Regarding VANOC's gag-clause on contracted artists that we mentioned a couple of days ago, here is the exact wording, from a recent editorial in the Edmonton Journal:
The depth and breadth of the censorship here is breathtaking.
Because it's not just the Olympics that cannot not be commented upon in either derogatory or 'negative' (wtf?) terms.
In addition, this makes it clear that no artist shall besmirch the Olympic movement 'generally'.
What the heckfire does that mean - no dissing ancient Athenians? Or Kip Keino's bare feet? Or Eddie the Eagle's glasses? Or the IOC's Supreme Sommander in, say, 1928?'
And 'Bell' and/or other 'sponsors' associated with VANOC?
Does that mean that if an artist, say, found a dead mouse in their bottle of soda that they not be allowed to comment on such an event 'negatively'.
But the real kicker here is that artists are also not allowed to say anything bad about the organizers themselves.....
What kind of crock is this? Is this supposed to protect VANOC from terrorists? From a drop in their stock price? From future earnings? From young kids in face paint who do impov while speaking "Ig-pay Atin-lay"?
This is truly insane.
In Marsha Lederman's original Globe piece, which broke this story originally, she quoted the VANOC/Cultural Olympiad program director thusly, after a contracted arts group suggested that there was a link between Olympic over-expenditures and massive cuts to provincial arts programs:
"We were a little surprised, but we didn't put any handcuffs on anybody. It was more a question of, is the artist still comfortable being a part of it."
If not handcuffs, what, exactly, did VANOC actually slap on the arts group concerned.
Well, here's the story according to the E. Journal editorial (which, we should point out, basically just expands on the original Lederman piece):
"....Radix Theatre, one of 12 companies performing in an Olympics event, had the temerity to criticize recent draconian, widely criticized arts funding cuts by the B.C. government. While celebrating HIVE, its Games event, it suggested that "massive overrides in Olympic expenditures" were arguably to blame for the recent government slashing, which is entirely possible.
That comment, contained in its newsletter, drew a self-described "gentle reminder" from VANOC about the need to keep commentary separate from the logo of the Cultural Olympiad...."
Radix received a 'gentle reminder' from the funding organization that is essentially the only game in town in the entire province of British Columbia for arts groups these days that was backed by the viscious little piece of multi-pronged censorship that it is explicit in the contract clause quoted above.
Given all that, was this 'reminder' not more like a 'gentle' tightening of the hang-man's noose around Radix' neck rather than a simple case of handcuffs being slapped on their wrists?
As for the rest of us?
Well, the E. Journal editorial put it this way in their lede:
"It seems like an awful relic from China's Cultural Revolution, but the sad truth is that government-imposed loyalty pledges are still in force. This week, artists have begun to protest contracts that muzzle them from uttering anything the leadership deems "negative." Is this Iran we're talking about?Myanmar? Somalia?
Actually, it's happening right now in Vancouver -- to Canadians secured to work in the Cultural Olympics festival of the 2010 Games......"
This is not a good thing.
It is not lost on us that the original Lederman piece appeared in a Bell-owned media organ, to which we say good on Patrick Brethour and/or whoever else at the Globe made sure that the story made it into both print and pixels.
It is also not lost on us that nothing like the Edmonton Journal editorial has been printed in the pages of the Vancouver dailies that are also part of the CanWest stable. And there are no excuses here because it was reprinted in the Regina Leader-Post.