Political Correctness

What a Relief: Republican Reps Can Retreat to Their 'Safe Spaces'

Two California congressmen take down a painting that offended them.

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Conservatives love to mock liberal college students who clamor for "safe spaces," where they can hide from ideas that run contrary to their politically correct sensibilities. Yes, these kids need to grow up and learn how to make a counterargument, rather than call on the authorities to censor views they don't like, even though most of them are 19 or 20 years old and probably have never been taught any better.

Yet a brouhaha in Washington, D.C., shows that some of the nation's most fragile "snowflakes" are Republican congressmen, including California Republicans Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Rep. Duncan Hunter. These grown men, and some others, were so offended by a Missouri student's painting that they recently pulled it off the wall in a U.S. Capitol tunnel, where various works are displayed, and demanded the architect of the Capitol permanently ban the offensive object.

The artwork depicts civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in 2014. A cop with a boar's head aims a gun at a protester with a wolf's head. Police unions demanded the painting be removed, claiming that showing an officer as a pig undermines respect for law enforcement and endangers police lives.

The painting does seem offensive and stupid, but it's clear these Republicans believe they can just take down anything in a public place that offends them. Rohrabacher is hardly afraid of offensive words, given his occasionally tart rhetoric and support for the ever-offensive Donald Trump, but he can't bear to be on the receiving end of the offense.

"There are certain restrictions that apply," he said, according to a video quoted by Huffington Post. "If someone wants to do this in a private gallery they have every right with their freedom of speech, we support freedom of speech. But you don't put something attacking policemen, treating them like pigs, here in the Capitol."

Fortunately, for Rohrabacher's sake, he can now safely walk between his office and the Capitol without having his sensibilities assaulted. The Republicans argued the painting violated House rules—that nothing sensationalistic or reflective of current political controversies could be displayed there. Those rules are fair, and the Capitol's architect Stephen Ayers agreed to have the painting removed after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

This resolution seems reasonable, but Rohrabacher, who called the painting an insult to all police, didn't wait until the process played out. He removed the painting from the wall before a determination was made because he and others were offended. I'm not sure if the painting offends all police any more than it offends all African Americans (the protester was depicted as a black wolf), but the congressmen's actions suggest it's OK for people to remove anything from a public space that hurts their feelings.

When, say, lefties deface statues of Ronald Reagan because of some things the former president did that upset them, what will Rohrabacher say? Or when angry people tear down paintings of the nation's slaveholding founding fathers, or… the list goes on. There's no end to the offenses that people of all political stripes take these days, so Rohrabacher and his allies have given them their congressional imprimatur to take matters into their own hands.

Granted, this was a publicity stunt. For Duncan Hunter, it took attention away from his recent embarrassing news about the use of campaign funds to pay the airfare for his family's pet bunny. (His office said the fare was mistakenly billed to a campaign credit card.)

I'm not sure what Rohrabacher gained. But I'd be less annoyed at what he did had he shown the same level of outrage about what the Justice Department revealed in its post-Ferguson report. The feds found that the local police department routinely used and abused the city's residents, viewing them as cash cows to be fined and harassed, rather than as citizens who deserved protection from crime.

By the way, one of the police unions officially protesting the painting represents officers in Oakland. The department in Oakland, for those who missed it, has been ground zero in what CNN refers to as "a sexual misconduct scandal of epic proportions." To me, such behavior denigrates respect for police far more than any overwrought artwork.

Clearly, Rohrabacher and his colleagues aren't interested in doing what the painting sought to do, however clumsily and unfairly: spark a debate about modern police tactics. Far better for Rohrabacher to retreat to his safe space, knowing he won't have to endure the indignity of seeing an image that upsets him. But let's at least dispense with the notion that "snowflakery" is solely a problem for sensitive young college girls.

NEXT: Stop Telling Us How to Be Patriotic

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  1. Soooo… REPUBLICANS are hypocrites this time?!?!?!?

    Wow. Woulda never guessed! Will wonders never cease….?

