Jon McNaughton’s Idea Journal

For centuries artists and lovers of art alike have studied the masters, hoping for a glimpse into the process of creative genius. Now, an unprecedented find. A never before seen look into the mind of one of the greatest painters our generation has seen…

Two pages from Jon McNaughton's private sketchbook of ideas.


  1. What an insight to perhaps the “greatest” LDS painter ever.

  2. Christopher says:


  3. Quickmere Graham says:

    Don’t forget to head over to McNaughton’s facebook page, where is latest offering shows Obama literally burning the Constitution, and pointing at it as it burns. McNaughton says there are four hidden symbols, and if you guess them you can win a free print.

  4. This is your finest achievement Matt.

  5. Well, it’s obvious that Matsby has been breaking into McNaughton’s home. Shame on you Matsby, stalking poor Jon like that. Let him create his masterpieces in peace.

  6. 1) His black suit represents that he is an agent of Satan.
    2) His red tie represents that he is an agent of Satan.
    3) The flames represent the everlasting burnings of hell, where Obama’s master (Satan, of whom he is an agent) lives.
    4) Obama’s hands are making a sign of one who is an agent of Satan.

    I want my free print.

  7. #4. Yes. Agreed.

  8. This is so full of win I don’t even know where to start.

  9. Sorry, Matt, but his own blog is funnier than any satire you could come up with. “Reach people on a deeper level.” LOLOLOL!

  10. “Matt Page! “Matt Page!” “Matt Page!”– cheers of the multitudes heard from my balcony this morning

  11. Brilliant – even more so than your normal brilliance. This is McNaughton-esque brilliance.

  12. Matsby rides out of the Rocky Mountains and saves the Constitution from the paintbrushes of hacks. Brilliant.

  13. This makes me really, really, happy.

  14. I spent a very happy few minutes reading the comments on McNaughton’s FB post, attempting to ferret out which were parody (BCC commenters FTW!) and which were sincere. I didn’t even attempt my own comment there, because that lunacy is un-toppable.

  15. Benjamin says:

    May, if you would like to remain Happy, I strongly caution you not look at the comments on his Facebook page. Some of the symbolism being found is…I don’t know that a word exists for it. I had to come back here for another look to get that happy feeling back.

  16. I just posted a link to this on McNaughty’s fb wall, so hopefully we’ll get some utterly un-self-aware, self-caricaturing trolls here soon.

  17. Brad, you’re a bad, bad man!

  18. Well we can say McNaughton inspires greatness.

  19. This really helps me to understand the deeper level of meaning and symbolism in his paintings. I used to think they were rather dull, but now my eyes are opened I can comprehend the great truths contained within it.

  20. Layers and layers of symbolism. Thanks for helping us understand greatness.

  21. I think that he is burning his real birth certificate, mocking us all, as we will now never prove that he is Kenyan.

  22. Fix your WordPress problem

  23. What is the symbolism behind his painting of a giant cock?

  24. Ben, in the interim, try using a different email address that is not associated with your WordPress account. That is what I am having to do.

  25. Hilarious. Thanks, Matt!

  26. andrew h says:

    I got it, I got it! The Symbolism is:

    1. He has no discernible pupils – clearly indicating that President Obama is secretly a Sith Lord.

    2. His tie is covered in red stripes, indicating that he wields a Sith Lord’s light-saber, clearly indicating he is in league with Darth Sidious, and that he is planning to rule the entire galaxy by secretly controlling the Galactic Senate, er, I mean rule the United States by secretly controlling Congress.

    3. He is burning the constitution just as Darth Vader was burned by the flames of Mustafar, also the flames seem to have come from his pointing finger, just as a Sith Lord shoots lightening from his fingers, again clearly showing that he is a secret Sith Lord.

  27. How much for a giclée print?

  28. I thought a previous discussion focusing on the priestcrafty elements of McNaughty’s work estimated he was raking in around $200 for a giclee print.

  29. This is super funny. Thanks, Matsby. Yes you can!

  30. You’re all laughing now but someday you’ll see a giclee print of “Give Me You’re Guns” hanging in your in-laws’ house or the foyer of the Provo Temple and WHO’S GOING TO BE LAUGHING THEN? Socialists probably.

  31. Kevin Barney says:


    (Ben and others, WordPress has changed its security settings to provide that an e-mail address associated with a WordPress account must be logged in in order to comment. There is nothing we can do about it. [I just lost a comment myself for that reason.] So one will either have to log in to one’s WordPress account before commenting or use an e-mail address that is not connected to a WordPress account.)

  32. This is one of the most brilliant bits of satire I’ve ever seen. So many punchlines!

  33. Matsby,
    Your great for sneaking into his art studio, stealing his sketchbook, and sharing these fundamental truths with all of us. I hope you’re efforts don’t create any problems for you going forward!

  34. And I thought my Monday would have no goodness in it! This post is so full of crunchy delicious goodness I’m giddy. Even hunting for the BCC commenters in the sea of crazy of FB was a perverse joy.

  35. If I wasn’t familiar with McNaughton’s work, I’d wonder why you’re satirizing an already brilliant satire.

  36. Love this. So true.

  37. 31: Kevin, try unchecking the “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” box on the Discussion Settings screen. I don’t think it’s due to a WordPress-wide security setting, because I’m not having the issue at Keepa.

  38. It’s actually a plot to keep me from commenting.

  39. Which obviously has now failed.

  40. It’s not checked, Ardis. That’s why you can enter a nonsense email and comment freely. But if you enter an actual email that does have an account, it will make you log in to use that email. This is, I can only assume, to prevent impersonation of users with accounts. It’s not something we can control, just some update decided to make.

  41. Funny that energy companies are acting MUCH more socialist than Obama is. Force mineral rights pooling, eminent domain for abuse for pipelines & energy equipment. But, no fancy paintings to support those hurt by energy company excesses.

  42. You are all trying to hard to discover the symbolism. The above notes are the key.

    1. Obama/Obama
    2. Constitution/Constitution
    3. Fire/Fire
    4. Obama is black/ Obama is black.

  43. Matt Page says:


  44. Matt Page says:

    By the way, Jon’s contest is over. A “winner” has been named…

    But he says there’s plenty more hidden symbolism left to be discovered. (i.e. made up by loonies)

  45. I’m not a fan of all of McNaughton’s paintings. I agree that they are too partisan.

    However, this is cyberbullying. Let’s be Christ-like towards everyone, not just those we like.

  46. I’m not a big Obama fan but I find these paintings beyond ridiculous. In fact, embarrassing.

  47. Jeff: I must respectfully disagree. Jon McNaughton is getting rich by indulging people’s worst tendencies toward hatred and xenophobia, and exploiting the niche market of Obama-hate to make up for what amounts to a very, very sophomoric artistic ability. In doing so, he necessarily and deliberately puts him in the public sphere, an act which inherently invites scrutiny and critique. And parody and satire are some of the most powerful forms of critique we have.

    McNaughton’s whole livelihood is based on the business of derision. He can hardly complain when it brings derision upon himself.

  48. Matt Page says:

    I do not think this is any more bullying than a MAD Magazine parody would be bullying.

  49. Jeremy, another man’s wrongdoing doesn’t justify wrongdoing of our own. “He was bad, so we could be as mean as we want,” just isn’t going to cut it at the pearly gates.

  50. Peter LLC says:

    You’ve outdone yourself, Brother Matsby.

  51. You live in Utah, right, Jeff?

  52. Kevin Barney says:

    Ardis, my understanding from Cynthia is that this is a issue, which is different than used by many of the smaller blogs.

  53. Matt Page says:

    Awwww SNAP!

  54. michelle says:

    I can understand the responses to that painting. I don’t like it at all.

    But I agree with Jeff. Satire is too often very thinly veiled meanness and this post feels mean.

  55. Matt Page says:

    What? Me worry?

