Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thankfully, no "Mohammed Cartoons"

Sir Nicholas Serota heads a list of eminent museum directors, curators and historians who have signed a petition against the prosecution of Henry-Claude Cousseau, a French colleague who has been accused of exhibiting child pornography as art. ... His alleged crime is staging an exhibition of provocative and explicit images, including a painting by Gary Gross of a young girl in a bath, heavily made-up and looking seductive, a video piece by Elke Krystufek, in which a girl performed a graphic masturbation scene, and photographs by Annette Messager of young children with their eyes scratched out. ...

“We wish to express our dismay at this attack on the artistic and curatorial freedom of expression and offer our unconditional support for Henry-Claude Cousseau in the present circumstances, together with the exhibition curators Marie-Laure Bernadac (a curator at the Louvre) and Stéphanie Moisdon (an art critic).”


Very commendable. And where was the "art world" during the Danish cartoon controversy? Or when Theo van Gogh got skewered for producing a movie about radical Islam? And just what exactly is the test, not for defining pornography, but detecting whether "artistic freedom" is under attack? What dark visions do they see who do not feel their chains?


Blogger allen said...


Your question is undoubtedly rhetoric. You know well, the defense of pornography (or in this case the sick sexual abuse of children) will be fought to the death.

It is at such times that one begins to see the hand of divine retribution at work in the West. Interesting and ironic, Assyria and Babylon were the instruments of G-ds wrath in an earlier age.

Just sayin'. Otherwise, I would appear hopelessly anachronistic.

12/06/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allen said, "It is at such times that one begins to see the hand of divine retribution at work in the West."

Allen, Catholics believe that God's retribution was perfectly satisfied by the death of His only Son on the cross, so He doesn't do the Sodom and Gommorah thing anymore.

12/06/2006 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: his Son

Sometimes you sorely tempt me.

12/06/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


I have to hand it to you. You have good faith.

However, I fear God's angels are constantly scouring the earth for 10 good people and too many people are caught up in their own little pleasure trips and want to bugger the angels (or outsource the assistance) instead of helping them.

Revelations states God will come back and those who there will be a great accounting. Many don't believe in the litteral translation but most believe sooner or later we will be be making an accounting.

I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault (all strike their breast)
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
The sacrifice of Calvary is our redemption but its not something we can take for granted.

12/06/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wretchard wrote, "Sir Nicholas Serota heads a list of eminent museum directors, curators and historians who have signed a petition against the prosecution of Henry-Claude Cousseau, a French colleague who has been accused of exhibiting child pornography as art."

Oh, really, did he depict the nine year old wife of Mohammed on her wedding night, or would that be "hate speech" like the Danish cartoons again?

12/06/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

From the Book Timothy by Alamo-Girl and betty boop
as posted at FreeRepublic

Western civilization is the unique product of an astonishing synthesis of faith and reason. The roots of Western order can be traced back to three historical cities: Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. Each of these cites in its time of maximum flourishing was the scene of tremendous spiritual and intellectual outbursts that transformed the world of their day, and which continue to shape the Western mind in modern times. Indeed, their lasting influence is unparalleled in human history, giving rise to the magnificent achievements of systematic science, of advanced modern technology; of the flourishing of the arts and literature, of philosophy and theology, of political theory; and of widespread economic prosperity.

Consider the experience of the United States of America. The United States is unique in the historical community of nations because it is the only sovereign nation whose founding was sui generis: self-created in a single act. This act was the ratification of the United States Constitution, completed on June 21, 1788.

The Framers of the Constitution believed — they had faith — that their construction was eminently reasonable. You can see that in the constitutional architecture they designed, evident in the separation and balance of powers, of the ubiquitous checks and balances built into the system, so to disperse the consolidation of lawless power over a people who would be free. They had such confidence in their idea of ordered liberty that it is now fashionable to regard them as “children of the Enlightenment.”

This characterization is fair but incomplete. What is frequently overlooked in our own day is the fact, made plain in the Declaration of Independence, that the Framers were the brilliant inheritors of a tradition far older than that of the Enlightenment philosophes of 18th-century Europe — which was a “spiritual outburst,” too, though evidently of a different sort. For the philosophes seem to have been dedicated to the project of moving the universe from a God-centered to a man-centered conceptual framework.

