Saturday, March 31, 2007
I'm sorry to have to say this because I am generally pretty tolerant of religion and try to be respectful of others' beliefs. But until the Catholic Church steps up and says that this screaming nutcase Bill Donohue and his band of freaks don't speak for them, I'm going to have to assume that the Catholic Church agrees with his lunatic ravings. This is getting completely ridiculous:
A planned Holy Week exhibition of a nude, anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ was canceled Friday amid a choir of complaining Catholics that included Cardinal Edward Egan.
The ``My Sweet Lord'' display was shut down by the hotel that houses the Lab Gallery in midtown Manhattan, said Matt Semler, the gallery's creative director. Semler said he submitted his resignation after officials at the Roger Smith Hotel shut down the show.
The six-foot sculpture was the victim of ``a strong-arming from people who haven't seen the show, seen what we're doing,'' Semler said. ``They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions.''
But word of the confectionary Christ infuriated Catholics, including Egan, who described it as ``a sickening display.'' Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League, said it was ``one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.''
Here is what Donohue actually wrote on his website, via feministe:
Catholic League president Bill Donohue outlined his game plan today:
“The Roger Smith Hotel is located in the heart of New York City, and it boasts on its website that its Lab Gallery ‘is a high traffic, fast paced’ venue. Indeed it is: the gallery is located on street level, easily accessible to the public. But it is sure bet that in the years to come there will be little in the way of high traffic coming from the Christian community.
“As I’ve said many times before, Lent is the season for non-believers to sow seeds of doubt about Jesus. What’s scheduled to go on at the Roger Smith Hotel, however, is of a different genre: this is hate speech. And choosing Holy Week—the display opens on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday—makes it a direct in-your-face assault on Christians.
“All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don’t react the way extremist Muslims do when they’re offended—otherwise they may have more than their heads cut off. James Knowles, President and CEO of the Roger Smith Hotel (interestingly, he also calls himself Artist-in-Residence), should be especially grateful. And if he tries to spin this as reverential, then he should substitute Muhammad for Jesus and display him during Ramadan.
“I am contacting hundreds of organizations about this assault. Our allied list contains scores of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu organizations, as well as secular groups, that share our concerns about religious hate speech and the degradation of our culture. The only thing that those who operate the Roger Smith Hotel understand is when they get hit in the pocket book. So that’s exactly where we’ll hit them. The boycott is on.”
The "boycott" was successful:
The hotel and the gallery were overrun Thursday with angry phone calls and e-mails about the exhibit. Semler said the calls included death threats over the work of artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who was described as disappointed by the decision to cancel the display.
``In this situation, the hotel couldn't continue to be supportive because of a fear for their own safety,'' Semler said.
Yes, it's a good thing these conservative Christians aren't like those horrible Muslims.
So, what did this horrible example of Catholic hate speech look like?
Oh, wait, that's not it. That's from the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. (Ooops. How embarrassing.)
Here it is:
Oh, heck. Wrong again. That's the statue of David, the most famous sculpture in the world. My bad.
Here's the offending sculpture:
Since the Vatican itself is a veritable sausage fest, and its most renowned artist, Michaelangelo, sculpted the most famous nude Biblical figure in history, it simply cannot logically be the nudity that's the problem for the Catholic League. (Lord knows, the Catholic League is nothing if not logical.)
So it must be the medium. The fact that it is sculpted in chocolate is so offensive to Donohue's thugs that they are issuing death threats to those who display such alleged blasphemy. I don't exactly understand why that would be. Chocolate is no more meaningful than clay or bronze or marble. It doesn't carry any scatalogical meaning nor is it thought of as derisive in any way. Perhaps the Catholic League could distribute its list of approved artist materials so that they won't run afoul of the rules and cause themselves to be threatened with death and boycott or accused of hate speech.
It's really too bad the artist didn't think to do it in cartoon form because the entire right wing would be in a frenzy defending his right to free speech. Indeed, he would have become a martyr for all of western civilization. Unapproved sculpting materials, on the other hand, are so far out that death threats are entirely appropriate.
Why is it that I have such a problem understanding the alleged principles the religious conservatives lives by? And why am I so unimpressed with the leaders of a great religion who allow people to act like cretins in their name and yet cover up much more serious crimes against actual human beings?
I'll have to think about that some more.
Update: Crooks and Liars has the video of Donohue "debating" the artist on Anderson Cooper's show. This guy is Joe McCarthy on steroids .
digby 3/31/2007 10:43:00 AM