1999-10-09 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

Regardless of the terminology or jargon used to describe the
current exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, the fact of the matter is that it
appears to be an assault on the Blessed Mother. She is highly revered throughout the world by Christians and Muslims. This apparent ridiculing of our religious beliefs goes far beyond the borders of appropriate social decency especially when you are using our taxpayer dollars.

One would suspect that this type of work would most likely be
created by a person with very little artistic talent whose only way to "one day of fame" would be through generating an outrageous display underwritten by our tax dollars.

As Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, the editor of Commonwealth, clearly
states in her op-ed article in the New York Times, the First Amendment
safeguard of freedom of expression does not mean that the work is entitled to taxpayer financing. According to news sources the museum has received millions of tax dollars.

I am particularly concerned by this turn of events at the Brooklyn
Museum because I have been very fond of visiting it. When I was growing up my parents would frequently take my sister and I to the museum. My grandparents would also join us. Therefore, I have very special cherished memories of the many exhibits. There were some wonderful programs directed specifically toward children. I always considered it to be a wonderful
place where families could get together and help their children to expand their horizons.

As an adult I have often gone to the museum. In addition, over the
last several years I have organized bus trips for our local seniors during
the Monet Exhibit, the Russian Jewel Exhibit, the Japanese Fashion Exhibit and many others. In fact, the Brooklyn Museum was one of our favorite destinations. Therefore, I am particularly dismayed that the board of directors of the museum has lowered its standards to permit this offering at taxpayer expense.

I am proud to be a member of the Ladies Division 22 of the Ancient
Order of Hibernians. I would like to commend the Ladies of Division 22 and the Men of Division 21 who have taken a strong stand on this issue. I
salute Elizabeth and Mike Henaghan, Betty and Mike Keller, Eileen and Philip McManus and the other members for speaking out about the exhibit and for encouraging others to do the same.

Today, the board of directors of the museum is using our tax dollars to
insult the religious sensibilities of Christians, Muslims and other people of good will. One can only wonder whom they will insult next while
taxpayers are underwriting the bill. If we as taxpayers are paying the
piper we should have some say in the tune that he plays.

One does not need a public opinion poll to determine that my taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund this distasteful exhibit.

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