By David Baldinger
My friend, the artist/journalist Ben Heine from Belgium, recently posted an image to his DevianArt page. According to Ben in a post to the Don Quichotte Cartoon Committee Yahoo group:
Hello DQ members, as I expected it, my illustration "God is Love - Use Condoms" has been deleted and censored by DeviantArt. So I uploaded it again with a "mature content" filter. It was deleted again! A few hours later, I was banned permanently...
See what DeviantArt is, it allows huge collections of images with genitals everywhere but not a little drawing defying the Institution... I find this pitiful. It seems that political art doesn't have its place on this "Big Brother" site. How does DA dare to call itself "Deviant" then?!
Anyway, I send this mail to suggest you to not open an account on DeviantArt as something like that could happen to you too. Ok, this is a shocking cartoon, but hey, it will never be as shocking as what the Pope said in his plane to Africa...
If you support individual freedom of expression, I beg you to post this image on your site, download it in high resolution, print it, etc, so that it can be seen by more people,
It is well know to many of us who produce art in support of Palestinians that members of the DeviantArt community selectively attack such works as 'anti-Semitic' to have them censored and removed by the DeviantArt administration. Generally, we have been able to counter these attacks by Zionists by simply designating our works as 'mature due to sensitive subject' labels. This makes the removal of Ben's work all the more baffling.
As Ben stated, he even labeled his art as 'mature' only to find it still removed. Shame on you DeviantArt! Simple searching of the DeviantArt site will uncover many images of male and female nudity with questionable or obvious lack of artistic merit. I've seen some photographs that wouldn't even reach the level of bad pornography of the amateur kind.
Ben's censored image is not questionable in any way by a rational mind. His statement is obvious concerning the Catholic Pope's recent ridiculous statements about condom use in Africa. Unfortunately, the Pope has every right to make dangerous and misleading statements but it is also an artist's right to respond.
DeviantArt's actions in several areas like 'sensitivity' to Zionist complaints and the type of blatant censorship against Ben should make us all reconsider our association with the DeviantArt site. Maybe we should leave DeviantArt to bad Goth photography and horribly amateur, anime doodlers.
* As I was preparing the hyperlinks for this post, I became aware that Ben Heine's DeviantArt page is empty due to "This person has been banned from deviantART permanently."
This action gives me one more reason to delete my own account. I believe it is time to create a site of my own that will showcase editorial art that terrifies the main stream media.
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Dear Deviantart People
By Juan E. Drault
I found your ban as offensive as Ben´s drawing "God is Love - Use Condoms" that you found offensive.
Browsing your site I found many images that I found shocking but that could be considered as great pieces of art by other persons besides me. That´s the essence of art. To make you think, to make you adhere or reject, but that´s a freedom act that I can take when I see the artists' creations.
But if you decide for us, and you throw away not only the illustration but the whole gallery of Ben Heine that I enjoyed very much, then I found your action unacceptable. No way that you can justify yourself by using your Service Terms, and say "he accepted those terms and that´s the end of the conversation", your Service Terms actually allow you to ban whatever and whoever you want: "obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, unlawful, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy or publicity rights, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, illegal or otherwise objectionable;"
Using these terms, and based on your decision for ben, many other images on DeviantArt with God or Jesus would then be violating these Service Terms, like for instance "God is dj".
And if you keep looking you will find a shocking poem from Nekotal at http://nekotal.deviantart.com/art/god-razor-17590904. Below this poem, you will find a commenter saying "it's scary" just beside another user's comment saying "it's beautiful". So, that´s my point. That´s subjectivity, and that´s a freedom act. That´s what art produces.
I believe that this is wrong to claim to be able to define what kind of art is or isn't healthy or acceptable. Banning users like Ben based on your subjectivity is nothing else than a violent act.
I know Ben, and he is constantly defending human rights, defending life, and that´s why I invited him to support the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, and he immediately accepted, he is there in the list beside many other personalities. He is a very valuable person, committed with actions for a better world. "God is Love - Use Condoms" intends to defend the life of Africans that are dying of AIDS, tons of them, and hundred of organizations are trying since many years to help teenagers to understand the HIV risk and to make them use condoms, but the Pope in a violent act of ignorance just imposed his dogmatic vision. Your action is somehow the very same, a subjective vision of what is good and what is evil.
