Che Mural Removed

Che mural removed! A victory for intolerance and a defeat for freedom of expression!

Condemn Blue Mountains Councils' censorship of art!

The controversial murals of Che Guevara and Mike D, painted on a private building in Wentworth Falls, have been painted over by the owner, under pressure from the Blue Mountains' City Council and a tiny number of vocal right-wingers. According to knowledgable sources, the owners ``voluntarily'' destroyed the murals exactly one month after they received a council notice ordering them to either remove the murals within 30 days or lodge a ``restrospective DA'' at a cost of $165!

The murals, which were visible from the Great Western Highway, were painted by aerosol artist Dan Lualdi with the permission of the building's owners. The original order to destroy the art was made after the BMCC received a complaint from ``a resident''. Lualdi described the order by the BMCC as ``mass censorship'' and pointed out that he had had many positive reactions to the giant portraits. That it was the political content of the murals that the ``resident'' and the BMCC found objectionable seemed to be confirmed by a council spokesperson, who told the April 5 Blue Mountains Gazette: ``The owner could legitimately have a different mural painted on the wall.'' Lualdi pointed to the hypocrisy of the council's decision: ``There are billboards everywhere that are sexist and offensive, yet these two murals are deemed offensive by somebody and ordered to be removed. I just don't get it and I am interested in what other people think.''

Following the Council's clumsy attempt to censor the murals, the BMCC and the Gazette were deluged with outraged letters protesting the attempt and defending the right of free expression in the Mountains. An online opinion poll conducted by the Gazette (at http://bluemountains.yourguide.com.au/poll.asp?question_id=1971), in which more than 350 people have voted so far, revealed that more than 80% oppose the murals' destruction, with just 13% in support. In the letters column of the Gazette, it soon became clear that the vast majority of those demanding the removal of Che in particular were driven by a right-wing opposition to what Che represents and were calling for censorship, pure and simple.

Even though the BMCC's bureaucratic intimidation and disregard for free speech has succeeded, let's tell the council that it is unacceptable and should never be repeated in our city. Please send an email to the BMCC at council@bmcc.nsw.gov.au condemning the BMCC's censorship. Send a letter to the Blue Mountains Gazette at editorial.bmgazette@ruralpress.com . Please send copies to bluemountains@socialist-alliance.org . If you haven't already, vote in the online poll on the murals at http://bluemountains.yourguide.com.au/poll.asp?question_id=1971

In solidarity,

Terry Townsend,
Blue Mountains Socialist Alliance

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