So I write something that seems offensive to some. They take the initiative to report the offensive material and it is sent through the processes of inquisition. It is found to be “undesirable” and thus banned under the ever vigilant eye of the law.
According to social norms, quite often books or artwork are banned because of morally offensive interpretations and the offending of social sensibility. The question lies with who it is that determines these morally and socially accepted norms.
Quite often, the law comes to determine these norms and, frankly, this is a worrisome affair as the law is a blunted instrument when it comes to the determining hegemonic norms for society’s morality. Before I get burned at the stake for this statement, allow me to explain the train of thought that goes with it.
The law has, in past examples, interpreted high art much in the same way as it would people. Books and artworks are held to the same standards in the eyes of the law as one who is to be tried at trial. The problem is that discursivity does not perpetuate a crime; instead, it merely discusses the issue. Can we truly ban a novel for portraying rape or murder? Well, that would be indecorous. The fact remains that words do not perpetrate a crime, thus, it has no business being punished for it through banning.
What the law concisely misses is that art needs interpretation; equally as much as the law does. The law lacks such linguistic and grammatical tools to effectively judge the relevance of art to society. Tools such as metaphor, similes connotations etc. are explicitly ignored as this is not the speciality of the law. Instead, art is judged through literal lenses which act more as a camera obscura than a microscope.
The truly maddening issue is that the most important point of high art is missed by the law due its inability to effectively interpret art; the moral behind a story. This is where the true lessons of our art are rooted. While rape, murder or sexual deviance may be themes within art, these are merely tools to convey both salient as well as more subtle morals to the audience.
What is even more complex is when art uses these grotesque tools to deconstruct hegemonic notions of morality to pose morals which would otherwise be obscured from the audience. All of this the law misses. Is it then not fair appraisal that it should be deemed a blunted instrument?
It is my firm belief that no form of discursivity should ever be banned for offending the moral sensibility of an audience. Without art being able to discuss these issues that people would rather sweep under the rug as taboo, how would we face our grotesque issues?
If art does not impose on the basic human rights of others, then it should not be banned.
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