Infamous CRADLE OF FILTH T-Shirt On Display In Museum Exhibit

Friday, 13th February 2015

A museum exhibition in Canterbury, New Zealand is sparking outrage ahead of its display of a banned CRADLE OF FILTH t-shirt depicting a graphic image of a nun and explicit abuse of Jesus, reports Wright and Mathewson of news website Stuff.

The image and words are printed on a t-shirt that appears in the T-Shirts Unfolding exhibition, which opens at the museum tomorrow. Entitled Vestal Masturbation, the front of the shirt shows an image of a masturbating nun, while on the reverse it has the phrase “Jesus Is A Cunt.”

Christchurch’s Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews questioned why the t-shirt needed to be included in the exhibition at all. Cartoons and ridicule of the prophet Mohammed had led to violence and outrage in Islamic countries, and the public needed to consider whether what happened here could “have repercussions across the globe. At a time when we are seeking ways to reconcile extreme views in the international community, this exhibit could feed the accusation that the West is morally bankrupt,” she said.

Catholic blogger Brendan Malone said in a blog post that a museum should bring a community together, but Canterbury Museum’s decision to hold this exhibition was “irresponsible” and would “result in unnecessary harm” to the public. “Canterbury Museum has chosen to make itself a place that fosters intolerance and division – and what’s worse; as a ratepayer I am being forced to fund this intolerant and divisive behaviour.” He questioned whether the museum would display a t-shirt that “attacked and ridiculed Islam” in the same way. Malone also launched an online petition on Change.org asking for Canterbury Museum to “remove the hateful t-shirt” and “stop dividing the community”.

In an email newsletter, Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said some material in the museum’s exhibition would be “highly offensive” to many families. Canterbury Museum director Anthony Wright said the shirt was a small part of a large exhibition examining the garment’s place in popular culture. “When you do a show like this you deal with the edges of our culture and society. There are inevitably going to be some items and themes that are going to be offensive to some. It’s there because it is a valid part of an overall story about a whole cultural movement. We want to tell the whole story without unduly censoring things.” Museum management had a “serious discussion” before deciding to include the t-shirt in the exhibition, Wright said.

New Zealand’s chief censor ruled the t-shirt objectionable in 2008 but granted the museum an exemption to display it provided it was kept in a separate space from other exhibits and was age restricted. In his decision, chief censor Bill Hastings said the t-shirt was injurious to the public because it featured socially unacceptable profanity that associated its aggressive and misogynistic meaning with Jesus Christ.

Further details can be found here.