So why is any of this “Picturegate” causing such a fuss?

27/03/2009

Quite frankly, this boils down to the fundamental freedoms of individuals in Irish society.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Louis XIV. He was the king of France, and he said, “L’état c’est moi”: I am the State.

His grandson was a man named Louis XVI. He was eventually regarded as a despot, and was swiftly beheaded in a historical footnote called The French Revolution. Across the seas, during The American Revolution, America had earlier rid itself of colonial, monarchical rule in pursuit of a democratic nation.

At the beginning of its revolution, France published the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, followed two years later in America by the United States Bill of Rights.

Meanwhile, a man watching all this transpiring, named Montesquieu, came up with the first recognisable concept of the “separation of powers”.

Influenced also by the Glorious Revolution in England, Montesquieu distilled the administrative powers of the State into the executive (the government), the legislative (the house(s) of parliament) and the judiciary (the courts). He realised that to separate these powers is crucial to avoid despotism and tyranny, as each power is a check on the other, and no power can be routed by one or both of the other powers.

It’s a founding principle of modern democracy.

Montesquieu also said, “L’injustice faite à un seul est une menace faite à tous”: Injustice done to one is a threat to us all.

And all of this took place the 1700s.

Of course, these ancient folk had the benefits of the Enlightement: the age of reason. Clearly, rather than developing such sound ideas, our twenty-first century government has sought fit to do the exact opposite.


A couple of further ideas for action

27/03/2009

We’re all working on our postcards by now (I hope).

(Forgive the school-marm sternness: it’s in honour of Casby’s pedagoguery, I promise).

So a couple more ideas that have been floating through the ether:

(a) Via email, one suggestion has been to organise a silent protest gathering – at Dáil Éireann or at Government Buildings – with everyone wearing white Cowen t-shirts, plugs white gags or blindfolds.

(b) Unfortunately, it has transpired, however, that Allan Cavanagh’s t-shirts have been pulled from the website selling them. But we could turn it around:

T-shirt making!

As soon as we’ve finished making our postcards, and sent them to Fústar, we could get cracking on the Tees.

Might improve the community spirit, too, if people were meeting up to make them (though that could be optional – home-made t-shirts would be fine, I’m sure!)

Any ideas on either of these suggestions?


The Slippery Slope

27/03/2009

You see, the actions that we’ve seen this week by the Irish authorities set a precedent for the likes of this, which means the world needs much more of these and these.


The Salon des Libertés

26/03/2009

To give an idea of where this blog is coming from, please feel free to peruse the About page; but in summary:

I’ve circulated an email along the following lines to some people who might be able to help organise a collective, public response:

Most (if not all) of you may be aware of both the outrageous transition of the Brian Cowen paintings palaver from mild satire to sinister abuse of State powers and functions (government and Gardaí); and of the subsequent dismay and anger aired by huge numbers of Irish people online (in blogs, message boards, on Twitter, etc.).

This evening, I suggested that perhaps one response to the affair may be for a public exhibition (or, after some thought, several simultaneous exhibitions, depending on numbers of submissions) of works, by the public, in a similar vein: How about a group exhibition, with works by anyone and everyone, at somewhere like thisisnotashop gallery / seomra spraoi / The Joinery / the Smithfield Gallery / Butcher Queers mag and anyone else (if they’ll have us)?

(Also, it seems that http://www.picturegate.eu is available..)

Not only is the action of the Irish authorities a disturbing development, but personally I view it as part of a creeping trend: from removing the rights of Irish citizens, to effectively halting the work of the country’s equality and human rights bodies, to give just a couple of examples. Now, we have the Constitutional (and international) right to free speech has been curtailed utterly disproportionately and without justification.

Who among us will be next?

This is just an idea. If there’s interest in this idea, however, I wonder whether it would be possible to work quickly to gather submissions for exhibition(s) before momentum on this story slows (within days? Weeks?).

We need to tell the likes of Brian Cowen and his government colleagues that our Taoiseach cannot say, “L’état c’est moi”: L’état c’est nous!

It doesn’t need to be located in just one place; it doesn’t need to be in just one format, by just one group of people. Let’s all respond in our own, noticeable ways. Let this just be the start.

Contact: Fústar at Fústar or myself at clickhere [at] gaelick [dot] com


Links / Blogroll / Online chatter

26/03/2009

Many thanks to cearta.ie for trawling the entire interwebs for anything related to “picturegate” and/or “cowengate”.

I am slowly attempting to transform his links post into this blog’s blogroll.

(Please be patient!)


The Great Picturegate Postcard Exhibition

26/03/2009

Fustar has more.


Greetings, freedom fans..

26/03/2009

Oho, don’t heed the Bush-esque language of this post’s title: this blog is all about preservation of fundamental rights.

I’m click here, sometime contributor at gaelick.com, and I’ve established this little presence in response to the Cowengate / Picturegate affair.

This blog has been set up as a sort of clearinghouse for responses to the saga. I’ll be attempting to do a few round-ups of the week’s events, and will post any news. Feel free to contact me directly in the comments or email – clickhere [at] gaelick [dot] com.

I also intend to post digital portraits of public figures, without fear or favour, so send them on!
: )


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