In central Iowa there is a town that is the county seat for Marion County. The town, Knoxville, with a population of 7,250 people is gaining a lot of attention. The town allowed an artist to put up a piece of artwork to memorialize veterans. The artist cut the outline out of steel of a kneeling soldier next to a cross to relate a soldier mourning a fallen comrade.
For a while all was good in Knoxville with their veteran’s artwork until someone anonymously contacted an anti religious group who in turn threatened to sue the town unless the town removed the art.
Instead of telling this group to mind their own business in their own state, the mayor and town council kowtowed to the bullying and removed the art piece. Now, being election day, there is a movement for the mayor and town council members all to be voted out.
On one site I commented that the art as proven by many court decisions before is protected as free speech and to remove the art is censoring free speech. Many others posted similar sentiments but one religiophobe decided to take offense with my statement.
Mike Smith, who also goes by Frankandlola on FB, decided to argue it.
Mike Smith: Except it wasn’t.
Rural Iowegian: Mike Smith Yeah, it was. The artist created a soldier kneeling at the grave of a fallen comrade and it was removed because someone complained. That does meet the definition of censorship. Look up the definition.
Mike Smith: It was moved across the street. And it isn’t “art”. It’s a memorial, depicting a xian symbol.
Rural Iowegian: Mike Smith Def. ART – the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” This definition alone qualifies this as art. The person who created it is not a ‘memorialist’ he is an artist. Just because art has a religious symbol does not disqualify it from being art. Michelangelo created art as did Da Vinci. Both had many works that depicted ‘symbols’. But thanks for playing, I am sure they will have some nice consolation gifts at the door for you.
Mike Smith: Yes, and this goes beyond that. Art or not, it is ABOUT the cross and what THAT symbol means. Take the cross away, no issue. Cross present, enter Constitutional challenge. Thank YOU for playing
Rural Iowegian: Well, with you very limited thought process, what about Arlington where there are thousands of crosses on public property? Now you don’t even get a consolation prize.
Rural Iowegian: Just because an artist puts a cross on an artwork does not show the government endorsing one religion over another. Go get your One D Ten T form.
Mike Smith: You have some photo to back up your claim that Arlington is filled with “thousands of crosses”right?
Rural Iowegian: I sure do. The D Day cemetery (American Cemetery on land donated to America) also has thousands of crosses.
Mike Smith: If it is on public property, that is the implication. It’s established case law.
Mike Smith: Post it.
Rural Iowegian: The cemeteries are public property owned by the people of the United States.
Rural Iowegian: I tell you what, show your tntelligence and google images of arlington and/or the D Day Cemetery at Normandy. I’m sure you will be aghast with all the crosses you see.
The Department of Army that runs Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), in keeping with Department of Veteran Affairs protocols, only allows certain graphics on government issues headstones. As you walk through the cemetery on one of our self guided tours or with our guided walking tour, you can use the…
Mike Smith: Now, what that says, is that there is no endorsement of one religion over another, because there is a system in place whereby any religion may be represented by anyone (even the Wiccan religion). So, Arlington is not an issue.
Rural Iowegian: But if a soldier kneels next to the marker for a comrade who happened to be Christian it is an issue to you? That takes us right back to the original post, it is censorship. It is not the government endorsing one religion over another, it is a soldier mourning the loss of a comrade. Take the blinders off your bigoted view, and quit being a religiophobe.
Mike Smith: Not an issue for me. It should be an issue for everyone. If there is a a process involved whereby anyone could put up any symbol as long as the process is followed, not a problem. Of course that means that someone could put up a statue to Satan. As long as you’re cool with that, then so be it.
Rural Iowegian: Satan got his place in Detroit and if that is what the people want, so be it. The artwork in this event, just like other pieces of art that may offend some, like a jar of fecal matter being called ‘art’, is protected as free speech under the law with many case decisions backing that up. To remove it is censorship.
Mike Smith: No, it is not censorship. Case law establishes this as an establishment case. Call it whatever you want, the government is acting within its purview in removing it to private property especially where a new memorial is going in its place.
Rural Iowegian: In the 2010 Mojave Cross Case before the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy said “the cross was not a mere “reaffirmation of Christian beliefs” but a symbol that “evokes the thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles.” Oops! so much for the establishment clause in this case where the art clearly depicts a soldier kneeling at the grave of a comrade which is represents thousands of small crosses in fields marking the graves of Americans WHO FELL IN BATTLES.
Mike Smith: The high court ruled there was no violation of the separation of church and state when Congress transferred the land surrounding the cross to a veterans group.
Mike Smith: The land was no longer public. That’s the essential issue there. Nice try. Next.
Rural Iowegian: The lower court viewed the proposed land transfer, clearly designed to defeat an Establishment Clause challenge to the cross, as in itself an unconstitutional establishment of religion. The Supreme Court disagreed.
Mike Smith: And let’s be absolutely clear here. I don’t have a problem with the memorial. But, if the constitution is to have any meaning at all, it must be applied equally to all.
Rural Iowegian: The court said that the cross did not endorse Christian beliefs; it represented the thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans. The art piece in Knoxville showed a combat soldier kneeling at a cross thereby meeting ruling as explained by Justice Kennedy.
Mike Smith’s next response was that the artist should challenge the ruling to remove the artwork to which I rebutted that the town leaders should not have buckled under to the out of state group.
In reading more of Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the majority last night I found he also said “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”
Now I leave it to you, the reader to determine which side of the debate you sit on.