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Spear saga: FPB protecting the President, not children

Dene Smuts, Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
1 June 2012

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) are making fools of themselves by pretending to impose an age-based restriction on Brett Murray’s defaced painting The Spear. The FPB is not protecting children. They are protecting the President. The only reason they are using the children’s provisions of the Films and Publications Act is that none of the “grown up” grounds for banning or restriction apply.

If they really thought the reproductive organ as imagined and depicted by Brett Murray was disturbing or harmful to children they should logically now embark on the wholesale restriction of every other depiction of the same organ in public view. They could start with a study tour of all the statues in South Africa and then visit all art museums before tackling libraries. Perhaps they should consider starting with the two naked cherubs above the gable of Tuynhuys, the Presidential office next to the National Assembly.

Frankly the defaced Murray work is more frightening to children than the original.

There is every reason to believe that the painting was used to whip up moral indignation and pain, firstly to mobilise a new coalition of the wounded for Mangaung and secondly to trigger the “second transition” towards a rewritten Constitution in which inter alia free speech will disappear.

After all, anti-Constitutionalists like Ngoako Ramatlhodi are perfectly frank and open about it. The march on the Goodman Gallery was the “start of the second transition” which he has proposed because he considers the negotiated Constitution to be an unacceptable compromise.

The foolish FPB is now calling on the public to self-regulate in respect of the painting, knowing full well there is nothing they can do about the online version.

We decline.

It is bad enough that editors and art galleries have been bullied into self-censorship.  South Africans will not allow their rights to be destroyed.