Xingwana’s stance on porn

2010-03-11 10:37

The brouhaha over Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana stance against what she perceived to be pornographic art exposes the danger of interest group who desire to impose social scripts.

Ironically, freedom of expression is about defending to the death the right of those who disagree with you more than saying what you like.

Despite the hysteria around the Minister’s alleged political incorrectness, the pro-lesbian and free art lobby group must show courage by defending her right to differ with them.

It would seem that there is a blatant agenda by those who have appointed themselves the custodians of the constitution to discredit and label anyone who is offended by what they consider to be pornography.

What is worse is that this is done with so much arrogant self-righteousness under the guises of defending the rights of artists who are supposedly victims of censorship.

But advocates of freedom of expression are not expected to use bully tactics to bludgeon the views and sentiments of those who disagree with them.

There are many people who recognize and support the Minister’s freedom of choice and association, among other rights, which resulted in her distancing herself from what she perceived to be offensive.

Without being fully aware of the consequences of their mobilisation tactics, the pro-lesbian and free art lobby groups are hell-bent on imposing their world view on everybody, including those who do not support their values.

This could, inadvertently, see these interest groups become part of the anti-free expression problem that they claim to fight against by refusing the minister – and those who support her – to express her own choices.

Perhaps what we need to consider is that according to religious and cultural norms that most people subscribe to, pornography and same-sex are tendencies that are not yet fully accepted in our society.

Most citizens, if they were to be canvassed, would support the Minister’s stance against what she perceives to be pornography or same-sex indulgences.

Much as the interests groups have a right to disagree with the Minister’s take, they should go out of their way to also defend her right to disagree (with their world view and values.)

Perhaps the issue at hand is not even the fact that the Minister disagrees with their understanding or definition of art, but how she expressed it.

We need to remind ourselves that South Africa is a fledgling democracy that is still undergoing a transition from what it was to what it ought to be.

Many tenets and ideals enshrined in our world-acclaimed constitution have yet to be tested.

The Minister has stated it clearly that she wants society to ‘debate’ the issue of what constitutes art.

This has provided the best opportunity for us to interrogate the role and responsibility of artists in the reconstruction of a new democracy after centuries of racial division and censorship.

Therefore we should engage in intellectual discourse instead of cheap political point scoring exercises that are intended to show up the Minister as some philistine.

Nobody should be forced, manipulated or labelled as anti-free expression simply because they disagree with the content of an artist’s work.

In a free and democratic society, artists should not be afraid of ideas that challenge them or critically interrogate what they do.

Instead, artists should lead the assertion of the rights of those who disagree with them.

And that, my dear artist, is absolute freedom of expression!

Sandile Memela
Senior Marketing Manager
Department of Arts & Culture

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