Thursday, April 1, 2004

This grant just perfect for April 1

Peter Bronson

They're playing hockey in Hell.

Several Democrats said something kind about President Bush.

And I agree with professional protester Nate Livingston.

April Fools.

Except the last one. Livingston, who could win the Nobel Prize for Obnoxiousness, sent me an e-mail the other day that actually made sense.

"I write to ask for your support in opposing the Cincinnati City Council Arts Committee's proposed capital budget which includes a $60,000 grant to the Know Theatre Tribe," he wrote. "Last June, this group produced the play Corpus Christi, which had Jesus having sex with his Apostles and being put to death as 'King of the Queers.'"

Livingston, who must take an outrage pill every morning, said, "It burns me up that council is even considering giving tax dollars to the producers of this blasphemous play."

He's not the only one offended. Last year, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk offered this review:

"Corpus Christi ... seems to go out of its way to present Jesus and His story in the crudest and ugliest of ways. Jesus is born in a dirty motel room. Mary and Joseph are foulmouthed and vulgar. Jesus' disciples are shameless denizens of a gay underworld.

"As I read the play, I was reminded of certain kinds of young people in early adolescence who take delight in saying all the bad words they know and in trivializing everything the adult world holds sacred. One can't say that they are bad persons, since none of us can judge another. One can say, however, that their behavior is contemptible."

He said the producers were not ashamed. "But they should be."

And council is giving these juvenile "artists" a $60,000 allowance.

Whenever anyone objects to garbage masquerading as art, someone squeals about "censorship." But let's keep saying it until they get a clue: It's not censorship. It's called being accountable to the public if you take our public money.

Bob George, a devout Catholic, organized protests at the play last year. "I think it's a terrible use of public money," he said. "If people knew this is how our tax money is used, a lot more would be upset."

Councilman Jim Tarbell, the Medici of arts funding at City Hall, defended the grant. He said the money is for Gabriel's Corner, the landlord for The Know Theatre Tribe, and it would be used to add handicap restrooms and other improvements, not for plays.

Once money is granted, the city should not interfere, he said. "When you get into artistic content, that's a real slippery slope. If it's a program of ongoing violations of community standards, they we ought to look at it. But this is the first time in 20 years there's been a concern."

We've been around the block on this so many times, the scenery repeats itself like rocks in a Roadrunner cartoon.

Council should encourage free expression and help the arts downtown. But if it gives cash to the Know Theatre Tribe, even indirectly, arts groups will never find the integrity to respect religion the same way they curtsey to more politically correct "sensitivities."

Wednesday, council voted 7-2 to approve the grant - then removed the name of the Know Theatre Tribe from the paperwork.

Then they passed a new Miranda warning for taxpayers: Any money you give to the arts can and will be used against you.

April Fools.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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