Law and ethics aren't the same things. Ethics is subject to interpretation. Many tourists have climbed Uluru, even disrespectfully called it Ayer's Rock, and do not want to consider the fact that Ululu is as sacred to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people as an altar in a church is to a Christian.
You do not need to be of a person's faith or culture to be willing to respect their wishes.
I'm not a Catholic, yet I would not dream of climbing on an altar. I would not, as a mid-tone to fair skinned person, write of a culture that has requested I do not tell their stories. That's simple respect. My choice. Not a rule for you.
Comparing an existing culture that has many writers within it, asking for people not of that culture not to write as if they owned their stories, is quite different to writing about murderers. One group is entitled to our respect, another is not.
The choice remains with the author, but expect repercussions if you represent yourself as something you are not in the creative art's industry; it has backfired for many authors and artists when they try to tell of a heritage that is not theirs to share.
Where cultural heritage is concerned, tread lightly. Traditional culture is considered trademarked, if only by ethics if not law. For example, you may do some things, but, if you respect those most closely aligned with the culture, you would respect their wishes and not do it. I have a portrait of an Australian Aboriginal that I painted with his consent, legally I can exhibit it, morally, I will not, because he has died, and in his culture, his name must not be spoken again, and his image must not be shown. Abiding by that is called respect. It is not law.
Channel has just created an ostentatious boomerang for sale. Can they legally do that? Yes. Is that good business ethics? No. Will I and many Australians now boycott all Channel product? Yes.
I write of Australian Aboriginal and Scottish ancestry characters in the close third person in my The Stolen Years Series, and I feel that I have an ethical right to share those stories as I have family connections. I wrote of an Aboriginal Elder, with closer ties to his cultural heritage than I have, and I had the work approved of by a respected Aboriginal elder before publishing, as that is considered the correct thing to do by both their culture and the Australian publishing industry.
Respecting other's cultures and wishes is personal choice. Accepting others penalising us if we do not respect them, goes with that choice.
Feel welcome to voice you opinion in the comments, and read the ABC post below that triggered my blog.
Click here to read the ABC article: Author Anthony Horowitz says he was "warned off" including a black character in his new book because it was "inappropriate" for a white writer.
From the Sydney Morning Herald: Turnbull government decides against banning tourists from climbing Uluru.
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