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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Police Harass Christian Performance Artist

Although this was last week, I wanted to point out this article about police in Florida ordering a performance artist to take his work elsewhere:
A Florida crucifixion display off a busy intersection was ordered down by local authorities who said that some drivers and pedestrians thought the Good Friday scene was too gruesome, and that the show had become a “public safety issue.” 
Lee County authorities ordered the man imitating Jesus – covered in realistic wounds and bloodied body parts – to bring down the crucifixion display for Good Friday, citing angry drivers who said the scene was too graphic for children, and that too many people were stopping their vehicles to witness the Biblical re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, WFTX-TV reports. 
Lee County Sheriff’s Office said the display had become a “public safety hazard” due to “a lot of close calls with accidents and traffic back-ups,” according to WFTX. “Near accidents” off the public property were cited as reasons that local authorities wanted the re-enactors to leave.
However, other stories report: "Officers told the organizers that people were complaining about 'near accidents' and were unhappy that the bloody Easter display was taking place on public property...." In other words, part of the objection was the religious nature of the art, not its safety.

As this article at Tate discusses, performance art has been important in advancing social discourse. The Ordinary Aesthetic also discusses the importance of public performance art and dangers to artistic expression when it is subject to the vagaries of over-broad laws on "disturbing the peace."

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