- By the way, if you want more weirdness, check out America Needs Fatima. This is an American organization that thinks that the way we'll solve all of our problems is by putting a statue of the Virgin Mary in every home and getting everyone to worship it – PZ Myers
The smog of censorship, always quick to clog the pores of intellectual life when the opportunity arises, descended on an artistic event in Cork recently. I learned of it via PZ Myers’ blog. Myers is a scientist and blogger who happens to be as irreverent as they come. He displays a healthy disdain for religious bunkum and is fortified with an unrelenting willingness to debunk its bogus claims. Having met him at a couple of secularist/atheist conferences in Dublin, and being an occasional visitor to his blog, his sense of humour chimes with my own. On its own that means nothing other than me liking his stuff, but what I like means something to me: and my likes are not open to regulation by bishops.
University College Cork last month hosted an event organised by its Centre for Mexican Studies that would most likely have passed unnoticed were it not for the ‘fury and threats from deranged Catholics.’
The Irish Examiner reported that:
the inclusion in a parallel art exhibition of a controversial image of Our Lady by Mexican artist Alma Lopez, which depicts Mary wearing a floral bikini, has drawn the wrath of a bishop, a TD and a former MEP.
Seriously, in a country ravaged by bankers, who sing about it, and clerical rape, not sung about enough by the clergy, these people have been gripped by the righteous wrath of god over what? A work of art showing 'Mary wearing a floral bikini, with her hands on her hips in a provocative pose, standing on a moon held by a topless female butterfly angel.'
Former Ireland South MEP Kathy Sinnott while opposed to the exhibition did have a valid point when she asked if the university was willing to display the same lack of respect for Mohammed who sits at the apex of the Muslim opinion. Because up until now it seems that the only reason Islam is tiptoed around is because of the threats of violence and intimidation that emerges from some quarters associated with the religion. The Danish cartoon controversy of 2006 had its origins in the fear amongst artists.
None of that however prevented Sinnott from descending into farce when she called for the event to be banned because, among other things it was offensive to the former head of a department, Professor Terence Folley who had a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary. So what if he did? That was his opinion to which he is entitled but no one else need share it.
The Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, said 'it is regrettable and unacceptable that this exhibition seeks to portray the Mother of God in such an offensive way.' Yet it is supposed to be acceptable rather than a matter for regret that some clerical clown can tell us that his god has a mother whose name is Mary and that she can get us past the saintly sentinel – himself an alleged misogynist – at the pearly gates if we are supine and bovine enough.
Fine Gael Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer eager not to allow a bishop to stand aloft the rubbish tip all by himself weighed in claiming that 'if UCC considers itself an inclusive place for study and research then it must ensure that all beliefs are respected ... It should not permit any one set of beliefs to be ridiculed.'
Why should all views be respected? All would include fascist, racist, zany, flat earth, young earth creationist ad infinitum. Ricky Gervais comes closer to the mark when he says ‘everyone has the right to believe anything they want. And everyone else has the right to find it fucking ridiculous.’
Buttimer also referred to the event as being ‘overtly blasphemous.’ Somehow these maniacs think that by saying the word blasphemy the rest of us are supposed to feel tazered, fall on our knees and beg for forgiveness. Fact is, as Dan Savage reminds us: 'one man's blasphemy doesn't override other people's free-speech rights, their freedom to publish, freedom of thought.'
The religious types that have demeaned women denied them rights over their own bodies, would rather see them dead than allow them the right to give birth to the child of any man who might rape them, have the brass neck to complain about a woman being demeaned by a picture.
The artist behind the image spoke about the violent protests organised by a bishop and his gang when her work first went on public display in New Mexico:
The protests were violent ... The museum, the curator, and I endured constant verbal abuse and physical threats .... After my initial shock to the reaction to Our Lady, I realised that the organisers were primarily men, the Catholic Church, and conservative religious groups who would bus men and women to the protest sites or would ask them to sign postcards or write emails. I still cry when I remember receiving an anonymous large yellow envelope containing letters written by small children. It makes me sad that adults teach children to hate and write hate mail.
Leaving us little to feign shock at, a religious gang in Pennsylvania weighed in to support the Catholic men of god in Cork. There are few religious nutters more nuttier than those in Pennsylvania. In 2005 the state was a magnet for ridicule over attempts by the religious to outdo Tennesee's Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 by smuggling Intelligent Design religion into the schools under the false flag of science. The judge in the celebrated Dover caste lambasted and lampooned the attempt. In 2003 a religious gang travelled from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles to protest against Gomez's image Our Lady of Controversy. Lopez who interprets matters from a ‘feminist perspective’ had made a very potent political message through this image which showed ‘the standing female figure wearing boxing gloves — ready to defend her constitutional rights.’
Women defending their rights. Now there’s a thing guaranteed to enrage any religious mob in a way that clerical rape of children can never hope to compete with.