by Colin Campbell
EDEN Court Theatre has stepped in to “rescue” the Black Lives Matter signs which were strung along the Ness Bridge for three days earlier this week. Rescue them, as opposed to their creators taking them home to sellotape to their bedroom walls, where they rightly belong.
The bridge BLM protest got a good airing from Sunday to Tuesday, with Highland Council holding off from taking them down on Monday morning to give them a longer time on display.
That was fair enough. But why is Eden Court now getting involved in this?
A spokeswoman for the venue said: “We are proud to provide a home for the banners and artworks from the peaceful protest on Ness Bridge.
“The banners and artworks will be brought to Eden Court this Friday and we will aim to have found a way to display them on our grounds by the middle of next week. As Eden Court is closed we cannot yet exhibit them inside.
“To protect the works, we will find a sheltered place for them to be viewed outside for a two-week period.
“When Eden Court reopens we will exhibit the works in one of our exhibition spaces before allowing them to be collected by their owners or placed in Eden Court’s archive.”
So not only are they going to display them, they’re making a special effort to display them.
How much thought has gone into this? Or are they just piling aboard the anti-racism bandwagon set in motion by the appalling and unlawful killing by a police officer of George Floyd, and the subsequent protests – the most televised in history.
As we’ve emphasised repeatedly, the underlying anti-racism intent of the Ness Bridge protest was worthy and well-intentioned.
But the messages on some of these signs were provocative and inflammatory and in one case – a police officer depicted as a “racist pig” – downright odious.
Will the management of Eden Court be “proud” to display that one? We’d damn well hope not.
And what about some of the others – “White Silence is Violence” and all the rest of it.
The cosy assumption within Eden Court – which is publicly funded – may be that every member of the public who pays for it agrees with these messages and the tone they represent.
Well it’s time the theatrical luvvies woke up to the fact that they don’t.
In fact, many people will find these signs highly offensive. It’s one thing protesters sticking them up for a few days on the Ness Bridge.
But it moves to an entirely different level when a publicly-funded organisation puts them on special display and effectively endorses them.
What are they thinking of? Or have they thought it through at all, or merely allowed themselves to be swept along by those who seem to believe, following the death of George Floyd, that a mysterious cloud of racism spread outwards from Minneapolis and somehow now taints us all.
That we’re all either racists or subliminal racists who now need to be “re-educated”.
And that we need Eden Court to pitch in with its special display to play a lead role in the re-education process?
Neither can it be said that the messages in these signs are a generalised response to the problem of racism in the US, or in Britain.
A group of protesters took it upon themselves to mount a protest at Nairn police station. What the cops in Nairn police station have to do with a killing that happened thousands of miles away is quite beyond me.
Organisers of the BLM protest now intend to make a prolonged social media effort to address racism in a constructive and thoughtful manner and good luck to them in their efforts. They deserve credit for doing that.
But there’s absolutely no need for Eden Court to get involved.
And it’s not as if these placards and posters are creative works of art. Some of them look to bear trite slogans plucked off social media and scrawled on bits of cardboard with a black marker pen.
The reverence shown by Eden Court to these BLM signs and to insist their messages should be transmitted at public expense is insufferably patronising and arrogant. These posters are the views of those who put them up and where’s the evidence that their tone represents the views of anyone else?
No-one denies this is a sensitive issue. So Eden Court management should have treated it sensitively and weighed up the pros and cons before plunging into their commitment to display and endorse these signs – supposedly on our behalf.
Why don’t they stick to doing what they’re paid for, like working out whether their next panto should be Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk? What gives them the right to have a go at racism “re-education”?
In effect we’re paying them public money to put on a display telling us we’re all racist, even though we’re too stupid to realise it.
And there’s only two words to describe that – bloody outrageous.