    Hope all the little leftoids at reason are high-fiving and saying “GOTCHA!!”….

    FFS….

    1. [high-fives Monty] Gotcha!

      1. [High-fives Tonio]

        Gotcha!

      2. Watch out Monty, he might give you the gay!

  2. When, say, lefties deface statues of Ronald Reagan because of some things the former president did that upset them, what will Rohrabacher say? Or when angry people tear down paintings of the nation’s slaveholding founding fathers, or? the list goes on.

    When?

    This is done regularly NOW. They deface, remove, rename, defame. Gods above, the morons demanded Lynch Hall get renamed because triggers.

    But we only ever hear about it when the MSM holds the person who noticed up for ridicule.

    1. It is fine to be offended.

      Being perpetually offended by anything and everything that isn’t in complete lockstep with your ideology is another story.

      This article is moronic

  3. It was a silly bit of grandstanding, but drawing a straight line between this incident and the campus crybabies is at least a bit overstated.

    1. It’s largely overstated and a silly comparison. This is one of Reason’s regular ‘cocktail party’ articles. This buys them entry to all the hip parties out in California.

      Nonetheless, I don’t doubt that Rohrabacher is a crybaby.

    2. Seriously. False analogies are false for a reason.

  4. This resolution seems reasonable, but Rohrabacher, who called the painting an insult to all police, didn’t wait until the process played out. He removed the painting from the wall before a determination was made because he and others were offended.

    And that will likely buy him some donations. Remember, these poor bastards have to run again in two years, which means they can never stop running. It’s both our gift and our curse.

    1. This. I’m not sure he’s that offended, so much as trying to drum up some attention for himself.

      1. And there you go – now he’s going to be offended that you believe he’s that offended. Offense multiplier effect.

        1. *don’t* believe he’s offended. Now, I’m offended.

      2. So, exactly like the safe spaces folks?

    2. Gift?!!

      Stick with “curse”.

    3. I thought Dana was one of the signers of the Contract With America in 1994, which called for term limits for Congress, and said they should not serve more than 12 years?

  5. I’m not sure if the painting offends all police any more than it offends all African Americans (the protester was depicted as a black wolf)

    Uhhhhh… I am, as the symbolism there is pretty obvious.

    1. To be or not to be

    2. True – would you rather be a wolf or a pig? Not a lot of mystery there.

    3. Black People are going to huff and puff and blow the police station down.

  6. These grown men, and some others, were so offended by a Missouri student’s painting that they recently pulled it off the wall in a U.S. Capitol tunnel, where various works are displayed, and demanded the architect of the Capitol permanently ban the offensive object.

    The artwork depicts civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in 2014. A cop with a boar’s head aims a gun at a protester with a wolf’s head. Police unions demanded the painting be removed, claiming that showing an officer as a pig undermines respect for law enforcement and endangers police lives.

    So they didn’t take it off an art gallery’s wall. They didn’t take it off someone’s wall on private property. They didn’t take it off the wall of a museum. They took it off the wall of the place they work. And the painting itself is, no doubt, based on a gargantuan fucking lie concocted by a criminal accomplice, local race baiters and then promoted by national race baiters.

    I would have made a point to take down the painting too because I hate lies. Lies sort of like the theme of this article, comparing a couple of Republicans who wanted to take down a bullshit painting at their workplace with social justice weasels who would do this with an art gallery and censor the speech of anyone they could anywhere they could.

    1. They took it off the wall of the place they work.

      Try stealing one of the paintings hung up on the wall where you work and see what happens.

      1. Try removing a painting from the wall at a federal building and see what happens.

      2. I did recently “steal” one of the paintings from the wall where I work. It was dated and ugly and it’s my fucking wall.

        1. That George Gervin “Iceman” poster you pulled down was not a painting.

          1. It’s a Val Kilmer “Iceman” poster, thank you very much.

      3. OK, be right back!

        *sound of security apprehending offender*

        ….

