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Smithsonian pulls video

By Paul Williams  |  November 30, 2010; 5:29 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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then they should hang pictures depicting mohammed or alla...
but they won't...
because they are scared...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 30, 2010 6:08 PM

There are no sacred objects. In fact the very atoms that make up venerated objects likely existed in the intestines of a dinosaur. So what is the point?
I fervently hope that, someday, religious nonsense will go away and be replaced by a true spiritual quest by thinking individual people; a quest that is private, personal and ignores stupid religious ritual. And, the first step is to accept that a guy who is single, has never had sex, wears silly hats and long dresses has no credibility in spiritual matters.

Posted by: wdalton1us | November 30, 2010 6:10 PM

liberals, artsy, hollywood dems are always brave and tough when it comes to trashing religion and christianity but shudder in there self righteous boots when it comes to...muslims. "oh we so scared , they might hurt us". What a bunch of hypocrites. Do you think the director of the Smith would have even considered the exhibit if it depicted Allah with ants ? nope.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | November 30, 2010 6:15 PM

If the Catholic church or some of its principals have issued a fatwa for the death of the video producer or those displaying it, then the Smithsonian should stand on principles of free speech and proudly display the film.

Otherwise it should apply its usual standards. I'd suggest it think in terms of whether it would display this video were an individual from another group were so caricatured. For instance, substitute Martin Luther King for Christ and blacks for Catholics as the insulted group. We all know where the doyens of the Smithsonian would have come down on that.

Posted by: ronStrong | November 30, 2010 6:17 PM


Posted by: LION7 | November 30, 2010 6:18 PM

Bill Donohue is nothing more than a man with an office and a telephone who is good at fundraising. His so-called Catholic League has no official connection to the Catholic Church, and he has no more official standing in the Catholic Church than any other parishioner. The only outrage here is that the Smithsonian Institution would allow such a person to dictate policy.

Posted by: GordonCash | November 30, 2010 6:19 PM

Oh boo hoo. Xtians can dish it out but they sure can't take it. Hypocrites.

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 30, 2010 6:30 PM

They had the bad taste to put it up; let them at least show some good taste by taking it down.

There is a place for political art; that place is not our National Museum.

I am not particularly religious, but it costs me nothing to show some respect for those who are, so long as they can return the favor.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | November 30, 2010 6:34 PM

They should have filmed an altar boy sitting on pope's lap. That would have been controversial.

Posted by: veloboldie1 | November 30, 2010 6:43 PM

How very Taliban of the Catholic League.

Posted by: saqqa | November 30, 2010 6:46 PM

I am a Catholic, but that flaming self promoter, Bill Donohue, and his ultra-right group, the Catholic League, do not speak for me! In fact, they don't officially speak for the Catholic Church, either.

The Smithsonian should apply whatever standards it applies in its decision to exhibit and not cower to religious groups of any stripe.

Posted by: Zebragirl | November 30, 2010 6:49 PM

I'm intrigued to hear you "christians" claiming radical islam as a peer. I mean, They are reactionary lunatics with a history of murdering those who don't share their faith and partnering with political gangsters, whereas "christians"---ooops. Nevermind.

Posted by: redlineblue | November 30, 2010 6:51 PM

This is not art and it's an insult that our tax dollars are used to pay for it.

Let the Christian bashers like redlineblue pay for it if they want to see such tripe.

Posted by: NeverLeft | November 30, 2010 7:04 PM

Why is this "display" not hate speech? It doesn't matter whether you buy into Christianity or not, the "display" was designed to offend people who do. Since the courts are already on record as saying hate-speech is not covered by freedom of speech, I think the museum had no choice. But if some artists really do have issues with religious people, then impress us by denigrating Moses or Mohammad in public, instead of these boring displays of Christian hate-art. The fact is these people do not have the guts to offend Jews or Muslims, so they take a free swing at Christianity. The "display" tells us more about the artist than it does about any religious group.

Posted by: deacon777 | November 30, 2010 7:04 PM

The use of religious imagery in art is not exactly new! Am I really to believe that the Catholic League's "offense" of this video is because of the ants???? I would guess the group has condoned the entire exhibit and just reaching for any excuse. Besides, last time I checked, the Catholics don't "own" Jesus more than any other Christian group.

Posted by: revans9678 | November 30, 2010 7:13 PM

Actually I think the Smithsonian should have pulled it because it isn't straight out porn. So if this video is art, than that group who supposedly compose the largest group of internet "watchers" must be tremendous art lovers. LOL (and yes, I watched the video so that I am able to comment on it's content versus it's religious significance--content, porn; religious significance, zero.

Posted by: mil1 | November 30, 2010 7:19 PM

Boo to the Smithsonian. Yay to anything that pisses off the christers.

Posted by: Woulde | November 30, 2010 7:37 PM

Yeah, my taxes should only go to ideas I approve of. Wont one of you "christians" round up what I've paid for corn subsidies, Dick Cheney's bodyguard, and all the federal WELFARE states of the deep south? Thank you, my brother--may the pope be acquitted on all counts.

Posted by: redlineblue | November 30, 2010 7:56 PM

Those of you who are kicking and screaming about this should ask yourselves: when is the last time you were even AT the Smithsonian--or any art museum, for that matter?

This is only one exhibit among hundreds that have come and gone over the years, and you have actually walked through, umm, how many of them?

It's one (arguably) ugly drop in a vast and beautiful ocean. You shouldn't need a gilt-framed masterpiece to know what "perspective" means.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | November 30, 2010 8:00 PM

Love the Smithsonian, I have seen great and no so great art there. I have taken children and grandchildren there. But I still agree with Rudy Giuliani who, over the controversy of the "poo Madonna" said:

"There’s nothing in the First Amendment that supports horrible and disgusting projects!"

And BTW, I thought the Madonna was art!

