Media responsible for publication of photos of child nudity

For those who have not already caught this story, a row broke out last week when an art gallery in Paddington, Sydney, put on display (and on their website) images that many people would consider to be child pornography (see the article “Moral backlash over sexing up of our children” by Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald).

When the entire collection was online (now removed), at least one of the images was a full frontal nude shot of a young teenage girl (13 years old). The Melbourne newspaper The Age took it upon itself to reproduce one of the images of one of the young girls, topless, in an article in apparent support of the “artist”. The article, “The controversial career of Bill Henson”, on the website of The Age, included the topless photo of a young teenager, but this was removed following calls by Protectionists on the Australian Identity Forum, and via email campaigning, for people to lodge formal complaints. The photo’s removal was a victory for those who believe that nude photos of children should not be displayed in the media.

The fact is that there was no need for the photo of a nude child to be displayed in The Age, nor in any other media outlet. The editors could easily have ordered that a black strip be placed over the necessary areas. This is not a freedom of speech issue; for instance, if The Age wanted to advocate that paedophilia be legalised (which we assume they do not; if anyone did support that, we would oppose them to the end) then that is one thing – freedom of speech (especially of views that many people oppose) is an essential part of democracy. But, instead of publishing free speech, the media have published child pornography.

Further, it is the irresponsible sections of the media that should be blamed for the public damage that these young girls will be suffering now and in the future. Some of the photos on TV news programmes had their faces blanked out, but there were other reports in the media which showed their faces (including in The Age) – why did they not place a black strip over their faces? There is a huge difference between being seen topless in an art gallery and being seen topless by millions across the nation. It would be terrible to think what those girls are, and will be, going through when they go to school and have other dealings in their local community. The photographer and the parents could be blamed for the taking of the photos, but any subsequent embarrassment, humiliation and other suffering caused by the widespread publication of these nude child photos lies squarely on the shoulders of the irresponsible media newshounds.

Australians need to demand that all children are protected from the publicity-greedy hands of immoral media types.

Moral backlash over sexing up of our children, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 2008
APP successful in campaign against child nudity “art” exhibition, APP, 23 May 2008
The controversial career of Bill Henson, The Age, 25 May 2008
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery to display child pornography (reply 16), Australian Identity Forum, 26 May 2008

3rd June 2008

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