Earlier this week, a complaint raised with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal was dismissed. The complaint was issued against the Kingston Frontenac Library for displaying a nude painting of Stephen Harper. I’ll say that again in case you just decided to rip out your eyeballs. Nude. Stephen. Harper. Nude Stevie is pretty damn disturbing, but not quite as disturbing as the thought that someone might want to make art out of his Ruben-esque body. It’s also somewhat disturbing that it turned into a case that made it to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
So first things first, why the fuck would you paint a picture of Stephen Harper naked? On the list of world leaders who could conceivably be painted nude, Harper ranks below the corpse of Ghaddafi. He isn’t exactly Ryan Gosling. Heck he isn’t even Robert Deniro. The artist, Margaret Sutherland claims that the message of the piece is to express her dislike of the government’s removal of the long form census, among other grievances. The title of her piece is “Emperor Haute Couture” as a reference to the “Emperor’s New Clothes” story. The painting also depicts a woman in business clothes giving Mr. Harper a Tim Horton’s Coffee on a silver platter while a dog lies at his feet. Despite the political message of this piece of art, no message is strong enough to make subjecting people to naked Stephen Harper justifiable. Some might even consider it a crime against humanity to have someone look at that. Mr. Harper is basically a reverse stripper – people should pay him to keep his clothes on.
However, it does call into question whether the gentleman who lodged the complaint was offended by the nudity (or rather who was nude) or whether he was offended by the political message. Despite the fact that Harper’s naked visage is about as palatable as a plate full of vomit, Ms. Sutherland does have the right to make whatever political statement she chooses to make. To paraphrase Voltaire, “I may not like Stephen Harper’s nude body, but I will defend to the death the right to paint it!” The guy that made the complaint (one Mr. Curtis Stewart) was also from St. Albert, which (without getting into tirades from my past articles) suggests he’s a bit of a prude who can’t deal with anything that is obtrusive or offends his delicate sensibilities. Perhaps Mr. Stewart would not have objected if it was Michael Ignatieff, or Thomas Mulcair nude? While those are all pretty disturbing I feel like Michael Ignatieff could pull off nudity in a kind of ‘silver fox’ sort of way. Anyways, if Mr. Stewart was offended by the nudity he should just stop being such a prude, but if he was offended by who was nude then he has no legitimate claim to having his human rights abused.
Although seeing your Prime Minister nude is a bit like seeing your Grandma nude: it hardly constitutes a violation of one’s human rights. Sure, it must be pretty disturbing, but personally I find his physicality to not be the most disturbing thing about our fearless leader. It is interesting that Mr. Stewart went to the Human Rights Tribunal and not a full judicial body, as his complaint hardly constitutes a case. Lastly, please… for the love of God… do not paint, photograph, or graphically describe what Stephen Harper looks like nude.