Sunday, February 17, 2013

Petition calling for Defamation Law Reform in Australia

think, speak, see, hear no evil
This petition that I am a co-author to aims to highlight the problems with and required remedies needed for the reform of defamation law in Australia.

My co-author and I draw on our real experiences. We think the debacle we have endured should not be endured by others but know it will continue to happen over and over as long as truth merely limits punishment for having defamed. Truth needs to be central whereas as it now stands truth can only form part of the justification to defame. In our petition we argue that if truth is demonstrated there can be no defamation. Truth is not capable of defaming. Due to how it is currently framed defamation law can be labelled a censorship law. Because it limits, if not severely impedes, the ability to receive and impart information. 

The following characteristics of defamation law reveal it is the intention to censor: 

1. to confirm truth of what was imparted admits guilt, that defamation has occurred;
2. that truth is only a defence which may or may not limit damages a defendant will be liable for;
3. truth is characterised as harmful and only available as justification; 
4. that a claimant need only state they are aggrieved to be defamed by what was imparted, truth;
5. that fear of expensive litigation inspires self-censorship if not a complete chilling of speech;
6. that defamation law is so expensive this deliberately limits its access to wealthy litigants;
7. that wealthy litigants with an interest to conceal truth will use the cost of litigation to deter defendants with lesser financial means;
8. that the law due to its expense and further financial punishments act as a standing deterrent and threat for plaintiffs to unfairly influence (coerce) legitimate defendants into backing down;

I could go on...

How is it that the law is framed in such a manner that it so limits the freedom to receive and impart information for fear one may be sued and delivered into financial ruin? As it is close to doing to us.

Freedom to impart information comes with responsibility but our laws should not be framed so as to shoot the messenger for imparting truth. This is Australia not medieval Britain. Australian freedoms and rights to receive and impart information are at stake here. This law looks backwards to outdated concepts of Lèse-majesté. Retaining such antiquated conventions only drives us further backwards in our thinking and behaviour. It is a diabolical manifestation of the cultural cringe in action. 
Time to step up and away from the UK. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Free art ?

Number 1 according to ArtReview
Photograph: Uwe Zucchi/dpa/Corbis
FREE art doesn't exist despite that art curators like Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (left) will chortle with her cronies about how it is the accepted expectation. And, as it appears, all artists no matter how well known, established and collected by institutions they may become they are still seen as the most inconvenient aspect of putting on an art show because horror of horrors they too expect to be paid for their efforts/work/ideas/expertise. 
These fashionable elite who laughalong with her about how the participating artists (to paraphrase) don't need to be paid because their work is being used and featured in the show, are no more than art and idea thieves aimed at benefiting their own aggrandisement and commercial targets, mere promoters of their exclusive and stylish events.
They believe, and will have us all agree, that artists are grateful to have been chosen and will be happy for the thin air of acknowledgement alone. Acknowledgement is a given, it is illegal not to do so and it essentially costs nothing. What a boon for the artist, congratulations Carolyn et al.
See what you think, the video goes for a couple of minutes, funny and insightful stuff by W.A.G.E 
The problem for artists, from the dizzying heights of the world of Art Museum's to the lowly self-funded exhibitor is it is the over-whelming expectation that artists thrive on the concept of their poverty - this is the corollary of the silly idea that all they need is recognition. Well, no that is incorrect. Art is not a charity. Art costs money to produce, in time and materials and it also costs in terms of idea. The thought that goes into the production of innovative skilled art, that changes or challenges our thinking, costs the artists and benefits the culture into which it emerges.
It is an extraordinary experience to receive adequate recompense, for most artists. For most this will remain a dream, never a true reality, but to actively reinforce as accepted practice the non-compensation of artists for their time, efforts, ideas and work, because these "masters" (who know better) think that we artists (servants) will be happy with recognition alone, is deliberately self-deluding, deceitful, cheap and unsustainable. 
But then perhaps this is because it is not about Art (skill, ideas, drama, innovation, human endeavor and excellence) at all? 
Society pays gladly for ephemeral experience and products possessing the life span of flavoured chewing gum but balks at the real cost of art. Artists need to be paid as is the expectation of any other professional. Most artists cannot eek out any living based upon what they earn from their work, to try to do so would mean living below the poverty line. Very few artists come from privilege and connection so they have to try to make it alone. It usually means some brilliant art and artists are never recognised for what they bring to the world - and for the most part it seems with the expectation that it is created for free use. How very altruistic of the artist, so that the public can have free visual experiences or cheap entertainment whilst the organisers of events and the politicians and eminent persons funding the institutions receive the recognition, kudos and commercial gain.
This is not a new refrain but one now with an up to date reference point for protest - see link above. Thanks to W.A.G.E. for shining a light on the pretty crap attitudes and expectations of our world top 100 arts/cultural elite.
The subject/s who inspired W.A.G.E are according to ArtReview the top 100 most influential power
elite of the art world. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

World Hijab Day founder asks The Sisterhood to support gender discrimination

Addenda - 3 Feb 2013
Meanwhile in now liberated Mali - "Inside, the floor is littered with documents, including a ring-binder with details of women flogged for not wearing the veil. Family members were made to put a thumbprint to show they acknowledged the punishment and would supervise the accused in future." The Guardian 

