LAFAYETTE — A New Orleans artist who began working as a teacher in Lafayette after Hurricane Katrina filed a free speech lawsuit Thursday against the Lafayette Parish School Board, alleging she was unjustly fired because of adult-oriented art on her Web site. Heather Weathers, whose Web site features images of partial nudity and declares that her art “addresses stereotypes and taboos about women’s bodies, is seeking unspecified damages in a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.
I’m not about to get into a debate over whether or not a meat bikini or ass-print wallpaper constitutes art. That argument is far too subjective (and silly) to ever have any hope of an amicable resolution. One person’s art is another’s litterbox liner, after all (Hey, at least we’re not talking about a crucifix suspended in a jar of the artist’s urine….).
I’m not even going to get into whether or not Heather Weathers has a right to purvey her art as she sees fit. That argument is best left to those intellects more nimble than my own- because I really don’t much care.
No, what gets me about this sorry episode is that Weathers seems genuinely surprised that some narrow-minded adults didn’t see the value in her art and objected to her teaching their precious, impressionable children. Oddly enough, I’ll bet the kids are just fine- it’s the adults that have their knickers in a twist. That Weathers seems unable to recognize her part in this is downright comical.
History is replete with examples of adults who are incapable of enjoying life, having seemingly dedicated their lives to not only enhancing their own misery, but making certain that everyone they come in contact with is equally miserable and fun-deprived. Calvinism, anyone? How about the Nazarene Church? And I probably don’t even need to mention folks like the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family.
I honestly don’t know if wearing a meat bikini constitutes art. If you’re going to teach high school, though, you need to understand that not everyone is going to be as open-minded as you might think they should be. It’s not the kids you should be concerned about, of course; it’s the adults. No more how worthy your art may be (ass-print wallpaper??), some joyless troll will see it as their birthright to demand your head for threatening the innocence and virtue of their little juvenile-delinquent-in-training.
Yes, I really have no qualification to judge the artistic merit of meat bikinis or ass-print wallpaper, but I do know a DUMB@$$ when I see one, and as much as I might admire Heather Weathers’ commitment to her own individuality, she should have known what she would be up against. The joyless and fearful have always been among us. They were here long before meat bikinis came along, and they will be here long after ass-print wallpaper goes out of style. Same as it ever was….
According to the lawsuit, Weathers had been teaching at Comeaux High School one week when Principal Joseph Craig told her that parents had brought the Web site to his attention. Craig “then informed Weathers that she could not continue to teach at Comeaux or any other Lafayette Parish school,” according to the lawsuit.
That parents might have a problem with a teacher wearing a meat bikini or using her ass to print wallpaper should hardly come as a surprise. That Weathers didn’t seem to anticipate that the fact that here art might not be universally accepted can really only be held to be her own damn fault. After all, most adults are notorious killjoys, especially once they become parents. This is a surprise??