All the earlier letters etc can be found in our earlier post - Art Causes Debate Shocker
DG Standard - 10.05.2013
Sir - I welcome Hugh McMillan's response to my letter on the Big Burns Supper production 'We Can Be Heroes'.
Those responsible for the production should be rightly satisfied that it has prompted this exchange.
Its a shame, however, that Mr McMillan has chosen not to engage with the particular arguments I made describing my letter as 'ridiculous' without offering any specific evidence as to why.
Its unfortunate, too, that he questions my choice to remain anonymous - we all have this right and I have personal and professional reasons for doing so.
Comedian Susan Calman and St Andrew's University academic Dr Gavin Bowd have both recently received abusive and venemous threats for a piece of benign comedy about Independence and for writing an academic account of the history of fascism in Scotland respectively.
Perhaps these individuals also have the right to free speech that we fought for 60 years ago?
|Artist Johnny Gailey's 'proposed new scottish flag' - presented as part of his submission to the reecent Creative Scotland Open Sessions|
First, the notion that artistes have a limitless right to say and do anything they want is a fallacy. Unless we absolve artists from all social rules, they inevitably have to negotiate the boundaries of how sensitive topics are addressed.
I absolutely agree that art must address these issues. However, good artists will always bear a responsibility to do so sensitively and not stray into areas where their work can be considered as racist. This applies to everyone, irrespective of nationality or political perspective.
Second, Mr McMillan does not acknowledge the political nature of arts commissioning.
Charlotte Higgins' recent research shows that work commissioned by Creartive Scotland has rarely been critical of the Scottish Government or the SNP (ironic given the radical potential that Hugh McMillan implicitly attributes to the arts) resulting in narrowing cultural perspective and a form of self-congratulatory patronage.
Higgins ultimately expresses the fear the Scottish culture is being 'harnessed as a semi-political tool in the branding of Team Scotland'.
Mr McMillan's lazy allusion to '500 years of history' is also dangerous.
In an era where progressive political systems across the world are dealing with past troubles with models of 'understanding and reconciliation' it's sad that he dredges up flimsy constructions of 'Scots' and 'English'.
It is scurrilous to encourage these redundant misrepresentations to leach into contemporary political debate.
Psychologist Gordon Allport has meticulously shown how these 'innocent' and 'natural' social stories can often be the first step towards prejudice, scapegoating and discrimination.
name and address supplied (to the Standard)