I find it difficult to believe a parent from any era thought less of their children than we do.

In fact, I think it's only after the 1950's that our generation really began to allow children to step forward, so to speak. And even then it was because it was discovered they were a whole new breed of consumers as Madison Avenue began to target them.

I've learnt something out of all this - despite his fortune I question Malcolm Turnbull's taste in art - but that of course is merely my thoughts.

I think I'll do as Marilyn Shepherd says, and get over it!


Anthony, it appears you have studied the subject matter in a somewhat comprehensive manner. Is this necessary?

OK...you've asked for it

Why would we want to ban Caravaggio?

The current controversy over Henson depends on a clash of contemporary values in which Henson appears to want to exercise the prerogatives of a pre-modern criminal/artist like Caravaggio over his models. Caravaggio's work stands as an artifact of previous historical times and deeply primitive attitudes towards children (in this instance). As an historical record of such it is invaluable. It is also significant in art historical terms. Art is like that - one way into history.

Objections to Henson's practices and images hinge on two issues: the exploitation of minors and a politio-aesthetic rejection of the power relations embedded within them.

There is also the matter of the verisimilitude of the photograph compared to the interpretive representation of a painting. The photograph struggles to impose meaning on a subject other than that contained within the subject. In other words a photograph is supposed to represent some clearer truth or reality about a subject than a painting which is entirely a work of the artist's skill and imagination. Consequently we can more clearly see Caravaggio's lust than Henson's. Henson's work is thus dishonest because through manipulations of light, framing, editing and so on it suggests that the photographer's desire somehow is integral to the subject. It thereby violates the subject by imputing to her an untruthful and non-existent adult male's desire.

And that, dear diarists, is the trick in trade of the sexual predator.

See? Easy, isn't it?



You had me scramblin' for my dictionary, dude!


Anthony Nolan: "What is more, his attitude towards his models differs not at all from those of the criminally inclined Caravaggio who died in the early seventeenth century."

So, what are you saying now? We should ban Caravaggio from public display? The religious order which commissioned it banned Death of the Virgin, after all.

That is very funny

Dear Heavens...the things people say. Michael writes re Caravaggio that:

To me it looks horrendously provocative ... I find it difficult to understand how people can differentiate between this and a Henson photo; neither of which I like or want but am fascinated by the argument.

That is exactly the point that people have been making! Henson's photos are sexually provocative! What is more, his attitude towards his models differs not at all from those of the criminally inclined Caravaggio who died in the early seventeenth century. What is more again, the social values of both artists are deeply embedded within their images.

It is a mark of modernity, thank heavens, that the sort of predation towards children that characterised pre-modernity is no longer acceptable.

And that is the point of the whole issue.

It sticks out like canine testicles!

Now, that is progress!

Anthony: "What is more again, the social values of both artists are deeply embedded within their images".

Good point, Anthony, and one that I have been contemplating  today.

Looking at those pictures one obtains a glimpse into the soul of the artist (and it ain't a pretty picture!).

Anthony: "It is a mark of modernity, thank heavens, that the sort of predation towards children that characterised pre-modernity is no longer acceptable."

Indeed. Now, that is progress!

Rude bits

Marilyn Shepherd: "Get over it."

Well, you'd think people would. But since Hetty and her acolytes have more or less turned 'it' into an industry, I guess we have her to blame that the topic of artistic intolerance is so, well, topical.

Personally, I think the debate's here to stay.

Michael, Caravaggio is a fascinating figure in art history, and you are right, he was a bit of a lad. One of the reasons so much is known about him is that the Roman constabulary of his day kept excellent charge sheet records.

Basically, he hung out with hookers and cardsharps and disappears from the record while on the run for murder.

And as for his work looking "a bit like a hideous chocolate box cover", that's because he inspired countless imitators, rather than the folk who paint chocolate box covers inspiring him.

His use of chiaroscuro lighting effects to bring his subjects 'forward' from the frame, rather than using perspective and having them 'sink into' the frame, and his penchant for genre studies and realistic street life gives his work that distinctive look.

His Death of the Virgin is one of the era's most poignant studies of humility and grief in my humble opinion.

Indeed, it was controversial in its day - because the model who sat for the Virgin was a known prostitute.

Imagine what Hetty's reaction would have been.

Are you lot still on about this?

Get over it.

shocking porn

My attention has been brought to a painting by Carrivagio , 1571–1610 (who sounds from all accounts like a fairly unsavoury person) of a painting of a youth who looks decidedly underaged (of consent!) and was reputedly modelled by one of his servants.

Fortunately in those days an artist could still be broke and afford servants - that is if they were really servants, or served another role.

To me it looks horrendously provokactive (and a bit like a hideous chocolate box cover) but no doubt lies in one of the world's great art galleries. I find it difficult to understand how people can differentiate between this and a Henson photo; neither of which I like or want but am fascinated by the argument.

To be fair it's reputed the original purchaser of the painting kept it covered to be revealed to only special guests but some doubt exists whether that was because the quality of his art collection was rather poor and he kept the painting of this young boy, legs akimbo with a "come hither' look, to be unveiled to delight his guests, previously bored until that point.

God only knows what will happen in 200 years. Will the descendants of the once Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull 2020-23 dramatically unveil a Henson photo at a dinner party to shock guests?

