Sunday, January 11, 2015

Je sui Charlie Hebdo - in memoriam

With respect and in memoriam:  http://www.charliehebdo.fr/index.html

As an atheist and surrealist artist who has and who will continue to criticise religions I reserve the right to offend, insult, humiliate, ridicule and defame all gods and their associated prophets. But depicting one and critiquing one prophet only, Mohammed,  is illegally and illegitimately outlawed not only on the threat of but by the real prospect of execution. The brittle religion of Islam is protected on pain of death by followers of that faith. Those defending the rights of that faith to express itself without criticism fail to understand they are defending the intolerant and a brutal ideology based on intolerance.

I make no apology to Islam, Christianity, Judaism or other religions and supernatural belief systems for any hurt. With regards criticism of religions the mainstream media, political climate and social commentary have contributed to the demonising of anyone who critiques Islam because to do so is claimed to be racist and right-wing. Yet conversely Christianity or Judaism are fair game because, they somehow deserve it having caused enough bloodshed, pain and outrage in the past. Err, what? The sheer contradiction, lack of logic, and lack of historical knowledge is breathtaking.

Charlie Hebdo were largely shunned and cast as intolerant by this mainstream as, "white privileged male racists" for their critical satire lampooning Islam (only Islam). Charlie Hebdo though ridiculed all religions and politicians or societal structures on a wide scale and has done so with anarchic glee, none were/are/will remain immune. Why did/does their satire of Islam illicit a different examination by apologists, was it, is it fear of offending intolerance? Such acts of provocation, of anti-establishment dissent and resistance have a long history in France and in pre and post industrial western Europe. For free thinkers, and those who enjoy the freedoms afforded within a free society, whether tasteful or not, such criticism including the right to satire and ridicule a subject, are recognised cornerstones of that free society. Charlie Hebdo are a stark and now painful reminder to society that it needs prodding and lambasting for it to wake from its "sleep of reason”. Charlie Hedbo in all of its satire was delivering one message, perceive of what you are forgetting to protect and preserve, your hard won and long treasured freedoms.

The ability for any force or will to destabilise and undermine free societies exists and the responsibility to protect what underpins them sits squarely with those who treasure freedom. We are these custodians, us, we are the ones who must protect such a society by exposing its flaws, foibles and fallacies. This is what Charlie Hebdo was getting at with every lampooning of authority.

Surrealism was born from such an era emerging from within a society that needed reminding of what it was allowing to slip through its fingers. The freedoms we take for granted today were under attack then by an ideology and a warlord of a different kind.

We are living in as similarly an absurd time as now surrealists, satirist, critics of all kinds are again being shunned and marginalised for critiquing that which is oppressive and backward in Islam. Defenders of Islam claim it should not have to defend itself due to random misguided acts of violence by its followers - which forgets that all these followers, follow the same doctrine, the Koran and Hadith. Under such circumstances a response is warranted. By not responding strongly or at all fails to neutralise those elements within Islam who continue to take all of the prophets "teachings" to their literal conclusion. And, their mantra is always the same.

In the related violence and hostage taking in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo murders by the Islamic terrorists, the Kouachi brothers, their associate, Islamic terrorist "Coulibaly told BFM he had 'coordinated' his actions with the Kouachi brothers and wanted to defend Palestinians and target Jews" (ABC).

So, there we have it. Mocking the prophet, criticising Islam all links back to the conflict in Palestine and an insidious Jew hatred in the mind of the terrorist. It is the most deep seated and chronic of encumbrances affecting the very viability of Islam and the reason for why it is the biggest threat to the stability of a modern society which, as in the France and Europe of the 1930’s, continues to prefer to be blind to and in denial of it.

The primary motivation as always are predictably an unbridled racism toward and hatred of Jews. To critique Islam means you support Jews and are anti-Palestine so one must be eliminated to defend the other. Criticism of Islam apparently justifies any backlash by Muslims against that critic. Criticism of Judaism or Christianity elicits no such equivalent assertion or defence. It is the critic of these acts who must instead answer for the criticisms made. It is the critic who is forced to defend their criticism as if their criticism is somehow responsible for inspiring acts of violence done to protect Islam from insult. Islamic Jihadists* blame any insult to their prophet on Jews and claim they are defending Palestinians from Jewish violence who cause conflict by their very existence in Palestine. Jews do not apparently belong in Palestine and need to get out one way or another. With this sentiment those who sue surrealist artists, when informed their ideas about Jews and Palestine are racist and have a historical beginning pre the establishing of Israel, are in alignment. It is a successful tactic in the aim to subvert and deflect blame so that only the critic and the Jews are responsible for the actions of violent religiously motivated murder, such as that enacted by the Kouachi brothers on their unarmed victims.

Put simply Islam hates a critic and hates Jews. Passages in the Hadith essentially state the existence of Jews in Arab lands is to be addressed by their elimination from those lands. Jihadists* act murderously on such passages because to do so, as goes their own claims, defends Palestinians and Arab lands invaded by Jews (the so name “occupation”). Islam even hates its own progressives. Islam hates its apostates, a Muslim may not leave Islam to do so is the worst of sins punishable by death. Islam tolerates people of the book, Christians, but then defines them as non-Muslims describing the Christian trinity as a blasphemy. Islam in particular just hates Jews.

Modern Islam in contrast with other major religions continually demonstrates its unwillingness to peacefully co-exist. The so called "religion of peace" label is a marketing propaganda well utilised to deflect blame and erect barriers to nullify any scrutiny. The idea that a religion operating without scrutiny is a problem waiting to happen is not so far fetched or without precedent if we look at the conduct of the modern Catholic Church and its other associated institutions recently held to account. Islam as per most religious institutions lack the maturity and intellect to be self regulatory. Yet, there are those who maintain we must absolve Islam from responsibility for addressing acts, that are done in accordance with its doctrine, by the faithful who exact brutal revenge because the doctrine demands it.

