I truly believe that people, organizations, and entire nations expose the true content of their character when cruelty and misfortune test the limits of human endurance. When the fringe elements of a culture force their views on the rest of society through radical and unlawful acts, we must strive as a country to respond with swift justice. I’m referring to, of course, the recent theft of the ceramic penis art display from the Boulder Public Library.
Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, here is some background information on how this whole thing started. Robert Rowen, age 49, recently stole 21 ceramic penises on display at the Boulder Public Library to honor Domestic Violence Awareness month. Robert then placed an American flag in the area to replace the art. The next day Robert confessed what he did and the police recovered the stolen property.
I would like to spend some time analyzing the actions of this Robert guy. I often get criticized for oversimplifying situations, but my first reaction was something along the lines of “if something visually offends you, THEN DON’T LOOK AT IT!” I must admit I don’t know exactly what state Robert was in the first time he viewed the ceramic dildos. But unless the library staff physically restrained the man in a chair with his head strapped down and his eyes forced open like the government did in the movie “A Clockwork Orange,” he would have been able to leave the vicinity of the display of his own free will.
Perhaps most simple minded folks would have just walked away and have forgotten the whole ordeal by the time they got to the book check out area. But not Robert. He was so offended by the display that he came back to the library, walked over to the display area, put his hand around each of the 20 ceramic penises as he placed them in a box, and took the offensive material back to his house. The irony here is that the person supposedly most offended by the artwork is the one who is sure going out of his way to spend a lot of time with them.
And then there is the message Robert is sending to his young child. While it’s possible that my sense of right and wrong may change a bit once I have kids of my own, I just don’t see how bringing twenty stolen sex toys into the same house with a five year old female is a very good idea. While there has been no evidence to suggest the daughter had any contact with the stolen artwork, the general message conveyed to the child is that theft is an acceptable action when settling disagreements.
I’m not sure why Robert seems to think he gets to impose his sense of right and wrong on the entire population of Boulder County. Is it OK for people to steal books from the library if someone deems it offensive? I don’t like the four way stop sign on the road next to the library, but that doesn’t give me the right to go and cut them down with a hack saw. Robert needs to learn a similar lesson.