Should society tolerate all forms of art?

We regularly highlight comments that have made an impression on us. FSD user Perreaoult argues that Art has to be completely free as an instrument of expression.

Art has to be completely free as an instrument of expression.
Art is a language, expressing meaning by relating a concepted abstraction to form a intuited object of thought.
So what does that mean? Well, if I wanted to explain to a child what big was, it would not do to simply state that big is bigger than small. I have to create for the child an analogy in language that the child can translate from experience. I might say “Daddy Big, and say it with gesture and sound.
DADDY BIG!…baby small….
Will the baby completely understand the concepts of relative size? I don’t think so. But the child will begin to grasp the concept and apply it to his or her environment.
Human beings are unique in this ability to communicate concepts, regardless of absence of information. We intuit meaning, from previous experience.
If Art is a language of intuition. It defines meaning from our experience of existence in time, empowering it with force. A force that applies symbolic signs to abstract concepts – clarifying and focusing our definitions.
There are no concepts exempt of the artistic apparatus. We must be free to experiment with the formation of new symbolic equations. It is a basic tool in the mechanism of human language.
That said, I have been thinking of extremes.
Such as purposely derogatory art work that targets particular groups of people.
Because of race, sex, beliefs.
Art work that used the bodies of victims, human or animal.
All things in exist in context.
We claim to live in a society that seeks tolerance, so in context such art work that puts to use these concepts would be doing so. Intolerance or hate speech as it would be defined would reveal itself for what it was. This would be an innate property of the art.
Should we then say no, you can’t make this art?
I would say that such works have a very limited shelf life. And that the definitions implied in such works are easily challenged by tolerant societies where the full force of free speech is applied.

Read more:

Comments (1)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. It is a truism that we can’t punish bad taste! What we can do though, is spread the message that not everything goes! Participatory democratic societies have a duty to educate their citizens to keep an eye on those who think that freedom of expression equals an appeal to our most unexamined instincts. So, when the next provocateur shows up, the gallery curator can kindly say no! That is what we may call ‘Relativism with a human face”! Having said that, I understand that it is extremely difficult to define these criteria!

Leave a comment in any language


Swipe left to browse all of the highlights.

Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford.

The University of Oxford