Even worse is the story of Ganymede who I hadn't actually heard of, but is apparently a Greek "myth" of how Zeus (some sort of God and most probably an older bloke) fell in love with a young boy, no doubt with some tragic Greek ending. I haven't followed the whole story.

It does however bring to mind the odd law that also prohibits the possesion of pornographic tales in written form involving youngsters. How does one judge these things?  Have there been court cases involving the same?

It's all a mystery to me.

Why don't we blame it on god and be done with it

When a man, any man, looks at an image of a  naked young girl what goes through his mind?

That's personal but I would be surprised if he didn't get a primeval tingle deep within his loins. This of course is absolutely normal and any shame for such a reaction usually is a result of conflict.

The conflict of contemporay social and religious values with that which has been hard wired into our brain stems since Adam gazed at Eve.

It's a challenging world we live in and when we look at what is normal and what is not normal it could be argued, that in the broad context of history,  men are (speaking contemporarily) pedophiles.

A 1997 briefing paper to the NSW Parliament (paper 21/97, "The age of consent", by Rachel Simpson and Honor Figgis) mentions. "A statutory age of consent to sexual intercourse for the purposes of the criminal law in the United Kingdom can be found as early as 1275. It was originally 12, was raised to 13 in 1875 and to 16 in 1885."

Read the rest here:

What we are dealing with here is a conflict between god's reality and god's interpreters. Conflict within ourselves.

An image of a naked young girl may not be appealing to other women, but presented in the manner Bill Henson does I would be surprised if many women could not in some way or another identify with such.

It would be impossible for men to relate to the images of naked girls in the same way as a woman could - because that was not the way god intended - history's norms indicate that. God did however throw in all sorts of exceptions to the norm (thank Christ) - because god chose not to be dogmatic, as nature reveals.

Are we talking about the same girl?

I did click on the link Angela Ryan but only for a second or two. So I didn't really examine it minutely but if others say it has sexual aspects I'll accept their view (especially as our legal expert Malcolm B says so).

But again, won't people see sexual things in all sorts of pictures? We've heard already how some pedophiles collect department store catalogues with kids in them. I've received (especially in the new Fairfax regime's Sun Herald) whole heaps of catalogues that have children in underwear on sale at one of our major stores.

This is really fantasy thinking - what looks sexual to some doesn't to others. We could go on forever of course but as the law has decided Henson doesn't have any case to answer (except in the public's view) it's a fairly moot point. If people want to lobby to have the law changed to include Henson's work then that is their right. But I doubt it's going to happen.

The girl I was writing about was one of his models from the recent works taken in the Oxley gallery raid - the one who said she thought Kevin Rudd should keep his mouth shut. She was mainly on television - perhaps there is a net link.

The reason I say she still could become PM (if indeed she was mad enough to want to) is that we have no real idea what the moral thinking will be in 20 years. (And that's if any of us can still breathe the air).

After all, a former porn star, La Cicciolina, became an MP in Italy! And don't forget our current dustman premier in NSW.

When you say some "Just a little aside, paedophiles who masturbate / fantasise with photos of naked children only reinforce the behaviour and even can lead to increased impulse", is that from a psychiatric study or just your belief? I've read studies that actually say the opposite about porn. But I think it's one of those very difficult issues in which people can be collectively categorised. A bit like the "sex offender" status that lumps in all sorts of people into - in my mind - is a fairly pointless exercise.

As in the USA where that status now includes a person arrested urinating against a tree, two kids who may have been caught having sex but are under the legal age or one is slightly over and the other under, or indeed two very young children innocently "investigating" each other's bodies - along with a vicious sexual murderer of children or serial pedophile who does physically offend. All get labelled "sex offender" for life with all the legal ramifications that come with it and that extends to kids who have been caught having sex, go onto marry and have children.

Things in the law do tend to become rather extreme in the USA and it's to be hoped we don't follow their path as we do in so many other areas, but there are plenty of people here who demand the same including Peter Faris QC .

And why would it be so bad if a person appeared in a nude pic (especially when they were young) wishing to enter politics? We have a current admitted ex-alcoholic in the White House and a would-be president who was locked up in a Vietnamese cage for several years, a factor that many shrinks say is not conducive to a man being put in charge of serious things like nuclear weapons, unless they have had extensive therapy. And we have a would-be PM and deputy PM who admit to smoking illicit drugs.

If such a child decided as an adult on a certain career and their childhood exploits were used against them, although it would cause her difficulty, it would also show how immature society is.

Sorry, but Aaron's tirade isn't valid

Aaron Darc is barking up the wrong alley and sounds a bit like a lover scorned! I don't mean in the physical sense but his admitted and initial idolising of David Marr was bound to end in tears.

As for his tale of another book and Marr's supposed exploitation of certain aspects of a person's life shows Darc doesn't know the real story. Nor does that book imply that the subject is a pedophile (and the man most certainly isn't) - rather it implies inappropriate action - not sexual or with underage people but more a person in their position misusing their power. Did Darc actually read it I wonder?

It was simply the tale about one nasty man who dishes it out but can't take it. And I don't need to read any book about him as I've personally been on the receiving end of one of the most vindictive men I've ever encountered. Cross the bloke and he will (or would if he had any power left) go all out to destroy you - as he tried to do to me once - for no other reason than he can. What was so ridiculous at the time, about 14 years ago when at his peak, is that he still didn't have the power he thought he had and even I knew he couldn't do it. It's always been illusionary and he exploited that illusion.

