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Entertainment behind the scenes

Where should artists draw the line?

November 28, 2007

perry.jpgPlenty of artists, be they writers, painters or potters, have spoken about the rise of self-censorship when it comes to potentially contentious issues like religion. The trouble is that whatever is self-censored does not see the light of day, and so will never be recorded.

That is why it was interesting to read comments attributed to Perry Grayson, a British cross-dressing potter and winner of the prestigious Turner Prize, in which he said he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise provocative work out of fear of a threat of reprisals.

That raises two issues.

One is the broad question pitting freedom of expression against the sensitivities of a particular group or religion, the kind of debate that surrounded moves by a Christian activist to take a BBC executive to court for the broadcaster’s decision to air “Jerry Springer-The Opera”, which many Christians found offensive.

The other is whether artists are more nervous when dealing with Islam than they are with other religions, Christianity included. It is an argument made recently by the lawyer representing Stephen Green, the Christian pursuing the “Jerry Springer” case, who said no theatre would have staged the musical had it targeted Islam not Christianity, and nor would the BBC have aired it. Many would argue that the broadcaster is also unlikely to have run such an unrestrained send-up of Judaism.

Should artists have complete freedom of expression, without fear of reprisals? Or do they have a responsibility to take into account the feelings of communities who may not agree with their position? Should they treat one community or religion differently from another? There have been many cases highlighting the dilemmas in recent years, and there are likely to be many, many more.


I am an artist and some of my work points the finger at religion and other aspects of the “state”,what I have created already may rise eyebrows,that is the idea of it to make people take notice and think. with censorship there is no voice with self censorship we might as well cut out our own tongues.


The reticence to attack judaism in a play of this sort, if it exists, only exists after the shock and shame caused by the German mass murder of millions of Jews.There was no objection to this on the part of “moral authorities” such as the Vatican or the church of England.
Secondly there is an undoubted fear of offending the “Arab world” because of their stranglehold on oil ressources. Islam would be a no-go in religious philosophical, or political debate, if those ressources were in Iceland or Norway, for example.

Posted by elliot | Report as abusive

well if the arabs hhave the stranglehold on the black stuff lets find an alternative fuel then that shall stuff them good and proper


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