This is the first mission of the alliance, we want you to engage in debate on censorship and the law in Australia, to give you an idea of what is going on and your responses as arbitor we have included a bit of some poor scape-goats history
As an avid long term listener of J3 and the morning show I was pleased to hear you standing up to be counted on behalf of free speech and the rights of people to self determine what they listen to.
In a parallel stream another assault against artists rights has been mounted by stealth. To elaborate,the rights of artists to interogate taboo subjects has been further eroded, for now, as a precident in law, possession of so-called offensive material regardless of intent,is a crime, for example, that of art production ,art is,and can be defined as a form of visual education thus is a educational tool, this fact, the legal profession seems to have great difficulty in accepting. Possession is now seen in matters of law as prima-facie regardless of intent or knowledge of those accused of possession, this type of broad brushed approach in matters of law can land an artist in very hot water indeed, in my case I have lost my job, been vilified in the press and been labelled as a liar as well as a most horrendous title simply for doing research into incest and abuse in families, I did not get the chance to sustantiate my claims in court in any way what so ever, even though I had witnesses and documents and other information that would have assisted my case, the lawyer that i had been allocated by proxy did not follow instruction and was, it seems running to some other agenda (I later learnt his father was a magistrate) he was in retrospect,not prepared to conduct the case to defend me effectively, even although there were assurances that all was fine,to top it off he had over a year to prepare a strong defence, but this did not eventuate. I have been convicted of possession of child-abuse products, as the decision was totally unfair and ill deserved, I filed for an appeal to the supreme court (this after dismissing the lawyer that had made such a mess of my defence at the magistrates court), after a lot of networking I found a new lawyer who I thought would handle the appeal effectively,a proviso for this undertaking was that "only take the case on if there is a stong element of success at getting the conviction dismissed or the case re-heard at the magistates court due to the omission of co-oberating evidence",this was agreed to, of course much discussion then took place prior to the hearing of the appeal, with all the issues regarding the case to date and the outcome and my complaint being discussed. The appeal was heard over two and a half days, all discussion focussed on the magistrates decision and its validity in law, no new evidence was admitted and the outcome was not good because of this ommission. After the appeal was heard, the lawyer I had hired to run the appeal informed me, that should I wish to take the matter to the high court he could not help as he would have a conflict of interest.I was also informed at this time, that the firm that I needed to file against to get the case heard at the high court gives him work, I was told this after the appeal,not before during discussions, this has added to my aready overloaded distrust of anyone in the legal profession, It seems the only way a case can be heard at the High Court is to file a appeal on the grounds of legal incompetence, (this, I had done with the Law Society of Tasmania, but the Society in its wisdom or way of protecting its own have dismissed my complaint ,on money grounds. It was their belief that my money was well spent, they had thus effectively side stepped the core issue of my complaint, for I lodged a complaint on the grounds of misconduct and breach of contract (14 counts in all). I have relodged my complaint asking the Law Society to reconsider my complaint on its original grounds and contacted the law ombudsman about the conduct of the Law Society in its apparet protection of its own. Armed with the mis-guided belief that I could finally get a fair hearing and include evidence that was not included at the magistrates court.the appeal went ahead,no new evidence was admitted and the supreme court only looked at the evidence that had been considered at the magistrates court. thus my appeal failed. I have lost my job and will have to bear the costs of the appeal as well as the sentence yet to be handed down. I have been to see members of parliament about this farce, this kangaroo court called a trial, the transcrips of which were only published for the hearing at the supreme court, the magistrate had instructed that they not be published in full, this I believed left me little option other than pressing on, I contacted a few politicians and and Legal Aid (who siad that they could not offer their services if I wanted to take the matter to the High Court, but also said that I would not be able to admit or include any new evidence that had not been filed in court at any lower level, so now you see the real bind of law and just process, it is not as one expects, legal processis a one shot system. I went to see John White M.L.C. and Duncan Kerr, Federal M.P. who said he would look into the matter but also said he would make no promises, I have written to Sen. Bob Brown also but have recieved no response from him. I have written to all the Civil Liberties Groups in Australia about this matter but have not recieved any help form them. I have written to Arts Law in Sydney but still have had no real assistance there either. The only effective help and advice has been from Irene Graham of Electronic Frontiers Australia.My real worry is that now a precident in law is in place regarding the ambiguoius Censorship Act that does not dove tail with the Classification Act in Tasmania, for the law can be interprited by a single magistrate whose subjective judgement is not informed by the office of classification and censorship, but may instead be motivated by self-beliefs (catholic ethos) or by political pressure or both.
