Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Well, She’s Certainly Right There….

A Christian group is taking an art centre to court, claiming it displayed an indecent statue of Jesus Christ.

Lawyers for Christian Emily Mapfuwa, 40, of Essex, are bringing a civil case for outraging public decency.

Northumbria Police investigated following Mrs Mapfuwa's complaint, but ruled there was no case to answer.

Mrs Mapfuwa, of Brentwood, said Baltic would not have dared depict Mohammed in such a way.
Rather hard to disagree with that comment, but even so, that doesn’t mean that her action is well thought out, or some kind of justifiable ‘tit for tat’ in the endless ‘my god is better than your god’ nonsense.

In fact, like the ‘CiF’ post highlighted yesterday by Longrider, it’s merely yet another case of a ‘nasty little fascist who thinks that her prejudices should be afforded the weight of the law’.

The ‘art’ probably isn’t the sort of stuff I’d hang on the wall (or even go to see), but the idea that adults should be prevented from seeing it because a bunch of religious nutcases think they can do an end-run around the law by bringing a civil case is absurd.

9 comments:

DJ said...

Depends where exactly the Baltic Centre gets its money. They can do pretty much whatever they want on their own dime but self-supporting luvvies are about as common as conservative ones (and usually the same people). Bleeding taxpayers dry just to show your backside to a large chunk of them seems out of order.

DJ said...

Oh and the other thing: how could out of all those crazee rebels in the art world, not one of them will look at an exhibition of plaster woodies and say 'this is talentless rubbish'? Wouldn't that be true rebellion?

JuliaM said...

"...where exactly the Baltic Centre gets its money."

Lottery money and various grants from local/central government are probably involved somewhere, it's true...

"not one of them will look at an exhibition of plaster woodies and say 'this is talentless rubbish'? Wouldn't that be true rebellion?"

Because maybe no-one in their circle would agree with them. And then they'd look silly...

What, you thought there was an element of bravery to modern art? ;)

patently said...

I'd agree she is wrong to object, but I would disagree with your dislike of "an end-run around the law by bringing a civil case".

If the State cannot or will not do what is right, then the Courts are there to hear civil cases. If people have personal grievances, then I would rather they used the Courts to settle them than demand, in essence, that we all fund their own personal crusade by putting it in the hands of the State.

woman on a raft said...

If we are funding rubbish art, then we shouldn't be, but that's not the same as saying there should be legal sanctions.

Just to see if I've understood this: Northumbria police investigated but found no case to answer. The press report doesn't say if this came back from the CPS or if it never got that far.

The private action is being brought under S.5 of the Public Order Act and the penalty includes possible imprisonment. That looks like a private criminal prosecution. (Is it civil? There seems to be some debate about this.) If that is criminal, the CPS could still forcibly take this over and stop it running. The CLC don't mention any reference to obscenity; they only state they are using the Public Order Act.

The relevant offence appears to be:

5.1(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

The warning notice on the door is crucial because it demonstrates the defence:

5.3(a) that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress,

The gallery accepted it could be offensive by being insulting (but so is nearly everything to someone), and warned anyone who might be distressed by such insult to stay away. They went beyond the needs of the defence and put up exclusion advice, so had every reason to believe that there was nobody in there who would be offended.

However, the really peculiar part is that Emily Mapfuwa, 40, and NHS administrator from Brentwood, Essex, doesn't appear to have been to the Baltic gallery at all. She just read about it in newspapers. Well, that's what the Mail says. It would certainly indicate no case if the complainant was never there to be caused distress by the insult.

She can be offended all over again now the Mail has re-printed the picture with some token pixellation, which doesn't really affect the statue in this case. Why isn't she suing the Mail?

Is she just objecting to the idea of the statue's existence? Certainly I'm offended by the existence of stupid ideas every time I look around. Can you bring a case based on the idea that you are offended by the existence of somebody else's idea, whether or not you've been offended in its presence or image in reproduction? If so, then we'd better get on with burning most of the art books and the galleries while we are about it.

What a pity that the police can't charge CLC the cost of the investigation, the full cost of running the court, and the costs the public will incur via the gallery. We have plenty of real crimes and criminals that need dealing with.

Still, pinch o' salt time. The gallery has made its name by putting up stuff which makes people howl. Bums through turnstiles, laddy.

JuliaM said...

"If the State cannot or will not do what is right, then the Courts are there to hear civil cases."

But with a lower burden of proof.

And when you are talking about a decision potentially affecting everyone, I'd prefer to leave this in the hands of elected representatives, rather than unelected judges.

"However, the really peculiar part is that Emily Mapfuwa, 40, and NHS administrator from Brentwood, Essex, doesn't appear to have been to the Baltic gallery at all. She just read about it in newspapers."

Hmm, I wonder if we have 'vexatious complaint' sanctions here, as they do in the US? If so, she certainly deserves to be a target of them...

"Certainly I'm offended by the existence of stupid ideas every time I look around."

Me too. The Internet isn't helping with that... ;)

"The gallery has made its name by putting up stuff which makes people howl. Bums through turnstiles, laddy."

They might believe that there's 'no publicity that's bad publicity'. But the real problem is the 'chilling' effect on everyone else.

Which leads to stories like this...

Tomrat said...

Even as a Christian I happen to agree with you; all too often my kind get wrapped up in petty things like this.

Equally though dj is right on the money here - as with the Jerry Springer: The Opera screening on the BBC I object to having anti-God blasphemy put in front of me (or not) and then be forced to bloody pay for it.

JuliaM said...

"Equally though dj is right on the money here - as with the Jerry Springer: The Opera screening on the BBC I object to having anti-God blasphemy put in front of me (or not) and then be forced to bloody pay for it."

Agreed. Particularly when you'll wait a hell of a long time for a BBC adaptation of 'Bezhti'. Or a miniseries based on 'The Satanic Verses'

Martin said...

Tomrat, you object to "object to having anti-God blasphemy put in front of me (or not) and then be forced to bloody pay for it."

Songs of praise?
the sunday service on radio 4?

you can always turn over, or in the case of the baltic . . . don't go!