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63 responses to “Overflow Thread”

  1. GregM

    Hello tigtog. Can we have a naming competition for this overflow thread to distinguish it from the others? We did that before with the Overflow Thread of Doom. This time I suggest the “Overflow Thread of Serendipity” because it sounds nice.

  2. paul burns

    [responding to comment #183 on previous Overflow thread ~ mods]
    jungney,
    IIRC, Henson was not charged or tried or convicted for creating child pornography. He was/is an innocent man whose reputation was blackened in pursuit of publicity for a cause, in almost the worst way possible a man’s name can be blackened. He did not engage in CSA. If he had the Child Protection Squad would have charged him. What you and your colleagues did is comparable perhaps to laying false charges of rape against some-one, but is in no way comparable to the plight of victms of rape and war.

  3. Casey

    What you and your colleagues did is comparable perhaps to laying false charges of rape against some-one, but is in no way comparable to the plight of victms of rape and war.

    a) What did Jungney (and colleagues) do exactly that makes it perhaps comparable to false charges of rape against someone?
    b) What is in no way comparable to the plight of victims of rape and war?

  4. tigtog

    GregM, comments on the otherprevious Overflow thread are closed, so I’m not sure what need there might be to distinguish this one from the others.

  5. GregM

    Not necessary, tigtog, but nice.

    A calming name for the overflow thread may assuage the passions of those who engage in stoushes within it and, in a small way, guide them to gentler ways thus making its small contribution to World Peace. That could only be a good thing, I am sure you would hasten to agree.

    Then again it may do nothing of the sort.

  6. paul burns

    IIRC, Henson was not charged or tried or convicted for creating child pornography. He was/is an innocent man whose reputation was blackened in pursuit of publicity for a cause, in almost the worst way possible a man’s name can be blackened. He did not engage in CSA. If he had the Child Protection Squad would have charged him.

    Got it, Casey?

  7. Casey

    Er, no need to get aggressive thanks Paul. It took me about ten minutes to locate the comment you were referring to, ie, what Jungney and co did, in order to understand what you were referring to because the threads jumped.

    Still again what did you mean this part of the sentence?

    but is in no way comparable to the plight of victms of rape and war.

    Are you saying the plight of CSA victims are not comparable to rape and war?

    The referents in your sentence are unclear.

  8. Casey

    *is not comparable, that is.

  9. paul burns

    I wasn’t being aggressive, Casey. Sorry if you thought that. I was just highlighting the relevant sentences of my arguments so you could see clearly what I meant.

    Re the other bit that puzzled you. What I meant was that in my view laying a false charge of rape against someone in no way compares in severity as a crime with the actual experience of rape or with the endless experience of war – in the latter case reference the present situation in Syria. Nevertheless it is a seriously bad thing to do.

    PS. I know what you mean re the confusion of jumping from thread to thread.

  10. Casey

    Okay, right, now I understand.

    I don’t agree with Jungney either and he doesn’t speak for all CSA victims. My only issue with Henson, at the time was more to do with consent and childhood in terms of agreeing to have your pic taken.

  11. jungney

    PB: Robert Nelson’s review, which I linked on the previous overflow thread, and which is linked again here is of a 2005 retrospective. Henson’s photos weren’t arrested until 2008. In 2005 review Prof Nelson, who is currently Associate Director Student Experience, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Monash University, said:

    Henson’s grope in the gloaming has unpleasant moral overtones, as when the participants are too young for sex. The film-noir sonority of the prints somehow fails to attenuate the flagrant voyeurism of the vision, a sense of scoring a lascivious flash or finding the most titillating combination of female helplessness and masculine strength.

    In the interceding three years Henson continued to produce images using under age models that varied not one whit from the ones that provoked Nelson’s damning comments. As a result of the arrest of his images and the resulting furore the NSW government changed its child pornography laws in 2010, removing the defence of artistic purpose.
    The law change meant artists who create images of naked children have to pay for a Commonwealth classification to ensure against prosecution.

    I call that a win for child protection.

    My own substantive criticism of Henson’s work I think bears repeating:

    … Henson’s photographs are morally unacceptable: they place the audience in the same relationship to the child as the photographer had, as predator to prey. The viewer sees the sexualized child through the imaginative faculties of the photographer. Henson is a sexual predator, if only as an artist, but as an artist contributes powerfully to a culture of sexual predation on children. The audience is slyly seduced into being a child sexual predator.

    That comment doesn’t address anything other than the art itself regardless of the legality of using minors to produce sexualized images.

  12. paul burns

    Here’s another view of Henson’s work, jungney, contrary to the one you’ve been putting.

    http://johnmcdonald.net.au/2012/bill-henson-2/

  13. faustusnotes

    The two big problems for me with the response to Henson’s work and also with Jungney’s comments on it are that 1) they often include the claim or insinuation that since it’s pr0n it will cause rape and 2) interpretation of Henson’s work as pr0n is clearly subjective.

    1) I don’t believe that pr0n is liked to rape, and I think the claim it is needs more backing than it usually gets. So e.g. even if Henson’s pictures place you in the position of a predator, that doesn’t in any way mean that you will therefore become a predatork, or that they in some way justify or support predatory behavior.

