Eeek! A picture of an overpass! Protect me!

By Sandy . . . Glenn Cummings, president of the University of Southern Maine, has recently created controversy in the art world by ordering the removal of three pieces of art from the university’s campus gallery. The gallery’s curator was incensed at the removal order but had no choice but to comply. It is not the subject of the art that made it fall victim to censorship but rather the artist himself.

Bruce Habowski is, or rather was, on Maine’s sex offense registry due to a conviction of unlawful sexual contact from two decades ago. The offense with which he was charged is a Tier I offense, requiring ten years on the registry. A search for his name on the registry today turns up nothing.

His work, part of a larger exhibit titled “Industrial Maine – Our Other Landscape,” consists of three canvasses portraying paper mills, trucks, and overpasses. 

Cummings had received a complaint from a relative of the victim and felt it appropriate to take action, saying that everyone had to pass by that display as it was at the main entrance, and “…the potential to trigger is very real. . . . In the end the requirement to provide a safe place for our students stands paramount.” 

Who is the “everyone” needing protection from pictures of trucks and abandoned paper mills?

Think about it. I am a college student who has been sexually molested in the past. On my way through the gallery, I see this cool picture of an old yellow truck. I freeze as memories of my molestation sweep over me.

Maybe if I had been molested in a yellow truck. Or even next to a yellow truck.

Or…how about this: On my way through the gallery on campus, I see some interesting artwork. I peer closer to see the artist’s name affixed to the canvasses. Oh my gosh! I recognize that name from the time I was idly browsing through the state sex offender registry ten years ago, when I was nine! He’s a registered sex offender! Being a victim of a sexual assault some years back, I am outraged – outraged! – that MY college would display the work of a REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER.

Let’s face it. This artist’s work was removed based on the complaint of one person speaking on behalf of the person who had been the victim in Mr. Habowski’s case twenty years ago. Is she a college student today, walking past Mr. Habowski’s oil paintings of underpasses, trucks, and old paper mill silos and being “triggered” by the sight of them? Possibly yes, but more likely not.

The risk of harm being done to anyone viewing these art pieces is infinitesimal. This art was not removed based on a rational nor realistic need to protect students who had already been traumatized and were at risk of re-living their trauma due to the art. The campus is no more of a “safe space” without those three pieces than it was with them.

The art of Bruce Habowski was removed as a punitive measure by a man whose moral indignity was aroused at the thought of someone who had committed a sexual crime being given any positive recognition.

That would be an entirely appropriate judgment call for Mr. Cummings to make in choosing décor for his own home. It is an entirely inappropriate judgment call for him to make in regard to a university art gallery on a university campus over which he has total control.

Help us reach more people by Sharing or Liking this post.

Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

This topic contains 30 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Saddles 11 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #43568 Reply
    Sandy Rozek
    Sandy Rozek
    Admin

    By Sandy . . . Glenn Cummings, president of the University of Southern Maine, has recently created controversy in the art world by ordering the remova
    [See the full post at: Eeek! A picture of an overpass! Protect me!]

  • #43569 Reply
    Fred
    Fred
    Admin

    Isn’t art a form of protected speech under the 1st Amendment? I am not sure if a university qualifies as a private business exempt from constitutional regulations.

    • #43576 Reply
      Avatar
      Tim

      Fred,
      In Packingham speech under assault, now this. How far does PC go?
      Victimstance is unstoppable! Unbelievably profitable for some.

      BTW on that other issue…ever consider a white list?

      Tim L.

      • #43581 Reply
        Fred
        Fred
        Admin

        Eventually members of NARSOL will be able to log in to comment and bypass the re-captcha.

  • #43570 Reply
    Avatar
    Derek Logue of OnceFallen.com

    This would be a good time to shamelessly plug my ARM Art Protest in response to this story, so far I’ve raised enough money to buy the displays I need for the art but far short of my $1000 projected expenses.

    If anyone from the conference who expressed interest in this project is reading this, I’m still waiting to hear from you folks. –

    • #43577 Reply
      Avatar
      Tim

      D,

      Right on! Too bad we can’t go viral! Could get 1M FB posts but for that pesky TOS!
      Free speech is very much under attack, but it is the S.O. they sold out first to big data. Scapegoats for Surveillance Saints!

