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SJW Art Commissars

A reader sent in this depressing account of an art squabble on the campus of one of California’s prestigious Claremont colleges. Seems that Selena Spier, an undergraduate, painted on a dorm wall a mural of a handgun with flowers coming out of the barrel. Her project had been approved by appropriate campus authorities. But student Gregory Ochiagha was made to feel unsafe by the image of a handgun that fires … roses:

“It’s truly in bad taste to have a large depiction of a gun in a dorm space—especially when students of color also reside there,” states Ochiagha. “Now let’s imagine there were countless videos of white teenagers, white teenagers that look like you, or your brother or your sister, get shot to death by police officers. Imagine scrolling down Facebook everyday and seeing a new video of the same thing, over and over again. Really put yourself in that headspace. Then ask yourself whether it’s the brightest idea to have white teenagers, who have a very real fear of getting shot, see a large gun every time they want to get food from the dinning [sic] hall.”

Ochiagha continues, “My Black Mental and Emotional Health Matters. I shouldn’t be reminded every time I leave my dorm room of how easy my life can be taken away, or how many Black lives have been taken away because of police brutality. This is emotionally triggering for very obvious reasons. And if you want to belittle or invalidate by [sic] black experience, I live in Atherton, come thru, let’s have that idiotic conversation.”

You’re thinking: please oh please, just this one time, somebody tell this nitwit Social Justice Warrior to get stuffed, that he cannot use his black privilege to tell other people what kind of art they can and cannot put on the wall.

But you know that’s not how it works. From the article:

Spier plans to modify her mural. “I spoke with Gregory earlier and we agreed on a modification that preserves the integrity of the original piece while avoiding any potentially triggering content—it’s a change I was absolutely happy to make in the interest of creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone in my community,” Spier told the Claremont Independent. “I have absolutely no right to decide whether or not my artwork is offensive to marginalized communities—nor does anyone else in a position of privilege, racial or otherwise.”

I don’t know whether to pity Spier or to be revolted by her supine eagerness to satisfy and completely unreasonable request made by someone, simply because of the color of the complainer’s skin. It’s one thing for a gutless campus administration to silence free speech and expression on campus, but when the speakers and artists can be talked into silencing themselves, you know things are pretty damn hopeless. Conformists to the marrow, the lot.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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