'Spear' debate is healthy: iLIVE
From the outset I want to state that I feel the controversial Brett Murray painting The Spear is denigrating and extremely out of touch with the cultural context in which the majority of South Africans live.
Having said that, the more I reflect on the artwork, the more optimistic I become that our democracy is healthier than we think.
An illustrative point is the fact that the Goodman Gallery exhibited Murray's work and is even prepared to defend its right to do so, despite being cognisant of the outcry that might have resulted from displaying it.
An even bigger gesture that confirms our constitutional democracy is the fact that President Jacob Zuma's legal team argued at the Johannesburg High Court yesterday that his right to dignity and privacy had been violated.
In some other countries the Goodman Gallery would have been shut down.
Murray would probably have been arrested, if not executed.
The recent stalling of the e-tolling project because civil society' s voice was heard is another example of our democracy .
Consider, too, that the misrepresented Protection of State Information Bill and the media tribunal would have simply been passed as law were we not a vibrant democracy.
One of the signs of a healthy democracy is the balanced tension that should exist between the government, the judiciary and the fourth estate.
When these critical institutions of society begin to see eye-to-eye on every subject, we need to fear for our freedom.
I still think The Spear is a "trivial and distasteful" work, as renowned poet and cultural activist Mongane Wally Serote commented recently.
I am, however, comforted that such a work can see the light of day in our democracy, even if only for a brief moment, depending on how the court rules on this one.