Islamophobia, Transphobia, Or Artistic Statement?

Artist Sabo Replaces Pennywise In 'It' Promo Posters With Caitlyn Jenner

What is it?  Transphobia or artistic statement?  Sabo says anyone against the poster is Islamophobic.

A politically conservative street artist that goes by the pseudonym Sabo has now taken aim at Caitlyn Jenner.

New posters have been plastered all over Los Angeles, appearing to be in anticipation of the remake of Stephen King's It, but instead of featuring Pennywise the Clown, the horrific star of the novel, Pennywise's image has been replaced with that of Caitlyn Jenner.  

"Tonight on Tucker Carlson:  IT," the posters read.  "Based on a novel reality."

This is perhaps the most outward expression of transphobia targeting Caitlyn Jenner (or, for that matter, transgender individuals in particular), but Sabo claims that his intent is merely to have people stop "normalizing" being transgender.

"This poster pales in comparison to throwing Bruce off a building or hanging him the way we Muslims do in many countries, and progressives don’t seem to have a problem when we do that," Sabo said.  "I converted to the Muslim faith and I joined ISIS, so what’s going on with Bruce Jenner goes against my new-found faith. If any progressives have a problem with this poster, then I’ll just have to label them 'Islamophobic.'"

While some have just gasped at Sabo's bluntness, others might be scratching their heads about why the artist is suddenly worked up about Caitlyn Jenner's appearance on Tucker Carlson's show in its new timeslot on Fox News.  Jenner has been an unapologetic Republican for years, and Fox News former darling Bill O'Reilly, recently ousted amidst reports that he'd been sexually harassing female employees and contributors to The O'Reilly Factor for years, was simply not a big fan of Jenner's transition, having said on air, "Pardon me for this, but from the waist down, he is a 'he.'"

Certainly, this is not the first time that Sabo has used his art to make points about public figures, whether they be politicians or otherwise.  He has made posters of both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, naked from the waist up and covered with tattoos, and has also targeted the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson and Alec Baldwin, among others, as "Obama Drones."

Sabo is also not the first public figure to discuss religion or faith in an open forum.  Will Smith, for instance, spoke about peace-loving Muhammad Ali during America:  A Tribute To Heroes shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, noting that, "This man is a Muslim," as he made the point that not all Muslims were engaged in violent acts.  

However, Sabo is likely the first public figure to acknowledge having become a part of ISIS, with whom many world powers have been engaged in the war on terror.  Such an admission could lead to serious legal repercussions for Sabo, not the least of which could be potential arrest or detention by law.  

He could potentially be charged under Section 2339B of the United States Patriot Act of 2001, which states in part that you can't provide the terrorist organization with "any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who may be or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials."

While the Patriot Act exists in part as the United States Freedom Act, and some parts of the Patriot Act may not even exist anymore, it's clear that in admitting to having joined ISIS, Sabo could be putting himself and his freedoms on the line.  In addition, while it's easy to say that not everyone supports transgender rights and equality is something we all have to continue to fight for for everyone, Sabo's rendering of Caitlyn Jenner as one of the most horrific figures of the fiction world is probably one of the most horrifying examples of artistic expression gone bad.

The problem lies in Sabo's casual dismissal of anyone voicing disapproval of his artwork in this case.  Labelling anyone who doesn't support his decision to portray Caitlyn Jenner as Pennywise as Islamophobic seems an attempt by the artist to cover his own transphobia.  The world, as a whole, is large enough to allow for all forms of discourse, but an outright denial of one's own hatred of others under the guise of religion seems contrary to the peace that the practice of Islam seems to support.

There has not been any comment from Caitlyn Jenner regarding Sabo's rendition of the It poster.

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