  56. Actually, this post feels awesome.

  57. Kevin Barney is cyber-bullying me — who you callin’ a small blog, Kev? Oh, that’s right. I am a small blog.

    (I hadn’t even noticed the .com vs. .org thing. Thanks.)

  58. #56 FTW.

  59. And I think we can all expect that Jeff Thayne and michelle have gone to McNaughton’s website and chided him for being mean to the President and socialists everywhere.

  60. I just wonder what kind of community of saints we are when those who invite others to be more Christlike are subsequently mocked.

  61. Mommie Dearest says:

    Jeff, this applies both to you and McNaughton: When you climb up on a pedestal of your own making for the self-appointed purpose of shaming the crowd, don’t be surprised when someone zings you with their slingshot.

  62. Jeff, I sure ‘preciate your invitation to be more Christlike. I strive each day to apply the teachings that I learn at BCC into my daily life, and you’ve edified me with your gentle reminder. I hope we can all travel to our home blogs in safety.

  63. Jeff, I’m genuinely curious. You said you are “not a fan of all of McNaughton’s paintings.” That seems to imply that there are some that you like. Which one, specifically.

  64. This one’s not that bad:

    There are many others that are also simply religiously themed, based on the life of Christ.

  65. Re: 61 — When you climb up on a pedestal of your own making for the self-appointed purpose of shaming the crowd, don’t be surprised when someone zings you with their slingshot.

    I’m not attempting to shame anyone. I’m just reminding people of our overriding obligation to love others and to be kind.

    Also, are you saying that Samuel the Lamanite should have simply expected to get arrows shot at him and stones thrown at him, and that the crowd’s doing so was perfectly justified? (By the way, I’m not comparing myself to him in any way. I’m just wondering whether you’d be just as callous towards him if he reminded you to be more loving and considerate of others—if you’d have joined the crowd in throwing stones at him trying to get him to shut up).)

  66. Brad,

    “McNaughty” must become standard around these parts! :D

  67. Matt Page says:

    Thane, if this was anything close to cyber bullying and you called me to repentance, I would like to hope that I take you seriously. But I believe you are totally off the mark, so that’s why I did not.

  68. Mommie Dearest says:

    Jeff, when you have the same authorization as Samuel the Lamanite, I’ll take your call to repentance as seriously as I do his.

  69. Satire is too often very thinly veiled meanness

    Satire, if done correctly, is always mean.

    Meanness, however, is only occasionally satire.

    That’s the difference between this post and McNaughton’s paintings.

  70. Isn’t the message, “Be kind and loving,” important enough to take seriously, no matter who says it?

    I don’t see a lot of love or kindness here for our fellow sinner Brother McNaughton. I think that’s sad. And I think it’s also telling that those who point that out are dismissed as irrelevant and also mocked.

  71. Mommie Dearest says:

    Love isn’t always warm and fuzzy, my dear.

  72. Err, I know it’s bad form to link to one’s own blog on comments threads but I hope to claim a special exemption because I didn’t actually write this and it’s quite germane (and funny).

  73. Jeff, your message “Be kind and loving” is uncontroversial. I assume everyone here welcomes it and agrees completely.

    Unfortunately, the previous sentence of your message was “This is cyberbullying.” And that part was silly, as everyone is pointing out.

  74. Does BCOTW need to be funny? If not, I nominate Mommie Dearest’s #71.

  75. Hot Fish Plaid says:

    I don’t claim to be a FB expert but something is a little wonky in the comments on this piece of work. I can’t find all the favorite BCC commenters on the thread on the main page only when I click on the link on my own feed. I wonder if they have been deleted but then still show up in my feed to placate me. I do like to be placated but in this case it just feels wrong.

  76. Matt Page says:

    75) My comment was definitely deleted. :D

    I have to say that I am somewhat offended by the suggestion that my post was nothing more than a mean spirited attack on Bro Mcno. I personally feel it was a thoughtful (and humorous) critique and that it asks some serious questions about his work, the “language” he uses in his work, and it’s appeal to his followers. As stated before, it is satire and satire is more than mocking…

    According to Wikipedia (a wonderful source of information):

    “In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.”

    That was my intent.

  77. I can stop trying to do anything good or useful at all with my life now, because I have seen TRUE genius. Thank you, Matt.

  78. Matt-
    Good job! Thanks!

  79. Re: 76 —

    I thought we shouldn’t be in the business of shaming people into being better. At least, that’s the voice I hear on this blog every time issues such as same-sex behavior, etc., are brought up. I thought the unified message I get from writers on BCC was that shaming people into better behavior was unChrist-like, and that we should love them into better behavior instead, if we attempt to help them be better at all.

    In other words, why is shaming bad in some issues but good in others? Is it just the sins we don’t like (like painting offensive paintings) that deserve to get shamed? While shaming a person with a pornography addiction is bad?

    I’m just wondering why there’s a double standard. Why shame is sometimes good and sometimes bad. Why some sins (painting offensive paintings) deserve NO tolerance and kindness, while other sins (pornography, same-sex behavior, etc.) deserve all the love, hugs, and sweet reassurances we can bring?

    In short, don’t judge those who sin differently than you do. We’re all sinners in different ways. Why is our fellow sinner Brother McNaughton the target of shaming, when other fellow sinners are defended from similar acts of shaming by the writers on this very blog?

  80. “I personally feel it was a thoughtful (and humorous) critique and that it asks some serious questions about his work, the “language” he uses in his work, and it’s appeal to his followers. As stated before, it is satire and satire is more than mocking…”

    FWIW, I thought this was the best satire I’ve seen this year, and I’ve seen a lot of satire. Besides being hilarious, I found it penetrating and brilliant. Well done, Matsby.

  81. Jeff–

    I don’t see people getting praised and receiving vast amounts of positive publicity for their pornography addictions.

    And I’m betting most active members with pornography addictions are aware that they’re sinning.

    This “artist” is getting paid good money for his sin–and he and his fans are totally obtuse to the fact of how ugly (and stupid) his paintings are.

    No double standard. Just an entirely different situation.

  82. Hmmm so people who are publicly praised for sin can be shamed and mistreated? I’m trying to see that exception in the scriptures.

  83. Mommie Dearest says:

    In my comments I am defending those who mocked this bad art, I freely admit. I think the art deserves this mockery, which is rather gentle by internet standards. I haven’t even mentioned pornography or same-sex behavior, much less given sweet assurances to them. McN is in the business of selling these images for profit, and I don’t think he minds more publicity being churned up.

    I don’t think it’s a sin for Matsby to satirize McN’s art, but I do think it’s a sin to feed a troll too long. So please excuse me from the rest of this thread.

  84. Jeff Thayne, you’re missing something incredibly important that needs to be said:

    This isn’t bullying; it’s standing up to and mocking a bully.

    How do you deal most effectively with a bully? You stand up to him and mock him, wherever possible. You don’t only love him silently (which, of course, is one part of the ideal), since silence only emboldens bullies. You certainly don’t pay him to continue bullying. You shine a light on his abominable actions and, where possible, satirize them in order to highlight their absurdity.

    Look seriously at McNaughton’s art. It’s the very definition of bullying – and he’s making his living doing it. I am opposed to bullying of all kinds – and, therefore, I am opposed to McNaughton and will support reasonable efforts to stand up to him, highlight the absurdity of his work and encourage others to see his art for the mockery it is.

    Just as a simple example, Pres. Bush, the Younger, shredded the Constitution every bit as much as Pres. Obama has – and, objectively, probably more. Has McNaughton painted a hatchet job piece like this depicting Pres. Bush? Um, I thought not.

  85. Matt Page says:

    Well said, Ray.

