Americans have gotten into the bad habit of trying to find loopholes in their Constitutional rights by dramatically raising the bar to spite the opposing side and making sure they get attention while at it.
This ridiculous behavior is what has caused NRA enthusiasts to bring loaded rifles to airports and claim their right to bear arms, or more recently, the Satanic Temple to erect a large statue of the wraith Baphomet in public and claim free speech and exercise of religion.
The 9-foot statue, which features a goat-headed hermaphrodite with a pentagram on his forehead accompanied by two young children, was placed in Detroit last week after a failed attempt to install it in Oklahoma. The statue was meant as a response to a Ten Commandments statue in Oklahoma that was built on government-owned land.
It took me several tries to get through the story without laughing at its absurdity. But it brings up an interesting point in regard to the lengths one should be allowed to go when it comes to freedom of speech, before it becomes offensive.
On one hand, America does indeed have a separation of church and state, which means the Ten Commandments statue should never have been built in the first place. That being said, the Baphomet statue has no reason to be displayed on government grounds either, because it also comes from a place of worship.
On the other hand, as a journalist, I know the importance of the First Amendment. Both statues have a message that is legal to share with the rest of the country. Both sides can say that the other’s statue offends them, but ultimately it’s legal to keep them standing.
As far as taking the statue down because it could be deemed offensive, it should have to abide by the rules of common decency, which, in my mind, it does. There’s nothing lascivious, dangerous or frightening about the statue, besides any preassigned meanings to what is essentially just a horned half-man in a loincloth with a star on his forehead.
I can’t help but think of little kids trying to one-up the other by showing off their bigger and brighter toys. Or giving one kid an ice cream cone and having to listen to another kid whine and complain until you’re reduced to buying him one too. Or even telling Nemo that he can’t touch “the butt,” which just fuels the flames long enough for him to swim up and touch it.
What it all boils down to is childish behavior.
Yes, I guess you have a legal right to display your statues to the public. And if the Baphomet statue received a protest, it’s only fair for the Ten Commandments statue to get just as much flak. If one isn’t going to be taken down, the other shouldn’t either.
But if the kids can’t play nice with each other, it’s time for a parent to step in and take the toys away from both of them.
Noelle Campbell is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @Noellecampz or email her at NoelleC@CentralFloridaFuture.com.