One woman saw Jesus in the faces of the poor. The other compared them to cattle. Clearly, a match made in Heaven.
This absurdity should not be obscured by more superficial aspects of the controversy over a painting depicting both Mother Teresa and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. The art display is causing the mother of headaches for Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, who is under attack for its temporary removal from the Trumbull Public Library. The Order of the Missionaries of Charity has objected to the “improper use” of Mother Teresa’s image, and many Catholics have complained — rightly, we agree — that it is deeply misleading about her stance on the sacredness of all human life.
The owner of the art collection titled “Great Minds,” Dr. Richard Resnick, says Herbst’s call is “un-American” and alleges that he caved to pressure from the Catholic Church, although the Diocese of Bridgeport did not call for the painting’s removal but put its complaint in terms of respect for other viewpoints, and Herbst has strenuously asserted that his only concern is for the liability to the town.
Can we just agree to retire the phrase “un-American”? And that publicly accusing an official of lying without actual proof is bad form?
Resnick’s attorney claims the painting falls under the Fair Use doctrine. That seems overly confident. I am not an expert in copyright law, but musicians have to know basics. I know this: it is very complex, creating often contradictory and surprising results. I can entirely imagine two good lawyers or a judge disagreeing, so don’t bet the house on an assumption. Intellectual property expert Rich Stim writes:
“The difficulty in claiming fair use is that there is no way to guarantee that your use will qualify as fair. You may believe that your use qualifies—but, if the copyright owner disagrees, you may have to resolve the dispute in a courtroom. Even if you ultimately persuade the court that your use was in fact a fair use, the expense and time involved in litigation may well outweigh any benefit of using the material in the first place.”
Even free speech issues are not necessarily straightforward. Defamation is not protected speech; false advertising is not protected speech; and copyright violations are not protected speech. Again, not an expert, so that is as close as I will get to touching that issue. Considering that Herbst and Resnick are agreed on the conditions of putting the painting back up, this whole dustup would be much ado about nothing, were it not that the painting includes a virulent genetic supremacist under the heading “Great Minds,” on a plane of equivalence with a literal saint who ministered to the poorest of the poor…something Sanger might have contemptuously referred to as “stupidly cruel sentimentalism.”
Just to clarify things, imagine Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King, Jr. juxtaposed with a grand wizard of the KKK.
…Albert Einstein or Jonas Salk with Joseph Goebbels.
Heck, Mother Teresa being an Albanian nun, why not put Milošević up there?
But hey, no matter, because they transformed lives! Whether or not they transformed them for the better is immaterial.
Margaret Sanger is not a “Great Mind.” There’s nothing great about eugenics. Her wretched philosophy is the height of mediocrity.
That a person may have a right to glorify an ethnic cleansing proponent in a public forum does not make it less alarming; and if Sanger preferred to carry out that cleansing pre-conception (or at least that is the claim), the organization she founded, which still gives an award in her name, has stepped into that gap to kill over 300,000 people a year and has the unmitigated nerve to call this “Planned Parenthood.”
Ignorance is what makes this possible. People need to be informed of the true nature of this woman’s views and mission. If they want free speech, we should give it to them.