I ask you to restore Ben´s account, and I suggest to review your Service Terms.
Thanks for your time
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Big Brother is on the Ride Again...
By Zoran Matić Mazos
The editorial board of ZIKISON - Satire & Humor expresses bitterness and frustration concerning the suspension of Ben Heine DeviantArt's account, which he has been using for the past two years. Ben is a Zikison correspondent and associate author from Belgium. This suspension of his DA account has happened following a post with an illustration showing a crucified Jesus wearing a condom. We are speechless and appalled by this censorship. BIG BROTHER seems to exist in democratic countries such as The United States of America, and particularly in one of these liberal states, CALIFORNIA, where DeviantArt is based! Be careful, dear readers. Maybe right now, while you are reading this, BIG BROTHER is watching you.
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Back without Ben
My friend, and our friend BenHeine has been permanently banned by deviantArt.
This happened because of the last illustration he posted, depicting a crucified Jesus wearing a condom. The message, stated clearly, was "GOD IS LOVE. USE CONDOMS." Initially they made him put a "mature content" flag, and this is (not by my standards) somewhat understandable. Then they deleted the image again and Ben put it on a second time. Then: permanently banned.
This is NOT a matter of religion or blasphemy. In my personal dictionary, "GOD IS LOVE" is, more or less, what poor Jesus said preaching during all his short 33-years-span of mundane life. And it is NOT "hate art", because the image was expressing the doubts (shared by millions of people) on what Benedictus the Sixteenth stated about the use of condoms in a world chock-full of AIDS victims and unwanted children (who, after some year, usually die from starvation while Benedictus and the likes of him spend time polishing their jewelry).
So, it's NOT blasphemy and it's NOT hate art. Let's read the terms of service: DA can delete images "obscene, offensive, blasphemous, pornographic, unlawful, threatening, menacing, abusive, harmful, an invasion of privacy or publicity rights, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, illegal or otherwise objectionable".
Hmm... let's see: in fact, they can delete more or less what they want. Shucks: no need to be Plato to invent a dialectic gizmo by which insert any unwanted image in one of the above categories.
And, with this, as a surplus, all us deviants and DA lose one of the most reknown modern illustrators and won't be able to see his works here anymore?
I wonder where the meanings of "deviant" and "art" are, right now.
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Ben Heine banned from Deviantart
Tonight Belgian artist and cartoonist Ben Heine has been completely banned from http://benheine.deviantart.com/ for his cartoon (the one here reproduced) "God is Love. Use condoms". The full size cartoon that Ben created in response to a recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to Africa: "One cannot overcome the problem of AIDS with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters on the plane. "On the contrary, they increase the problem". Can be see on Ben Heine's blog at.
Ben is a great artist, cartoonist and illustrator. He can be (this is part of his work) highly provoking, but he never lacks of touch, elegance and style. To ban his artistic works as they were pornographic is highly offensive for the artist and for all of those who like and can fully appreciate his work.
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Ben Heine Has been Banned!
By No More Ignorance
Ok, Whatever we accept the concept of his art or not, DA has to respect everyone's right to express his thoughts using their Art. And they have to stop the double standards they're doing here.
Plz, Let's unite, and stand against these double standards. Support Ben by spreading the story, writing a journal, or whatever. Thank You everyone. Peace & Solidarity.
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Dear Ben, Brilliant!
Great piece of art, very beautiful and very provocative too, in many ways.
That should stir up a hornets nest, especially amongst many who refuse to see Jesus in his fallible HUMAN, anti-gravitational form, with all his vulnerable genitalia, and the responsibilities of ownership that go with it.
I like how you left off the beard and moustache too, and apart from his very manly 'appendix' his whole form has that slight feminine air to it. It will be interesting to see the responses to it.
Here in the States where there are SO many puritans and literally "God-Fearing people" the response could be quite Victorian!
I am a fellow artist on DA, and was told by Doublecrash of your banning for "God is Love".
