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March 9, 2009

Banned by the Church

We wanted to give a little shoutout and some free publicity to Father Panik today, because we just love it (er, hate it) when ignorance meets censorship. Sigh. (We're a little late on this story, but we really like them so we're going to tell you about it anyway).

Father Panik Industries (a.k.a. the design lovechild of Scott Machens and Mika Kitamori) has some of the coolest jewelry, clothing and accessories we've seen in a while. We featured them - specifically their awesome knuckle tattoo gloves - in our Shameless Promotional ESC Holiday Shopping Guide after having met Mika at the BUST Craftacular this past winter.

We recently got wind of the fact that they were kicked out of the Young Designers Market (housed in the gym of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral) and we'll admit that we're pretty pissed off about the reason why. Apparently some of Father Panik's items were deemed "offensive" by the powers that be at St. Patrick's (er, not those powers that be... we mean Monsignor Donald Sakano, the priest and landlord).

Some of the items Msgr. Sakano deemed offensive included excommunicate rosaries:

Excommunicate Rosaries

A few choice words from Mika (from the Father Panik website) regarding the rosaries:
"Some of my T-shirt and jewelry designs have image/s of weapons as symbols of self-empowerment and fighting spirit for self-preservation. [...]

I don't like to tell people what art is, and what it means. It should be what you want it to mean. But this is what the rosaries mean to me personally. When I make the excommunicate rosaries, I put my own prayers into it, just not of any religious kind. When I work with broken antique rosaries, I think of resurrecting a discarded and forgotten rosary, and give it a new home for another 50 yrs or so. I especially like them, because it's a piece of history you can wear: it carries the energy of faith and prayers that helped over come fear, broken hearts, despairs, and hardships of people of past generations. We may put weapons on our rosaries, but the symbolisms and meaning still remains the same. I think the wearer of our rosaries have faith in their own inner strength, to overcome all obstacles in life. We break down the borders of religious differences."
Msgr. Sakano also objected to a cross of thorns pendant, calling it a swastika.

Cross of Thorns

According to Mika, Scott designed it "based on the crosses he saw in the Vatican museum". Msgr. Sakano apparently refused to accept this explanation: "I THINK NOT!"

While it is understandable why the swastika - as a symbol of Nazi Germany - is offensive to many, the ancient origins of the symbol are actually quite positive. That doesn't mean that we should all necessarily be wearing swastika necklaces (as the 'newer' meaning of the symbol certainly is a powerful one and hurtful one) however while the cross may vaguely resemble a swastika, it isn't actually one.

Msgr. Sakano also thought that the knuckle tattoo gloves (that you already know we love) "promoted violence". (Um, what?)

Knuckle Tattoo Gloves

Now, we're not a fan of censorship, but seeing as he's the landlord of the church, we do acknowledge and respect his right to control or limit what items are sold at the market (even if his basis for doing so was totally ignorant and biased). According to the rental agreement, the church can veto the sale of anything it finds offensive. However, what really pisses us off is that although they agreed to remove the offending items, he still ordered them to pack up and leave immediately.

(For more details on the story, go here or check out coverage from the Village Voice).

But have no fear! Instead of St. Patrick's, Father Panik will now spend their weekends at Brownstoners Brooklyn Flea's Winter Pop-Up Market in DUMBO. We definitely recommend that you stop by and show them some support!

And while we'd never suggest you boycott the market at St. Patrick's (because that would only hurt the other young designers, and not Msgr. Sakano), we do hope that the next time you shop there you will stop in to pay a visit to the church management and let them know that you don't approve of the censorship and closedminded ignorance that they're giving out.

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