    2) Henson’s pictures are not pr0n and I certainly don’t feel like they place me in the position of a predator. Whether something is pr0n or not depends on subjective judgment in many cases, and Henson’s pictures to me are in the grey area – I don’t sense any sexual element to them at all. The same with jungney’s sense that that “they place the audience in the same relationship to the child as the photographer had, as predator to prey”. They don’t do that to me. So either this view put by jungney is objective, in which case evidence beyond jungney’s personal view is needed; or it’s subjective, in which case the response to Henson’s work is not warranted.

    I don’t think pr0n causes sexual crime or discrimination, and although everything I see on the internet now is terrifying and disturbing, I think this is symptomatic of misogynistic sexual culture, not causative of it. In my view the only reason to ban child pr0n is its effect on the children in the pr0n, and the moral case for preventing financial profiting by the abuse of children. Henson clearly didn’t abuse the children in the pictures. If we start banning pr0n because it doesn’t accord with our view of what is right and wrong in sex, even where noone was harmed making it, then we will also have to ban human imagination. Is this what critics of Henson are after?

  14. Casey

    That comment doesn’t address anything other than the art itself

    I can’t agree. Since you’ve framed this whole discussion as one of CSA survivor responding to the Henson works, I can only respond to that and suggest to you that your assertion that Henson is a ‘predator’ and his subjects ‘pray’ suggests that you’ve been triggered, nothing more, and as a more general observation, this suggests that the past haunts the present – always.

  15. jungney

    Casey: how acute of you to determine that I was ‘triggered’. No, I wasn’t. I experienced disquiet in a gallery, an uneasiness I couldn’t readily explain. My ‘triggers’, which is to say those events, colours, sights, sounds and behaviour liable to restimulate the flight/fight response of the traumatised are well known to me and have never been located in art galleries much less the aggie. It took me years to figure out my response which, as I said on the other thread, is highly specific and contingent but nonetheless valid and of account for being so. Do you think that people who go to galleries are some type of tabula rasa? Unembodied, unmemoried, ungendered? Of course not. In this instance, Henson’s audience knew as much about what he was up to as he did and we acted appropriately.

    FN: you are off on a folly of your own @ 13. However, you say that “Henson clearly didn’t abuse the children in the pictures” which is precisely the point at issue. Some of us thought he did and, on this occasion, were able to assert that the matter ought to be tested, which it was by the NSW DPP, who declined to prosecute. We were heard, found without grounds, and there it rests.

    At a wider level this was nothing more than a shot across the bows of the establishment ship from a small community of CSA survivors to let them know that things had changed. It worked.

  16. Chris

    In my view the only reason to ban child pr0n is its effect on the children in the pr0n, and the moral case for preventing financial profiting by the abuse of children.

    I don’t think that view is consistent with the law as currently stands as IIRC child pornography prosecutions do not require that a real child be filmed/photographed for it to be illegal – a fully computer animated video with no real humans in it would be illegal as are fictional text only stories. I would guess the reasoning behind that is the belief that pornography does indeed increase the chance of a crime occurring (whether there is real data behind that assumption or not).

  17. paul burns

    We were heard, found without grounds

    What is it you don’t get, jungney, about it being morally and ethically wrong to falsely accuse someone of CSA? (Not to mention, presumably dangerous legally for LP, since you yourself admit you are making these accusations against Henson without grounds.)

  18. jungney

    PB: the law as it stands regards fair comment in public discussion of public figures such as pollies, clebes (hah!), artists, for that matter and all kinds of others as just that, fair comment. This is on the basis that people who enter or engage with public life must expect … well…err…fair comment. So much for the law then.

    I’ll pose a question to you: what is it that you don’t get … oh, never mind. Like I said, not here to stoush, just to talk.

  19. jules

    Don’t take this the wrong way jungney but I agreed with casey @ 14.

    Since you’ve framed this whole discussion as one of CSA survivor responding to the Henson works, I can only respond to that and suggest to you that your assertion that Henson is a ‘predator’ and his subjects ‘pray’ suggests that you’ve been triggered, nothing more,

    Tho “..nothing more…” is pretty poor choice of words given what triggering of traumatic memories can do.

    You claim you weren’t and I’ll take your word for it, but fwiw my initial response to your comment was along the lines of “someone’s been triggered”.

    also

    I think what you did is fair enough actually.

    I’m not a survivor of CSA, tho I know a few quite well. I think your reaction is or was understandable. There is something about some of his images that is discomforting, maybe thats the point but I dunno… I totally understand why someone would respond that way and jungney your response is very similar to some of the people I know who were abused as kids.

    I don’t think its fair or reasonable to liken your response to that of a brutal dictatorial regime.

  20. Brian

    My view is pretty much as expressed by PC in this 2008 post:

    art is an exploration of the human condition and the world beyond it. No subject matter should be disallowed, if we are to know ourselves.

    PC says the photographs are art. I can’t personally say that because I haven’t seen them. From the internet images they look like art to me.

    I do have issues about the capacity of minors to give permission and of adults to do so on their behalf. There was a good deal of discussion about this on LP back in 2008 (and several other posts), but unfortunately there is a gap in the LP archive in 2008 and they appear to fall in it. I’d want to review that discussion before taking a definitive view.