It is odd that videos and books that deal with the unclothed form are classified P.G. but material sourced over the internet which is similar to that of (and includes ) notable photographers such as Sally Mann, Jock Sturges and Graham Ovendon are now seen as offensive in Tasmania I find it incredible that the University server I was using at the time did not post warnings nor ban the sites, that could link the uninitiated to illegal sites without warning. To digress a bit now, but with good reason, the whole matter started as a topic for an assignment as part of course study for the Bachelor of Teaching Degree at the University of Tasmania we were instructed to develop an assignment on child abuse in 1998 and during this research as instructed I used the internet (for the first time) to find information, whilst in company of another student similarly engaged, we found a real paedophilic site and were amazed and revolted at what we saw, I rang crime-stoppers and asked them what I should do, I was told to down load it and print out a copy and send it to a specific person at Hobart Police Headquuarters, this was done and I thought nothing more on the matter, believing I had done what I should have but in retrospect, well I dont know. As a new coputer user,(I purchased my first computer in 1998) (it was second-hand and had little memory) in fact in crashed constantly and the only way to store information was to disc to try and prevent this problem, I used a single click and drag technique to load information from cache to disc, which negated the need to open the files,thus they could be loaded unseen.(Windows 95 would allow this.) for review at a later date,thus not all the material stored on disc had editorial scrutiny, the fact was that I had intended to work on the art work when I had upgraded the computer memoryand had purchased an Adobe program that would allow me to "morph " images to create a number of cyber generated reliefs that I could use in an installation , using the idea of a micro-community to illustrate in a visual way the incidece of abuse in a visual way, The idea of the dicotamy between the "lolita complex" and the "electra complex" being central to the idea, my aim was to invite debate that would be pro-active in addressing the issue of "biting the hand that feeds you syndrome" but time (high level of academic study demmands and a dissolution of a long-term relation-ship with the accompanying legal and financial negotiations and financial constraints put the art project on the back-burner.
Not long after this relationship disolution, I had met a female student with whom I found a level of commonality, she told me of her plight, regardig her ex-husband who she had accused of molesting their twin daughters, the husband had counter-sued her with deformation, (he had followed her across three states to end up in Hobart situated across the road from the childrens school in contrivention of restraining orders, I ended up as her body-guard (she contacted the Glenorchy Police (city just north of Hobart) about her husbands location, she feared he might abduct one or both of them, the police said they were powerless to do anything until he did something I continued to be the families shadow until her parents arrived from the mainland having sold their property to closly guard and watch the children, she and I were full-time university students at the time, she later disappeared with her children and so did her parents, I later recieved a phone call from the federal police this not long after her notable absence from uni. I was asked if I knew of her present whereabouts, to which I responded I did not,for I could not contact her at her last known address.
Soon after I formed a relationship with another women and in conversations she told me of her childhood, during which she too suffered abuse. These two factors coupled with the information that the University topics research on abuse had bought to light drove me to begin work in earnest on an art work which had incest as a focus, as we well know this is a taboo area.
But events in life change and I was offered a teaching position in 1999 to begin in the year 2000. My work-load during this, my first year in the field.in the year 2000, was excessive, I was allocated a 5 subject teaching load, all outside my trained teaching area, that of Art, this demmands of the job, lesson preps and marking left me little time to develop the art-work I had in mind on the issue of incest.this gives you some back-ground at least as to time constraints and why things were as they were.
