Bill Henson's visit to a school to find young children he could potentially photograph is entirely innocent and the hysteria being generated by all sides of politics about it should stop. What is happening is a Salem-type witch-hunt cloaked by claims of 'protecting children'. Now the unfortunate school master who apparently approved the visit is being persecuted. There is no connection between the attractive art work produced by Henson and pornography and no link between artistic interest in photographing children and pedophilia - the association being suggested by the bigots. Henson is an artist who makes us aware of the ambiguous beauty of sexually immature children. This is not something to suppress but something that, as a community, we should seek to understand.
It is unambiguously wrong to treat young children as sexual play-things but this is no argument for promoting hysteria about images of less than fully mature human forms who are of artistic interest. Moreover, to condemn an artist for openly seeking potential models - with both individual and parental approval - is unbalanced hysteria.
Liz Conor made perceptive remarks about the previous bout of Henson hysteria.
Bigots such as the anonymous Currency Lad make their usual sorts of claims. They apparently see the issue as one of 'children's welfare'. I think it is really their own narrow view of the world and possibly their upbringing. What creates their fears? Tim Blair in an astonishing piece seems pleased that the principal concerned has apparently been sacked.
What children have been harmed by Henson in any way? What harm is there in openly seeking subjects for photography?
Is it not true that children are beautiful and their bodies worthy of artistic interpretation and portrayal? Is the only response to Henson's art that which might be suggested by a police force or a criminal prosecutor? People who see things in this way should examine their own visions and guilts. Even if their desire is to protect children they do more harm than good by suggesting that merely portraying the human form is something wicked and to be eradicated. These bigots diminish us all.
Update: Peter Craven gets it right - Zealots rule. Julia Gillard is more stupid than usual - it sends a shudder up her spine to think that people might visit a school to look at children.