Only in Degree

A few days ago rightie bloggers were having apoplectic fits over an exhibit at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. The exhibit include a brief video clip showing ants crawling on a crucifix, and this was taken up as a Cause by Faux News and by Bill Donohue of the Let’s Make Catholicism Look Ugly League. Glenn Beck complained that taxpayer money had funded the exhibit, although it hadn’t.

After GOP congressional leaders, including John Boehner Eric Cantor, called for defunding the Smithsonian, the offending clip was removed.

Frank Rich writes about this episode today. The video was made in 1987 by an East Village artist named David Wojnarowicz after he was diagnosed with AIDS. Frank Rich explains,

Christ figures in Wojnarowicz’s response to the plague — albeit in a cryptic, 11-second cameo. A crucifix is besieged by ants that evoke frantic souls scurrying in panic as a seemingly impassive God looked on.

Wojnarowicz died in 1992, at the age of 37.

Today the righties are outraged, and not without cause, about a Stockholm suicide bombing. The bomber was, news accounts say, protesting the publication of anti-Muslim cartoons and the war in Afghanistan. (Since the perpetrator is not around to explain himself we have to guess, but some question the official explanation)

Any attempt to suppress free expression by threats or bullying ought to be condemned. However, righties, that means any attempt to suppress free expression by threats or bullying ought to be condemned. That means your attempts, too.

Righties will complain that they don’t kill people over cartoons, or artwork. No, they only kill people for providing medical services. And when rightie terrorists bomb abortion clinics, they do so from a safe distance so that only other people are injured. I suppose that makes them less savage, somehow.

Bottom line, though, is that Islamic extremists and our home-grown U.S. Right are only different in degree. Both sides are bullies; neither side respects the freedom of speech of others.

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