But with an almost Caligula type power craze, he is yet another who believed his own publicity. What wasn't mentioned in that book, and is common talk amongst ex-students from a certain school, is of similar treatment right back then. And the reason they don't speak out? They tend to be all from wealthy and privileged families and are now in the corporate or professional world and they simply don't want to be connected to the bloke.

The mildest tales told - of hurling a wooden duster like a cricket ball into the side of the head of a student who incurred his considerable wrath and explosive temper - are bad enough. When you hear of boys wetting themselves in terror of having to enter the classroom, something is seriously wrong. And leopards don't change their spots.

But it was time when those things could happen - until one parent complained and the man was given his marching orders.

Similarly when I went to a rather good school known for its academic qualities, there was an English master who had a habit of caning boys at the slightest provocation. And I don't mean a few strokes - I mean a man who went back about 20 feet and took a flying run to smash the thickest cane into teenagers' still developing hands - not once - ever, always six of the best that reduced only the very strongest to a collapsed and weeping wreck. I still have a slightly twisted finger from one such beating.

Clearly the man was mentally ill or suffering some torment that surfaced in his freedom to beat boys until their hands bled.

Today, of course, both men would be on physical assault charges if not actual GBH! To pretend that you can isolate one part of their personality when trying to discover what makes them tick (like a time bomb) is nonsense.

But far worse is Darc's implication that Marr, because he is openly gay, should somehow neglect that aspect in another person, if that is a part of their life and drives what they are. And I believe in this particular case it is and it's a valid point (and again, that particular person is not in any way or has it ever been implied have an interest in underaged persons - and if so, it is untrue). As much as I dislike, or now rather pity him, I wouldn't condone an outright lie such as that.

Or does every heterosexual man ignore the actions of other heterosexuals because they are straight? Darc is implying that Marr is somehow different because he is gay and should therefore avoid the subject in others. Why? With all the scandals about errant footballers and young ladies around swimming pools in hotels and too much liquor being consumed and accusations of rape and such - are we to ignore the very culture of football that brings these blokes together and often makes them behave in a way they wouldn't normally if not surrounded in a heterosexually heated atmosphere?

Darc also makes a mistake in assuming Marr chose the bits from his book to be published in the SMH. I've worked in that field as an agent, and a publisher has no control when a newspaper or magazine wants to purchase an extract - the one paying the money decides what they parts they wish to use.

David Marr claims he genuinely didn't realise that the extracts would ignite such a controversy and is upset at the result. I believe him. Nor can Marr be blamed for the words emblazoned across headlines that incorrectly state:

"HENSON SCOURS PLAYGROUNDS FOR CHILDREN" . Inflammatory language that implies all sorts of things and obscures the reality of the facts - so much so that politicians had to jump on the bandwagon and don't ever seem to learn the lesson to be wary of a tabloid headline which can come back to bite them.

Apart from that, Julia Gillard was correct to suggest some sort of protocol be put in place that would have the advantage of protecting Henson from damaging and incorrect claims, and others who may wish to visit schools seeking models for adverts or potential future sporting stars.

Aaron Darc's blog is pretty good reading as well.

I'm back into the fray

I hope you weren't offended Kathy Farrelly with my "ratbag" accusation but I do include myself in such a bunch (and maybe Eliot) so you are in good company.

I'd love to comment on Aaron Darc's words but his blog (or it's my connection) is almost impossible to access at the moment so I'll leave that for later.

But to qualify David Marr's talk at the NSW Art Gallery on his book - it's David himself who feels responsible for the lad's trauma by having ignited the controversey again over the extract from his book in the SMH. Apparently the boy was perfectly happy about the whole situation and having posed for Henson but it's all finally got to him.

Marr also admits - and whatever one thinks of Marr he is an honest person, in that he only says what he actually believes - whether you or agree or disagree with him. He was taken to task be the devine Miranda for including details such as Henson's schoolground visit, with Miranda accusing him of stiring up the matter for obvious reasons like publicity for the book, but Marr correctly points out that if he hadn't included the tale it wouldn't have been honest.

And thereby he's created an awful conumdrum for himself - telling the truth and by doing so, he feels awful as he's caused a great deal of trouble for the principal in question and the lad.

There is a report on his talk into this week's Wentworth Courier but it's rather thin. He does point, however, to a few inconsistencies in people's reactions - such as the co-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's original defence of Henson but sudden change of heart now he is leader of the Opposition, and the extraordinary silence of our Art's Minster Peter Garrett.

More later when I rip into Aaron.

Not me mate!

Michael: "I hope you weren't offended Kathy Farrelly with my "ratbag" accusation but I do include myself in such a bunch (and maybe Eliot) so you are in good company."

On the contrary, Michael, I am honoured to be in such esteemed company.

The ratpack? Okay  so it's not original.. Sounds good though..

Hope you get to read Aaron's piece. Found his opinion on Turnbull pretty spot on. I am sure you will be happy to hear that. 

I am disappointed in Turnbull as oppostion leader actually.

Just another populist p***k, I reckon.

Thanks Kathy

For the post below.  It was my view that Marr could not possibly have underestimated or misunderstood how his associates in the industry would handle the snippet about Henson in the schoolyard.  A masterful manipulation that brought publicity immediately prior to his book launch.  His wide eyed innocence at the subsequent ruckus is the equal of Henson's.

What he said...

Justin Obodie on October 14, 2008 - 10:59pm.

That was magic.

