November 15, 2002

JAMES LILEKS has an extensive take on the suicide-bomber painting that I mentioned below. You should read Lileks’ whole treatment, of course, but here’s an excerpt:

“Self-Portrait of a Racial Cleanser” might get the same treatment by a newspaper – I think the piece would have some comments by protesters; this story has none – but it wouldn’t get the same treatment on campus. Even if the artist intended it as a condemnation of white supremacists, one suspects he would not be permitted his interpretation of his painting; there would be no talk of the equality of subjective reactions. Intention would matter for naught. Intention would be trumped by the effect it had on the aggrieved. The painting would be draped in a day. . . .

Let us now return to the words of the Art Center’s mouthpiece:

“Art is subjective,” she said. “Used as a metaphor or presented as the artist’s personal statement, every opinion is valid and every viewer is entitled to his or her own interpretation.”

Yes, every opinion is valid – but as a famous pig once remarked, some are more valid than others. It’s amazing how much validity you get on campus when you make Jew-killing sexy.

Hamas solidarity AND hot obliques – now that’s progressive.

Yes. And what’s striking is that so many people on the left — as shown in “but it was a joooke!” defenses of Martha Burk’s fertility-control-for-men piece — just don’t get this double standard. They’re blind to it. But it’s there. And if people keep pointing it out, maybe they’ll notice. Plenty of other people have.

UPDATE: Paintings of suicide bombers can mean anything. But this, on the other hand, was so obviously beyond the pale that it called for immediate University action!

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