The problem for modern society is that Islam acts to its exclusion, consistently demonstrating that its tenants are incompatible with modern thought and even basic principles of human rights. In 2015 Islam remains a totalitarian, backward and redundant belief system. Muslims, as Ayan Hirsi Ali stated post the Charlie Hebdo attacks in an ABC 7:30 interview, need to better imagine or hope for "an ideology or ideas of life, love, peace, tolerance”. (She will astoundingly be labelled racist and right wing for doing so.) Should Muslims dare to view such a future of course they ultimately will need to abandon Islam in order to achieve it.

Freedom Series - Exhibited as part of One Law for All exhibition London, 2010
Monsters emerge with the “sleep of reason”.

* "jihadist" is a term considered "anti-Arab or anti-Islam" by Apple and its third party dictionary vendor New Oxford American Dictionary. Best inform all the mainstream media outlets including France24, CNN, ABC, BBC etc, etc.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Use of Greek script judged “racist”, “sinister”, “anti-Palestinian". Only in Australia.


View of exhibition Humanist Transhumanist 2009
View of exhibition "Humanist Transhumanist" 2009
A Supreme Court of Victoria judgement released in June 2014 endorsed the racist claims made by plaintiff Robert Cripps.

In the trial it was declared that “text labels, 50x100mm pinned below each painting” included words in an “alternate script” to that of the “English alphabet” (sic), making it possible to reasonably conclude that the text potentially communicated “anti-Palestinian”, “sinister” and “racist” messages.

It was argued, by Cripps’ council, Christopher Dibb, that because Cripps was not of Greek background he could not properly interpret or understand what was written on these "text panels". The only conclusion, that was available to Cripps, was for him to deduce that the use of Greek script was potentially “sinister, racist and anti-Palestinian”. Under examination Cripps could not explain how this was so in his testimony.

Justice Kyrou, in his judgement, found this was the reasonable conclusion to make and that Cripps had responded reasonably with the actions that he took. In doing so Kyrou has:

1. Validated perjury.

- No labels were pinned under the paintings. This was demonstrated by the evidence provided in trial which included photographs taken prior to the dislcaimers that Cripps posted. Cripps had testified that he posted disclaimers as a reaction to labels which are clearly absent in the photographs. Emails and documents cataloguing the exhibition content reveal that the photographs of the exhibition match what was discussed with the gallery prior to the show. The evidence demonstrated there were small numbers pinned under the paintings to reference against a gallery catalogue of works list for all viewers to consult, just as had been discussed in the emails between the artists and the gallery. The evidence and the facts they conveyed were all dismissed by Justice Kyrou.
2. Validated and up-held racism towards an Australian-born artist of Greek heritage. 
- In finding it reasonable for Cripps to have concluded what he did and taken the actions he did because of the presence of an alternate script to English (sic), Greek, Justice Kyrou agreed it could be considered to convey sinister, or racist, or anti-Palestinian messages to use Greek words. A finding that is in direct contravention to S. 9. of the Race Discrimination Act.

The Australian-born Greek artist, Demetrios Vakras, has for many years signed his paintings in Greek and as part of his artistic oeuvre long sought to elaborate on the ancient scientific and cosmological meaning behind many Greek myths. In doing so he is manifesting his heritage, a protected attribute under the Race Discrimination Act, (S. 9).

In Humanist Transhumanist there were a handful of Greek words used in context of two paintings with essays pinned beside the associated paintings on A4 size paper (No 50x100 labels under paintings ever existed). These Greek words were methodically translated into Latin text for an English speaking audience to comprehend. The context of these essays was to elaborate on the meaning of the visuals in which the artist anthropomorphised myth-concepts to reveal a holistic, cosmological explanation exists behind Greek myth pertaining to, for example, the Pythia (the Oracle of Delphi) depicted resting between, χαός (chaos) and χασμός (chasm), in another Χριστός (Christ) is referenced as is σοφία, (wisdom). It is therefore these Greek words that Justice Kyrou found in his judgement to be potentially “sinister", “racist" and "anti-Palestinian” in agreement with the plaintiff.

Justice Kyrou, in his judgment, also concluded the art and exhibition to be “offensive”.

On much Justice Kyrou and Robert Cripps were in agreement.

Justice Kyrou awarded record financial damages against the artist Demetrios Vakras and co-Exhibitor (this author).

If the absurdity of the claim that the use of Greek text could be considered in any way to convey a sinister message is unclear refer to any Wikipedia entry on χαός (chaos). Is this sinister, anti-Palestinian and racist?
en.m.wikipedia.org
Then compare it to the actual text from the exhibition in question, "Humanist Transhumanist". Is this sinister, anti-Palestinian and racist?
Pages 30-31 Humanist Transhumanist Catalogue.

The author has used Greek words in this posting. Is this sinister, anti-Palestinian and racist?

If one is sinister, anti-Palestinian, racist, then they all are. Or, is it only the case when a Greek does so?

It is valid and correct to ask why is this judgement is not considered one of the biggest failures of the Australian Court System? Do the courts have more rights than the people they exist to serve?

If this is the Australian justice system working then it is as unjust and backward as any one can imagine produced under totalitarian regimes and Australians who claim to advocate for our human rights or to “keep the bastards honest” are silent. 

The matter of Cripps discriminatory actions against Demetrios Vakras is being pursued in the Federal Court.


Refer Justice Emilios Kyrou Judgement [on Austlii]
Refer Justice Emilios Kyrou Press Release - alerting the media of his judgement [Supreme Court of Victoria website]
Refer Cripps V Vakras & Annor - full Trial Transcripts [Link]


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Art and thought in Australia is as dead as dead due to a fear of critical thinking

"Freedom of expression in Australia is not just governed by the laws of defamation, obscenity and blasphemy that vary from state to state but by hidden disciplinary forces, systems of control that seek to create a reality of their own making." Dr Marcus Bunyan, Sept 2013 
Lee-Anne Raymond near text panel describing the aims and origins of Surrealism -
National Gallery of Victoria 27/12/2014 - Modern art section 

Australia is governed by a deeply protective, institutionalised, conservative moral philosophy that is reinforced by a self-interested cultural sector, legal authority and legislature. Rather than acting to resist in the erosion of freedom of expression these authorities and cultural bodies keenly maintain the status-quo preferring the entitlement this brings above overthrow, evolution, revolution and therefore change. The art of Surrealism has at is core the nature of transgression. As an art-form, as a way of life (as many of the original Surrealists experienced it), the genre observed the world in which they lived through a critical lens reflecting reality and truth to demonstrate what was the real illusion or delusion - the perception of the accepted reality as being all that was good and beneficial. Now in more enlightened times, we see the Surrealists as cause cébre fighting against evil and oppression, yet they remain marginalised fringe dwellers in our public art institutions. In their time the Surrealists were roundly rejected and marginalised for their unflinching criticisms of authority and of the political and societal institutions in which they lived. They were labelled “offensive”, “immoral” and “negative” and their art “degenerate". They had many enemies but fortunately a few influential allies in addition.

