The landmark court battle between the Cape Party and the Iziko South African National Gallery over the controversial ‘Fuck White People’ exhibit has come to an end.
Chief Magistrate DM Thulare ruled that the poster was not in contravention of South Africa’s hate speech laws, and that it was an expression of art. (Read or download the ruling)
In his address to the courtroom Thulare compared the work of artist, Dean Hutton, to the messages of struggle expressed by ANC liberation stalwarts such as Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, he referred to them as “three thought leaders.”
Cape Party leader, Jack Miller, whose party is calling for the independence of the Western Cape, said that they were shocked by the ruling as there was disagreement over fundamental facts.
Chief Magistrate Thulare rejected the Cape Party’s case which defined the word ‘fuck’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Thulare said that the word had a different context within South Africa. He further ruled that the words “white” and “people” were not directed at all white people but rather a general system of oppression inherent in “white domination”, and therefore the display could not be seen as discrimination against all white people according to the Act.
Miller disagreed, saying, “It is beyond belief that such a simple and obviously offensive statement could be so misinterpreted and condoned in a court of law.”
The Cape Party leader added, “This court case was not about any one specific race, it was about ensuring that the laws of the country are balanced and applied equally to everyone, that it protected minority rights, and ensured common respect and decency between our many different cultures and races. All of this has now been brought under serious question.” Miller then said, “In 1994, the South African government under Nelson Mandela promoted a vision of a ‘Rainbow Nation’. Today, ‘Fuck White People’ is art. Where is this country going?”
However Iziko’s lawyer, Jeremy Klerck, applauded the ruling, saying, “This is a landmark decision. It came to the defence of freedom of speech. And it came to the defence of artistic expression.”
Social media has already erupted with members of the public opposed to the artwork expressing their anger against the ruling. While supporters of the artist Dean Hutton have posted their support.