A Letter To My EditorI wrote the following to my local paper, in response to some idiocy that becomes inductively apparent in my response:
Pearl Bailey’s column (Feb 12, “Artists Must Consider Consequences Of Their Work”) would have literally amused me if it hadn’t been so sadly pervasive. Let me get this straight. The artist; that objective, benevolent breather of concrete life into the nostrils of abstract thought—has absolutely no responsibility for their work—until—Muslims become offended. That about right?
I’ve repeatedly seen my God put to the rack in the artistic arena. I’ve seen Him smeared with human feces for artistic effect. I’ve seen Him dropped in a vat of the artist’s urine and photographed with a backlit aura—only to receive increased federal funding from the NEA. I’ve seen Him portrayed in cinema as a hapless, Hollywood-caliber nitwit without resurrective power. I’ve seen Him crucified as an incoherent hippie—complete with a Superman sweatshirt.
I’ve also seen the same, high-profile defenders of such rubbish do their dead-level best to throw a two-by-four into the spokes of Mel Gibson’s private life, merely because he dared to portray the crucifixion for what it was—a brutal setup by politicians and weak leaders not unlike those who’ve funded the heretofore listed pieces of garbage. Yet, somehow, those of us who have been offended by such things appear to have overcome the base desire to torch Martin Scorcese’s house, or run Andre Serrano through a textile shredder.
But let some marginally-creative hack stick a finger in Mohammed’s eye, and I’m supposed to now start drawing an exclamatory chalk line around the edges of artistic propriety? I think not. In order for me to join such a malignant cadre, I’d have to trip over the mountain of DaVinci Code books between me and the brain-dead queue ready to take up the gun and ride against a couple of Danish cartoonists. It just isn’t worth my time and effort to think that tolerant artwork begins at the house of Allah.
Lastly, I’d like to address this notion that fundamentalist Muslims need to have their faith “violated” before rioting, pillaging, killing and maiming everyone outside their myopic little periphery. The filmmaker, Theo Van Gough—a distant nephew of the obvious—was shot and had his throat slit in a Paris street for merely making a movie chronicling the oppression of women in Islamic nations. He got nowhere near blaspheming the good name of Mohammed. Yet, he still had his carotid artery evacuated at an intersection with little or no fanfare from the left. And no complaint from anyone in the art world.
I have a theory about why artists are generally upset with the Danish cartoonists. It is precisely because they’ve transgressed the unwritten law of the art world in general: that any enemy of Israel and the West is to be treated with respect.
Even if they kill you.
I doubt they'll print it.