“Snowflake” MP claims 190-year-old satirical sketch at Westminster offends sex attack victims


BRITAIN’S youngest MP has been branded a “snowflake” after she claimed a satirical sketch in the Palace of Westminster is offensive to sex assault victims.

The 190-year-old work depicts Wellington and Robert Peel “murdering the constitution” using the method employed by grave robbers Burke and Hare.

SNP firebrand Mhairi Black claimed on Twitter yesterday: “Surely inappropriate to have a painting like this hanging in a workplace where there are victims of sexual assault and harassment working.”

Her post prompted a fierce debate with many comments accusing Black of taking the image out of context.

The sketch depicts Peel and Wellington murdering the constitution

@andyhibee posted: “Don’t agree. We learn from our past. There’s lots of historical stuff that was offensive.

“Do we start removing books from libraries that were written in a bygone era if they contain something which is offensive today? Don’t let the snowflake generation penetrate your mind.”

@TheyCallMeGimp wrote: “Looks to me like an old political commentary comic-esque picture, imo a painting depicting the killing of ‘Mrs Constitution’ is extremely appropriate to be shown in parliament.”

@CJayFla wrote: “Can’t say I agree. This would be of a time long before enlightened attitudes, and be allegorious to political matters of the day.

“If this hangs in a historical place or a place studying such, then you could argue it is a warning from history.”

@52_ian said: “It’s an entirely appropriate satire on constitutional rights being suffocated. Seems eminently appropriate today.”

@TotoroTitiSocks added: “Maybe it has to be seen in its historical context with a caption of explanation.

“Sexual assault and harassment drawings are issues which cannot be swiped under the Carpet. So, let’s close the museums around the world.”

Not everyone agreed with Black and believed that should took it out of context

Others claimed Black had fundamentally misunderstood the picture, insisting that no sexual violence is depicted.

@GoodTimeCat wrote: “Burking is killing or beating up, not sexual assault. Named after Burke of Burke and Hare. Ignorance.”

Burking was devised by the Edinburgh criminals to kill by simultaneously suffocating the victim while applying pressure to the chest. Burke and Hare used this method to provide fresh – and, therefore, more valuable – bodies for sale to medical research.

Many others agreed with the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire.

? @kevboden88 posted: “Totally agree with you but what is the painting depicting. Is it sexual assault or harassment?

“’ll have to do some more research on it but agree it is inappropriate for today’s values and that it should be taken down.”

@CaptFemShep said: “It’s not appropriate for modern day display especially in a workplace regardless of whether it’s burking or not. Sexual abuse and murder are not mutually exclusive.”

@Malcolumbus added: “I agree on the inappropriate nature of having this on public display due to modern sensitivity.”

The hand-coloured etching by William Heath was published in 1829 and is known as “Burking Poor Old Mrs Constitution Aged 141”.

Peel is gripping her with his legs while he covers her mouth and nose. Wellington is straddled across her body.

The sketch satirises the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act which allowed catholics to sit in Parliament.

A spokeswoman for the House of Commons said: “The Parliamentary Art Collection holds a wide range of artworks including pieces like the ‘Burking Poor Old Mrs Constitution’ which is a satirical print relating to Catholic emancipation.

“We recognise that some people may find artworks like this objectionable and are always willing to engage with Members to address any concerns.”

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