I know art when I see it, I also know that some art, in my eyes, is crap. I think everyone has roughly the same ideal. Not all art is going to appeal to you or me for that matter. But the question then becomes is there such a thing as art that goes too far, or steps over the line and ceases to be art? Can a product move from the realm of art into obscenity or desecration or just disrespect? I think the former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart has been paraphrased best in the obscenity case of Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) when he said [obscenity, in this case hard-core pornography] is hard to define, but I know it when I see it.
I too instinctively know what is art and what has gone too far and this freak-o in Seattle has gone waaaay to far. Seems that the artist in question likes to take fetish and bondage photos. Okay, whatever man. Probably someone likes it. You post them on your website and someone clicks it up and touches themselves. I get it. But then it is noticed there is a whole set of these photos taken in a veterans cemetery. Not only are they taken in the cemetery, but they are taken there at night, after the cemetery is closed. That is called breaking and entering for one. Add to that people posing on top of headstones or dangling from the monuments there and I think you have a definite case for desecration. This is after all the final resting place for soldiers. I also think that most reasonable people can agree that they wouldn’t want some patent leather clad weirdo perched on top of grandma or grandpa’s tombstone wearing a ball gag and stilettos, it is just in poor taste. Not to mention someone taking a picture of it and having to see their name on the tombstone in the picture. Too far. But then again, the police are already taking care of that little bit, doing their investigation and will probably hand out a fine and a no trespassing order, maybe confiscate the pictures. Or perhaps this little escapade will open the taker of the pictures up to a lawsuit. It is not unheard of.
However, my real concern was not this whole bit above. I can get righteously indignant about that and know the police will end up taking care of it in the long run and justice will probably be served. No, what my concern is, is the comments people left behind under the article. There are some screwed up, America hating individuals out there. One guy defends the artist and his message which he is unclear about, but definitely loves this kind of thing. Do these people get off on the controversy or are they merely baiting people into an argument. It is rather disturbing at that. That someone commits a crime in the creation of their “art” is of no concern because artists ought to be able to break laws to bring us their art? Not so sure I believe that. Wishing people would die for stating they would like to see this artist charged with his crimes, breaking and entering, possible desecration of a grave, how does that behavior serve anyone or engage in any meaningful discourse.
I must say though I am heartened by the fact the dissenters were many and the defenders seemed to be about three. But in the whole scheme of things I don’t even want to really hear from those three. There is a limit to the things we in society deems okay or even questionable and on the line. In general when you mess with the dead, especially the dead who got that way defending this country, you’re over the line. That is just desecration plain and simple, your explanation about how it qualifies as art is moot, and you are wrong.