In my last two posts I commented on offensive artwork on public display in Beacon. To his credit, the artist removed the most objectionable pieces, voluntarily as I understand it. That was very good of him and many who were offended by his artwork appreciate it.
Some of you reading these past couple of posts plus my letter to the editor in The Beacon Free Press might think that I was wrong to object to these pieces of art. Let me make two points.
First, the Supreme Court came up with the concept of “community standards” when it comes to defining obscenity. This recognizes the fact that the definition of obscenity may be different in Peoria compared to Manhattan or Los Angles. This principle can also be more generally applied to public art, so that what might be acceptable in SoHo is offensive in Beacon. After hearing our complaints, I believe the artist realized he had breached Beacon’s “community standard” and understood why those pieces had to be removed. I applaud him for that and look forward to seeing other, less offensive, pieces of his art in the future.
Second, people have the right to object to offensive material in their midst. Militant atheists are “offended” by the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and so bring lawsuits. Some are “offended” by crosses in plain view or on public land and bring lawsuits using a misinterpretation of the “separation clause” of the First Amendment. So why shouldn’t others besides atheists have the right to protest? A handful of militant atheists can try to eradicate God from this country but the majority can’t protest things that are sacrilegious, bigoted, or otherwise offensive?
Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while I thought the artwork was clever at some level, I didn’t like the use of sacred symbols in that context because I felt it mocked Jesus Christ and Christianity, even though that may not have been the intent.