This video is not's is definitely anger and in your face but the artist did not succeed; it is porn--and not even good porn. Just angry, look at me, I am so disgusting self-flagellation. Though I am sure he is trying to say that we are the "self-flagellating", angry ones. ugh.

Posted by: mil1 | November 30, 2010 8:41 PM

I'd bet my little finger that not one of these geniuses who are b!tching have even seen the exhibet.

And I don't want teabaggers, evangelicals, or right wingnuts deciding whether art is acceptable using MY tax dollars.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | November 30, 2010 8:42 PM

Put the shoe on the other foot,, if someone starts creating "art" in condemnation of homosexuality, I think the doors of the "open minded" will slam shut.

The hate really all seems to be coming from one side on these posts. A point that ought to be noticed.

Posted by: tweetThis | November 30, 2010 8:53 PM

How is it clear that the work in question "condemns" Christianity?
Let us suppose that the "artist" meant to depict himself as a "person", and so created in the image of [deity]. This "person" has sinned, and suffered for it. Soon his body will be in the ground and, in season, consumed by ants.
Please explain to me why this expression is hateful. If the "artist" were not "gay", would you be so offended?

Posted by: redlineblue | November 30, 2010 9:31 PM

Lion7: Thank you for those thoughtful remarks.

Posted by: digiphase | November 30, 2010 9:49 PM

Finally, for once, it is deemed not appropriate to ridicule the Catholic Church.
Usually it seems to be acceptable to ridicule the Catholics, but not any other religious group.

Posted by: observer31 | November 30, 2010 9:56 PM

Again: "Ridicule" requires a specific reading of the art. If the artist is both gay and Christian (it could happen!), then it's *entirely reasonable* to see his work as a lament, or a prayer, or a crisis of faith.
Such interpretations are arguably much more Christian than to act indignant and persecuted for the cameras. (But I was raised by actual Christians, not political drama queens and moneychangers.)

Posted by: redlineblue | November 30, 2010 10:10 PM

The Smithsonian Institution is one of many things that make America an "exceptional" country. My family supports the Smithsonian through significant donations and will continue to do so in the future; I wish all Americans would donate to this wonderful organization. I will increase our contributions next year and this situation has NO impact on that decision.

The American people should at the very least be proud of the Smithsonian as one of the most important cultural, historical and artistic organizations in our country. The Institution contains many thousands of displayed objects, very few of which cause this out of proportion response. Art should not be limited to that which makes us fat, happy and ignorant.

Should we eliminate references to lynchings and the KKK from black history? Perhaps we should stop all discussions of manifest destiny in our treatment of Native American history since some would be offended by the fact that we used this to justify land grabs. Maybe we should stop all discussion of the Protestant reformation as this undoubtedly offends some Catholics.

Our history, our art, our culture is a reflection of ourselves and includes the good and the evil. We cannot deny this. To do so will leave us repeating those same evils from generation to generation. Art should make the viewer think and offensive art should make the offended think. Why did the artist choose the subject? What might have the artist been thinking? How does the art make me feel? Why do I feel that way? How might others interpret this art?

Americans are way too thin skinned. I don't agree with the Smithsonian's decision but I fully understand the reasons for it. I urge the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution to find a way to remove the influence of a thin skinned Congress.

Posted by: mraymond10 | November 30, 2010 10:37 PM

The artists who produce such products are already protected by the courts from being thrashed within an inch of their lives.

What more do they need? A government subsidy? A place of honor?

They're lucky they live in a place that leaves them alone to do that stuff. At the same time my tax dollars are better off in my pocket than paying for nails to hire his tacky CR*P

Posted by: muawiyah | November 30, 2010 10:41 PM

Again with the "victims of art" wishing they were more like the Taliban. Just fascinating.
I saw a picture of Al Capone in that museum once. Can you believe the nerve of that gallery, endorsing that murderous psycho and/or insulting Italian-Americans with that stereotype?
We can use books for kindling, see, and then add art once Boehner gets there. I love that orangey glow (plus the fire).

Posted by: redlineblue | November 30, 2010 11:25 PM

I love the Portrait Gallery, and I support the arts. I'm Catholic, but sacrilege in art doesn't ruin it for me. "Piss Christ" amused me with the bluntness of its contempt. But the Wojnarowicz film seemed to me to be incoherent sensationalism. The exhibit can only be better without it.

Wow, I never thought I'd compare a work of art unfavorably to "Piss Christ."

Posted by: pundito | November 30, 2010 11:26 PM

Fire these idiots. I'm sick and tired of being insulted and my tax money wasted on this crap.

Posted by: DaMan2 | November 30, 2010 11:39 PM

Fire Alabama. Those idiots take $1.66 of my tax money for every dollar they pay in, and I'm not seeing a thing for it. Damn WELFARE queens, the whole state.

Posted by: redlineblue | November 30, 2010 11:48 PM

OH JEZUS PLEEZE the church should pay more attention to their priest and bishops that rape young girls and boys instead of rating art exhibits.

Posted by: willemkraal | December 1, 2010 4:44 AM

Catholics should pay more attention to their priest and bishops that rape little girls and boys and let the portrait gallery do what they know better than any other museum in the world!

Posted by: willemkraal | December 1, 2010 5:01 AM

Stop tax dollars for this nonsense. Why not just operate an adult X rated theater at the Smithsonian and charge $15 admission and sell cocktails for $10 to pay for the so called art so we don't have to waste tax dollars? I think we should build a 200 foot wall around DC and the rest of the country secede from it.

Posted by: jazbond007 | December 1, 2010 5:13 AM

Article says the show cost $750k. Which of you Taliban thinks that's enough to "pay for"? It's probably on loan from other places you never go, and the $750k was almost surely PRIVATE money.
Want to own the Smithsonian? Fund it fully. Want to bitch and moan about what private money can do in public spaces? Try to buy back your congressman from PfizerBank of Exxon. Want to secede? PLEASE do, the blue states are tired of subsidizing your delusions of Amerikkka. (Also, kicking your traitorous butts every 150 years or so gives you something else to whine about; win-win!)