I believe your artwork is very important and I myself am getting more and more political in my work. I've seen your work on your Blog page.
I don't think that DA should be banning images that have a powerful message in these chaotic political times. I don't like that they think they can apply the rules without considering each piece carefully. I also don't like the terminology they use when noting people about removing artwork. I recently got one - the terms "violation" and "reported" makes an artist feel like a criminal. All they had to do was note me and ask me to remove it. They are unnecessarily heavy-handed, and I think power has gone to their heads a bit.
You are a very talented artist and have a powerful voice, and to be banned on an art site is a disgrace. I think you are a good example to learn from, and doing this would serve all other artists on DA in regards to' freedom of speech'. Artists don't just make pretty pictures to hang in homes, they express views that need to be discussed. Art has always been and will always be controversial, and DA has to get used to that fact. Also leaving up 'hate' images and pornographic images tells me that the DA admins aren't necessarily the experts in such matters. I have a degree in Visual Art and I know the Uni lecturers I studied with would consider your art very important. DA just doesn't have a clue.
Yeah, DA is running biased policy.
This site allowing genitals photo around, but banning yours. This site allowing blood nudity photo but banning Palestine war journalism photo in the name of 'sadistic-blood artwork violation'. This site allowing using any 'google' photo to be vector traced, or manip, and reproduced as derived artwork, but they will banning any 'google' photo that reproduced to support Palestine in the name of 'copyright violation' --eventhough they havent checked/confirm it to the artist itself. This site allowed clearly copyrighted materials subject from anime, manga, games that just having minor editing to be submitted as an fan-artwork, but they will easilly give you art-thief label to you if you do this kind activity to produce anti-Israeli occupation artwork.
They even deleted journals. NMI write a report about Gaza situation in their journal, but then they deleted it. NMI use the journal feature to publish war-journalism, but they dont like it. So why is this feature named 'journal'?
In last February, I had 5 of my artwork deleted, because of "Copyright Violation", 1 highly popular (traffic bringer), 3 is Palestine related artwork, and 1 Capitalism critic. And several days later they sent me a nice note telling me that I'm an art thief.
This kind of situation is the one which make lazy to produce artworks to be submitted to DA. I'm lucky enough that I havent been banned yet. But I think someday it will. When I 'gave-up' to be vocal in DA, I see theres 3 'vocalist' that could maintain the protest, that is Latuff, Baldinger and you. But this time they banned you. So there's only 2 left.
I cannot draw, so I use photo to give illustration of message in my artworks. And this is the 'hole' they were extreemly happy to 'exploit'. But you. You can produce your artworks independently without using any copyrighted materials, so they cannot 'exploit' you from copyright policy. You tends to silence and passive when the anti-Palestine provoked you, so they cannot trapped you to fall into 'etiquette policy'. And when you upload your latest artwork, they think this is the right time to 'get rid of you once and for all' [evil-laugh background voice]. And there you go: banned.
I support you all the way to say your opinion without any censorship or supervision.
I am not Catholic or even religious, but the most shocking thing is not the cartoon but what The Pope said!
I stand with you all the way and I hope this will not stop you to do and say what you mean and what you would think!
Ben, you are not alone !
Simple, but with much expression! The simple ideas are often the best ideas!
I wouldn't go so far like other guys and call the pope a murderer of millions because of his statements, but he definitely destroyed most of the sex education in Africa which was done in the last decades.
It's a true pity. This cartoon might hit some catholic people in their faces, but sometimes it's neccessary.
Thanks for this visual statement, Ben.
The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind", as Bob Dylan long time ago wrote and sang. But, don't worry, this is not the first and not the last thing like this in our blasphemous World. We are heading towards its end by doing this kind of censorship as well.
I am a Muslim from Bosnia and Herzegovina but who can tell me the nationality of amebas or ancient cells. Nobody! Continue what are you doing. Let's fight for the World without censorship, hatred and the World in which we would not say that MY GOD IS THE BEST GOD. We all came from the same God but we give him/her different names. If there is, of course, any God at all! Sincerely,
Dear Ben, I love you for being banned in DA. Not because I want you out there but because you are a thousand of galaxies.
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Thank you all for this most needed support!