There is an interesting free speech controversy in Melbourne and on the Internet. Melbourne street artist, Lushsux, has not only been told by a city council to remove a parody mural of Hillary Clinton but his Instagram account has been shutdown. Once again, the concern is that there remains a overt liberal bias in the sanctioning of comments or images on the Internet. Twitter for example has been repeatedly criticized for its barring or harassing conservative writers. UPDATE: Lushsux has responded to the city demands by painting over the picture to place Clinton in a burka.
Lushsux had more than 100,000 Instagram followers who enjoy his paintings and images — work that extends almost two decades. He noted that “It’s fine to go on and do a mural on Trump, but when I go and do one on Hillary Clinton, my account is gone.”
Notably, there are plenty of suggestive murals splashed across Melbourne’s street-scape, including murals featuring Republican nominee Donald Trump and a topless Melania Trump emblazoned with the Mrs Clinton’s campaign catchphrase, “I’m With Her.” Lushsux has always courted controversy with his political and social satire in street art.
The city council demanded the removal of the mural, though it insisted that it was not due to the political content but the graphic display.
Council chief executive Stephen Wall insisted “We believe it is offensive because of the depiction of a near-naked woman, not on the basis of disrespect to Hillary Clinton, in accordance with the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007.” However, the image itself does not appear particularly graphic in comparison with common advertisements and store images.
Regardless of the basis for the city council action, the Instagram action is extremely problematic and raises, again, serious questions over content-based censorship.
What do you think?