This YouTube extract from the notorious banned video, Visions of Ecstasy, is not for the faint-hearted. It opens with a scene of self-inflicted pain and harm that I found confronting. Perhaps, as someone suggested on Facebook when I linked to it there, the video could be considered unsuitable for young teenagers, insofar as it could be taken as glamorising self-harm. Perhaps there is a legitimate paternalistic basis to restrict it.
That said, should Visions of Ecstasy have been banned completely in the UK, assuming that the rest of it is not seriously worse in its impact? As you will see if you do choose to click on the link, it has a kind of beauty, and it is open, I suggest, to a range of interpretations. Is it a celebration of religious ecstasy, or a denigration of it? If it compares religious and sexual ecstasy, as it surely does, does it thereby disparage the former? If so, why does that follow? Is that sort of disparagement a bad thing, in any event? Is it actually a deeply religious work? Alternatively, is it a kind of pornography? If so, is it necessarily a bad kind (is there a good kind, or not?)? Is it disturbing if some people are sexually aroused by this material?
Even from this brief extract, I imagine that many questions could be asked about it. To say the least, it would be interesting material for discussion in an art appreciation class, or even in classes relating to certain areas of philosophy.
I wouldn't want it shown on, say, a public bus. But should it be prohibited totally, in an effort to protect the public from it - or to give effect to public sentiment?
When Visions of Ecstasy was banned in the UK, it was on the basis that it was criminally blasphemous. When the case eventually found its way to the European Court of Human Rights, the law relating to blasphemy was upheld as consistent with freedom of speech and freedom of religion, as defined in the European Convention on Human Rights. That law has since been repealed and replaced with a hate speech law (itself controversial), so Visions of Ecstasy may yet become available for viewing or purchase in the UK. But should it have been banned in the first place?
You can probably guess what I think. I discuss the issue in Freedom of Religion and the Secular State, and have my say there. But what do you think, based on the extract (those of you who decide to go ahead and watch it)? What principles should apply to something like this?