On Saturday I wrote a blog recommending readers catch the ‘Passion For Freedom’ festival’s final hours in London. Thank you to all the readers who did and helped make it a packed-out show. One further detail about the show came up afterwards in the Guardian and I mentioned it at the start of my talk at Denmark’s free speech conference on Saturday. That is the fact that one of the artist’s work was removed from the show on the advice of the British police. The work in question – entitled ‘Isis Threaten Sylvania’, featuring the children’s toys Sylvanian Families – is certainly anti-Isis, but it is hard to see it as ‘potentially inflammatory’ as the police insisted. Anyhow, the work was removed because the organisers were otherwise going to be given a security bill of £36,000 and the show needed to go on.
But that is where Britain is in 2015. The police can effectively censor a show if they cite the risk of ‘community tensions’ or ‘inflammatory content’. And so the police get to decide what you and I and everyone else should be able to see. As Mark Steyn has observed, in these situations ‘health and safety concerns’ are the new ‘shut-up’. As I mentioned in my speech in Copenhagen, the art world spends most of its time talking about its ‘relevance’, ‘transgression’ and so on. In fact most art in Britain is none of these things. Which is why I keep pointing out the fact that the Islamic fanatics don’t really need to do very much of their shooting work, just a little bit – because most of the world gets the message and shuts itself up.