  86. Here’s the symbolism I see in the painting:

    The setting is 2008. Obama has won the nomination but his campaign looks to be on the ropes as he is pummeled with election-season absurdity and right-wing memes perfected in the “swiftboat” era. He looks sternly out to America and says, “Look at what Bush has done [pointing to the flames]. Does it make you angry? Me too. But I love this country too much to let go of this document, even if it means my hand gets burned. If you’re serious, then I’m serious. No more silly games and right-wing distractions like Wright-gate and this absurd ‘socialism’ accusation. It’s time to get down to business if we’re going to save this precious document and this great country. Now who’s with me?”

    Great painting, Jon!!!!!

  87. I would take McNaugton’s family dinner if they were sick. I would let my kids play with his kids, as long as they were nice to my kids. I would be friendly and kind if I saw him on the street. If I were in his ward and he gave a great talk (devoid of political rantings) in church I would praise him for that. I wouldn’t say anything mean about his art it if it were hung on the walls of his own home if I came for a visit dropping off my hypothetical dinner. I would talk to my kids and let them know that the message contained there is not one that I agree with and one that I think is wrong and why… but if he posts that same work it on the internet or any other public forum and promotes it and sells that message to make money I reserve the right to say that it is wrong. I can say it straight up, I can say it with satire or just appreciate when others say it, without compromising any Christian behavior or duty. In fact I think that it is my Christian duty to say something about how I do not think that much if any of his politically tainted work reflects Christian anything, and is very disturbing to me. I can say that the vitriol that it provokes in some people causes me even more concern than the work itself. I believe he has every right to produce it, and promote it, and invoke that vitriol and profit from it (because I am not the boss of the world). I have every right to to counter that message, and if it is funny bonus! Unfortunately I am not Matsby so I can just sit back and laugh a little bit as he brilliantly holds up a mirror to McNaughton’s work.

  88. Katie Blakesley says:


  89. Just as a simple example, Pres. Bush, the Younger, shredded the Constitution every bit as much as Pres. Obama has – and, objectively, probably more. Has McNaughton painted a hatchet job piece like this depicting Pres. Bush? Um, I thought not.

    I absolutely agree. Let’s have a conversation about that, and critique McNaughton’s works on those grounds. That is one big reason why many of his paintings make me uncomfortable—they assume that party, not principle, is important. Bush and Republicans have violated the Constitution in ways that Obama and Democrats haven’t, and vice versa. I’m bothered that he naively assumes that his own party can do no wrong.

    But I don’t think that warrants this approach. I do feel that it is mean-spirited, rather than a constructive attempt to help a brother see things anew.

  90. Add me to the group of people who believe McNaughton’s paintings are extremely tasteless, low brow, and amateur. He and his loyal followers seem oblivious to how offensive his work is, and even continue pridefully because it gets a rise out of “liberals”. In this case, “liberals” seems to be anyone not glued to the extreme right. He cloaks his denigrating statements in “patriotism” and a cheapened version of religion.

    This is not someone worthy of holding up as a person with whom we simply disagree with politically.

  91. Matt Page says:

    We understand your point and disagree, Brother Thane. No need for you to continue to clarify. Go to your own blog and write up your own critique of McNaughton’s work and take your own preferred approach. I will do it my way. You don’t write into MAD Magazine (sorry to keep using this example) and ask them to write their articles in the style of Newsweek, so don’t do that with me.

    It’s been a good conversation but it’s now time to move on with your life.

    God be with you ’til we meet again, brother.

  92. ALSO. Matt- your comment on McNaughton’s blog post in which the winner of the symbolism contest (and therefore a very wise person) is announced- priceless.

  93. Matt Page says:

    Hehe. Thanks.

  94. I’m pretty certain that all “art” is subject to critique of all kinds. If you can’t stand the heat, step back from that Constitution!

  95. Jeff: The fact is, some folks need to be ribbed. For me, it’s either laugh at Matsby’s art, or gouge my own eyes out. I chose the former. You really ought to see the extremely vile comments McNaughton fosters on his facebook page. He’s trying to incite a bit of hysteria, so responding with satire is, in my view, one of the best ways to respond. Well done, and bravo to Mattsby.

    Now, please go chide the folks on McNaughton’s facebook page who called me Satan.

  96. YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS. Nobody is even paying attention to the worst part of this, which is, and I quote from McN’s comments on the picture:
    “At this moment our Constitution is literally going up in flames. What will you do to preserve the Constitution and save America?”
    I thought it was in a protective glass case! Why are we all sitting around doing nothing? Why has no one called the fire department?

  97. Dear Mr. Clemens,

    I found your portrayal of the people of the South and their endearing ways mean-spirited. If you really loved them, you would try to get them to give up their peccadilloes in regards to certain people they want to own in more kind ways. After all we are all Christians here are we not?



    Satire aims at bringing into light the intellectual abuses and non-sense of certain points of view that need their excesses brought forward for all to see in more clarity. Matsby does that brilliantly here. Carry on, O wise Matt. Let the McMockery shine forth.

  98. Bruce Nielson says:

    @Ray #84


    I read your comment and I’m not sure what to make of it without more context. I’m not even sure if I agree with you or disagree with you at this point. If it’s okay, I’d like to make a few comments and ask for some clarifications. Sorry, but this is going to be a long comment because I’m really bad at explaining myself.

    First, as you know, I’m a moderate conservative and that is my bias. (As you know, I believe knowing people’s biases is important.) However, I happen to be a conservative that voted for Obama and does not regret that vote in the slightest. So I am not a fan of McNaughton’s picture of Obama burning the constitution. Nor do I believe Obama is in any way shredding the constitution.

    However, it’s hard for me to get too upset over the picture. After all, this is intentionally political art in the large and fine tradition of political art. I have personally never liked political cartoons or art of any sort. I think it’s all sort of mean-spirited. But, I confess, I do see it in a different sort of category then just normal meanness or regular bullying of individuals. Maybe I’m wrong to feel this way, but I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this way. Presidents of the United States have a lot less cultural (and even legal) protection on things like this and for good reason.

    So while I despise the painting personally, I’m not sure it raises to the level of ‘bullying’ in my mind other than in the sense that all political cartoons/art are ‘bullying.’ If there is something ‘special in McNaughton’s meanness’ beyond that normal unfair political commentary, I confess I didn’t see it in my brief review of his site. Perhaps explain further here.

    Further, you use the example of how Bush shredded the constitution as much or more than Obama has. But where is McNaughton’s hack job on Bush you ask?

    But since when do we expect political partisans to be capable of that sort of fairness of thought?

    The problem here is that whether or not Bush or Obama ‘shredded the constitution’ is frankly sort of a subjective opinion. (Since objectively neither shredded the constitution as determined by the only source that legally has the right – for better or worse – to determine what the constitution means – i.e. the Supreme Court.) So it’s not really that shocking that an extreme conservative would be more attuned to possible problems with what Obama is doing then with what Bush did. In fact, I confess, I’ve hardly met anyone in my life even remotely close to fair when it comes to judging presidents or politics. So it seems strange to me to call out someone for holding a political opinion like this on the grounds that they can’t see they are being unfair unless you’re ready to call out almost everyone in the same way.

    Which brings me to my real point. McNaughton is a public figure and so is Obama. But I’m not sure they are the same caliber of ‘public figure.’ In fact, I’m pretty sure they aren’t even close.

    So when you speak of the need to mock a bully, I confess this seems to me like it could be interpreted as fair grounds for mocking anyone that politically disagrees with you in a public forum.

    My guess is – again for better or worse – that McNaughton very sincerely does believe Obama (and not Bush!) is effectively burning the constitution. That is to say, I suspect there isn’t really a basis here to call McNaughton a bully, except in the sense that all political art is bullying.

    Further, I’d be very interested in seeing where on BCC all the mocking of President Bush via political artwork was. You are the one that used this as an example, so it seems only fair I should expect the same. Obama gets it pretty bad (and unfairly in my opinion) but Bush got it worse. Did BCC call out Bush attackers who were attacking Bush in the same way and to the same degree they just did to McNaughton? I don’t know. Consider this a sincere question seeking some sincere examples.

