Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dear Jessica, THIS is protected speech: Get over it

Waldo brought my attention to this one, although I disagree strongly with his sweeping generalization in the opening line:

Christians are innovative when it comes to ducking responsibility for their bigotries.

This is the poster placed all over campus on an Ohio community college by an atheist group promoting its next meeting:

It brought out the predictable narrow-minded rejoinders that the people behind the poster were mocking religion:

Student aide Jessica Hodge said she felt the poster would “pollute the minds” of her children, ages 2 and 5, if they saw it.

“It looks like soft-core pornography,” she said. “I don’t think they’re making a statement at all. They just want to shock everyone.”

A Christian, Hodge said she doesn’t try to force her opinions on others. Questioning religion is fine, but mocking it isn’t, she said.

As another Christian who believes in the First Amendment, Jessica, I need to explain to you that mocking religion is perfectly fair game. And I'd also point out that at ages 2 and 5, if they're normal, your children will be incapable of seeing a sexual message in this picture because they are developmentally incapable of doing so. But even if they were, who gave you the right to have the world re-ordered to fit your particular child-raising practices.

This is also protected speech:

If you don't recognize it, it's Andres Serrano's Piss Christ.

The image below, also, by Dutch artist Theo Van Gogh, even though it resulted in a fatwah calling for his death:

Tasteless as you may find his poster, Chris Weaver of the atheist group is exactly right: most Christians have never heard of the Secret Gospel of Mark, nor considered its implications for Christian theology or the history of the early Church. Sure, possibly it is an invention and not a real scrap of the Gospel of Mark--but if Clement of Alexandria believed it was real, that says something that heterosexual only Christians would find exceedingly . . . uncomfortable.

Moreover, Jessica, as John Boswell's Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe argues, the modern construct of homosexuality and Christianity as somehow incompatible is just that--a modern construct not consistent with a long Church history of welcoming all sorts of people.

Contrary to your need to make the world simple and sterile for your children, American society has a need for vigorous consideration of ALL ideas, even in provocative terms. Even in mocking terms.

Christianity can stand it.

The question is whether or not some Christians can.


AnonymousOpinion said...

Piss Christ may be free speech, but I would prefer not to pay for it with a $15,000 prize from the National Endowment for the Arts. Once I know I'm not paying for it, sure I'll get over it real quick.

Anonymous said...

In Jessica's defense, I would not want to have to raise children in today's religious climate, but maybe that's just because I'm old.

"a long Church history of welcoming all sorts of people"

I think you only have half the message in this statement. Rather than condemning the woman caught in adultery, Jesus condemned those who were condemning her. But He also told her to sin no more. Sorry, His words carry a lot more weight than Clement's.