Here’s something that will interest Steve Smith. CLR Forum reader John McGinnis points out this interesting article in yesterday’s Washington Post detailing European governments’ struggle to maintain architectural landmarks in times of declining budgets. Governments have taken to renting out ad space to cover the costs. Here, for example, is photo from the article, showing a billboard on scaffolding that surrounds Milan’s Gothic Duomo. I couldn’t tell from the article, but presumably the Italian government is helping to pay for repairs to the cathedral and is renting out space to H&M to defray the expenses. Or maybe the poster was the contractor’s idea. I assume the Milan Archdiocese didn’t come up with it.
Anyway, to get back to Steve’s post from yesterday. Maybe one reason why Europeans get less upset than Americans about public religious symbols is that Europeans don’t really take them too seriously as religious symbols. Religious sites and images are just part of the cultural background. If it’s OK to license use of the Colosseum in advertising, why not put posters on the Duomo? Judging by the article, Europeans are embarrassed by the commercial use of their heritage and what it suggests about the European political economy. They are not, apparently, too bothered by the sacrilege. Read the whole thing.