    If BCC did do a post just like this over any of the myriad of Bush attacks, then I will accept consistency on this point and I have no issue with this post.

    But if they didn’t call out Bush’s attackers on the grounds that “Bush deserved it” then the determining factor of what is bullying or not really does boil down to one’s subjective views of what ‘one deserves’ based on whether or not one agrees with the artist in question..

    If this is the case, then to be blunt, BCC really is just bullying McNaughton here for holding a politic view at odds with their own collective view.

    I suppose one could still argue that this isn’t a problem on the grounds that McNaughton is a public figure too. And maybe this is fair. I don’t know. But I would hope that everyone here could see why someone like Jeff might cringe more over BCC’s response to McNaughton then to McNaughton himself since he is only ‘bullying a president of the United States’ and that is frankly fair game culturally whereas I’m not sure this post is.

    Again, it seems to me that it all comes down to consistency. If BCC can point to equivalent examples of mocking people that did this to President Bush, then I agree with this post. Fully. If they can’t, then BCC is effectively giving a pass to anyone they politically agree with – thereby making this post a very different form of bullying then what McNaughton did.

  99. Matt Page says:

    Bruce, please keep all future comments to 140 characters or less.

    Thank you.

  100. Bruce, I understand what you are saying, and I don’t disagree with the main point that lots of political art can be seen as mean-spirited and bullying. I’m fine with that, since I really don’t like extreme political attack art (or any other extreme political attack commentary, for that matter) – just as I don’t like extreme religious attack art and commentary.

    That’s the main point I was making – that this sort of extreme attack approach is very much like bullying. Maybe a better term would be mob-inciting – and I like mob-inciting no more than bullying. Honestly, for me, it’s not the attack on Pres. Obama. I would have had the same reaction to the exact same picture with Pres. Bush on it, if it came from an extreme left hack who was using it to whip up anger and disdain. I just don’t like it when people inflame anger and condemnation to make money. Also, I’ve seen and read McNaughton’s stuff enough to believe that there is a racial undertone to how he portrays Pres. Obama, and that is vile and disgusting to me. Perhaps I’m wrong about that, but it’s what I believe at this point.

    The reason I don’t object to what Matt created is that it wasn’t politically motivated – and it was created in direct response to an obvious attack piece. The reason I really like what Matt created is that it actually is funny. Sure, it’s satirical and biting, but it’s funny – and I’d much rather address extreme attack pieces with satirical humor than without it.

    As to the question of whether or not BCC has publicly defended Pres. Bush against attacks, honestly, I don’t know. I really don’t remember most of the political stuff that’s written here, since I focus much more intently on the spiritual and religious stuff. I understand that question, as well, but I just don’t have the inclination or desire to comb through the posts trying to find the answer.

  101. Brilliant. Terribly sad as well though.

  102. Bruce,
    As someone who wrote a post in which I argued (sort of) that George W. Bush was a minion of Satan, I may the best qualified to defend us against your accusations. As I see it, you argue that if we mock McNaughton, but don’t mock those who mocked Bush, then we are guilty of political bias (if I understand you correctly, please feel free to correct me if I misconstrue your message). You point to there being many (many) people saying awful things about President Bush and believing them true (whether or not they were). As an example, I remember talking about him one time with a woman who got loudly, ferociously angry at the mere mention of his name. I wondered if he had kicked her mother or some such. I didn’t understand where the anger came from (this from a guy who compared him to folks sending babies through the fire in the Old Testament). I don’t and didn’t get that anger. However, I did understand that it was rooted in a kind of political partisanship that I found off-putting. Here is the thing: there wasn’t a religious element to it. It wasn’t a co-religionist doing things that I felt made my religion look bad. Nor was the anger based in some sort of anti-religious sentiment, so far as I could tell. So, I wouldn’t have written about it on a blog that has chosen religion as its topic (a specific religion at that). We actually do strive to make the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its adherents the main focus of this blog (for better or worse), so we don’t and didn’t really need to discuss President Bush’s detractors outside of that. I, for instance, argued that President Bush was a bad Christian because he condoned torture, which was only relevant because I had met many Mormons who told me they voted for him because he was a “man of God.” You are right that I could say that about Obama (and I will “So long as Obama continues to condone torture (which he appears to be doing), I will think of him as a bad Christian (rather than a bad Muslim, I guess)”), but I haven’t bothered because Bush won that little debate and a little torture and murder in the name of the Fatherland appears to go unnoticed and unreported nowadays (outside of certain libertarian movements that I cannot countenance for other reasons).

    Speaking of libertarian groups that I cannot countenance, let’s talk about Brother McNaughton. You may argue that this work is political and unworthy of our scorn (and you’d be right), but he is a Mormon and he all the time talks about the influence of God in his work. He wants to sell to Mormons and Evangelicals alike, so he doesn’t get too explicit about his Mormonism, but he is all the time talking about God. So, he is fair game. If you are looking for a real parallel to our campaign against McNaughton, then look to Ralph Hancock’s campaign against Joanna Brooks. Its a better parallel (minor Mormon figures with some national acclaim). How many of you are beating down Ralph’s door, asking him to lay off? How many of you were beating on our door when we attacked Bill Maher or Robert Jeffress (because we did mock those idiots)? How many of you defend John Dehlin or Equality from our unjust dismissals of his viewpoint? If you’ve angst over our treatment over those with whom you sympathize, you should have it over how we treat those with whom you don’t, right?

    The truth is that our outrage-o-meter is set subjectively. You, Jeff, and Michelle aren’t as upset by McNaughton as we are, so this strikes you as heavy-handed. I think that’s silly because this is really just one blog post and it isn’t going to affect his bottom-line or self-esteem even a little bit. To a great degree, all satire is born of frustration; it comes from the angry belief that it isn’t possible to actually talk to your opponent anymore. You may disagree about the potential reasonableness of Brother McNaughton (I doubt it, but you never know), but satire is much more about expressing frustration with a particular viewpoint or spokesperson for that viewpoint than it is about persuading your opponent. That frustration comes from a feeling (justly or unjustly earned) that they won’t listen anyways.

    Is this mean-spirited and mocking? Yes, but it is a reaction to things that are equally so. Is that a justification? Of course not, but it is an explanation and that’s all we can offer. If nothing else, perhaps this will lead to our better understanding one another. Who knows?

  103. michelle says:

    “You, Jeff, and Michelle aren’t as upset by McNaughton as we are, so this strikes you as heavy-handed.”

    I’d prefer if you not assume that you know how I feel about McNaughton or think that just because I spoke up today, it was because he happened to be your target. I’m not a fan of this kind of content, no matter who is the target. (That’s putting my feelings mildly.)

    For the record, the conservative craziness is driving me crazy, too.

    I do think that if the tables were turned and the mockery was coming your way, you’d be up in arms, though, crying foul. Somehow it would be wrong if it was coming at you, but somehow it’s ok if it’s pointed at someone else. At some point, I just don’t get it. I don’t get the desire to mock others publicly. You admit that it’s mean, but somehow, it’s still ok, celebrated, even. But because it’s ‘clever satire’, it gets a pass and lots of thumbs up and back-slapping.

    McNaughton doesn’t seem to care; if anything, he seems to thrive on it. Thrive on stirring the pot. Which reflects the kind of conservative craziness that is also very disconcerting to me. (Again, putting it mildly.)

    John, I appreciate the fact that at least you just admit that it’s mean. I understand the frustration, and perhaps share more than you think.

    So on that note, please understand my comment as reflecting my own frustration — frustration that the modus operandi for political “discussion” is often meanness — a biting, self-congratulatory tone that says “If you don’t agree with me, you are an idiot.” (I think this last painting was a particularly flagrant example of such a tone.) Such meanness is then celebrated. (Lots of back-slapping here, lots of likes on his FB page.) And it’s all but impossible to speak up and say, “Hey, now, that wasn’t very nice” without then having fingers pointed at you, too.