From an unabashed romantic still fighting that batle against realism.

Total madness

I repeat Kathy Farrelly: I know David Marr and he is an honourable man. He is not one to exagerate or lie. His word is all I need.

If the lad is not distressed (and I would prefer that was the truth) then all your moralising is about nothing. You can't have both ways my dear - if this "art" of Henson's is so damaging there doesn't seem to be any problem as you now dispute that someone has actually been damaged by the whole shamozzle.

As for your repeated claim about accessing a schoolyard - put a cork in it. It's an exaggerated beat-up and not worth wasting words on.

Please say anything you want about my ideas but do ask me a question. I have no interest in answering you or the other ratbags on here who are making a mountain out of a molehill.

Now quit banging on about a subject that has reached its shelf life.

A different opinion of Marr.

 A very honest and interesting piece by blogger Aaron Darc.

Marr & Henson:In The Playground Of Egos.    

 It's a lengthy piece, but well worth the read in my opinion

Here is an excerpt: 

But, the devil is in the details. What was Marr's publicity hook? With just a few paragraphs to do it in, Marr pulled out exactly what he knew would generate interest in his investigation. Firstly, he had Henson admitting that his work probably did lead to some children making mistakes they would later regret. Secondly, that he had no regret about this, or about anything he had done. And, the piece de resistance... he had convinced a school principal to let him scour the playground for children to photograph naked, and he had done so without any of the children or parents being informed this was taking place. Needless to say, Marr's teaser went to plan. "HENSON SCOURS PLAYGROUNDS FOR CHILDREN" went the headlines. The Henson scandal was back, with a vengeance.

[Richard:  Kathy, I've played it safe on the copyright front and edited some of the excerpt. ]

Aaron also replies to a letter on his blog today in which a reader asks his opinion of Marr's apology.

Here is some of what he said: 

What's very difficult for me to ignore is that, even in his "breakdown" apology, he still lies. I can certainly believe that he didn't think it would have quite the impact it did. I can believe he didn't consider the emotional distress of the boy, for example. He didn't think he'd lose his own game, after all, so obviously he had silly ideas about what was going to happen. Mind you, that makes him selfishly inconsiderate, at very least. 
BUT, he tried to say he never for a second published those details thinking it would gain his work press and public attention. That's absolute rot. And that won't wash with his peers, I don't think, they're not that stupid. The public might buy it, but I think that it's his peers he'd be feeling the pressure from. His set are very much about the professional validation around their work, more so than the public who consume it, and I bet you he'd be feeling pretty fucked up over how the industry now sees him. "

Thankyou Michael

Michael: "I repeat Kathy Farrelly: I know David Marr and he is an honourable man. He is not one to exagerate or lie. His word is all I need."

Well, that at least answers my question as to whether you have a corroborating source.

Michael: "say anything you want about my ideas but do ask me a question. I have no interest in answering you or the other ratbags on here who are making a mountain out of a molehill."

You may rest  at ease, Michael, I  won't be asking you any more disconcerting questions.

Fortunately, though, as a  result of Marr's blabbing, neither Henson nor anyone else will be able to set foot inside a schoolyard unless it is for the express purpose of educating the children, or for  reasons that are school related. 

"To find out now that someone has been allowed to go into a school to look at children I think would send a shudder through people's spines," Ms Gillard told the Nine Network.

She said no one should be on school grounds unless they were there for a legitimate purpose relating to the education of young people"

I have recently emailed Ms Gillard applauding her stance on this issue.

OK one last comment and that's it

Of course you wouldn't have a clue what I do in Asia, F Kendall, and I'm not about to inform you as I prefer direct action rather than spouting about it like Hetty Johnson or indulging in bouts of angst about one photograph.

A more immediate and local problem then, maybe more to the point.

As we see in the figures released by DOCS today, there were 170 deaths of children (in NSW alone) from abuse, out of the 200,000 cases of neglect, mental , physical and sexual abuse reported. These are figures the department simply can't cope with and are an increase on the previous year which was increase on the year before and so on.

I call that a real problem on our doorstep , rather than an increasing but meaningless debate on some bloke's photo that is descending into point scoring and pithy comments.

Just as the media ripped into Justice Marcus Einfield and splashed his alleged perversion of justice charges over front pages and news reports for days, and weeks but quietly posted a page 5 paragraph yesterday that the charges were dropped, just as they did to John Della Bosca and Belinda Neal in a vicious and nasty sliming of the couple which all came to naught in the end (and again the reports of no charges relegated to inside pages), the Henson saga will die a death and every hand-wringer on here will move on to another drama.

But the DOCS figures will remain and really should be 200,001 cases of course - as we now have a 14 year old distraught boy, completely shattered by the enormous publicity and claptrap generated by an hysterical reaction over his snap - and a lad convinced it's all his fault.

Well done folks.

Nice but no dice

 Michael: "As we now have a 14 year old distraught boy, completely shattered by the enormous publicity and claptrap generated by an hysterical reaction over his snap - and a lad convinced it's all his fault."

Nice, emotive  language, designed to tug at the heart strings, I'll grant you. But, you are wrong, Michael. As I pointed out, the furore was over the fact that  Henson was allowed into the schoolgrounds to scout for models.

Hello? Are you listening this time?

The boy is completely shattered and distraught? How do you know, Michael? Marr is the only source of this information. Perhaps he exaggerated. He was after all, as he admits, responsible for the turn of events. Like I said, the boy was not photographed nude or in a suggestive pose.