"I figured the only way to end discrimination if we ask our fellow sisters to experience hijab themselves”
World Hijab day founderNazma KhanIn fact what Khan is asking is for all women to participate in an event that promotes arguments that legitimise the sexual discrimination of women by Islam. It is a call to demonstrate for "tolerance" unlike any other and it smacks of stark contradiction. What is discrimination if we support that woman should be separated and concealed due to their gender? What is tolerance if we must mimic and embrace such conduct in order to show tolerance of what is arguably intolerance of and by gender? The World Hijab Day website claims "Better Awareness. Greater Understanding. Peaceful world." It is "fun and challenging" to ask someone who doesn't wear a hijab to jump on board for the good of tolerance and world peace. I do not think world peace rides on one aspect of the Muslim dress code for women but the world would be a better place if religions like Islam were better aware of and understood the meaning of women's equality and human rights generally.There is no "World Nun's Habit Day" or "World Tibetan Monk Attire Day" or "World long-sleeves Orthodox Jew Day" no "Men Wear a Burqua for the Day"…day! Any similar calls from other religious groups and or the unlikely call for men to wear "veiled" garments would be just as inappropriate as our subject. World Hijab Day (as with any of these other suggestions) flies in the face of reason and the facts. Why? Because these garments have a very specific meaning and symbolism. It is "just about modesty" as a wearer assures. And, so what of women who do not wear it? Are they therefore immodest and how far do we go to establish this desirable status of modesty? A Christian Nun takes a vow of celibacy, is effectively married to God, and wears a Habit to establish this fact before the world. She becomes a handmaiden to God and renounces sex. In contrast a Muslim woman's veil represents her status sexually and that she is sexual property unavailable to anyone other than the man to whom she is married or intended to marry. The practical and symbolic purpose of the veil is to conceal and send a message. Islam demands that female followers conceal themselves in public and in some countries this must be performed completely as with the Burqua. A woman may as well wear a placard warning that she is a woman and is the sexual property of a man. The veil ensures her status as sexual property is advertised. A participant of World Hijab Day Jess Rhodes (she is non-Muslim) explains in her view the Hijab is a "choice" and that she will "wear it from time to time…I'm saying to the world, my beauty is for my family and my partner. Any woman can wear this."Rhodes should understand this is not fun and games dress ups to be followed at a whim or by choice. A practicing Muslim women cannot view the Burqua as something to throw on or decline to wear when and where she may decide. Her particular Islamic upbringing and community decide whether she wears the Hijab or Burqua. Rhodes gets one aspect correct in her statement, the attire is to conceal her "beauty", as she puts it. From whom does she mean though and why would she need to do so? 

Islam too accepts the "veil", the "hijab", the "burqua", are to conceal a womans "beauty". This beauty is to be concealed not from other women nor other people generally, the concealment is of her sexuality specifically from the observation of men. There is the by-product character endorsement of the woman for wearing the correct veil through her community's approval. She is good because she demonstrates she is "modest". The opinion of one's community of an individual is important to some and it determines one's good standing within it. So by complying with the requirement for public concealment, due to her sex, by upholding her religious community's standards she will enhance her status by conforming to what is the standard for a female in Islam. How this translates into a form of choice and act of free will for Muslim women is obscure. 

Muslim women in 2010 protesting against calls to ban the Burqua with a slightly skewed additional message - The placard on the left reads "You Burn 'Quran'…You Burn in Hell! United in Islam we Stand!!!" - Very colourful and on message. (my caption)
Pictures: Amos Aikman 
Source: The Australian
The World Hijab Day organiser Nazma Khan asks that we normalise the wearing of the hijab, its intended purpose, and its symbolism. Whatever our faith or lack of faith she asks all women to wear it in protest against intolerance. She fails to see her own contradiction. It is intolerance that requires any woman must wear additional concealing garments because she is female and must keep her "beauty" hidden for the eyes of her male partner and family alone. What ever the style of "veiling" of a women, from the hijab to the burqua, it means that women are the sexual property of a man and not to wear it demonstrates "immodesty". With this logic it is no leap of faith to conclude Islam prefers all women comply with its codes of dress and conduct for women. 

If Helen Szoke, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner had her way we would not speak of such things at all. Because raising the issue "threatened the safety of Muslim women". Well that's that then, we mustn't discuss it, acknowledge it, critique it or we are risking the lives of Muslim women. She does allow that everyone is entitled their "opinion"…I think she means ideas…but that they just must not voice it. Szoke determines opposition to veiling of women to be opinion. It is a fact that women are required in Islamic communities to wear a form of "veil" that they have little choice in the matter and not to do so separates them from the community and labels them immodest. It is not my opinion that this is the opposite of tolerance and freedom of choice. As a commissioner of equal opportunity and human rights Szoke makes a good apologist of discrimination against women.
Islam does not view women as equal, individual, and with the freedom to go about their lives independently. Even at a protest rally demanding respect and tolerance for the way Islam handles matters regarding women and how they should dress in public this is demonstrated. 

Muslim men enthusiastically support / supervise Muslim women protesting against calls to ban the Burqua in 2010 - (my caption) 
Pictures: Amos Aikman Source: The Australian

Source of protest images -

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.