Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[BRIEF NOTE] Côte-St-Luc, Art, and Empathy

Chris at Zeke's Gallery has more on the decision by the Montréal borough of Côte-St-Luc to withdraw the photos of Zahra Kazemi from public display. As he points out, borough mayor Robert Libman's claim to have been tricked by Kazemi's son into displaying potentially controversial photos isn't at all credible. No one saw these photos before they were mounted?

The actions taken in Côte-St-Luc are troubling, and not only because of their implications for public patronage of the arts. The photos were taken down, as Libman and his supporters admit, because they were unpopular, politically charged in a way that would be resented by at least a minority of the local population. Taken to its logical conclusion, this argument could be used deny the logitimacy of any cultural expression that challenges one's prejudices, or encourages someone to develop a bit of empathy. Public art, in the view of Côte-St-Luc's government, shouldn't be allowed to challenge orthodoxies even incidentally, not even when the art is produced by someone who died because she tried to challenge orthodoxies. Being tricked into feeling empathy with someone else is something that must be avoided at all costs, it seems. After all, why should we care about the Other in a multicultural society?

See CBC Montreal for more coverage. Reporters sans frontières and PEN Canada have also made public their critical reactions to the censorship.
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