There was one dissenting comment, though, from reader Marie, which went as follows:
Franklin, I'm horribly disturbed by your answers to those two people.I feel inclined to respond to Marie, if she hasn't bailed out already. I welcome all sorts of comments, provided they are civil. As Marie did not use language I consider inappropriate, the polite thing is to answer her.
Outlining the reasons why would most likely only get me flamed by the cheerleading squad. I would like to say that I'm not in sympathy with either J or L and that I think L's tone was way out of line. In my religious and rather republican family, I have been the artist, the black sheep, and the liberal crusader. Once upon a time I would have written a comment just like all the others here.
I have loved your blog and your artwork. It was often the brightest spot in my day. I thought the medal was brilliant. Until today, it was fairly safe to say I was crushing on you just a bit. I don't know if I can be comfortable here now. What would a dignified, balanced, and courteous response have cost you?
If I may address the second message first, the message itself was couched in terms which according to the conventions of etiquette render it unworthy of response. If the writer simply had asked me, "Why did you choose to represent an event in which most competitors were women with a male figure?" I would have written a response describing my initial inspiration in the symbols of ancient Greece, where the Olympics were born; and my delight in allegory and symbolism, which I fear in our too-literal age are becoming lost languages.
However, the writer instead used a hostile tone and peppered it with obscenities. The overall effect was less persuasive or thought-provoking than absurd, and so I responded with an absurdity. Enough said.
As to the first message, I was initially inclined to write an apology. After all, I hate the thought of someone doing a lot of knitting and looking forward to the medal, then finding it unusable.
But one thing stopped me.
It was the remark about "how other people live."
J's basic complaint, stripped (forgive me) to its essence is that I have created an indecent image, unsuitable for viewing by children and churchgoers. She then infers, in her final line, that this "indecency" may be fine for those like me, but it will not meet her presumably higher moral standards.
This offended me for two reasons.
First, I do not create indecent works of art. Furthermore, I do not believe works of art can be inherently indecent. Indecency is more often in the mind of the beholder than in the mind of the artist. Ask any Danish political cartoonist.
Myron's Discobolus is a monument of world art, an early manifestation of the civilization that gave us (among other things) our own form of government. I will not countenance the suggestion that it is in any way pornographic. It does not seek to shock or titillate. It celebrates the human form which, if J would care to consult her Bible, is God's own form. In His own image He created them, did He not?
Second, to suggest that my way of life readily encompasses the indecent is a slap in the face. It is indicative of still-pervasive homophobia. Contrary to the beliefs of many, most gay men do not live lives of constant wild abandon. If we are often freer in our discussions of sexuality (and even this is not true of all of us) I attribute it to the fact that we've been forced to think about it a heck of a lot more than straight people and so we're more comfortable with it.
Upon reflection, I did not feel inclined to write an apology where no apology was needed. If J's own morals find the artistic display of the human form* titillating and inappropriate, that is her issue. I will not apologize for my own convictions, and I do not take kindly to suggestions that my own lifestyle is immoral.
I will say that I feel sorry for those like J who are so determined to see obscenity everywhere that they deprive themselves of many of the good and beautiful things that humanity has created.
So, to sum up my response to the first message, I decided it was in its way as insulting and unanswerable as the second. Absurdity deserves absurdity, and it got it. That is my point of view.
So there you are, Marie. I hope that explains it. I honestly felt my responses were perfectly dignified and wholly appropriate, given the nature of the initial communications. If you disagree, we may respectfully agree to disagree. Or you may choose not to read my blog any more, which would be sad, but this is a free country and nothing is easier than to not read what one does not wish to read.
And finally, I hate to think of the people who comment on this blog as a "cheerleading squad." I've never asked them to be that, and I hope they all understand that I don't accept only bouquets of roses.
Now, can we please get back to knitting and photography and the perils of urban life? The sheep are very bored indeed. The subject is closed.
If you want to discuss among yourselves, I'm interested to hear of any tips for spinning with a drop spindle, because I have a beautiful one (thank you forever Mr. and Mrs. Knittiot) which I am, at last, going to begin working with.
Any advice is most welcome. My very first attempts, under the watchful eye of Queer Joe, looked like poo. And I don't mean the teddy bear. Don't hold your breath waiting for pictures.
*A human form which, on the medal, is actually a one inch tall modified electronic rendering of a scan of a photograph of a copy of a marble statue, which is rather different than a Playgirl centerfold.