  7. Clearly, Rohrabacher and his colleagues aren’t interested in doing what the painting sought to do, however clumsily and unfairly: spark a debate about modern police tactics. lecture people about #BLM

    Beyond that little correction, the Congressmen are hypocritical idiots, whoever thought that this picture would be cool to hang in the Capitol is an idiot, the artist is an idiot, and I feel stupider for reading this article.

    1. Shit. I was gonna do something funny last night, thought better of it, and forgot to change my name back. Can you tell that I don’t troll often?

      1. Trshmnstr confirmed for Tulpa sock.

        1. Hey now, White Indian wasn’t Tulpa, he was either Mary or his own form of crazy. I want proper recognition as an Indian Moccasin!

    2. The artist is actually a child, and the picture representative of what kids are taught in school.

  8. Well, from a strict libertarian viewpoint there shouldn’t even be publicly-funded art. But given that the stuff exists, and that the painting might have been a donation, the question is – who gets to decide what artwork gets to hang in a public building? The building manager? The biggest tenant agency? For the US Capitol that’s ultimately Congress either way since the building is managed by the Architect of the Capitol which is one of the few congressional agencies. Most public buildings are managed by GSA, an executive branch agency.

    I could be down with a rule stating only relevant portraits in office buildings – so portraits of current and former congresscritters in the capitol, judges in courthouses, etc. But you know that some artist type will just relabel that controversial painting as a portrait of Rep. Rohrbacher.

    1. I like the process they have. If anybody doesn’t like the art, file a complaint and it’ll get removed. The fact that they preemptively took it off the wall shows how childish they are.

      1. File a complaint in writing, and we will replace the art with a framed copy of your complaint.

      2. The fact that they preemptively took it off the wall shows how childish they are.

        As the father of multiple children. I don’t like the fact that two childish representatives did something I don’t approve of. However, their little brother needs to sort out his shit rather than tattling.

        I mean, Jesus, Greenhut himself describes the painting as poorly messaged and ignored/forgotten until it was preemptively taken down. I almost wish Trump or Beyonc? would do something newsworthy. I’m on the verge of considering what millennials think about this issue for christsakes!

  9. but the congressmen’s actions suggest it’s OK for people to remove anything from a public space that hurts their feelings.

    More likely the congressmen’s actions suggest it’s OK for congressmen to remove public art because no one is going to challenge them for their little political theatrics.

    1. Of course not. Don’t you know who he is? He’s a CONGRESSMAN! That’s like two steps removed from God.

      1. two steps up, or down?

  10. Since the rules for art in the Capitol building include “nothing sensationalistic or reflective of current political controversies,” the art should not have been hung in the first place. Also, the Capitol should have some taste and decorum so we don’t have it diminished to walls filled with propaganda art pushing the agenda of one side or the other. What if Republicans wanted to hang some “artwork” that displayed the prophet Muhammed, or a full term aborted fetus, or previous southern Democrat politicians in KKK sheets around a burning cross, would any of these be acceptable? No. Not because they are not art, but because they are not tasteful for the environment. The halls of the Capitol are not to be some avant-garde museum.

  11. So what’s the way to be non-hypocritical and consistent?

    1) Anything can be put anywhere and nobody can take it down

    2) Nothing can be put anywhere, and if something is put somewhere, then anybody can take it down?

    These are consistent, but they don’t seem productive. How about social norms? There’s a generally accepted genre of art that exists in various places of business. People seem to be fine with it. We don’t need laws or procedures or philosophy. It seems to work about 99% of the time.

    If somebody puts a picture of a boat up in an office, people will either say nothing or “nice boat”. If somebody puts up something outside the social norms, usually somebody would take it down.

    1. Not enough hair-splitting for a legislature. Needs more cowbell.

    2. There’s a generally accepted genre of art that exists in various places of business.

      Splotchy, meaningless abstracts. Realistic nature scenes and skyline photos. The occasional portrait. Non-representational outdoor sculpture.

      1. I spend fair amount of time in boring meetings daydreaming about the decision-making process that went in to selecting this exact bland work of art to adorn this bland conference room.

