Just being nude doesn’t make it porn, you sickos!

A portion of a Bill Henson nude photograph of young womanMaybe I’m jumping the gun here, because the actual recommendations aren’t online yet. But news today that the Bill Henson “scandal” has prompted an overhaul of NSW art laws really gets up my nose.

Australian photographer Bill Henson is no stranger to controversy. His images, like the one here, are of nude or semi-nude adolescents, and “protecting the innocent children from the evil pedophiles” is a powerful rallying-call. Newspaper columnists and talkback radio hosts alike revel in its ability to stir the emotions — attention-seeking pricks that they are.

In an incident earlier this year, some of Henson’s photographs were seized by the police — but returned once the Office of Film and Literature Classification found that none of them were “child pornography”. Indeed, it called their nudity “mild and justified” and gave them a PG rating.

Got that? PG. Suitable for viewing by children under the age of 16, with parental guidance.

But apparently the considered judgement of the official body charged with this kind of analysis — the people who deal with and (sometimes) ban material which is pornographic — isn’t good enough.

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Slavedriver Rudd fails the exploitation test

My good friend Stephen Stockwell asks whether, after a week of reports that our new Prime Minister is driving his public servants too hard, we could call Rudd the Australian Federal Government’s answer to Jason Calacanis? Perhaps he’s onto something.

In The Age today, author and lawyer Dr Mirko Bagaric reckons the ultimate test of character is when a person has unchecked power. “That is why at work you can get a pretty good gauge of the character of your bosses but not your underlings,” he says. “They are too busy being nice to you to try to get ahead.”

So what does Bagaric make of the many, many reports of public servants complaining that Rudd has turned their lives into a “nightmare” through overwork? Bagaric says, “Rudd has spectacularly failed the exploitation test.”

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