Metamorphosis with Nicab (detail) 
In Australia 3/4 of a century later judicial institutions protect themselves by enacting religious like decrees, edicts, to prevent criticism and will and do punish their critics for transgressions, artistic or not. Individuals within or who are outside beneficiaries reinforce their own position and tenure by ensuring no steps are taken to question either their own or the institution's role. No mirror may be held up to liberate the truth, let alone allow for the kind of truthful self-reflection that might allow for illuminating change. In Australia there is a distinct and entrenched perception that to question authority is simply wrong, to challenge it or expose truth “negative”, “intemperate”, "racist", "immoral", “offensive” and perhaps “degenerate". To be critical is to be “aggressive", to be transgressive, “intemperate” and “immoral" and therefore repugnant to society. 

It has become so very Australian to be squeamish about speaking out against anything, be it an idea, an organisation or a person for fear of causing offence. This is in no small part due to the fact there exist written and unwritten laws to deter and prevent criticism. The unwritten laws will have you socially and professionally shunned. The written laws have the critic fearful of attracting financial repercussion and legalised persecution. 

Additionally there is an Australian characteristic, perhaps transposed with force by colonial, antique (European), magisterial beginnings, that is now a self-sustaining conservative moral. So, although born from more imperious beginnings (lèse-majesté), keeping silent for fear of experiencing physical harm, has transformed into a distinct Antipodean fear of expressing critical thinking because it can and does attract financial penalty and social ostracism. In my case criticism of how a Director of a now defunct gallery behaved toward us during an exhibition by myself and fellow artist has resulted in record penalty and complete ostracism from commentators in the arts or political communities. Presumably this is because they might agree with what is a truly bizarre judgement in the face of the actual trial evidence, and, or are too fearful of receiving the same treatment, to object or question it. Logic and reason are the enemy of our judiciary if as it transpires the evidence regardless of the facts are what the judge says they are. 

Australians and the institutions that are intended to operate for their benefit are intolerant of anyone who would seriously challenge such institutionalised authority, effectively shunning those who speak for freedom of expression and thought. Unwittingly (one would hope) by their acquiescent silence Australians who could or might normally speak up are merely reinforcing their own censored existence, and the persecution of those who do attempt to resist it. 

When we legally constrain our artists and thinkers who might criticise us, deter criticism through the actual application, or threat, of law and punishing legal fines we are assisting in the creation of our own end of times. When we enact laws to limit critical analysis and thought of a subject, an idea, an uncomfortable history, an authority, a religion in order to protect these concepts from harm (defamation) we are limiting our own freedom of thought and expression.
In a liberal, secular democracy, where dogma (religious, political, cultural) and its protection above all is allowed over a flexible application of logic and reason it is the beginning of the end of that social framework.

To be an atheist, an artist, a thinker in Australia is to court trouble and rejection particularly in the court system which is heavily peopled by the practicing faithful. Atheism, art critical of religion and political contradiction, art which provokes thoughts and ideas that challenge the status-quo are by their mere mention controversial. Australia's squeamish conservatism would have us believe that to criticise culture, policy, politic is to be subversive and “negative” if not seditious. It is considered better, more acceptable and more safe to reject the critic and then their criticism and protect authority even when logic and reason suffer. When this is most evident it is where any criticism of the Islamic religion and doctrine is shut down instantly with cries of “Islamophopia” or “racism”. Atheists long critical of Judaism, Christianity and the gods of antiquity are now automatically labelled “racist" and “Islamophobic" when Islam is critiqued. All atheism is viewed with some contempt and suspicion by the general religious majority but the Islamophobia slur has been so effective that even some self-described atheists consider other atheists critiquing Islam to be somehow phobic and suspect.

Add to this the insidious creep towards official censorship within elements of our own human rights institutions supportive of oppressive blasphemy laws that utilise defamation law to further a cause that claims critical debate regarding faith systems is "defamation of religions”. It is a peculiar and malignant marriage of convenience representing the biggest self-made threat to the universality of our human rights in recent history. They propose laws that would legislate religions and doctrines deserving of special protection from harmful criticism as they are an attack on the human rights of the faithful who are defamed as a consequence of any criticism. The result if successful (several attempts have been made at the UN) would be catastrophic as it will criminalise blasphemy on a wide scale. As Dr Bunyan notes above ultimately they would succeed in shutting out all "dissent" by creating a "reality of their own making".

To depict in my art real criticism of religious doctrine i.e. Islam is a transgression too far, one that goes against conservative, institutionally reinforced Australian moral sensitivities. Critical art is considered “offensive” art because Australians fear critical thinking and its consequences. We must work hard to protect our rights, many are unwilling, or too uninterested to do so. 

So the NEW-Moralist declares an artist “racist" in public and receive judicial sympathy and support for it. Thus an unbalanced legal system further punishes the artist for communicating truth, and, to object to what is categorically unjust and a persecution becomes further evidence of malice. The artist is labelled the “liar” and the bully is rewritten as victim. The evidence becomes what the judge says it is.

Fed and endorsed by its colonial parent legislature Australian courts, the Victorian Supreme Court as a case in point, are leading the way onwards and downwards towards censorship and protection from criticism any idea particularly those held by the religious. It is an implementation by stealth of "defamation of religions" law. 

