I attended my first meeting for Freethinkers of Northern Colorado today at the Dazbog coffee shop on North Mason Street in Fort Collins, CO. They meet there the third Sunday of each month at 10 AM. An invigorating conversation was had by all. During the discourse the Loveland Art Hoopla was discussed at length. I speak of the unfortunate incident in which a Mz. Kathleen Folden from Kalispell, Montana waltzed into the Loveland Museum Gallery, took out a crowbar and smashed open a display containing a print composed by Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya. The print, titled "The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals" depicts the head of jesus on the body of a clothed prostitute who has a young man pressing his head on her thigh with his tongue out. You can see the print here.
To me, the most entertaining aspect of the media coverage of this fiasco has been the apparent inability of certain news correspondents to look at and consider art for themselves, let alone place it in any societal context. I find it incredibly funny and sad that all the people complaining about this art (FOX news correspondents especially) have apparently not looked at the entire piece with their own eyes but are merely going off of hearsay. In their report that aired before the art was attacked they bemoaned the piece saying - "I wonder what would have happened to the art were it Mohammed depicted in a sex act?"
Funny they should say this. If you look at the bottom row of panels you see Mohammed knelt and praying at the foot of a bed where two pigs in bikinis are dancing. I'm quite sure this means Chagoya is an equal opportunity blasphemer and probably will be called an artistic genius for this!
A fellow first-time attendee to the meeting spoke up and said he had written an op-ed piece that had yet to be printed in the local paper. I offered to put it up here at Tom Paine's Ghost. So here you go. A guest post from a fellow free-thinker of Northern Colorado.
Gandhi was right about Christians
By Joe Martin
Mahatma Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Kathleen Folden is a perfect example of what he meant.
While I don't expect the average bumpkin to understand abstractions such as artistically expressed messages about society or its institutions, neither do I expect them to start swinging a crowbar to express their indignation at a less than flattering depiction of their religion's sacred cow.
Freedom of speech is fine for religious nutjobs like Folden as long as they don't find that expression to be offensive, in which case you find equally unstable zealots in Washington, attempting to smash the Plexiglas protecting the Constitution. Protection of offensive speech is the very reason for that clause of the First Amendment. Nobody hacks to pieces artistic expressions that they like.
Sadly, this is well within the range of crimes against the greater society of which modern activist Christians are capable on their march to turn America into a theocracy. It is no less reprehensible than the Muslim riots that happened in reaction to the Danish newspaper cartoon.
It has been suggested that similar art depicting Mohammed or more contemporary figures in the same manner would not have been considered for display. I can’t speak for what the museum would or would not accept for display; but I know I would welcome such work.
Religion does not deserve special protection against offensive artistic expression. Nobody has an inalienable right to not be offended.