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#41 mrmando

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 06:39 PM

A fine example too, because there's a long of Jewish comedy devoted to mockery of the Hebrew (and Yiddish) languages, Jewish religious customs, stories, holidays, etc.

On the other hand, if I as a Gentile were to start mocking Jews, you'd blow a gasket.

#42 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 06:54 PM

I don't know about Canada, but down below the 49th we're expected to balance freedom of expression with tolerance and freedom of religion. I don't think, either as a constitutional matter or a practical one, that freedom of expression is to be valued above all other values.



Posted ImageThis formulation is entirely new to me. It is my understanding as a constitutional matter and a practical one that freedom of religion is completely consonant with freedom of expression and tolerance, not dissonant, not something that must be balanced against free expression. Freedom of religion certainly doesn't mean freedom from anything that offends our religious sensibilities. Tolerance means that I put up with anti-gay craziness and you put up with anti-catholic craziness and together we put up with Jack Chick.


A fine example too, because there's a long of Jewish comedy devoted to mockery of the Hebrew (and Yiddish) languages, Jewish religious customs, stories, holidays, etc.

On the other hand, if I as a Gentile were to start mocking Jews, you'd blow a gasket.


That depends.




#43 mrmando

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 06:58 PM

Posted ImageThis formulation is entirely new to me.

Really? Posted Image You've never heard Justice Holmes' remark about shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre?

It is my understanding as a constitutional matter and a practical one that freedom of religion is completely consonant with freedom of expression and tolerance, not dissonant, not something that must be balanced against free expression.

Well, then, the law enacted to keep Fred Phelps a certain distance away from military funerals is clearly unconstitutional.

Freedom of religion certainly doesn't mean freedom from anything that offends our religious sensibilities.

Tell that to these folks. Or these.

Tolerance means that I put up with anti-gay craziness and you put up with anti-catholic craziness and together we put up with Jack Chick.

Why can't we take tolerance a step further and ask each other to STOP the anti-Catholic and anti-gay craziness? Then we can get together for a drink and an irony-laced dramatic reading of our favorite Chick tracts.

Edited by mrmando, 03 January 2011 - 07:59 PM.


#44 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 07:00 PM

Ahahahahahaha

Ok, just watched the video. Not too much different from some of the "art" videos my fellow students made in art class in college. Not too much different from a video I could make, without any skill, if I had a competent camera, a few old toys, a trip to the slums, perhaps a day's trip to Mexico, and let's say a recording of Green Peace protestors in Seattle. Nothing really that offensive or earth-shattering in my own personal opinion, but I certainly do want to have to pay for that. Can't help it, but I find it hilarious that that this whole story is inspiring statements like this -

"An institution [the National Portrait Gallery] that stands for American art simply must show American art," said Mattress Factory co-director Barbara Luderowski. "Anything less is a violation of our freedom of speech and expression."

And this -

Former New York Civil Liberties Union director Norman Siegel was also on hand for Sunday’s protest, calling on the Met, MoMA and local politicians to speak out against Smithsonian’s decision to pull the video. "Where are they? Where’s the mayor? Where’s the governor?" Siegel asked. "We’re here to get them to speak out – because they could be next."

Oh if I only had the job of being the Smithsonian's PR press man right now. It would probably be great fun.

Suppose a bipartisan congressional committee put together a proposal to float a national ballot initiative to scrap the American flag and design a completely new one -- different colors, everything. If we contemplate the cataclysm of outrage and indignation with which this proposal would be met, it will perhaps highlight how Americans see the flag not simply as their shared property, and therefore something which, in theory, we could collectively decide to dispense with -- a possibility that in any case we ought to be able to discuss calmly and rationally, even if we decide to do otherwise. No. The very suggestion is like proposing that we break faith with our forebears.

Agreed. Now, does this mean burning or desecrating the flag should be against the law? No. Does this mean we should allow images of burning and/or desecrating the flag to be collected into a video, called "art", and placed in a taxpayer supported exhibit/museum? No.

But with regard to simple handheld objects like crucifixes and books and pieces of cloth and so forth, people are generally free to do what they like, provided that they bought those objects or were expressly given those objects.

: Chair = everyday utilitarian object; crucifix = sacred symbol declared worthy of veneration.

Well, crosses were once everyday utilitarian objects, too, at least in the Roman world; and some chairs are considered sacred symbols nowadays, too (whether it's St. Edward's Chair, about which there is some ballyhoo in The King's Speech, or whether it's the throne that the Pope sits on when he speaks ex cathedra, etc.). These things slip around, as intersubjective meanings are wont to do.

