Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Cavalier" not very

The ombudsman of the University of Virginia’s The Cavalier Daily, a student newspaper, has determined that art must be limited to what can be understood representationally. Or maybe to what she can understand. (It’s not clear.)

The paper printed two comics last month by student Grant Woolard (this one and this one) that provoked protests by some religious people because they treated religious subjects unfavorably. Actually, ombudsman Lisa Fleisher’s essay doesn’t say what the religious people found objectionable about the cartoons; it only says what she found objectionable about them, which was that she didn’t get them. I’m not exaggerating. Quote:
While I don't think an apology is necessary, the managing board should consider changing its policy to ensure the cartoon has a clear message.
Woolard's two items, unfortunately, were quite inscrutable. […] [T]here needs to be a solid, understandable point or message involved..
A famous art critic (whose famous name I can't remember) said that people at first doubt that abstract art can really represent anything. But when it is shown to them that some abstract works can clearly do so, they then make the corollary mistake of insisting that every work of abstract art is explicitly representational. This is similar to the mistaken assumption that Cavalier ombudsman Fleisher suffers under: If it can't be put into words, it isn't art.

Plenty of recent cartoons in The Cavalier Daily don’t have explicitly editorial points to make: they’re just cute or funny, like comics all over the world. Start here on August 23rd to see the other comics The Cavalier printed with Woolard’s and click forward toward today to see what I mean. Why single out those comics as insufficiently understandable.

On the basis of no evidence presented in her essay other than that some people outside the university said they were angry, Fleisher determines that Woolard’s comics were gratuitously offensive. She says of them, “Offending just for the sake of offending -- or even to get people talking -- is juvenile and unprofessional.” But surely the fact that the religious ideas in question can be so easily ‘offensively’ juxtaposed in this way is a very strong and clear editorial comment. That people were offended by it seems to demonstrate irrefutably that this art is understandable.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Christians for Wife Beating (new group)

[I shamelessly lift in its entirety this 09/04/2006 blog post by Richard Kim at The Nation.]

Christian Conservatives for Domestic Violence?

When a raft of state defense of marriage amendments (DOMAs) passed in 2004, observers (including yours truly) warned that such amendments would not just ban gay marriage but also imperil domestic partnership agreements, next-of-kin arrangements and domestic violence protections for unmarried people. Right-wing backers dismissed such concerns as left-liberal paranoia. Well, I normally love to say “I told you so,” but in this case it brings me no pleasure. Nonetheless, I told you so.

Ohio was one of 11 states to pass DOMAs in 2004, and pundits alleged then that “State Issue No. 1,” as it was called on the ballot, played a major role in John Kerry’s defeat. Whatever the case may be (and let’s hope the ballots are still around to see), one immediate fallout is clear: domestic violence protections for unmarried women.

In late August, Ohio’s Citizens for Community Values (CCV), a right-wing organization devoted to promoting “Judeo-Christian moral values,” filed an amicus brief on behalf of an alleged domestic abuser. For the past 25 years, Ohio’s domestic violence law has covered married couples as well as unmarried and divorced individuals. According to CCV, such protections run afoul of Ohio’s DOMA, which bars the state from recognizing any legal status for unmarried people that “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.” If CCV has their way, “persons living as a spouse” (i.e. unmarried, live-in partners) would no longer be protected under Ohio’s domestic violence statute. Apparently, it’s more important for CCV to preserve the distinction between married and unmarried couples (and pre-empt gay marriage) than it is to prosecute domestic abusers. So much for Judeo-Christian values…

Sunday, September 03, 2006

No comment

This year, Montana made it an offense to drink while driving, one of the last states to do so. But there was heavy opposition.

Wyoming still allows passengers in a vehicle to drink, as long as the driver is not holding the container. A bill that would have made [consumption by passengers] illegal was defeated.
—“Boredom in the West Fuels Binge Drinking
by Timothy Egan 09/02/06 New York Times. (Emphasis added)