Tuesday, May 22, 2012

South African President Compares Himself to a Rape Victim

Because of a painting that shows his genitals:

SAfrica: Zuma seeks ban on artwork; vandals hit
JOHANNESBURG — South African President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress sought a court order Tuesday to have a painting depicting the president's genitals removed from an art gallery but two men took matters into their own hands by defacing the portrait with gobs of paint.

The case pits freedom of expression against the right to dignity, both guaranteed by South Africa's constitution. The painting by Brett Murray went on display in a Johannesburg gallery this month and came to the ANC's attention a week later, after local media reported it had been sold. Zuma, who has a reputation for promiscuity, took the depiction very personally and compared himself to a rape victim. Zuma himself was put on trial for rape, and acquitted, in 2006.

"The portrayal has ridiculed and caused me humiliation and indignity," Zuma contended in an affidavit filed Tuesday with the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.


Police spokesman Vish Naidoo said the two unidentified men, aged 58 and 25, are expected to appear in a magistrate's court Thursday on a charge of malicious damage to property.

After the painting was defaced, a third man spray-painted the first three letters of the word "respect" on a wall near the gallery's front gate before he was taken away by police, and Naidoo said he, too, would be charged with malicious damage to property and was likely to appear in court Thursday. The man shouted that the gallery had shown the president disrespect.

Back at the courthouse, more than 100 pro-Zuma protesters gathered outside. One, Donavan Cloete, wore a T-shirt with the slogan: "President Zuma has a right to human dignity and privacy."

"The artist has got his own views on the political situation. He has a right to express himself," Cloete said. "On the other hand, there's got to be a line drawn as to what constitutes satire and what constitutes insult."

But Sophia Morren, a ceramicist who was in the gallery when the painting was defaced, said Zuma had shown little respect for himself. She referred to Zuma's six marriages — he currently has four wives — his 21 children, and his acknowledgment in 2010 that he fathered a child that year with a woman who was not among his wives.

"He's famous for all his women, all his children. I get exactly what the artist is saying," Morren said. "Zuma shouldn't be complaining. Really." [...]

Does anyone really have the right not be be insulted? How can that be compatible with free speech, and freedom of expression? And couldn't any politician claim to be "insulted" by any criticism directed at him/her, and thus use that as justification to silence any political opposition?

It will be interesting to see what the South African Courts do with this. Whatever they decide, will set a precedent.

Also See:

South African gallery closes after controversial work is defaced

Free South Africa... Again

No comments: