When someone lies, he is guilty of disinformation, the deliberate
dissemination of information known to be untrue. When someone mistakenly provides
the wrong information, he is guilty of misinformation. Though in both cases
truth is a casualty, only those guilty of the former are properly met with
moral outrage. And it is precisely this groupthose who knowingly provide
false informationthat is responsible for much of todays Catholic
bashing. This is especially true of artists.
In 1999, we protested the Brooklyn Museum of Arts "Sensation"
exhibit that featured a dung-laden portrait of the Our Blessed Mother adorned
with cutouts of female genitalia. Our critics told us then, and continue to
tell us today, that we got it all wrong. For example, columnist Michael Daly
recently noted that Africans use dung as a celebratory statement. That is
why we should be pleased with Nigerian artist, Chris Ofili, for putting dung
on the Virgin Mary. Now another critic has come forward, this time lecturing
us for not recognizing that the dung was "artfully placed" on the
Just after "Sensation" closed, I attended a Christmas
party in New York. Sitting next to me was an architect whom I had met for
the first time; his accent was intriguing. After exchanging some pleasantries,
I asked the dark-skinned man what country he was from. Nigeria, he said. You
already know what I asked him. But you can only guess what he said: he was
lividthe idea that dung is some kind of honorific statement in Nigeria
is a lot of bull.
Research I did on this issue confirmed what the architect
told me. But none of this matters to our critics who purposely persist in
floating this myth about African dung. They also lie about Ofili: his parents
are Nigerian but he was born and raised in England. Ergo, hes an Englishman.
As for the critic who is mesmerized by the "artfully
placed" dung, I wonder how he would react to someone who took a shovel
full of you-know-what and slopped it all over a picture of his mother. After
watching him go ballistic, it would be interesting to see how he would then
react to the news that careful steps were taken to "artfully place"
the dung on his mom. Finally, our critics add to their disinformation effort
when they describe the Ofili portrait without ever mentioning the porn clips.
This issue of Catalyst tells the story how the Sun-Sentinel
accused the Catholic League of "threatening violence" during our
1998 protest of "Corpus Christi." The retraction said it was a "reporting
error," which, if true, would make this a case of misinformation. But
only a fool would believe this. The guilty reporter knew exactly what he was
doing, which is why this was disinformation, clear and simple.
Regarding the play, it was reported over and over again that
the Catholic League objected because "Corpus Christi" depicted a
gay Jesus. Wrong. We objected because it depicted Christ having sex with his
12 apostles. Indeed, we emphasized that we would have objected just as strongly
had Christ been cast as having sex with 12 women. It was the playwright, Terrence
McNally, who decided to make this a gay issue, not the Catholic League.
Reka Basu, an essayist at the Sun-Sentinel, can always be
counted on to defend Catholic bashing. Whether its the "Sensation"
exhibit, or the more recent "Yo Mamas Last Supper" entry featuring
a naked woman as Christ in the Last Supper, or "Corpus Christi,"
Basu offers, "One persons offense is anothers enlightenment."
Really? In other words, some people object to putting Jews in ovens, others
think its a good idea. But neither position is wrong because all positions
are morally equal. Now even Basu should be able to figure this one out.
Alma Lopez is the offending Santa Fe artist responsible for
the bikini-clad Virgin Mary that was displayed in the Museum of International
Art (described in this issue). "If my work is removed," she said
in a letter to us, "that means I have no right to express myself as an
artist and a woman." Wrong. It means she has no right to expect Catholic
taxpayers to fund her blasphemy. And whats this business about her being
a woman? Or is this another appeal to her alleged victim status?
Lopez continues with her disinformation campaign by saying
that if her work is removed, "It means that there must be something wrong
and sexually perverted with my female body." But her conclusion doesnt
follow from the predicate. On the other hand, we are not in position to disprove
her self-perception. Regrettably, she may be right.
Its tempting to say theyre all nuts. But to do so is to exculpate them. No, they know what theyre doing. And what theyre doing is lying. Lying about their work, lying about the Catholic Church. To stop them they must be outed. Which is where we come in.