Defacing Mona Lisa

mona lisa

In a school, the students were given paper copies of the Mona Lisa, and were then apparently told to spruce up her face with cutouts from magazines. Upon passing these projects hanging in the hall, I was privy to this exchange:

Elementary/Primary School Teacher 1:  “I can’t believe they’re defacing the Mona Lisa like that.”

Elementary/Primary School Teacher 2:  “I know. It’s a disgrace.”

Elementary/Primary School Teacher 3:  “It’s a complete disgrace.”

All right, first we will enjoy a hearty chortle, and then we will get down to business…

My first reaction is to offer any one of these teachers a dollar if they can tell me who painted the Mona Lisa, what year, or where it currently resides.  One dollar, no smart phones.

My next impulse is to find the art room and tell the art teacher.  Perhaps start a district-wide campaign for intelligence via the arts – educating the educators, as it were.  But that’s silly.  I don’t even go to this school.

I was finally struck by the root of the problem.  What those teachers thought they were doing was expressing an opinion respectful of history and society, but what they were really doing was making an expression of ignorance.

First of all, if we’re going to have a problem with this project, shouldn’t we have a greater problem with the fact that we’re Xeroxing historical art, rather than pasting a clipping of Bill Clinton’s nose cut from an old Newsweek Magazine onto it?  It’s a classic dichotomy between making fine art accessible and cheapening it with mass production of duplicates.  Let’s have that conversation.

Additionally, “defacing” art to make art is, within itself, a form of art.  I have two words for you, Elementary/Primary School Teachers 1-3:  Marcel. Duchamp.  Dude took a postcard version of Mona Lisa and drew a moustache and beard on her.  Now it’s famous, international, historical art. Boom.

Lastly, and certainly most importantly, let’s talk about what these kids are learning, simply by pasting Rambo’s headband across the dainty forehead of a da Vinci.  Here is the Mona Lisa – a form.  A construct.  A paradigm of society.  And now cut random shit from a magazine and paste it on her face.

Maybe it seems like a simple project, but what it’s really doing is forcing the students to break down ideas they may have about social construct and how it’s supposed to work.  Today they’re pasting Snooki’s obnoxious cleavage on La Gioconda, tomorrow they’re reconstructing congress in such a way as to serve their people in a more utopian way.  Because you never know what an open mind might lead to.

Or maybe when they go to sleep tonight they will dream about a highly-cleaved Mona Lisa shooting up the school with her John Rambo machine gun and wake up tired in the morning.  It could really go either way.

Constitutionally Gay: Why It’s Okay to Be a Homosexual But Not a Pedophile

The Constitution of the United States is perhaps the single greatest document ever conceived of in the history of human existence.  Specifically it is the Bill of Rights, the amendments added to the constitution before it was ratified, that Americans fight so readily to protect, and what makes the Constitution supreme over all other forms of governing artifact.  Almost the entire document, which spells out the basic human rights that the Declaration of Independence holds to be “self-evident,” can be summed up thusly:  you have the right to think, say, believe and do whatever the hell you want, as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of anyone else.

As an example we’ll start with a longtime favorite:  the right to bear arms.  You can own a gun.  You can own several guns.  You can have in your home your very own arsenal, comprised of varying types of firearms in any different number of sizes, calibers, colors, and designed for any range of purposes.

But what you can’t do is rummage through your gun collection, pick up your favorite nine millimeter, and go pop a cap into the first random blonde you see filling out her Powerball ticket at the Seven Eleven’s lotto counter.  To do so would be a violation of the blonde’s inalienable right to life.  So, while you do have the right to own a gun, you do not have the right to shoot people with said gun.  Unless another person has broken into your home, or in some other way is directly threatening your life, to shoot another person is infringing on their rights, therefore making the act criminal, and unconstitutional at its essence.

For the past many years, there has been a strong push in the United States to criminalize homosexuality.  Most of this push has been made on moral grounds, rooted in claims found in religious texts; statistically, we can assume that the majority of the morally-based push to criminalize homosexuality has come from claims found in the Christian bible, since most of the US population identifies with a Christian sect of some kind.

On the other hand, some of this push has been made purely on a level of discomfort; if homosexuality is illegal then it will stop, and the discomfort I am feeling will go away.  No matter what the reason, the movement exists to make two men smoochin’ a crime.  But the fact of the matter is, there is nothing unconstitutional about being a homosexual or practicing homosexuality, and therefore it is impossible to criminalize it.

It is important to understand that laws are not based on morality.  (If that were the case, most tax law would have to be eliminated.)  So, for the sake of this argument, let us assume that practicing homosexuality is a choice of moral disgrace – that it is irrefutably immoral to be a homosexual or engage in any homosexual act of any kind.  We are going to take off the table the idea that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle.  Since this is going to be purely an argument of legality, and not one of virtue, let’s just default the moral stance to “shame on you.”

If two men or two women choose to engage in sexual acts together, the result of those actions is that those individuals will be sent directly to hell after an untimely death.  Ten points to God.  However, they still cannot be accused of doing anything unconstitutional.

As explored before, the Constitution of the United States protects the freedoms of Americans, and Americans are free to do whatever they please as long as they are not infringing on the rights of anyone else.  Americans are free to engage in any immoral act they want without fear of reprise from their government.

