Sat, 19 Sep 2009

Department of potential evidences - fantasy or reality

A few posts on this blog featured how more than sixty years ago surrealist texts thought to be coded messages of anarchists, and more recently kids' scribbles and drawings, doodles and bad poetry have been construed as potential evidence:

David Edgar's article on CiF, The misreading of fiction as fact makes suspects of us all, adds a few more examples to this list and suggests these show a failure to distinguish between fantasy and reality:

Behind these attacks on works of art is the idea that what artists do is an essentially trivial pursuit, easily trumped by considerations of public security, health and safety, or victims' rights. Art isn't trivial, but it's true that no artists have lost their liberty or their reputation by being taken literally. What's happening now is that an erroneous misreading of fiction as fact is being applied in places where artistic integrity cannot be readily employed as a defence, potentially criminalising anybody who indulges in violent or sexual fantasy (in other words, all of us).

What's significant about the recent attempted prosecutions is not just that they are directed at schoolchildren, civil servants and shop assistants rather than people who fantasise for a living. Often brought under serious legislation attracting serious penalties, they have had real and deleterious effects on people's lives.

Arguing that eight email messages taken out of context are thought to be coded messages is among the few public evidence used to hold young Pakistani student as category A prisoners. The ill defined concept of public or national security is also invoked to justify the use of secret evidence in judicial proceedings.

Be literal, be safe!

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