Ants walking on a crucifix in a 30-second video David Wojnarowicz made to honor his dead lover, photographer Peter Hujar, has been called "hate speech" by the Catholic League, and as a result the Smithsonian has removed it from their Hide/Seek exhibit. (Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor also complained.) As Blake Gopnik writes in today's Washington Post: "Now the NPG, and the Smithsonian Institution it is part of, look set to come off as cowards."
"Of course, it's pretty clear that this has almost nothing to do with religion. Eleven seconds of an ant-covered crucifix? Come on.
"This fuss is about the larger topic of the show: Gay love, and images of it. The headline that ran over coverage of the matter on the right-wing Web site CNSnews.com mentioned the crucifix - but as only one item in a list of the exhibition's "shockers" that included "naked brothers kissing, genitalia and Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts." (Through a bra, one might note, in an image that's less shocking than many moves by Lady Gaga.) The same site decries "a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show's catalog as 'homoerotic'. "
"The attack is on gayness, and images of it, more than on sacrilege - even though, last I checked, many states are sanctioning gay love in marriage, and none continue to ban homosexuality.
"And the Portrait Gallery has given into this attack."
(The image is Hujar's portrait of Wojnarowicz, not the video removed.)