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 6:35 AM


Posted by: AJBF | December 1, 2010 6:36 AM

There's no excuse for deliberately offering up exhibits designed simply to offend one religion or another. This politically correct society in which we live bends over backwards to avoid offending Islam but has no such compunction when it comes to Christianity or Judeaism. Why is that? As for the Smithsonian....any entity that benefits from tax dollars in any way, shape or form, needs to be as free from this kind of thing as possible.

Posted by: Lilycat11 | December 1, 2010 6:38 AM

This incident is the current supreme poster child for the nonsense that results from a toxic combination of a provocative public exhibition; a splinter special interest group with a name, a web page, and an ability to issue a press release; spineless government bureaucrats; and a media conglomerate that is all too willing to turn the above into the outrage de jour, like vultures pouncing on a rotting carcass.

In short, another example of much ado about nothing, an "incident" created out of whole cloth to give our talking heads something to bleat about.

No one--much less a major U.S. Government institution--should be withdrawing some piece of art because of public pressure, even from a major religious denomination, much less pressure from a largely paper organization.

A plague on everybody who is involved in this brainless nonsense.

Posted by: tbarksdl | December 1, 2010 6:39 AM

I have had the privilege of seeing this moving, well designed, and scholarly show. It is one of the best curated, and intriguing displays in years. I appreciate and applaud the Smithsonian for putting up artwork that can be discussed, whether it is a self-portrait of Andy Warhol, or something more controversial. Artists use symbols to reflect anger and confusion in addition to joy, hate, love, beauty, and tolerance.

I wonder how many people who are complaining about their "tax-payer money" being spent on an exhibit (which the article states isn't true) have gone to the show and know what they are complaining about? I'll take that further. Have they EVER been to the National Portrait Gallery outside of a school trip when they were small? The statement that political art shouldn't be displayed in our Nation's museums is bizarre. What a shame. We have shown the work of many artists who have political agendas. Allowing people into DC with political agendas is what DC does.

If the Catholic Church, or individuals representing the church, told HIV positive and/or AIDs patients in the mid-eighties that their behavior, their lack of Christian Values caused their debilitating disease and eventual death (after which they would be burned and tortured for eternity in the fiery pits of hell), those people were hurt and angry for good reason. Even if a person believes that that they are sharing the truth. Art allows that anger to be released. Showing a piece about the pain and lack of compassion someone felt is important.

But then again, maybe the Catholic League did this work of art a favor.

I imagine that the artist himself, would ultimately feel vindicated that now this controversy has come to light, and his work will be seen. Not just by the people who go to this exhibit, but the spectrum of people who will go and watch the video on YouTube to figure out what the controversy is about.

Posted by: blahdiblah | December 1, 2010 6:46 AM

The Smithsonian has a responsibility to protect the Institution. It is maintained for the people and to insult 93% of the population by displaying an item that is offensive to a great many would be anti-productive.

Show me something of value in the picture. Most likely it was done with the purpose in mind of insulting many of the our population.

Posted by: ramseytuell | December 1, 2010 7:29 AM

Much ado about nothing. Whine whine whine. It was far from porn, dummies. Let's not get dramatic here. Performance sort of art is bunk to me. My fave museum is the NMAI.

I viewed this video and thought it su*ked. But, I'm not an art aficionado. However, people should make up their own minds. And, art is not just to please us but to challenge us. I thought this video was schlock so I turned it off. You don't like it? Don't go and view it. But don't prevent others from forming their own opinion.

SI, put it back up.

Posted by: mooncusser | December 1, 2010 7:49 AM

Once again the polls are useless. There should at least have been a box for whether or not the Smithsonian should have placed this piece on exhibit in the first place.

Posted by: Geezer4 | December 1, 2010 8:21 AM

The intense reactions posted reiterate the power that art has to provoke. That is, at times, the point. The exhibit should have been left in place because 1) to treat the exhibit as sacred is to engage in idolatry, and 2) deep Christian faith transcends the power of symbols. For the record I am a practicing Christian, and I was not offended.

Posted by: beebopareebop | December 1, 2010 8:23 AM

Really people? You are all acting as though this was meant to inflict pain and hatred to religious groups. This work, and yes I did watch it, is ones mans artistic way of coping with the fact that not only did he have AIDS, but that his friend and lover died of it as well. It sounds as though that is what most people are having the issue with. As an artistic piece I think it is very interesting, and even though I am not a huge fan of this particular artists work, I feel as though it should not have been taken down. David Wojnarowicz had a right to have his voice heard in his own expressive medium. Just like the rest of us. Art speaks to people...Let it speak to everyone. Censorship is taking away our right to free speech, in any format. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Look at something else. Don't punish the rest of us who want to keep our minds open and enjoy art for what it is, an expression of our voice and who we are as human beings!

Posted by: MABuzzell | December 1, 2010 8:30 AM

I guess my problem is that I have a hard time seeing this as art in the first place. Possibly, it is being removed for the wrong reason. The apparent fact, however, that some people find this religiously offensive and pressured for its removal on this basis is testimony to the fact that freedom from religion was missing in the decision making, so it can not represent anything other than prejudice and ignorance. We are in deep trouble, when religion is part of the process in determining what is art. Defiling religious symbols seems equally dumb, however, so, perhaps all of this was unnecessary with better judgement from the beginning. This whole thing seems symptomatic of a non-feeling culture that requires shock to feel anything at all.

Posted by: rryder1 | December 1, 2010 8:44 AM

So, a public institution kowtows to the Catholics? When did we become the Vatican. Reinstall the exhibit.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 1, 2010 8:47 AM

A dangerous precedent--what if I object to the idea of evolution on religious grounds--should those exhibits be closed? What if I don't believe the science on climate change--should we exclude a presentation of that evidence?