    My concern is that I feel that as a nation, we’ve lost much (if not most) of our ability to talk to each other, and to talk about how we should talk with each other. That to me should be as much of a focus (if not more) than any politician’s views, or any party’s position, or any voter’s choice. I celebrate the variety of political opinions, actually. I just don’t celebrate how they are often expressed.

  104. For what it’s worth, I do speak up against both sides when I see this kind of mockery. I don’t recommend it. If you think your opponents react cruelly when attention is brought to their hubris, it’s nothing like the reactions of those who are supposed to be on your side.

  105. “At some point, I just don’t get it. I don’t get the desire to mock others publicly. You admit that it’s mean, but somehow, it’s still ok, celebrated, even. But because it’s ‘clever satire’, it gets a pass and lots of thumbs up and back-slapping.”

    michelle, humor is subjective. That’s why you don’t get it. I enjoy a well stated dig at myself if it comes from someone I trust and if I feel it is on target. Perhaps enjoy is too strong a word, but I appreciate craft. That’s one reason why I think Matt’s work differs from McNaughton’s (Matt’s, though employing a different medium, is much better made and thought out). Of course, there are different types of mean, too. Hurling invective into the teeth of a gale has its own benefits and McNaughton, for better or worse, is seen as a gale. I think that all this is feeding a troll personally, but because I enjoy the craft of the thing, the well-timed, well-crafted zinger, I appreciate it on its own merits.

    I understand that you’ve no appreciation for the insult-comic, so all I can tell you is that there is a time and a place where its appropriate. This is a time and this is the place. I think so, at least.

    As to your final point, I couldn’t agree more. Here’s hoping that all our petty spitefulness is overcome in Christian charity in time. For now, I’m hesitant to hold up my own feelings or modes of discourse as a model for others, because I know they are subjective and limited, as am I. So I just tell the truth as I see it, and hope that is sufficient as a gift to my God.

  106. Ray, Jeff, neither McNaughty nor this post are bullying.

    Why is it that some of us Mormons cannot take a satirical takedown of a truly stupid endeavor? McNaughton paints inane pictures devoid of depth or symbolic meaning (which can be seen by his other partisan works for which he has provided a mouseover so that the viewer can see exactly what McNaughton intended for his figures — in every case it is devoid of meaningful symbolism; rather, it was along the lines of comment # 42 above: this thing is this thing and it symbolizes this particular partisan trope).

    Commenters above have pointed out that McNaughton is enriching himself by creating this kitsch. He is a demagogue whose medium is mediocre paintings.

    Criticism of artwork doesn’t always have to be in the form of straightforward takedowns like my previous paragraphs. It can be more effective and entertaining when it takes the form of satire.

    Madhousewife summed it up perfectly in comment # 69:

    Satire, if done correctly, is always mean.

    Meanness, however, is only occasionally satire.

    That’s the difference between this post and McNaughton’s paintings.

    I am truly surprised to see Jeff and michelle so ardently insisting that this post and the comments are cyberbullying or somehow out of bounds. These are a perfectly justified and reasonable response to McNaughton’s attack.

  107. It seems to me Jeff and Michelle are saying, among other things, that BCC is somehow inconsistent because BCC doesn’t lampoon everyone equally, thus betraying a bias. I’m still waiting to see the comments Jeff and Michelle have made on McNaughton’s FB page calling for more niceness from his acolytes. For consistency! McNaughton’s whipping his fellow Hatriots into a frenzy over there with his silliness.

  108. re # 102, great comment John C. I think you are right that a very close parallel is Ralph Hancock’s obsessive criticism of Joanna Brooks and his approach of trying to define her out of Mormonism because her views about some things in Mormon thought and belief differ from his.

    And it might have occurred but I did not see Jeff or michelle taking Ralph Hancock to task for his mean-spirited essays at the John Adams blog or elsewhere as he monitors Joanna’s every written word. (Why, for instance, did he refer to Randy Bott consistently as Professor Bott but Joanna Brooks as Ms. Brooks in his most recent throwdown of Joanna’s views?) If Jeff and michelle don’t want to take Ralph Hancock to task for his meanness toward Joanna because they agree with Ralph’s particular interpretation of Mormonism, then why could they not at least call him on this insidious and obvious paternalism/misogynism?

    However, I have never thought the type of argument that devolves into accusations of people being inconsistent because they have not equally criticized all sides of an issue to be effective. I see Bruce as off-base with that approach. Criticism of McNaughton’s insipid offerings can and should stand alone, independent of any criticism that might be dished out to a leftist Mormon artist who tried to stoke hatred through ridiculous religiously-themed partisan hack artwork (were there any? maybe).

    Satire like Matsby’s original post is simply a mirror being held up to McNaughton’s artwork. This was a particularly effective example because it touches on numerous bases for criticism of McNaughton’s paintings, especially the new painting of President Obama: the simplemindedness behind the works, the sophmoric thought processes and superficiality of the supposed symbolism, the political extremism and the priestcrafty angle that acknowledges how lucrative this political hate angle is for McNaughton. The shame is that his target audience are Mormons who have bought into this mentality, placing a stumbling block in the way of building Zion. Such Mormons might hope that these paintings will build bridges with culture war allies but it seems to overlook the fact that our participation in the culture wars in the first place is distracting us from building Zion among us and in our communities.

    I don’t think Zion will be entirely devoid of satire, farce, or other comedy in general (or dramatic tragedy either). However, I concede there will probably be far less satire in Zion because people won’t be doing stupid things like this that merit satire in response.

  109. “I don’t think Zion will be entirely devoid of satire, farce, or other comedy in general (or dramatic tragedy either). However, I concede there will probably be far less satire in Zion because people won’t be doing stupid things like this that merit satire in response.”

    I promise to paint ham-fisted, didactic paintings when we get to Zion just so Matt Page can keep producing work of this caliber.

  110. >independent of any criticism that might be dished out to a leftist Mormon artist who tried to stoke hatred through ridiculous religiously-themed partisan hack artwork (were there any? maybe).

    See, that’s the thing. BCC cannot be “unbiased” on this one because there aren’t any liberal Mormon artists who paint the stupid like McNaughton. I’d be happy to see examples, though.

  111. There’s a “smile when you call me that” element. If McNaughton had executed the same composition, but in black ink and with Obama looking skinny with prominent ears, it would be just another editorial cartoon. Instead it’s was made to look like Serious Art, so we wonder how someone can produce such a thing. Matt Page’s picture is very funny, and we like skewering when it’s funny. Without the funny, what’s left turns nasty and ugly; for example, comments by Brad Kramer and my singling out comments by Brad Kramer.

    From a long 2006 Washington Post article on Garry Trudeau (link):
    “Finally, in desperation, I decided to get help from America’s greatest living satirist. What would Trudeau ridicule, if the subject were himself?
    “Basically, he says, though not in so many words — he’s a bully.
    “‘Occasionally, people accuse me of courage,’ he says. ‘And that’s wrong. I’m sitting on a perch of safety. Cartoonists have a tar-baby immunity. The more people react to us, and the more angrily they react, the better it is for us. So we’re invulnerable. It just doesn’t seem fair.'”

  112. Does anyone know like a hotline or something I can call if I’m feeling bullied?

  113. Peter LLC says:

    Criticism of McNaughton’s insipid offerings can and should stand alone


  114. Feb 13: Steve Evans: Those who speculate about the First Presidency’s feelings about Marlin K. Jensen’s recent remarks are speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed.

    Feb 29: Brad Kramer: Many current/recent General Authorities are/were racists.

    Mar 16: Sideblog: Harsh criticism of Joanna Brooks is tantamount to excommunication.

