Among the county’s historic directional sign post, farm equipment and gazebo stand several monuments and expressions of free speech. The displays include an Iraq and Afghanistan Soldier’s Memorial, Statue of Liberty, chainsaw-carved monkeys and bears, Jesus carrying a cross, and the most recent display added — a Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Several onlookers and tourists have stopped to take pictures of the sculptures.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the latest display to a slew of others that have been erected on the lawn over the past year. Several marches and demonstrations have also taken place on the courthouse grounds.
A free speech zone?
Cumberland County Buildings and Grounds Committee Chaiman Harry Sabine explained the committee has deferred all decisions on displays and handling of the courthouse grounds to County Mayor Brock Hill.
“I think at some point this may become ridiculous. I’m not so sure if now is the point or not. My concern is about what could or may go up there … I mean the committee could ultimately decide to remove all displays, but at this point we haven’t. I think a time limit on the displays may need to be enacted, though. I do think that too many of these displays tend to detract from the beauty of our courthouse lawn. I think our courthouse lawn is among the prettiest in the state. I hate to see that sacrificed,” 1st District Commissioner Harry Sabine said.
On her Web site, www.itlovesyou.blogspot.com, a blog explaining the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Crossville artist Ariel Safdie states, “We are lucky enough to live in a country that allows us, its citizens, the freedom of speech. I have chosen to put up a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to represent the discourse between people of all different beliefs. The many faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds of Cumberland County’s residents make our community a stronger richer place. I respect and am proud that on the people’s lawn, the county courthouse, all of these diverse beliefs can come together in a positive dialogue. Here, we are all able to share the issues close to our hearts whether it is through a memorial to the soldiers killed fighting for our country, the Statue of Liberty honoring our nations welcoming promise to all, a group’s fight to stop homelessness, or powerful symbols of faith. I greatly treasure this open forum between everyone in the community.”
Although it may seem silly to some, Safdie adds, “The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a pile of noodles and meatballs, but it is meant to open up discussion and provoke thought. Being able to put up a statue is a celebration of our freedom as Americans; a freedom to be different, to express those differences, and to do it amongst neighbors — even if it is in a noodley way.” -crossville