So, the latest thing politicians are outraged about is the improper choice of entertainment at the Canberra Climate Change forum: a troupe of burlesque dancers stripping (only to their underwear; no nudity). The federal Environment Department and the Bureau of Rural Sciences have withdrawn their funding to the event in a beautiful gesture of censorship.
Here’s the organisers’ apology: “In retrospect the choice of entertainment was inappropriate for the occasion. We understand if the sponsors wish to withdraw.” Yes to the first sentence. No to the second.
The choice of entertainment was not merely inappropriate; it was downright stupid. But put it in context: this was forum about climate change, something that we, the citizens of the world (per capita, Australia is particularly guilty) are causing. Climate change is destroying our planet and the Australian government won’t ratify Kyoto. That is an outrage, not a few students taking some clothes off to a point that’s perfectly acceptable at the beach.
This is not a new point. Milos Forman’s biopic, The People vs Larry Flynt, the same point is made about war. Conservative (not necessarily political) types are far more outraged by anything of a sexual nature than they are about injustice. The fuss made about prostitution and pornography, if it will be made, should be secondary to the fuss made about environment and human rights. (As long as it’s not prostitution or porn that’s violating human rights, such as child pornography. That goes without saying.)
Sex sells and it’s always going to be more interesting than “boring” conservation issues. But if conservation doesn’t come first, there might not be anyone selling anything one day.