  21. faustusnotes

    chris I don’t know if that is the point of the law but if it is I think they might as well ban imagination too. And children’s underwear catalogues, for that matter.

    jungney, if the accusation was investigated and proven false, and you choose to see it anyway as a “shot across the bows,” then that suggests you and your “small band of CSA survivors” want to change the way the state interacts with art, on very subjective grounds. That doesn’t sound like a very liberal project to me, and it isn’t going to end anywhere nice. Also when it comes to feeling disturbed by art, unless you think that your experience gives you special rights, there are a whole bunch of conservative misogynists out there who are lining up for the right to censor what we see because of their subjective judgment. I’m not sure that they agree you should be at the front of the queue, or that you should be the only one who gets to say what needs to be banned. And on objective grounds, why should you be? If we’re going to go down this illiberal road, why should you be the only person on it?

  22. Brian

    Other links to the 2008 discussion include posts by Gary Sauer-Thompson here and here, Lucy Tartan and for a different view Guy Rundle.

  23. Casey

    Tho “..nothing more…” is pretty poor choice of words given what triggering of traumatic memories can do.

    I’d agree with that too, the way it reads. Though what I meant by ‘nothing more’ was not to reduce triggering to a trifle, but to suggest that Jungney’s view was not as objective as he liked to think. To call this artist a predator is ‘nothing more’ than a displacement, imo. It is just so very very extreme, I really can’t quite believe that he feels that Henson’s work as a photographer is akin to that of a predator who preys on children and molests them and that Jungney expects that people will conclude that this nightmarish vision of the Henson works he puts forth is actually a reasoned one. It is not. Of course none of us are blank slates but it is also a good thing if the past does not swamp the present because that can lead to unpleasant outcomes.

  24. tigtog

    PB:We were heard, found without grounds

    What is it you don’t get, jungney, about it being morally and ethically wrong to falsely accuse someone of CSA? (Not to mention, presumably dangerous legally for LP, since you yourself admit you are making these accusations against Henson without grounds.)

    Paul, I’m troubled by your implication that an accusation being investigated and found without grounds is therefore QED equivalent to a knowingly false accusation. That’s a huge can of worms that I’m not sure you’ve fully thought through.

    eta:

    faustusnotes: jungney, if the accusation was investigated and proven false

    “Without grounds” is a very carefully distinct legal phrase which is used precisely to avoid any judgement that the accusation is necessarily “false”, and in particular avoiding any judgement that the accusation was knowingly or maliciously “false”. It means that there is no supporting evidence for further investigation and thus no case for trial*, but it very deliberately refuses to name the accusations as “false”.

    * unless and until further evidence comes to light

  25. Paul Norton

    Further to tigtog @24, I think it’s worthwhile for people to read the Skepticlawyer thread I linked to in order to understand the legal issues involved and why the complaints didn’t lead to a prosecution. This is what I wrote at the time:

    Here’s the relevant section (91H) of the NSW Crimes Act:

    “(1) Definitions In this section:
    “child pornography” means material that depicts or describes, in a manner that would in all the circumstances cause offence to reasonable persons, a person under (or apparently under) the age of 16 years:

    (a) engaged in sexual activity, or

    (b) in a sexual context, or

    (c) as the victim of torture, cruelty or physical abuse (whether or not in a sexual context).”

    As Sections (a) and (c) are clearly inapplicable, it remains to be seen what the court (if it gets that far) interprets “in a sexual context” to mean. To this non-lawyer’s mind, it would have to entail something more than simply a portrayal of nakedness per se, given that most of us are naked when stepping out of a shower, getting out of bed in the morning or stripping off for football, netbal [sic] and/or the gym, none of which are, in themselves, sexual contexts.

    Of course, if one accepts the argument implicit in my words of 2008 (as I continue to do), then Jungney’s characterisation of Henson as a “sexual predator” in the sense of @11 above becomes problematic. However, that comment is not an accusation, as a matter of fact, about what actions Henson may or may not have committed, but a judgment about the moral character of actions (i.e. taking and exhibiting photographs of children and adolescents) that we all agree that Henson engaged in.

  26. Paul Norton

    Another issue that is raised by Jungney’s disclosures in this discussion is the desirability of using the law as a means to address problems in the moral and political domain. See the posts by Andrew Bartlett, myself and Legal Eagle at @16, @17 and @18 at the Skepticlawyer thread for why some of us thought that this might not have been a good idea in the Henson case.

    A more recent case is the Israeli Shurat Hadin legal centre’s litigation against Sydney University academic Jake Lynch that claims the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign is in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act. This is a case that should never have been launched. If it fails (as I think it will) it will become even more difficult than it presently is to have a nuanced conversation about when and how robust debate and campaigning on Israel-Palestine – on both sides of the issue – crosses the line into some form of racism. If it succeeds, IMHO it will only do so on the basis of legal reasoning that would be disastrous for freedom of expression.

  27. paul burns

    tigtog @ 24,
    Thank you for that clarification, tigtog. Its not that I didn’t think it through, I was ignorant of the interpretation in law. So its entirely my fault. (I can be a bit of a bush lawyer at times.)
    I don’t want to be at all disrespectful, so I hope you won’t take my next points to be so.
    I gather the offending pictures were given a classification, which was somewhere between PG and possibly as high as MA. Certainly not R or X because we would never have heard the end of it. (cf McDonald article.)
    Finally, Child Protection Squads across the country are known to operate without fear or favour. In the past they’ve busted politicians and TV celebrities for CSA. They fear neither power, influence or position of the accused, thankfully. If Henson had been guilty of CSA in any way I truly believe he would have been done like a dinner.