        It seems to work though. Nobody complains, nobody cares. Boring, acceptable decorations for working spaces. It’s fine.

      2. I worked in a place where each piece had one of those allegedly motivational things on it. Then again, the company was run by ex-Army guys so the gung-ho nature went along with the overall environment.

        1. Stealthily and gradually replacing the motivational posters with de-motivational posters would be an epic prank.

          1. Very mild, backhanded posters. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” under a picture of a guy sitting in a cubicle.

            1. *breaks down sobbing*

              STOP MOCKING MY LIFE!!!!

      3. Splotchy, meaningless abstracts.

        Those offend my taste in good art.

  12. ? What we’re dealing with here is a total lack of respect for the law. ?
    ? Fuck ’em, and their law. ?

    1. +1 Prodigy

  13. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.

  14. “There are certain restrictions that apply,” he said, according to a video quoted by Huffington Post. “If someone wants to do this in a private gallery they have every right with their freedom of speech, we support freedom of speech. But you don’t put something attacking policemen, treating them like pigs, here in the Capitol.”

    Let me get this straight. This is a congressman? This is someone who’s supposed to be in the highest hall of the government, making a statement like this? Does he realize he described he EXACT opposite of the law? That a private gallery can censor whatever they want, but the government cannot? That no restrictions apply?

    That is truly the most shocking, disgusting saddest thing I will (hopefully) see this week and I’m not using hyperbole here. No wonder this country is in the shithole it is. Can we PLEASE stop incorrectly calling these retards “elites” now?

    1. That a private gallery can censor whatever they want, but the government cannot?

      Pretty sure the government can control what goes on the walls in buildings it owns without violating the 1A.

      1. Maybe after he stop hyperventilating he’ll come to his senses.

      2. Government =/= people? Interesting stance you and Rhywun have there. Kind of like all buildings being subject to the ADA passed by the federal gov’t except…. Federal gov’t buildings?

        1. Like someone said above, go ahead and try to hang your own painting in the Capitol and see what happens. They don’t have any obligation to hang anything.

          1. Sure. Not arguing the reality, I’m arguing the legality. As libertarians, that’s the best we can do, right?

    2. You’re missing the point of the 1st amendment. It’s too keep the government from telling the art gallery what it can and can’t display.

      When does Trump start up all those death camps? It’s been a week already and the volume of the shrieking is deafening.

  15. I need a safe space from the change in my pocket! I go into fits of rage and depression every time I actually look at a dime and see that arch-statist, anti-liberty FDR. Whatever can I do?

    1. FDR is on the dime? Never noticed. Huh, go figure.

      1. Yeah, it was because of the March of Dimes, which he founded.

        1. So that part isn’t really ironic, but there is plenty of irony to be found.

        2. Indeed he was involved in MoD, but when I think of him roasting in Hell along with the other strongmen dictators from that period, I tend to think more of confiscation of gold coins, court packing, the ponzi scheme known as social security, internment camps, and most importantly Wickard v Filburn.

        3. I’d go to a march of dimes if they were dimes in the urban dictionary sense.

      2. Yeah, prior to FDR, it was an image of someone called “Liberty”.

        But since FDR was instrumental in her demise, it is perhaps appropriate that his face should replace hers.

        1. It was actually quite controversial the first time they started putting real people on coins. I forget the first one (Lincoln penny?) but until then it was always “Liberty” or an Indian head or Mercury or eagles or some such and the more sensible people of the time tried to stop the glorification of dead presidents but sadly they lost out.

          1. Yeah, Lincoln penny was the first.

            I really wish they would go back to Liberty and such on coins. Putting presidents on coins was a terrible idea.

          2. Correct, Lincoln cent (1909) beats out Washington quarter (1932). Aside from that it was pretty much Liberty or an eagle.

  16. Every pig is sacred, every pig is great!

    When pigs aren’t respected, Republicans get irate!