    Mar 19: Matt Page, et al.: Harsh criticism of Jon McNaughton is the best way to deal with him.

  115. Mar 20: Ben P, commenting on a BCC post, calls Publius an ass.

  116. The difference is that nobody is questioning McNaughton’s faith; claiming that his views mean he’s not a REAL Mormon (which in itself says a very ugly thing about the way we and others perceive the Mormon faith). But all of the comments I’ve read, and I’d wager (having seen the direction the comment threads were going) a majority of those I haven’t, question Brooks’s faithfulness. That is horse manure. I don’t think it’s misogyny in every case, but it’s certainly myopia.

    And to be cattily critical, McNaughton may be a Mormon, but an artist he ain’t.

  117. Exactly. Matsby is satirising McNaughton’s art and politics. Some of the comments at Meridian were attempting to strip Brooks of her Mormonism. Totally different.

    Let’s have an example of a bad, overwrought liberal Mormon artist/writer/politico whose failings have been ignored by BCC . . .

  118. Ben, be nice.

    Publius, there is an awful lot of context that you’ve stripped from those statements to make us look more hypocritical than normal. Have you been editing videos of Kristine, by chance?

  119. #107 – John, I didn’t mean to say or imply that this post is bullying in any way. I thought I said quite clearly that it was a good response to McNaughton (not an extreme attack)- and that I really love this post.

  120. Matsby’s post is dead on. But the ensuing conversation is all too meta to be much fun. Can’t we all just write funny haikus about McNaughton’s latest crime against art? Maybe a new thread? Think about it, BCC overlords! For example:

    Do flames shoot out of
    Scowling Obama’s fingers?
    No. He’s just pointing.

  121. Exactly, SP. Bring on the haikus . . .

  122. Now that both Obama stepping on the Constitution and Obama burning the Constitution have been covered, I think McNaughton needs to continue his trend. How about Obama shredding the Constitution, both by hand and with an office shredder? How about Obama destroying it with a nuke? Going through it with a black marker? Using it as toilet paper?

    McNaughton has to make this a three-part series, right? I wonder what comes next.

  123. Yes to the haikus…

    Ugly frowny face.
    Flames on old parchment. But lo;
    Nic Cage comes to save!

  124. I think what you don’t seem to get, Jeff Thayne, is that beating people over the head with the scriptures only ever makes them dislike you. If I didn’t know your name I’d swear you were that ZL in the mission field who tripled the baptism goal one month and then told us that we would be sure to make the goal “if only we were righteous enough.” There may be mean-spirited comments here (I don’t really think so), but your post was manipulative, so enjoy swimming in the cesspool with us.

  125. Bloated with anger,
    Scowling with scorn and vengeance,
    Hid yo’ kids and wife.

  126. Our Constitution
    Trodden upon and burning
    November surprise

  127. d’oh. Last line of #125 should be “hide yo’ kids and wife.” iPad typing fail.

  128. Tim, how about Obama making a pilgrimage to Mount Vernon to spit on Washington’s grave? Or does it have to be the Constitution?

  129. Jonathan says:

    Jon McNaughton has been an running joke with my friends for years. BYU used to carry some of his work in the bookstore. Anybody know if they still do? Hopefully they have had the sense to pull it by now. Great post!

  130. Publius,
    For someone trying to trade on the name of one of the world’s great rhetoricians, that was a profoundly stupid argument.

  131. John Mansfield,

    He has to finish with the “Obama and the Constitution” series before he can move on to something else. I’m guessing he has at least one more painting to do before he finishes it. Maybe if Obama gets reelected he’ll have time to move on to other themes. I’m thinking Obama spitting on or otherwise defiling the grave of Washington, then Obama defiling the grave of Lincoln, and then Obama defiling the grave of Reagan. Not necessarily in that order.

    Of course, thanks to Matt Page’s excellent detective work, we already know that McNaughton’s been thinking about the “defiling the grave of Presidents” theme. And judging by his “Obama defiling the Constitution” theme, we know McNaughton can’t stop at just one.

  132. I may very well be a glutton for punishment, but I wanted to check out all the comment threads on his page from yesterday just to give myself some closure. I honestly don’t even have the words to express the mind-blowing insanity on that page. Well, more accurately, I do have the words, but they are not proper for an online discussion of this sort. This post is about as dead-on as I have seen any satire be in a while. The unfortunate aspect of all of this is that McNaughton fancies himself a leader of his rag-tag bunch of fans. They consistently tell him that his “work” is important, and that he is a great artist. If I didn’t know better, I would merely suspect that his mother made 700 Facebook accounts solely to praise him over and over again. His paintings are mediocre at best, inaccurate and divisive at their worst.

    Also, good lord, none of them can spell!

  133. McNaughton promise:
    Paint two more ‘fore November,
    Let’s guess what they’ll be.

  134. Next time: Obama
    Wipes presidential backside
    With tenth amendment

  135. Sunny, we know them
    Gaze upon yon notebook clues
    Give me you are guns!

  136. (Oh for pete’s sake, now that wordpress comment thing is ensnaring me in its web.)

  137. Legions of fangirls
    Populate mine holy page
    Life imitates art

  138. “Give me you are guns!” made me crack up so hard.

  139. Mark Brown says:

    Obama makes un-
    constitutional gang signs,
    yo. Z.O.M.G.

  140. Matt Page says:

    Haha. 136… You are guns!!

  141. Hatriots, unite!
    Why is the angry man’s head
    to small for body?

  142. brilliant “you are guns.” Haiku win.

  143. Mark Brown says:

    It is one thing to have a pleasant conversation about disagreements in political approaches or policies or philosophies. It is another thing entirely to pretend to have a nice conversation with people who think the president in Kenyan, who are convinced that he is the anti-Christ, who are certain he has a secret agenda to undermine constitutional government, and who have a testimony that God endorses some sort of Skousen-ish Libertarianism. These views are ridiculous — literally, worthy of ridicule — and they need to be challenged at every turn. I congratulate Matt for putting his shoulder to the wheel and doing such good work.

  144. There was a man in that group yesterday who said “A socialist, a muslim, and an illegal alien walk in to a bar and order a drink the bartender said Hello Mr. President” or some nonsense like that. This man hit a trifecta of false information. Not one of those things is true, and this is not a matter of opinion. How could anyone be so stubbornly ignorant? I just don’t get it.

  145. EOR,
    Welcome to the wonderful world of Obama-derangement syndrome, population: 1/3 of the GOP, 1/2 of Utah, and 3/5 of all property-holding free white males.

  146. It occurs to me that the only thing missing in this painting is the image of Mitt Romney riding into the foreground on a white horse.

    Limited edition, maybe?

  147. Mark Brown says:

    Only 1/2? That’s actually pretty good, compared to Arizona.

    Among LDS in the Grand Canyon state, I think that figure is around 3/4.

  148. It certainly is Obama derangement syndrome, coupled with baby boomer generation notions of what Socialism is. Ay yi yi!

  149. #147 I live in Gilbert. 3/4 sounds about right for my ward.

  150. One genuine concern: I can’t figure out who buys McNaughton’s crap. I realize many people agree with him and may even think his crap is cool. But who would ever put McNaughton’s Obama painting up in her own home? Even if you hate Obama, how can it possibly add to the decor of your living room?

  151. Seeing as how the artist is criticizing the President of the United States, and not the Prophet of the Church, I hardly see how someone would question his faith. His loyalty to his country, perhaps, his sense of subtlety, certainly. But the status of his faith doesn’t apply the same way it would were he publicly and openly criticizing the Church.

  152. 150. Maybe they put it in the garage? I can’t imagine where one would put it either. Although it is unclear whether the block letters are on the actual painting–I would think not though.

  153. I’d like to share this little gem that I found on Jon McNaughton’s website. He teaches “art” classes where you, too, can master the techniques that have propelled him into the national spotlight.