  28. Terry2

    I note, at the cricket, the Comm. Bank logo with the letters CAN alongside; what’s all that about ?

    Perhaps it’s clever psychology just to get indifferent people like me to engage & react ???

  29. Chris

    This is a case that should never have been launched. If it fails (as I think it will) it will become even more difficult than it presently is to have a nuanced conversation about when and how robust debate and campaigning on Israel-Palestine – on both sides of the issue – crosses the line into some form of racism. If it succeeds, IMHO it will only do so on the basis of legal reasoning that would be disastrous for freedom of expression.

    It sounds like they’re relying on section 9 of the racial discrimination act, but if they fail may try again using 18C. If that succeded (or even under 9) it will lead to some interesting debates over the coalition’s plans on removing parts of the racial discrimination act.

    tigtog @ 24 – It might be not so practical in today’s social media age, but I do have some sympathy for SA’s law where there is an automatic supression order for sexually related crimes until they are brought to court and there is found to be a reasonable case. Its an acknowledgement that an accusation itself is often damaging but at the same time not attempting to discourage investigation of cases which need a lot of consideration. And it makes it harder to use the criminal legal system as a publicity tool for activists.

  30. Paul Norton

    Chris, as I understand it the case is relying on section 9 of the RDA. Given the wording of section 9, and given the publicly stated basis and objectives of the BDS, I think it would be difficult to argue that BDS per se contravenes section 9, unless it could be shown that BDS proponents had a real agenda that was different from the publicly stated one.

    If the RDA included provisions like those of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act that cover issues such as indirect discrimination and that state that the motives for discrimination are irrelevant if discrimination is found to have occurred, the case would be stronger.

    Of course there is a moral and political argument that it is discriminatory to single out the Jewish state for a campaign such as BDS when as good or better grounds for a boycott campaign exist in many of the world’s non-Jewish states, but I’m not sure how far such an argument would get in court given how the RDA is worded.

  31. Ootz

    Terry2, not sure as I am not following The Game and The Ashes. However, there are interesting developments reported from Lisbon, Portugal, where garbage disposal workers are on strike and people deposited their holidays trash at the banks. Kind of makes sense as a form of recycling, perhaps the CBA is just advertising it’s ‘trash-can’.

  32. desipis

    Paul [email protected]:

    If it succeeds, IMHO it will only do so on the basis of legal reasoning that would be disastrous for freedom of expression.

    The case, as far as I can, has nothing to do with freedom of expression. It is about an alleged case of direct discrimination:

    The court action will focus in part on his controversial refusal to sponsor an Israeli academic from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dan Avnon, who developed a curriculum for Arab and Jewish students. Professor Avnon was seeking Professor Lynch’s nomination for a Sir Zelman Cowan fellowship to study curriculums in Australia. Professor Lynch turned him down, citing his centre’s pro-BDS policy and claims the Hebrew University had links to the Israeli military and the ongoing occupation of the West Bank.

    Which, in effect, would seem to be discriminating against any academics from Israel. So it seems to me the question is whether an academic sponsorship is a “… fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life“. I would tend to argue that it is, and having the law prohibit it would reasonably fit the purpose of the RDA.

  33. Paul Norton

    Desipis @32, section 9 states that “It is unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin…”. It seems to me that if advocacy of, or implementation of, a boycott against a state were found to be unlawful under this provision, it could only be on the basis that it amounted to discrimination on the basis of national origin. If the Federal Court were to make such a finding in the case in question, partisans of states such as Russia, China, Indonesia, Iran, etc., could be able to at least get their day in court to argue that boycott or sanctions campaigns against those states could amount to discrimination on the basis of national origin. This is where the concern about freedom of expression arises.

  34. Paul Norton

    That said, I reiterate that I think (admittedly as a layperson) that it is more likely that the Federal Court won’t make such a finding.

  35. faustusnotes

    tigtog, I’m not sure that jungney was using “without grounds” in a legal sense. The news reports simply state that the prosecutor decided not to proceed with the investigation because there was unlikely to be any prospect of a conviction. That can mean a wide range of things.

  36. jungney

    Casey @ 23: I think my case, especially with regard to a sociopolitical interpretation of Henson’s art, is reasoned. It incorporates an interpretation of his art which derives, in part, from Nelson’s critique and as well from my own affective response to the images. None of this is unmediated by reflexive cultural knowledge. If it were unmediated I might have slashed or defaced the images like some loonies do. But I’m no loonie, I’m a critical audience who didn’t like what he saw. Fortunately, I was in company of people with similar backgrounds who had similar responses to me; not the knee jerk low church response of Rudd, but an affective response that led to a consideration of ‘how do we respond to this?’

    You say:

    To call this artist a predator is ‘nothing more’ than a displacement, imo.

    I say you don’t know your predators. Like fellow survivors, I have a way of seeing what is there, just seeing the real, that no one else wants. It is what it is.

