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September 27, 2007


Marcin Tustin

The real question is why is this morally reprehensible? Even if it is, then we need to remain that this is in the political and legal sphere - the question is not whether "art" makes it morally justifiable, but whether the law should allow it despite its moral reprehensibility.

I don't need to spell out how this relates to the purpose and value of liberalism.

john b

while I'm agreed with you that the fuss is bizarre and mental, in these bizarre and mental times I'm not sure that even the censored version of that pic belongs on your front page without a disclaimer...


Personally, I think whether such a photo is acceptable or not depends upon whether the kids in it are being exploited or abused, which - in my view - is not the case here. Therefore it is perfectly acceptable, even if you do find it revolting and discomforting.


I find it extremely troubling that now it seems that any picture of a naked small child could be perceived as possibly pornographic. It turns the whole idea of naked children into something sexual when by definition it absolutely shouldn't be. By worrying that it could be taken as sexual, you thereby make it sexual. It's the same sort of mentality that says breastfeeding should be out of sight.

Chris Williams

I'm with Katherine. I see naked small children every day. That's cos I'm a parent. Big deal. Personally I think that by trying censor this stuff, we are actually arguing that it's sexual, when to my mind it's not.


What Chris said. Small naked girls are quite a common sight around my house, too. Kids like being naked. They don't have body issues. A small girl's vulva appearing in a photo of some girls playing is no more sexual than a small girl's mouth appearing in a photo.

I don't find that photo at all uncomfortable.
Take the photo, and crop it to give a closeup of the little girl's crotch with legs spread, and I would suddenly become a lot uncomfortable - you have changed the focus from "here are some little girls playing" to "get a load of these prepubescent genitals".

Of course, I don't find the photo very artistic, either. If they were my kids, it would be a cute snapshot in a family album, but as they're not, I have no interest in it. It seems to me to have no aesthetic merit.

Given that Mr. John paid money for the photo, apparently he thinks differently. That's allowed...

chris strange

A not particularly good photo of some girls playing, what exactly is the fuss about?


A comment by journalist Jen Graves sums it up: "I come to my senses. She's at home, playing with a friend and laughing. She's fine. I'm the one who's afraid."

Le Poulet Noir

The legal, not moral, test is whether there is a reasonable likelihood that the image could be used for titillation (or in the language of the obscenity laws, whether it is likely to "deprave" or "corrupt").

The moral test is whether the artist is responsible for other people being titillated by it. I would argue that she is, on the basis that, in the era of mobile phone cameras and the internet, this image could easily be presented in a pornographic context and would probably have currency among people who derive sexual pleasure from that sort of thing.

This does not equate to a call to ban the photo, merely that the artist should ensure that the work can only be seen in certain contexts (by insisting, say, on no cameras being allowed in the exhibition).

Those commenting here have argued that they personally do not find the image sexual, and that therefore it is alright to show it. Is this more valid than a response from someone saying they find something offensive, and therefore it should be banned?


No, Le Poulet Noir, you've kind of missed my point. I do not personally find this image sexual, but that is not the basis of my argument. My argument is that the simple act of arguing brings up the spectre of it being sexual.

And your argument about whether something is "titillating" is not the same as whether something is likely to deprave or corrupt, I'm afraid. If something is to be disapproved of because someone, somewhere could find it titillating then all photographs of anything, enywhere would fall within that definition; there is a fetish for everything.

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