May 22, 2022

The Editor Speaks: “Witch hunt” ends in acquittal

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The whole case has been a “witch hunt” and it has “taken its toll on me”.

This is what Cayman Brac artist Ronald Gregory Kynes, known as “Foots”, said after he was was acquitted of the charge of being in possession of an obscene publication .

The ‘obscene publication’ was in fact four sculptures Foots had artistically made and placed on property he owns on Cayman Brac.

Some prominent Brac residents had complained the sculptures were obscene and a prosecution was obtained.

The statues were vandalised by persons unknown and the police have not been able to find the perpetrator(s) on an island of just over 2,000 inhabitants!

I have written already in Editorials how ridiculous the prosecution was and should never have been proceeded with. Thankfully, Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn found, last Wednesday (June 27), the sculptures were neither obscene nor tending to corrupt morals as claimed. If the verdict had gone the other way we would have had an international media war on our hands involving freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights and much unwanted publicity.

Two of the sculptures named by Foots as “Hekate” and “Isis” are of armless women. The first showed the woman having long hair covering her otherwise naked breasts with a skull in her navel. The other showed naked breasts and a glass triangle in her pubic area.

The third statue, “Eva and Eve” are of two figures embracing.

The most controversial art piece is called “LGBT”. This one shows what appears to be a woman or a child kneeling in front of the other.

Magistrate Gunn held the view the statue “Isis” was not inherently sexual and it is an inanimate object. She said, “Save for a very few prudish individuals”, it was neither obscene nor tending to corrupt morals.

In “Hekate” she could not find anything obscene.

Commenting upon the “Eva and Eve” statue she said the claim made that one of the figures was kissing or “sucking” the breasts of the other was “mistaken” as it was clear the lips were not touching the other figure at all. The magistrate also said there was nothing to indicate they were naked and in a sexual act,

Magistrate Gunn did concede that the suggestion in the “LGBT” statue that oral sex was taking place might be a conclusion. Once the suggestion is made others could also conclude that. However, she noted the pubic areas of the statues are not defined, the mouth was near but not in contact with the other figure and there was nothing to indicate that sexual act is taking place.

Gunn said, “I am sure the overwhelming view of people who saw the statues without the suggestion of oral sex, would not find them obscene.”

The trial had taken place at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre.

Caymanians are generally a “god-fearing people,” the magistrate acknowledged, but also concluded that on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac they regularly hold government-sponsored events such as Batabano and Braccannal. These events involve sexual depictions, including women wining and grinding on men’s crotches during the carnival-like celebrations.

“This sets the tone of our moral standard of the islands,” she said.

She also said she did not believe the claims made by the Brac witnesses for the prosecution had intended to deceive. She thought their perceptions had perhaps been influenced by their religious beliefs, their personalities and animosity towards the defendant.

There is no doubt for all Foots can be a ‘difficult’ person and I would not like him as a neighbour. I believe if I was to cut off one of his ears he would cut both mine off with no hesitation.

He is an outsider, an alien, and one should at the very least respect the persons native to the island you are residing on.

He says he bares no grudges and one can see he is not physically a well man.

He is right the whole matter has been a witch hunt and I hope now the broom has been destroyed by the same people who caused damage to his art work. We don’t want to see her riding about on it any more. Naked or not.

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