Moral Low Ground

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Snow Penis Causes Hard Time for Indiana Couple

December 30, 2010 by Brett Wilkins in Morality with 1 Comment

I went for a little walk yesterday. It was the coldest day of the winter so far, probably in the mid- 40s (hey, I live in California), but after a few days of stormy gloom the sun graciously emerged in all its glory and it seemed like everyone was taking advantage of what we all knew would be a short-lived reprieve from the seemingly incessant rains that soak the Bay Area from November clear through to March. It just so happens that I live one neighborhood over from San Francisco’s famous Castro, arguably the gayest quarter on earth. But it’s also a place where families live and it’s not unusual to see kids around.

As I walked down Castro Street I passed a bake shop that sold chocolate-covered penis-shaped cookies on sticks, bondage shops with dildos the size of traffic cones, and a video shop with a poster in the window for a military-themed gay porno called “Major Asshole.” This last one got the better of me,  causing an uncontrollable outburst of laughter that drew quizzical looks from the boys around me. My reaction to the poster definitely raised more eyebrows than the poster itself.

Now contrast that to the reaction of  residents of Lafayette, Indiana to a local couple who sculpted a harmless snow penis on their property. Neighbors called the frosty phallus “disgusting.” “I think it’s disgusting. I have a two-year-old. Like, right now, he doesn’t even know what that is. It’s just not even… People shouldn’t do that. It’s very irresponsible,” neighbor Ghina Robinson told local TV station WLFI, which didn’t even have the balls– pardon the pun– to show the offending sculpture.

Male genital snow sculpture “disgusting”: wlfi.com

I find this all sadly amusing. There’s a bakery not too far from my home (a different one from the one I already mentioned, if you can believe that) that sells X-rated cakes alongside children’s treats featuring popular cartoon characters. A local father named Cort, whose daughter is the same age as Ghina’s kid in Indiana, wrote this entry on Yelp, a  popular customer review website: “I brought my 2 year old here to pick up a G-rated birthday cake for a friend.  How could I not point out the butt cake to her?  I mean all our jokes are poop jokes.  Well now she wants a butt cake for her birthday.  While all the other kids want Elmo and Dora and Princesses and Spongebob, my kid wants a butt cake.  Just ask her and she’ll tell you in her two year old babyish voice.  ‘I want a butt cake for my birthday.’  And then she laughs and laughs.”

But they’re not laughing in Lafayette. Neighbors called the police, who– to their credit–  first reacted to the snowy sculptures with dismissive laughter. But when they figured out that the phallic “art” violated the state’s prudish obscenity laws, they informed the couple that they could actually be arrested. The sculptures were destroyed, along with the sculptors’ freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, the city is preparing for the coming years’ full calendar of government-sanctioned events,  parties like the Folsom Street Fair, where naked men openly engage in acts of public sex within view of cops and kids alike. Or the massively popular Bay to Breakers foot “race,” in which thousands of drunken “runners” in outrageous costumes– including plenty of birthday suits– make their way through 7.4 miles of city streets lined with cheering families. One couple was spotted having sex in a park within a stone’s throw of a kiddie playground at last year’s race. Hardly an eyebrow was raised.

No doubt parents in Lafayette, Indiana would be aghast if they happened to be visiting the City by the Bay and chanced across one of these very public events. Many, if not most, of them look disapprovingly upon “San Francisco values” that include recognition of the human body as natural, not naughty. Those kind but decidedly strait-laced folks in Lafayette probably think this is no way to raise a child. But with all due respect, kids in San Francisco are, on average, smarter, more tolerant and will go on to achieve greater things in life than those in Lafayette. And chances are when they grow up something as innocuous as a snow penis won’t raise their hackles. They’ll reserve their ire for far more pressing concerns, like war, poverty, racism, environmental destruction and the judgmental moralizing of ignorant red-state Puritans.

Penises are part of the human body, and nothing is more natural than that. It’s perfectly legal in Indiana to go into the woods with an assault rifle and murder helpless, innocent wildlife, but sculpting a harmless penis in the snow could get you thrown in jail. There is something fundamentally wrong with our national values, but try telling that down in Lafayette.

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One Comment

  1. Robert RomanelliApril 5, 2011 at 12:54 pmReply

    Your “logic” regarding the artistic nature of the Indiana Penis or two or three is remarkable. Why erect? Why not flaccid? Why are these artistic expressions always that of erect penises. Seems stupid to me. Why not artistic expressions of flaccid penises? Do all your expressions of people drinking wine show excess? Drunks falling over? Or is the scene more natural? Why not a more natural penis–a flaccid one? Makes sense to me. The people in Indiana seem to understand this logic. One must assume therefore that the problem with rational thinking occurs in San Francisco where excess appears to be the definition of moderation. Before you take the inventory of people in Indiana, you need to take your own inventory–just as the 12 Step Anonymous Programs advise–take your own inventory first, and then, after you have cast the log out of your own eye, you may be able to see the speck in the eye of the Indiana community that has a far more natural view of logic than you have. Why not an artistic expression of a left testicle? Why not an artistic expression of an A-cup right breast? Is it only the erect penis that is art? Only in San Francisco? I get it. Do you?

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