Saturday, March 31, 2007

An assault on freedom of expression

The chocolate Jesus exhibit has been cancelled following an orchestrated campaign by the Catholic League, who called the piece an "assault on Christianity". The league, which boasts some 330,000 members, bombarded the hotel due to host the event with complaints, calls for a boycott and, inevitably, death threats. As I commented in yesterday's post, the exhibit looks poor: boring and devoid of meaning. It's not something I would choose to see, but the fact that it has been pulled in response to thug tactics is sickening.

The scary thing is the way such a response was so quickly generated, like some sort of SWAT team for religious sensibilities. From The Guardian:
On Thursday the league sent emails to 500 other religious groups - including Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist with a combined reach of millions - calling on them to boycott the Roger Smith hotel in which the gallery, the Lab, is based. Within 24 hours the hotel was so inundated with calls and visiting protesters that it pulled the exhibit.
I've written to the hotel myself, threatening to boycott them unless they put the exhibit back on. Alas, no response. One man cannot make a difference. Not unless he's Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, who went on to say, in something of a veiled threat:
"All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don't react the way extremist Muslims do when they're offended."
Perhaps, but the net result has been the same. A piece of art (bad art, in my opinion, but that is not the point) has been withdrawn to protect the feelings of a minority. Another smack in the mouth for freedom of expression from the proponents of fairy tales. It's like the Danish cartoons all over again. There may not have been riots, flag burning or calls for jihad, but it's still religious zealots playing the offence card to get their way; it's still setting a hideous precedent.

"We're delighted with the outcome," said Kiera McCaffrey, a spokeswoman for the League. Yes, I bet you are. It's a delightful small victory for you. But the question now is: where's next?

8 comments:

tafka PP said...

And the other question is, what the hell (ahem) are they going to do with that huge Chocolate Jesus? Break him up and sell him? Damn, it seems left NYC just a few days too early... Enjoy yourselves!

Citizen Sane said...

Well quite. A chocolate Jesus makes a lot more sense than a chocolate egg at Easter anyway.

Thanks, we'll make sure we have a great time. Difficult not to.

ph said...

The artist of the chocolate model thinks that the complaints were because it was dark chocolate not white chocolate. Personally I do think that anyone who plays the race card so readily has anything of value to say. Just a self indulgent nutter.

ph said...

CS I think you have let your atheistic fundamentalism get the better of you.
These catholics are no different to any other minorit pressure group that tries to change the behaviour of the majority. It happens all the time in all walks of life. For some reason only known to you, you start to froth and rave when it involves Christians.
Did you go to a Catholic school?

Citizen Sane said...

For some reason only known to you, you start to froth and rave when it involves Christians.

Patently untrue sir. See my recent posts on the Three Little Piggies play that was cancelled in case it upsets Muslims or the lecture on anti-Semitism cancelled at Leeds Uni lest it upset Muslims. Further back, there was the stuff about Jack Straw and the veils in his surgery, or the fuss caused when the Pope made that speech about Muhammad, not to mention lots of stuff on the Danish cartoons last year. Plus lots more.

Religious groups of any persuasion that seek special treatment or protection will always provoke my ire. Just so happens they tend to be Christian or Muslim. Rest assured that if an equivalent story comes up involving Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses or anyone else for that matter, I'll have something uncomplimentary to say about it.

P.S. No, I didn't go to a Catholic school. Bog standard (in every sense) secondary modern.

ph said...

For your riposte to stand up I would have to have written.....

For some reason only known to you, you ONLY start to froth and rave when it involves Christians.

Citizen Sane said...

Au contraire. You specifically referenced Christians as making me "froth and rave" and I demonstrated how that isn't the case at all. They (religious groups) ALL make me froth and rave in these circumstances. I don't generally differentiate between one religion and another, having no interest in any of them, or their beliefs, or what they hold as sacred or divine.

Hooray for semantics.

Anonymous said...

"In New York, Catholic groups have forced an art gallery to shut down an exhibition of a six-foot image of Jesus in chocolate. Or, as Democrats call it, Barack Obama." - Bill Maher