Reinstating art instructor matter of freedom of speech

It was extremely gratifying to read in the May 16 Advocate that the Alberta College of Art and Design has reinstated popular and respected teacher Gord Ferguson.

It was extremely gratifying to read in the May 16 Advocate that the Alberta College of Art and Design has reinstated popular and respected teacher Gord Ferguson.

What a dreadful mistake it made in the first place to fire him over the artistic actions of one of his students in the ‘chicken slaughter’ incident.

By reinstating him so swiftly, they demonstrate that they are man enough to admit to their mistake and take action to correct it; though what they were thinking when they fired him I find it hard to imagine.

Indeed, I can only surmise that they were yielding to lobbying from some politically correct pressure group or, worse yet, the opinions of some financial sponsor — individual or institutional.

As the parent of a recent ACAD graduate, I have spent many a perplexed hour experiencing the art of those marvellous young people. I am the first to admit that I rarely understand their art, but there again, I don’t ‘get’ Jackson Pollock and his paint-shop floors (one of which sold the other day for $58 million!), Picasso leaves me cold (even at his museum in Malaga), and both Dali and Munch make me scream— silently.

I certainly don’t enjoy the idea of Ferguson’s young student butchering that chicken in the cafeteria — it reminded me more of Ozzy Osbourne than the intended reminder of where our meat actually comes from.

But surely if art is supposed to make you think, and prompt discussion, then that young student has produced an overwhelming success worthy of an A+ from us all.

So, while I may not enjoy the art piece itself, I staunchly support the artist’s right to freedom of expression. After all, people have died so we may exercise it, and we must continue to defend it even when we actually loathe what people ‘say’ or how they ‘express’ it.

In these days of creeping political correctness, street corner cameras, quasi-dictatorial politicians and insect-sized police-state spy drones, it is crucial that we defend such freedoms. After all if we can’t have freedom of expression in our art schools, then where will we be able to have it?

Well done to ACAD, and everyone involved, for protecting the boundaries of our democratic freedoms.

Lawrence Hobbs

Red Deer