For the Framers, human reason itself was understood as a gift of God. Such men as Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Jay, Hamilton et al. believed that God is the Creator of the universe, and of man; and that God made man imago Dei, “in his image”; that is, possessing reason and free will as his natural birthright. On this understanding the Framers believed that the human person is innately endowed with certain inalienable rights — preeminently life, liberty, and the “pursuit of happiness” … — that may not be violated, abridged, nor tampered with by any other man or temporal authority with impunity. The heritage of Jerusalem and Athens — Judeo-Christian theology, together with its appropriation and synthesis of classical metaphysics — is the philosophical rock on which the Constitution was built.

The Framers and their generation were also people of faith. It took a whole lot of sheer faith to forge a new nation conceived in Liberty, one dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal because they are all equally the children of God.

And thus the idea of a dynamic rule of law of, by, and for a sovereign people under a system of equal justice for all men, not an arbitrary rule of kings exercising their authority over other (unequal) men “by divine right,” was born.

The Framers — and the educated public of their time — were people of faith and reason. By their time reason had been definitively formed from ancient and classical sources, preeminently by classical Greek philosophy, principally by Plato and Aristotle.…

… Plato and Aristotle set the very foundations of modern science, from roughly the fourth century before the coming of Christ. Before them such notable pre-Socratic natural philosophers as Democritus and Heraclitus were already speculating about some of the greatest questions of science that are still being investigated today; i.e., atomic theory and thermodynamics respectively.

Educated people of the time of the American founding resonated to other sublime sources from the ancient world as well, that is to the Holy Scriptures above all, and also to the great epics, myths, tragedies, and histories (Israelite, Greek, and Roman) whose essential concern was ever the human person and his condition, understood as universal to all men and women of all times.

Rome early in its history was organized according to republican principles, and flourished. Yet historically literate Americans of the founding period well understood how fragile republics can be, when their people fail to uphold the norms, values, and ethics that conduce to the republican ideal and thus to human liberty: When these fail, tyranny must follow. Rome — and Athens, too — are the classical object lessons of how great societies, great human cultures, great political orders, fail and fall, with all the disorder that inevitably follows in the human sphere when such catastrophes occur.

The Framers in their time were vitally attentive to new developments in philosophy and science then breaking in Europe. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin was regarded in Europe as well as America as one of the leading scientists of his day. Still one imagines these gentlemen might have taken the following observation of the brilliant French mathematician Marquis Pierre-Simon de Laplace (1749–1827) with a grain of salt:

“Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective positions of the beings which compose it, if moreover this intelligence were vast enough to submit these data to analysis … to it nothing would be uncertain, and the future as the past would be present to its eyes.”

The Framers to a man might have thought: This Laplace desires to ascend to the very throne of God himself. For the “observer” he describes must be divine to instantaneously comprehend “all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective positions of the beings which compose it,” let alone possess an intellect vast enough to submit all such data “to analysis.”

The Framers, however, well understood that men were men, flawed mortals — not angels, let alone omniscient gods. They believed, in the full light of reason, in the dignity and sanctity of the individual, and that a rule of equal justice under divine law is indispensable to the thriving of free human beings, and to the free political and social communities and institutions that free human beings are enabled to form together for the common good.

Evidently Laplace believed that once the human mind was freed of superstition, then human knowledge could become exact, “objective,” and thus certain. Yet in order for there to be “certainty” of human knowledge, it would be necessary for the human observer to magically detach himself from his necessary condition as part and participant in the universal whole, so to find some “Archimedean point” outside the universe from which to view the totality of all that exists as if he were completely independent of it. In effect such an observer, or “intelligence,” would have to escape the constraints of four-dimensional space-time entirely in order to occupy such a vantage point.

But such a goal must be unmet, for it is strictly impossible: We never can step outside the universe so to view it entire in all its contingent, ceaseless flux. Furthermore, the operations of the human mind itself are irremovable participating events in the structure that we observe.

