An Excess of (in)Tolerance

It seems that ownership of a building no longer allows a person to determine how the property is used. If even one element is "offensive" to a tenant, well, it must be removed - now! (via the Misanthropic Bitch's news filter)

The story linked above is a Wall Street Journal story about a pair of abstract nudes that adorn the ground floor of the 77 Water Street offices of Saloman and Goldman Sachs in New York. The piece is part of an elevator vestibule there. The word from the companies is that their female employees have complained about the existence of the nudes.

The first part of this that bothers me is the complaint. For christ's sake, there's (repeat after me) nothing wrong with the naked human form. Nothing. Why is it that people have to be threatened by any depiction of something that, for ~50% of the population in any given instance, is a depiction of themselves? Are we, as a culture, so self-conscious that we can't stand to look at ourselves any more? I know, i know.. this isn't a new issue. But it is a frustrating one. I'm not trying to suggest that we have billboards with hardcore pornography beside the highway. While that wouldn't bother me personally, i can see that it would be a little over the top. But a tasteful - and, from the article, nearly unnoticeable - nude in a privately - owned building isn't on that level. So, at risk of offending the occasional radical feminist who feels that all pr0n is evil and exploitative, i just wish this issue would wither up and die...

The other thing that really burns me is that the owners are being fought over their right to control the building that they own - the lease they have with the managers of the building explicitly states that the ground floor cannot be modified without their permission, and yet the work has been taken down three times. Now, they're being sued. What right does a renter have to dictate what happens in a part of the building that they're not even renting? The piece isn't in the companies' offices. It's on the ground floor. It's seen for all of a couple of minutes while waiting for the elevators. And it's not their property. The brothers who own the building want that art there. What right do the tenants have to go against their wishes?

I've commented on this before, though. Everyone seems to think that they have a "right" not to be offended. By anything. Anywhere. Any time. I wonder what sort of morally stunted culture we'll have if everything that is offensive or tasteless, or simply unacceptable to some action group or other, is removed from the public space? Last time i checked, the pursuit of happiness - not the actual happiness itself - was a fundamental right. And implied in that is that we won't always have it.


Merry Christmas, too :)

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