Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Offensive Art

An image with Jesus covered in ants from the video “A Fire in My Belly,” part of the ‘Hide/Seek’ exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

just read an article posted by the Wall Street Journal (you can read it here) explaining that the Smithsonian has removed an offensive video that shows a crucifix of Christ with ants crawling all over it. The image above is a still shot from the video. The video was removed after complaints from some Catholics that it was offensive to them.

One cannot help but wonder what kind of outcry would be coming from the media and various liberal groups had this been some other religious symbol such as a Koran. Why is it that offensive expression are acceptable if it a Christian target? Individuals in the U.S. have the right to express themselves and that includes the right to insensitivity and poor taste. What is curious, however, is why such expressions would be displayed in a public repository such as the Smithsonian. I would think that such a prestigious public museum would be focused on the display of objects that have cultural or historical significance for the country rather than being used to promote expressive artistic exhibits that any rational person would see are offensive to a major portion of the population.

The crucifix is not an artistic representation that I, as a conservative Protestant, would be particularly excited about but in the broader cultural context it is clearly understood to be a Christian symbol. The artist claims that the message was that we were all created in the image of Christ and were returning to the earth. Whatever the intention the result is quite offensive but what bothers me the most is that Christians seem to be fair game for this kind of thing in a way that virtually no other group is. 

1 comment:

  1. I caught this topic on the Shawn Hannity show. He brought up the same point as your article. I'm not big Christian symbolism either but most people know what the cross represents. Unfortunately the Catholics still show Christ hanging there, which is why most of the protesting is coming from their side.