What in heaven’s name?
A sculpture of Ronald McDonald being crucified has, inevitably, ignited a series of violent protests in Israel.
The piece by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen is meant to be viewed as a critique of society’s worship of capitalism and corporations, but is infuriating local Christians who see it as disrespectful.
Christians in the city of Haifa, where the museum displaying the piece is located, are so outraged that they staged protests out the front of the Haifa Museum of Art last week.
Rioters hurled a firebomb at the museum and pelted police with stones, wounding three officers. Police were forced to disperse the crowd by using tear gas and stun grenades.
'McJesus' causes furore after artist had asked museum to remove the sculpture
— euronews (@euronews) January 16, 2019
Representatives from local churches took a more peaceful approach, bringing their complaints to the district court and demanding the removal of the piece. They also objected to the display of Barbie doll versions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
Considering that the piece has been on display for months (and been displayed in other countries with no problems), museum director Nissim Tal was shocked by the uproar.
As with most things these days, the outrage seems to have stemmed from visitors sharing photos and their reactions on social media.
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) January 14, 2019
In a victory for anyone with any sense, the museum has refused to remove the exhibit, citing that doing so would infringe on freedom of expression.
Religious folk have a different idea as to what constitutes freedom of expression – they’re used to twisting words to suit their agendas.
“We need to understand that freedom of expression is interpreted in different ways in different societies,” said Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to church leaders. “If this work was directed against non-Christians, the world would be turned upside down.”
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) January 12, 2019
In response to the outcry, the museum has draped a curtain over the entrance to the exhibit and posted a sign announcing that the art is not intended to offend. (I would disagree – art is meant to make you feel something, and this undoubtedly is supposed to make you feel outrage in some form.)
“This is the maximum that we can do,” Tal said. “If we take the art down, the next day we’ll have politicians demanding we take other things down and we’ll end up only with colourful pictures of flowers in the museum.”
Tal, who sounds like the art world’s Jordan Peterson, has said that no matter what, he will not bow to religious or political compulsion: “We will be defending freedom of speech, freedom of art, and freedom of culture, and will not take it down.”