Get ready for your head to explode.
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In the middle of TEDxBrussels talk on March 5 that focused on censorship, a male event organizer walked onto the stage and physically dragged the female presenter off. And the kicker? The theme of the entire TEDx event was Brave New World — as in, yes, the Aldous Huxley book about a dystopian future wherein an all-powerful state controls the lives of its citizens.
And it only gets worse from there.
According to the TEDxBrussels website, the presenter, artist Deborah De Robertis, was in the middle of a piece addressing past censorship of her artwork. The forcible removal of her from stage was so absurd, reports the Netherlands newspaper NRC Handelsblad, that audience members initially applauded thinking it was a statement about censorship.
This was made clear by a statement TED staff posted to their blog.
“Today at TEDxBrussels, an independently organized TEDx event, speaker and performance artist Deborah De Robertis was forcibly removed from the stage by one of the event’s organizers, who objected to the talk’s content,” the group notes. “We have reviewed the situation and spoken with the organizer. While we know there are moments when it is difficult to decide how to respond to a situation, this response was deeply inappropriate.”
My irony meter just exploded. A man drags @D_derobertis, a female artist, from stage whilst she is performing on censorship, during a slot announced as focussing on girl power, at an event discussing the ideas in the dystopian novel #BraveNewWorld. #TEDxBrussels
— Sofie Verhalle (@lamazone) March 5, 2018
What was so allegedly objectionable that in the eyes of organizers it merited force to silence? Why that would be De Robertis projecting photos of one of her past works, which included nudity. NRC Handelsblad reports that she was in the middle of doing this when she was organizers lost it. And in a truly messed up moment of painful irony, the man who grabbed her and pulled her across the floor appeared to remove the artist’s shirt — exposing her breasts in the process.
TED’s response was swift. “We are immediately revoking the TEDxBrussels license granted to this individual,” concluded the TED staff statement.
But this was not enough for De Robertis, who tweeted several statements following the incident demanding a chance to present her talk in full.
Taking off the organiser’s license is not enough to support freedom of speech. I want my full official video to be published on the TEDx website like all the other videos, otherwise it would be a double censorship. @TEDTalks https://t.co/0PbVNskYGB
— Deborah De Robertis (@D_derobertis) March 6, 2018
Clearly, the event organizers have a lot to learn about censorship and art. Maybe they should attend a conference addressing that very issue… oh, wait.