Posted on March 13, 2006

When Tolerance Means Intolerance

Joseph Farah,, March 13, 2006

Daniel Burke is the owner of a minor league baseball team — the Portland, Maine, Sea Dogs.

He thought it might be a nice touch to commission some public artwork to rest outside Hadlock Field where the Sea Dogs play and offer it to the city for free.

So he commissioned Rhoda Sherbell, a Long Island, N.Y., artist to create bronze statues of an American family — mom, dad and two kids — headed off to watch a game together.

Can’t get much less controversial than that, can you?

That’s what you think.

Portland’s Public Art Committee had other ideas. They see racism and sexism and probably homophobia beneath the bronze veneer. The statues just don’t reflect the diversity of Maine’s largest city, members say.

Jack Soley, the committee vice chairman, said he’s seen enough public artwork in Portland displaying “white folks on pedestals.”

Portland has enough of those, including a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he said.

“There’s so much statuary in Portland that represents white, Anglo-Saxon people,” explained Jay York, another committee member. “We want to encourage strong, interesting public art that the city of Portland can enjoy of years to come.”