If the situation were as serious as  you make out I am sure that  there would be other information available. I cannot find it. Have you another source to corroborate your assertion?

Out of the mouths of babes

"That's not right at all. That principal should have known better." Celeritas age 15.

That's a popular last refuge, isn't it? The pious wisdom of innocent babes.

Oddly enough, the opinions of the models themselves are of no account because they're "too young" to form a judgement.

But when little Celeritas pipes up, then we're all supposed to be gob-smacked.

Mum knows best

Oddly enough Marr had trouble getting an opinion of any sort from Henson's former models.

Elliot: "But when little Celeritas pipes up, then we're all supposed to be gob-smacked."

Oh, Eliot, you are ever the drama queen.

I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition. Many of Henson's supporters are quite old. Young people I have spoken to, including my daughter, are rather put off at the thought of appearing nude in a pic like Henson's. The contrast  (for me) is quite illuminating. 

Eliot: "Oddly enough, the opinions of the models themselves are of no account because they're "too young" to form a judgement."

My daughter (as do most young kids her age) has opinions on everything Eliot.

In her opinion she should have a laptop. That's poor judgement on her part. It is neither necessary nor economically prudent. Needless to say, I knocked that one on the head. 

I see the light

Michael de Angelos: "The day they travel to India, China, Vietnam and do something positive about indentured child labour...." I get it. Until I solve these horrendous issues in foreign countries, I cannot have a sincere opinion on domestic matters. Right.

By the same logic, of course, unless Michael de Angelos has travelled to India, China, Vietnam, and done something positive about indentured child labour, one should not take seriously his (implied) criticism of the practice. Perhaps he has.

Dear God please release me from this thread!

Angela Ryan, I think really you have joined dots from Henson's art or photos or whatever the hell they are ( as the only one I've seen is the one linked on here and I failed to notice the alleged sexualised pose as I viewed it for about 1 second) to assaults upon children by pederasts, pedophiles and such and that his work may "inspire" persons to commit such acts.

I find that extremely far-fetched. Quite apart from the fact that we know the great majority of sexual abuse of children happens within the home and is done by a family member, I find the idea that a "perv" is going to visit an art gallery (or perhaps a dinner party at Malcolm T's house) and then rush out to assault a child really is quite silly.

Children have been assaulted from time immemorial. Now I can't prove that but I certainly know that it was rife during the Victorian era where child prostitution was an epidemic when the age of consent was changed from the then current one of 13. No-one could have covered themselves more than people during that era. Even married couples had to plough through layers of clothing before getting down to business.

Not really knowing what goes through the mind of a child rapist, I would hazard a guess that they are surrounded daily by objects of their passion by visiting a shopping plaza or one of Sydney's beaches. We've heard tales of pedophiles collecting shopping catalogues with clothed models.

I'm not a psychologist ( an amateur one certainly) but surely a predator is a person who seeks out his/her victim and waits for moments of opportunity. I hazard another guess and say their every thinking moment is part of their illness and a nude or non-nude photo is neither here nor there.

However I have heard many psychiatrists put forward the theory that pornography can be very useful in preventing physical assaults by being a means of mentally fulfilling a fantasy.

As to the particular photo that was linked on here that is said to be of a sexual pose, I have noticed in my time the actions of children going through puberty that can be fairly embarrassing to me. I've seen a friend's daughter lolling about (fully clothed) on a living room floor during a dinner party of 8 adults, in poses that for all the world, look like they came straight out of a Playboy magazine. It's a part of growing up and awakening sexuality that can be awkward, that adults best ignore and leave it to the child to work out for themselves (having hopefully given the full "stranger danger" advice).

Perhaps this is what Henson is portraying (I don't know !) and I would assume also that predators who do strike use this as an excuse - just as they do when they commit rape upon an adult - "she was asking for it" etc or the unfortunate comments of a certain Sheik with his "cat's milk left out " analogy.

As for that girl model in Henson's pic, I'm not too sure she may not become a PM in the future if she so desired.

Apart from time constantly changing the way society views things, the way she socked to the critics ( including Kevin Rudd), she'd get my vote any day.

I can't really answer any more questions from any poster - I've said my bit but feel free to question my thoughts, but it's over and out for me.

over and out...but do you have a link to sockem?

Hi Michael, thanks for that considered reply.

Just a little aside, paedophiles who masturbate/fantasise with photos of naked children only reinforce the behaviour and even can lead to increased impulse.What you are talking about is slightly different for adult-adult sexual fantasies.

I did not know you had a quote from the photo Kathy linked (you did look at it, didnt you?). I had some doubt as I cannot imagine a more seuxalised pose and you did say you saw nothing of a sexualising nature in the photos). Not sure what the title was "Legs apart lying on back in darkened room on bed Primary school recruit  female model" of Henson's. I can just imagine the election campaign for her PM job. Although it is her parents I would question, but she is the product of them, as a great  person said "what's bred in the bone".

Michael , as you said: "As for that girl model in Henson's pic, I'm not too sure she may not become a PM in the future if she so desired.

Apart from time constantly changing the way society views things, the way she socked to the critics ( including Kevin Rudd), she'd get my vote any day."

Would you have a link to that girl's comment (is she now an adult?)?   

Then again, maybe she will one day be a Tymoshenko for us!


If he floats, he's a witch

Angela Ryan: "And if those models are really not harmed as claimed, then where is the evidence?"