To critique religious doctrine is, simply put, as valid a form of social questioning as to critique a judicial system. Both are off limits in Australia. It is credulous to believe that in this country we have support for real forms of artistic expression or critical thinking under such conditions. 

If you are a critical thinking artist, an atheist and a free thinker in Australia then you are considered offensive and racist and you will have no supporters come to your aid to argue otherwise.

Note: Top: Quote extracted from the research paper 
Transgressive Topographies, Subversive Photographies, Cultural Policies
Dr Marcus Bunyan - posted online here http://artblart.com/tag/defamation/




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Islam is in need of reformation, this is what we witness with every terrorist act in its name



Picture: Bradley Hunter Via: www.theaustralian.com.au
Though an atheist, because it brings some comfort to my humanist mind, I do prefer to think only the brave and innocent shall rest in peace.

We will try to comfort the victims, we will keenly mourn those killed, so close to rescue, or who now are left wounded physically and psychologically. We feared for them during their horrifying ordeal and feel for them now because of our compassion and humanity. As a majority we abhor the violence done to them and would seek to prevent it recurring. These characteristics to protect, secure and to mend those we see harmed we are born with. They develop in us as we grow, and we know instinctively and intellectually they are self-preserving and help to harmonise our collective associations into societies and communities. What happened in Sydney attacks this at its core.

In the aftermath of the Sydney, Martin Place, Lindt Cafe siege, even during, the Islamophobia accusation was raised to any daring to put the incident into its religious and Islamic context. I also felt during the event it was best to wait, best to ensure that nothing affected the safe retrieval of the hostages. Yet, obviously however strong the denial, through the prism of this man's religious zealotry we were shown some of the problems with Islam and more widely the problems with an ideology that promotes and expects religious immersion and obsessive devotion to it. This requires critical examination, as it is this kind of ideology that is incompatible and phobic.

As the horrendous situation in the cafe unfolded for the victims it was remarkable to note the verbal contortions security,  officials, politicians, reporters and many commentators went to in order to not state what this was, to in effect deny it was an Islamic doctrine inspired Jihad against a society that does not adhere to Islam. The "Sheik" was bringing the delusion of the "war against Islam" home to Australia to show those participating in it the error of their ways. In the face of the evidence before us it was jarringly absurd to see the insistence that a "reason was unclear" for his act. The facts were incontrovertible that this man acted for and in defence of his religion, which he invoked, and for the freeing of oppressed Muslims. Muslims, as fundamentalist will have it, may be "oppressed" simply by having to live in, or next door to, a society that is non Islamic, that does not support Sharia Law, supports gender equality, inalienable human rights, or by a society (Australia) that rightly contributes actively in world events defending oppressed peoples, even when, the oppressor is of Islamic origin. 

So do we honour and mourn the victims by examining the real cause or shuffle it aside muttering that only more faith and religion will heal our wounds? Predictably the requirement is we must defend only not criticise at all the very ideology that brought death and violence to a Sydney cafe. Two hostages died. Two innocent and precious people killed by an ideologue and ideology that belongs in another time. No, this is a shaming type of censorship that is too far and beyond reason. The victims are not responsible, Australia is not responsible.

Islam is a religion that as with others (a point any critic of Islam is required to make), such as Christianity and Judaism, seeks to supplant its own ideology above that of secularity and humanism. And, whilst I am permitted to state this about other major religions, because of the simplistic argument that "they deserve it", I cannot say this about Islam as that would make me "racist" or "phobic". So, in a society which celebrates free will and freedom of association and thought, certain loud voices censor criticism of one religion whilst condoning or allowing the same criticism of others. Somehow the message that Islam's followers are an oppressed people and that criticism of their religion oppresses them more (so much so as to cause them psychological harm) holds under the weight of its obvious flaws. 

It is clear that atrocious events like this latest one in its name demonstrate that Islam needs to enact change from within. Open secular societies, in which Islam's right to exist is defended equally alongside the rights of other faiths, cannot yield ground on such freedoms in order to further the aims of any one of those faiths above another, yet this is what it appears is expected for and by Islam. 
What exactly does modern Islam want? 
Apparently, peace. 
Islam cannot claim the pure epithet of a "religion of peace" when in order to gain "peace" it must be awarded only under Islam to the exclusion of all other religions and political and societal frameworks.

Islam, as is any other faith, is an ideology steeped in tradition, superstition and uncompromising observance. Islamic doctrine is, as are others, self-avowedly antithetical to humanism. How Islam is communicated to followers, along with serious doctrinal evolution, is required but no one of that faith appears to be at the point of even recognising this. Islam as a religion and as a political system seeks submission. Doctrinally, followers must reject all and every other way of life or living. The word of God through Mohammad as directed in the Koran is taken literally by many of its followers (it is difficult with some passages to see how else one might take them). Many of the Koran's passages are naturally seen as edicts one must follow to be a true Muslim, yet many are simply incompatible with a modern society of the 21st century where humanism, secularism and egalitarianism are celebrated and only enhance our humanity with purpose that has nothing to do with any religious affiliated. It is about time to note this with a dry eye. Ultimately when Islam reforms Islam will find the peace it claims it must currently impose on others.

To critique violence inspired in its name or to critique Islam as the product of so much mystical mumbo jumbo, as with any religion, are entirely consistent activities by atheists everywhere. It is consistent also within a secular, democratic society to, without fear or favour, challenge and critique systems whether political or religious. Atheists critique religion (plural), Islam warrants no special exemption on that basis. Violence perpetrated in the name of Islam should naturally then attract criticism.

Under the microscope yes we do likely have a mad man who was inspired in his madness and by his religion. Sometimes politics makes them mad. Sometimes religion. Sometimes both. It needs to be honestly recognised in this case and similar that the religion of Islam and the phenomenon of Islamofacsism converge to produce real life monsters. Monsters that only increase despite every repeated denial of their origin or existence. It is not as has been erroneously (without any valid or factual basis) and offensively contended that critics of Islam are somehow responsible for inflaming or inspiring terrorist to do their despicable acts. It is the message of Islam that requires examination and rewiring, Islam needs to emerge from or be subsumed by its Middle Ages Ideology. 

