Offensive T-shirt or free speech

If you are sensitive about Christian and nun stuff be wary of what follows (or skip this one).

There’s a controversial T-shirt on display at Canterbury museum. A Catholic bishop, a Cahtolic blogger, Christchurch’s Anglican Bishop and Bob McCoskrie arel complaining about it’s offensiveness with Family First planning laying a complaint with police about the “highly offensive” display.

Should offensiveness be shut up? Shades of Charlie Hebdo.’

Stuff describes the problem in Offensive t-shirt in Canterbury Museum exhibition.

A Canterbury Museum exhibition is sparking outrage ahead of its display of a banned t-shirt depicting a graphic image of a nun and explicit abuse of Jesus.

The image and words are printed on a t-shirt that appears in the T-Shirts Unfolding exhibition, which opens at the museum tomorrow.

Entitled Vestal Masturbation, the shirt is the design of English heavy metal band Cradle of Filth.

On the front it shows an image of a masturbating nun while on the reverse it has the phrase “Jesus is a c***”.

I can understand some people being offended by that but I find it quite interesting, thought provoking and a bit clever when you think it through.

But some just see offence they want to shut down.

Christchurch’s Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews…

…questioned why the t-shirt needed to be included in the exhibition at all.

Cartoons and ridicule of the prophet Mohammed had led to violence and outrage in Islamic countries, and the public needed to consider whether what happened here could “have repercussions across the globe”.

“At a time when we are seeking ways to reconcile extreme views in the international community, this exhibit could feed the accusation that the West is morally bankrupt,” she said.

“The inclusion of this t-shirt as art in an exhibition is a conversation for the wider community with issues of mutual respect, common decency and what the public wants and does not want.”

I’d be surprised if this sparks repercussions around the globe. It would be more eyebrow raising if religious groups get it banned.

And it’s ironic the Bishop sidesd with Muslims wanting to shut down anything critical of their religion.

Catholic blogger Brendan Malone…

…said in a blog post that a museum should bring a community together, but Canterbury Museum’s decision to hold this exhibition was “irresponsible” and would “result in unnecessary harm” to the public.

“Canterbury Museum has chosen to make itself a place that fosters intolerance and division – and what’s worse; as a ratepayer I am being forced to fund this intolerant and divisive behaviour.”

He questioned whether the museum would display a t-shirt that “attacked and ridiculed Islam” in the same way.

Malone also launched an online petition on asking for Canterbury Museum to “remove the hateful t-shirt” and “stop dividing the community”.

The petition said the museum should act with more community responsibility and respect for its local funders by removing the t-shirt from its exhibition.

Clainming the display fosters “intolerance and division” is a tad ironic given the intoelrance of expression tha Malone displays.

Catholic Bishop Barry Jones…

…also criticised the controversial t-shirt. “Anglican and Roman Catholic nuns enjoy wide respect and the misogynistic message on the t-shirt is appalling,” he said.


Family First…

…planned to lay a complaint with police about the “highly offensive” display.

“The museum should show some respect to the many families who will be horrified and offended by this and remove the offensive material,” national director Bob McCoskrie said.

“Sinking to these low levels is an insult to many families.”

I’ve been insulted by Christians but I haven’t thought of complaining to the police.

Canterbury Museum director Anthony Wright…

…said the shirt was a small part of a large exhibition examining the garment’s place in popular culture.

“When you do a show like this you deal with the edges of our culture and society. There are inevitably going to be some items and themes that are going to be offensive to some.

“It’s there because it is a valid part of an overall story about a whole cultural movement. We want to tell the whole story without unduly censoring things.”

So is it ok in that context?

Or should anything that could be found offensive by religious people be banned?

I wouldn’t go to see it but I wouldn’t try and stop others from seeing it.