    “My personal commitment to you, as my student, is to share everything I know except for one thing: “The Grand Master Key.” Contained in this secret is the most important principle I can share. But I am cautious to whom I reveal it. Located in the back of the workbook, only a handful of my students have solved the code to this key, I believe is the secret to unlocking all knowledge.”

  154. So in other words, McNaughton is a character from a Dan Brown novel?

  155. I hope that they only use their powers for good.

  156. 154. Hilarious! That was my initial thought as well.

  157. #123 FTW! Nic Cage makes everything better.

  158. I suspect the Grand Master Key has to do with how to do the shading on upper lips.

    (Also: WHAT? Grand Master Key? Starting your own church, much?)

    (Also: someone get on BlueCotton RIGHT NOW and make some “GIVE ME YOU ARE GUNS” t-shirts.)

  159. I would buy a “GIVE ME YOU ARE GUNS” t-shirt.

  160. the grand master key?
    perhaps you think 42?
    sucker-it’s hatred.

  161. Mommie Dearest says:

    This thread is just too much fun.

    When an artist shows a work, they are, by definition, making a public statement. If they’re unwilling to face the critics, they shouldn’t show the work. Just as when a writer publishes a work, if they’re not willing to accept debate, they shouldn’t hit “submit.” It’s not even remotely like bullying.

    Sorry no haiku, but here’s a little compare and contrast exercise which speaks a thousand words or so:

    McNaughty’s art cited in #64 as “not that bad”:
    Same theme painted by a real artist:

  162. I am pleased to discover, from a quick search online, that Jon McNaughton’s controversial paintings are not available through Deseret Book. It would be limiting for a Church owned organization to promote the defamation of a political leader of any nation unless doing so was the official position of the Church. The First Presidency continues to state that it is not the business of the Church to endorse political platforms or candidates. Likewise, the Church is not in the business of undermining government officials or those seeking office.

    The controversy around McNaughton’s political paintings has more to do with marketing them alongside his paintings of the Lord Jesus Christ and that he is a member of the Church than it does with their content. The expressions contained in the paintings are not new or exclusive. What’s relatively new is promoting these ideas through challenges operated almost exclusively by Latter-day Saints.

    Again, I am pleased to discover than the Church owned Deseret Book does not list Jon McNaughton’s controversial paintings in its catalog. I don’t know if this has always been the case but I am pleased to discover that it so today.

    It’s is also worth saying that it doesn’t do anyone any good to mock Jon McNaughton or those who share his worldview. Embarrassment and ridicule are poor motivators for understanding and change. I’m glad forums like By Common Consent exist where we can share thoughts and experiences. May we never throw decency under the bus for the sake of humor.

  163. Can we all please read the manifesto that accompanies his most recent painting?

    I for one would not mind seeing our country become more like Greece or Italy because that would mean I could have easier access to a wider variety of delicious cheeses.

  164. it's a series of tubes says:

    I can’t figure out who buys McNaughton’s crap.

    My BIL who lives in Draper has one of his works in his study. This same BIL recommended that I read “Earth in the Beginning”. I did. Kookoo for Cocoa Puffs, that stuff.

  165. Which begs the question: he studies?

  166. michelle says:

    “michelle, humor is subjective. That’s why you don’t get it. ”

    John, I think you’re missing my point. It’s not that I don’t get the humor. I’m not humorless. This was funny. I don’t get humor at someone else’s expense. Spot on or not, it seems like “making a mock of his brother” is never ok, even if it’s spot on, deserved, etc.

    “It seems to me Jeff and Michelle are saying, among other things, that BCC is somehow inconsistent because BCC doesn’t lampoon everyone equally, thus betraying a bias.”

    That’s actually not what I’m saying. Bias or inconsistency are not my concerns. And my concerns aren’t limited to BCC. I’ve tried to make that clear.

  167. michelle says:

    “BYU used to carry some of his work in the bookstore. Anybody know if they still do?”

    No, they were pulled.

  168. SilverRain, #151, that was the point that I started to attempt to make in my earlier comment, but then I hamfistedly buried it–Publius is comparing the BCC community’s excoriation of McNaughton to the Meridian community’s harsh treatment of Joanna Brooks. But that’s a false comparison, precisely because McNaughton is not, in *this* case, dealing with a religious topic.

  169. Black prez, Q.E.D.
    Commie-Nazi, Q.E.D.
    Satan, Q.E.D.

  170. precisely because McNaughton is not, in *this* case, dealing with a religious topic.

    Layne, I assure you, to McNaughton this is an eminently religious topic.

  171. “No, they were pulled.”

    Not just pulled, “censored” for being too conservative. Or something. (His blog is funnier than his art, btw)

  172. This painting is on the front page of Drudge at the moment.

  173. If BYU censors you for being too conservative you are in wack-a-doodle country.

  174. BHodges, sadly, I agree–for him it is religious. Thankfully most other people seem to make a distinction.

    But that’s because we’re godless heathens!

  175. “CBSDC contacted Jerry Saltz, an art critic for New York Magazine, about the painting.” (from Kyle’s link)

    Wow, that’s like the setup for a bad joke.

  176. Jerry Saltz may be my new favorite opinionater.

  177. Same here! Too bad he’s one of them librulz

  178. Mommie Dearest says:

    Saltz is a well-known and respected art critic, I’ve read his writing before. He certainly nails it here. I don’t know anything about his politics, but my guess is that he’s somewhere left of center. It might be useful to point out that he doesn’t engage the politics at all except as they relate to the work of art, which is a professional approach.

  179. I just want to invite everyone who thinks this post and the comments are fundamentally wrong and that we should ignore McNaughton and his art to read the comments at the link provided in #175 – then repeat that the sentiment to which he panders and the bile he promotes is best left unchallenged. After you wash out your eyes and scrub your brain, come back here and say silence or a soft answer is the right approach.

    Seriously, some comments mention the image of Christ being burned by Pres. Obama. Some are calling him the anti-Christ and McNaughton a brave man who will point out the truth and provide the lone voice crying in the wilderness.

    Some things simply are vile, and vile things simply can’t go unchallenged.

  180. michelle,
    Since you say you get the joke, I’ll believe you. So we’ll use Heinlein’s explanation. Laughing is an alternarive to crying. You can be sad or you can make jokes. Possibly a false dichotomy, but ad useful an explanation for this as you’ll get.

  181. Matt Page says:

    Yep Saltz is right: “drop-dead obvious in message” and “visually dead as a doornail.” And the part about him preaching to the already converted seems especially right to me. There is nobody who will see this and have it make them really ask any questions or change the way they think. It is challenging nothing.

    The painter says there are hidden secret meanings and symbols. So secret that that claim cannot be disproved. But I am not buying it. Just because you make the flames spell Islam or you counted how many stripes or on the tie before you painted it does not really mean there are other layers of meaning.

  182. A serious art-critique for a moment:

    My 9-year-old could have created this picture using a cut-and-paste digital art process – and she’s not all that into art.

  183. My clever sister’s reaction to this painting: “Why is Abe Vigoda burning the Constitution?”

  184. I think it might be possible for McNaughton to simply be the world’s biggest Troll. He is almost too perfectly wrong with his latest piece, and the actual artwork really is poorly done.

  185. At the risk of coming across as the narcissist–in reality, I’m just lazy and don’t want to re-word my idea–here is part of what I wrote on McNaughton last year:

    This is where McNaughton’s notion of “art” becomes fuzzy. His most popular works—including the four paintings showcased on his website—are not designed to be cherished for their aesthetics; indeed, most of the people included in the portraits—and recognizable individuals are always the center of attention in these paintings—are primarily repetitions of stock images and add no novel interpretation to the thousands of previous depictions.
    Art is merely a tool for McNaughton to put forward his political agenda and spread his ideology. Perhaps this is why McNaughton’s work is more appropriate at a Tea Party rally than the art section of BYU’s bookstore.

