This year’s winner of the Pennington County Fair photography contest in Minnesota has local Republicans up in arms for reasons that become obvious the second you look at the photo because it’s of a Trump/Pence campaign sign on fire. The photograph seems to be technically proficient, allowing you to see the text of the sign without appearing to rely on any exterior light source outside of the fire, and it’s certainly evoked some powerful emotions, as the best works of art always do.
Even if most of those emotions are Republicans being mad because they think this makes them hate crime victims and everyone else being amused at their distress.
Pennington County Republicans are now calling on supporters to bother the board of the fair or “the local 4H club” to complain that the entry, submitted by then-17-year-old Jacqueline Zaviska. Their Facebook post has been flooded with people leaving laugh reactions and snide comments to the point that the account made an additional and rather loud announcement in their own comment.
“COMMENTS HAVE BEEN TURNED OFF FOR THIS POST,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, the local 4H club did respond to the controversial photo, acknowledging that it may have hurt some feelings but also appearing to be supportive of the artist behind the photo.
“We wish to acknowledge that a photograph that earned a blue ribbon at the Pennington County Fair has caused mixed reactions. We also want to support the 4-H’er who entered this exhibit and was recognized for her technical and artistic photography skills,” they said on Facebook. “Both that acknowledgement and support are necessary, especially in a time where polarization seems to be increasing, both in Minnesota and nationwide. We realize that personal interpretation of this photo will vary depending on people’s perspectives.”
They further stated that “the matter is under consideration,” but also pointed out that the club is meant to get young people thinking for themselves, even if the thoughts end up being “Donald Trump and Mike Pence suck.”
The Pennington County 4-H account smartly turned off comments for that post.
Back on the Republican page, many commenters have also complained about the sign and promised to call 4H or whoever on young Jacqueline Zaviska, but others, including people who call themselves conservatives, are wondering whatever happened to the supposed Republican commitment to freedom of speech?
“Trump’s entire campaign was based on a ‘no bulls–t’ ‘f— your feelings’ persona,” wrote one commenter. “I can’t wrap my head around HOW this is offensive? It’s a picture of a political sign being burned. You know how many hundreds of times this has happened throughout history? If the tables were turned and a Biden sign was being burned, which I don’t like him anyways, but I still wouldn’t bat an eye.”
“Art is interpreted individually, we all see things differently, my interpretation of this photo is ‘This election has cemented a firestorm in our nation with Trump losing the election’ I think I pretty well nailed my interpretation – We are all going to burn unless we can ALL have common sense instead of STUPID political parties,” said another.
These are some of the only comments that have not been overwhelmed with laugh reacts.