  • #43571 Reply
    Avatar
    Carol Custer

    Hello there,
    I am wondering if there was a lawyer or a team of lawyers that might be interested in taking a look at our situation. The Senator’s office has said that we have the most unique case in Michigan and after years of trying, no one will help! If interested, please contact me and at the very least, I can share my story.

    Thank you,
    Carol

    • #43583 Reply
      Avatar
      Greg K

      Carol what is the situation in Michigan – I live in Mich myself. I am on list but do NOT have a conviction (it was set aside in 2014).

  • #43580 Reply
    Avatar
    Dan Silverman

    I had this happen to me. I was creating art and a local comic book store asked if I’d like to provide them with poster art that they could sell since several of my pieces were comic book related. I thought that would be great and provided them with several pieces and a few sold. Then I received a call from the store. I was told that someone had slipped a note into their mail slot informing them that I was on the sex offender registry and, as a result, I needed to come collect my art.

    I was genuinely confused because I did not see how my art had anything to do with my being on the registry. When I asked about this, I was told that they were afraid that my art in their store would cause them to lose business. Sigh.

    • #43629 Reply
      Avatar
      Robert V – Alabama

      Yeah, Me too. I wrote a story and a magazine told me they loved it and wanted to publish it. I agreed and they told me how much they could pay. Then, later on, I got an email asking if I was the Robert who had some legal troubles. I told them I had in the past. You guessed it, they suddenly changed their mind and they stopped responding to my attempts to communicate with them.

  • #43587 Reply
    Avatar
    Kirk Kubik

    Sandy
    Your second to last paragraph says it all. Another HATE crime by small minded people full of shame.

  • #43588 Reply
    Michael
    Michael Harris

    I emailed the following to University President Cummings:
    I was totally shocked by the fact that you would order the removal of Mr. Habrowski’s paintings from your University.

    It seems to me that rather than allowing your Students to think about real life situations and how one logically, ethically and Constitutionally deals with real life situations you are self-imposing blinders on their knowledge of the world in a much larger context.

    You are saying that because this man committed an offense for which he has now paid the price exacted by society he can no longer make a living, share his creation or contribute positively to society. I wonder who you think is the most dangerous to society, someone who is a contributing member or someone for who you have cut off all possible hope of returning to normalcy.

    And while the victim or the victim’s advocate may think they are better off by not seeing a painting by their offender, studies have proven that a healthy reconciliation or at least moving on will do more to help the victim heal than trying to hide the past away like it doesn’t or never existed.

    ANd as I said originally while you may or may not be protecting one student from dealing with their past you are prohibiting all other students and university visits from working through a very complex and a socially relevant reality of this present age.

    I urge you to rethink your decision.

    Sincerely
    Michael Harris
    Indiana Voices

  • #43589 Reply
    Avatar
    Capt Charles Munsey Jr. USN (Ret)

    Maybe they could have left the art in place if they had just also provided crying towels and coloring books. That surely would have eased the ‘pain’. Once again a single complaint upsets the world. Maybe the artist should claim that the removal of the artwork caused him to have a traumatic flashback. What a sad state our society is in!

  • #43595 Reply
    Avatar
    esther ritchie

    I am completely appalled by this situation. I am planning to contact Mr.Cummings. Since someone else has already done so, is it possible to find his email anywhere?

  • #43597 Reply
    Avatar
    MarcusG

    (From SunJournal comments)
    Avatar
    seashoreofmaine
    2 months ago
    I’m wondering how many other artists would disappear from our art museums and historical centers if we undertook the work to uncover all past allegations against prominent artists. Certainly Oscar Wilde’s work would all have to be removed. Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Benvenuto Cellini and Giovanni Antonio Bazzi – all of their artwork stripped from the walls, from literature, from history. And what cultural standards should be used for such censorship? The US is one of only a small handful of nations that even have a registry, meaning only American artists will be censored, despite the fact that many other nations have very different definitions of sexual assault. Is there any standard or process, any appeal rights, or is this entirely subject to arbitrary individual whim and bias? Ironically the art itself is the least abstract matter here.

