Hats off to the Daily Telegraph, the one Australian media outlet to grasp the awkward dichotomy-defying complexity of the Bill Henson art/p-rn affair: we can now safely conclude that 100% of the Tele’s readers think the contentious photos in question might well be either (even allowing for the small subset who think the whole business has something to do with the Muppets).

The matter is being treated with less subtlety elsewhere. Which sells an interesting debate short, because if nothing else, this is a complex business, one that encompasses notions of artistic freedom, society’s trend to s-xualised childhood, the s-xual exploitation of minors, p-rnography, the internet … you name it. It’s an important discussion, which is why the tabloid tendency — replicated faithfully by the broadsheets and our elected representatives — to polarise the argument between “disgusting” and “art” does us all a disservice. 

When did we lose the capacity for serious and complex discussion of intricate and difficult issues?

Look too at the argument over the pricing of fuel. Never mind that Australian petrol prices are cheap by global standards, never mind that fuel prices will inevitably rise as the laws of supply and demand are exercised by the diminishing reserves of oil, never mind too that some sort of aggressive fuel pricing might just have environmental positives … we get lost instead on some politically-engineered media cycle of trivial to and fro between 4 cents and 5 cents and who said what when.

It would be nice, someday, to talk this stuff through with an eye for complexity and commonsense. Yes? No?