"Shahada" is Islam's declaration of the faithful - the first pillar - and translates, without loss of context "There is no God but Allah and his prophet is Mohammad" It was this declaration, announcing the Sydney hostage siege and his act of violence that the self-proclaimed Islamic Cleric (I will not name him as he deserves no honour in being remembered) used to defend Islam and its ideology. Allah is praised or invoked by every suicide bomber, by every so called "insurgent", and, is the sentiment of every rocket or bomb targeting civilians. 

Allah is God? We need less religion if this is the religious manifesto of Islam. The brutal and indiscriminate taking of innocent lives, the imprisonment and torment of hostages is a declaration of war on secularism and democracy in the name of Islam. Give me freedom from having to endure such religion.

If Allah is the message of peace under Islam it is a remarkably violent and oppressive expression in how some followers are manifesting him. 

Note: The future does not rely upon our devotion to any religion or religiously derived ideology. It is instead more contingent upon our survival that we become less religious, less governed by superstition and antiquated God belief systems that endlessly and obsessively fight amongst themselves for pre-eminence as chosen ones in the eyes of their   "God" delusion. 



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Are You A Rare Human?

When humans fail to assist there are more questions than answers.
See No Evil - digital photograph
1. Would you help a stranger who collapses near you in the street?
2. Would you help a stranger who collapses near you in a shop?
3. Would you render any level of assistance a person being attacked in a public place?
4. Would you help strangers you witness being verbally abused with insults and charges of racism at an exhibition you attended? 
Did you answer yes to all situations? Give some consideration to the following scenarios. In every case the event is real, in my case three of these situations I experienced. See if you can put yourself into the position of the "victim" and/or witness then check your answers again. If you still answer faithfully yes you are, in my view, a rare human. 

1. Quite a few years ago now I was out to lunch with companions, as we entered a cafe to make our order a young woman on the outside was struggling to stay standing. She appeared to gain her balance and looked to be about to walk away so I turned to enter the cafe. My lunch companions hadn't noticed anything other than my slight absence and asked what happened to me. When I described what caused my delay some of their reactions startled me which I comment on further down. We made our orders and were about to take a seat when I noticed the same woman now leaning on the cafe window and now sinking to the ground in a complete faint. People outside and inside the cafe were near her, seeing her collapse, but not even those right next to her were offering assistance. They were simply observing or pretending not to notice though passing a sideways glance. Their reactions including those of my own companions suggested to me they thought something else was wrong with her to make her collapse. I immediately went to assist whilst onlookers sat or stood still. I sought the assistance of the cafe staff and they very reluctantly called for an ambulance (what was that about?). I asked if there was any place to take her that was more private so she could lay flat off the concrete and they even more reluctantly suggested the room at the back of the kitchen. It was all rather concerning. She was young, neatly attired, not ranting or making a scene, she had just quietly collapsed. People avoided making any contact with her though and looked on, some in obvious negative judgement, some had expressions akin to pity or embarrassment, for her(?), it was difficult to interpret. it transpired she'd been on her way to an appointment at a nearby hospital to have tests because she had begun fainting without warning on a regular basis. I'm sure a percentage thought she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or some other ailment, but to a degree, this attitude of prior judgement based upon visual observation and perhaps a learnt bias stopped them from duly rendering assistance to a person in need. Some of my colleagues stated they just didn't want to get involved which is possibly an attitude mirrored by the others. Perhaps witnesses variously thought; its nothing to do with me; someone else will help; I don't know what to do; I don't wish to get involved; it is a stranger to me. When I asked my companions, so, you'd just leave her lying there? I did not receive a life affirming response. It shocked me a little then and still now.
Q: Most bystanders in the vicinity of this woman, who could have assisted, failed to do so and with a deliberate intention to not do so. Why?
2. Quite a few years ago my father past away from a heart attack. He had been queueing at the post office to pay his bills and do some personal banking. It was about 3pm. When he collapsed not one other person in the shop, the queue or service counter assisted. A person who entered after the attack had commenced immediately attempted to render assistance and called on the post office staff to do something. Only then did they call an ambulance. They didn't stop serving customers and the original customers didn't stop to help or see if they could assist the one person who did stop and stayed by my father whilst he was convulsing and unconscious. A few years earlier my father confessed to me he had collapsed in the street whilst holidaying in Sydney. He had lost consciousness then too, he didn't know for how long, and when he came to, he was alone, people were just continuing to hurry past him. He picked himself up and carried on. 
Q: In the first instance one person attempted to provide another with comfort and assistance in a crisis. In the earlier instance in a busier location no one did. Why?
3. Disturbingly in this recent case of attempted abduction no one came to the aid of the woman screaming she did not know her attacker, nor has anyone come forward as a witness later to the event that happened in broad daylight in a busy Sydney street. There were plenty of onlookers. People did nothing. No one approached after she managed her own rescue to see if she was unhurt or needed to call family or friends. 

"Someone could have grabbed a number plate. Even now, no one has come forward [to police]. There are no witnesses. I just think people should speak out..."

Q: Why, even later on when safe to do so, would no one come forward to confirm the incident and assist to describe the offender/s, or the car?
4. In 2009 at an art show opening the gallery director loudly and persistently in an ugly incident denounced two artists who's exhibition opening it was, as being racist. Their, "racism" and "racist art" were to leave his gallery. The gallery director, Robert Cripps was not to be reasoned with. Defence of the charge of racism was dismissed with further shouting the artists were to leave their own opening event. This was in front of 30 - 40 people (visitors and gallery attendants), most of whom will have understood who each of the people involved were and what was being declared and why. No one came forward to intervene or state that they disagreed with such claims, people turned their backs and even those close gave only side glances. Focus was on the loud declarations of Cripps and it achieved its aim which was to isolate and humiliate the accused, my co-exhibitor, in particular, and myself. We were summarily evicted then and once more on a subsequent occasion. No one came after us. No one attempted contact to offer support. 
The isolation was deliberate and effective.
Q: Why, even later, when safe to do so did no witness lend support? 
That no one did offer support at the time or later ensured two things. 1. Emboldened the person holding such views. 2. Assisted in and amplified the isolation of the accused.
In events 3 & 4 the victims were deliberately isolated from the "herd" and made more vulnerable by the lack of response of witnesses. This isolation amplifies justification in the mind of the attacker that this is a successful strategy. Such isolation of the victim would embolden attacker/s because no one will or did intervene. In animal training on a very basic level I believe this constitutes positive reinforcement.