Posted by: osha1 | December 1, 2010 8:51 AM

I'm tired of artists who are cowards. It is easy to make fun of Christians- they don't bite.

But to see an artist with the nerve to attack Islam, when Moslems will kill him for his art, is somethign else.

If you must offend authority, go after the lions, not the lambs.

Posted by: LeeH1 | December 1, 2010 9:03 AM

It's not about "kowtowing" to the Vatican and it's not about evolution. If an artist for the sake of art took a picture of Mohammed or Moses or Buddha or the Dalai Lama and did something offensive that really makes your stomach turn...those should also not be displayed in a museum. In a private collection that everyone pays to see - maybe, but in a public's just not respectful.

You don't have to believe in my God, but in an atmosphere of genuine human good will, it's not necessary to publicly demean and disfigure him.

Isn't a return to respectful freedom, a good thing. Freedom is not the right to do whatever you want; it's the right to take responsibility for thoughts, words and actions. A return to having some things remain sacred might help make us all a little more remind ourselves that something still has VALUE that goes beyond relative opinion.

Posted by: UpstateNewYorkerinDC | December 1, 2010 9:05 AM

It should not be up to one man as to whether I can see a work of art in a privately funded exhibit. And what actions has Bill taken regarding the patronized x-rated art owned by the Vatican?

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | December 1, 2010 9:06 AM

Not understanding something doesn't mean it is offensive.

Posted by: nmoses | December 1, 2010 9:16 AM

To add to MABuzzell's excellent post, Bill Donahue is a demagogue with a long history of grandstanding. He wrongly equates disagreement of Catholic doctrine or criticism of Catholic leadership with hatred of individual Catholics. He doesn't speak for Catholics, any more than Pat Robertson or James Dobson speaks for evangelicals.

This is very reminiscent of the phony controversies over "Life of Brian," "The Last Temptation of Christ," and "Satanic Verses." In all three cases, demagogues mischaracterized the works as attacks on certain religions, often telling outright lies about the contents, and often without reading or watching the works themselves.

Posted by: Carstonio | December 1, 2010 9:21 AM

Can someone please explain why those idiots at the catholic league should have any say over what we antichristians should be allowed to see?

Posted by: nymec | December 1, 2010 9:25 AM

And libturds were getting their panties in a wad when a church was planning on burning the Koran. A private citizen burning the Koran. Now they show how biased and illogical they are ... supporting a public funded desecration of Christ...over objections of Christians. Are these libturds demons or what? The libturds are definitely the hate America crowd. Well they will not be given any seats of power... we, the decent Americans, are taking our country back. Go back to your demon holes libturds.

Posted by: susangate1 | December 1, 2010 9:30 AM

Maybe that pastor who wanted to burn the Koran should have called it art! Then the libturds wouldn't have had their panties in a wad that muslims would have been offended. Even Obama came out against the burning of the Koran...but no comment on the desecration of Christ. One more example of how sick and out of step libturds and Obama are with mainstream America. 33 states now have all 3 branches of govt in Republican hands. Five more to go..38 is enough to pass constitutional amendments. Keep it up libturds.. your ugliness and indecency will destroy the Dem party.

Posted by: susangate1 | December 1, 2010 9:35 AM

To (UpstateNewYorkerinDC). Couldn't agree more with your post.."Genuine Human goodwill" The video should be classified as hate speech. Absolutely no different than the most recent efforts to flood the nation with "hate crime" legislation in every nook and cranny of this country.

Come one...most of you liberals out there side with hate crime legislation, so be honest and call this video for what is it..hate speech.

Posted by: spoon2 | December 1, 2010 9:36 AM

They can put that up when they put up Mohammed depictions, Anti-semetic art, racially insensitive art, etc. Let's be real clear here, the art blasphemes Christ. Are Christians supposed to remain silent about that? Christians have watched as our society has devolved into a post-Christian neo-pagan society. Sex rules and God's laws are just not important anymore. The 60's mantra, "if it feels good, do it" is now the mores of this country. I find it funny that anyone would think that Christians would not be offended by this art.

Posted by: genericrepub | December 1, 2010 9:37 AM

Noted "libturd" David Petraeus on Koran-burning:
Gen. David Petraeus says he is “very concerned” about a the potential repercussions of a Florida church’s plan to burn a Koran to commemorate Sept. 11: “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan,”

At least some American "Christians" are now admitting they aspire to be, and to be treated, like their peers in the Taliban. Way to find the truth through art, Smithsonian!

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 9:45 AM

Burning the Koran? Apples and oranges. The attention-seeker who planned that ridiculous stunt was quite open about his hatred of Islam and Muslims. That's far different from someone using a religious symbol to make a statement about AIDS or about the cheapening of religion by commercial culture.

The core issue is that "blasphemy" and "desecration" are phony concepts, because they imply that symbols have intrinsic meaning instead of meanings assigned to them. It's how people choose to treat the symbols and their motivations for doing so. No group or nation gets to deem it right or wrong to treat its symbols a certain way. Take someone who burns an American flag as a protest. Absolutists like to assume that such actions cannot mean anything but hatred of America. It's possible that the person loves America and hates something that has happened to it, or hates a particular action that the government has taken. Similarly, I can imagine a Muslim so grieved by the actions of the 9/11 terrorists that he would burn his copy of the Koran to protest what was done by people claiming to be Muslims.

Posted by: Carstonio | December 1, 2010 9:47 AM

Censorship is a great marketing tool. But the Smithsonion probably couldn't take a financial hit from the House of Reps now run by the right wing.

Posted by: 1230slim | December 1, 2010 9:53 AM

@Mabuzell. There are so many things out there that he could have used to show his extraordinary talent, but why decided to use Jesus instead. For what purpose? It just doen't make any sense. This is not the way someone should express its talent. It is hurtful for christians and I am one of them.

Posted by: veredict | December 1, 2010 9:57 AM

"Hate speech"? What the hell is "hate speech"?

