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What a Child Sees | by Thomas Hawk
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What a Child Sees

The Post Where Jill Greenberg Thinks She Can Intimidate Me by Contacting My Employer


Jill Greenberg. Artist. Advocate of free speech and expression. Except when someone disagrees with her and is critical of her work and methods.


Some of you may recall that recently I have been upset by the methods of photographer Jill Greenberg in dealing with and photographing children. Jill is the one who strips kids down and then works them up into a state of emotional distress and then shoots them distraught and in anguish, tears running down their little face, and calls it some kind of protest art against the Bush administration.


In my mind what she is doing is abuse. It's emotionally abusing children and it's wrong. So she doesn't agree with me. Fine. Her husband wrote a comment on my original blog post on the matter and in fairness I elevated the comment to the actual article itself. I fully admit that I very well may be reacting emotionally on this matter having four little ones of my own at home. I believed that two sides deserve to be heard and was more than happy to allow Jill or her husband or her gallery owner or any of her supporters or friends to voice an opinon on my blog -- even to the point of including her husband's comment in my original post.


But how does Jill respond?


First she tries to discredit me as an insane person with personal problems who she doesn't even think has kids (even though in my blog post about her I clearly state I've got four children, have photos of my four children up on flickr and elsewhere on my blog etc.) She tells this to a professional publication American Photo (whom I've asked for a retraction from and who never contacted me to verify her claims even though they pulled quotes from my same post that referenced that I had four kids).


Next, Jill tracks down my employer, an unrelated third party who has absolutely zero to do with my personal views and opinions and tries to apply pressure to get me to pull my post. She literally calls my boss this morning who has absolutely zero to do with any of my blogging. (By the way Jill, I blog from my own laptop on my own time). The last company who thought that they could intimidate me by involving my employer, an unrelated third party, went by the name PriceRitePhoto. I don't think they are in business anymore but feel free to Google them to read the story.


And then her husband tells me that in his opinion I'm committing libel. I'm committing libel for having an opinion that what Jill is doing to these kids constitutes abuse. That to emotionally work these kids up is abusive. My opinion Robert Green. He goes on to tell me that if I want to discuss this further that I get a lawyer.


So this is how the great artist Jill Greenberg decides free speech ought to work in this country? This is how someone who disagrees with her methods ought to be intimidated -- by threats of lawsuits and calling unrelated third parties to try and pressure someone? To try to discredit someone and make blatantly untrue accusations in a National magazine?


Jill, your husband writes on his blog that I'm a "crazy asshole with a blog." He uses an illustration likening me to a child molester. Do I threaten to sue him? No. Because speech is and should remain free in this country. Do I try to do research on the internet and track down the people in Hollywood that he's worked with and threaten to sue them? No. Again, they have nothing to do with his opinion and again it's a free country. Believe it or not freedom of speech is actually something that is constitutionally guaranteed. I am in fact, and I know this is a stretch for you here, allowed to have the opinon and speak my opinion that what you are doing to these children is abuse. And I'm not just some crazy guy with a blog. There have been other bloggers who have been critical of your methods as well. I'd encourage you to read these posts by Joe Wilcox and Charlie Owen. And you know what Jill? Joe and Charlie are fathers too. Imagine that, the shock, actual real life fathers outside of Hollywood could possibly object to your behavior. Are you going to call their employers and try to intimidate them as well?


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Taken on May 29, 2006