Letters to the Editor

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TAM: Purge exhibit of offensive content

Letter by Jim and Florence Reardon, Gig Harbor on June 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm with 42 Comments »
June 6, 2011 3:18 pm

As former museum docents, we are very disappointed with Tacoma Art Museum’s plan to introduce: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” a controversial exhibit that was found offensive by many of our congressional leaders when it was shown in D.C. This is not the publicity or direction that we want for the Tacoma community.

Responsible people in our community recognize the importance of marriage and family to the welfare of our community, especially our children. TAM has entered this most sensitive debate as a clear sympathizer for gay and lesbian ascendancy.

The leadership of our community’s oldest art museum is endorsing a direction for the museum that is not in keeping with the wishes of the membership and the predominant views of the community.

We acknowledge that it is most challenging to stage exhibit after exhibit that will attract attendance. Unfortunately, perhaps unintentionally, TAM has crossed the line. Christians, Muslims, Jews or anyone in our community should not have to suffer disrespect of their faith because of TAM’s ginning up controversy to achieve its goals of revenue and attendance.

We appeal to TAM to purge this planned exhibit of all offensive content and redirect its publicity away from the promotion of highly sensitive themes such as the gay and lesbian lifestyle. Promoters of these “expressions of art “would not sit for a moment for an exhibit contrary to their views.

Leave a comment Comments → 42
  1. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    Wait… Are you saying that the art community is actually doing something that’s inclusive of gays and lesbians??? What has the world come to?!!! Oh my God, next thing you know, the Food Channel will start airing programs that foodies like and pop muscians will start writing radio-friendly songs.

    I wonder, what makes you think that the promoters of these expressions of art “would not sit for a moment for an exhibit contrary to their views?” Isn’t that the purpose of art; to challenge norms and expand appreciation of diverse cultures?

    Just because you assume that others wouldn’t sit for an exhibit they don’t like, does that make the grown-up thing to do prohibiting exhibits you don’t like? If you don’t like the exhibit, then don’t go to it. But don’t force your narrow-minded views on others. The exhibit won’t be there forever. You can wait it out until the next one opens.

  2. BlaineCGarver says:

    As much as I detest the exhibit, I support their First Amendment Rights….(though, I sort of hope that someone will decide, with a little more discression, what is appropriate for public viewing)….I wouldn’t go see that trash with a free ticket.

  3. fatuous says:

    “Unfortunately, perhaps unintentionally, TAM has crossed the line. Christians, Muslims, Jews or anyone in our community should not have to suffer disrespect of their faith because of TAM’s ginning up controversy to achieve its goals of revenue and attendance.”

    I don’t know how one could disrespect a group of folks that have earned little respect.

    All three of these religions are morally bankrupt.

  4. KARDNOS says:

    Then there was the spinster that called the police complaining about the 45 minute obscene phone call……

    “He went on and on saying the nastiest things for 45 minutes”

  5. You all have the ablity to not be ‘offened’ by ants on a plastic cruifix.
    Don’t go!

  6. Publico says:

    Jim and Florence, get a life.

  7. If you don’t like it, then you are free to choose not to go the the exhibit.

  8. we are not a theocracy. offense based on dogma is just that: offense based on dogma. your god is not real to everyone. Stay home.

  9. sue1234 says:

    Jim and Florence you dont get to decide what ‘we’ like. Why do you have such an inflated sense of self? Ever heard of the First Amendment. Free speech is measure in your tolerance to see or hear something you dont like. You two failed miserably.

  10. Publico says:

    No stereotypes evident at all, huh Larry?
    Idiocy has no bounds among the wingnuts.

  11. Always love it when self-righteous folks start calling for purges…. Hitler got rid of all of the “decadent art” and Stalin got rid of the “counter-revolutionary artists”.

  12. Open your heart and mind. That’s what Jesus would want.

  13. SadujTogracse says:

    Oh gee, Karnos’ spinster comment never gets old, even after the 10,000th time (eyeroll). New material please!!!!

  14. Jim and Florence, I like American values, therefore I like free speech and support TAM in its effort to bring art to the public that they might not have a chance to see otherwise.

    I like the fact that some people can go see Norman Rockwell and feel inspired and others can get involved in a little more intriguing art. I like the fact that we can ponder whether a piece of carved material is a holy object or just another do-dad and discuss like adults whether art is in the eye of the beholder, in the eye of the artist, in the eye of a particular group, or in the eye of the majority.

