Thursday, July 09, 2015

Nuisance statues

Mitch is doing a talk about statues for the city council today.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has formally asked the city council to begin the legal process required to have four public monuments, including the statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle, declared public "nuisances" and taken down.

In a letter addressed to City Council President Jason Williams, Landrieu asks the council to hold a hearing to determine whether the following monuments should be removed: Lee's statue, the statue of Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway, the PGT Beauregard equestrian statue at the entrance to City Park and the Battle of Liberty Place monument on Iberville Street near the riverfront.

Landrieu is scheduled to address the council on the subject at noon Thursday (July 9) during its business meeting.
I was all set to head out to Lee Circle with my decibel meter but I stopped and read the rest of this article where it actually defines what makes something a "nuisance statue."
The law sets up a three-point test to determine if a statue may be removed. Briefly stated, the council must find that the monument:

* Praises a subject at odds with the message of equal rights under the law.
* Has been or may become the site of violent demonstrations.
* Constitutes an expense to maintain that outweighs its historic importance and/or the reason for its display on public property.

The language of the first provision in particular seems tailored to the removal of Confederate statuary, as it makes a clear reference to the 14th Amendment, which was added to the U.S. Constitution after the Civil War and made black Americans full citizens with equal protection under the law.

According to that provision, any monument that, in the council's view, "honors praises or fosters ideologies ... in conflict with the requirements of equal protection," would be subject to removal. Also eligible: anything that honors those who "participated in the killing of public employees of the city or the state" or anything that lauds any "violent actions" to promote "ethnic, religious or racial supremacy."
This is obviously an ordinance written in response to a controversy over the Liberty Place Monument brought on by David Duke.
The monument left public view in 1989, reportedly for safe keeping, amidst construction on Canal Street. Mayor Sidney Barthelemy pledged to return the marker, though his administration missed the originally stated date for its replacement. The structure stayed in storage until February 1993, when a movement led by David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, sued for its return. To the chagrin of many residents, the city obliged but moved the obelisk off of Canal Street to its present site in the curve of Iberville Street, between railroad tracks and the entrance to a parking garage.
Mitch is finally asking for the new ordinance to be applied to the cases it was intended to address. But why stop there? There are plenty of statues around town we might consider nuisances. Mr. Peanut is pretty annoying, for instance.  Also those Evac-U-Spot giant metal stick men. Nobody likes those.

But neither of those cases seem like they fit the criteria set forth by the ordinance. Mr. Peanut is an advertisement. Maybe we can dig around and find some way Planter's is "at odds with equal rights under the law" but let's not get too deep into the problematics today.  (A Twitterer tells me he's already gone anyway) The Evacu-Spots aren't likely to draw demonstrations.  Hell, they aren't even likely to draw crowds of evacuees even though that is their ostensible purpose.  Some nuisances you have to live with, I guess.

This, on the other hand...

Bronze Tom

Everybody hates Bronze Tom.  Tom Benson's personal fortune is derived from public subsidies and the use of public facilities. This constitutes a considerable expense to maintain. A lot of people might not agree the expense outweighs its historic importance.. at least in terms of the football team which we seem to enjoy.  But if we're just talking about the statue.. well.. everybody hates Bronze Tom.  This has already caused it to become the site of demonstrations which, on occasion, have bordered on violence.

Bronze Tom official greeting

No reason to stop at just the Confederate monuments. Mr. Landrieu, tear down this paw paw.

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