The June 13 edition of the San Francisco Examiner ran a story on an art display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art featuring the work of Robert Gober. The exhibition, which runs through September 5, was described by the newspaper as being “queer in both senses of the word,” an obvious reference to the homosexual credentials of Mr. Gober and the decidedly queer nature of his work.
What angered the Catholic League was the anti-Catholic, and fraudulent, aspect of one of Gober’s queer creations. Sitting on top of a pile of recycled newspapers is a copy of the New York Times from July 19, 1992, with the headline, “Vatican Condones Discrimination Against Homosexuals,” written by Peter Steinfels; pictured below the column is a picture of Gober dressed as a bride for a department store ad. A Lexis-Nexis search for the New York Times column in question revealed that no such article by that name appeared on July 19, 1992. But on July 18, 1992, there was a piece by Peter Steinfels entitled “Vatican Condones Gay-Rights Limit.” Moreover, the text is identical to the one that appears in the Gober display.
We let the press know our thoughts on this matter with the following news release:
“By altering the headline from this New York Times article, Gober shows that he is not only a bigot, but a dishonest one at that. Such deliberate misrepresentation might be grounds for a lawsuit by the Times, but given that newspaper’s fawning over Gober’s work, it is doubtful (in fairness to Mr. Steinfels, he is an excellent journalist not deserving of such a hoax).
“This just goes to show that zealots will lie, cheat and steal to get their message across. Anyone familiar with the politics that drives these maniacs knows that truth has always been Enemy Number 1, and this explains their hatred of the Catholic Church. Nothing queer about understanding that.”