    Can art be vulgar or profane? Can the profane and the vulgar be art? (I say “yes” to both questions)

    I am sorry you’ll miss the show. At least it served the purpose of giving you something to express your freedom of speech about, and that is one purpose of art in our society.

  15. whitecap says:

    It’s been a long time since I had a constitutional law class, but for all of you posters who are leaning on the 1st Amendment, it only applies to government action. If TAM is a private entity, it is not bound by 1st Amendment requirements.

  16. vingrotto says:

    Folks, you have every right to boycott this exhibit, but TAM is an institution that represents the general public at large and I for one would like to see it. When are people going to learn this is a diverse world we ALL live in and it’s not always about YOU. This exhibit is not going to turn Tacoma into Sodom and Gommorah. Although that would be interesting…

  17. Thank you for exercising your rights by not attending. Isn’t it great that you are still entitled in this great nation to have your own opinion…..and yeah, it is a testament to this nations greatness that a private entity can choose to display whatever “art” they want; thats what our personal freedoms are all about. You can be offended, others can be intrigued. What is disgusting to you could be thought provoking to others. Many Christians have significant issues with todays religions and their straying from biblical teachings. So, if I am Christian, and a Catholic Church offends me, should it be torn down? That’s seriously as ridiculous as your letter is.

  18. old_benjamin says:

    TAM, do something really edgy. Do an exhibition of “art” disrespecting Mohammed. Not holding my breath.

  19. beerBoy says:

    o_b, please, hold your breath, turn purple and pass out.

  20. beerBoy says:
    June 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm
    Always love it when self-righteous folks start calling for purges…. Hitler got rid of all of the “decadent art” and Stalin got rid of the “counter-revolutionary artists”.

    Ah yes, bBoy, it’s far better to slowly and insidiously purge those things we don’t like such as the mere mention of Jesus Christ in a public school, the singing of a hymn or Christmas carol; any mention of disagreement with the gay agenda or God-forbid, questioning the climate experts of the hour.

    I guess you think if we do it slowly enough, no one will notice?

    And, hey, way to go in the adolescent snipe at old benjamin. Very classy.

  21. “The leadership of our community’s oldest art museum is endorsing a direction for the museum that is not in keeping with the wishes of the membership and the predominant views of the community.”

    Am curious, Jim and Florence, how you have determined that YOU know what the predominant views of the TACOMA community are. “The community” can speak for itself when they decide whether or not to view the exhibit. It is not for you homophobes in GIG HARBOR to decide whether or not the community has the opportunity to see this exhibit.

    In short, maybe you should stay on your side of the bridge and keep your heads in the sand.

  22. IF the predominant view of the community does not support this exhibit, then TAM will not make a profit- but wait- it appears that the predominant view of the community is contrary to what the letter writer suggests.

  23. “Ah yes, bBoy, it’s far better to slowly and insidiously purge those things we don’t like such as the mere mention of Jesus Christ in a public school, the singing of a hymn or Christmas carol; any mention of disagreement with the gay agenda or God-forbid, questioning the climate experts of the hour.”

    One of the best parts of my high school days was singing “The Messiah” with the UPS Choral Society.

    Lets open up our schools to more religion – Muslim prayer time. Jewish Holidays for all children. We’ll need more teachers with diverse backgrounds to share the facts on all of these issues.

    Oh, we also sang “Negro Spirituals”…….

  24. TMell – “So, if I am Christian, and a Catholic Church offends me,”

    Gee…all this time, I was thinking that Catholics WERE Christians…..

  25. my dad and some friends got in trouble years ago for putting women’s underwear on the statues in Wright Park.

    It was art.

  26. CrazyJim says:

    Jim and Florence, tissue?

  27. Pecksbadboy says:

    I find Norman Rockwell offensive because of the stereotypes he shows. For that reason I did not go to the exhibit. You should do the same on this one.

    Is it possible that an ant colony trail could possibly cross a plastic crucifix in real life?

    Definitely.

    Is it possible all the things is Rockwell’s staged paintings actually happened with the people he portrayed?

    Never.

    As a docent, it is not your job to critique art so you credibility is nothing as is the opinion of the DC beltway kids who only want to get elected.

    Is it their job to be art critic, or your for that matter?

  28. old_benjamin says:

    Sorry, bBoy, I only hold my breath waiting for you to make a rational remark. Naturally, I’m fully conscious and in the pink of health.