  17. What Rohrabacher did is nowhere near as bad as what the SJW’s regularly do. Just the same as a kid who filches a candy bar from the store is nowhere near as bad as a guy who hijacks a Brinks truck and makes off with a million dollars. But the principle’s the same. They’re both taking something that doesn’t belong to them and just because the kid isn’t as big a thief as the Brinks robber doesn’t mean he’s not a thief.

    And it shouldn’t really surprise you that a magazine that supports the Party of Principle is pointing to the qualitative difference (or lack thereof) in the issue rather than the quantitative difference. Rohrabacher saw something he didn’t like looking at and he decided if he didn’t want to see it nobody should be allowed to see it. Did he ask John Lewis, for example, whether or not John Lewis liked looking at the painting? If John Lewis thinks having giant portraits of slave-holders hanging in the Capitol is offensive and holds a press conference to declare his offendedness, wouldn’t that then make those portraits “reflective of current political controversies” and therefore subject to removal by John Lewis? And wouldn’t you then call John Lewis’ actions petty-ass crybully bullshit? Well, Rohrabacher’s doing it right now and it’s petty-ass crybully bullshit – just like most of the stuff the Left’s doing right now is petty-ass crybully bullshit.

    1. I think that’s a fair and reasonable analysis.

      1. I agree. It has no place in an internet comment forum.

  18. Police unions demanded the painting be removed, claiming that showing an officer as a pig undermines respect for law enforcement and endangers police lives.

    Stupid pigs. Now that’s some crybaby shit.

    That said, putting overtly political art, especially when it refers to a currently controversial issue, up in the capitol building seems inappropriate.

  19. What the heck happened to Dana Rohrabacher? I worked in the House during the 104th congress in 1996, and this guy would sit in his office with a Hawaiian shirt on and play the guitar with his legislative aids. He has some good views on how we should treat the mary jane issue, but then the guy has morphed into a freaking totalitarian nightmare in the past few months. Older people – – is this what aging does to you? Dana needs to chill out, pull some tubes, and pick up the guitar again.

    1. By the time I moved to Huntington Beach in 2003, he was already a disgrace. I’m generally opposed to term limits, but people like Rohrabacher make that argument a tough sell.

  20. RE: What a Relief: Republican Reps Can Retreat to Their ‘Safe Spaces’
    Two California congressmen take down a painting that offended them.

    The republicans shouldn’t have done that.
    That just goes to show how intolerant they are.
    They’re acting like Obama when he took the bust of Churchill out of the White House because it offended him.
    Oh, wait.
    What’s the difference between republicans and democrats again?

    1. What you want to take away or prevent people from doing and whether the media loves or loathes you.

      Odd. Sure they took it down but while doing it didn’t cry about as if they had less emotional control than a 3 year-old. They didn’t take to twitter to decry this travesty of the art world and call for anybody to get fired, banned, or shunned.

  21. The only thing I learned from this article is the Left really doesn’t like it when their own tactics are used against them.

  22. This isn’t “Republicans”, it’s elected officials. And ripping a painting off the wall that they don’t like is simply a display of power; it has nothing to do with ideology.

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  24. This resolution seems reasonable, but Rohrabacher, who called the painting an insult to all police, didn’t wait until the process played out. He removed the painting from the wall before a determination was made because he and others were offended. I’m not sure if the painting offends all police any more than it offends all African Americans (the protester was depicted as a black wolf), but the congressmen’s actions suggest it’s OK for people to remove anything from a public space that hurts their feelings.

    When, say, lefties deface statues of Ronald Reagan because of some things the former president did that upset them, what will Rohrabacher say? Or when angry people tear down paintings of the nation’s slaveholding founding fathers, or? the list goes on. There’s no end to the offenses that people of all political stripes take these days, so Rohrabacher and his allies have given them their congressional imprimatur to take matters into their own hands.

  25. “If someone wants to do this in a private gallery they have every right with their freedom of speech, we support freedom of speech. But you don’t put something attacking policemen, treating them like pigs, here in the Capitol.”

    Isn’t that backwards?

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