: If I were about to set fire to an Orthodox icon in public, would you as an Orthodox believer try to stop me?

That's an interesting question. I would certainly stop you if you had stolen the icon from our chapel. And I would probably try to persuade you NOT to destroy the icon, or I would let you know my displeasure in some way. But would I try to steal it from you, if it was, in fact, yours? Probably not. Though I can imagine some of my co-religionists might feel differently about that.

Again, there is quite a difference between [a] someone dowsing a crucifix in a jar of urine, and [b] dowsing a crucifix in a jar of urine and calling it "art." And then of course, there's [c] dowsing a crucifix in a jar of urine, calling it "art", and then asking everyone else to pay for your doing so with their tax dollars.

While it is currently not against the law to burn the American flag, for example. Plenty of Americans would be perfectly happy to use violence if necessary to prevent someone from doing so. Then of course, plenty of American judges would find the fact that the guy upon whom you committed assault was in the act of attempting to burn the flag as a ... shall we say, primary mitigating factor during suspended sentencing.

What I am talking about is the question of who gets to contribute to a symbol's meaning, who is permitted to identify with or interpret or respond to the meaning of a symbol, and whether doctrinally "incorrect" representations of a symbol must be forcefully opposed, or shrugged off politely.

Incorrect or disrespectful treatment of a sacred symbol or icon is completely wrong according to the religion to which that symbol belongs, and completely legal according to the laws of the United States. But just because someone is allowed to commit sacrilege does not mean that I have to submit to their doing so in a privileged forum that is even only partially supported by my tax dollars.

If I was the PR spokesman for Smithsonian, I would casually remark that due to budget restraints, this exhibit was merely the first in a string of exhibits about to be eliminated due to their loose and somewhat questionable categorization as "art" in the first place, and due to the fact that we can no longer afford (for the time being) to practice the same whimsey with the English dictionary definition of art, in which, perhaps, a country with a smaller national debt could afford to indulge itself.

I think Kathryn Jean Lopez fairly summed up the primary motivation of the "bunch of politicans" that are now causing such an uproar in the art world.

The Gallery is part of the Smithsonian and gets taxpayer support. a spokesman for John Boehner yesterday said: “Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington.” Echoing the tea-party mood that elected a new House, Boehner’s office continued: “While the amount of money involved may be small, it’s symbolic of the arrogance Washington routinely applies to thousands of spending decisions involving Americans’ hard-earned money at a time when one in every 10 Americans is out of work and our children’s future is being threatened by debt.” And Eric Cantor promised: “When a museum receives taxpayer money, the taxpayers have a right to expect that the museum will uphold common standards of decency. The museum should pull the exhibit and be prepared for serious questions come budget time.”

Besides, not all modern artists are interested in putting videos together with rotting crucifixes and masterbation.

Edited by Persiflage, 03 January 2011 - 07:05 PM.


#45 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 07:59 PM


Posted ImageThis formulation is entirely new to me.

Really? Posted Image You've never heard Justice Holmes' remark about shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre?



That's not freedom of expression balanced against freedom of religion and tolerance. That's freedom of expression balanced against its potential to incite 'clear and present danger'. That standard was later upgraded by the court to 'imminent lawless action' (ie a riot), which is the current constitutional test. Nothing about religion in there.

It is my understanding as a constitutional matter and a practical one that freedom of religion is completely consonant with freedom of expression and tolerance, not dissonant, not something that must be balanced against free expression.

Well, then, the law enacted to keep Fred Phelps a certain distance away from military funerals is clearly unconstitutional.


That particular case is under consideration by the court, but actually, yes, it is. I agree with the ACLU on that one.

Why can't we take tolerance a step further and ask each other to stop the anti-Catholic and anti-gay craziness? Then we can get together for a drink and an irony-laced dramatic reading of our favorite Chick tracts.


Well, it depends. It's perfectly fine to ask each other to chill out. It's something else to claim offense in order to suppress a point of view.




#46 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:13 PM

If I was the PR spokesman for Smithsonian, I would casually remark that due to budget restraints, this exhibit was merely the first in a string of exhibits about to be eliminated due to their loose and somewhat questionable categorization as "art" in the first place, and due to the fact that we can no longer afford (for the time being) to practice the same whimsey with the English dictionary definition of art, in which, perhaps, a country with a smaller national debt could afford to indulge itself.