  37. jungney

    fn @ 21: there are liberalisms. What appears to you as illiberal is only so if you are a liberal individualist. From the point of communitarian liberalism ( see Michael Sandel) it is entirely legitimate for the state to be in the business of bringing particular types of individuals into being. In this instance this means ones who are fit to inhabit a social space in which the rights and needs of children are respected.

    There’s nothing wrong with the exercise of power. In a democracy such as Australia the opportunities for intervention in the processes of power are extensive. Power, as Machiavelli pointed out, needs to be put to good purposes. In the case of Henson, the audience intruded into the power relations of the production of art, and such production always involves power and money, in order to inquire as to what was going on. We did so because we judged that public and private perceptions had changed about adult/child relations in Australia. The legal establishment thought not, but we had a go anyway.

    Censorship is not a social ill in and of itself. If you think it is then you’re lining up with Bolt’s right to free speech brigade. The issue is the social purposes to which censorship is put which, as we’ve seen here, is always contested. Such contest is at the heart of metropolitan democracy.

  38. desipis

    Paul, a boycotts and sanctions go well beyond mere “expression”, so I don’t think having the RDA impact on those actions is an issue to do with “freedom of expression”.

    The main question I have at the moment, is how important was Professor Lynch to the process he boycotted? If he was important because of his position in authority at the university, then I have a problem with him acting in a way that discriminates against and harms individuals (the Israeli individuals who might miss out on sponsorship) from a particular country. If the process he was boycotting had no dependence on him or his position, then I could see an argument that is a symbolic boycott and more an issue of freedom of expression.

  39. Casey

    Jungney, Nelson’s is one brief review (which I take issue with in terms of his critique of landscape and body – as I have said before, long tradition in Aust lit, art and culture about that and I would say Henson is also working from that tradition). You are relying only on that and your ‘affective’ response? Hardly informed. There is plenty of analysis about Henson’s work (both negative and positive) that you could rely on, apart from one brief review. In regards to Nelson, here is his view on the Henson furore:

    The most hypocritical criticism of Henson has arisen from righteous folk claiming to speak on behalf of the girls in the photographs. The damage caused by their sanctimony — making them feel ashamed of the images that they’ve let themselves in for — outweighs any damage allegedly caused by the photographs themselves. It would be much better to look at the photographs with a humbler mind, form your own opinions and move on.

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/creepy-perhaps-but-its-not-porn/2008/05/23/1211183102325.html?page=fullpage

    Ie, he came to Henson’s defence regardless of what he thought of the pics artistically.

    For all that, I defend Henson against censorship. His work is unquestionably art.

    Perhaps you ought find someone else to rely on who actually agrees with you? Let’s be clear, Nelson thinks the pics are artistically inferior, he does not believe that Henson is a predator nor the viewer his prey. That’s all your idea. The idea that Henson is a bit creepy and he’s been taking shots of teenagers for many years and why is not new. I want to be careful not to end up swinging into a hagiography of Henson. I think some of his pics are weird, but don’t you think they are meant to make you feel weird? Do you think the artist might be trying to say something? Do you think, for instance, that Nabokov is Humbert in Lolita too? Why is there no separation between the artist and the work for you? Why is there no analysis of what the work might be trying to say in a socio-historical context, in the traditions of art? You’ve seen that Henson has been compared to both Caravaggio and Dostoyevski. I guess that’s what I am interested in, your absolute lack of artistic analysis- that Henson might be working within a tradition or traditions and speaking back to it. That’s what most artists do. I’d be inclined to accept Nelson’s critique on its own merit (he does make artistic critiques) but you’ve married it up to something he does not agree with at all and in fact took a stand against.

    Re Nelson, what do you make of Olympia’s pics by Polixeni btw? Do they trouble you? Nelson has written on these too. Here’s a collection:

    http://www.pigtailsinpaint.com/2013/01/artists-are-people-too-polixeni-papapetrou/

    Now this:

    I say you don’t know your predators. Like fellow survivors, I have a way of seeing what is there, just seeing the real, that no one else wants. It is what it is.

    I find no basis in reality for that. What does that even mean? That the terrible trauma of csa has given you transcendent powers to discern sexual predators where others who have not been through such terrible things, cannot? It’s just not a reasonable argument, Jungney. It doesn’t make sense either. It’s why I can’t help but see extremity and a certain lack of reality in your statements concerning Henson.

    What I find frustrating about all this is the witch hunt mentality surrounding certain famous cases. Take Dennis Ferguson and the carryon that went on there, or Henson’s art work. We focus on these sorts of issues rather than looking at the truth. Most predators are to be found in or through the family network. The great bulk of csa is taking place in that most hallowed of cultural units, no? This gives the real predators some power (whether familial or societal). They are most often respectable within their communities and suggests that the problem of csa is structural and the patriarchy likes to protect this setup. While everyone is busy doing village witch hunts a la Henson, the real problem is avoided and denied. To me these sorts of furores are suggestive of a real cultural denialism where csa is concerned. Of course it’s easier to protest outside an art gallery and leave wooden coffins outside a recently released pedophile’s house than it is to come to terms with the fact that csa is very very close to all of us, closer than we like to think or know.