  • #43598 Reply
    Avatar
    Svejk

    This is just ridiculous. Did the rules/regs for displaying art say anything about criminal convictions? No? Time to lawyer up, and go after not just the Uni, but the vic’s rep who caused it all.
    Folks, until we start to fight back in the same, mean, dirty and underhanded ways that we are being attacked, this will continue. When these jibronis feel the pinch on their purses, maybe they’ll wise up.
    Want to sell your art or have it repped by a store or gallery? Make an official contract with substantial penalties for canceling it. LegalZoom online can help you with that. While I respect dedication to one’s art, I would be much more willing to donate to a legal fund than an art display fund.
    I know we’re taught to turn the other cheek, but believe me, they’ll bruise that one for you too. I used to have some folks think they could mess with me where I am, trying the same underhanded anonymous letters, etc., etc., but I went on the warpath. I’m also a 100% disabled vet, and not too mentally stable, so folks generally give me a wide berth.
    Illegitimati non carborundum!
    Svejk

  • #43599 Reply
    Avatar
    Tim B.

    Another HATE crime for sure. I don’t think they have any shame about their position though.

  • #43602 Reply
    Avatar
    totally against public registry

    I just don’t know what to say! I am at a loss for words…..As one person stated before, how do we not use this occasion to discuss important societal issues, of all places at the university level. This is not kindergarten or elementary schools. My God, are these students little children that cannot handle life’s sexual situations? I am ashamed at our society for being so hateful and short-minded.

  • #43603 Reply
    Avatar
    totally against public registry

    I just wrote an email to the president. I think we all should do the same. This is an opportunity for us to explain our side.

  • #43605 Reply
    Avatar
    TS

    Why isn’t anyone saying this is government censorship considering USM is a state run public educational institution in the state funded & run public educational system? He is a state employee and therefore, this would be censorship and against the First Amendment as Fred had open the comments with.

    You want to draw attention to this? Hit up the newspapers across Maine, including Boston, with this NARSOL editorial as well as their respective ME elected officials in the capital and WDC, e.g. Sen. Susan Collins is extremely powerful. Since many of these public institutions are receiving Federal money, they can have it removed due to this violation. It will create a stir which is what is needed to continue the message of those who are moving on with their lives, should be able to without issue from others who are speaking on behalf of someone else.

    If and when public universities, colleges and other institutions of higher education can dictate who sees what, then the founding fathers (especially in NE) are rolling in their respective graves.

  • #43617 Reply
    Avatar
    Ron Lufkin

    Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

  • #43618 Reply
    Avatar
    Admin of SexOffenderTruth.com

    Typical absurd American “thinking which causes the majority to be effected by the actions of one. In this case the “victim” who will most likely play the victim card for the rest of their lives in out toxic “snowflake” culture of late.

    This is just another example of an illogical punishment and further illustrates the marginalization of nearly 1 million American citizens. Pathetic and totally Un-American!

  • #43622 Reply
    Avatar
    obvious answers

    “triggered” what the crap is “triggered”? It is a catch all phrase that can signify anything and pretty much everything or absolutely nothing… What I am about to post would have many of the fake pop-psychologists trying to shelve it because well reality and truth really are not that popular in America.
    The real definition of triggered is the refusal to accept life does not bow to our demands nor does the rest of the real world bow down for our whims. You refuse to move on because it feels good not to.. you get acceptance by playing victim cards..heck many often fake being victims just for the glory of acceptance..
    I would say sorry for what I am about to post BUT I am not sorry so I won’t lie..
    America is in a cultural cradle of unreality choked full of imbeciles unable to cope with life and really needs to wake up or it will become permanently unable to adjust as the world moves on and leaves it behind.
    You are a victim and cant move on? Tuff stuff.. Sorry but I have been living in 3rd world countries and I have to tell you the “oh so sorry, worst victim” in America is still a country club picnic snacker compared to the real world. yea… I have met thousands of people who only wish they could be blessed as well as “Americas boo hoo cant move on” crowd.. Heck I wouldn’t mind some of the perkys and benefits of being a mee too..
    You are living in a perpetual state of delusion where 99% you are more so a victim of your own inability than anything else..
    Yea sounds pretty brutal right? Get a grip..I find it crazy that the crimes purported against the “accused” far outweigh any “real” suffering caused and the real crime is the refusal to teach any form of coping skills ..but then if we taught coping skills people may move on and if people move on their wont be the need for registries and pitchforks..

