Chief justice: Violent courthouse paintings are ‘jarring’

A mural inside the Van Buren County Courthouse on Aug. 27, 2019 in Paw Paw, Mich.

PAW PAW, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s chief justice says it’s “jarring” to see violent paintings in a southwestern Michigan courthouse. But Bridget McCormack says it’s not her job to tell local leaders how to manage the building.

McCormack was in the Van Buren County courthouse last week participating in an effort to observe and assist judges. One mural in a stairwell shows a bare-breasted woman holding a decapitated head and a spear. Another painting above a judge’s bench shows a nude man and nude woman begging for mercy.

Local judges want the paintings covered up or removed, but county commissioners have said no.

McCormack says the painting with the decapitated head could traumatize a crime victim. She says the old paintings might be appropriate for a museum but seem out of place in a courthouse.

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3 comments

  • Kevin Rahe

    ‘In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”‘ -G.K. Chesterton

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