Laplace’s model of the universe was mechanistic, a clockwork universe. He took his cues from Newtonian mechanics, but apparently thought that Sir Isaac Newton’s theological speculations were irrelevant to problems in science. This in all likelihood was simply an unwarranted dismissal on Laplace’s part, of things that weren’t relevant for him, given his aims.

Newton himself evidently thought that the physical laws were elucidations of divine intent with respect to creation: It was this belief that principally motivated his search for the fundamental physical laws. Later he worried about increases in natural disorder occasioned by the regular operation of the mechanical laws he had discovered, thinking that God might have to step in every now and then to set things aright again in the natural world. Newton’s reveries on these matters seemingly are not recalled in modern scientific textbooks.

Unfortunately, it seems the roots of Western — and American — civilizational order are not much taught in any systematic way these days, neither in the taxpayer-funded public schools nor in the colleges and universities. Instead, it seems a Laplacean style of thought — logical positivism — is relentlessly promulgated, which seeks to rationalize all of nature by presuming it to be wholly physical and mechanistic, thereby draining it of metaphysical or spiritual extensions or implications. In this way it is thought that science can attain complete “objectivity.”

And yet as Dean Overman has pointed out, “complete objectivity in science is an illusion.” To say that all of nature is reducible to accidental material causes is itself a metaphysical or spiritual statement, belief in which is in essence an act of faith. Yet this is a statement that must be made, if we are to dispense with what Laplace called “the ‘God’ hypothesis,” of which he confidently claimed he had no need at all: Reason, logic, and the materialist presupposition are all that is required to unlock the secrets of nature.

But as noted, this is a faith statement, not a scientific one. A practical question instantly arises: If the universe is material and essentially accidental in its origin and evolution, then how do we account for logic and reason? If logical thinking is an accident, then how can we depend on it to be trustworthy? And if logic is not trustworthy, then how can we regard science itself as trustworthy, since it is preeminently a grand edifice raised on the foundations of logic and reason?

What Laplace’s methodology mainly boils down to is the denigration of faith, the assertion that it be regarded as an obstacle on the path of valid knowledge. As if faith and reason could ever really be separated: Indeed, Laplace couldn’t separate them even in his own case.

Thus we think that faith and reason ought best to be understood as mutually complementary, not as mutually exclusive. This understanding is the fundamental thesis of this book.

12/06/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Speaking of programs that collate lots of information as discussed in the NY Times/ Blogs -- there's a movie out that I want to see this weekend called DeJa Vu about some strange stuff in New Orleans.

12/06/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: retribution

While niggling, the Church fathers were pretty sure the Black Death was divine retribution.

12/06/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Also Mel Gibson's Apocalypto looks good. The human sacrifice depicted in Apocolypto was typical of all peoples of the earth at one time from Europe to Asia, Africa to the Americas to Melonesia and Micronesia. The great practical accomplishment of Jesus was to abolish human sacrifice all over the globe.

fyi imho a civilization that's based on a "man-centered conceptual framework" will eventually result in human sacrifice because all sin is paid for.

The question is who does the paying. If people stop believing that Jesus paid for --or propitiated -- their sins then some other sacrifice or expiation will have to do.

12/06/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Of such is the state of Man.
Marvelous, nonetheless

12/06/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charles said, "The question is who does the paying. If people stop believing that Jesus paid for --or propitiated -- their sins then some other sacrifice or expiation will have to do."

Holding that in mind, I wonder, Charles, if you believe in the death penalty..."life for life" as declared in the Law of Moses (or even to Noah in Genesis 9:6) or has the ordinance whereby a man atones for murder in his own blood been nailed to the cross per Colossians 2:14?

12/06/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allen said, "While niggling, the Church fathers were pretty sure the Black Death was divine retribution."


Good night, Allen and we'll hit it again tomorrow, if G-d is willing and the creeks don't rise.

12/06/2006 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Woman Catholic said...

Charles said, "The question is who does the paying. If people stop believing that Jesus paid for --or propitiated -- their sins then some other sacrifice or expiation will have to do."