You mean something like that? Cause it aint art, but I'm pretty sure it's protected by a little ditty called the first amendment. Maybe that's not a good example.

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 9:58 AM

Veredict: The artist is (was) Christian. It's possible that, being gay, he felt wounded or abandoned by his church. The show's called Hide/Seek---as in, 'what do you have to Hide? What do you Seek?'

I'm disappointed, but hardly surprised, that the politi-church takes *offense* at being part of that conversation. Much easier that engaging, isn't it!

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 10:05 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how these artsy people can display this kind of trash and then complain about threats to remove their funding.

Posted by: donaldvining | December 1, 2010 10:06 AM

Frankly, whether or not anyone was offended by the video is completely beside the point. Whether any explanation or personal backstory highlights artistic merit in the piece is completely irrelevant.

The point is that the Smithsonian is never forced to feature any piece of art, while it enjoys nearly limitless access to unique, significant, and meritorious pieces of art and history.

The fact that both the artist and the Institution would make a conscious decision to feature cheap, gimmicky, attention-seeking garbage to the exclusion of other works.

On that score there is NO difference between this and burning Korans--neither takes any imagination or any real work, and both are equally disgusting in hearing the provocateur try to claim any motivation beyond a cheap media splash to get their name out in public.

The same goes for those patrons who claim they derive any meaning from these exhibitions beyond jumping on the artist's/book burner's look-at-me bandwagon.

Perhaps they feel compelled to defend the work because they disagree with those who loudly oppose it. But if you defend bad non-art and lousy curatorial work because you hate Bill Donohue, then I'm sorry, but you are just as stupid and wrong as he is.

Donohue, the artist and the Smithsonian are equally stupid and wrong. Wrap your mind around that, and the fact that the Smithsonian is right to pull the piece not because it hurt someone's feelings, but because it is garbage, and they can do a lot better.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | December 1, 2010 10:20 AM

The majority of complaints came, as usual, from those who did not view the exhibition. Same Yahoos that object to everything Fox News denigrates. Only those who viewed the exhibit in context should have a 'vote.' These are the kinds of people who want the new translation of The Diary of Anne Frank removed from school systems because she makes typical negative comments about her mother. They also object to the Harry Potter series! Get a life. Get an education.

Posted by: commonsense101 | December 1, 2010 10:26 AM

It is hurtful for christians and I am one of them.

That's a serious question that deserves a serious answer. We'll put aside for the moment that the intended messages by both David Wojnarowicz and Andres Serrano were not anti-Christian.

Suppose someone does say, "I hate Christians and Christianity, and to show it I'm going to burn this Bible." Even with the motivations stated so clearly, I don't understand why any Christian would care so deeply about what others think of their religion. It sounds too much like a misguided "culture of honor" concept where bad-mouthing a man's mother is intended to provoke him to blows. No Christian I know would lose his faith over seeing a Wojnarowicz or Serrano work, or even over watching the hypothetical Bible-burner.

Ultimately we're responsible only for our own individual emotional reactions to things, and how we act on those emotions. While General Petraeus was justified in being concerned about the danger to American troops from the Koran-burning, any Muslims who would be motivated to violence from that are still in the wrong for doing so. How symbols are treated is less important than how people are treated. Again using the hypothetical Bible-burner, the much greater concern is if his hatred of Christians drove him to discriminate against Christian customers if he was a business owner, or pass laws against Christians if he was a lawmaker.

Posted by: Carstonio | December 1, 2010 10:27 AM

When organized religious groups or any groups, for that matter, determine what is acceptable or unacceptable in the world of art, those groups move us from democracy to fascism, denying the people from making their own decisions. The undeclared war against democracy continues unabated. We live in interesting times, do we not?

Posted by: gusu81 | December 1, 2010 10:41 AM

I think Jesus would've turned the other cheek. Stupid Christians.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | December 1, 2010 10:42 AM's their right to show it or take it down...
To me it's not even art...
I'll file it on the back burner as much ado about nothing.

Posted by: Krazijoe | December 1, 2010 10:44 AM

This stuff was "edgy" ten years ago (maybe).

Americans go into a rage if bad dancing wins on a TV contest, but accept an amateur video as "art." I've shot better stuff when I accidentally launched the video app on my iPod.

Posted by: fishcrow | December 1, 2010 10:47 AM

B...b...but in some countries, ants are considered a delicacy!

Posted by: dolm | December 1, 2010 11:04 AM

Someone once said that "pornography" is a word people use when they want to ban something. Must be true, because I don't see what's pornographic, as some here have labeled it, about ants crawling on a crucifix - unless the ants are having sex. Maybe they're gay ants. That would make some people antsy.

Seriously, I have no interest in seeing this video or the exhibit for that matter, but it seems to me the video is one small part of an esoteric exhibit, seen by a relatively small number of people who presumably understand the unconventional nature of the exhibit and still CHOOSE to see it. The Smithsonian should simply post a notice, if they haven't already, describing the exhibit and warning that some people may find the material offensive. Those people can then move on to view the remaining 99% of the museum they can live with. You can't be offended if you choose not to see it, unless you're offended by the idea that anyone else should see it, in which case you probably find the First Ammendment offensive.

But what this is really about is self-righteous self-promoters like Donohue and a handful of pontificating politicians trying to prove their relevance and to profit from creating a tempest in a teapot over an exhibit few Americans will ever see, let alone remember.

Posted by: typedancer | December 1, 2010 11:12 AM

why is it so important for individuals who claim to be believers or nonbelievers to feel as though it's their right to denigrate another persons religious beliefs. Whether it's a Muslim faith or Christianity. Why don't the same individuals who mock or ridicule the Christian faith as being all acceptable. When none of these individuals would dare to put Mohammed covered with ants, cartoons depicting Mohammed, or having Mohammed covered in feces just like they did with Mary the mother of Jesus. Why is it acceptable for Smithsonian or any other Institute that allows Christianity to be mocked and to offend others who believe in Jesus is and always have been son of God. life is all-important to attack or to denigrate Christianity and not Islam?