  40. Paul Norton

    Desipis @38, I think the issues that you raise in your second paragraph about the propriety of Jake Lynch’s actions in his official capacity are important, but arguably go beyond the legal issues that will be raised in the Shurat HaDin action.

    I suppose the general principle I am raising here is whether, and under what circumstances, it should be legal to conduct a boycott campaign against a state. If someone were to call for boycotts and sanctions against Zimbabwe on grounds that were overtly discriminatory against members of major Zimbabwean ethnic groups in particular, or against Africans in general, this would, and clearly should, be illegal under the RDA. If, however, someone were to call for boycotts and sanctions against Zimbabwe because of the human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime, many people would argue that this was a legitimate tactic to advance human rights in Zimbabwe(1). Of course the boycotts and sanctions would overwhelmingly fall on people of Zimbabwean national origin, but should this constitute grounds for finding that the boycotts and sanctions contravened the RDA(2)?

    [(1) Of course it could be argued that boycotts and sanctions are an ineffective or counterproductive means by which to pursue that end, but that issue is distinct from the one I’m discussing here.]

    [(2) It should hopefully also be clear that in raising this general argument about the legal principles involved I am by no means equating Israel with Zimbabwe or any other nation against which boycotts and sanctions campaigns have been, are being or could be pursued.]

  41. Paul Norton

    To underline my point, should this be illegal under the RDA? If the Shurat haDin case wins, would it be desirable if it does so on grounds that could be invoked to render such a boycott illegal?

  42. jungney

    Rather a lot to which to respond, Casey, but I’ll try and isolate some salient points.

    First, I believe Nelson came to regret his 2005 review once the furore over Henson erupted three years later. Whatever Nelson’s views on the legal and social issues are I couldn’t give a fig. He’s an art critic, after all, which makes him an expert on art and no more. I made sure his mercifully short review was widely disseminated among child protection workers, including senior management, who were delighted to have a case worker with a sufficiently informed view of art to recognize an absolute hatchet job of a review and put it to good use; it was given a good reading by many associated professionals.

    BTW: John McDonald, cited by PB above, is obviously paid by the word but not enough per word to prevent him from cranking out reams of words. imo, a poodle as a critic.

    Second: yairs, I know about Papapetrou’s photo of her daughter on the cover of Art Monthly; I think it was the only edition ever to sell out. I mentioned it @ 152 on the previous overflow thread. Don’t you bother reading what people write? Anyway, re that Art Monthly cover, referencing Lewis Carroll as it did, it was nothing more than a twee and precious bit of me-too-ism.

    As an aside, I’ve never met an artist who didn’t mind controversy, attention and the prospect of sales. Nor an agent either, for that matter.

    Third, the artistic traditions that you claim Henson refers to, or is ‘working within’, as if we all aren’t to some degree or another, Nelson describes Henson’s references as cheap and rubbishy or words to that effect. I agree.

    In responding to Henson the intention was to work against another Australian tradition which is that in which victims are silenced, unrecognised, invalidated and are generally encouraged to STFU and not drag their misery and horror into the public realm. The Australian landscape is littered with this history, from the [Aboriginal boys] of Kinchela Boys Home, the stolen generations, the continuous rapes and murders of [Aboriginal people] that still go on, unaddressed by the law, to the white kids of Empire, sent here, to the church kids so long denied and the victims of intimate, family of origin abuse. I could go on, but you should get my point now – artists who don’t address real history tend to get caught up by it.

    Fourth, you’re tiresome suggestion that I’m out of touch with reality is exactly the sort of pathologization, from an amateur, that survivors have to endure; your reading of what I said goes more to the state of your imagination than it does to my grasp on reality, different to yours, for sure, but adequate for my purposes. I don’t claim to have ‘transcendent powers’, which is absurd, but to have been so immersed in the subject, including research data, that, like many others of my ilk who’ve taken a similar path of therapy, meditation and employment in the area, it is relatively easy to identify the sorts of abusive situations that are absolute manna to perps.

    Finally, I think your tone is offensive, so I’ll bow out now.

  43. Casey

    Geez Jungney, you can’t both discount Nelson when you don’t like what he says and use him when you think his views accord with yours (they don’t) on the very same subject. BTW, Nelson doesn’t mention any of the traditions to which I refer, so I don’t know wot you are talking about, again.

    But I guess you think my tone is offensive because I choose to interrogate the way in which you have set up this whole discussion – as a limiting one in which the survivor of csa sees the truth in a way that a person who has not endured csa cannot . This is evident in a number of responses you have made to me and which I have pointed out to you and asked you to explain. In the absence of any feasible explanation (and calling me an amateur is not a feasible explanation – ‘amateur’ of what I wonder?), I can’t agree with you there and there are loads and loads of good reasons for that, some of which I have alluded to here.

  44. jungney

    Nurse! Nurse! I can’t help it. I must respond. Froooot! Give me fruit.

    Casey:

    Geez Jungney, you can’t both discount Nelson when you don’t like what he says and use him when you think his views accord with yours (they don’t) on the very same subject.

    Yes I can. Just because I think that Marx and Engels provided the first truly great moral critique of capitalism doesn’t mean that I also have to accept Marx’s labor theory of value in the name of intellectual consistency.

    Sheesh. Were you educated by nuns or something?

