Let the good times roll

By Claire Fox | 13 October 2014
  • Claire Fox

There has been much sneering at Tendring DC for scrubbing off Clacton-on-Sea’s Banksy mural. One headline hailed ‘The Banksy too clever for council’s politically correct jobsworths’.

The street artist’s not-so subtle dig at Essex UKIP voters featuring a sole colourful bird confronted by five grey pigeons waving placards saying ‘Migrants Not Welcome’ and ‘Keep Off Our Worms’ (geddit?), was removed after a member of the public who said it contained ‘offensive and racist remarks’.

But rather than decrying council officials as parochial or philistine, they have my sympathy. Firstly, they were not alone in missing the irony of an anti-racist artistic gesture. Only weeks before, the Barbican in London had been forced to cancel the theatre performance of Exhibit B, who created an exposé of colonial racism, because anti-racist protestors called it an offensive insult to the black community. There’s an important political lesson here: the danger of responding in a knee-jerk, censorious way when someone shouts ‘offence’.

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