Sometimes, someone pays you a compliment without intending to.
Niki Johnson has created a portrait of Pope (emeritus) Benedict, using multi-colored condoms as her medium, naming the portrait “Eggs Benedict.” The New York Times decided to publish a picture of her work on Monday. In the past, they have published other artwork offensive to Christians, including Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary,” a painting of Christ’s mother “fashioned entirely out of feces and adorned with cutouts of genitalia from pornographic magazines.” Lovely.
Meanwhile, they decided not to show the Charlie Hebdo cartoons because these cartoon might offend someone. Apparently, these cartoons are intentionally provocative, but “Eggs Benedict” is not. Of course, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are more newsworthy, since they inspired an actual terrorist attack.
Now, we could complain about the obvious anti-Christian bigotry at the Times, and we might even have a point. But we could also see it a different way.
The people at the New York Times, and the artist who created “Eggs Benedict”, are basically cowards.
Let’s suppose that Ms. Haley, inspired by the success of “Eggs Benedict”, decided to create a similar picture of Mohammed. However, instead of using condoms, perhaps she could use bacon, cooked to various levels of crispness and darkness. She could arrange these slices of bacon as a mosaic, and call the resulting piece of artwork “Bacon Mohammed.” She could display it, and offer to donate it to a gallery, and the New York Times could run a story about it. They would surely show the picture when reporting about the controversy, right?
Wrong. Ms. Haley would have a fatwa pronounced against her, she would hire a bodyguard, and she would go into hiding for the rest of her miserable life. The NYT would be afraid to publish a picture of the work, because they would not want to invite another Charlie Hebdo incident.
However, when it comes to running items offensive to Catholics, they know that if they insult the Roman Catholic Church, or a Pope, or Mary, or Jesus, the worst thing that will happen to them is that some Catholics will complain. And that will be good for publicity.
If you are a Roman Catholic, you can take that as a compliment. Basically, they trust that you will turn the other cheek.