Almost every year when I was in high school, my class would hop a bus and be motored downtown to do a tour of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The big highlight (because who really cared if the stain-glass windows there were shipped inside molasses-filled containers to guard against breakage?) was always the murals that decorated the rotunda. My favorite was this one, which depicts the construction of Fort Victoria by hot, half nekkid Indian chicks. The girls are hauling lumber, while Whitey (top left) looks on with a smugly satisfied air.
Well, after years of complaints by First Nation leaders, the murals are coming down, and suddenly people are squawking about censorship and the importance of art in culture and yada yada yada. As someone who supports the B.C. government's actions in this matter, I think it is important to clear up several misunderstandings.
1) The Issue for B.C.'s aboriginal community is not Nekkidness, as a few people have tried to argue. Rather, the issue is that the natives in the mural (male and female alike) are portrayed "as a conquered and subservient people". It isn't that Whitey is cavorting with luscious nekkid women, its that they're luscious nekkid slave women. Big difference.
2) The murals will not be destroyed, as this gentleman seems to be arguing, but "removed and preserved", at a cost of $280,000. There are also rumors that reproductions will be sold in stroke-book format at the legislature gift-shop.
3) They are not great art. They are not even really decent porn. If anything, they look a bit like cut-rate versions of Gauguin, who also specialized in Nekkid natives. So if they were to disappear from the face of the earth tomorrow it would not be an irreplaceable loss to mankind. What I think is most interesting about them is that they illustrate why corporate art (the paintings you are likely to see on the wall of a modern office building) has gone almost entirely abstract: if there is no representation, then there can be no offensive representations (although they'll always be the occasional nutter that thinks the gray blob on the wall looks like a vagina).