Holding that in mind, I wonder, Charles, if you believe in the death penalty..."life for life" as declared in the Law of Moses (or even to Noah in Genesis 9:6) or has the ordinance whereby a man atones for murder in his own blood been nailed to the cross per Colossians 2:14?
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Does God Violate His Own Commandment?
by Rich Deem
The sixth commandment is "Thou shall not kill."1 Atheists claim that God
violated His own commandment in ordering the destruction of entire cities, just
to allow the Jews to have a homeland in the Middle East. The Bible confirms that
God ordered the killing of thousands of people. Isn't this an open and shut case
for the hypocrisy of the God of the Bible?
Is all killing the same?
One thing you have to love about atheists is their extreme appreciation
for the King James Version (KJV) translation. The KJV was translated in the
early 17th century using an archaic form of modern English. In the last 400 years, English has
changed significantly. Unfortunately, the vast majority those who read the
KJV (both believers and unbelievers) are unqualified to know what the text means
in many instances because of word meaning changes. In attempting to
demonstrate the contradiction of God's commands to Israel and the sixth
commandment, atheist cite the KJV translation, "Thou shalt not kill."
However, like English, Hebrew, the language in which most of the Old
Testament was written, uses different words for intentional vs.
unintentional killing. The verse translated "Thou shalt not kill"
in the KJV translation, is translated "You shall not murder"2 in
modern translations - because these translations represents the real meaning
of the Hebrew text. The Bible in Basic English translates the phrase,
"Do not put anyone to death without cause."2 The Hebrew word used
here is ratsach,3 which nearly always
refers to intentional killing without cause (unless indicated otherwise by
context). Hebrew law recognized accidental killing as not punishable. In fact, specific
cities were designated as "cities of refuge," so that an
unintentional killer could flee to escape retribution.4 The
Hebrew word for "kill" in this instance is not ratsach, but nakah,
which can refer to either premeditated or unintentional killing, depending
upon context.5
Other Hebrew words also can refer to killing.6-8 The
punishment for murder was the death sentence.9
However, to be convicted, there needed to be at least two
Is God's killing justified?
To answer the question whether God breaks His own commandments, we need to
determine if God committed murder (i.e., killed people without cause). The
Bible is quite clear that God has killed people directly (the most prominent
example being the flood) and indirectly (ordered peoples to be killed). If
God ordered or participated in the killing of innocent people, then He would be
guilty of murder. Let's look at two of the most prominent examples.
The flood
According to the Bible, God killed every human except Noah, his wife, his
sons, and their wives in the flood. Were any of these people killed unjustly? The Bible says
specifically that all people (except Noah and his family) had become corrupted.11 Not
only had all people become corrupted, but they were continually plotting
evil!12 Is it possible that an entire culture can
become corrupted? You bet! Recent history proves the point rather well. When the
Nazis took over Germany before WWII, opposition was crushed and removed. When
they began their purging of the undesirables (e.g., the Jews), virtually the
entire society went along with the plan. Further examples are given on another
. So, the Bible indicates that no innocent people were killed in the
God orders killing
What about when God ordered Joshua and his people to kill every man, woman
and child in Canaan?13 What crime could be so great
that entire populations of cities were designated for destruction? God told
Moses that the nations that the Hebrew were replacing were wicked.14
How "wicked" were these people? The text tells us that they were
burning their own sons and daughters in sacrifices to their gods.15
So we see that these people were not really innocent. For these reasons (and
others16), God ordered the destruction of the
peoples whom the Israelites dispossessed.
What about the children and other "innocents"
Surely God could have spared the children! People tend to assume that
children are innocent, even if their parents are doing bad things. The
assumption is unfounded. For example, Palestinian Muslim children are officially
taught in grammar school to hate their Jewish neighbors.17 They are so well indoctrinated that
some of them give up their lives in suicide bombings as children.18
Corruption literally does breed corruption, which is why God did not want the
Hebrews tainted by the other corrupt cultures of the Middle East.
Surely there must have been other innocent adults in those cities who were destroyed with
the wicked! There actually is an example of a time when God was asked if He
would destroy the innocent along with the wicked. Prior to destroying Sodom and
Gomorrah, Abraham asked God if He would destroy the righteous along with the
wicked.19 God replied that He would spare the
entire city for 50 righteous people.20 Abraham kept
reducing the possible number of righteous people, asking God if He would destroy
the entire city along with those number of righteous people.21
God's reply in each case was that He would not destroy the righteous along with
the wicked. The lowest number Abraham asked about was ten righteous people,
although the answer would likely be the same with as few as one righteous
individual. How do we know this? God sent two angels to warn the four righteous
people in Sodom to flee before He destroyed the city.22
It is quite convenient that such details are usually left out of atheistic sites
complaining about the "evil" perpetrated by God. In fact, God saved
certain people from being killed in cities such as


