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'F*ck White People' Artwork Not Hate Speech, Court Rules

Artist Dean Hutton is grateful for the "very thoughtful" judgment.

05/07/2017 16:10 SAST | Updated 05/07/2017 16:10 SAST
mg.co.za

The controversial F*ck White People artwork displayed in the South African National Gallery is not in contravention of South Africa's hate speech laws, the Cape Town magistrate's court ruled on Tuesday.

The court compared the work by genderqueer artist Dean Hutton to the messages of struggle expressed by ANC liberation stalwarts like Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, according to the Cape Party.

It found that the words "white" and "people" were not directed at all white people but rather at a general system of oppression inherent in "white domination", and had ruled that the display could, therefore, not be seen as discrimination against all white people.

Cape Party leader Jack Miller, who brought the case against Hutton, said the ruling brought into question the protection of minority rights in the country.

The Cape Party is demanding "independence" for the Western Cape.

"This court case... was about ensuring that the laws of the country are balanced and applied equally to everyone, that it protected minority rights, and ensured common respect and decency between our many different cultures and races," Miller said.

"In 1994, the South African government under Nelson Mandela promoted a vision of a Rainbow Nation. Today, F*ck White People is art. Where is this country going?"

Hutton said she was grateful for the "very thoughtful" judgment.

'Listen and learn'

"This judgment is a beacon in a perilous time where we are seeing a global rise of white nationalism. Brexit, Trump and the rise of fascism in Europe and other settler colonies. Let's make racists afraid again," said Hutton.

"My work is an amplification of the words and intellectual labour of black people who have been critiquing white people's actions for hundreds of years. When black people talk, we white people must listen and learn."

In the description of the artwork in the museum, Hutton said the installation was meant to provoke white people.

"White people made racism and made sure it is deeply embedded in our social systems, laws, economies, institutions and individuals. So this provocation is here to make you feel that 'white pain'," Hutton's description of the artwork reads.

In January, a group of men dressed in Cape Party T-shirts vandalised the artwork, by pasting a sticker reading "Love Thy Neighbour" over the piece.

In a video of the incident, Miller said it was time to put an end to racism in the country.

The Freedom Front Plus in January also called for the removal of the artwork, calling it racist.

"In times where racial relations are extremely sensitive, and where people who are guilty of making racist comments are severely punished by courts, the exhibition is short-sighted, and it is experienced by many people as inflammatory," FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said in a statement at the time. - News24

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