That, in essence, is the core of the anti-Henson, pro-Hetty standpoint. Guilty until proved innocent. In fact, guilty even when proved innocent.

Clive Hamilton's balanced view

Just as a matter of information Clive Hamilton's address at the MCA conference on 12-06-08 titled Defending the Last Taboo is available at:


It is a very reasonable consideration of the issues and well worth the read. To whet your appetite: 

There is no censorship worth noting in Australia. Is anyone seriously arguing we live in an era of sexual repression? As if our culture were not awash with erotic imagery and sex talk. As if our society did not allow a vast smorgasbord of sexual practices catering to almost every taste. Does anyone believe we should be more preoccupied with sex than we are now?

And yet when any limit is suggested, such as measures to shield children from this confusing and at times disturbing world of sexual pleasure, an outcry goes up from the libertarians whose fears were formed in the sixties.

Marr's talk

I attended Marr's talk the night before last.  He was affable and charming but managed to deflect his discussion away from any serious consideration of the issues. It was boring. 

The best discussion came from a speaker from the floor who argued positively for the proposal that artists be required to subject their "work with children" practices to some sort of peer review process.  Artists checking the ethical competence of artists. 

Her salient point was that other professions working with children, in particular teachers and health care workers, are subject to similar controls.  What grounds could artists have for objecting to professional review of their practices by peers? A good point I thought.

270,000 kids have starved to death

While you people have been whipping yourselves into this deranged frenzy.

No Michael, Hetty was a victim

Hetty Johnston for all her nuttiness was a victim of child abuse which is why she campaigns against child abuse.

Maybe her reaction to Henson was over the top but if you have never been abused, as I have also, you will not understand the visceral reaction to the notion of a grown man wanting to film nude kids.

Fair or not the connotation exists.

Rudd was not claiming the children were revolting, just that the use of the children was revolting.

I'm on record

I've said ad nauseum Kathy Farrelly and will repeat for the last time: Kevin Rudd and the idiotic Morris Iemma ( and Hetty Johnson and her fellow travellers) used ridiculous language about Henson's work.

Not because they may have found his work horrific (they have the right to think anything they want) but because they used such harsh terms when talking about a photograph of a young person. I assume Julia Gillard was speaking from reading the exaggerated press reports about the schoolyard visit . She needs to learn to take them with a grain of salt before she comments.

Johnson, the worst, called it "child porn". Rudd said he was "revolted". Can't quite remember what that plonker Iemma said but it was along the same lines - and he was speaking from China without having even viewed the work.

Why any of them didn't stop for one single minute and realise that the kids who posed for the pics would be affected by these types of words is a mystery. Three are politicians and it's what we can more or less expect.

Hetty Johnson is a disgrace, a self -appointed moral arbiter and a hypocrite who runs a fund raising charity. As far as I can see her work consists of banging on about pedos behind every bush and sending out stupid leaflets on "healing" oneself after abuse.

She is of the ilk that helped fan the great "repressed memory" syndrome in the UK that ran amok and resulted in dozens of innocent people being jailed before that "syndrome" was finally discredited. She has never saved a single child from abuse - she comes in after the fact screeching like a banshee and garnering headlines.

F Kendall : I don't give a stuff about Henson's art but we now know it's caused dreadful harm to the lad who appeared in one pic.

We also know that the young girl in another Henson pic was made of tougher stuff, perhaps less sensitive and lashed out at the critics. I admired her pluck. She spoke more wisdom than most adults.

We also know Henson has done numerous similar works for years and not one of the children who posed has complained. As has Sally Mann who photographed her own children in similar Henson poses, as have a hundred photographers since the camera was invented. Hetty Johnson chose to strike at a time for maximum publicity - she's achieved nothing but one child is now completely shattered by the circus. But expect her to jump on that bandwagon as well as proof that she is right.

As to your question: "but whether an adult should be allowed to make money from a child's body. ' I'll give you the same answer I have always given to those who ask it and that includes Johnson and others of her ilk .

The day they travel to India, China, Vietnam and do something positive about indentured child labour where 8 year old kids work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to make the goods we buy so cheaply, I'll take these self-appointed guardians of children's 'rights" seriously.

It's a pretty lame question as well. Australia and the world is full of corporations that make money from a child's body from Disneyland to Lego and every hideous computer game where kids can aim, shoot and kill digitised people.

You may also direct your question to the editors of numerous tabloid newspapers who have milked this debacle from every angle they can. And to the idiotic plods who notified the media that they were about to raid the Ros Oxley Gallery and subsequently sent out press releases.

I know David Marr and he is an honourable man. I believe him when he says he is genuinely distressed about this latest shambles. He set out to honestly present a story of an important social drama that took place and failed to grasp that one aspect would be seized upon and blown out of proportion with the only real result that will happen from this: one boy who now believes it's all his fault.

Some young people's views

Here is what a few young people had to say (about Henson scouring the playground) on a teen forum, Michael.

"That's not right at all. That principal should have known better." Celeritas age 15.

"Yeah that is wrong. School teachers and priniciples should make sure things like this never occur." Josh Dude age 16.

Check it out for yourself Michael.


No one said THIS pic was dirty evil and vile, Michael

I think you are missing the point Michael. No one commented on this latest pic of the boy. No one not Gillard, Iemma, Hetty or anyone else. Marr brought this on himself. If the schoolyard incident was so insignificant to him why did he comment about it in a blurb for his book? It was only mentioned in a single paragraph in his book, after all.