The debate about public funding for art is probably a large part of what secretly animates this discussion (along with Bill Donahue's need to manufacture scandals to line his pockets when end of year fundraising time comes around--that's how he makes his $400,000 annual salary). Arts funding in the US is of course, miniscule, about at the level of Canada's arts funding, even though they have 1/10th of the population, despite countless studies that have shown that public funding of arts generates economic growth far beyond the cost of the initial investment. Arts investment = arts economies = jobs jobs jobs. But setting that aside:

Who decides what art is good, and what art is offensive? Because frankly, the hyperrealistic pictures of soda cans you've linked to strike me as profoundly, offensively bad art, on par with dogs playing poker. Who decides what "common decency" is?

Edited by Holy Moly!, 03 January 2011 - 08:14 PM.


#47 mrmando

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:31 PM


Really? Posted Image You've never heard Justice Holmes' remark about shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre?

That's not freedom of expression balanced against freedom of religion and tolerance. That's freedom of expression balanced against its potential to incite 'clear and present danger'. That standard was later upgraded by the court to 'imminent lawless action' (ie a riot), which is the current constitutional test. Nothing about religion in there.

I bring up Justice Holmes to support the general idea that there can be limits on free speech, since I thought you were saying you hadn't heard of any.

I didn't claim that the idea of balancing the rights of free expression and religious freedom with the virtue of tolerance is enshrined in the Constitution. (I mentioned it before I brought up the Constitution.) Rather, it is a stab at how a reasonably civil society might look: a three-legged stool, as it were. Two of these ideas are explicit in the Bill of Rights; the third is a principle that we might use to guide the way we apply the other two. On a bluegrass discussion board (worlds away from A&F, I know) I've run into knuckleheads who think Ricky Skaggs is violating the Constitution by talking about his religious beliefs during his concerts. Even a little further out than that, we have organizations like Bash Back!, whose idea of civil discourse is to disrupt church services, run onto the platform and scream blasphemies from the pulpit in the name of free speech and gay activism. Will we just keep turning up the volume on both sides until we're screaming so loud we can't hear the Constitution any longer?

Well, it depends. It's perfectly fine to ask each other to chill out. It's something else to claim offense in order to suppress a point of view.

Agreed, but is it OK to claim offense if one actually is, y'know, offended? Or is offense something that's OK to give but not to take?

Edited by mrmando, 03 January 2011 - 10:03 PM.


#48 SDG

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:44 PM

Tolerance means that I put up with anti-gay craziness and you put up with anti-catholic craziness and together we put up with Jack Chick.

Why can't we take tolerance a step further and ask each other to STOP the anti-Catholic and anti-gay craziness? Then we can get together for a drink and an irony-laced dramatic reading of our favorite Chick tracts.

Hear, hear!

#49 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:11 PM

Tolerance means that I put up with anti-gay craziness and you put up with anti-catholic craziness and together we put up with Jack Chick.

Why can't we take tolerance a step further and ask each other to STOP the anti-Catholic and anti-gay craziness? Then we can get together for a drink and an irony-laced dramatic reading of our favorite Chick tracts.

Hear, hear!


The irony is: that's one of the aims of Fire in the Belly, if anyone would bother to listen.

David Dark, again: "being offended by a work of art, the bible, or a film is the first stage of recieving its witness."

#50 SDG

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:58 PM

The irony is: that's one of the aims of Fire in the Belly, if anyone would bother to listen.

I missed the part where he was calling for an end to anti-Catholic craziness. It's a funny old way of pleading for respect while shaking the dust from your feet on other people's symbols and sacraments.

David Dark, again: "being offended by a work of art, the bible, or a film is the first stage of recieving its witness."

I wouldn't deny it. This makes an odd counterpoint to the parallel discussion in the rap thread about being offended at song lyrics, though.

#51 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 10:02 PM

I missed the part where he was calling for an end to anti-Catholic craziness. It's a funny old way of pleading for respect while shaking the dust from your feet on other people's symbols and sacraments.


Well, what you seem to refuse to accept is the possibility that those symbols weren't "other people's"---that he engaged them from a perspective of sincere sympathy and interest.




#52 SDG

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 11:00 PM

Well, what you seem to refuse to accept is the possibility that those symbols weren't "other people's"---that he engaged them from a perspective of sincere sympathy and interest.

I think reasonable people reasonably familiar with Catholic sacramental sensibilities even from outside Catholicism, let alone inside it, should be capable of recognizing this usage as repugnant to the veneration due to the crucifix. At best it is not only tone-deaf but also utterly disconnected with previous discussion around other offensive art. More candidly, the piece seems pretty transparent in its hostility not just toward uncompassionate churchmen but toward Catholicism itself. It is an act of violence to the crucifix as a symbol of Catholicism. Maybe, theoretically, not to Jesus Himself -- maybe the point is that Catholicism is unworthy of Christ. But this is not a work of art in respectful dialogue with the point of view that homosexual orientation is gravely disordered and homosexual acts are gravely sinful. It is offensive to those who believe what the Church believes and revere the crucifix as the symbol of that faith, and it is meant to be.