  45. jules

    Its been alleged that Surat HaDin is a Mossad front, or at least so closely associated with Mossad that they are a mouthpiece. While this is probably an oversimplification they are so aggressive in their use of courts to serve the ongoing expansion of Israel into Palestinian territory that its hard to see this case against the Sydney academics as in good faith. Its not being done because they care about racism is it? If it was wouldn’t they be taking Palestinian cases against Illegal settlers? If it was they probably wouldn’t consider the Palestinian Authority to be a terrorist organisation?

    Of course they make a good point. Supporting Palestinians is racist, as is the continued existence of Palestinians themselves, what with the opportunities they provide for international antisemitism.

  46. GregM

    Just because I think that Marx and Engels provided the first truly great moral critique of capitalism doesn’t mean that I also have to accept Marx’s labor theory of value in the name of intellectual consistency.

    The problem with that argument is that you have to accept Marx’s labour theory of value in order to argue that he and Engels provided a truly great moral critique of capitalism. The entire critique is built upon the labour theory of value.

    Aside from that though I agree with your arguments about Henson.

  47. Casey

    Oh dear Jungney, in the link I provided, the guy is slamming people like you who protested out front the gallery. Let’s just say that your insistence on relying on someone who called people like you ‘righteous folk claiming to speak on behalf of the girls in the photographs” to do your talking for you, is not the most compelling argument I’ve ever seen you make on the blog.

  48. jungney

    Greg M: well, we disagree about the primacy of Marx’s economics over his moral disgust, but anyway, cheers.

    Casey: what, me? A placard holder and rabble rouser outside an art gallery? Puleese!

  49. GregM

    Greg M: well, we disagree about the primacy of Marx’s economics over his moral disgust, but anyway, cheers.

    If you disagree about that then you are not familiar with his writings. Marx was at pains to point out that his critique was an economic one, not a moral one.

    I suggest you read the Grundrisse.

  50. paul burns

    Never a good idea to refer to Marx on-line unless you’ve read him. Because somebody else will have, and they’ll pick you up on it.

  51. Paul Norton

    GregM @49:

    Marx was at pains to point out that his critique was an economic one, not a moral one.

    Yes. Marx and Engels frequently acknowledged the people who had previously provided a moral critique of capitalism before going on to criticise them for not providing a “scientific” (i.e. economic, among other things) critique.

  52. Paul Norton

    However (and it’s too complex a topic to properly explore on New Year’s Eve, but still…) it could be argued that some of Marx’s and Engel’s insights into systemic trends of capitalism are, if not correct per se, at least “onto something”, even if one acknowledges (as I do) that the labour theory of value is fundamentally flawed on a number of levels.

  53. Paul Norton

    Jules @45, I think it’s significant that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has criticised the Shurat HaDin action. The ECAJ and the Australian Jewish community generally is full of legally knowledgeable and astute people, and in that light it’s also significant that no lawsuit of this kind has come from that quarter. I’m also far from convinced that Mossad would be thrilled with the kind of legal adventurism that Shurat HaDin engages in.

  54. Obviously Obtuse

    @Paul Norton, (or anyone, really) could you recommend further reading for someone who wants to learn about the flaws in Marx’s labour theory of value? Pitched at the level of I dunno, I’m not a simpleton, nor am I a prof. so that makes me what, kind of an undergrad, I spose. Cheers in advance.

  55. Obviously Obtuse

    A particularly perspicacious undergrad, I hasten to add.

  56. jungney

    Greg M: there are many ways of reading Marx. Marshal Berman, in his All That Is Solid Melts Into Air provides a compelling literary analysis of the Communist Manifesto which, to me, is at least as stimulating as a reading of Marx’s political economy. He emphasizes Marx and Engel’s astonishing prose, as much as anything else, for its moral critique of capitalism, which critique is embedded within Marx’s economic analysis. Thus, for example, this famous sentence from Capital V I:

    If money, according to Augier, “comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,” capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.

  57. jules

    Paul N @ 53 – there is a diplomatic cable that Manning released via wikileaks that suggests Surat HaDin and the aspects of the Israeli establishment, particularly the right wing bits of their military and security apparatus work closely with each other. But IIRC SH has also sued Mossad on at least one occasion. So they’re clearly independent organisations, but ones whose goals probably align more than they don’t.

    I agree what you say about the ECAJ is significant. Its no fan of the BDS movement that targets Israel.

    The whole situation is a mess imo, there is plenty of racism on both sides, the behaviour of the right and far right in Israel is a disgrace (tho its kind of understandable given a few hundred years of history), and while I see the Palestinian resistance as legitimate there are plenty of people associated with them that just hate Jews – tho whether they would have before Israel existed is something I don’t know.

    I used to communicate a bit online with people in the ME, Palestinians, Israelis and others. I don’t see much hope there. Too many generations of hate and pain. The only intelligent thing I’ve heard about that conflict in the last 10 years was a Tom Waits song.

  58. Paul Norton

    OO @54,

    For starters try C Wright Mills’ The Marxists, and Alec Nove’s The Economics of Feasible Socialism. Ted Benton also wrote a critique of the labour theory of value from a green perspective in New Left Review in 1989, but it’s not as easy a read as the other two.

  59. Graham Bell

    ———-
    on PRUSSIA from ‘Goodbye again’.