Some of the events described above are non threatening, some are intimidating for onlookers "witnesses". In all cases assistance was not forthcoming, if not consciously withheld, by witnesses.

Do these few scenarios describe more than just anecdotal confirmation of my preposition suggesting, that humans are more innately unwilling to render assistance? Despite what we might want to believe about humanity and selflessness humans instead are innately selfish and there is no such thing as an innate predisposition to protect and render assistance. This is the innateness that must be overcome.

In my experience such a being is a rare human. In my experience direct witnesses lack positive contribution and where an attacker is involved witnesses have provided for further or future attacks by extension as they enabled the attacker through their deliberate lack of assistance in the first instance.

So tell me, are you a rare human?



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Defamation law is the DE-Formation of Law

As it is currently framed Defamation Law is a law designed to enable censorship, where it normally would not be permitted to exist, by preventing the imparting of information. Understanding this is critical to understanding why it is a threat to a foundational element of our rights and freedoms.

The right to receive and impart information.

Book Devourer an exquisite corpse by LRaymond and BDumaine
Book Devourer - exquisite corpse - L.Raymond & B. Dumaine Fig.1
We may live in a secular democracy (Australia) but our right to "freedom of expression" as it is termed is consistently tested and undermined by external and internal pressures. Defamation Law is one of these pressures. From within it prevents the imparting of information on grounds that a reputation may be diminished. From without Defamation Law presents a chink in the armour of secular democratic values to be undermined by religious or opportunistic internationals or trans-commercial interests.

In one such example HREOC - The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Australia) assisted in both an internal and external attack on our rights and freedoms. By unreasonable means via its "Combating the Defamation of Religions" report it attempted to assist to institute blasphemy laws world wide, laws intended to undermine our freedoms from within. HREOC participated in an externally driven attack sponsored by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference designed to prevent any criticism of religion, primarily criticism of Islam, by using as its template English (British) Libel Laws upon which the poorly framed Australian Defamation Act of 2005 is based. The aims of the OIC and HREOC was to outlaw all criticism of thought and ideas critical of or antithetic to religion/s by utilising and aligning the framework of Defamation of Religions with (British) Libel tradition. It very nearly succeeded. Why Australians were not more concerned about such an attack on their rights, which were indeed under threat too, is a fair question to ask.

Freedom of expression, as it is currently termed in Australia, is a verbal underplay of the importance of what is referenced, and a diminishing of what should always be termed the Freedom to Impart and Receive Information or Freedom of Speech. How it is believed to work is that however much an individual, or public, or private entity, may wish to suppress information about their actions and deeds this aim will be balanced by the right to freely receive or impart information without fear or favour. This  however, is not the case. Any purported balancing of the ambition to suppress any and all negative information and the imparting of information is instead neutered by Defamation Law. The OIC, and others like HREOC recognise this is the weakness inherent within Defamation Law and attempted, and perhaps will again attempt, to exploit it. Suppression of information, in what ever form and for what ever reason, is what Defamation Law is ultimately framed to achieve. It was an almost perfect fit.

Absurdly the "objects of the act" (s.3 (b).) of Defamation Law and its proponents proclaim it is framed to preserve the right to receive and impart information by not unduly limiting these rights. How so? By limiting that which it proclaims it protects? With a self negating paradox the law and its advocates uphold a farcical contradiction no one within the legal industry will duly recognise. A criticised individual need only claim they are aggrieved by the information imparted about them, their deeds and actions, to achieve validation and representation under the law. Their grievance makes it defamatory to impart material that they would rather was not shared and the law allows for it to be quashed, hidden, pulled from the internet/publication, apologised for and compensated. Deep pockets assist the aims of those interested in securing censorship of their actions or protection from criticism of their ideas with the added inducement of significant monetary compensation for all concerned except the plaintiff(!).

As PILCH points out the law defines defamation as:


Material will be defamatory if it could:
  • injure the reputation of the individual by exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule;
  • cause people to shun or avoid the individual; or
  • lower the individual’s estimation by right thinking members of society.
For a defamation action to be successful, three elements must be satisfied:
  1. the information was communicated by the defendant to a third person other than the plaintiff (publication);
  2. the material identifies the plaintiff (identification); and
  3. the information/material contains matter that is defamatory, regardless of whether the material was intentionally published or not (defamatory matter).
PILCH's definition itself makes no distinction about the truthfulness of bad actions being defamatory. As PILCH imputes any information imparted can be considered defamatory and the defamed has a right to have such information suppressed.
There is not much in the way of the protection of one's right to impart information is there?
The OIC's intention was to utilise the various interpretations of libel/defamation law world wide to prevent criticism of religion/s by adapting a charter that would align "Defamation of Religions" to the concepts above and to acts of a criminal nature. HREOC in their report were only too happy to assist such aims.

HREOC's "Combating the Defamation of Religions 2008" Fig.2

Significantly the elements of "defamation of religion" were being technically aligned to and identified with defamation law. The assertion being that one's religion defines the individual holder of that faith, and so, to critique a religion, is to diminished and expose the individual, the faithful, to... "hatred, contempt or ridicule…" to "lower the individual's estimation…" and thus "injure the reputation". Here is how it would work. By critiquing a particular religion the critic "identifies" the faithful, the individual followers, of that religion with that criticism satisfying the three elements confirming defamation has occurred as criticism was: 1. communicated to other parties 2. criticism of religion identifies individual followers with religion 3. critical commentary causes one to feel injury and therefore defamation has occurred. All very circular reasoning designed to deploy a net of censorship so no ideas or actions may be critiqued.

