Thursday, May 19, 2005[posted by jaed at 12:47 AM]
An irreverent thought experiment
A semi-famous artist places a copy of the Koran in a glass jar, fills the jar with his urine, photographs the result, and calls the work "Piss Prophet". It is exhibited and written up, the suddenly no-longer-"semi"-famous artist is interviewed by the most prestigious media outlets, and a world media storm ensues.
What happens next?
- Devout Muslims writing angry letters to the editor in protest of the insult to their religion?
- Preachers calling for the shunning of the artist, who tells them to stuff it?
- Editorial expressions of alarm about the growing trend toward censorship of art?
- Lengthy articles praising the work as an exciting and transgressive response to contemporary events?
- Condemnation of Muslims, by the great and the good, for intolerance?
- Devout Muslims storming buildings, rioting, and killing in protest of the insult to their religion?
- Preachers calling for the murder of the artist, who seeks police protection?
- Editorial expressions of alarm about the growing trend toward religious bigotry?
- Lengthy articles condemning the work as an ugly and tasteless response to contemporary events?
- Condemnation of Americans, by the great and the good, for insensitivity?
(This is an experiment that of course will not be carried out; there are doubtless artists with bad enough taste to do it, but I doubt there are any who want the fate of Theo van Gogh.)