Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DAMage Report - Shut Your Mouth and Close Your Eyes - Censorship

Artist Jaesun Duggan had the joy of discovering his oil paintings in the Norfolk Public Library, as part of a display by the Franklin Art Association, were taken down and placed in a closet by a religious group that meets in the library.

The congregation for Providence Baptist Church, which holds Sunday morning services in the library, objected to the nature and deemed them unsuitable for their children. "One of the paintings, "Loa Offering," depicts red-shrouded skeletons. The other, "Dream Adrift In a Sea of Abyss," features a doll's head with a flower sticking out of it."

The religious group found the paintings objectionable and removed them, sticking them in a closet. While meeting in a public place. Uh-huh. Censorship and imposing your values on others doesn't get much more obvious than that. If the group wants to control what their members see and don't see (hello, can you say cult) then they should NOT be meeting in a public space. The artist naturally was a bit torqued. 

Censorship is a subjective topic. What is and isn't appropriate is often open to interpretation, dependent on a person or society's beliefs and self-image. Is censorship EVER appropriate? Sure. There are certain things that are and never will be deemed acceptable by common sense and humane morales. Anything that victimizes another such as child pornography, murder, abuse, racism - these are all things that most of us agree are unacceptable. The common denominator being that they involve one or more attacking a person or specific group that they have targeted. The sticky-wicket comes when censorship is applied outside the areas of criminal behavior. And it is. Often.Then censorship becomes an subjective imposing of what is and is not appropriate based not on accepted criminal behavior but on personal preference.  The definition of  what is “appropriate” varies depending on one’s religious, moral, ethical, and cultural background. 

A censor denies an individual's right to know, access, and come to their own conclusions on a topic. There really is only one purpose for any form of censorship: to enforce ignorance about a targeted topic. It is most often an abused tool used by those imposing their own ideas on others.

Nudity in art is one of the quickest visuals censored and has the highest double-standard. What is and isn't porn is subjective. Subjective equals personal opinion. What is and isn't appropriate for children is also subjective to a degree. A painting of bare booty should not automatically get the "OMG it's porn" stamp. We are getting ridiculous with our censorship bans in this society and allowing the uptight puritanical views of one or two people (or a gossipy clutch of hens) to dictate what we are and are not allowed to view and enjoy. 

I have found out what it is like to be silenced, my voice taken away and my right to share my ideas tossed in the closet. It is unbelievably frustrating.

Answer me this - Except for censorship of anything criminal in nature, what gives any person the right to dictate to others what they can and cannot look at, read, enjoy, and say - based on what they think is inappropriate? 

We need only allow a little censorship to become acceptable and before we have realized it, those little bricks of discrimination will become the blank wall that divides us from the real beauty of our True individual nature and ultimately ourselves. - Jaesun Duggan 



Anonymous said...

On the other hand, as Jaeson has discovered, a bit of censorship can be fantastic publicity.

Gadfly said...

I love that they take it upon themselves to risk damaging the paintings in order to censor their surroudings, which belong to the public.

ozymandiaz said...

lets place this in juxtaposition with the following post concerning the holocaust, for indeed that was a "criminal" undertaking. It is portrayed in art, so even the criminal acts should not be discouraged. perhaps the discomfort presented in even the most horrendous portrayals has place in society. Now, does that mean child pornography is art? highly doubtful but who draws that line and where is it drawn?