I hate having to preach from the Bible but as there are so many evil people who call themselves Christian railing against Bill Henson, David Hamilton, Sally Mann and Jock Sturges that I am moved to such speech. The story is Susanna and the Elders, from the Book of Daniel is about a virtuous woman who is seen naked by two old men. The lustful old men try to blackmail Susanna by claiming that they saw her commit adultery with a young lover. Daniel, the judge finds inconsistencies in the old men’s false evidence and Susanna’s innocence is established. Scenes from this story were popular in art in the 16th to 18th century because it shows that nudity is not a sin and not to believe the slanders but the evidence.
Just as in the story of Susanna and the Elders, the evidence has never backed up the allegations of those people who have seen these nude photographs as pornographic. The so-called Christians who condemn these photographers are willing to bear false witness against their neighbours, slandering them without evidence.
This year’s attack in Australia on photographer on Bill Henson follows a familiar pattern. In 2005 work by photographer David Hamilton were classified as indecent by a British Court but this was left in confusion and Hamilton’s books are still legal in Britain.
In 1992 Sally Mann’s book Immediate Family, which included nude photographs of her own children, was condemned as pornographic by American Christian groups. And American photographer Jock Sturges was raided by the FBI for his photographs of nude children taken in naturist communities but the case was thrown out by a grand jury.
Australia is part of a trend in the U.S. and Britain to engaged in war crimes and to censor photographers for taking photographs of naked children because it is obscene. This moral confusion is a major difference between the Anglo-American culture and European (along with NZ and Canada). Perhaps there is something seriously wrong with Anglo-American culture. “The fascination of girls in childhood and adolescence has appealed to many English artists” Peter Webb, The Erotic Arts (London, 1982) Webb mentions photographers, Lewis Carroll, Peter Widdison and David Hamilton who all produce work focused on nude young girls.