F Kendall: "I don't give a stuff about Henson's art but we now know it's caused dreadful harm to the lad who appeared in one pic."

No we do not Michael. The boy should be evaluated by a qualified psychologist. In any case this just goes to show that children should not be used by adults in such a way. Remember too had Henson not trawled the schoolyard for this child the pic would never have been mentioned. The child was photographed bare-chested and no derogatory comment has been made to my knowledge about said pic. Michael you are misrepresenting this particular situation.

Whether David Marr is an honourable man is also not the point .He was obviously foolish and thoughtless in this instance. He made an error of judgement.

David Marr: "Though Henson often promised me access to the world of his former models, it never occurred. He put this down to shyness and fear of the press. Whatever the reason, it leaves me unable to vouch for Henson’s claim that his work with children has never ended bad."

Angela, I find it hard to believe that Marr was so trusting of Henson. That not one former child model could be found to be interviewed is very puzzling to me. The lame Henson excuse that shyness and fear of the press was the reason just does not ring true. If these kids were willing to pose nude for Henson (knowing too, that the pic would be displayed to the public), they certainly could not have been shy.

When I asked my daughter if she would have her pic taken nude she was embarrassed and indignant responding with a resounding no! My daughter is not the least bit shy, and tends to be a bit of a show off when she has an audience.

Henson's models shy?

In a pig's eye!

Having to fear the fear of others - a reality - sadly

"Justin Obodie mentions how easy it is to manipulate photos today but still urges caution. Why?"

Michael, without trying to appear arrogant I was under the impression I had addressed that one, sort of.

But allow me to have another go, sort of.

I have a new "duck", I think humans call them quacks or doctors or something. My old duck died, cirises or the liver they tell me, but it didn't surprise me for I always chose a duck who drinks more than me. It was unfortunate this one had yet to graduate from medical school. But what can you do?

Unfortunately in this day and age it's really hard to find a pisspot duck so I had to settle with a general run of the pond duck. Anyway to cut a long story short my new duck sat me down and asked if I drank. "Of course and is that a problem?" I replied. Me new duck continued - and informed me my liver was not up to scratch, and I could get sick and maybe even die. He told me to quit drinking so much, better give it up altogether said duck, without even defining his term "much". Smart arse.

But I was not about to let him get away with that one. Livers are wonderful and resilient organs I argued, hell, they can be 90% stuffed and you can still do fine - look at Keith Richards for god's sake, he must be running on empty - but he breathes.

I concluded my outburst, er, discussion, by inquiring just how bad my liver was; on a scale from 1 to 10?

Me new duck tapped his beak on his desk a couple of times, wagged his ducky bum in the way a (smart arse) duck does and replied: "not less than 7.5 and no better than 8.5."

Bloody hell I thought. Simple arithmetic proved my duck was truly a "quack". Here I was with, at worst, 75% of my liver functioning properly AND at the same time three quarters of the way through my life. At that rate I could live 1.5 life spans and still have half a liver. What in frolicks name is the problem?

For an albatross the problem was easily identified for when chicks, to pass the time of day in the nest, we would read: Flying and Surviving - a very brief introduction to life ahead. If we didn't read then no feed; mum and dad would not give us any of those really yummy pureed fishies and things. That was a pretty scary thought.

Chapter 158 pp19,327 is titled: FEAR - I won't bore you with the details but it did teach me that identifying the origin of fear was important.

You see, my new duck was frightened and thus wanted to transfer his fear to me. This is what he gets paid for. He was taught to be frightened and to project his fears into those he treats. He does this purely for professional reasons. If he didn't tell me to stop drinking he would be considered a professional derelict or worse.

For example: if I were to die from a crook liver I could possibly sue my duck if he hadn't told me to quit the grog. His peers would kick him out of the profession and maybe send him back to the beginners pond with the grime possibility of getting Cheneyed.

When I realised my duck was in fact scared shitless, and probably has been all his professional life, I began to feel sorry for the poor bastard but I also felt sorry for all his patients who must be on extremely high doses of something to cope with all his fears.

As an young albatross I was an idealistic realist - and an unashamed romantic - these days I'm a conservative non-conformist - and an unashamed romantic. I might try to explain it one day but in short it's all about survival and love - the love of life.

As a parent who evolved from a realist to a conservative, an idealist to a non conformist I can't help but get the feeling that, regarding this matter of Bill Henson's art, it is not the thing in itself that is the problem - but the fear in ourselves.

The manifestation of displaced (irrational) fear (in all it forms) is a possible threat to my children, their naked bodies, in camera or not, are a threat to absolutely no one - and never will be - ever.

Freedom to say no to shock and awe? No, says artist

"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?.."

You know Michael, I can’t help thinking that child protection issues and liberty equality fraternity are two sides of the same freedom coin.

That peripubertal girl with her legs apart will never be a Prime Minister.

And if those models are really not harmed as claimed, then where is the evidence? An independent psychological assessment of each one could be done and that would support the "Pro-naked children for art and profit lobby."

