Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tempest in Roseburg!

(Photo from Prometheus imports website)
Fascinating controversy in Oregon over whether to erect a statue of Hebe or not.
Seems that the town had a nice little fountain put in by the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1908. It was placed to encourage the local men and beasts to drink water instead of booze, and on top was a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth. A neoclassical redition of the goddess, robed but with her right breast showing, carrying a water jug and shell, she stood until a runaway team of horses dragged her down by accident.
The statue disappeared and ninety years later, some folks thought it would be a grand idea to replace her as a tribute to civic beautification and a nod to the history of the ladies of the town. They began fundraising.
But that was enough to raise the hair on local Christian heads! Ohmigod, they said, it's anti-Christian to have a foreign god(dess) in our streets! People might worship it! It might even be Wiccan or some other form of devil worship!
The local town council even forbade the local historical society to mount an exhibit explaining the myths and representations of this modest creature.
I get impatient with these religious fanatics and raise the following question. If it is non-Christian- so what? Will you also forbid a statue if it represents a Jewish icon, or Muslim? Does the council have a right to quash an educational exhibit because it might be controversial?
These fights were tres populaire in the 19th century, but, of course, I had thought we'd moved beyond it.
People of Roseburg, OR- you are a disgrace!

PS An update as of 2/20- the Roseburg Town Council has agreed to let the local musuem go ahead with the exhibit.
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  1. This is Bush country.

  2. Sorry. I thought it was the United States...


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