Dung-Splattered Virgin Mary & Confederate Flag

Are they the same? Seems to me that both are symbols that can be represent different things to different people. But most folks I talk to think that one (Dung-Mary) deserves its space in a public place, even though it offends many, while the other (flag) should be taken down because it offends many. This seems inconsistent. Or is it OK to offend Catholics but not OK to offend Blacks? What am I missing?

I think the difference is in the “venue” or place where the object is displayed.

Flying a flag over a state capitol gives it an “official” connotation that displaying a painting in an art museum doesn’t have.

By the way, are you referring to one of the “straight dope” columns? Or should this be in the Great Debates forum?

A friend offered this thought-provoking comment on the subject. “Suppose the dung-splattered picture was of Dr. Martin Luther King instead of the Virgin Mary. Would it be roundly denounced as racist by the same liberals that raise the anti-censorship banner because the subject is religious?”
My thought is that he’s probably right.
If so then the dung-spattering itself is not the objection so much as whose image is so besmirched.

Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago. —Bernard Berenson.

As one of said liberals, yes, I probably would think it was racist.

And I also would think it was censorship if the Mayor tried to force the museum to take it down.

(and I think this is in the wrong forum)

As I understand it, this particular artist puts elephant dung on everything he does. It’s part of his style. Also, IIRC it’s only in one area of the painting, not splattered all over it. Would you accuse any other artist of drawing on the virgin mary because they signed their painting?

It is too clear, and so it is hard to see.


This is a misrepresentation of the painting. It is not “dung-splattered”. It has a lump of elephant dung used as an element of the painting. It is a mixed media of sculpture and painting by using three dimensional elements in a 2-D forum. It is not like he took a bucket of feces, used a brush, and splashed it all over the Mona Lisa.

Sadly, there probably would be a reaction calling it racist. I wouldn’t. It might be dumb, ugly, grotesque, silly, lame, confusing, insulting, culturally ambiguous, or just bizarre, but not racist. Though Martin Luther King, Jr., would look pretty funny with breasts, IMO. (That is what the lump of dung is used for.)

And I agree with Arnold, it’s not who it offends, it’s the venue.

And this thread doesn’t belong in this forum. This is for questions on Cecil’s Comments. If you have a general question, take it to General Questions. Or Great Debates.

Sorry, I put the initial post in the wrong place. I won’t do it again. If I could move this one, I would.

There is also another difference. A flag actually used as a flag is, by definition, a political statement, especially when it is officially used by a political body.

That flag, flying where it is, amounts to an official government proclamation: “To Hell with all you niggers an’ nigger-lovin’ Yankees; we wuz right!”

When, oh when will the South have the courage to admit that it was wrong and move on? (Not that the North doesn’t have things just as bad to confess.)

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams


Irishman, you’re probably right. And thanks for the update on the actual nature of the picture. We are too often swayed by sound bites that omit relevant detail and shoot from the hip when we shouldn’t shoot at all.

Truth is never neat and tidy. It comes at you from all directions, when you least expect it, and its shirttails are always hanging out.–Warren Murphy

Whenever I hear about that Virgin Mary painting I think about the Monty Python sketch between the Pope & Michaelangelo:

“Why have you painted the last supper with three Christs?!

“Cause it works mate! The two skinny ones balance out the fat one…”

Funny how everyone mentions the elephant dung in that picture. There are also magazine cutouts of pornography surrounding her.

When you go to that exhibit, its not even close to the most “offensive” piece of art. There’s an exhibit of flies in a glass box, with a cow head, there are mannequins of deformed children with phallic shapes coming out of different orifices, etc.

And you know what? It was a fantastic exhibit.

And if they wanted to add a confederate flag to the exhibit, that seems appropriate :slight_smile:

at least it wouldn’t be hanging over a public institution. Come on, get some class.

Moved to General Questions.