There’s a bit of a controversy going on at Carnegie Mellon University, where two art students are being charged with misdemeanors for indecent exposure for going to an on-campus parade partly naked. Here’s how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes the incident:
The parade, a College of Fine Arts tradition known as the “Annual Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby,” took place April 18 on the area of CMU’s campus known as the “cut” as part of the university’s spring carnival. That afternoon, campus police were notified that a naked woman was on campus, according to the criminal complaint.
The woman, later identified as Ms. O’Connor, was wearing a pope costume, but had no clothing below her waist, and on her pubic area was the shape of a cross.
Mr. Godshaw’s outfit, or lack thereof, had not received much public notice prior to Friday’s announcement of the charges. On Mr. Godshaw’s Facebook page, he is tagged in a photo taken at the parade that depicts a man wearing only socks and shoes. The criminal complaint says Mr. Godshaw had been walking on a giant wheel textured like the moon and had been dressed in an astronaut’s costume before he disrobed.
The school has decided not to punish the students beyond what the police are charging them with, which isn’t that big of a deal. But Dr. X forwarded the article to me because of this passage:
The nudity incidents, noted by campus police on the day of the event, became more high profile after Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik expressed concern about Ms. O’Connor’s display, saying it was offensive. CMU officials investigated following Bishop Zubik’s complaint, and on May 1, Mr. Cohon wrote a letter to the community apologizing to those who were offended.
The decision today, to file charges, was greeted positively by Catholic officials.
Bishop Zubik, in a statement Friday, acknowledged that CMU “has taken the time to treat this unfortunate incident in a serious manner.
“Once again, and as I have said over these last few weeks, this is an opportunity for all of us to be reminded that freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect the beauty of anyone’s race, the sacredness of anyone’s religious belief or the uniqueness of anyone’s nationality.”
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes we can dismiss and/or disrespect the “beauty” of your religious beliefs, no matter how sacred you think it is. You don’t get to decide what we can and can’t say about your religion. I know this may come as a shock to a Catholic given that church’s long history of torturing and killing those who criticize or disagree with them, but this is not Spain in the 1500s. This is America and it’s 2013. Get used to it. Or don’t, I really don’t care.