Posted by: treason1948 | December 1, 2010 11:27 AM

why is it so important for individuals who claim to be believers or nonbelievers to feel as though it's their right to denigrate another persons religious beliefs. Whether it's a Muslim faith or Christianity. Why don't the same individuals who mock or ridicule the Christian faith as being all acceptable. When none of these individuals would dare to put Mohammed covered with ants, cartoons depicting Mohammed, or having Mohammed covered in feces just like they did with Mary the mother of Jesus. Why is it acceptable for Smithsonian or any other Institute that allows Christianity to be mocked and to offend others who believe in Jesus is and always have been son of God. life is all-important to attack or to denigrate Christianity and not Islam?

Posted by: treason1948 | December 1, 2010 11:28 AM

your survey is kind of scary to think that 2669 people who voted 66% feels that it's appropriate to show video that could be considered inflammatory or even as a hate crime.

Posted by: treason1948 | December 1, 2010 11:34 AM

Where. is. the. mockery? The video was made by a Catholic artist. It expresses the sadness, confusion, and conflict any believer in his situation might feel. To be offended by it is a choice--and not a very Christian one.

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 11:54 AM

Thank you for allowing Free speech by way of comments. I was appalled at some I had read. We are a Christian country with its people not yet decadant - no yet. Our history over 500 years has been faith based on goodness over evil. At this time - at this time of horrendous difficulties evil is prospering as we all can see. That it took the Catholic organization to raise this matter with this world renown museum is unbelievable. It should never, ever have been displayed. And, whose decision it was to do so should be fired, imho. for I would call it a hate based decision on Christianity. Thank you.

Posted by: marlenestobbart | December 1, 2010 12:34 PM

Perhaps, we are not getting the full report. Maybe, the exhibit was removed because of threats from the you know who fringe. In thinking further about the issue, it seems that using a symbol for some other purpose does not quality as art, and that would be a good enough reason to let it go. If we need social commentary, we can find that through a myriad of other outlets, rather than a major museum. Personally, I do not really care much about the confused believer. He or she seems nuts to me in the first place.

Posted by: rryder1 | December 1, 2010 1:17 PM

If this were an image of Obama covered with ants, the republicans would be hailing the 1st amendment. These people don't even want American soldiers to share their 1st amendment rights (don't ask, don't tell) if it doesn't agree with their arcane definition of morality.

Posted by: markander | December 1, 2010 1:21 PM

What is particularly troublesome is the lack of perspective. The segment that is causing all the controversy is a mere 11 seconds in a half-hour video. And Donahue labels it a hate crime, which wrongly implies that the segment explicitly advocates violence against Christians.

Posted by: Carstonio | December 1, 2010 1:33 PM

I'm not a believer, but I support the museum's decision. Why antagonize Congress and a part of the public over a single piece of art that doesn't even seem germaine to their exhibit? Better to build up some good will to save for the truly important "offensive" pieces that will come along down the road.

The Smithsonian is a true national treasure.

Posted by: Menidia | December 1, 2010 1:48 PM

Why antagonize Congress and a part of the public over a single piece of art that doesn't even seem germaine to their exhibit?

I have a theory that this is another Shirley Sherrod situation, where someone deliberately presented the 11-second segment out of context to push a political agenda. Similarly, the Danish cartoons may have not caused controversy if demagogues hadn't recirculated them out of context with unrelated images to make them seem more inflammatory.

Posted by: Carstonio | December 1, 2010 1:53 PM

I cannot believe that most people think that removing it is wrong. They should have never allowed it in the first place. NOBODY has the right to misuse or abuse religious items that are sensitive to others.

Posted by: Finnochio | December 1, 2010 1:56 PM

What if there is a picture of a black man being lynched, and white guys laughing at him. I bet they would never allow that in the museum. Why not? Maybe it's meaning is that the black man was telling the white men a joke and pretended to be hanged. My point is this would not be allowed because it's sensitive to a few people. So NO, the crucifix video should be taken out and destroyed.

Posted by: Finnochio | December 1, 2010 2:03 PM

My point is this would not be allowed because it's sensitive to a few people.

No, it wouldn't be allowed because it would imply a direct threat of violence to blacks. Or it would be presented in historical context to show how such portrayals were once common in American media. ("Lies My Teacher Told Me" has a photo of whites posing for a photo with a black man burning alive.)

Posted by: Carstonio | December 1, 2010 2:07 PM

The staffs at National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Library of Congress are laughing at you right now. LIFE magazine wonders if you're literate. And a certain mustachioed German applauds your idea that art you don't like should be "taken out and destroyed".
God bless you!

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 2:53 PM

In America museums should be able to display any type of art. However, taxpayers money should be used to pay for any type of art. If art by any artist is not worthy of supporting itself, it is not worthy of taxpayer funds.

Posted by: cowboydyer | December 1, 2010 4:03 PM

Cowboy, I feel the same way about wars. The United States spends 27 years of national Portrait gallery funding *every single day* in Afghanistan, and I dont like that one at all. If those American kids cant get enough money from ExxonMobil for that war to support itself, they should just come home.

Posted by: redlineblue | December 1, 2010 4:09 PM

I hope the NPG will reconsider and return the Wojnarowicz video, believing that artistic expression trumps censorship. I recommend Blake Gopnik's opinion piece in today's WP, which sheds light on the origins of this video, namely that the artist, suffering from AIDS, was venting his anger and frustrations at the deaths of his lover and friends. As Gopnik asserts, the Catholic League's real target was most likely homosexuality and same-sex love, which the exhibit portrays.

Posted by: timbuktu309 | December 1, 2010 6:08 PM


"What if there is a picture of a black man being lynched..." you ask?

Well one is titled "The Way We Was" by Herbert Singleton and it is on display in the permanent collection in this very same building.

I hope that fact doesn't put any holes in your theory. Nice try though.

Posted by: No-Comment | December 1, 2010 6:22 PM

The United States is truly a Christian nation although in todays atmosphere you may wonder. The fact is the Bible is the true and only word of God. Our problem is not with God nor The Word of God but the interpretations so many come up with out of their own prejudices and opinions not facts. Our God is perfect and unchanging and fortunately for most if not all of us ...merciful. And anything that takes away from this shows the decadence of fallen man.

Posted by: TheHoosier1 | December 1, 2010 6:44 PM

No, the video/art should NOT have been removed. Religious organizations have the RIGHT to protest/ complain about everything 'THEY' disagree with. Well, WE, the rest of US also have these rights to express our opinion about anything, SUPPOSEDLY protected by the same CONSTITUTION that gives US all the right to FREEDOM of speech in this country. Who dictates what is right or wrong? We do. We need to re-learn how to COMPROMISE/see the SIMILARITIES between us the people who make this country, instead of constantly BICKERING about our differences.

Posted by: DyDa4081Jax | December 1, 2010 6:48 PM

LOL!! Thanks, Post, it seems like you don't want anyone to comment because you put the comment box way, way, down on the bottom. Anyway, I'm a great unknown artist, that missed having AIDS so I now would like to have my portrait of Allah standing without his private parts and covered in manure in the main lobby of your museum. I'm also a minority, so don't I have equal rights to do this? Hey, DYDA4081JAX you agree with me don't you? I know you do brother or sister, because you love minorities and you know I need to have freedom of expression! My next portrait that I want in the main lobby of the Smithsonian is a close up of my toilet bowl overflowing. I'll send you a framed copy.

Posted by: rorambo7 | December 1, 2010 7:47 PM


Posted by: leattaslone | December 1, 2010 7:57 PM

To all you others that are real liberal and open about art and expression, don't I deserve to send you a framed copy of my overflowing toilet bowl too? It's got a beautiful gold engraved frame. I've also got a pic of ants crawling all over a mosque and several cows dumping their poop on it. AND I'M A MINORITY! So I'm protected under the freedom of expression clause, right? LOL,LOL,LOL!

Posted by: rorambo7 | December 1, 2010 8:03 PM

@RORAMBO7 Sure, you can express anything you like, as long as you don't hurt anybody. Go right ahead and take a photo of anything you like and offer it for exhibit. But you don't also get to acclaim your own works as "valuable" or "meaningful" so don't be upset if no else likes it. There is a middle ground here, so please don't get hysterical.

Posted by: CatMitt | December 1, 2010 8:59 PM

DwightCollins: Search Mohamed in the Smithsonian web Page you will find images Mohamed, including a 6' tall statue of the prophet.

Posted by: shadow27 | December 1, 2010 9:44 PM

If we're going to use the "my tax dollars" kluge we should start by stripping out every Renaissance alter, crucifix and Madonna. The constitution say the government can not endorse a religion and all these pieces of art were made to glorify Catholicism.

Throw 'em all in the Potomac!

For those of you who scream what if it was Mohamed covered in ants, go for it! Make one, do something creative to express your anger and frustration. Then maybe you'll understand what the artist was getting at.

Posted by: shadow27 | December 1, 2010 9:55 PM

Only fools and idiots mock things they do not understand. I truly feel deep sorrow for those who are so sick, twisted and brainwashed that they mock things sent to help them. In the name of Jesus I pray for these sad tortured, brainwashed people, Amen and Amen.

Posted by: MD9999 | December 2, 2010 2:12 AM

Christians think nothing of placing representations of torture devices in public places, or festooned about their persons, and their buildings frequently feature prominent displays of the cadavers of people supposedly tortured to death, often where children cannot but see them. Perhaps these lunatics, who apparently perceive human sacrifice as a loving thing to do, do not realise that such imagery is horribly offensive to people who consider torture and murder, even when it is called a sacrifice, undesirable activities. Many of the places exhibiting such gratuitously offensive material are sponsored by tax money, in the form of relief from property taxes, even though this sets up a massive collision with the first amendment and equitable treatment. Even so, rational people look at these sculptures, paintings and body-ornaments and consider them as art, although many, perhaps most of these items fail to transcend the bathos of the subject, and not a few are comical in their crudity. This does not preclude them from being art, and perhaps sometimes they are. Many things with the power to amuse or offend are highly artistic, in fact, many artists and critics consider work that does not have the potential to amuse or offend to be too wishy washy to class as art.

Adults recognize and celebrate this - and do not often object to art, even religious art, receiving state funding, though always subject to the acid test, being whether the intention of the funded item is artistic, which is legitimately fundable, or religious, which is not. Apparently the religious are not adults, cannot practice tolerance, and do not comprehend art, freedom of speech or the US constitution that guarantees freedom of all expression, not just freedom of expression approved of by one particular religious group or some proportion of the population. Adults understand this too. Unfortunately, many American political figures, the Smithsonian and some readers of the Washington Post apparently do not. What a pity. Perhaps they are too entrenched in religious delusions.

While offence is always taken, never given, and refusing to give others that degree of control over my life, I refuse to be offended by what I see surrounding churches, I know others who are. If we are going to pay attention to the cavilling of one group offended by some forms of art, and calling for an end to its public support, perhaps it is time to look at other forms of "art" and the sponsorship it receives through the tax relief offered churches, even though these serve a clearly religious purpose. I have heard, for example, that the Catholic Church owns vast swathes of tax exempt prime real estate in many of America's largest cities. Surely in these days of hardship for so many, it is time to revisit this issue, if tax benefits, and art, are to be examined?

Posted by: DasHermit | December 2, 2010 5:34 AM

This type of political bullying based on religion is a direct affront to the constitution.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | December 2, 2010 7:22 AM

Is it offensive?
What does it mean?
I think that it is defending the church by linking such ugly visions together with each other.
The censorship is just the usual demagougery.

Posted by: mtobias1 | December 2, 2010 7:58 AM

I want to see the exhibit of art that has caused fatwas to be issued and riots to occur...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 2, 2010 8:09 AM

I find it difficult to understand how an object or act that engenders disgust should be given the "imprimature" of ART. The institution which wished to display this thing, and that is the best I can call it, is sadly lacking in feeling toward humanity.

Posted by: Geezer4 | December 2, 2010 8:23 AM

SNAPPLECAT07 and DWIGHTCOLLINS, Please feel free to exhibit anything you like. No one is stopping you. But don't sit here like a coward and hurl garbage from behind your anonymity. It is you who are the coward for exhorting others to test the waters of art, while snarking and hurling insults when they do.

Get up, little man. Show us what you've got. Put something out there publicly that can be critiqued, and be willing to take criticism for what you offer. Otherwise, shut your pie hole.

Posted by: fmamstyle | December 2, 2010 8:23 AM

REDLINEBLUE, I'm afraid your voice of reason is lost here (and anyone else trying).

One point to all the shouters throwing out hypotheticals: you wouldn't _care_ if it was some other god or deity.

And that's the point: the artist is focusing on his own personal religious history, combined with a consideration for his audience, which happens to also be mostly Christian - shocking, I know! Who would've thought, in America, most people would identify with that faith?

Sheesh; if there were less shouting and more thinking you'd come up with your own answers to your irrelevent suggestions.

Posted by: nagatuki | December 2, 2010 9:56 AM

Jesus made ants! The ants are just trying to tickle him and make him feel better.

Posted by: David90 | December 2, 2010 10:15 AM

I don't get the point of the video. If an ant gets on a cross, is that sacrilege?

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | December 2, 2010 10:43 AM

It was a video they were talking about? I seriously doubt it was art in the first place.

Posted by: forgetthis | December 2, 2010 10:48 AM

Oh, please! Really? I suppose we should burn any other images/works of art that offend the monied minority. There was a time when images of Jesus, as painted by some of the most talented artists of all time, were considered offensive--Jesus looked too human; he looked like a pauper; he had dirty feet, etc. These artists were called heretics. Well, 500 years later, we kind of understand that the critics were short-sighted zealots. Only time proves that idiots are always idiots.

Posted by: theshelton | December 2, 2010 11:34 AM

There are none so Blind as those who refuse to see and none so Ignorant as those who refuse to learn!!!

Posted by: MD9999 | December 2, 2010 3:26 PM

It is no more "Art" than the nitwit in Idaho with a KKK snowman in his front yard. Seems to me the civil libs should be asking for funding to get a wing for the snowman next to that exhibit Hide and Seek exhibit.
Why do the lefty libys make it so easy for common folk to bruise their thin albeit radiant skin? Hey, Blake Copnic you say "…who is to decide what is art…" what would you say if a pictorial of the next several gay pride walks were photographed and covered in dung would that be art?

Posted by: got_vision | December 2, 2010 9:14 PM

Aside from the homophobic behavior of the politics involved in this matter, I believe that ants are God's creatures - just like us. I doubt God or Jesus would have had any problems with God's creatures crawling over the crucifix. Of course who am I to comment on this as I am a Buddhist, one who shows compassion to all creatures including mankind.

Posted by: pmyokhin1 | December 3, 2010 9:18 AM

I do not agree with that type of "art" if that's what you want to call it and I can always choose not to participate in viewing this train wreck. By way, anybody know where I can get a good copy of Muhammed? I got a big jar of fire ants and I'm feeling artistic. Better yet, an effigy of Obama might be better.

Posted by: roochygoodstep | December 3, 2010 2:31 PM

It should not have been pulled. This is shades of the Robert Mapplethorpe show that got pulled from the Corcoran in the late 80's.
Lest we not forget.

Posted by: tomegly | December 3, 2010 5:15 PM

Got_vision your analogy was great sadly liberal extremists ignore facts and truths they do not like! I repeat from earlier "there are none so blind as those who refuse to see." I truly feel sorry for the liberals and other extremists who claim to be open minded but are in fact and in truth more close minded than the majority of people(as proven by their very own actions to all who wish to see)!

Posted by: MD9999 | December 4, 2010 1:15 AM

A subtle veiled(hidden) attack is still an attack, even though people who agree secretly or openly agree with the attack, will often argue there was no attack. They(like an ostrich with its head in a hole) will pretend the exposed attack is not there or "misunderstood". And even worse they will pretend all who disagreee with them are wrong and foolish(classic denial examples). Arguing with such people(people in denial) is often as useless as arguing with a tree stump and trying to have an inteligent fact based discusssion is like trying to get get cow's milk out of an ant( a frustrating exercise in futility.

Posted by: MD9999 | December 4, 2010 1:36 AM

I don't know who you are but I'm in love... :)

Posted by: acgerberich | December 6, 2010 11:39 PM

Perhaps the art is also in the discussion, or arguments, that ensue. Wojnarowicz's purpose may have been be to blaspheme, but I doubt it. Usually the artist, whether Sarrano, Finley, Mapplethorpe (trotting out the litany of censored artists), provoke conversation more than they risk moving up the date of the Rapture and the Tribulation.
There were attempts to ban Chris Ofili for "throwing dung at a picture of the virgin Mary", and in film, Bunuel for any number of anti-religious sentiments, and even Martin Scorsese and Godard.
A museum may have to cave in to the fringe and not show certain depictions of Mohammed for risk of violence. That they have to do the same with Christian imagery in this century shows to the extent to which fundamentalism of all kinds is poisoning the principles of democracy, intellectual debate, and acceptance of difference.
Of course it's wrong to ban the picture, but maybe the museum feels compelled to do so. The threat is from within and without. Another reminder that, as Pogo said "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Posted by: professorjacko | December 12, 2010 9:28 AM

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