Free speech fight at Melbourne university: Fired lecturer beats the bureaucracy

I probably would not like his art but beating an oppressive bureaucracy sounds good
"The champagne was flowing freely in local art circles this morning after sacked RMIT lecturer Steve Cox -- feted internationally for his searing portraits of murderous social decline — chalked up a free speech triumph against his former employer in the Magistrates’ Court.

Cox’s tussles with School of Art head Elizabeth Grierson began when he posted images and comments critical of Grierson and the administration on the popular “Save Art from RMIT” Facebook page, which urges members to “vent your thoughts and frustrations”.

The page says the fine art course is “under threat” and that “teaching hours, teachers, facilities & courses are being cut”, leading to its global blackballing.

In early February, following his sacking for disciplinary reasons, Cox posted a photo-shopped image of Grierson with the title “Her Legacy Shall Be Ashes” and another caricature called “Grierson Out”.

The rancour increased after Cox took the fight to his personal Facebook page, which unlike most profiles is set to public and viewable by anyone. Last month, University lawyers issued an interim intervention order preventing him from posting any references to Grierson anywhere on Facebook and from physically approaching the RMIT building in Melbourne’s CBD.

But in yesterday’s out-of-court settlement, highlighting the vexed issues of modern day cyberstalking, the university was forced into an humiliating backdown, agreeing not to visit Cox’s personal Facebook page for the next 20 years. For his part, Cox will remove three Facebook entries and agree not to post anything “with malice” in the future. The clear legal implication is that if someone doesn’t want to be offended online they should avert their gaze.

Cox: “I’m now free to say anything about RMIT that I want. She’s not allowed to go to my Facebook page for 20 years which is great.”

Cox was well prepared for yesterday’s hearing, tapping crack silk Tim North and calling on former Queensland Art Gallery director and current Australian Commissioner for the Venice Biennale Doug Hall for expert testimony. When the university got wind of the dual offensive, they quickly backed down.


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