The latest news from the Traditional Values front comes to us from Roseville, Michigan, where we find that the defenders of public decency are marshalling their forces to preserve our precious culture and heritage–by launching a legal assault against a local artist for his reproduction of part of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s ceiling for the Sistine Chapel:
In Ed (Gonzo) Stross’ eyes, his variation on Michelangelo’sCreation of Manmural is art.
In 39A District Judge Marco Santia’s eyes, it’s a crime.
Santia ordered jail time, a fine and probation — a sentence that sounds a little harsh to a state senator, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and fellow artists.
Santia ordered Stross, 43, to serve 30 days in jail, do two years’ probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Roseville officials said letters were prohibited on the mural and Eve’s exposed chest is indecent.
Besides jail time and the fee, Stross is to tastefully cover Eve’s breasts before reporting to the Macomb County Jail on Monday morning, and to paint overloveby May 1.
Of course, a bare-breasted Eve wasn’t too much for Pope Julius II; he not only approved of its public display, but was glad to have it on the ceiling of the most important church in all of Western Christendom. You might have thought that some of our traditional values include glorifying God and Creation through beautiful art, or at least respect for the achievements of our forebearers. But when it comes to the
community standards of our day–which are, after all, mostly set by reference to the sensitivities of the most obnoxiously vocal and litigious segments of the Religious Right–it appears that all of these pale in comparison to the importance of ensuring that no child see boobies, ever. Anyway, since when have traditional values had anything to do with history?
This, it seems, is the modern Religious Right: a horde of know-nothing busybodies, apparently hell-bent on making Mencken’s definition of
puritanism look plausible, and going to the mat to enforce the values of a past that–fortunately for the achievements of Western civilization–never existed.