As one who is enduring a defamation lawsuit I recognise defamation law as a law that is aimed to achieve censorship. If you want to prevent information being imparted you sue, just like Cripps has done with me and my co-defendant. The first legal letter we received charged us with committing a criminal act for which we could receive 3 years "imprisonment". The letter aligned itself to the concepts being discussed above, that is with "Defamation of Religions" by making specific reference to 474.17 of the Criminal Code 1995. This same section is quoted in the HREOC submission "Combating the Defamation of Religions 2008"!
"2.4.2 Section 474.17 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) 
Under s 474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to use a carriage service (which includes the use of the internet or e-mail) in such a way that reasonable persons would regard as being menacing, harassing or offensive."

Williams Winter acting for and representing Robert Cripps in February 2011 Fig.3
Williams Winter letters of demand
And, so Defamation Law brings about the DE-Formation of Law. A law that serves the legal fraternity and those who can afford to engage it and/or for aim$ other than the good proclaimed is intended by the law, making it a law not worth the paper it is drafted to.

Defamation Law must undergo reform or simply go.

As Defamation Law is practiced it manifests itself in contradiction to its claimed purposes and it functions simply for the suppression of information, for the suppression of the criticism of ideas, for the suppression of the right to hold an opinion (which the dictionary defines as "a view or judgment formed about somethingnot necessarily based on fact or knowledge" which the Australian legal industry - judge$ included - ha$ decided mean$ $omething different, that does not square with the definition of the word opinion. Opinion as judged through the prism of Defamation Law becomes a thing that must be supported in fact, which is a perverse manipulation in itself by a $y$tem protective of it$elf above all, not the public good it claims to serve. There is no balance here, no protection of freedom of expression, instead it is a law designed to place "unreasonable limits on freedom of expression".

Defamation Law might eventually implode due to the manipulation and exploitation of its self designed weaknesses or it might undo all of our hard won freedoms. At the moment the law is doing a pretty good job suppressing our rights.

Further reading

Australian Defamation Law Vs the Muscular Citizen
This posting discusses arguments presented, and a review of, a 2005 Redmond Barry Lecture by publisher Morry Schwartz. My blog post title and discussion takes on the ideas raised and incorporates the quote "muscular citizenship". The blog discusses Defamation Law and the way it can be used, as in our experience, to erode rights unless a "muscular citizen" acts.

Attempting the Destruction of the Secular Muse
My counter argument to Robert Cripps' multiple declared claims the entire Humanist Transhumanist exhibition was "racist" purely for the elements critiquing Islam. Even though criticism of relgion/s formed one element only within a presentation of Surrealism consistent with its historical definition (see fig 4). Cripps claim was the entire exhibition was racist and due to any criticism of Islam and Islam alone. Cripps' epic misunderstanding of Surrealism was duly noted to him by us at the time, which he ignored and continued to dismiss, due to what I could and can still only conclude to be his complete ignorance of the genre and contempt of us.
Surrealism defined - taken at the National Gallery of Victoria by Demetrios Vakras (Dec 2013) Fig.4
ARTLEAKS-Artists exhibition critical of religion declared racist by gallery owner- ARE THEN SUED FOR WRITING ABOUT IT
A reportage to an arts community (like an online union for artists and arts workers) on the facts of our being sued and by whom and on what grounds.

Petition Calling for the Reform of Defamation Law - our petition calling for the reform of Defamation Law

This blog post asks the question is it racist to criticise religion and argues to contend that it is racist damages our hard won freedoms. Comments contained in this blog independently confirm Robert Cripps did claim the exhibition was racist. Comments that confirm his action, that convey truth, but that (according to Defamation Law) now in their imparting defame him because they may make others think less of him and so are defamatory?

So any truth makes Cripps look bad, and that since the truth defames him, then ALL evidence is "invalid" because it is defamatory! So no evidence can ever be produced without that evidence defaming Cripps.

Such action by our plaintiff and his crack legal team suggests that this is the latest in a long line of last ditch attempts to quash his difficult critics (us) by complaining that our resistance to censorship makes us more "worser" more "guiltier" defendants.

The whole legal affair has more than a little of the sense of the ridiculous about it and it has developed to become an epic absurdity. So at odds is our experience with the law's self-proclaimed good intention to protect the imparting of information that it cannot be perceived to have worth at all as it fails all such claims.

Addenda - 3 January 2014
From HREOC's "Combating the Defamation of Religions" page - HREOC supports religion = race identity arguments and states the criticism of religion can be said to constitute vilification and hate of a group of people on racial grounds. A concept rejected by Justice's Nettle et al in the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal 2006 -

 "Appeal judges ruling in the Catch the Fire case in Victoria, (Catch the Fire Ministries Inc & Ors v Islamic Council of Victoria Inc [2006] VSCA 284 (14 December 2006): point 35 of the finding reads "The third difficulty with the Tribunal’s reasoning, as I perceive it, is ... the Tribunal’s failure to observe the distinction between hatred of beliefs and hatred of adherents to beliefs..."). The judges set aside a finding of vilification (made by justice Higgins VCAT) on the grounds that the criticism was of an idea (verses from the Koran), and not the individual(s) who held those ideas, and that it was not the intention of the law to protect ideas. In the current defamation act there is no such protection to criticise an idea, although the option remains that an appeal to the High Court will remedy this. Unless the law intends that an idea is legally protected from criticism, then criticism of an idea held by any individual cannot be considered defamatory of the individual holding it."  http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-hon-mark-dreyfus-qc-mp-amend-the-australian-defamation-act-2005




Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is That Your Lovely Bottom?


In June 2009 at the opening night event of an exhibition of my work in an art gallery in Melbourne, the Director of that gallery, Robert Cripps, approached a woman viewing a painting picturing a rear facing female nude and asked her 
"Is that your lovely bottom?"
This was not a question asked by someone with insider knowledge expecting that the woman was actually the model for the work, but a straight out sleazy pick up line, delivered poorly and in inappropriate circumstances. The painting was one of mine and the woman Robert Cripps asked this question of was my manager from my place of work.

