Our comic efforts aren’t consistently poignant, but once in a while we try to use our public stage, meek as it is, to deliver a message, and to varying degrees we believe that this time we were successful.
Though we are surprised at the stir our comic has created, we’re also grateful. Our comic was impelled by and designed to coincide with Pat Buchanan’s recent appearance at the College.
Many students attempted to raise awareness about Buchanan’s stated policies and perspectives, and on the day of the event they gathered to protest the payment of $15,000 to him to speak on campus.
Though the efforts of those involved in the protest were strong and heartfelt, the campus community largely ignored that there was even a cause for concern.
At the very least, our comic seems to have pierced the College’s consciousness a little more directly.
To us, what is offensive is that which is hypocritical yet somehow acceptable: that so many of us can kneel before a benevolent and universally loving God, all the while believing that our country should be closed to others and that accepting a hierarchy of race, gender, wealth, religion and sexual preference.
How can it be godly to hold such beliefs, while still holding to heart a Messiah who loved everyone and in all probability was black? The God who seems to be recognized is a god who would deny the divinity of all peoples and their claim to salvation.
All human beings deserve respect, and every human has a right to belief, which must be respected – but no belief should demand respect or impose its judgments, and certainly no belief should be elevated to sacrosanctity. When an opinion becomes inviolable doctrine, and its critical discussion is rendered forbidden and dangerous, then a society can and will fracture.
This age is thick with fear, and too many voices have been muted by it. Fear – driven by dictates of race, religion, patriotism, politics or anything else – can quickly transform into dogmatic aggression and willing subjugation, and by the time any group’s righteousness is given a sword, it is usually too late.
The purpose of any meaningful artistic attempt is to raise a mirror against society, so that people may view things they would be more comfortable ignoring or forgetting. Inexpert as our attempt might have been, it was in earnest.
To those who may feel hurt, we are sorry, but we wanted to make an impression as strongly and loudly as we could. We used the imagery and words we did because of their negative power, but we did not use them gratuitously. We wanted to leverage that power, and, we hope, bring something positive from it.
And if any eyes are open wider, even if only from shock, we achieved our intent.
David Byrne and Sean MacPhee
(Prof. Quadrangle and Winona Parkway)