FPB Overstepped Authority in Spear Rulings

The Film and Publication Appeal Tribunal found on Wednesday that the Film and Publication Board (FPB) had overstepped its authority in its rulings related to The Spear, the controversial painting by Brett Murray of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

The Goodman Gallery appealed against the 16N classification set by the FPB on the grounds that it was “impermissible and unsustainable.” The tribunal seemed to agree and set aside the rating because the FPB attempted to use a section of the law which was meant to protect children to “vindicate the right to dignity of those who were affronted by the painting”, something which they had no authority to do.

The tribunal said that the argument that the simple presence of nudity in the painting as being harmful or inappropriate to children is flawed. “It would mean that every artistic work that contained nudity would be deemed presumptively harmful to children,” the tribunal found.

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