Image of today's outrage

Do you work hard? What for?

To pay for expensive private schools, so your kids can have a decent education? Or just to put a roof over your head? Perhaps you’ve been saving for a vacation?

How about modern “art”? Would you like to spend some of your hard-earned money on pictures of the Virgin Mary surrounded by pornography and feces? Or dissected animals?

Surprise – you are paying for the modern art described above, whether you know it or not. And since the money is deducted from your paycheck, you may not even realize that you’re paying for this art before you educate your kids, pay your mortgage, or take a vacation. But we’ve always wondered about your priorities.

You can see your tax dollars at work at the federally subsidized Brooklyn Museum of Art, which is hosting the “Sensation” exhibit. In the great artistic tradition of attracting attention through shock value, “artists” such as the infamous Damien Hirst are showing paintings that “explore a complex and bizarre world of sexual identity, transmutation, and commercialism.”

The exhibit attacks commercialism – and, in spite of the federal subsidy, charges an entry fee of $9.75. (Where’s Ralph Nader when you need him? What about the unsuspecting art patrons who pay their money and expect to see real art? On the other hand, if someone enters this exhibit, knowing what to expect, we’re glad to see ‘em get fleeced.)

The exhibit satirizes religion, Catholicism in particular, by surrounding a picture of the Virgin Mary with feces and cutouts from pornographic magazines. Yet the promoters of the exhibit show an almost religious belief in the idea that the public should subsidize this sort of thing.

What would happen if an artist, let’s say an American white male, had created a painting showing Buddha surrounded by elephant dung? Or Martin Luther King, or Mahatma Gandhi, surrounded by pornography? The cries of racism and cultural insensitivity would have made your ears ache. Yet the people who would have yelled the loudest to defend these icons are also those who are most violent in their defense of the right to use taxpayer money to blaspheme the sacred symbolism of the Catholic faith.

Supporters of the exhibit include Hillary Rodham Clinton and some Democratic legislators. “The issue before us is censorship” according to Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). Really? We thought the issue was whether taxpayers are forced to subsidize art they find esthetically and morally reprehensible.

We’re not denying the right of anyone to create and exhibit whatever they like – at their own expense. If this is censorship, then not only do we have an obligation to let Nazis march – we also have to pay for their printing presses.

Parting words from Representative John Sweeney, Republican from New York: “I don’t think that when taxpayers said they supported art funding that this is what they had in mind.”

© Copyright 1996-98, The Outrage is produced by Athens New Media. All rights reserved.

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