Saturday, October 16, 2010

Okay, Bennett and Buck, You Convinced Me.

Dear Ken Buck and Michael F. Bennett:

I have no doubt that you, or someone on your campaign staffs, will read these words. This blog entry will show up in your daily Web searches.

Both of you are running for the U.S. Senate, representing the great state of Colorado. The thrust of Michael Bennett's entire campaign has been "Don't Vote for Buck." Bennett's television ads and paper materials have gone on and on about how terrible it will be if I vote for Ken Buck, based on what he has said and what he has done. But Ken Buck's hands aren't clean, either. The thrust of Buck's entire campaign has been "Don't Vote for Bennett." Buck's television ads and paper materials have gone on and on about how terrible it will be if I vote for Michael Bennett, based on what he has said and what he has done.

I just wanted you both to know that your campaigns have been very persuasive. I have made my decision. I won't vote for Mr. Bennett, and I won't vote for Mr. Buck.

When I apply for a job, I always present myself in the best possible light. I do not waste space on my resume, nor time in the interviews, talking about how bad the other job candidates are compared to me. No hiring manager would be swayed by my cutting down the other candidates in order to make myself look good. The hiring manager wants to know what I can do, not what the other candidates cannot do.

Why couldn't either one of you have taken the time to tell me what you stood for, what you have done that qualifies you to serve in the U.S. Senate, and what you will do, not just for me, and not just for Colorado, but for the good of the country? I know the information's out there, but I have to dig to find it. Don't make me work that hard to find something good about you, when all I have to do is sit and listen passively to find out all the bad stuff about you.

I have no doubt that one of you will win the election. But my vote will still be counted. I will vote for one of the other candidates, and I will appear in the election results as someone who did not choose you to represent me.

p.s. To Betsy Markey and Cory Gardner: you're on the list too, you know. Tell me some of the reasons why I should elect you. If you can't, if all you can do is tell me why I shouldn't elect your major opponent, then I'll be voting for Doug Aden or Ken Waszkiewicz. And you'd better do it quick, because I'm not waiting until November 2 to vote.

p.p.s. It's a good thing Waszkiewicz isn't running as a write-in candidate. That surname is harder to spell than my own!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On Blasphemy as "Art"

Nobody should be surprised.

But don't say, "That's just how Loveland is." The art was created by a resident of San Francisco, California, loaned to the museum by a resident of Lyons, Colorado, and destroyed by a resident of Montana.

Loveland has been branding itself for several years now as an art hub. Artists come from all over the nation - no, world - to exhibit at its annual sculpture shows, and the city hosts several sculpture gardens, art galleries, an opera company, and other displays of fine art.

The Loveland Museum/Gallery opened a new exhibit this week, called "The Legend of Bud Shark and his Indelible Ink." Part of the exhibit was a series of small panels created by Enrique Chagoya, an artist and professor at Stanford University, entitled "The Misadventures of the Royal Cannibals." One of these small panels was a collage of images from comic books and other sources, assembled to show an image of Jesus Christ engaged in a sexual act.

(Some people actually insisted that that's not what the picture was about. Images of the artwork are available online, so you can look at it and judge for yourself. You know, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.)

Many people, including the artist, do not understand the furor the picture has caused. "It's such a small picture," they say, "not much bigger than a postcard, in a much larger exhibit." The comparatively miniscule size of the image does not excuse its obscene and offensive nature. Besides, it's disingenuous to call it "such a small picture" and a relatively insignificant part of the exhibit when it is, or was, valued at $3400.

(Ironically, these same defenders ignore the fact that the "much larger exhibit" includes pictures collected from Mexican pornography, among other sources, according to the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald.)

Again, many people, including the artist, do not understand why the picture caused such a furor in Loveland, when it has been exhibited in so many other towns and cities without any similar reaction. They say this as if Loveland were an aberration that needs to be corrected. I can think of a couple of other reasons for the way the citizens of Loveland reacted. First, maybe Loveland is the first city where anyone looked closely at the artwork. Second, maybe Loveland is the first city the artwork has been displayed where the people have standards, and where people cared enough to speak out in public about it and say what should have been said all along.

The artist also defends his work by saying that it was his response to the recent sex scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. and elsewhere. That's poor justification, if justification at all, for creating this piece and exhibiting it anywhere.

All of these attempts to excuse or justify the obscenity do not change the fact that it's still obscenity. It's not the kind of thing you'd want your grandmother to catch you looking at. You can find this same kind of "art" at the 7-Eleven, but it's in magazines kept behind the counter, and even the magazines' front covers are hidden. You can find this same kind of "art" on cable TV, but it's on the pay channels. It's free on the Internet, but let's not even go there.

To be brutally honest, it's more than obscenity. It's blasphemy - go look up the definition. It offends the sensibilities of the community at large, and if it were brought to a public vote, I'm sure that the vast majority of the city of Loveland would vote to ban it from public display - especially in a public gallery, supported by tax dollars.

Yesterday's act of vandalism makes that moot, however. A woman from Kalispell, Montana, took a crowbar to the display case, ripped out the offending panel and tore it to pieces. A witness heard her cry, "How can you desecrate my Lord?" while she did it. She was arrested without resisting and hauled off to jail.

What she did violated the law, and she will be tried and punished according to the law. But it also took a lot of courage and personal conviction. It was the right thing to do, and nobody else would do it.

In a sense, the artist, the art's owner, the museum and the Loveland city council should consider themselves lucky. In 2005, Danish cartoonists drew some cartoons poking fun at the prophet Mohammed. The cartoons were published in a Danish newspaper and reprinted in periodicals in 50 other countries. While many non-Muslims deplored the cartoons as blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith, Muslims did more than just deplore the cartoons: they rioted in cities all over the world, they attacked and set fire to Danish embassies in Muslim nations, they threatened American troops in Muslim countries (as if they had anything to do with it), they issued fatwas and death threats against the artists, and they boycotted Danish exports. Oh, and they actually tried to kill the cartoonists and bomb newspaper offices in several European cities.

And by "they" I don't mean "a small handful of them." Hundreds of Muslims participated in these activities.

Compare that reaction to this one. Here in small town USA, in a very Christian town in what is still a Christian nation, when an act of unimstakable blasphemy is commited against Christians, one lone disciple of the Prince of Peace defended His honor when nobody else did, by destroying the offending piece of artwork and then submitting herself meekly to the authorities.