Several things are wrong with this picture. A male asking a woman such a question has obviously checked out that woman's bottom and made a distinct comparison. Clumsy and dumb, not complimentary as the deliverer assumes. It is intrusive and sexual objectification in the classic sense. And, worse, it was not only intrusive and embarrassing for my manager, and mortifying from my perspective, it was not just in poor taste, it was unlawful, which I will cover. 
"Is that your lovely bottom?" - digital collage - 2013




































Not unexpectedly the relationship with my manager hit some issues as a consequence of this event. It created an awkwardness and a distance not previously present between us that I can only put down to this event. She had gone to see the art and to support a co-worker she supervised and had experienced sexual harassment in doing so. Though this was not as a consequence of my art work per se, the implication for it being used as a pretext for the making of such an intrusive enquiry is pretty clear. The experience she had of viewing my art work came to be associated with an unpleasant and sleazy encounter in her mind and understandably so.

Cripps had as well inappropriately questioned me, during the installation of my work and the work of my co-exhibitor Demetrios. Cripps pointedly asking me had I modelled for any of Demetrios' works? We had been rearranging the pieces together and I laughed out loud at the time at such a suggestion, mainly at the blatant simple mindedness of it, and informed him firmly no we use professional life models. It was a ludicrous question and one I had been unprepared to receive from anyone let alone the Gallery Director. Demetrios asked me later what was all the hand cupping motions Cripps had been making whilst talking with me, at the other end of the large gallery space? Cripps, I explained, was enthusiastically telling me at that point he loved "all the soft flesh", and the cupping motions he made at the same time were to emphasise the shape of the bottom of one of my female nudes. It was a low point for us in terms of our opinions of this Director who'd by then already demonstrated unreliability and unprofessionalism in other ways. Later when the hanging was completed I checked with Assistant Gallery Manager, at the time, Stacy Jewel, to confirm if everything in her opinion was in order, and whether she knew if Robert was happy, overall, with the presentation? Her reply was an emphatic "Oh Robert, will love it, he will love all the flesh!" This stunned me to a silent nod and a bit of a weak polite smile. It was before the "lovely bottom" incident but was another example of the tone set within this gallery by a director not particularly interested in the art or of the ideas that have inspired it, but more interested in who appears naked in the art.

There is more to it than that though, these are not simply acts of general inappropriateness or a lack of artistic qualification by a person incapable of taking the work seriously or behaving professionally around it, it is more serious because, where and under what circumstances these acts took place, actually constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace which is unlawful. 

Examine the following from HREOC's website
"In what circumstances is sexual harassment unlawful? 
The Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a person to sexually harass another person in a number of areas including employment, education, the provision of goods and services and accommodation."


My work manager attended the art show at my invitation. The person asking her the intrusive questions, as she worked out, was the Gallery Director, Robert Cripps. His actions as well put me at risk by making me a party to an unlawful act due to my having an agreement with the gallery. Witnesses to such conduct are by law considered party to it if they choose to ignore it, which was our situation when I was informed about the "lovely bottom" encounter. 

(According to Section 105 of the Sexual Discrimination Act 1984, we have legal duty to "not permit" Cripps to act in this way, because "for the purposes of this Act, [we could] be taken also to have done the act." (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/sda1984209/s105.html)


SEX DISCRIMINATION ACT 1984 - SECT 105 - Liability of persons involved in unlawful acts
Cripps' questions of me as a client of his gallery constitutes "circumstances [for] unlawful sexual harassment". Cripps' staff and volunteers are protected as well by the act should they have ever experience forms of unwanted, uninvited, non consensual inappropriate proposals of a sexual nature, insults or taunts of a sexual nature, or repeated requests to go on dates…HREOC's advice is quite clear. All of this taking place in an "employment, education, provision of goods and services…" context is unlawful.

"Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual. Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes sexual harassment unlawful in some circumstances."
How many others did Cripps asked these types of questions? What was his conduct towards his staff and volunteers, who were largely female? The full answer is unknown to me however it goes to reason he did likely utilise any opportunity that may have presented itself. 

Robert Cripps' actions, subsequent to his inappropriate comments to my manager, deteriorated so much further into the absurd that any steps we might have taken to tackle this with him were subsumed by his further belligerent actions he conducted to degrade us and our art completely. He declared the show and us racist at the end of our opening night event, kicked us out in front of a crowd of onlookers, repeating this on a second occasion, and subsequently barred us from all access to the gallery. He is now suing us for writing about that which he forced upon us by repeatedly denying all responsibility for doing so on the several occasions we attempted to reason with him.  

The sexual harassment aspects of his behaviour alone have him in a great deal of bother. In Cripps' original April Fools Day writ his inappropriate "lovely bottom" comments were denied. They were instead claimed to be malicious falsehoods by me written when it was known they were not true, and on account of his denial he was claiming $140,000.00 in losses*. He has since admitted to approaching my manager and asking her if that was her lovely bottom, however I am still being sued for "defamation" by him. 

April Fool's Day Cripps Writ - "Injurious Falsehood" - click on image to read.
*$140k? Yes, the demands made by Cripps were and remain unreasonable as are the claims what we wrote of constitute "Injurious Falsehood" at all. Later in the same year as this first demand of $140k Cripps acquired a Steinway D Grand concert piano which go for around that amount retail minimum. Interesting.

As a final point, to create a contrasting perspective, consider this last image with the first image at the top of my article. Would it have been complimentary, okay, appropriate, for men to be asked the same? Did Cripps ask men or was Cripps himself asked "is that your lovely penis?" whilst viewing the paintings shown below? I'm betting not.
"Is that your lovely penis?" - showing on the far Left "the fucking press", centre "kore of the industrial age (girl)", on the right "kouros of the industrial age (boy)" - all by Demetrios Vakras as exhibited during "Humanist Transhumanist" at the failed Guildford Lane Gallery run by Robert Cripps in 2009.












About Leeanneart

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
We are first and foremost human with a responsibility to the humanity within us and not to any faith, political, apolitical, social or societal group, union or faction. We are responsible for our own reputation, and for what deeds we do and what achievements or otherwise in life we enjoy. The rest is nonsense.