  186. That was a great piece, Ben.

  187. I love Jerry Saltz’s opinion of McNaughton’s work:

    CBSDC contacted Jerry Saltz, an art critic for New York Magazine, about the painting.
    When asked for an opinion, Saltz said that the painting contained “bad academic derivative realism,” calling it “typical propaganda art, drop-dead obvious in message” and “visually dead as a doornail.”

    “It panders and preaches to the converted and tells them what they already believe,” Saltz told CBSDC.

    Saltz said the painting could not be compared to WWII art.
    It has no graphic power of its own. It simply attempts to crawl into the body of that sort of illustration.”

    When asked if removed a few years from Obama’s presidency could the work be then viewed as art, Saltz said the work is “inverted, with an American as an enemy — Hitler, Tojo, Stalin, whoever.”

    “It’s much closer to the hate images produced in Germany pre-1939, in 1950s USA Red scare, in the USA around Jim Crow, etc.”

  188. StillConfused says:

    And now he has made the Drudge Report!!

  189. I was avoiding doing any schoolwork this morning, so in an effort to successfully procrastinate I went through this post and clicked on all the external links. McNaughty’s blog post about BYU “censoring” his work was by far the most hilarious and the most terrifying. He certainly fancies himself quite a grandiose figure (I’m surprised the Jesus in the painting did not have his face since he is a qualified judge of everyone) but his “fans” are not far behind. I could not even imagine buying one of his lifeless pieces of “art” much less ever “proudly displaying it in my living room” as so many of them said they do. I truly feel bad for any children growing up in those houses.

  190. If anyone is interested, I did some photoshop versions you can see here:

    Check them out. One of them contains Snidely Whiplash. Also, if you make your own version, PLEASE share with me.


  191. Just a thought to throw out there before this thread inevitably closes up…

    Not all satire is mean. I use, as example, “A Modest Proposal” which is the model of satire used throughout the US and probably many other parts of the world.

    Anyway, someone asked if people actually buy McNaughton’s work. I personally know people who not only admire it, but have also spent actual money on the framed prints. It makes me weep, because, as noted above, it isn’t even good artwork.

    Incidentally, McNaughton’s explanation of ONUS seems to imply that ideology = Socialism. Anyone care to shed light on how such a conclusion can be drawn?

  192. I like the black guy in the sombrero.

  193. Very cool, Larissa.

  194. #192. I am an actual Socialist, so to tell you the truth, it is beyond me how people like McN and his followers can come to the conclusion that a Centrist is in fact a Socialist. What I gathered from speaking on the comments of his paintings is that I don’t think they know that Socialism is something real. I think they simply see it as a slur word that only exists in relation to “opposite of them”. Whatever a Socialist is, they don’t want to be it. Now, I recognize that decades of government sponsored hysteria (when convenient) re: Socialism and Communism probably shapes these peoples views along with the venom driven rhetoric of television pundits but to me it is still not an excuse. I argued for Obama in those comments because he is absolutely not a Socialist. When I said that they leveled such claims at me as I was a liberal, I was an Obama supporter, and I was Satan. None of which are true (maybe Satan). I never even shared with them that I was a Socialist so simply because I pointed out the fact that Obama is not they believe they were instantly able to know who I am, and what my political ideology is along with (somehow) my belief in God. To them, Religion and Politics are so closely tied together that I really feel they might be happier living in a place like Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, or Israel to name a few.

  195. Wait–don’t Northern Ireland and Israel have socialized medicine (gasp!)? I doubt McN’s fans would want to live there anymore than they’d like to eat at a Sushi bar or attend a Catholic mass.

  196. Alex,
    I would never ever consider “A Modest Proposal” nice,kind, or supportive. So, I’ve always considered it mean. YMMV, I guess.

  197. Peter LLC says:

    And let’s not forget that Afghanistan is a welfare recipient.

  198. Peter, don’t let McN’s fans fool you, I would be willing to bet all my Abinadi rookie cards that at least half fo them if not more benefit from some sort of social program directly. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc… My uncle is the biggest opponent of what he calls “lazy people getting handouts” but he has no problem cashing his $4,000/month check from Social Security Disability. Hypocrisy is not a word people like him know. There is no link between what they are entitled to, and what “others” are entitled to.

  199. “And let’s not forget that Afghanistan is a welfare recipient.”

    Not to mention full of Obama’s fellow Muslims.

  200. Peter LLC says:

    I hear you, EOR. The staunchest opponent of government handouts in my own family has a long and storied history of free riding, but which is totally different because, well, it’s family!

    (And: “Abinadi rookie cards” FTW!)

  201. crazywomancreek says:

    197 That.
    (and Peter, give me a hint!)

  202. Disgusting

  203. Peter LLC says:

    CWC, I should say extended family and about a generation older so I’d be surprised if your paths had crossed.

  204. #153: “Located in the back of the workbook, only a handful of my students have solved the code to this key, I believe is the secret to unlocking all knowledge.”

    Well, now we know McNaughty’s not a writer, either. (Among other things, he apparently puts his students in the back of the workbook.)

  205. “My personal commitment to you, as my student, is to share everything I know except for one thing: “The Grand Master Key.” Contained in this secret is the most important principle I can share. But I am cautious to whom I reveal it. Located in the back of the workbook, only a handful of my students have solved the code to this key, I believe is the secret to unlocking all knowledge.”

    I bet you a million billion dollars the “Grand Master Key” is one or more of the following: (a) Jesus Christ, (b) Prayer, (c) the Atonement.

  206. Or (d) The Constitution

  207. Actually, to be honest, that quote could easily be construed as false prophesying. He is putting himself out as if he has some sort of important Gospel secret that has been revealed to no one but him. It gives me the creeps.

  208. or (e) John 1:5, with some Dan Brown style codebreaking necessary to get the citation.

  209. Mark Brown says:

    In McNaughton’s world, Grand Master probably refers to the local gauleiter of the KKK.

    This man is a menace. BYU was absolutely right to throw his paint-by-numbers crap off campus, and it is a disgrace that so many LDS people worship at the idol of McNaughton. Shame on us.

  210. Agreed, BYU was right to give that trash the boot.

    So, did anyone ever wind up making those “GIVE ME YOU ARE GUNS” t-shirts? Someone can even make one and there can be a contest for it, or it would at least be good advertising.

  211. I hereby release the rights to my trademarked phrase, “GIVE ME YOU ARE GUNS,” to any person who will send me a free sample of whatever apparel you print it on.

  212. Tracy M, Cynthia might accept an embroidered pillow.

  213. Okay, maybe I missed an Article of Faith somewhere that says we only support governments, kings, presidents and rulers” that are exactly like us?

    I have friends living in countries where major parts of church doctrine are opposed by the laws of their countries. Many faithful members have and still do live in countries that are not democracies. I have heard church leaders pray for countries to be open to the gospel, I even include it in my own prayers. I haven’t ever heard a conference talk on how to ridicule and denigrate duly elected leaders of countries, states, cities, etc.

    I may just have missed the talk on why the Articles of Faith only apply if I like the person my fellow citizens chose to lead my country. (If so I missed eight years of being able to ignore every law signed by someone I personally considered an idiot.)

  214. The “Grand Master Key” is at the back of the workbook. So, couldn’t I just skip to the end? Or does the workbook have sealed portions?

  215. Teasing McNaughton’s fans is not as fun as it once was. I don’t think they even know what they believe. They are all over the map with his nonsense.

  216. Golly, I just saw his paintiog of dogs playing poker and I LOVED it!
    Jon McNaughton is every bit as good as that Thomas Kinkade! Maybe better cause
    jon can paint hands and paws better!

  217. Mark B. says:

    He just hit the big time! McNaughton was on Colbert tonight–or at least his “art” was.

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