    • #43630 Reply
      Avatar
      Maestro

      Obvious answers,

      What you said is 100% true and factual. Americans have the “boo-hoo” mentality and other Americans coddle them.
      We can thank our legal system for most of this as they are the ones who drill the “victim” mentality into our heads. The rest of the puppets of this country just follow along as instructed.
      What’s truly unfortunate is the facade that any advocates feel they have to put on when speaking on behalf of our cause. There seems to be a “politically correct” way of HAVING to speak to the people and the powers that be. I call bullshit. Speak REALISTICALLY. To all the advocates out there, be it NARSOL or any other groups – STOP cowering down by always saying “we understand about the VICTIMS, but…” no! Unless you are speaking about pre-teens being literally molested, stop pandering to what they WANT to hear and tell it like it is; Most of the people ending up on the SOR are there for CONSENSUAL POST PUBESCENT sexual/romantic involvement. Our generation went through it with very little issue. We have NATURAL instincts as youths to find older people attractive (I didn’t have a poster of Farrah Fawcet on MY wall because I saw her as a “mentor”. Obviously.) And it’s also a natural instinct for older people to be attracted to youth (post pubescent teens).
      These teenagers are not “victims”. If it’s a crime to be with someone simply due to the age difference, that’s fine. Make it a misdemeanor. But stop with the bullshit of a licensed to drive teenager being a “victim” of a natural act that THEY CHOSE to engage in. (Legal age to drive is 16. Legal age for sex in CT – 16, legal age in NY -17, so a 16 yr old in NY who can potentially run you over can’t seem to make a decision on having sex with you. Seriously?) major face palm 🤦🏻‍♂️

      We make a natural act such as sex and romantic feelings towards another person a “heinous crime” but we make the UNNATURAL act of putting narcotics into our system at ANY age to be something we should help the addict overcome and move on from.
      I don’t know of any case where a person who was a “victim” of drug addiction complaining about he abundance of pot smokers or the showing of drug use in a movie. So why the sex uproar?

      I am really gonna piss people off with this one but here goes –
      I sometimes wonder what my “victim” has been doing all these years. I’d love to be able to see her social media and see if she’s got a ton of pics and videos of herself and friends having a good time goofing off, vacationing in the Bahamas, partying at a bar in Miami, etc., and actually be able to show such photos and videos to the DA and Judge that sentenced me and say to them “Oh, this poor, poor victim. My goodness, how she’ll never be able to move past a consensual sexual experience.”
      The DA recognized it to the court as a consensual relationship followed by how my “victim” will carry this with her for the rest of her life. Carry what, you moron? Explain.

      I would be considered a victim of the 22 yr old I slept with when I was 15. Interesting how after we did our thing, we went our separate ways and I continued on being the typical teenager I was BEFORE I had sex with her. But no! In the minds of the legal system and most especially the “treatment group leaders”, I should have been crying in the corner of my bedroom for the rest of my life over a great, natural, human animalistic experience. I suppose I should wake up every day with a grumpy look on my face thinking about how an older woman touched my penis and made me feel amazing. 🤦🏻‍♂️

      To anyone (and there are a few here) who want to pander to the typical b.s. about how my words show that I have “no remorse”, well, you’re right so don’t waste your time to type it. I have no “remorse” because I didn’t kill anyone. I’m too fed up with this hysteria to have any remorse. I just won’t ever be with someone under legal age again but I don’t have remorse. Her family didn’t bury her. But had I been a drunk driver that ran her over and killed her, my neighbors would never know and I wouldn’t worry about my passport being stamped or having to register in another state long after my state’s registry requirements have expired.
      Remorse indeed. For what? Being human? Pffffft. Ok. Let me make a note of that. 🙄

  • #43642 Reply
    Avatar
    david

    Isn’t art supposed to trigger emotion?

  • #43655 Reply
    Avatar
    david

    Question:

    In a situation like this, is it better to write to Mr. Cummings via email or use good old fashioned snail mail?

    I went ahead and sent a short, respectful business-style letter. The address was easy to find. My feeling was it might be taken more seriously and perhaps won’t be overlooked/deleted/spammed the way an email might.

