Calling Murray a racist is just a satisfying travesty
The Times Editorial: For an editorial on the same subject to appear three days in a row is rare in any newspaper's life. But the Brett Murray controversy appears to have taken on an over-the-top and hysteria-edged life of its own.
Yesterday four events marked the latest developments in this controversy.
First, President Jacob Zuma made an urgent application for an interdict to stop Murray's painting, The Spear, from being exhibited at Johannesburg's Goodman Gallery and shown on City Press's website.
Second, two protesters took it upon themselves to deface the work.
Third, City Press and the gallery were told that they must appear before the Film and Publication Board, which is to decide whether the artwork should be classified as pornographic.
The ANC, on hearing about the defacement, said it was not going to halt the court application. As far as it is concerned, the matter must be heard as a matter of principle.
But let's look at the other principles involved, such as the artist's right to freedom of expression and the way in which his past has been ignored by those who want to crucify him.
On the front page of our newspaper today we put together a collage of pictures from Brett Murray's life - a life that is the polar opposite of that attributed to him by those who damn him as a sinful, racist white artist.
Instead, we see a young South African growing in consciousness, fleeing the country to escape being conscripted into the army. The images reflect a man who turned his back on white South Africa because of his beliefs.
It is in this context that we ask: If black South Africans can write and paint about their disappointment in the new South Africa and the road the ANC has chosen, why is it such a catastrophe - of national proportions - when a white, committed South African says that he, too, is disillusioned? His art says what many black South Africans express through civil unrest, uncompromising printed columns of discontent and letters to newspapers.