By MICHAEL COREN
A decade ago I spent an afternoon with Judy Sgro, now a Liberal MP. She was then city councillor and she and a member of her staff asked me to accompany them on a tour of various publicly funded art galleries in Toronto. It was, shall we say, an enlightening experience.
The four galleries we visited received hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct grants from various levels of government and through generous tax breaks. Was this, Judy wondered, an appropriate use of public money?
The first thing we noticed -- at no time was there anybody in any of these galleries apart from the curator and ourselves. Actually, the first thing we noticed was an enormous photograph of a man being crucified on a Volkswagen. Hard not to notice such a thing really.
The "art" was part of a larger display involving sadomasochism, with pictures of men and women being tied, bound, strangled and beaten for sexual stimulation. And not even on good old Canadian-made cars but on a German import!
The same gallery featured a six-foot high photograph of a naked woman pulling a long piece of paper between her legs. She was menstruating at the time. We knew this because the caption by the picture told us so and because that same paper, soaked in dried blood, was proudly placed alongside the exhibit.
The other galleries were of a similar quality. One was particularly disturbing in that its main exhibit was of children's drawings of men's penises. Certainly appalling and probably illegal. Sgro was rightly shocked.
I assume then that she and the rest of the Liberal caucus will be supporting the government's new amendments to the legislation that gives tax credits to Canadian movies. Because some of the films that enjoy these financial handouts are just as wretched, repugnant and, frankly, banal as the trash at the galleries.
The Conservatives have announced that they will be, "expanding slightly the criteria for denying tax credits to Canadian films that include gratuitous violence, significant sexual content and that lack an educational purpose, or involve the denigration of an identifiable group."
Hardly draconian stuff. Merely arguing that if people want to produce pornographic garbage, they should do it on their own dollar. Nor is this censorship -- nothing is being banned -- but an intelligent use of tax dollars.
The screams of protest, however, can be heard from cocktail parties coast to fashionable coast. "How dare a tiny minority of people dictate what we can see and how dare the government control art."
Quite so. The government should not be involved at all. If you want to make it, write it, record it, fine. Do it. Yourself. As for the tiny minority, it is indeed time that the usual types with their radical sexual agenda and hatred for what they see as orthodoxy lost their special privileges.
GAY ANGST ON PRAIRIES
Canada may, just may, be able to survive without your money subsidizing yet more movies about gay angst on the Prairies, dads abusing their Marxist feminist daughters, the evils of religion and how Americans are lizards from Mars waiting to eat our health care system.
If Sgro and her Liberal MP friends want a reminder of what we are funding they only have to ask me. I can't send the pictures by e-mail though -- I'd probably be arrested.