    As Mahaut1329 @ 40 on ‘Goodbye again’ said

    Maybe the time for another view of Prussia has arrived.

    It certainly has …. because a few generations have passed since the “ethnic cleansing” and slaughter of German civilians in Silesia, Pomerania, East Prussia and Danzig (Gdansk) late 1944~1947 and since Stalin got his racist revenge for the Polish victory against the Bolsheviks in 1920 by expelling Polish people from their homelands in what is now western Belorus, the Ukraine and the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation in the same period.

    The younger generation of Germans and Poles are justifiably proud of what their respective countries have achieved in the past half-century. They do have a genuine interest in their past – though that interest is still coloured by family memories. A revived interest in Prussia can only be beneficial. Don’t panic: a new, independent, expansionist Kingdom of Prussia is not going to spring into existence ever again.

    We in Australia do need to reassess our own history: especially its myths, its deliberate falsehood and its very nasty hatreds.

    For example: our first Polish migrants didn’t come here in 1947, there were thousand here the 19th Century, when western Poland was part of German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. And another: what about all the gallant ANZACs from Prussian families here who were fighting against Kaiser Bill ? Meanwhile, back in Australia, their family members were being sacked, bashed, robbed, ostracised, abused, chucked into internment camps, burnt out, refused service and generally ill-treated …. and all by super-patriots who made damned sure they themselves remained 12 000 miles away from any machine-gun and artillery fire. The situation in the Second World War was bad too.

    Almost all of that inconvenient, appalling Australian history has been swept under the carpet – it’s time for a thorough spring clean of Australia’s dirty history – and that must include a review of what we know about the Polish and Prussian peoples’ contributions to the building of Australia. .

  60. Graham Bell

    Brian @ 36 & 47 on Goodbye again:
    You’re not kidding about the demonization of anyone and anything connected with Prussia.

    When I mentioned on LP, my first-hand experience of vicious racism, some might have assumed that I was part-Chinese or part-Aborigine. Not so. ANYONE with a mixed ethnic background can cop virulent racism (do you want to see the scars?). The big joke is that all my Polish friends have damned good reason to hate the Germans in general and the Nazis in particular – most of the older ones suffered appallingly – yet they accept me for who I am and without any racism at all …. maybe that’s because they are robust, fun-loving, hard-working, resilient people – in contrast to the grizzlers who were born here and who make a hobby out of racism and bigotry.

    My grandfather was caught in Australia, with a wife and infant, when the First World War happened. He went from being a highly-paid professional to an accompanied swaggie overnight – he eventually did find work: as a labourer on a property out west – replacing two sons who were overseas fighting the Kaiser! He copped it from both sides – from his family after the Great War for being a trained soldier who did not return immediately to fight for the Fatherland – and from super-patriots here (but, strangely, not from Australian returned servicemen) during and after that war. Even though he was badly wounded fighting the Imperial Japanese during the Second World War, that didn’t make him immune in the least from the hysterical hatred of everything Prussian back here in Australia. By the way, all but three out of all his relatives in Germany – men, women, children; old and young – perished at the end of the Second World War.

    Anyway. The time is ripe for a reevaluation of the Prussians – of all ethnicities and religions …. and especially of how they affected Australian history.

  61. Brian

    Further to the discussion on CSA, people may be interested in the most recent Background Briefing program The family trap. Inter alia they interviewed participants in the NSW Cedar Cottage program for “first-time, non-violent intrafamilial sex offenders.” Apparently research found it highly successful in reducing recidivism.

    Despite its apparent success, last year New South Wales Attorney General Greg Smith axed the program, saying the community expected sex offenders to go to jail.

    He then blathered on about punishing perpetrators rather than rehabilitating them as being in the child’s best interests.

  62. jungney

    Interesting link, Brian. I found out about Cedar Cottage while working in child protection. It usually has kept a very low profile probably because of exactly this sort of ‘hang ’em high’ consciousness that threatens to shut such programs down. From recall, its clientele were/are a select crew, to say the least, numbering many people from religious institutions among its program.

    As to my own view on how to deal with perps, it is predictably hair raising: some offenders are so humanly insensitive as to the damage, so completely stupid, that I believe that the only way such people can learn about how offensive their behaviour is to civilized society, is through their bodies. Either imprisonment or, yep, you guessed it, flogging, in order to send a message backwards up their neurology of such strength as to actually impact on their consciousness.

    Thanks for the opportunity for discussion.

  63. Brian

    jungney, I stayed out of the thread because of a lack of knowledge and experience in the field. In principle I think there should be both punishment and rehabilitation for perps, but if it has to be one or the other I’d favour rehabilitation. I think there is a danger that if rehabilitation is offered instead of gaol you won’t get the proper motivation and honesty for change.

    As to flogging, I think we have to be careful not to make the situation worse and re-offending more likely.

    Every time the topic comes up here someone is likely to talk to Dr Wendell Rosevear, who has worked with both victims and perps. So I Googled and came up with this extensive interview.

    Rosevear talks about the need for perps to value themselves as people. I’d like to see an education system that took seriously the whole socio-emotional development of the child rather than focussing mainly on the academic curriculum. My youngest son attended such a school. I think there would be fewer perps coming out of that school than the average, by a long way.