I think the reason that there is so much hooha about these photos is:

- firstly so many did not even know such things were going on

- secondly in this climate of manipulative fear it was easy for the promoters of such use of children to manipulate support by falsely linking the issues of freedom defence and rules ensuring child protection,

- and thirdly there is a large group of narcissistic arrogant artists who really do believe that art transcends all boundaries and has every right to "shock and offend without warning " or choice of the viewer - kind of the fascist view one sees in those who are against all forms of censorship/classification like the speaker at the Young Peoples Writers Festival at Newcastle that was linked earlier, who spoke in defence of Hanson's work with naked children.

How does one protect children from such persons and their inclinations is to be considered. Imagine Stanley Kubrick uncensored for children to see. That is the demand , unclassified viewing for all to shock and awe in the name of unfettered art. Thank god for classification boards and that people like that dickhead don't have such control in our more balanced society.

Child protection is the right and duty of every society and when it has failed children in the past in the name of art for seedy old pederasts or paedophiles that is not an excuse to permit such activities now.

Viewing is the first step to doing and doing is what is going on in the plenty already. Or if child porn is not a problem, then those who support Henson naked sexualised photography of children should say so. If children are not harmed by such then, where is the evidence? Why make child porn illegal unless it is under the umbrella of "art"? Either it is harmful to our society and the children involved or it is not.

Child porn is not a freedom I support , nor as we see from the outrage as people do find out what Henson has been up to, do the vast majority of our society support it. By protecting the freedom and right of the child to grow up unmolested or sexually exploited we are protecting the true freedoms in our society. And that allows us to pose nude or sexually explicit should we wish to, and the right to chose as adults whether or not we will view the shock and awe art that some artists are so talented at producing. Again that is what freedom is. Freedom is the right to say NO as adults. Freedom is the right to innocence as a child.


Richard: Surely, Angela, there has been research done somewhere of psychological impacts on child subjects?

Beating up a harmless photograph

I would agree with many of your comments, Michael de Angelos. 

Nudity has been enjoyed and celebrated for ever.  Nowadays people share such and more through video etc. 

However, the basic question of this thread is not these things, but whether an adult should be allowed to make money from  a child's body. 

The photograph may be harmless, but , do you think that that issue is?

And so it came to pass

David Marr spoke last night of the distress caused by his inclusion of the facts in his book re Henson visiting a schoolyard.

He said he felt devastated that he had caused the principal so much grief and more importantly, the lad who appeared in Henson's pic is apparently distraught and distressed by the whole matter, believing he is to blame for the whole controversy.

So there it is a nutshell.

From the Prime Minister down to every man and his dog including that awful Hetty Johnson – a hypocrite who claims she cares for children's welfare but thinks nothing of using inflammatory language and accusations that a vile child porn pic has been produced, not giving a single thought of the feelings of those who posed for the pics

I've said it since this matter began just after the ridiculous police raid – caused by Hetty Johnson's complaint, those who will suffer from the moral panic will be the kids in the pics. I'm quite sure many will claim again that's Henson's fault. No it isn't.

It's the fault of all those who beat up a harmless photograph into something dirty evil and vile. Of course young minds will take this in and begin to believe they were at fault for agreeing to pose.

I'm out of this thread – enough damage has been done. There are several people I'd like to tar and feather and run out of town – Henson isn't one, Johnson is, along with a few others. Shame on them.

Tarring and feathering a future PM

Michael: "There are several people I'd like to tar and feather and run out of town – Henson isn't one, Johnson is, along with a few others. Shame on them."

You will of course include Julia Gillard (our future PM) and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on your tar and feather list, won't you Michael?

BTW Michael, the latest Henson controversy centred around the fact that Henson was allowed into school grounds to scout for models.It was not the  pic of the young boy, that caused  the furore. As far as I am aware the pic is rather an innocuous one. No one has suggested that the pic is "dirty evil and vile".

David Marr: "Though Henson often promised me access to the world of his former models, it never occurred. He put this down to shyness and fear of the press. Whatever the reason, it leaves me unable to vouch for Henson’s claim that his work with children has never ended bad."

Marr was certainly naive.

All is fine, it's just art. for art, see no evil, hear no evil

David Marr: "Though Henson often promised me access to the world of his former models, it never occurred. He put this down to shyness and fear of the press. Whatever the reason, it leaves me unable to vouch for Henson’s claim that his work with children has never ended bad."

Yeah, trust me and let it be our little secret.

After all, no-one is hurt if it is just sexualised photos of children are they?

And art has the right to "shock" and awe all haven’t they? even if "abhorent" images, right?

I can see we have a huge new industry to export to Cambodia and elsewhere, reversing the trade. thank goodness for the umbrella of "art" label.

Now, do other governments have this same "art label" protection for sexualised photos of children? No? heck, how non-progressive! What Philistines, must be antifreedom! Anti-expression!

What a lack of freedom they suffer there as such. Here, it is OK to scout the primary school playgrounds for such subjects. Can we come and scout the Phnom Pen playgrounds too, please? Art, yes art. Beautiful naked children on their backs with dark light on beds, yes, with legs apart etc, sure, but yes sir just art so it's all ok. Sure , people pay lots of money, we don’t actually know of any effect upon the kids but their parents are happy so it must be ok and the money is good. Your parents sell their kids too for such things? Ahhhh, but that isn’t art. Harm? Harm? ho ho ho ho .We don’t look for any harm from this cos we just know there isn’t any in this, we just know. Not for the kiddies or from the lookies, and lots of benefit for us and the parents.

Coming soon to a school near you. Any problem? Or perhaps the swimming carnival.

Remember , if you get caught, use the word "Art" or even "Freedom", works every time maties.


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