    Any thoughts or advice on letter writing protocol? Thanks!

    • #43667 Reply
      Avatar
      totally against public registry

      @David, I am glad you wrote to him….I emailed him and he responded pretty quickly. Although his response was the same typical “I have to have the safety of the students in mind” stuff so I wrote him back and explained the difference between calling someone a “survivor rather than victim” and calling someone “perpetrator rather than offender”….big difference. More people should write. Thanks

  • #43657 Reply
    Avatar
    LARRY Evans

    Well it’s a great idea to write this person about their perspective about what does and doesn’t trigger a thought on a terrible experience / but most have voice’s saying they’ll never be right again, never be over the incident, will never be over it/ so the brain washing goes on and on so healing and recovery will never be complete for those individuals who are surrounded by the interference they won’t forget, but they won;t move forward like the Law doesn’t want us to move on/ personally i won;t let them get in my way.

  • #43753 Reply
    Avatar
    Saddles

    You know this NARSOL wouldn’t be the same without topics to strive to help the sex offender out in his or her plight. and yes even Maestro’s comments are good to his extend. Of course I liked Obvious Answers to Obvious answers reply, which I knew everyone would agree on. Seems man has his own infinite wisdom and understanding on all this sex stuff or how the world treats others. I guess we are all animals or Gods to ourselves. So who takes the pride in that one.

    Listen folks man cannot justify man and yes he will try to defend the “Who’s been sleeping in my bed” just as long as they don’t get caught, but when they do they will still justify their actions. Its the law of nature. This triggering factor with this guy’s artwork is a bunch of facebook gossip if you ask me and some are offended and some can cry rape all over again, but what about true justice.

    Isn’t that what NARSOL is all about helping those with rational laws to combat or deactivate a lot of this sex offender hype going on and for change. If I stuck my middle finger up to any of you all that would be offensive but hey its artwork today or would the poster “We want you for the US Army” be pointing the finger at somebody and that somebody might be a sex offender in his own right.

    Government changes laws all the time but I can tell you someone who’s law’s never change. Think about that.

  • #43793 Reply
    Avatar
    Saddles

    While this article of Sandy’s has its good and bad I have never heart of the word in my understanding and everyday use as “Infinitesimal”. Wouldn’t that word be used for the rich and famous. Basically you have one person complaining and I would bet you a dime to a dollar it was a woman as they have to get their last harrah. All over a piece of artwork.

    Sure I’m not into the me-too movement or this thing about Derek’s Arm’s art poster. I am in this thing for true justice can be all sorted out. Sure they’ll con you into a plea deal and than tell you that you give up all your rights. Can one walk anybodys’ life for them or tell them what to do. Sure its decisions, decisions, or would you say you made a choice to do what you did because of someone’s complaint. If the truth be known, its a lot about money. Do we all want to be politically right or are we some perverse radicals ready to march and protest on capital hill about a lot of these sex offense’s that some of us did or did not do on here or should you let your conscience be your guide?

    Smile your on candid camera. I’m sure everyone saw the viedo of this guy passing this lady and one guy gives her a little butt slap as he passes by here. Sure that got him in trouble as it was rude. Back in the early days thing were a bit different with the candid camera. Its like court systems are not for anyone that molest the opposite sex even with hand touching let alone with a physical encounter. As I said before people want to justify their own actions but when truth comes to shove its all a cover up or even a conspircy and courts know how to win at that game unless you speak up.

Reply To: Eeek! A picture of an overpass! Protect me!
We welcome a lively discussion with all view points provided that they stay on topic - keeping in mind...

  • *You must check the "I am not a robot" box and follow the recaptcha instructions.
  • *Your submission must be approved by a NARSOL moderator.
  • *Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  • *Excessively long replies will be rejected, without explanation.
  • *Be polite and courteous. This is a public forum.
  • *Do not post in ALL CAPS.
  • *Stay on topic.
  • *Do not post links or email addresses..
  • *Please enter a name that does not contain links to other websites.
Your information:





<a href="" title="" rel="" target=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <pre> <em> <strong> <del datetime=""> <ul> <ol start=""> <li> <img src="" border="" alt="" height="" width="">

Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version