December 06, 2007
Does your right to puke make me sick?
I already know about it. I lived in the Bay Area for nearly 30 years, and in San Francisco for 3 years. Not that the Folsom stuff is my thing, but it's there for people who are into it. Most people who aren't into things like S&M stay away from the Folsom Street Fair, but if you go there, you know what to expect. I had a little fun (always a bad thing, I guess...) photoshopping Che and Osama together at the event:
Shocking? I don't know. I'm not shocked. But by the way the Matt Barber CWFA people talk, I am immoral in not being shocked. All moral people should be shocked. Outraged, even.
But most importantly, they must do as Matt Barber advises, and go here to look at dirty pictures!
There's nothing new in the complaints about gay sex, but I'm fascinated by the argument that things like nudity and heterosexual S&M are somehow biblically condemned. I'm also intrigued by the claim that evoking da Vinci's Last Supper constitutes "blasphemy":
. In addition to the nudity and public sex acts, there were public whippings and spankings. Some were held at booths: the AIDS Emergency Fund was hawking charity spankings for $5 each -- and others apparently occurring spontaneously, if you can say that about an act of consensual, "erotic" violence. We witnessed one man whipping his "partner" on a sidewalk, the "whippee's" back becoming a brighter red with each round of punishment -- done out of love, we are told by the sadists.Let's start with the allegedly blasphemous image:
Clearly, it's evocative of the Last Supper, which is one of the most famous paintings of all time. To a Muslim, the Last Supper would be blasphemous in itself, and it might be to certain Christians who might believe it constitutes a graven image.
But is a take-off on a Renaissance painting blasphemy? Should Nancy Pelosi condemn it? I don't know. Did she condemn the Mohammad cartoons?
Perhaps that's not a fair comparison, because the Folsom supper does not represent anyone to be Jesus or his disciples. The black man in the center does not look at all like Jesus, there's no food on the table, the vaulted interior is completely different architecturally from the da Vinci interior, and there also appear to be three women. It's an S&M-oriented scene, with potential players sitting around in poses suggestive of a Renaissance painting.
I checked into the blasphemy statutes, and I don't think any prosecutor would have much of a case. Take Massachusetts, with the toughest blasphemy law in the country:
Section 36. Whoever willfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, His creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than oneYou have to expose to ridicule the holy word in the holy scriptures. If we assume that the Folsom image exposes the painting to ridicule (and does it do that?), is the ridicule of the painting the ridicule of the holy word? I don't see how, and my appreciation of da Vinci's Last Supper is not diminished in the least by that ad. I don't see how it would be. If the above constitutes blasphemy, then so does Monty Python's Life of Brian, and so do a lot of other things. (What's especially interesting about the blasphemy statute is that it would apparently criminalize creation denial.... Not that it's constitutional, but things don't have to be constitutional to be fascinating.)
Blasphemy subject touches on something else which has long fascinated and puzzles me. Crucifixion involved stripping the prisoner naked, which was part of the punishment. Yet depicting a naked Jesus on the cross would most likely be considered an act of blasphemy. Why? Because it's blasphemy? Or because people wouldn't like it?
I don't honestly know why. I do try to write about things that are not clear in the hope of making sense out of them, but it does not always work, and sometimes I stare at these posts and I'm more puzzled than I was before I started writing them.
But what fascinates and puzzles me me even more than the blasphemy charge is the recurrent complaint -- by the anti-homosexual web site -- about the presence of heterosexuals at the Folsom Street Fair:
And we witnessed many "master-slave" "couples," one leading the other around with a dog collar, of both the homosexual and heterosexual variety. The Folsom Street Fair began as an event mainly for homosexual sadomasochists, but it now attracts many straights, as evidenced by the thousands of women visible at this year's event.There's also this:
Man leads bare-breasted female slave "partner" around by a dog collar. It appears that in recent years, heterosexual perverts have joined their "gay" brethren at the "fair" in increasing numbers. Talk about a setback for women's rights ... On the flip side, women were also seen leading around their male "slaves" at the twisted "fair" (see photo below).Actually, I've heard complaints from gays that the thing has been so taken over by straights that it really shouldn't be called a gay event. But this is hardly the sort of complaint I ever expected to see coming from anti-gay activists.
So, while I'm puzzled by their concerns, I have to ask, why shouldn't "straight" people attend? (Hey, I put the word in quotes because like "gay" it's not clinical.) Seriously, there's nothing about S&M which is particularly homosexual in nature; if you're the kind of person who's turned on by spanking or whipping, that would seem to complement -- not dictate -- your partner preference.
I'm no theologian, but it seems to me that from a biblical perspective, it does not follow that a condemnation of "lying with a man as a woman" is a condemnation of spanking or whipping. There may be passages elsewhere in the Bible that could be interpreted as condemning spanking or whipping, but then again, there may not. If there were, then why would so many religious conservatives be in favor of spanking? Because it's not for pleasure? What's the rule, then? Is it "good" when it hurts, but "bad" when it feels good?
Anyone who can point to an explanation in the Bible, I'm all ears. I think what's going on is that the web site that links the pictures and the video is using them to boost traffic, while condemning what they're using. Have your spanking and condemn it too. Can I say "spare the rod and spoil it too" or would that be disrespectful?
Well, suppose we assume the whole thing is disrespectful in the extreme. Nauseating, even. I'm not turned on by it at all, and if someone wanted to whip me and put those dreadful nipple clamps on me, my feelings would be the antithesis of sexual. Not quite as bad as asking me to eat a turd, but headed in that general direction.
I suppose that some people have the extreme "yuck" reaction to S&M, whether gay or straight. But so what? Such reactions are a little like my reaction to the Zombietime photos taken at another San Francisco event.
I titled the post "I will defend to the death your right to make me vomit!"
And while I'll defend that right -- a right held by vomitees and vomitors alike -- till my last puke, not everything that makes other people want to vomit makes me want to vomit, and the Folsom Street Fair is one of those things. I guess if people want to go there and get sick, then they have every right to get sick, although I think it's silly to be annoyed at people who don't.
So to those like Matt Barber and company, I'd say, go ahead and puke! Why, there's even a First Amendment right to demand that I share the reflex.
But it's unreasonable to expect reciprocal feelings of reverse peristalsis from me.
Don't spank me for not puking, OK?
(I'm saving my barf bag for the election.)
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!
Nothing further on Pelosi and the Last Supper, but I think it might make an interesting PhotoShop. (No disrespect to God or Leonardo intended.)
Comments always appreciated.
MORE: Regarding the comments, below, how might the Biblical passage appearing to forbid all violence in the home be applied to the spanking issue? And, while spanking typically isn't consensual in nature, why wouldn't consensual spanking be less of an offense?
What about consensual religious chastisement (i.e. the flagellants, which included many saints)?
Is there a Biblical reason why this behavior is saintly, while the same activities are unwholesome on Folsom?
posted by Eric on 12.06.07 at 11:45 AM
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