By George Parry
In 1987, Andres Serrano submerged a crucifix in a glass of his own urine and took a picture. Entitled “Piss Christ,” the photograph won first place in a contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1996, another avant-garde artist, Chris Ofili, smeared elephant dung on a portrait of the Blessed Mother and displayed it in a government-funded Brooklyn museum.
And so the stage was set for the ensuing nightmare of Christian terror and violence that descended on the American art community.
Just kidding. Nothing of the sort happened. There were no canonical death warrants issued and no attempts on the lives of the artists or anyone else associated with these presentations.
To be sure, Christians objected to “Piss Christ” and the feces-covered Holy Virgin. And they rightfully wondered why their tax dollars had been used to promote these blasphemies. But their objections and questions were condescendingly dismissed by the secular left in the media and intelligentsia. As one prominent art critic sniffed, Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” was “deliberately provocative” in order to “jolt viewers into an expanded frame of reference, and perhaps even toward illumination.”
As if in one voice, the mainstream media and self-anointed intelligentsia argued that antiquated religious sensitivities must not be allowed to interfere with either an artist’s free expression or his right to government funding regardless of how offensive his work may be to Christians.
Well, it seems that things have changed.
In Garland, Texas, on Sunday, two radical Muslims died trying to replicate the Charlie Hebdo massacre by mounting an armed attack on a “draw Mohammed” cartoon contest. We are not talking about drawings of Mohammed dunked in urine or smeared with animal dung. No, the gunmen apparently deemed the mere drawing of Mohammed to be an offense punishable by death.
What has been the response of the liberal media to this act of lunacy? Have the talking heads come to the defense of the cartoonists’ right of free expression in a pluralistic society? Has anyone publicly observed that drawings of Mohammed might “jolt” Muslims "into an expanded frame of reference” or “illumination”? Far from it. The overall media consensus has been to blame the intended murder victims for recklessly provoking the terrorists. Such provocation, we are told, is unacceptable and irresponsible behavior given the risk of retaliation by offended radical Muslims.
By this bizarre logic, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Selma marchers should be condemned for instigating the melee on the Edmund Pettus bridge. Same for the three murdered civil-rights workers in Mississippi, the victims of Bull Connor’s police dogs, and anyone else who has taken a stand that might irritate violence-prone people.
For the mainstream media and chattering classes, dumping on peaceful, law-abiding Christians is good, safe sport. But pointing the finger of blame at murderous Muslim fanatics? Well, let’s not get carried away. Rather than draw the ire of radical Muslims by firmly and unequivocally condemning the attack, the infotainment industry has concentrated its attention on the provocative nature of the draw-Mohammed contest. After all, like a drunken, immodestly dressed rape victim, weren’t the draw-Mohammed contestants just asking for it?
Better to question the wisdom of cartoonists exercising their rights than to acknowledge and vigorously confront and expose the elephant in the room, i.e., that there is a disturbingly large number of radical Muslims in this country who oppose our Constitution and who believe that murder is an appropriate sanction for those who offend Islam. That, of course, is the real story behind the attack in Texas. But to grapple with that might inflame those radicals and pose a risk to careers and corporate profits, or result in expulsion from the preening ranks of the politically correct.
All of which leads to this question: Given their pusillanimous double standard, why should any reasonable or serious person believe, respect, or credit the self-serving mainstream media?
George Parry is a former state and federal prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia. firstname.lastname@example.org