Recently in the Chicago art world, a Muslim artist had her exhibit on Muslim hate crimes defaced with a robot and a speech bubble. The Chicago media is abuzz with the words “hate crime”, and the Muslim community is even asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation. I write over on Chicago Art Magazine:
The most common comment on the internet about this incident has dealt with the irony of the defacement ( “doing it for the lulz” explained here). The same people leaving these comments are the very same disrespectful teenage to twenty-something males that run around saying “Why So Serious” (even a Wall Street Journal blogger has used this phrase) or making those funny cat pictures everyone loves. I hesitate to call this a “hate crime” because the drawing of robots and speech bubbles on a piece of art don’t fit the definition of a hate crime: a criminal offense committed against a person or property that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion.
A robot does not strike me as anti-Muslim, in so much as “anti-human”. A robot is not a swastika or a white hooded “KKK” member. What if this wasn’t about hatred at all, but just some jerk move by another artist? What if the vandal wanted to contribute to the work by saying any one who says these things about Muslims is a Fox News robot? Calling this a hate crime without proof of intention reminds me of the “possible hate crime” story about a Jewish man that was mugged. He wasn’t mugged because he was Jewish, he was mugged because he was alone, old, and an easy target. I buy my Fox News Robot theory over the supposed Hate Crime theory. The robots don’t seem like “marks of hate” but ones of arrogance and trolling. Was this troll bothered and angered by her hate wall? I think they were probably bored by its “seriousness” and felt like causing some drama/humor.
And because I couldn’t embed this video over there in my pep talk to the defaced artist, I am going to do it here: