Liberals’ and being a member of the media, I of course count myself among them – can be a pretty funny bunch. When we are sympathetic to a controversial work of pop culture, we invoke the artist?s right to create in an climate of total freedom, whatever feelings of outrage the work may stoke among the ignorati. (That is: other people.) When we disapprove, we talk about his responsibility to the sensitivities and sensibilities of good people. (That is: us.) So, in the aesthetico-religious sphere, we defend Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which portrays Jesus as a human who slowly learns he’s divine, and Kevin Smith’s “Dogma,” a raw comedy about an abortion-clinic worker who is a lineal descendant of Jesus.
Critics love to bash Christians. I don’t really understand this. Supposedly, art in America is considered protected by the First Amendment. But where any art that causes discomfort among Christians is considered justifiable, any art that considers their faith is somehow suspect. There is no feeling that the beliefs or feeling of Christians must be respected.
On the other hand, there was the outcry when Mayor Guiliani of New York tried to withhold funding from a museum that sought out and displayed a portrait of the Virgin Mary made from dung. This we were told was unconscionable interference with the artists First Amendment rights. In January of 2003 a gallery withdrew a Koran with a Buddah carved in it from their exhibit because complaints (and threats) were received from Muslims.
Shouldn’t these critics be honoring Mel Gibson instead of pillorying him? What happened to artistic freedom?