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NSW government calls on controversial talk to be cancelled

Article image for NSW government calls on controversial talk to be cancelled

The NSW government is calling on a controversial bestiality talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas to be cancelled.

Historian Joanna Bourke will be presenting The Last Taboo: What does loving animals mean? in a session recommended for those over the age of 16.

The bio reads in part, “Renowned historian Joanna Bourke explores the modern history of sex between humans and animals. Bourke looks at the changing meanings of ‘bestiality’ and ‘zoophilia’, and explores their psychiatric and sexual aspects as well as the ethics of animal loving. “

After Ben sent the link on to a “deeply concerned” NSW Arts Minister Ben Franklin, an investigation was ordered into the matter. (See full statement below)

Ben Fordham has uncovered quotes from the Professor’s book which include:

“Interspecies relationships can be complex, rich and fulfilling.

“Love of animals could stimulate greater love towards humans.

“There is no reason to insist that animals must possess the same understanding about intimacy as human participants.

“They may barely register the human contact at all.”

But Festival director Simon Longstaff said in a statement: “Joanna Bourke offers just three possible ways of thinking about zoophilia. As dangerous, perverted or wrong-headed. That is, in all cases, it is a matter for disapproval.” (See full statement below)

Press PLAY below to hear more details

NSW Arts Minister Ben Franklin’s full statement:

“Minister Franklin is deeply concerned by the contents of ‘The Last Taboo’ and is demanding festival organisers remove it from their program. 

“Minister Franklin supports independent artistic expression, however creative works need to be in line with community expectations and clearly ‘The Last Taboo’ does not come close to meeting those expectations. 

“The Festival of Dangerous Ideas was funded through the Festivals Relaunch Package under the previous Arts Minister last year.

“The Festivals Relaunch Package funded around 48 organisations for 50 festivals. Assessment to establish eligibility was undertaken by Create NSW along with PwC and an assessment panel. 

“Minister Franklin was unaware of the funding of The Last Taboo. His office has had no contact with the Festival of Dangerous Ideas or been updated by them regarding their program. 

“Minister Franklin has also instructed Create NSW to immediately investigate the matter.”


Festival of Dangerous Ideas full statement: 

“Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) presents a line-up of international and local thinkers and culture creators who encourage debate and critical thinking.

“The FODI website program page for The Last Taboo includes an unmissable quote Prof Joanna Bourke – setting out her position on the topic. She offers just three possible ways of thinking about zoophilia – as dangerous, perverted, or wrongheaded. That is, in all cases, it is a matter for disapproval.

“This is not (and has not been presented as) a session to promote or endorse sex with animals – it is simply an examination of the history of a practice that Bourke (an eminent historian) clearly condemns. As a topic, it is neither more nor less troubling than running a session, for example, on the history of cannibalism or slavery. To suggest that a historian discussing the history of cannibalism or slavery is promoting cannibalism or slavery is absurd.

“FODI acknowledges that this presentation involves the examination of a sensitive topic. It is, after all, a festival of dangerous ideas. So, for more than ten years, the role of the Festival has been to hold space for the discussion of ideas that are uncomfortable, and yes, sometimes, taboo. But all of this is done responsibly and within boundaries. FODI does not endorse criminal acts, nor does the Festival support any act of harm towards any person or animal.”


Image: Getty