Paedophilic pornography paranoia
Friday May 23rd 2008, 7:17 am

image: Bill Henson
image: Bill Henson

Noted photographer Bill Henson’s Sydney exhibition of photographs of nude adolescents has been closed by NSW Police after a complaint of suspicion of child pornography.

Turn down the panic dial, folks. Nudity does not by itself constitute sexualisation. Bill Henson is no more a pornographer than any mum, dad or nana photographing a butt-nekkid 2-year-old splashing in a bath or kiddie pool. True, Henson’s subject material isn’t 2-year-olds, but pubescence alone isn’t porno, either.

If we were meant to be depicted naked, we’d have been born that way.


MORE: Charges to be laid: 20 of 41 images from the exhibition seized by police. Rudd ‘revolted‘ by Henson pics.

KRudd’s reaction particularly concerns me.

“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.

Reality check, Kevvo- kids can be kids and be nude models, too. Human forms- including children- have always been subjects for artistic expression, for as long as there have been graphic representations of humans.

We all knew that Tintin was a god-botherer- could this be the first manifestation of poor judgment based in KRudd’s religiously influenced social conservativism?

13 Comments so far
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Hi B

Got to disagree on this one. I totally agree that nudity does not constitute paedophilia or pornography. However, I personally found these pictures disturbing. The children were posing provocatively in some of the shots and that does constitute pornography. Taking photos of kids in sexual poses isn’t right, pure and simple. What is this guys mindset. As a parent I wouldn’t let some 50 something year old guy take nudes photos of my 13 year old son. Nude portraits have been around for years, but this guy has pushed the boundaries too far. There have been numerous high profile cases in recent years of actors, singers and performers endulging in child pornography. I hope to god this guy isn’t another paedophile waiting to be exposed.

Comment by Kate Gibbons 05.26.08 @ 7:28 pm

You can disagree Kate, but you’d be dead wrong.

Nudity is not provocation. Nudity is not sexualisation. Nudity is not pornography.

The story is in the mind of the beholder- and I DO have to worry about your mind, if you haven’t though this through- and it’s bloody obvious you haven’t.

A 50 year old guy taking photos- with permission of the model and parents- is perfectly fine, particularly when we are discussing an artist of such great renown. It’s not like Bill Henson is stalking kids around a pool or bathroom.

If you don’t think this is art, apparently the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the London Photographers Gallery need your esteemed expertise on art and law. I suggest you submit your CV.

Comment by weez 05.26.08 @ 7:57 pm

Henson 2020 backlash

Comment by weez 05.27.08 @ 5:08 pm

Kate writes in her blog – “Whilst I would not even dream of commenting on the thought process of Mr Henson, I did grow up listening to Gary Glitter singing ‘Do you want to be in my gang’. Wasn’t he considered artistic in his early years.”

If Kate is putting up the proposal the Gary Glitter (the disgraced GG vs the revered GG, Moi) was ever considered ‘artistic’ by ANYONE, then I’ll happly be the first to set fire to her straw man.

Comment by Meself 05.30.08 @ 4:46 pm

The Evil GG also made famous ditties like ‘Do you wanna touch me there?’ We didn’t know he was addressing 9 year old Cambodian boys at the time.

The other Evil GG (Hollingworth), fairly well deserved what Hetty Johnson laid on him- but her success in bringing down a GG made her WAY overconfident. Now she’s fully stuffed it. Thus endeth a career as a child protection advocate.

Comment by weez 05.31.08 @ 5:44 am

This all may be in the name of art, but I cannot help but feel strangely uncomfortable with these pictures. I am sure that most of the artist community will look at these works in a objective manner and critique its artistic merit, but you cannot help that there are also the pervos out there getting their jollies from looking at these images. I feel the same discomfort about advertisers chucking a young kid in undies then sticking them in a K-mart catalogue – it just doesn’t sit right with me. Just my humble opinion though.

Comment by Gina 06.16.08 @ 12:49 am

OK,I have to say where do you draw the line? Is it Ok for a 60 something year old man to go running around Cambodia taking pictures of nude boys and posting them on the internet, on a site that is for a construction company? In my country parents have been charged for taking nude photos of their own children. We need a clear definition no nude photos of children period and some artist might not like that line, but then there is no debate, it’s illegal plain and simple.

Comment by Dr.Kevin 06.16.08 @ 12:34 pm

Gina, adolescence itself is an awkward and uncomfortable part of our existence. It merits depiction. It is a farce to ban imagery of childhood and adolescence as though it doesn’t exist.

We can not, do not and should not alter our entire society to cater for a few sickos. There are documented cases of paedophiles who found sexual arousal in children’s underwear sections of ordinary clothing catalogues- but advertisers still print them. There’s drunkards everywhere, far greater in number than paedophiles, but bars and general alcohol sales are common in western culture; problem gamblers abound but there’s still casinos in hundreds of places. Society thus isn’t the problem- it’s the person with the mental illness (or other failing) that’s the problem. It’s both unfair and unreasonable to blame the artist for the reactions of paedophiles to the art.

Dr Kevin, I’m very sorry to inform you of this, but there’s shades of grey all through humanity. I don’t want to live in a world where artists and parents are jailed for photographing children. It’s a whole lot more than ‘some artist’ who ‘might not like that line.’ It’s all the lovers of art and civil liberties that you’re taking on when you censor folks like Henson.

