“I think what they did is disgusting, it’s outrageous,” Giuliani said, adding that anti-Catholicism “is accepted in our city and in our society.” Giuliani is appointing a task force “that can set decency standards for those institutions that are using the taxpayers’ money.“
In 1999, the museum’s ”Sensation“ show featured an elephant dung-embellished Virgin Mary. The mayor froze the museum’s annual $7.2 million city subsidy, then sued in state court to evict the museum. A judge ruled that the city had violated the First Amendment and restored the funding. This time, Giuliani said he would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decisions he said are based on ”showing decency and respect for religion.“
A: The museum’s lease puts me in the middle of this whether I want to be or not. It says the mayor has to approve closing down the museum. And the mayor has to approve when this publicly funded museum starts to charge money. It’s supposed to be free. And they’re charging $9.00. So, I have to make a decision as the mayor to agree to closing down the museum for this purpose. And I don’t agree. I think this exhibit beyond even the desecration of the Virgin Mary is a horrible exhibit. There’s a pedophile that is glorified with the fingerprints of the children that the pedophile attacked. There are pigs in formaldehyde that are dissected. If you want to do this privately, you have every right to do it. This is not a matter of suppression. But here you’re taking hard-earned taxpayer dollars -about $12 million of it - and using it to subsidize this project.
A: It does - if you want to pay for it with your own money. Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t. support religion. We shouldn’t support vicious attacks on religion either. If they did it on private property, I would equally oppose it. I would speak out against it because I think it’s disgusting. But I would have to - and I would - provide the police, provide the pavement, provide all the things that the First Amendment requires.
Q: Suppose, instead of a portrait of the Virgin Mary, splattered with excrement, it was a portrait of Martin Luther King.
A: I don’t think the museum ever would have done it. The museum board would have been too sensitive to the concerns of the minority of people that would be offended by this.. Catholic bashing goes down a little easier than some of the other things that might be done.
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