The Brooklyn Museum is in hot water with Republicans for its new exhibit about the experience of gays and lesbians in American art, called “Hide/Seek.” The museum decided to include in the show A Fire In My Belly, a compilation of video footage by the late artist David Wojnarowicz exploring the suffering of people with HIV/AIDS. That same film was ultimately pulled from an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery last year to placate Republicans and social conservatives.
Now, in what seems like a case of deja vu all over again, Right Wing Watch reports Republican politicians in New York are attacking the Brooklyn Museum for hosting the exhibit and demanding they censor the film:
While the Brooklyn Museum is defending itself from censorship proponents, Republican politicians are beginning to make threats against the museum. Republican state senator Andrew Lanza introduced legislation to have the government withdraw “all public funding of the museum”:
“It is outrageous for an institution that accepts funding from city, state and federal governments to display content that is so blatantly disrespectful and offensive to Christians during the holiday season,” said Senator Andrew Lanza. “Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for hatred and ignorance.”
Senator Lanza believes that the actions of the Museum are analogous to a hate crime. He is calling for all public funding of the museum to be withdrawn.
Lanza did not explain how simply showing a film is similar to a “hate crime,” or why illustrating the suffering of people with HIV/AIDS is “disrespectful and offensive” to Christians in particular. Rep. Michael Grimm, Councilman James Oddo, Councilman Vincent Ignizio, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, Assemblyman Lou Tobacco and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro have all signed on to a letter calling the film “sacrilegious” for depicting ants crawling on a crucifix. “This is not art, this is Christian-bashing,” they wrote, pointing out that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) both advocated for censoring the film last year.
In their crusade against the “offensive” film, these New York politicians find themselves working with some pretty offensive bedfellows. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League led the charge to censor the film at the Smithsonian exhibit last year, and is ramping up his gay-bashing rhetoric to condemn the Brooklyn Museum.
In a statement, Donohue attacks the film’s creator, saying he got what he deserved by dying of AIDS. “The fact is that the artist who made the vile video died of self-inflicted wounds: he died of AIDS,” Donohue writes. “The homosexual, David Wojnarowicz, hated the Catholic Church (had he lived by its teachings, he would not have self-destructed.”