Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, February 01, 2008

From Plato's "Republic" to "Plato's Retreat."

Our old pals at William & Mary are at it again.

President Gene Nichol has given the greenlight to the decidedly redlight "Sex Workers Art Show." Again. Last year, Nichol said he felt great pain but was bound (now, now, no snide remarks from the Peanut Gallery) by the First Amendment, which clearly stipulates that feminine looking persons (charity compels me to assume this was a woman) dressed as women religious performing what otherwise would be a particularly unimpressive sword-swallowing routine upon what seems to be a...um...penile prosthetis be allowed and subsidized.

To the accompaniment of Schubert's Ave Maria.

Now, for some reason, this is considered by Today's Bright Young Things to be art. I'm sure in the salons of the Uppah West Side, the Castro district or points similar, or in discussions among expatriates therefrom, we might often hear things such as "Ah, but did you see Candi's performance as Sr. Fellatrix in '06? Sublime, I tell you. Her choice of the 'Ave Maria' from the Fantasia soundtrack is inspired. Sure, Traci and "Jiggles" tried, but they simply didn't have the consummate skill to do justice to this piece. Nobody could ever replicate the nuance and humanity of her performance. Well, not without $50 and a nearby motel, at any rate."

The curious thinking of the "useful idiots" in the student population is that such a show brings awareness to the sex industry. Why an industry that survives and thrives on the strength of people looking at it nonstop needs to have attention drawn to it has yet to be adequately addressed. I would have thought this is no different than saying that what Oprah Winfrey needs is someone willing to give her some start-up funding.

Anyway, in what is rapidly becoming Nichol's annual painful bondage (ladies and gentlemen, please) to the First Amendment (at least as defined by his fellow travelers) he has reluctantly and amid great discomfort given his assent again. While not actually explaining why it would censorship to say "Feel free to do this, just do so elsewhere" (such as, say, ecdysiast venues) or why it violates the First Amendment to say "We're not paying for this" he did offer up that bound-and-pain thing as a palliative. He also asserts this show is "offensive" and reminds us that on this issue, he is deeply pained, and yet bound. He didn't actually add that he "has been a bad boy, a very naughty boy...and naighty boys deserve discipline, oh yes...strict displine."

It seems to my -- utterly provincial, sure -- mind rather incomprehensible that such an infamous location as Times Square & 42nd Street seem to have a more stringent definition of obscenity than the College of William & Mary, 2nd oldest in the USA. Or that art is something that resembles what Saddam Hussein's connoisseur sons held in great (and frequent) regard. Or resembles that for which you can be billed discreetly to your mobile phone statement.

Naturally, something borne of such a paucity of thought cannot end there without ever more impressively ridiculous devolutions. It turns out that at this "No Censorship Here!" zone cameras will not be allowed. Stop and let the matter sink in for a moment. The argument goes this is for the protection of the Sex Workers (the sex amateurs be hanged) and....possibly for the protection of the DVD and new media income streams, copyrights and all ancillary intellectual property and merchanising rights. The good news, then, is that W&M does not host such events because of any moral torpor, it does so because it simply hasn't the sense God gave a Buick.

Perhaps if this were real art and a valuable legacy of W&M's past it could be gathering much dust under plexiglass in a corner. Like certain other items equally offensive to Gene Nichol.

-J.

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