Friday, February 10, 2006

REMEMBER THE LETTER by Zapatero and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in which they condemned the Mohammed cartoons while not uttering a single word of censure for the riots and the death threats? "Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of our democratic systems and we shall never relinquish it. But there are no rights without responsibility and respect for different sensibilities," they wrote.

Well, this piece by a oh-so provocative genius called Oscar Seco is displayed in Arco, the art fair just opened in Madrid. Yes, Madrid, the capital city of the country where Zapatero is the head of government.

No word yet on the need to respect sensibilities. I won't hold my breath.

(The first image comes from daily La Vanguardia; the other three below were taken by my buddy Maromo Surfero)

UPDATE. Reader David Banowsky has a point when he emails: "Just saw your story with the picture of Jesus holding a Phoenix missile. I was commissioned into the U.S. Navy through Aviation Officers Candidate School at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida (remember the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman"). I remember that the chapel on the Naval Air Station had a statue of the Virgin Mary in it holding an F-4 Phantom in her hands (Our Lady of Loretto is the patron saint of aviators). Context and perspective make all the difference."

It certainly does, and I haven't seen the display myself, but knowing what usually happens in this country (where not too long ago a TV showed a short film teaching how to cook a Christ in its crucifix: how to spice it, how to boil it; or where the intelligentzia were crying "Censorship!" when official subsidies were threatened to be withdrawn for a theater play titled "I sh*t on God"), I'm pretty safe assuming that the context is not like the one in Pensacola. Not by a long shot.

As I've said many times before, I'm not a believer, but I know when I see a religious offence and more than that, I know when I see a double standard by people who say that we should respect artistic freedom when one religion is mocked and also say that the Mohammed cartoons are an intolerable offence to people's religious beliefs.

UPDATE II (Feb 11). Hey, it's an AIM-54 Phoenix! (via Chip)

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