Tagged: Politics

Politics kills me

Not in the ha-ha way, but in the I’m-getting-a-knot-in-my-stomach-and-can-feel-my-blood-pressure-rising kind of way. This insane Sarah Palin "bounce" where the ageing bumblefuck that is John McCain can somehow revitalize his campaign by reaching out and picking an ultra-rightwing "hockey mom" to steal the disaffected Hillary fans is beyond belief, and only the knowledge that the media has gone retarded and is blowing it all out of proportion is of any comfort right now.

If in fact, after eight years of Bush/Cheney and some of the ugliest political leadership imaginable– leading us to the point where anyone who wants to assuage their conscience after doing something downright awful can always think "hey, if the leaders of the free world can do it, why cant I?"– if, somehow, defying all logic, Americans truly think that another Republican administration rooted in [anti-diplomatic, anti-intellectual, anti-democratic] conservative Christian ideology is what we need at this point in time… if that happens, then I am going to find a way to go live on the goddamn Moon, because this planet will be truly fucked. I will have no choice but to assume the fundagelicals have succeeded in their agenda to bring about the End Times by making all the revelations crap in the bible come true, and I don’t want to stick around for that shit.

Alexander Downer, Go Fuck Yourself

I guess I must be in the deplorer camp…

"As foreign minister, he made one heck of a mark, mercilessly slaying his political opponents while determining Australia’s foreign policies. Some will never forgive him and John Howard for taking Australia into Iraq. Many will admire his conviction in confronting Saddam Hussein and the scourge of terrorism. Some will deplore his role in the Tampa asylum-seeker stand-off. Many will respect his determination to foil people smuggling. Some will sigh with relief at another Howard man gone."

The Australian, July 1st 2008

Yes, it’s art…

A bunch of controversy has erupted recently in Australia over the work of artist Bill Henson, whose exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley gallery has been the target of police raids over his shadowy depictions of young adolescents with not many clothes on.

I really don’t know how I feel about his work, but I do know that he’s been working on similar themes for decades and until now hasn’t caused an explosion of outrage. I know that I am disappointed by Kevin Rudd’s public reaction against the work:

“I find them absolutely revolting… Kids deserve to have the innocence of their childhood protected. I have a very deep view of this. For God’s sake, let’s just allow kids to be kids… Whatever the artistic view of the merits of that sort of stuff – frankly I don’t think there are any – just allow kids to be kids.”

Myself, I find the pictures a little creepy, and think it would be foolish to try to pretend that these images aren’t about adolescent sexuality and even occasionally titillating– Perhaps the issue is that they aren’t de-sexualized enough?

It all poses an interesting question: is it ever ok to publish photographs of naked kids? When I first added the image above it was without the nipple-blocking squares, but to be honest it was kind of creeping me out (and I didn’t want to risk problems with my ISP) so I went ahead and censored it. Even the newspaper article linked at the top of the page published it intact, so I’m more of a wowser/prude than I realized– and look, by censoring the image I have in fact made it dirty; it’s no longer art when black bars appear!

When good people with good intentions (ie protecting children) start yelling about this stuff it’s hard not to wonder where the line can be drawn between the artistic and the criminal. Personally I don’t think Henson should be charged… and as long as only nice people look at his work in nice ways I guess I have no problem with what he does. Even if creepy pervs now flock to his exhibitions (they won’t) in order to catch a glimpse of the occasional pubescent tit, it’s still a long way from conventional child pornography in that these works are created with the blessing of the subjects and their parents.

Of course porn could created with similar consent… so… I guess it’s both the consent and the intention that matter. But what if the intention is, say, to create a serious work about the sexualization of children by photographing them in overtly erotic situations…?

Obviously I have no frakking clue where I stand on this… but I know criminal prosecution is really inappropriate in a case like this (logically they would also implicate curators and collectors everywhere for providing a “market” for this alleged exploitation).

Related: Lock up Lewis Carroll

Politics as seen from afar…

Hillary Clinton is annoying me and I don’t even live in the US. Theories that she is attempting to sabotage the Democrats’ election chances if she can’t win the nomination are starting to seem less far-fetched (the logic being that she can try again in four years after a disastrous McCain first term).

Just recently she decided to call Obama elitist since he refers to the bitterness and frustration of certain working class people. Speaking as someone who had to put up with a conservative government who took to labelling underpaid left-leaning secondary school teachers as elitist, this marks her as a total bitch in my books; it’s mere pandering to the anti-intellectual crowd, most of whom who wouldn’t vote Democrat anyway, and it also makes no sense for one mega rich presidential candidate to refer to another in this way– Pot… Kettle. etc.

PS I wish there could be some kind of representation for "the rest of the world" when you elect your presidents/administrations over there, because every fucked up Decision they make cause problems for us non-citizens as well, and a truly democratic leadership should be elected by ALL those whose lives they directly affect (including prisoners and convicted felons). How about 1 vote for every 100 foreigners? That would give the rest of the world the democratic power of about 40 million Americans– is that so much to ask?

Cautious Optimism

Kevin Rudd, in his inaugural speech as leader of the (opposition) Australian Labor Party:

Compassion is not a dirty word. Compassion is not a sign of weakness. In my view, compassion in politics and in public policy is in fact a hallmark of great strength. It is a hallmark of a society which has about it a decency which speaks for itself. For us in the Labor movement from which we proudly come and have come this last century, these values of security, liberty and opportunity are not incompatible with equity, with sustainability and with compassion, because that in our view is what the Australian people are about as well.

The Australian people are a decent bunch. When you talk to Australians around the world, they cannot help but be engaged in the interests of other people. Australians are not by their nature a selfish mob. The Australian people are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of others. What we have seen instead on the other side of politics is an attempt to corral that basic decency of Australians into an alternative vision for the country′s future – a vision which simply legitimises a doctrine of me, myself and I; a doctrine which says that we as a country can only be about the aggregation of personal greed. That is what it is about. They try to make you feel good about the fact that that is what you are on about. I think that is a great tragedy of the way in which this government has attempted to shape this country over the last decade.

If nothing else, a change of leadership offers the party the opportunity to reaffirm its principles, and Rudd is far better at articulating these than Kim Beazley (previous leader) has been over the last few years. I watch with interest.