An American may take the Lord’s name in vain right in front of the chief of police, and not a thing can be done about it.  An American may worship false idols on his own front lawn – he may even teach his children to do the same thing, and his vote will still count in every election.  We can lie to our mothers.  We can call out sick from work and go to Six Flags instead.  We can eat cheeseburgers – oh yes, milk and meat at once.  We have the freedom to make these choices, regardless of whether they are cosmically good for our souls or bad.

What is important in this scenario is the right of the homosexual American.  When a woman meets another woman and they decide to start a lesbian relationship, they are entering this relationship as two consenting adults.  These people are protected, under the rights of the Constitution, to make the choice to do that, even if it is morally wrong and even if upon their deaths they will burn in hell for all eternity.

If their friends and neighbors are concerned for the well being of their everlasting souls, they can send them copies of Watchtower, but they cannot make a law criminalizing their choices.  That would be a violation of their constitutional rights since their choice to be in a relationship together does not violate the rights of anyone else.  And if seeing those women sucking face on the corner of 21st and Broad streets in bright daylight makes you uncomfortable, well, sorry to say but you will just have to look the other way; comfort is not covered by the constitution as a basic human right.

The major way that the American people are attempting to make criminal homosexual relationships is by banning marriages between same-sex couples.  The first thing that is important to note is that legal marriages in the United States are performed either by a Justice of the Peace (you know, a judge) or through a religious institution.

The first amendment protects freedom of religion, so even when same-sex marriage is legal in every state, any and every religious institution has the right to deny performing same-sex marriages in their own institution.  It is their right, as expressed by the constitution, to practice their religion freely, and not be forced to sanctify an unholy union.

(On the other hand, if any church engaged in human sacrifice, we would surely bring charges against that.  I’m just sayin’.)

The status of “married” effects so many aspects of our lives, in meaningful and practical ways:  the way a person will file his taxes and the exemptions he qualifies for, accessibility to health insurance, the rates of his car insurance, the names and accessibility of his bank accounts, changes in credit scores, availability of loan monies – the list goes on and on and on.  To deny a person of access to those privileges by denying them the ability to marry is a form of oppression, and therefore directly infringing on his constitutional rights.

So while a religious institution is free to deny the joining of two same-sex souls in the name of God, the governing forces of the United States of America are not permitted to do so, because doing so would be equivalent to denying these Americans with privileges arbitrarily open to those who choose to marry a person of another sex.

As part of the argument to make homosexuality unlawful, frequently the contention is made, “if homosexuality is okay then what is next?  It’ll be all right to be a pedophile?”  Many people seem to be afraid that granting (though it would be more accurate to say maintaining) the rights of homosexuals would be the first step in a landfall of legalizing would-be criminal sex practices.

So, again, for the sake of this argument let us assume that homosexuality and pedophilia are all on the same spectrum of moral deplorability.  We will assume the circle of hell that is reserved for same-sex partners is also the afterlife home to the depraved individuals who prey on children for their sexual satisfaction.

Providing that be the case, there is still a very specific reason why homosexuality is protected by the Constitution and pedophilia is not.

What is the argument that has been made again and again thus far?  The Constitution protects the freedoms of the American people to think, say, believe or do anything, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

When homosexuals choose to enter into a relationship, as stated above, they do so as two consenting adults.  Their choice to engage in homosexual activity together is voluntary, and since they are both adults, they are able to make that choice without restraint.  Therefore, their actions are protected as freedoms.

The actions of a pedophile, however, would never be protected because a sexual relationship between a child and adult is lacking the major component of consent.

A child is restricted in many areas of life, even in regards to a law.  The most significant component of the law regarding children is called “age of majority.”  This is because it is recognized that children are not physically or emotionally mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with these freedoms, which are inherently types of legal functions.

For example, it was decided that it was unconstitutional to make alcoholic beverages illegal.  Now we can drink.  (Woo hoo!)  Children, however, cannot.  Young children’s bodies are not yet physically developed enough to process the effects of alcohol.  Adolescents’ bodies may be physically able to process the toxins, however their brains have not matured enough to process the complex scenarios which are a part of deciding whether to drink, what the repercussions might be if one does choose to drink, and especially controlling how much to drink once one starts.

Therefore, while a child constitutionally has the right to consume alcoholic beverages, the ability to exercise that right is put on legal hold until the child reaches an age of majority, which is decided by each state individually.  (In most states it’s 21 years old, just a little FYI.)  There are ages of majority limits for innumerable activities, not the least of which are sex acts.

Generally the age of majority for sexual relationships is 18 years old, the same age that a child is legally turned into an adult and can do almost anything else that was previously out of his legal reach.  Sometimes there is an addendum which says something to the effect of children the age of 16 may engage in sexual relationships with other minors of the same age until age 18.  Either way, no one over the age of 18 is allowed to engage in a sexual act of any nature with a person under the age of 18.

We can plainly see that sexual activity is one of the exploits that is legally removed from the spectrum of activities available to children because they haven’t grown enough to make decisions about it; their bodies aren’t physically mature enough, their brains aren’t physically mature enough, and their neurological processes for handling those types of emotions haven’t been made yet.

Ergo, it is impossible for a child to enter into a sexual relationship consensually.  To do so, then, is a violation of the child’s constitutional right to safety, and as such pedophilic practices can never be made legal.  It would be unconstitutional.

From birth, every American is considered a fully-formed human being and is granted every constitutional right we have.  So, while the immoral homosexuals may engage in their deplorable acts of sexual indecency and be protected by the constitution, a pedophile is halted in his sexual practices by the very same constitution, because it is protecting the rights of the child, and the child has a right to safety and a right to be free from threat and coercion.