  29. old_benjamin says:

    Is it possible that Mohammed picked his nose or scratched his butt in real life?

    Sure, so I’ll do a painting depicting the “Prophet” in an unguarded moment and TAM can hang it. Not holding my breath.

  30. Thats my point Kard….many Christians do not believe in the making of men gods(Pope, Canonizing) the ideal that a man can be infallible(the pope again), idolatry(both the Crucifix and the Virgin Mary). Christianity, like many religions comes in various shapes. I don’t know a Catholic that doesn’t consider themselves Christian, but there are many Christians who take exception to a number of their specific practices. I’ve been to two Catholic funerals and they totally weirded me out :)

  31. BlaineCGarver says:

    It’s very amusing that lefties, who claim to support freedom of speech, are crapping all over conservatives that are exercising their own opinions. Of course, lefties only support speech that supports their own agendas.

  32. Sorry we offended the rich, retired, white docents with nothing better to do with their time than pine for the good old days when their kind ruled the world and the rest of us cowered in shame and fear. Time to wake up. It’s the 21st century.

  33. villager98 says:

    The Reardons have a right to their opinions and The News Tribune has a right to print their opinions no matter that this was offensive, insulting and demeans thousands of good people. However, if I wrote a letter pointing out that these folks are self-righteous, Bible-thumping homophobes, it would never appear in print.

    Note to BlaineCGarver: You obviously don’t actually know any “lefties” or you would be better informed.

  34. o_b if it is your intent to make art that offends than your work of art is truly offensive. However, the work being cited as offensive of a few second image within a much larger video clearly was not created with the intent of being offensive.

    Still don’t know why you think this is about Islam though…..

  35. pazzo242 says:

    As a Christian I would have to say I am offended by what I heard is being displayed in this art display. As a citizen of the United States I am proud that we have the right to express our beliefs thru art and media. Also as a citizen of the United States I know no one is forcing me to attend or pay to go see anything we are offended by. That said, if one is offended then protest via your wallet. That is what I plan to do. If enough people just don’t show up then the exhibit loses money and you have made your point without trying to deprive those of their 1st Amendment rights as Reardon’s want to do.

    The Reardons are asking for censorship. We have fought so hard to stay away from censorship so why would anyone think of going there. If the Reardon’s get their way the next censorship might just be on your religious practices–I am sure they (Reardons) would be singing quite a different tune at that point.

  36. LarryFine says:

    “if I wrote a letter pointing out that these folks are self-righteous, Bible-thumping homophobes, it would never appear in print.”

    Really ? Try it and see what happens.
    There have been plenty such letters. Now uif you were to write a letter pointing out the insane suicidal koran thumping of some of our muslim brothers, you might have a point.

  37. Fear and control are the motivating factors in censorship. No matter how offensive this or any other attempt at artistic expression is, we should uphold freedom of expression, no matter what.

    That said, every citizen, regardless of his/her station in life has a right to publilcly express his opinion as well. The Reardons have done so. Those of you who have made attempts to silence them are guilty of the very thing you claim to uphold.

  38. elated1 says:

    sozo:

    The Reardons are entitled to their opinion like everyone else and I do not see where anyone has attempted to silence them.

    However they went a step further and took it upon themselves to speak on behalf of the community [without being qualified to do so]:
    ” . . . that is not in keeping with the wishes of the membership and the predominant views of the community.”

    It’s quite simple, really [speaking in general terms]:
    The only person’s religious beliefs you need to worry about are your own.
    The only person’s sexual orientation you need to worry about is your own.
    The only art exhibits you need to view are those that of are interest to you.
    Etc.

    It is one thing to share your opinion with others, but quite another to force your beliefs upon others.

  39. B_G_C,
    We are not saying you can’t exercise your Right to Free Speech.
    We are just exercising our Right to Free Speech to say you are wrong.

  40. roussir says:

    Criticizing is not limiting free speech. This is common confusion among the authoritarians.

  41. roussir says:

    “Christians, Muslims, Jews or anyone in our community should not have to suffer disrespect of their faith”

    I am confident that if pressed, the authors will not be able to defend this statement coherently. The best arguments I can think is “Mommy said so” and “submit or we/they’ll beat/shoot/bomb you”.

    “Promoters of these “expressions of art “would not sit for a moment for an exhibit contrary to their views.”

    Maybe, but this is very different from apealing to purge.

  42. sozo – the Reardons have expressed their right to free speech in the support of suppressing other expressions of speech. This is why their position is being criticized.

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