As part of my teaching responsibility I was obliged to report any suspected forms of abuse be they physical, mental, I was obliged to do this (under the decree of "duty of care" as a teacher). I suspect that I came too close to finding out about a real pepetrator, this due to disclosures by one student in particular, about whom I was compling a report, having informed my superiors of my suspicions,somehow word got out, and to defect focus a complaint was lodged against me ,my home was raided by the police and all my computer discs were seized, later over 3/4 of them were returned, I was subsiqently charged with possession of child abuse products 654 to begin with, although all those that had knowledge of them said only five could be considered as offensive,and of these five only one had I seen before being shown them at an interview at the local police station, it was one of the set we had sent to crime-stoppers, my assertions that I was collecting material for an art work were not accepted and I was later convicted with possession of 103 but this too is excessive.Had a censorship board been able to view these images they would have been of the same opinion as all those who had veiwed them (at least in this area both lawyers agreed, of course on separate occasions). The agenda of the prosecuting lawyer was clear as he stated that all nudes he regarded as offensive. But to me as a figurative artist they areessential tools of communication. The magistrate stated "It would not matter how many images were removed" which was an indicator of his judicial impartiality. The case has run on from August 2000 until now November 2002 I have lost everything, possessions ,job, reputation. and a large amount of money, I have little option other than to make it known that the judicial system is a one shot system, in other words if not all evidence is admitted at the magistrates court it cannot be considered at a higher level of appeal, so I am told, but then who can you trust in the legal proffession when your interests are so ill-served and other agendas are effected without your knowledge.
So once again another liberty is eroded and the ugly head of conservative control is exacted by stealth. It is as if society is still in denial of the depth of the problem of incest and abuse, and its high incidence in society,By not wanting to focus on the issue and engage in remedial debate, the problem is perpetuated and perpetrators are still free to commit assaults with a form of impunity,free of punishment or treatment. I am but a scape-goat in this for getting too close to the bone and for wanting to seek redress in this a difficult area call it "bite the hand that Feeds you syndrome" As it is well known education as to boundrty sets would help this problem of abuse and a better form of understanding of a childs rights not as a commodity but as a person would be pro-active.
As a teacher I have seen the result of abuse in its many guises usually maifest in attention seeking behaviour.
It seems authority has difficulty in separating ones private life and aspirations from ones public life and in my case I had to sacrifice one to embrace the other and as a practicing artist who strongly focusses on social realism I had little choice, but to be seen as a liar, and an intentional possessor child-abuse products for some sexual reason is a really bitter pill considering my real intentions and the numerous character witnesses who understand that as a social realist this was to be nothing more than another artistic statement, driven to inception this time by very personal reasons, (those I empathised with), if one considers those that I have met that have life-long damage because of child-hood problems, It's strange being a scape-goat but this title like all those I have recently been awarded is a liitle undeserved to say the least. By the way, I am not the only person to fall foul of this ambiguous legislation, there is a heavy metal band that is suffering a similar fate, known as "Intense Mental Hammerage" they too have been similarly charged with possession of child-abuse products on their C.D. covers, this coupled with this new federal legislation that so few could get in place has a similar sound as does my case and theirs, collusion with police to tighten legislation over free speech ,for which we as Australians have no 5 ammendment to protect. Interestingly both cases are being heard at the magistrates court in Burnie in northern Tasmania. A well known consevative strong-hold.
Why am I writing this rather compact version of events? Well regardless of what you do with this information or interprit this document I think there is a degree of urgency in making this new attack on artists rights known. I see the result of these actions in legal process as covert action against free speech using censorship as a tool its clear the agenda is to continue down this blind puritanical pathway for some time or until there is a unified backlash to force these right wing extremists to look within themselves before imposing their ill-informed agendfied will on the rest of us. Please bear in mind all of my statements and claims as to evidence can be substantiated regarding my case,the rest is supposition, but my have so fact in reality, considering the censorship agena revealed in the C.D. legislation debate,I well remember the admission"all offensive and provocative C.D.s should be banned...". Morning Show phone interview..Should you wish to chat, we can be reached on e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org