SUPPRESSION THROUGH SUBTERFUGE: THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL INHIBITION OF OFFENSIVE ART BASED ON HOSTILE AUDIENCE RESPONSE

Ivan Viktor Mendez (JD'13)

ABSTRACT

Even with the transparent language of the constitutional mandate to advocate culture and art, the government temperament towards artistic creation can be characterized as a posture of suspicion both towards the value of art and the sensibility of defending it. In the aftermath of poleteismo, the rights of the visual artists and the protesters remain indeterminate, but what was illuminated is the ingrained tendency to inhibit offensive art in the presence of hostility. Philippine art legislation with respect to prior restraint and subsequent punishment are in place, but the institutional interference in the controversy, which took the form of a summary closure, was sanctioned by no existing legal precedent, nor was there law which made it impermissible. This presents an avenue for a crucial inquiry as to a legal gap, which, if not addressed, allows for occasions to censor art thropugh subterfuge. This issue obtains specific importance in the realm of visual and installation art, whose primary methods of dissemination remain to be exhibition and display. In light of these, the paper examines the viability of adopting the heckler's veto framework as developed by American jurisprudence, and scrutinizes its compatibility with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural 'Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and further, with the present mechanisms of Philippine free speech jurisprudence. The paper will seek the codification of standards by which to measure the validity of summary closures of visual artistic exhibitions. In essence, the thesis pursues the contention that the freedom of expression forbids for artistic expression to be subordinated to the necessity of struggling with hostile audience response. An argument against defending art is an argument against culture.