In the October 11 editions of The New Yorker and New York, contrasting perspectives on the Brooklyn Museum of Art controversy are offered. Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker sees the dung-stained and pornographic-studded “The Holy Virgin Mary” as “gorgeous, sweet, and respectful of its subject”; he is taken by its alleged artistic merit and does not believe that the artist, Chris Ofili, meant his work to be sacrilegious. But Mark Stevens inNew York sees it differently: he chastises Ofili for not coming up “with something better than elephant dung for a desecration.” Stevens suggests, “Wouldn’t bat droppings or goat semen be preferable?”
Catholic League president William Donohue made his thoughts known on the two commentaries today:
“If I had been asked a month ago where to find someone who thought it a reverential tribute to throw feces on a religious painting and surround it with pictures of vaginas and anuses, I would have directed him to an asylum. Now I would offer him the option of visiting the offices of The New Yorker.
“But if The New Yorker’s take on ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’ is bizarre, the position of New York is certifiably bigoted. When it is said that Our Blessed Mother is ‘every good boy’s dream,’ no one can understand that without calling it anti-Catholic.
“The comment that ‘bat droppings’ and ‘goat semen’ would be ‘preferable’ to elephant dung on ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’ proves how deep-seated is New York’s hatred of Catholicism. That New York admits that this painting constitutes ‘desecration’ shows that it is more in touch with reality than The New Yorker, but it also shows that New York has bigots on its payroll.
“The New Yorker’s capacity for self-deception cannot be underrated, but it is still preferable to New York’s sponsorship of hate speech.”