With Friends Like This…

Did I read this story right?  The BC Civil Liberties Association just condemned a piece of art. Because it’s offensive.

Excuse me, but you are the CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION.   And free speech, artistic expression, including things that offend others, is pretty much one of the basic points.

The art in question is a mural at a Vancouver fire station, in the Downtown Eastside.  It has a picture of Death, and says, “Its not the end of the world but we can see it from here”.  It suggests that the Downtown Eastside is a hellish, drug addicted place.  So, art that reflects a view of the downtown eastside as hellish and drug addicted is offensive.  It’s a comment on the often not too pleasant world of the downtown eastside.  Art with a political message.

Guernica, Picasso’s Spanish civil war masterpiece, was a comment on the Spanish civil war.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was art with a political message.

Now, the mural in the firestation is no Picasso.  But, if the civil liberties association only came to the defense of artists with Picasso-like talent, well, they wouldn’t be very busy.

The BC Civil Liberties Association seems to have lost its way.  It is now worried about hostile workplaces because of expressive artistic conduct. What’s next? Defending complaints under the hate speech provisions in the Human Rights Code? Or under the Criminal Code?  With friends like this, real civil libertarians don’t need enemies.

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