Edited by SDG, 03 January 2011 - 11:08 PM.


#53 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 11:41 PM

utterly disconnected with previous discussion around other offensive art. <br>

<br><br>...like what?<div><br></div>

Edited by Holy Moly!, 03 January 2011 - 11:50 PM.


#54 Holy Moly!

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 11:57 PM

It is an act of violence to the crucifix as a symbol of Catholicism.



Again, it documents violence. It doesn't inflict violence. Unless you think Wojnarowicz was lying when he described his sincerity in using images of Christ. It's a shame we can't ask him.



#55 M. Leary

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:01 AM


A fine example too, because there's a long of Jewish comedy devoted to mockery of the Hebrew (and Yiddish) languages, Jewish religious customs, stories, holidays, etc.

On the other hand, if I as a Gentile were to start mocking Jews, you'd blow a gasket.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ythrdCsOFJU

I think reasonable people reasonably familiar with Catholic sacramental sensibilities even from outside Catholicism, let alone inside it, should be capable of recognizing this usage as repugnant to the veneration due to the crucifix.


So this is a request for basic civility? I mean that in all honesty. It is pretty much this hermeneutical question about symbols that tilted me back to Protestantism. I am completely unconvinced that any symbol is due anything. Symbols were made for man, not man for symbols.

Edited by M. Leary, 04 January 2011 - 12:11 AM.


#56 mrmando

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:33 AM

Again, it documents violence. It doesn't inflict violence.

Eh? He just found a crucifix lying on the ground, bleeding of its own accord, with ants crawling on it ... and he just happened to have his video camera handy?

#57 Holy Moly!

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:34 AM

One faithful Catholic who's not offended by the video.

Edited by Holy Moly!, 04 January 2011 - 12:36 AM.


#58 Holy Moly!

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 01:01 AM

One also wonders what the goal of seeking the video's removal is. That poor plastic jesus has probably been seen exponentially more times than it otherwise would. It's image is being broadcast on countless news and comedy shows, all over the blogosphere, racking up tens of thousands of youtube hits. And Bill Donahue counts his money.

#59 mrmando

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 01:05 AM

And Bill Donahue counts his money.

He really needn't bother ... he's got you to count it for him.

#60 SDG

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 08:30 AM

utterly disconnected with previous discussion around other offensive art.

...like what?

"Piss Christ," dung/porn Madonna, crucified frog, "Corpus Christi" (the play), "The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals," etc.

Again, it documents violence. It doesn't inflict violence. Unless you think Wojnarowicz was lying when he described his sincerity in using images of Christ. It's a shame we can't ask him.

"Sincerity in using images of Christ" is worth squat. Everyone loves "Christ" because "Christ" is whoever or whatever you want Him to be (see above-mentioned works). At issue is not whether the art is "sincere" toward "Christ," but whether it is anti-Christian and specifically anti-Catholic. There's no reason in the world it can't be all three.

So this is a request for basic civility? I mean that in all honesty.

For me it is, yes. Of course in the public sphere incivil acts are often met with equally incivil responses ranging from spit in the eye to blowing up churches. But I am sincere in objecting to works like this as offenses against basic civility.

It is pretty much this hermeneutical question about symbols that tilted me back to Protestantism. I am completely unconvinced that any symbol is due anything. Symbols were made for man, not man for symbols.

True, but that doesn't mean we can manipulate symbols however we like. Jesus might heal on the Sabbath, but we don't hear of him getting in trouble in Nazareth for running his carpentry business on the Sabbath, presumably because He rested on the Sabbath. Jesus certainly took the symbol of the Temple seriously. St. Paul insists that the Eucharistic symbols require worthy reception. Countless early martyrs went to their deaths rather than toss a pinch of incense on Caesar's altar.

One faithful Catholic who's not offended by the video.

Are you sure? I think it's often hard to know what Colbert really thinks. :)

One also wonders what the goal of seeking the video's removal is. That poor plastic jesus has probably been seen exponentially more times than it otherwise would. It's image is being broadcast on countless news and comedy shows, all over the blogosphere, racking up tens of thousands of youtube hits.

I'm not sure I wouldn't rather have it seen by millions and be problematized and known to have been found unacceptable than seen by thousands and be considered legitimate and respectable, something that the Christian world couldn't be bothered to effectively protest.

Edited by SDG, 04 January 2011 - 08:31 AM.