Photographs like Henson’s, Sturges’ and Hamilton’s are indeed works intended as art, not for prurient purposes. This is key, particularly under law in Australia. S91G of the NSW Criminal Code (describing child pornography offences) requires that intent to make images with a primary purpose being prurience be proven.

In a world where there’s REAL child sexual abuse and child pornography offences being committed every hour of every day, it’s astonishing (and immensely disappointing) that anyone would accuse Australia’s preeminent art photographer of being a child pornographer. Such accusations devalue the case of child protection advocates. Crying ‘wolf’ is not good for the cause- when you do it, by definition, you’ll get little cooperation from anyone and never be taken seriously again. Hetty Johnson will find her media contacts dwindle to nothing after this recent over-reach. There was a time when Johnson brought a very valid complaint to fore about the way our last Governor General, when he was an Anglican priest, treated sexual abuse allegations within the clergy. She had a valid beef- and my support. However, she just couldn’t keep her face in the media- and so pulled this publicity stunt.

Funnily enough, folks like Johnson have actually made it EASIER for paedophiles to get away with swapping child pornography. There IS a new standard for child pornography in Australia, anyway, and it’s all of Johnson’s doing. The NSW cops were profoundly embarrassed when they got suckered into the simplistic notion that nudity = pornography and confiscated Henson’s art, only to have to sheepishly return it a couple of weeks later. You won’t find them bursting into any more art galleries nor submitting Australian based websites to the communications authority merely on the basis of an image of a nude child. Somewhere, there’s a paedophile who has organised their images of nude children into an arty context to exploit the Henson standard.

Comment by weez 06.16.08 @ 2:37 pm

I have the controversial view, reinforced after the appalling treatment of Pete Townsend and Chris Lang ham, that ALL censorship is wrong, and that no-one should be punished for deviant thoughts-if they act on these thoughts that is another matter, and they should face the full force of the law. In fact only a small minority are dual offenders also involved in child sexual abuse. Given my controversial views, I have always been very wary of doing anything inappropriate regarding children. There is nothing wrong with child nudity,filming it or speaking to children, but given my paranoia and hatred for those responsible for the witch-hunt in the name of child protection,(which has even seen children branded as pedophiles) I have no wish to film child nudity myself-even given parental permission/encouragement-or engage in suspiciously long conversation with children.
Those who think so-called child pornography laws and now (in Britain) violent pornography laws affect only perverts should listen to this cautionary tale. I took wide angle 360 degree shots on a crowded beach in England (being careful to make sure no person was caught in a state of undress) when a young woman shouted out “pedophile!” about six times and accused me of being there to specifically film children. Having attracted a potential lynch mob, one of the men upped the stakes and said “he wants to **** our kids, and that I should look forward to prison rape. I told the mob that I was quite happy to call the lifeguard and accompany them to the police (conveniently near the pier) to disprove this vile accusation. Two policemen examined all my video-I had handed this to the crowd to avoid any accusation of tampering with evidence-and they found nothing remotely inappropriate, though they did not appreciate my question as to weather there was any evidence of Satanic Ritual Abuse in my film.I gave them a lecture on how they have been brainwashed by people like Jim Gamble and Ray Eyre to first believe that even the most innocent child image-which in any case was incidental to my project-was equivalent to adult-child sexual abuse!
My plan was to walk the west coastal path filming along the entire length, and I do not see why film of the general crowd should provoke such madness. When I asked the woman who had provoked this collective insanity, she replied that as a single man I should be suspect! I reminded her that the British libel laws are a serious matter.
Now having got up my own lynch mob to threaten a colleague most people “thought” was battering his wife (she had a black eye) I must admit to a certain amount of hypocrisy here, but I have come to the conclusion that lynch mob mentality is not a good thing.
On the other hand, a neighbor (who has long since moved) was battering her little girl and I was reluctant to inform the police in case lynch mobs targeted the family, or she was taken into “care” no doubt to be abused there. I compromised by telling a community policeman I knew at work, he had a word with her and things calmed down. I work in a school part time as part of the cleaning staff (though I’d prefer to be in a factory full time) have done my full CRB checks and refuse to skulk away or not speak to children curious about my electric bike-indeed this incident has made me even more determined to resist this political correctness-soon all men will be treated like women under the Taliban unless people stand up for their rights-my theory is that we are entering a sex war-the false abuse culture in the West with its anti-male hate-mongers is comparable to the rantings of the Taliban, with its hatred of women and abuse of children. On the other hand, do they cling to back wards Islamic culture because they look horrified to see how men have become second class citizens in the West? Of course, the “New False Pedophilia” witch-hunt is now affecting women and children, so its not exclusively a male issue any more.
If anything good came out of this it was that any I had idea of Western Culture being superior to others has gone out of the window along with other racist ideas-we are now just as primitive and judgemental as African Child Witch-hunters or Middle Eastern Honor Murderers.

Comment by Trevor Loughlin 08.30.09 @ 10:34 pm

Ray Eyre should read Ray Wyre.

Comment by Trevor Loughlin 08.30.09 @ 10:44 pm

this man is a menace to young kids

Comment by d 06.08.10 @ 8:55 am

No, Henson photographs adolescents. Simple depiction of nudity is not pornography and is not sexual abuse.

Henson doesn’t sexually abuse nor cover up sexual abuse of adolescents and children, unlike this mob.

Try again, d.

Comment by weez 06.08.10 @ 9:14 am

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