The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" is really not as general as
the King James version would indicate. The commandment actually refers to
premeditated, unjustified killing - murder. Although God ordered the
extermination of entire cities, He did so in righteous judgment on a people
whose corruption had led to extreme wickedness, including child sacrifice. Did
God destroy the righteous along with the wicked? In an exchange with Abraham,
God indicated that He would spare the wicked to save the righteous. He
demonstrated this principle by saving righteous people from Sodom and Jericho
prior to their destruction. The charge that God indiscriminately murdered people
does not hold to to critical evaluation of the biblical texts.

12/06/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


Paraphrasing Twain, "You are as confident as a Baptist with five aces."
Sleep well.

12/06/2006 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...

Well, I'm pretty sure Sir Nick will win if his case goes before the UN. Child exploitation, especially of the sexual variety, is a perennial favorite there.

Unfortunately, my disgust capacitor overloaded and blew out about '04. I can only muster a lukewarm shrug and a sigh. Yes, they are cowardly nihilists with no sense of any good beyond their own personal 15 minutes of fame or infamy... but we knew that already. It's like cursing the snake for biting you.

12/07/2006 12:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobalharb said, "I object to the word 'only' in WC's post."

"...the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father; through him all things were made...."

12/07/2006 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

bobalbarb and WC,

I feel a Nicene moment coming. As at Nicea, all the difference is found in the use or non-use of one little word. Good luck, if you two go "there". You will need it.

12/07/2006 06:14:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

What a bounty, in THIS Day, to know that God has sent The Father.

12/07/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! What a whole lot of BS that has nothing to do with the post!

Where were the curators and artists when the embassies were being burned, when Theo Van Gogh was being murdered for his film, when the old nun was being murdered because the pope insulted Islam?

They were marching under banners saying "Out of Afghanistan Now!" and "Out of Iraq Now" and "End Israeli Apartheid Now" and all kinds of crap like that. That's where they were, with their thumbs up their bums, their heads in the sand, "thinking" their "deep thought"s about who really took down the WTC.

Anyway, the art defended is defended because it's considered to be "transgressive" and everything labelled so must be defended on the princliple that anything that does not transgress does not need protection under freedom of speech laws. It's hard to rebut that, Wretchard, but I'm grateful that you've done the next best thing, and that's to point out the blatant hypocrisy in allowing what transgresses our own codes while failing to defend films, books, cartoons that transgresses codes that others would impose upon us with even less legitimacy than we ourselves have to govern our own behaviour.

12/07/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

One man's BS is another's creed. That's what makes the world go round and makes it possible to judge from one perspective the antagonists in Wretchard's thread. The loss of this ability in the West is the cause of the public's impotence in the face of such provocation.

Where there is no law, there is no sin.

12/07/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger clint said...

How, how, how is:

"a video piece by Elke Krystufek, in which a girl performed a graphic masturbation scene"

not child pornography???

12/07/2006 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


I have no problem with your construct. St. Paul would, however.

12/07/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There is no law without enforcement

12/07/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bobalharb said, "I will never take up arms gainst WC over a word, and that's the truth, I like her too much."

Oh bobalharb, you've been reading too much Iraq Surrender Group.

12/07/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

cjr said...

"Where there is no law, there is no sin. "

"Where there is no sin, there is no reason for law"
Where there is no money there is no inflation.

Where there is no inflation, there is no reason for money.

Neither of the propositions about money is correct because you can have inflation in a barter economy. In fact it happens all the time.

12/07/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Europe believes in nothing worth fighting to the "death" about, that is the point. They don't believe in fighting at all. Not when the enemy can actually kill them or require actual killing. That's grunt work, peasant work, not worth the aristocracy getting their hands dirty over.

12/10/2006 09:20:00 AM  

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