THERE has been much hue and cry about The Spear painting. It is debated that this is art ("Fresh drama over painting”, May 25). It has created a major challenge to anyone trying to justify freedom of expression.
This freedom is entrenched in section 16 of our constitution. Section 16(1)(c) states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression which includes freedom of artistic creativity.”
But section 16(2)(c) also states: "The right in subsection (1) does not extend to advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.”
I believe art in the civilised world refers to aesthetics that should have the effect of ennobling us for the refinement of mankind. Civilised society is endangered by the unaccountable advent of a spirit – sinister, ghastly and ruthless, trying to plunge us into barbarism. Whatever some people may try to pass off as art, this painting, The Spear, can only be considered vulgar, rude, offensive, crude, improper and coarse, as well as downright disgusting, repulsive, sickening, ghastly, filthy, sordid, nauseating, and repellent.
As you can see I feel so strongly about this that I have exhausted the thesaurus for words that are strong enough to express my revulsion.
I believe protest is necessary, and any voice of dissent should be recognised and should be allowed to be heard. If some people find the alleged behaviour of our president not to be acceptable, this protest should be heeded, but the office of the president is the highest office in our state and should be respected as such.
The incumbent of that office has as much responsibility to respect the dignity of the office as the rest of the population. The disgusting painting can be seen as an insult to the dignity of the office of the president.
The first value in the founding provisions of the constitution provides for human dignity. As such, dignity can be seen to be one of the main foundations supporting our constitution. It cannot be denied that this painting must offend the dignity of the majority of the humans in South Africa.
In consideration of whether or not this abomination can be defended by the constitution, it cannot be denied that this thing does constitute "advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm”. At best it should cause some good and at worst it should not cause any harm even if no good can come of it.
The situation with this piece of filth is that no good can come of it, and that it indubitably advocates hatred and can cause nothing but harm. As such I do not see how our constitution, which can be held up as an example as the best piece of just legislation in the world, can be used to defend a piece of rubbish that does nothing but offend and attack the very heart and spirit of the constitution itself.
Robert Leonard, Port Elizabeth